Baltimore Humor

The current issue of Lapham’s Quarterly (a wonderful publication, for those who’ve never encountered it) is about comedy. As usual, LQ has made a number of the pieces available for free online. One worth checking out is this editorial by H.L. Mencken (one of Baltimore’s literary luminaries). In it, Mencken goes to town on President Harding’s inaugural address of 1921.

It was Mencken’s opinion that Harding “writes the worst English I have even encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm (I was about to write abscess!) of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash.”

Yikes. Though I imagine Harding, in all likelihood, quickly got over it.