On The Rack
The American Mercury
Since the December number of the "American Mercury" is the last issue of the magazine which H. L. Mencken will edit, the most pertinent and interesting feature in this copy, naturally, is his farewell editorial. In it he briefly but gracefully reviews his ten year term as editor, which, on the whole, he seems to have found pleasant enough. His reasons for retiring, he explains, are twofold; first because "ten years is long enough for one editor to serve," and second, because he wants more time to devote to other undertakings, particularly to the composition of more serious books. One aspects, however, that this is not all the tale. For several years the "Mercury" has been steadily losing circulation and advertising; its prestige has declined seriously, and it is regarded by up-to-date sophisticates as rather passe. It is certain that the acute Mr. Mencken was fully aware of all this and it is highly probable that it played a considerable part in inducing him to abandon a magazine and an attitude that were both becoming outmoded.
The new editor, Mr. Henry Hazlitt, writes on "The Fallacies of the NRA," an article in which he reveals himself as a rather hacknoyed economist. His criticism is stereotyped, and shows that along with most other economists he is unable to see the woods for the trees, for he disregards the broader implications of Mr. Roosevelt's experiment. One Dane Yorke makes an entirely unsuccessful effort to explain what he calls the "mystery of retail price"; all that emerges is that for some occult reason the price of most articles is from two hundred to twenty-six hundred per cent higher in the stories than when they are landed in New York. An even more incredible hocus-pocus is put forth by Edward Robinson in a piece called "Musical Slaughter-House"; with remarkably little solid evidence to support him, he advances the thesis that the appeal made to the people last spring to support the Metropolitan Opera by monetary contributions was really a plot of the directors to retain their control and block any efforts to move into a new theatre.