Baltimore Evening Sun (30 January 1914): 6.


Surolatry, or calf-worship: a form of devotion practiced by the gay old deacons of the Anti-Saloon Leg.

The monograph printed in my Theological Annex today was prepared for me by exegetical counsel of the highest authority and I offer it as a valuable contribution to moral science. It has been in type since last Sunday. My plan was to print it in this place during the coming week, but its rev. authors are impatient of delay, and so I spread it upon the minutes at once.

A DAILY THOUGHT. A man may tear the pearl from between the teeth of the crocodile; he may steer his ship over the roughest seas; he may twine a serpent round his brow like a laurel; but he cannot convince a foolish and stubborn opponent.—The Niti Sataka.

Oleaginous editorial in the estimable Sunpaper of September 10:

To Messrs. Soper, Niles and Ammidon, and to Governor Goldsborough, who appointed them, the people of Baltimore owe a vote of supreme thanks for the way the police force is managed. * * * The Governor’s appointments have not all been impeccable, but when the record is finally written a great big credit mark must be placed opposite his name for appointing the kind of men be did Police Commissioners.

Renewal of the mad, glad oiling on December 30:

No politician in the city has any pull with this board. No policeman who does his duty need have any fear of it. None who does not do his duty can feel safe in his job.

From the news columns of the Sunpaper this morning:

Robert G. Claypoole, assistant secretary to the Board of Police Commissioners, has been mentioned as one man in the Courthouse who took bets on the races and was taking them now, and the positive statements have been made by several who have suffered that Claypoole was a betting centre.

Ah, the sublime boons and usufructs of the uplift! Ah, the sweet benefits of a Police Board sworn to virtue, and bringing a passionate sagacity to the business! How beautifully it has “cleaned up” the town, and with what emission of Sunday-school pieties—and how humanely it has overlooked its own dunghill!

The estimable Hot Towel on a recent address by the Hon. E. H. Bouton, of Roland Park:

Both he and the Mayor spoke in favor of the borough plan, and it must be said of [the Hon.] Mr. Bouton’s speech that his remarks were more convincing than any yet heard from the lips of any of the borough plan exponents.

Ever since the Hon. Goose Grease Altfeld, LL. B., went to Annapolis to immerse himself in statecraft the Towel has been performing its unguental duties with increasing ineptitude. Here the limit to reached: the Hon. D. Harry is actually put into competition with another fellow—and the other fellow gets all the grease! Could clumsiness achieve a worse triumph? Could contumacy further go? Let the Hon. Mr. Altfeld come back at once and resume his incomparable oiling of his client, his superb performance upon the great blubber-horn in E flat. The epidermis of the Hon. D. H. grows raucous and feverish: he needs anointment at the hands of one who really loves the art.

From an advertisement in the London Advertising World for September, 1913, page 459:

BALTIMORE AMERICAN—The great newspaper of Baltimore and the only morning journal published in the city.

The new movement toward truth in advertising!

Proposed design for a great seal for the plupious Anti-Saloon Leg:


Meanwhile, the Hon. Dan Loden is again declared not guilty by unanimous vote. He has nothing to do with the distribution of portraits of bare legs, and he has never allowed handbooks to make their headquarters in his office.—Adv.

Cryptic but humane note in the estimable Pocomoke City Ledger-Enterprise:

Week before last it was “Poor Mr. Mencken!” This week it’s “Poor Mr. Anderson!”

What it is that has seized the Hon. Mr. Anderson I can’t make out, but here’s hoping that he stands it as well as I have.

Legs rampant in the Anti-Saloon Leg! A poolroom in the very office of the Hon. Alfred S. Niles? What next, ye gods, what next! H. L. Mencken.

{Advertisement—by HLM?}

[Theological Annex]

The Rev. Dr. Carlton D. Harris, in the Baltimore Southern Methodist:

Quoting Scripture does not make a man a theologian, for the devil has quoted it as accurately as some others. But he has never interpreted it correctly.

By one of the jokes of fate, this is precisely the objection to Dr. Harris himself, for in the very same article he quotes Holy Writ with the most laudable accuracy–and then proceeds to misinterpret it with hideous zeal. His quotations are as follows:

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is nor wise.—Proverbs, xx, 1. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.—Proverbs, xxiii, 31, 32. Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, that maketh him drunken also.—Habakkuk, ii, 15.

These extracts from the Old Testament are brought forward by Dr. Harris in support of his contention that the use of alcoholic beverages, as beverages, is inherently immoral and unchristian, and hence should be prohibited. But a brief inspection of them is sufficient to show that no such implication is actually in them, nor can it be read into them by rabbinism without straining the meaning of words beyond all endurance. The first of the three, interpreted in the light of reason, becomes no more than a piece of sound and homely advice to drinkers—a primeval copy-book maxim. What it says is simply this: that the man who uses alcohol as a beverage must be careful to use it moderately and prudently. In its milder forms—e. g., wine, cider, ale, beer—it is apt to deceive the novice or the fool into overestimating his capacity; in its stronger forms—e. g., forty-rod, peppermint extract, apple-jack, the whole repertoire of “dry” town drinks—it is downright dangerous. “Whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

But note clearly that the charge brought against “whosoever is deceived thereby” is not that he is immoral or irreligious, but merely that he is not wise. Nothing could more plainly indicate the abyssmal difference between the Christian view of alcohol and the Moslem (or Anti-Saloon Leg) view. All that Christianity says here (or anywhere else, for that matter) is that the man who uses it must exercise due care—in the common phrase, must mind his p’s and q’s. But what Mohammedanism says of it is that the man who uses it is guilty of mortal sin, an enormously different thing. On the one hand, we have a mere rule of conduct, a piece of good advice, a paternal warning; on the other hand, we have an unqualified commandment and coupled with it a threat of eternal punishment. It is my contention that the Anti-Saloon Leg joins the Moslem side as against the Christian side, and that it is therefore a Moslem and not a Christian organization, its pharisaical protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Dr. Harris’ second text is even less a prohibition of drinking in general than his first. A reference to the context shows plainly that the thing aimed at is not the use of alcohol at all, but the violation of the Seventh Commandment. It is the argument of Solomon—cf. verses 27-30, immediately preceding—that excessive drinking, involving a loss of prudent inhibition, conduces to such violations–a thing obvious to all observant persons. But Solomon clearly refers (verse 30) to “they that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine,” and not at all to those that confine their drinking to moderate amounts and stop short before their faculties are in any sense obscured. In point of fact, there is not a single word in Proverbs xxiii which may be reasonably interpreted as an attack upon alcoholic beverages in general. Even verse 31 plainly distinguishes between red wine—probably the most potent of the varieties known to the ancient Jews—and other wines.

As for Dr. Harris’ third text, its failure to sustain his case must be patent to all. The thing prohibited here is not the use of alroholic beverages per se, but their use for the purpose of debauching and degrading the innocent. The last clause of the verse, discreetly suppressed by Dr. Harris, makes this as plain as day. The scoundrel who plies his neighbor with drink in order to strip him and make a shame of him “that thou mayest look on their nakedness”—this scoundrel is righteously denounced by Habakkuk. But there is not a line in the whole chapter arguing that the use of wine in moderation, as the Jews used it then and as they still use it to this day, is an offense worthy of prophetic denunciation. Even toward the actual drunkard Habakkuk’s attitude is that of pity (i, 10) and not that of reproach. All his ire is reserved for the man who seduces another to drink for the deliberate purpose of making a spectacle of him.

So much for Dr. Harris’ extraordinarily inept and disingenuous perversions of the plain letter of the Old Testament. The texts that he quotes are not new. They have been studied and expounded by Jewish rabbis of the highest scholarship for centuries, and so it may be reasonably presumed that their exact meaning is now known. As a delicate indication of that exact meaning, let me call Dr. Harris’ attention to the fact that not a single Jewish rabbi in the United States today is a prohibitionist, and that the moderate use of alcoholic beverages, both for ritualistic and for social purposes, is still well-nigh universal among the Jews, as it was on Habakkuk’s day and in Solomon’s.