The Contributors' Column--November Atlantic

However masterly her rhetoric, Miss Repplier’s real power of expression comes from her indurated convictions. Those who disagree with her realize that she must be answered.

W. L. George is the stormy petrel of our Atlantic. Where he goes, trouble dwells. Yet it may be that his critics approach him with too sombre a front. Shaw is not always serious, and possibly Mr. George is sometimes quizzical. It is a full year since his ‘ Notes on the Intelligence of Women ’ appeared in the Atlantic, but still letters of dissent, some philosophic, some human, reach us. Of these last is one from a young lady of conservative tendencies who recently summed up her opposition to all radical change by words of bitter protest against ' those degrading articles on women by Lloyd-George.’

Jean Kenyon Mackenzie, our readers well remember, went as a young woman to minister to the black folk of Southwest Africa. Years ago she wrote from the Kamerun a chance letter to the editor. A phrase or two from it struck his ear as descriptive and poetic beyond ordinary writing, so he bided his time, and when Miss Mackenzie returned to this country, asked for the privilege of looking over her correspondence with her family and friends, well knowing that such letters could not have been thrown away. And so it was that 1 Black Sheep ’ was patched and pasted out of a trunkful of yellowing letters and appeared first in the Atlantic, then between boards. The present paper, and one which we shall publish next month, will be ultimately reprinted by the Central Committee on the United Study of Missions, as a textbook.

The Reverend Reinhold Niebuhr is the vigorous pastor of the Lutheran church in Detroit, Michigan. Readers will remember his paper on German-Americanism in our July number. Lucy Pratt, deserving perpetual remembrance as the creator of ‘ Ezekiel,’ opens a new vein in this natural and tender story, ‘ Children Wanted.’ Robert Frost sends an ‘Encounter’ from his mountainside farm hard by Franconia in the White Mountains. The Holts have recently announced the publication of a new volume of Mr. Frost’s poems which will take its place on many a familiar bookshelf next to ‘ The Boy’s Will ’ and “ North of Boston.’

Dr. Eugene Lyman Fisk is Director of Hygiene in the Life Extension Institute, of which the Honorable William H. Taft is president and General William C. Gorgas consultant on sanitation. Dr. Fisk is recognized as an authority on vital statistics, and has for years been connected with the business of life insurance. Interested readers may care to look up a volume of his, entitled ' How to Live,’which was published a few years ago in collaboration with Irving Fisher of Yale. Alfred E. Stearns, headmaster of Phillips Academy, Andover, breaks bis lance with Dr. Flexner at the Atlantic’s request. ' Parents and Schools,’ Dr. Flexner’s rather disconcerting paper in an earlier Atlantic, brought forth an extraordinary number of replies (temperature from hot to burning), but we have thought it well to wait for Mr. Stearns’s reply, in accordance with our original plan. Arthur Bullard, who contributed a paper on our relations with Great Britain to the Atlantic, is the author of ‘The Diplomacy of the Great War,’ published by Macmillan, which we heartily recommend to every serious reader.

In ‘ Snipe ’ the Atlantic’s faith in the ‘first story’ is once again vindicated. The author of this little sea tale, Clarkson Crane, is a young San Franciscan who, after graduating last year from the University of California, took several voyages as an oiler in the engine-room of a Pacific liner. Here he picked up first-hand knowledge which enabled him to tell once more with freshness the age-old story. Amory Hare, Mrs. A. B. Cook in private life, is a granddaughter of the famous missionary, Bishop Hare, and a poet increasingly known to Atlantic readers.

When Lewis R. Freeman, a Californian war correspondent and friend of ours, went down to the sea-coast of England in early August to meet an incoming submarine and get a story which the Atlantic coveted, the date of his visit happened to coincide with the morrow of Captain Fryatt’s execution.

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‘ The horror of this act,’ writes Mr. Freeman, ' was brought home to me especially on this occasion by meeting a number of Fryatt’s old skipper friends and by the fact that the home of his family was almost under the window of my hotel at Dovercourt. . . . These skippers of small merchant marine steamers are a class by themselves and worthy a dozen times over of the inadequate tribute I have paid them.’

How the war looks to Neutral Europe ’ generally depends upon who is doing the talking, but in striving to secure a representative opinion the Atlantic was well advised in approaching Mr. L. Simons. An address of his translated from a Dutch paper happened to fall on the office-desk, and showed instantly, not only his ability to make a statement, but also his freedom from all partisanship except that of his own country. We looked up Mr. Simons’s record and found that he was distinguished alike as a publicist and an editor. His Library of the World’s Best Literature is known throughout the Netherlands. Mr. Simons has lived for years in England and has had long personal familiarity with Germany and the Germans. Pleasing to champions of neither cause, Mr. Simons’s paper represents with precision the opinion of informed and neutral Europe, its prejudices and its prepossessions.

Henry W. Nevinson writes this piece at the Atlantic’s invitation, because his brand of imperialism, his information, and his experience seemed to the editor to mark the appropriateness of the choice. Mr. Nevinson has seen war in many guises. Educated at Shrewsbury and Oxford, he acted as correspondent of the Chronicle during the Græco-Turkish War of 1897, and represented the same daily during the Great Boer War. In 1904 he paid a visit to Central Africa which resulted in a terrific indictment of the Portuguese slave trade which stirred all England. During 1905 Mr. Nevinson watched the revolutionary fighting in the streets of Moscow, and was later appointed to carry the British address to the first Russian Duma. Later he saw much service in the Far, and afterwards in the Near, East, accompanying the Bulgarian army during the campaigns of 1912 and 1913. Knowing what war is, Mr. Nevinson is not Quakerish in his attitude, yet well understands that courage does not dwell exclusively within the soldier’s domain.

H. Sidebotham’s views on the War are so largely at variance with commonplace opinion that it is well to say that he is a military critic of recognized standing. Mr. Sidebotham is Editor of the Manchester Guardian’s History of the War. The author of ' The Calvary of a Nation ’ reserves his name, lest the hand of the Turkish government fall heavy on friends and relatives left behind. The story, as the reader sees, is a first-hand narrative, and the Atlantic, knowing much of the author, has reason to feel entire confidence in his accuracy.

While the provocation of controversy is far from being the main purpose of the Atlantic, the reactions of readers to its varied offerings are always interesting and suggestive. It is only natural, in these days, when the deadliest literary battles are being fought on the field of poetry, that some of the sprightliest comment should come from persons who have been unable to follow the New Verse in its higher later flights. Of these is a New York subscriber, who tore from his Atlantic the page bearing a certain poem and sent it to the editor with the following inscription: —

’Will you kindly inform me where I can procure an English translation of this? I ’m blessed if I can understand it in the original.’

To this the editor: —

‘DEAR MR. -: - ‘If poetry touches prose at one end of the gamut, it touches music at the other — and music suggests rather than explains.
‘Which aphorism forms the text of a long sermon which we will spare you this morning.’
Silence for a few days: then the voice from Manhattan was lifted up once more.
‘I thank you,’ it said, ‘for your good-natured letter. It’s not directly responsive to my question. Still, it may have been intended as a suggestion and not as an explanation, and I rather plume myself on the quickness with which I perceived, and the ingenuity with which I acted upon, your hint that what looked like a poem should be tested as a musical composition. ‘Accordingly I begged a copy of the “poem” from a neighbor, who gave it up cheerfully (having in factalready “given it up’ ' in another sense). He kindly said that I need not return it. I nailed it to a tree, perforated it with a charge of bird-shot at fifteen paces, and ran it through my pianola — first forwards, then backwards.
The result was negative.
‘ There is an old story, which may be new to you because you do not consciously run a funny page. A German, lately arrived in New York, was viewing the sights. In the Ghetto he came upon a bill-board covered with Yiddish inscriptions, written of course in Hebrew characters, which he studied with curious interest. A bystander asked him whether he could read it. The German replied: “I cannot read it; but had I my flude, I maybe could blay it.”
‘Had I a flute, and another copy of the “poem” I might try to play it—if I could be quite sure that you are not making game of me. I confess that I did try to whistle it; but then whistling is n’t music.
‘This requires no answer. Put it into the waste-basket. That is what other editors always do to the fruit of my pen. If I could but write “musical poems” that no one could really understand, and none but editors would pretend to!'

Here is an interesting letter.

To THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY DEAR SIR: -
I have been so deeply stirred by the paper entitled ‘Heroes’ published in the August number of your distinguished magazine to which I have for many years subscribed, that I cannot refrain from sending you a passionate defense of the heroic French soldiers who are fighting to the death for their country, their homes, their ravished women, and their mutilated children.
I have visited two large French Military Hospitals — the Villepin and the Yillepinte, and the great American Ambulance at Neuillv as well as several smaller ones, and among them all there is not one in which the discipline is so lax that the head nurse would allow a patient to smoke in a ward in direct defiance of the doctor’s command even if he did ‘hide himself behind his Medaille Militaire.’ Nor is there one in which a patient would be allowed to gorge himself with fruit until he became ‘violently sick.’
Doctor Edmund C. Gros, a Californian who has resided and practiced in Paris for some years and who is not only one of the staff of the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly, but is also the Medical Chef of its great Ambulance Corps, told this story to me a few days ago: In an American Ambulance which was coming back over terribly rough roads from the firing-line a few days ago, there were a father and a young son both terribly wounded. At first the jolting of the car made the youth scream with the intense pain which it caused him, when his father, who was lying by him, said, ‘ Doueement, mon fils. Cà finira bientot,’and reaching out took his son’s hand in his. After that there was silence save for an occasional moan, but when the painful journey was ended and the wounded men were taken out of the Ambulance, the boy was still breathing, but the loving father-hand which still clasped his, was the hand of the dead.’
Dr. Joseph C. Blake, the eminent New York surgeon who is now not only tge Head of Lady Johnstone’s Hospital at Ris-Orangis Seine-etOise, but who has also been requested by the French Government to take the supervision — which calls for at least one weekly visit — of four Military Hospitals in the same region, writes: —
‘I have read the Article “Heroes’ ’ in the August Atlantic and I do not believe that any one ever found such a collection of miserable human beings in any ward of any Hospital containing French “blesses.” The French wounded in my experience are more cheerful and more courageous than any wounded or sick that I have ever treated. I have never seen a case in which there was a tendency for self-destruction, which is in marked contrast with what I have observed in my practice with other nationalites.
(signed) JOSEPH C. BLAKE.’

The Head Nurse, Miss Pierce, of Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney’s admirably conducted Hospital at Juilly Seine-et-Marne, writes me to the same effect and begs me to add her name to those whose wide experience has led them to honor exceedingly the French wounded Hero.
My own work among the French wounded is too trivial to be quoted, but my loyalty to the inmates of a small French Hospital in Paris which I have constantly visited during the last eighteen months demands that I bear my humble testimony to their patience, their gratitude, their self-control under intense pain, and their deep appreciation of everything that is done for them.
One of these men being cured, was going back to the front after having been three times wounded. I was at the hospital when he left and he kissed the old sister on both withered cheeks, saying, ‘Au revoir, ma soeur, je reviendrai bientôt,’ and with a hand-clasp, a laugh, an earnest ’Mille remerciements, Madame — Vive l’Amerique,’ to me, off he went in high spirits to the hell in Verdun, where in a week he lay stark and dead.
Dear American people, you who are citizens of a great Sister Republic, you who have lived and fought for ideals, you who are now showing the world so noble an example of generosity, not only in the ceaseless stream of supplies of all kinds that you are pouring into this stricken land, but in the giving cheerfully, endlessly, the service — yes, and the lives of your dear ones, do not believe that they for whom you are making such sacrifices are unworthy of them. They are deserving of all of your great gifts; they receive them with deepest thankfulness, with deepest appreciation.
‘I testify to that which I know and have seen and my testimony is sure.’
SUSAN ABBOTT MEAD.

PARIS, September, 1916.
The Atlantic sympathizes with the spirit of Mrs. Mead’s letter and states once more that ‘Heroes’ was no attack on French heroism. The description of a true but distressing episode was printed to show yet again that military virtues cannot be transmuted at will into the virtues chiefly cherished in times of peace.