Baltimore Evening Sun (5 March 1914): 6.
No good sportsman, I take it, is going to object to the bill introduced in the House of Delegates by the Hon. John C. Linthicum, of Baltimore city, relieving the four ex-Sheriffs from the repayment of the fees that they unlawfully withheld from the State Treasury during their terms of office. The ex-Sheriffs, through their learned sergeants and jurisconsults, ask to be allowed to keep the money on the ground that all of their predecessors, from 1874 onward, got away with it without interference—i. e., that cabbaging it was a regular business, approved by custom. This, perhaps, is a good reason, but an even better one exists, to wit, that the taxpayers have long since had their money back in entertainment and instruction. The case against the ex-Sheriffs has been, at one stroke, a harlequinade and a liberal education, a four-ring circus and a moral chautauqua, a bull fight and an experience meeting. The common people should be willing to pay liberally for such an edifying show, and at $50,000 it has been dirt cheap.
It is now just five years since the late George N. Ash, then State Auditor, discovered that the ex-Sheriffs had been paying themselves more than the Constitution allowed, and that the Hon. Isaac Lobe Straus, LL. B., then Attorney-Gerieral, announced that he would make them disgorge. Isaac, it may be admitted freely, done his level darndest to carry out this promise, and angels could have done no more—but the ex-Sheriffs had very sagacious lawyers, and the lawyers were helped out by a learned bench. The result was the most ardent graooling ever witnessed in the local courts, a juridic joust of the first quality, a sublime exhibition of legal legerdemain, a bout worthy to be ranked with the Thaw case.
The Hon. Mr. Straus, in his innocence, came into court with the bare facts and figures. A writ of estrepement knocked them skyhigh. He countered with a caveat. It was floored with two mandamuses, a John Doe warrant and a writ of assumpsit. He tried a writ of quare impedit, backed up with one of spoliation. The ex-Sheriffs struck back with a writ of habeas corpus ad deliberandum et recipiendum. The Hon. Mr. Straus then went to his corner, and the Hon. Edgar Allan Poe took his place. His first weapon was a search warrant cum causa. The ex-Sheriffs landed on it with letters of administration. He came back with a writ of besayle. They blew it up with a writ of trover. He replied with the Dartmouth College case. The ex-Sheriffs declared martial law and suspended Magna Charta. He tackled them from the rear with a writ of certiorari. They dropped him to the rosin with 10 caplases and 50 injunctions. He tried to tempt them with a suspended sentence. They knocked him out with Greenleaf on Evidence.
And so on and so on for five long years. The reaction of incompatible legal alkaloids became so inordinately complex that even the judiciary was given pause. One of the points raised had such subtlety that it took a judge 14 months to decide it—14 months of herculean and unremitting labor, with scarcely a pause for meals! Even the Court of Appeals, which has eight judges, took nine months and two days to dispose of one point and a few days short of a year to dispose of another. Legal questions were raised that were entirely unknown to the text writers, and even to human reason. The case soared to the highest strata of juridic science, impeding the planets in their revolutions, scraping the very keel of heaven. And as ever and anon a stenographer or a catchpoll went crazy and let go, he plunged straight downward for 1,000,000 miles.
For such sublime exhibitions the common people should be willing to pay a few thousand paltry dollars. The ex-Sheriffs, let it be remembered, agree to meet the lawyers’ fees—proof enough, I opine, that it was not actually avarice that led them to collar the money. Beside, there is justice in their plea that they should not be made to disgorge while their predecessors go free. Those predecessors are beyond the reach of the law: there was no State Auditor in their day, and so it is impossible to find out how much they hogged. Therefore, let us forgive everybody and shake hands all ’round. The ex-Sheriffs, after they have paid the lawyers, will have enough left to buy a couple of boxes of good 10-cent cigars. And the rest of us have been pleasantly instructcd and diverted for five years.
A DAILY THOUGHT. The devil never put a wickelder lie into the heart of any man than that the way to be a Christian is to be solemn and cold and sour.—The Rev. Dr. Billy Sunday.
Boil your drinking water! Get vaccinated on the other arm! Three cheers for the Hon. D. Harry!
The betting adds in the tango joints, as reported by the policewomen:
10 to 1 that not 10 members of the Legislature have the courage to vote against the four blackmail bills.
It has been proved by the anti-vaccinationists that vaccination causes tuberculosis, cancer, leprosy and delirium tremens. It has been proved by the anti-vivisectionists that the diphtheria antitoxin causes angina pectoris and typhoid fever. It has been proved by the prohibitionists that every man who takes one drink will take another, and that every man who takes another will die of it. It has been proved by the vice crusaders that segregation causes burglary, highway robbery and murder. It has been proved by the sabbatomaniacs that the crowd at Back River on Sunday is made up of wife-beaters, kidnappers and assassins. It has been proved by the Hon. C. J. Bonaparte that the Hon. William Sulzer is a martyred innocent. It has been proved by the Rev. Dr. John Roach Straton that Christ was a lawbreaker. It has been proved by the Sunpaper that the Eastern Shore oystermen are unfit to manage the oyster business, but better fitted to manage Baltimore than the Baltimoreans themselves. And finally, the Anti-Saloon League first proved that local option would convert Maryland into a young heaven, and now proves that it would do nothing of the sort.
Dr. George Walker’s protest against the passage of the four “vice” bills is inept and beside the point. The aim of those bills is not to solve the vice problem, but merely to provide sport and occupation for their backers. On the one hand, the wealthy old fellows who go in for vice-crusading want to get their money’s worth, and on the other hand the professional spies and snouters want to earn that money. This is the double purpose behind all the new “vice” bills, here and elsewhere. They do not diminish the social evil in the slightest. But they do make the woman hunt safer, easier and more enjoyable.