Baltimore Evening Sun (9 April 1914): 6.
Whitewashing the trees at Back River! Polishing the great triple-expansion beer-pumps! Waxing the dancing floors! Tuning the hautboys for the hoochie-coochie music! Building the fires in the hot dog ovens! Getting ready to furnish bail!
A DAILY THOUGHT. If good preaching could save the world, it would have been done long ago.--The Rev. Billy Sunday, D. D.
Two forthcoming novels that you had better put on your list: “The Titan,” by Theodore Dreiser. “Vandover and the Brute,” by Frank Norris.
Believe me, here is good stuff. The Dreiser story is a continuation of “The Financier,” but it differs from it in being vastly more compact and dramatic. It carries the career of Frank Cowperwood (i. e., Charles T. Yerkes) through his extraordinarily turbulent Chicago days. He is seen in the midst of his stupendous deviltries and chicaneries, and at close range. In this book Dreiser shows the largest progress he has yet made. His defects of style and manner begin to disappear: he writes at last with a keen feeling for words. The story differs considerably from “Sister Carrie” and “Jennie Gerhardt”; for one thing, it makes a less direct appeal to the sympathies of the reader. But intellectually it is beyond either.
“Vandover and the Brute was written by Norris back in 1894 and 1895, part of it at Harvard and part in San Francisco. He had begun “McTeague” some time before this but put it aside in order to do “Vandover.” The latter, once finished, failed to find a publisher, and after “McTeague” appeared and made Norris famous over night, there were several other manuscripts in the way. The result was that it was still unpublished when Norris died. His relatives stored the manuscript, with other of Norris’ property, in a San Francisco storage warehouse, and this warehouse was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906.
It was thought that the manuscript had been destroyed too, and inasmuch as no copy of it had ever been made, the novel was regarded as lost forever. But seven years later it was found in a packing crate that had been removed from the warehouse before the earthquake, and now it is published at last. The story deals with the gradual degeneration of a weak-willed and easy-going young man. Marks of inexperience are upon it, and if Norris had lived to revise it there is no doubt that he would have greatly improved it, but even as it stands it is a truly striking piece of writing. The influence of Zola is visible upon every page; in more than one way it is fully worthy to rank with “McTeague.”
Here are two highly “unpleasant” novels, but if you miss them you will miss two sound and impressive works of art. Both Norris and Dreiser are powerful antidotes to the romantic slobber-gobble of the day. There is more of sense and verity and honest purpose in one of their chapters than in the whole collected works of the best-seller manufacturers. A curious likeness, both in outlook and in method, joins them together. Both are intense realists, and yet in both there is that deep feeling for beauty, that sense of life as an æsthetic adventure, which Zola so utterly lacked.
The “moral” element in Germany--an even smaller minority than it is here--is having hard, hard sledding. Not long ago it induced some boozy member of the Reichstag to introduce a bill requiring all nude statues to be draped. At once a terrific protest went up, and at an indignation meeting held in Berlin the following were heard from:
Dr. phil. Ludwig Fulda. Gen. Hofrat Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Ostwald, Dr. med. Et chém., D. Sc., LL. D. Prof. Max von Liebermann. Wirkl. Geheimrat Excellez Prof. Dr Ernest Haeckel, Dr. phil., med. et jur. Gerhart Hauptmann. Dr. phil. Max Osborn. Dr. jur. Walter Bloem.
Behold the difference between Germans and Americans. The moment such a “moral” law is proposed in Germany, the leading men of the empire join hands to beat it. Dr. Ostwald is the greatest living German chemist; Dr. Haeckel is the greatest living zoologist; Dr. Fulda is the foremost German critic; Herr Hauptmann is the leading German dramatist, and lately received the Nobel prize; Professor Liebermann is an eminent German artist; Dr. Osborn and Dr. Bloem are distinguished authors, and the latter is also a lawyer of high position. Of such calibre are the men who stand out in the open and do battle for sane laws and clean thinking in Germany.
What a contrast is encountered in the United States! Here there is an occasional protest from such men as Brand Whitlock and Dr. W. S. Rainsford, but in the main the uplifters have it all their own way. Any “moral” law, however idiotic, is sure of a safe majority in Congress. No attack upon it is made by our leading men. It invariably goes through with a bang. “More than any other people,” said Wendell Phillips, “we Americans are afraid of one another.” The truth of it is proved anew every time some fresh troop of “moral” mountebanks begins to bellow for a new peruna.
But, after all, perhaps it is cynicism rather than cowardice that keeps our Ostwalds, our Haeckels and our Hauptmanns so strangely silent. Once they started to knock out all the “moral” bills that flood Congress and the state Legislatures they would have to abandon their regular work and devote their whole time to the enterprise. And we all know that very few such measures are of any practical effect after they are passed. In Germany a bad law is attacked vigorously, because German laws are enforced. But in the United States not one law in 500 is enforced.
Batting average of the Rev. Dr. Billy Sunday in various American cities and towns, as reported by the estimable Lutheran Observer:
|Population.||Converts.||Gift to Sunday.||Cost per capita.|
|Wheeling, W. Va.||41,641||8,300||17,450.00||2.10|
|South Bend, Ind.||53,684||6,398||10,500.00||1.46|
|Beaver Falls, Pa.||12,191||6,000||10,000.00||1.66|
|East Liverpool, O.||20,387||6,354||7,000.00||1.10|
Four to one that the cost in Baltimore runs over $2.50 a head. Here are tough hides! Here is sin.