The Contributors' Column--December Atlantic

Alice Tisdale is a young American woman whose husband’s business takes them both to remote quarters of Manchuria. The account of her romantic adventures which she contributes in several installments to the new volume of the Atlantic marks this pleasant writer’s first appearance in print.

Professor Gilbert Murray’s sharp retort to Mr. Bullard’s Atlantic paper sets forth succinctly the contentions of the British case. In considering the merits of this interesting debate, our readers should remember that Mr. Bullard has repeatedly advocated an alliance between Great Britain and the United States along lines in harmony with the traditional policy of British liberalism and of American democracy. On the other hand, they must also recall that Professor Murray is a Liberal and the son of a Liberal, that his reputation as a publicist is second only to his fame as a scholar and poet, and that he is supposed to enjoy the peculiar confidence of Earl Grey, of whom lie is the conspicuous and consistent defender.

Is Amiel read nowadays? We dare say that in our extra-university audience his name is known only to those passing or past the meridian of life. Something of his spirit seems reincarnate in the author of these ‘ Meditations of the Heart,’ who, curiously enough, happens never to have turned for companionship to the beatific pages of the ‘Journal Intime.'

John Masefield was rejected by the army surgeons at the very outset of the war and has since worked without ceasing for his country’s cause. Collecting what supplies he could, he himself sailed a small boat to Gallipoli and distributed comforts and necessities along the fighting line.

Later he came to America to raise money by lecturing, and since his return he has been working at hospital relief. Such is the life of poets in war.

Mr. Follett is a teacher at Brown University, his wife is a lecturer, and together they are writing for the Atlantic a series of papers on contemporary novelists. The series, beginning with this appreciation of Galsworthy, will embrace Conrad, Hardy, our own Mr. Howells, and perhaps others.

That Mr. Follett’s criticism is sufficiently penetrating seems indicated by the following note, just received from Glen Ellen, California.


I have just received through my clipping bureau, page 495 of the October number of the Atlantic Monthly, so that I am prevented, by being far removed from a news-stand, from knowing the name of the person who wrote the paragraph anent my novel ‘The Little Lady of the Big House.’

In five and one-half short lines of a column that is a narrow column, because it takes two columns across to make a page of the Atlantic Monthly, I find this person has used the following words and phrases— ’erotomania,’ ‘sensualism,’ ‘continence,’ ‘voluptuous,’ ‘desire,’ and ‘ingrowing concupiscence.' Two lines farther down, this person uses ‘perverted.'

Now I rise up in meeting to say that I never knew an ‘honest’ blacksmith who was honest; that I never met a person proclaiming blatantly that he told the truth, who did tell the truth; that I never met a person shouting a vocabulary of filth in denunciation of what he esteemed filth, who was, himself, clean-minded. Our psychoanalysts have long since classified such persons. I defy any person, in any four-hundred-page novel of mine,or in all the totality of my forty published books of fiction, to collect a total of such words that the critic in your columns managed facundly to introduce into five and one-half short lines.

But, gee! the foregoing is not what is bothering me. The person has named the person’s pathological pigeonhole. What I rise up in meeting now, the second time, to ask is— who wrote the criticism? I ask because I am infatuated to know the name and sex of the person, possessing such a subtle and active vocabulary, who could conclude such scathing criticism with the following query, namely, if I (Jack London, the apostle of red school of fiction for healthy wholesome school-boys), am ‘too undisciplined for the new impersonal meanings of things’?

I am infatuated with that discipline ‘for the new impersonal meanings of things.'

Is it fish, flesh, or fowl? — I mean the person who wrote it. I simply must know who and what it is, whether it be a he, a she, or an it.

That discipline, possessed by this person, ‘for the new impersonal meanings of things’! I don’t know what it means. That is why I am infatuated. It sounds almost potent enough to serve as the foundation for a new religion or a new metaphysic. Better cults have been founded on less unintelligent propositions. I must know. Please be kind and let me know.

Sincerely yours,


Mr. London will perhaps pardon us if we recall to him the distinction between a ‘ vocabulary of filth ' and a denunciation of ' what a man esteems filth.’

Three contributions dealing with Russia are designedly grouped in this issue. Of all the nations now at war, Russia, as it seems to the Atlantic, is apt at the last to fare the best. Her bulky shadow will lie deeper over Europe than ever before. Thus it is she attracts our increasing interest, and we shall try to print during the next year much about her that is illuminating. Among British admirers of Russia Mr. Harold Begbie has long been conspicuous.

Mr. Begbie’s career as an author and journalist has been a busy one, taking him into many fields; and the size and complexity of the Russian problem have found him undaunted: —

‘The greatest thing in history for two thousand years,’he writes us, ‘is the emergence of Russian character in sympathy — affectionate and almost childlike sympathy— with Anglo-Saxon character. Really and truly they love us. The word is not a bit too strong—that’s the point: it sounds too strong only because we think of love as something exceptional or something sentimental. Russian love is child’s love for what is beautiful and kind and good. It’s human nature’s most natural quality. The Hamlet of Russia is n’t in the least like the real Hamlet: he is n’t even Byronic. He’s Rudin [Turgemeff’s Rudin, of course] — a melancholy child that does n’t know what to be at in a nursery too big for him.

‘American financiers and merchants who seek Russian trade must be educated in this great truth. It is part of the spiritual destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race to work with Russia, and only those who work with love and sympathy can ever further this immense destiny. No exploiters ! ’

Warrington Dawson, another traveler, with headquarters at Versailles, narrates a reminiscence of Petrograd, here printed under the title of ‘ The Man on the Altar,’ which, but for its absolute authenticity, suggests the inspiration of another Scheherezade. Who were the ladies of high degree,

who led him to his adventure? If one’s fancy turns to the Grand Duchesses themselves, daughters of the Czar, whose lovely pictures occasionally supplant the actresses in our pictorials, we must remember that in Russia, if anywhere, is imagination justified.

Robert P. Blake is a trained American historian who has been living in Russia for several years, studying the country, its language, its customs, and its history. Of Miss Sherwood every Atlantic reader knows.

Elisabeth Woodbridge is Mrs. Charles G. Morris of New Haven, an admirable and experienced essayist. Miss Mackenzie, who has just returned to Africa, has written for the Central Committee on the United Study of Foreign Missions a volume (of which the two Atlantic papers form a part) which will be published in the spring. Hughes Cornell is a California writer new to the Atlantic.

The music books gradually being introduced in the Boston Public Schools through the voluntary labors of Dr. A. T. Davison and Mr. Thomas W. Surette are now available for use in other communities. The book of Rote Songs for the first three grades and the accompanying book of words are published by the Boston Music Co., 26 West St., Boston, Mass.

The song-book is for the teachers only; the book of words is given to the children in the second and third grades; the first grade children use no book of any kind.

Any town or city desiring to introduce these books into their public schools can purchase them in quantities at the following prices:

Song book, ten (10) cents each Book of Words, six (6) cents each

This reduces the total expenditure for music books far the first three years to a few cents for each child.

The new fourth grade book is already in use in the Boston Schools and will shortly be published by the Boston Music Co.

No one writing for publication could have written ‘The Trench - Raiders.' The narrative is hot and tumultuous as blood and battle are. The account was written to close friends, and is given to a wider circle only by a lucky chance. Henry W. Massingham, the accomplished editor of the London Nation (and formerly editor of the Chronicle), is a British Liberal whose knowledge of men generally, and of Irishmen in particular, lends appropriateness to his choice as author of this article. Lewis R. Freeman’s distinguishing trait as correspondent is an instinct, amounting to genius, for being in the right place at the right time. A year ago, he wrote for the Atlantic the personal description of a terrific Zeppelin raid over London. This is a sequel. If the manuscript passed the censor, it did not do so unscathed. In almost every paragraph is a rectangular hole, neatly contrived to remove information without destroying the sense. The successive sheets look like nothing so much as a pianola roll.

Many deeply interesting letters have been written to the author of ' The Acropolis and Golgotha,’in the September Atlantic. From one which bore an Idaho postmark, we quote a paragraph or two.

‘Not anywhere in recent literature, and not anywhere else in just the same spiritual terms, have I found anything that expresses the truth as I have found and felt it for years, as in this article of yours. You are not, however, singular, not quite alone, in your conception and expression. It is to be found in the real dreamers of our great literature, though rarely so humanly expressed, so devoid of mere “church’ halo.

‘Permit me to tell you a true story about Matthew Arnold. It will illuminate the whole subject. I have it almost at first hand. Arnold had been to a so-called Non-conformist church service one Sunday morning, to hear preach a man whom we all loved very much. It was what was, and still is, termed “Communion Sabbath.”He came home from the service, went upstairs, and on his way down again, was heard by one of the maids to say: “ Wonderful, beautiful!" She listened, and he came down the stairs repeating: —

“ When I behold the wondrous cross On which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride.”

“Wonderful,” he repeated, “beautiful!” He stepped out on the lawn, vaulted over a low hedge, and forthwith died.’

We regret that the following correction could not be made in an earlier Atlantic:


4 November, 1916.

To the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly:

SIR: — An article by me in the Atlantic for October contains—page 436—a statement which is misleading for the reader and unjust to the Republican Party. I ask space in your December number—the earliest possible — to correct my error. The article had been in circulation for more than a month before the unintentional misrepresentation was brought to my notice by a friend.

I stated that ‘ the Republican Party was wholly unable to get an income tax enacted in times of peace.' I neglected to state, because I did not remember, that leaders of the Republican Party proposed and promoted the adoption of the XVI Amendment, the Amendment which gave Congress power to lay an income tax, and that the party itself is entitled to the credit of its adoption. President Taft declared the Amendment to be in force February 25, 1913, a week before he went out of office, and the Democratic Party came into full power. The Republican Party was indeed unable to enact an income tax; but it was because the XVI Amendment was not adopted in time.

Your obedient servant,


A reader sends us the following note from the Base Horse Transport Depot of the Salonica Expeditionary Force:

‘ Many thanks for the Atlantic. Just now I am busy as Hades. Things are going well. We are doing our share, I assure you, though I can’t tell you now the half of what we are doing out here. The British do not advertise, but take it from me that they are not shirking. I often wish we did advertise a little more, for the men are incredibly splendid — absolutely Elizabethan in gallantry and heart. I suppose every soldier feels the same about his own people, but I don’t think there’s an Englishman in the world war who’d care to be anything else and is n’t proud of the mere fact that he, too, is under that flag. I dare say all the Allies feel the same way about themselves. Some of the Germans certainly do not.’

The other day a Texas lady, hearing kind, but indefinite, words, spoken regarding the Atlantic Monthly, wrote for information to the Smart Set, a magazine engaged, as its publishers inform us, in furnishing ’lively entertainment for minds that are not primitive.’ For the benefit of our readers, we quote the Smart Set’s reply:

‘In reference to your request about the Atlantic Monthly, we wish to inform you that we have never heard of such a magazine. We imagine it is some local paper that is published and not a national publication, so we do not know where to tell you to apply for it.’

That very afternoon, the purveyor of this information undertook further researches and added the following postscript:

’Since writing this letter, I have learned that the Atlantic Monthly is published in Boston, Massachusetts, at 3 Park Street.’

We are glad to know that fifty-nine years of modest advertising have not been entirely wasted.

Mention is made on an advertising page of a new series to begin in January upon which the Atlantic bases pleasant hopes. Captain J. M. Morgan, late of the Confederate Navy, spins a yarn of his boyhood’s adventures on a Confederate privateer such as a romancer would be afraid to invent.

The boy was as gay as he was gallant, and the spirit with which the veteran tells his story is boisterous and buoyant as ever it was when the Georgia showed Yankee blockaders a clean pair of heels.

The Atlantic welcomes, too, a new series of papers by William Beebe describing a naturalist’s adventures in British Guiana.

We are publishing in January also a very striking paper by L. P. Jacks on ‘ The Insane Root of War,’ which, to our thinking, goes deeper into the heart of the problem than anything we have seen. There will be a personal account of the eruption of Mauna Loa in 1910, during which a moving river of lava, 14 feet high, wiped out forests and fields. Lieutenant Bonesteel’s narrative is a curiously modern version of Pliny’s famous account.

We should speak, too, of a defense of the Protestant clergy, who have been often under fire during recent years. The author, Charles M. Sheldon, will be remembered for his startling religious tract, still famous after many years. In His Steps.

In the department of The Great War, we announce for January a particularly interesting group of papers, including a trenchant characterization of the London Times and its relation to the war, by the brilliant editor of the Daily News,Alfred G. Gardiner.

This month we shall print two war diaries of contrasted types. One tells of the escape of a French lieutenant, interned in Holland, who won his way to the service of his country through obstacles that seem wellnigh incredible; the other is the first installment of the diary of a French lieutenant, a man of educated tastes, who set down, day by day, the terrific story of his section of the front. Finally, there is the correspondence between a Belgian soldier and a French officer who had been blinded as he fought to save the other’s country.