The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 1, 1937


Site Ed. Note: "To Pen, Henry!" gives us pause. Skip the "like" for "as" business, on which also Mr. Broun provided a bit of playful comment a couple of days back. That’s all in the Ring of the great American Circus, of which "Getting Wise" makes, judging through editorial juxtaposition anyway, by implicit, sub silentio fall analogy to spring barricades disputed. After all, aren’t similes supposed to be composed of "like"’s some of the time (or, should that more properly be composed as (or is it like?) "likes"?)?

So, let’s proceed, instead, beyond all that, rather to Cash’s own bit of grammar carping (on which term, grammar, itself, (not carping), we carp, ourselves, as well with Mr. Broun’s carping, as it should be more properly styled syntax or semantics, we opine; but then, historically, according to the Latin grammarians, they tell us at Oxford, grammar includes various sub-parts into which it was divided, those four principals being: orthography, prosody, syntax and etymology, with orthoëpy added later by some even more rigorous Latin grammaticationists—but no matter; we toss our hat over all that, too, and proceed anyway into the breach). And so, proceed to that we shall which is more problematic to us, that being his bracketed "omitted" phrase, now omitted, yesterday in the piece, and to which he now commits by amendment restoration of the original phraseology below, viz., "If the building industry is to play the vital part that it ought [to have]...", sans the brackets, below, as employed conterminously to signify and set off the omission of yesterday.

But, is he correct in so correcting the President with this bracketed omission, now restored, all to provide fodder for his carping? We opine for the proposition in the affirmative: be it resolved that he is not.

Why do we so opine? you may ask.

Well, here is the argument, for the pro bono benefit of all sublime philologists:

The President did not mean to suggest, we propose, that the "to have", held within the above brackets, and below, albeit restored without bracketing, having been omitted yesterday within bracketing, signal of the omission, was intended--(incidentally, better not to use the passive voce, we realize, but…)--to have as its object "play", but rather to be used in the transitive sense of "to have", as like unto "to hold", the part, not play.

And so, what is wrong with that, Mr. Cash?

Moreover, you have within the space of 1,498 words, instilled to us below, committed at least three most egregious errors of syntax yourself, the one to which Mr. Churchill always pointed as incipient of igniting the whole damned thing over again; videlicet, you have ended two sentences, as well one phrase within another, in a preposition, those being "about", "of", and "to", in that precipitant order; with each being which that of those as might have been simply like as not easily corrected by the expedient of "which" inserted at the proper prior junction of the phrase in juxtaposed transition to that preceding it.

For how, pray tell, should the boys at Pitt, engaged in the pursuit of the goal line, be motivated to pass their work, nay, even to tackle same, and without any safety, if they are coached by someone in that regard who utilizes such atrocious phraseology as that which is like, "[I]f these boys are smart enough to pass their work, as they are required to"? Anyway, not even a whole sentence, even as originally written with its "Not, anyhow," presaging the rest of its dangling clausal particle.

Moreover, "Ought to have play, gadzooks!" applies less than proper puntuistic semantics and use of style, in our estimate. Gadzooks, indeed! It ought better to run: "Ought to have play! Gadzooks."

Yet, from such a mired pit as this one into which we have drifted, we cannot emerge from without it without the recognition that Mr. Cash might well have been merely contriving to give Durindana mete of its temper for establishing a gradient on which to measure the degreed portion of the curve commensurate with our ironic mettle within the Ring. But we leave that for you to resolve more resolutely by the methodology which your armour affords you to fashion in suit from further and higher research, within the Ring.

We ourselves, as with each of the successive pieces of the last month, never saw any of this palpably exciting orthographic semantical philological syntactical prosody before the day on which we set to paper our respective notes accompanying each daily such set of pieces. Go figure.

Anent "Gold Again", some men came all the way from Cornwall, England in 1857 to seek out gold in North Carolina’s Gold Hill. About the same time, around 1850, Hinton Helper of Mocksville, N.C. strayed all the way across the continent to see what he could of the gold strike in California, among other things. We intuit, therefore, that the thrill is as much in the chase as the find.

In any event, we find that, just recently, this mine has, after a fashion, been in Charlotte's news, that is at least in the capacity of its serving as the eponym for a road on which took place, November 18, an attempted armed robbery and assault with a firearm, with the suspects driving a gray mini-van. The license number of the vehicle appears pretty obvious, "TRY-8232", and so if you see it, assuming they haven’t by now changed the plate, let the local gendarmerie know about it, should they in the eleven days since the story was fresh not yet have caught up with the dastardly malefactors. (If you are one of those prosocially inclined to the prosaic, such that the resultant inclination is to play chance numbers reckoned from chance find, and so choose to place that one on the lottery, don’t blame us when you lose. You probably have about as much chance to win with that ill-begotten number as you do today to discover and distill, from the rich trappings still abounding within the cool streams surrounding Charlotte, gold nuggets—or, for that matter, even from that running by Sutter’s Mill.) But, again, the thrill is likely in the chase, and a nice warm day by the stream, to boot. Bring your fishing gear.

And, finally, regarding that which makes up the subject of "The High Place", had Mr. Cash lived so long, until the 1970’s, he would have been able to write himself a whole book probably on the disquietingly disquietude of the disquietistic religion being practiced quite exhibitionistically within the surrounds of Charlotte, giving new breach to any compact with the holy, and breath to full agreement with Baal, replete with fully dripping, hedonistic inclinations toward the loud, the fantastic, and brazen beatitudes of Belial, in the bargain. Until, that is, they were caught at it. It’s probably the search, we suggest, not the find.

Praise the L--

Gold Again

The story we carried yesterday about the Capps Hill gold mine set our pulses all a-dither. Thar's magic, stranger, in that thar word, gold. And maybe you've heard afore this, men have died for it.

But ourselves, we are not planning to die about it or for it. We need to stick around and enjoy it. To enjoy, for one thing, the pleasant fact that the six mines already in operation in the state are producing gold to the tune of about $600,000 annually. And to watch the stacks of the yellow stuff grow as other mines in the state are opened and North Carolina goes back to its old rank as an important gold mining state, we hope.

Note on an Ally

Said the AP report from Shanghai yesterday:

The French ambassador announced that Japanese air bombs had destroyed a Catholic orphanage at Kashing and killed 86 children (60 of them babies)... He also said that four French sisters and five Chinese sisters who were at the orphanage were missing... The Japanese bombed the orphanage repeatedly and finally destroyed six buildings.

That has an exceedingly curious sound in view of the story a few months ago to the effect that the Vatican had ordered all Catholic agencies in China to aid the Japanese in whatever way they could. The story, to be sure, was denied by the Vatican, but it was admitted that general instructions had been given to aid all forces battling communism, and that that would apply to the Japanese insofar as they were battling the Red armies of Northern China.

And it does not appear that the Chinese airmen were actually aiming at the Catholic orphanage. Nearby it, Chinese soldiers were building concrete pillboxes, and a Carmelite mission and a Lazarite seminary further out of range were spared. Even so, it is indisputable that a Catholic orphanage has been destroyed and 86 Catholic charges blasted into eternity by the Church's ally against Communism. And somehow we don't believe that it is any sweeter or more holy to be blown to pieces by righteous bombs than unrighteous.

To Pen, Henry!

Henry Mencken, the eminent Baltimore doctor of philology, must be sleeping badly these nights. For Henry is indubitably in a spot. If there was ever anybody whom Henry didn't like, it is Franklin D. Roosevelt. He likes him, if anything, even less than he used to like Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Bishop James Cannon, Jr., and the late Wayne B. Wheeler. Nevertheless, things have fallen out so that Henry may find himself compelled in simple self-regard, to stand forth and take up the cudgels for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

For, as the celebrated Dr. Janet Rankin Aiken of Columbia University has discovered, President Roosevelt, speaking in Wyoming some time ago, sinned grievously against orthodox grammar in saying that "Engineers are human just like me." The Chattanooga News, indeed, digs up the fact that President Franklin has been sinning against mythology, too, by calling Antaeus "an old mythologist." And to that we might add our own discovery of yesterday--a sentence in the housing message which ran: "If the building industry is to play the vital part that it ought to have..." Ought to have play, gadzooks!

With these latter errors, however, Dr. Mencken has no concern. He is no mythologist and no defender of merely muddy English. But with that "like"--ah, there is something with which Henry has to do. For he is the great American paladin of the unorthodox grammarians, the official American gadfly to purists. And twenty years ago, he set it down in his "American Language" that "like" had already superseded "as" in our colloquial speech, and inferred, at least, that it was nothing to get excited about. The case, then, is plain. The pundit is challenged on his home ground. Let him, therefore, abandon craven silence and stand forth to the defence of the President of the United States as one who speaks the language actually native to his country.

Danger! Drive Slowly!

No sooner had the President's recommendations on cutting highway appropriations been read to Congress yesterday than Senator Ashurst of Arizona issued a statement in opposition. "With all respect," he declared, Congress "knows more" about appropriations for road building than the President and the Secretary of Agriculture put together.

In may be so. Let's concede that it is so. But there is a second Cabinet officer whom Senator Ashurst neglected to mention and who figures most importantly in this business about reducing the amount of Federal aid for state roads. That one is Uncle Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury.

And Uncle Henry knows what Senator Ashurst and many of his colleagues appear to be entirely ignorant of--that so far this year, the eighth year of successive deficits, the Treasury has paid out 770 millions of dollars more than it has taken in. If that, standing by itself, isn't an irrefutable argument for cutting Federal appropriations to highways, we don't know one when we see it.

All Small Favors

With 370, 000 workers insured and a fund of nearly $8,000,000 out of which benefits may be paid, North Carolina might conclude with aplomb that it was in forehanded shape to meet a period of severe unemployment. As a matter of fact, however, a little simple arithmetic will show that, though unemployment compensation may be a saving grace to thousands of individuals in the next few months, in the aggregate it is but a sop to adversity.

It is quickly done. Divide 370,000 workers into nearly $8,000,000 and you have a reserve of only $21.60 a man. But, of course, not all the workers are going to be unemployed. The State commission expects to begin writing only some 100,000 checks after benefits become payable in January, next year. All right; make the reserve $80 a man. At the maximum of $15 per week, all the taxes garnered so far from all North Carolina payrolls would support these 100,000 persons no longer than five and a fraction weeks.

These figures show, we believe, that there is no substitute for a job, preferably a full-time job. It's just another illustration of our utter dependency upon the state of business. It's got to be good.

Getting Wise

Whether the University of Pittsburgh football team did actually specify a couple of hundred dollars' spending money and two weeks' vacation immediately as a condition for accepting a Rose Bowl bid they didn't get, or whether there was just dissatisfied talk among some of the players to this effect, is wholly beside the point. The point is that college football players, and a portion of public opinion too, are swinging around to the conviction that these active and intrepid young gladiators are being incredibly exploited in the name of Education.

It's a grand spectacle, understand, like any Roman Holiday, and we don't know that we would tone it down if we could. Furthermore, it doesn't follow that all colleges are tarred with the same exploitative stick. But on the big time, the colleges themselves, the promoters, either frankly for profit or for "benefits," the broadcasting companies, the railroads, the gamblers--in short, everybody but the players--have capitalized intercollegiate football with a capital $. It's big show business on an absurdly low-wage basis, and the performers are getting hep to it.

No matter whether the Pitt team laid down its terms or merely put in an informal request, the time can't be far off when the performers will demand a cut of the gate. Not, anyhow, if these boys are smart enough to pass their work, as they are required to.

The High Place

"You can't count on people coming together unless there is excitement and a band..."

Such was the doctrine of the Rev. Dr. William Norman Guthrie, rector of St. Mark's-in-the-Bouwerie, who retired from his post Sunday, and whose exhibitions of aesthetic dancing in his church stirred up a storm in 1920.

Well, most of the critics seem agreed that religion in our time needs a pretty thorough modernizing. And as for the tendency to concentrate on picayune moralities to the exclusion of larger ones and the still surviving and absurd inclination to battle the findings of modern science, the arguments seem to have basis. But somehow we doubt that the way out is the way indicated by Dr. Guthrie. There have been religions which pandered to the human love for excitement. The cult of Baal was like that, and the cult of the Cyprian Aphrodite, and the cult of Moloch. But they have not survived. All the great religions of the world, all those which have lived, have been essentially quietistic.

In the end, men go into the temple to contemplate the mystery which is about us and which is ourselves and which is God--not to see a vaudeville show. They go there to find atonement and harmony and peace, or before long they do not go at all.

Site Ed. Note: Incidentally, The High Place was also a novel by one of Cash’s favorite writers, James Branch Cabell. Whether the 1923 book had anything at all to do with giving rise to the title of the above piece, we don’t propose to know. But since it is on our shelf, albeit quite unread as yet during its decade or so perched there, we decided to pull it down, and, sure enough, within thirty seconds of thumbing it, ran across, within Chapter 27, titled "The Forethought of Hoprig", this passage:

Yes, Florian reflected, there were priests everywhere,--the Brahmans of Malabar, the Piaches of the Arawaks, the Dedes of Lycia, the Chadsas of the Dersim uplands, and the Ankuts of the Equimaux,--to all these priests was formally relegated the performing of this task when a woman was about to marry. Every part of the world wherein man remained unspoiled by civilization, reflected Florian, afforded an exact and honorable precedent: and he could advance no ground for complaint. For one was logical. Certain physical reservations were made much of, to be sure, in Holy Writ, and in the sermons preached in convents to auditories of schoolgirls. And this theory perhaps did no great harm. But, after all, there was a grain of folly in this theory that to-day’s letters still in the post contained of necessity more virtuous matter than did yesterday’s letters, whose seals had been broken. No, let us be logical about this theory.

Well, whatever its coruscatory meaning, we leave it to its proper keep and hold to which it might have aught for now as being, in the usual cabalistic fashion typifying Mr. Cabell’s material, too much of sleight to distill certitude from its Faustian ambiguity in strictly contractual negotiation with Janicot, alias Mephisto.

Here’s the rest of the page for the day. That Harvard team of which Mr. Broun makes comment, incidentally, had among its players a young Joe Kennedy, Jr. His younger brother was a sophomore at the time.

Anyway, as the man said, most of us need the yeggs.

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