Webster’s Unalloyed


The Timid Soul was a middle-aged American whom Webster named Caspar Milquetoast, a word that is now in every dictionary. Mr. Milquetoast was a kindhearted, decent man who hated to offend anyone and consequently was a pushover. His overactive conscience caused him to obey every law scrupulously, even to the point of hurrying past No Loitering signs.

The appeal of this character to Webster’s audience is easy to understand. Anyone who has ever allowed himself to be buffaloed into doing something he didn’t want to do or automatically feels guilty while clearing customs can identify with Caspar Milquetoast.

For the last two decades of his life, Webster pursued the even tenor of his way, turning out cartoons for the Herald Tribune , wintering in Florida, summering in Connecticut, playing bridge, and fishing with his many friends. Then, on September 22, 1952, he collapsed and died while returning to his home in Connecticut after a weekend fishing trip with his friends. His cartoons continued to run in the Tribune until the backlog was exhausted, the last one appearing on April 4, 1953. That day, wrote the playwright Robert E. Sherwood, was for millions of Americans one of life’s darkest moments.