Be more annoying than to have a string of...


April 29, 1994

WHAT COULD be more annoying than to have a string of gloriously warm and sunny spring days tarnished by a cold?

Indeed, what could be more annoying than a cold at any time of year? But it's somehow reassuring to know that this bane of human existence is something every era of history shares in common.

Back in 1910, H. L. Mencken, the sage of Baltimore, lamented the lack of medical progress against the common cold. Not enough has changed since then:

"Medical science has disposed of smallpox and the black death and made great progress against toothache and chilblains, but the common cold still baffles it. There are, at the present moment, fully 150,000,000 cases of cold in the United States.

". . . It must be remembered that most persons, when they have a cold at all, have two or three -- one in the head, perhaps, another in the ankles or knees and another in the eyes, shoulder blades, lungs, tonsils, esophogus. Cases of even more lavish multiplication are not rare. It is common, indeed, to meet a man so copiously invaded by colds that only his heart, whiskers and freckles are uninfected.

"Such men make for unrest in the republic. They are ready for any deviltry, from demonicide, or mother-in-law murder, to arson, highway robbery and treason."

-- H. L. Mencken in The Evening Sun, Oct. 31, 1910.

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