The Charlotte News

Sunday, February 11, 1940


Site Ed. Note: Ms. Barrie, referenced below, much of the lines about whom, like much of her film career, unfortunately having been clipped off when once upon a time some eight years ago we retrieved this date’s page from the microfilm in Charlotte, was a 19-year old college student when she wrote a fan letter to John Barrymore, in the hospital at age 53. He invited her to his bedside, from which meeting they became fast friends and she ultimately became his fourth and final wife. He died in 1942 at age 60, ravaged by alcoholism which had played havoc with his memory. She lived until 2003. We shall strive to make up the omitted material for you as soon as we can. In any event, enjoy l'apres-midi with the Satyrs. And for more on all that, go here and also here. Such as it is, we tend then to call it l'art pour l'art.

For a work by William E. Dodd on the early period of United States history through the Civil War, a period during which he contends the country had not yet truly become one, see Expansion and Conflict from 1919, published while he was a professor of history at the University of Chicago. His final chapter on the economic decay from within which brought down the Confederacy, doomed by the fall of 1863 after the disaster in July at Gettysburg, only accelerated to its inevitable confrontation with reality by the notorious scorched-earth campaign of Sherman, should be compulsory reading for anyone stubbornly clinging to the silly notion that the South might have survived as a separate country if only--if only, for instance, North Carolina had not been a part of the South, if only reality had been fantastical enough to permit plumed gamecocks bent on fiefdoms for themselves to become squires of the realm, entailed generationally... He tells us how Lincoln's Party, to this day offering pride to itself as "the Party of Lincoln", nevertheless in 1864 completely repudiated the incumbent President and nominated instead John C. Fremont of California, the first Republican nominee for President in 1856, leaving Lincoln aside to be nominated by the quickly formed Union Party--a fact of history often escaping some of our latter day historically oriented Republican friends. His tract might also offer up an explanation as to why to this day Dickens remains quite popular, probably more so than in any other part of the land anyway, among the folk of the countryside of the South, even within North Carolina's persistent strongholds; not that per se anything is wrong with Dickens, for it is better to read sentiment, though not all of which his body of work was of course, than not to read at all--as long as you appreciate Blazing Saddles, that is, also.

And, although occurring two decades after this particular work was published, he may nevertheless offer us some subtle insight as to why there was some movement, however small it may have happed to be, to have President Robert Rice Reynolds--in which case we would today be living, no doubt, within the United States of Greater Germania, ruled by His Majesty, Adonis Benito Hitler III. And the news, no doubt, would be of late that Benny the Hit, as he is popularly called in U.S.G.G., has just...forget it. With the polls at 29% favorability, we haven't the heart to criticize Benny for his latest exploits.


Bad Politics Seems To Be Armstrong's Main Crime

The main charge against Major Armstrong seems to be that he has been politically inept. It is virtually certain that he is telling the exact truth when he says that there was no coercion involved in the scheme for having the State patrolmen kick in with a dollar a month each for Commissioner Maxwell's war chest in the campaign for Governor.

There will be suspicion in some quarters that this is all the work of the "Hoey machine." But in reality, the regular organization appears too much divided as yet to have any anointed candidate. The powers-that-be seem to be standing off and waiting with a view to being sure as to which is the winning horse before betting on him.

Fact is that Major Armstrong didn't need any intimidation. The patrol is under the direction of Commissioner Maxwell's office, and the boys all got their jobs through the Commissioner or the Governor. Naturally, they want to keep their jobs, and the surest way to do that, of course, is to have their present boss elected Governor. Anybody else might want to make changes, and even though Mr. Maxwell still remained as Commissioner. So it is quite likely that they were willing and anxious to dig into their pocketbooks to help elect the boss. Major Armstrong's mistake was in letting himself get on record as saying yea too enthusiastically and openly.

Nevertheless, if there is no occasion to suspect intimidation here, the case does serve to remind that there is always the possibility of intimidation under the present set-up which places the State patrol and all other employees of the State at the mercy of politics.

Faun's Afternoon

Handsome John At Least Knows He's A Comedian

Elaine Barrie, who should be able to [following two lines missing] no longer smiles with a bold [missing words] gleam makes no difference to Elaine the Fair, the lily maid, for the merry star still twinkles like a tea tray in the sky.

Mr. John had all the Barrymores' unerring professional instinct as to when to quit romantic leads and take to character parts. His last straight role, as we recollect it, was "Don Juan," and in his very next picture he played a part of an aging eccentric, comic character. In various guises he has been playing in that part ever since.

The sad part, of course, is that he didn't, wouldn't, quit playing romantic leads in his private life (if you can call it private) and brought on his first colossal failures. For, lackaday, as an impetuous, impassioned lover, he is an aging, eccentric, comic character. But you’ve got to hand it to him. He carries off those little love tiffs with a puckish air, grinning to himself, making Barrymore faces, smirking, posturing, wise-cracking before reporters and photographers like a true deity, secure in the consciousness of an Olympian who can afford to disport himself in a silly fashion for the earth creatures.

A newsreel interview to immortalize his well-known ad-libbing gave him more space than a coronation. (Haile Selassie’s) Obediently, he displayed the Barrymore "prrro-feel:" twisting his neck like an inquisitive turtle, distorting the prrro-feel only slightly, only enough to reveal his impish scorn of the prrro-feel, the Barrymores, the public, and himself.

Toujours gai. Archie. Toujours gai, there's life in the old boy yet!

Dr. Dodd

His Thesis In Germany Struck Keynote Of Life

At the age of 31, William Edward Dodd took his degree and his Doctor of Philosophy at Leipzig University in the great trading and publishing town in Eastern Germany. His thesis was entitled, Jefferson's Rückkehr zur Politik.

It was a significant title. All his life William Edward Dodd would remain a militant Jeffersonian--a man who, like his master, had sworn a dying hatred for every form of tyranny over "the illimitable freedom of the human mind." And it was that which was to bring him his greatest notoriety--in the Germany in which he had sought to interpret Jefferson. In the light of Sir Henry Wotton's famous double entendre to the effect that "an ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for his country," he was one of the worst ambassadors of all times. Honest he was, but lie he would not. Too honest for an ambassador.

He had known Germany once, a Germany in which the poets and the thinkers promised eventually to down the Wolf. But he did not know this Germany in which the Wolf walked rampant, and the poets and thinkers had every one fled away—did not want to know it. He saw Hitlerism for what it was, and made no effort to hide his opinion. It was indiscreet, perhaps even bumptious, in the ambassador; it was admirable in the man.

He had plenty of faults as he lamentably revealed when he played hit-and-run driver. But he left behind him a great mass of solid work in the Jeffersonian tradition and he had shown that he possessed honesty, courage, and a warm zeal for democracy--no mean epitaph.


A Draft Moves To Some Suggestion Of Our Own

Election year nets gather strange fish--eels, grapefruit rinds, old shoes. Now that Their Bob has expressed his willingness to run for the Presidency and ten people, names not revealed, have drafted him, we hereby make our own nominations, with reasons:

Walt Disney, who understands the kinship of mice and men. He might be able to arbitrate between Big Business and Government economists.

Martin Dies, because he is a wizard at making his enemies co-operate.

Dorothy Thompson and Mrs. Roosevelt, jointly, Dorothy to spank Hitler and Mrs. R. to put down Son Elliot.

The Lone Ranger. Under his reign we could institute some governmental economy by abolishing the FBI. [Next two lines missing] refusing to give him time, his irresistible charm would probably be our only chance.

Shirley Temple. "Out of the mouths of babes--"

Archie the Cockroach, because of his simple touch.

Lew Lehr, for his expert knowledge of the psychology of the Monkey House.

Take your choice. You pays your money in any case.

The Guilds

Attractive Scheme Which Is Still Impractical

The proposal of sixteen Catholic prelates that we go back to the guild system is a proposal that we go back to the later Middle Ages.

That is not to say that it hasn't some attractive features. It has. But the old towns of Flanders, Belgium, Holland, and the Hanseatic League were in many respects perhaps the most admirably organized towns the Western World has known. Contrary to the general impression, they were not dirty and unsanitary, but admirably laid out to meet the needs of their location. And the men who lived under the system had contrived to reconcile individualism with social unity perhaps better than any Western men have.

Nevertheless, the proposal is somewhat less than practical. The guild belongs to the age of handicraft. And the unit was the household, which served at once as home and factory for master, journeymen and apprentices. How that could be fitted to the machine-and-mass-production era is as much a puzzler as, say, how to put into practice the Southern agrarian's idea of turning the body of Southerners back into small farmers—a system which had much to recommend it, too.

The very mentality which made the guild system possible is as utterly lost as the diplodocus. Men no longer want the same things.

Proposals for return to some good old way invariably pop up in times of change and stress. But they never work. For better or worse, you cannot put back the hands of the clock, unless you are prepared to put them back to the point of breaking everything down into chaos and starting all over again from barbarism.

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