A more entirely false and misleading article than the screed, which, under the above caption, crept into last week's issue of an Evanston weekly paper, has not been allowed to get into public print in some time. Its essential statements were entirely false, and the contemptible attack on the village of Wilmette was as wholly groundless and as utterly absurd as could well be imagined.
The article is written in connection with the Cron murder case, and contains the recommendation that the citizens of Wilmette should make generous subscriptions to aid the prosecution of the supposed murderer, Goodrich. The recommendation is alright. It would be a neat thing for Wilmette citizens to do, and would at once show that they were Mr. Wheeler's warm friends, and also that they were determined to keep their village free from criminals of all kinds.
But the statements made about Wilmette's actions in the matter before Goodrich's arrest were wholly without foundation, and constituted a most unjust libel upon both Wilmette and its individual citizens.
We quote from the article: "At a time when his (Mr. Wheeler's) fellow citizens, without regard to creed or nationality, should have rallied to his defense, they stood aloof. For nearly six weeks they allowed Mr. Wheeler to bear alone and unaided the brunt of a charge of murder brought by a disreputable newspaper. For nearly as long a period certain of the "public-spirited" citizens, by innuendo and open assertion, laid suspicion at the door of Frank Wheeler. To clear his character he was obliged to forego all business engagements, and pay heavy expenses. His friends, or those who should have been his friends, did little or nothing. They were content to await developments--wheather favorable or the reverse did not apparently give them any concern. As long as they had something new to talk about every day they did not worry much over the outcome."
There is not a single word of truth in the entire passage quoted. It is a lie from beginning to end, and, moreover, it is a lie for which tere is not a shadow of an excuse. If the writer, who, by the crazy and incoherent style of the article, is, very presumably, the amateur humorist who each week fills the Wilmette column of the paper with flat, stale, and pointless jokes--if this writer, we say, had made the least inquiry, he would have found the whole village indignantly resented the imputations cast on Mr. Wheeler. If he had been only half awake he could not have failed to hear the murmurs of indignation with which the accusation against Mr. Wheeler was received; if he had watched Mr. Wheeler, at church, on the railroad trains, or on the stret, he would have seen him receive assurance after assurance from Wilmette citizens that their faith in him and their opinion of him was unchanged. In a word, if the writer had been possessed of the faint glimmerings of either sense or senses he would know that his statements in last week's paper were utterly groundless and wholly false, but that on the contrary Mr. Wheeler's friends stood by him nobly and that that gentleman was exceedingly gratified thereat.
One thing and one thing only might have been done which was not done. The village board might have offered a reward for the apprehension of the criminal. The board doubtless had excellent reasons for not doing this, chief among which was the fact that they had no money to offer. But so far as the statements quoted are concerned, they are utterly untrue.
We quote again from the same paper, which, under the date of November 18, says: "Mr. Wheeler is today without a stain on his character. He has gone through an ordeal that would try the stout heart. He has come out of it with a reputation unsullied by the foulest aspersions that human wickedness could invent. His friends believe in him more firmly than ever. His enemies are discomfited and utterly confounded. They have done their worst and have miserably failed. It is but just to the citizens of Wilmette to state that their confidence in Mr. Wheeler and their admiration for his high qualities as a man have been, if anything, strengthened. No one has for a moment believed the silly and compromising reports reflecting on his uprightness." These two quotations bring to mind the old saw that to be a good liar one must have a good memory.