FIVE POUNDS A SEAT
"A queue for the final Proceedings on Monday began to form at noon on the previous day, and as much as five pounds was paid for early places in it." "The final proceedings" were those of the Ilford murder trial and "the queue" was outside the "Old Bailey" in London. In America such a statement would be merely a matter of passing interest and amusement to most mortals, and only for a few reformers and very respectable dailies would "the whole furore" become a "noxious sing of the hysteria of the times".
Yet it must be a great relief and rather an encouragement to those same reformers to find that their notoriously proper neighbors across the water are suffering from the same lamentable public sentiment which supports our pink and green and yellow journals to "pander to the blood lust of a host of lowbrow readers". In this part of the world there have been so many murder stories recently, reported of necessity by even the best newspapers, that the genuine highbrow (a species which appears to be dangerously near extinction in the welter of blood and bullets) must discontinue his newspaper subscriptions altogether and cling to the Literary Digest. Any other publication would be sure to contain detective stories.
All these books, magazines and papers are "literature" of a sort, and some one has said, "literature is a criticism of life." If the modern successors of Poe are still popular, there must be a reason for it. If men still want to know that 57 lynchings were recorded during the year 1922, that the Herrin murderers are to be punished, and that two men were tortured in the Mer Rouge outrage, it must be the fault of "life", and not primarily of literature. One optimistic critic offers the suggestion that it is not even a "fault" really. Men read of murders because their own daily life is so far away from them. And from a second point of view, the publicity of such things helps to make men realize that there is still something to be done.
If an organization of such size as "the klan", can spring up in America, and gain power enough to take the law into its own hands, there must be something wrong with the law. Like the Vigilantes which existed in the days of '49, this organization will only die when the state is strong enough to crush it, and punish all crimes as well.
When detectives are so expert that it will be impossible for a criminal to escape detection, and when the law is so watchful that it will bring all criminals to punishment--then there will be no more need for murder and detective stories. And then, perhaps, the world will be so perfect that it will no longer want to read them.