On The Rack

The American Mercury

The June Mercury is a lively specimen of its genus, somewhat above the ordinary in general interest. It commences with a salve in the good old Mencken style, written by H. E. Buchholz, and entitled "The Pedagogues at Armageddon," Like most of the Mercury's outbursts on the subject of the American educator, the article in question consists largely of well-calculated contumely and vicious satire; its groundwork of fact, however, is sufficient; those who have followed the inane peregrinations of the National Education Association during the last few years will be only too delighted to read a whole-hearted and frankly prejudiced account of its proceedings. As a point of departure, Mr. Buchholz analyzes the composition of the Association, which he finds composed of two distinct classes; these are first, the "glory-seeking pedagogues," who aspire to the formation of a Federal Department of Education, and second the "do-gooders," a group of ardent Methodists and Baptists, fired with the reformer's zeal and egged on by their Nebraska Cambellite leader, James William Crabtree. The article traces the various misdirected activities of the two groups, supporting its conclusions with apt and revelatory quotations from the journals of the Association. The picture presented is that of a set of sometimes scurrilous and always incompetent charlatans, despite its virulence, no one with the slightest interest in modern education can doubt that such a carminative exposition is salutary.

"The Truth Behind the News," by Margaret Gilman, is a denunciation of the tabloid school of journalism. The attacks on this particular form of literary prostitution have been too frequent in recent days for this addition to the fold to be startling in its addition to the fold to be startling in its originality; nevertheless; it is interesting, and piques the intelligence through its violence. "A Housewife Looks at Advertising" is an article of the same class, though on a subject not quite so hackneyed; due of course, to the dependence of most periodicals on their advertising this fester has received little treatment. The only fault of the discussion in question is that it tends to disregard the more glaring flaws in modern advertising, and in general, to attack the problem with an inept touch which leaves the reader with little doubt that the work is really that of a housewife.

To those who have an interest in fine wines, retained from more propitious times, or aroused by recent agitation, Philip Wagner's "The Wines of California" will be of interest. It is scholarly discussion of the history an prospects of the vine in America, and it demonstrates the encouraging potentialities inherent in the Western soil.

The rest of the issue is taken up with articles of about the same calibre, all adept pricks at the American balloon, To many the Mercury's violent iconoclasm seems puerile; those whom it attacks quite naturally brand the publication with various derogatory appellations when they see the opportunity. With all the criticisms and animadversions which may justly or otherwise, be levelled at its insouciant head it remains a delight to a sizeable band of loyal readers. The first glow of boldness has died away, and the Mercury proceeds undimmed; the fact is that a thoroughly prejudiced and unafraid needing if illusion holds a firm place in the mind of the thinking man, and will continue to do so.