The Contributors' Column--May Atlantic

The Atlantic is leaving Park Street! For the old, rambling, inadequate, inconvenient, attractive offices we have all the traditional affection of the New Englander for the Old Homestead. It was in 1880 that Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Company brought the magazine from Winthrop Square, and here it has stayed during the thirty-seven intervening years, first tucked comfortably away in Number 4 (celebrated in Bliss Perry’s pleasant volume), and afterwards, as the magazine multiplied itself by two and four and six and eight, in Numbers 3 and 4, the old Bullard house and the Quincy mansion respectively. Now Number 3 is to be rebuilt and modernized, and it is high time for the Atlantic, long pinched for room, to seek ampler quarters.

We move to 41 Mount Vernon Street, — a brand-new building on the corner of Joy Street, at the very apex of Beacon Hill, — there to begin the cultivation of fresh memories which our great-grandchildren shall duly garner.

Miss Winifred Kirkland, of Asheville, North Carolina, has not infrequently contributed to the . Atlantic pleasant essays on many subjects, but none of such deep significance as this. ’The New Death,’ which we print at the head of this number, is to be enlarged into a book of the same title, which will be published shortly. A. Edward Newton is a business man of Philadelphia, who finds his recreation and joy in the gentle art of book-collecting. His recent papers in the Atlantic on ‘ Collecting Abroad’ and ‘Collecting at Home,’ and on that ‘Ridiculous Philosopher,’ William Godwin, reveal the warm affection for Lamb which glows with a still brighter light in ‘What Might Have Been.’ We are glad to be able to announce the publication in book form in the not too distant future of several companion papers by Mr. Newton. A. G. Tolfree is an American who has lived for considerable periods in Russia and writes from much first-hand experience.

In ‘ God’s Little Joke,’ the Elderly Spinster draws once more upon the store of unfamiliar and fascinating material gathered by her in her residence of many years in Northern India. Apropos of the first of these Stories of a Polygamous City, a critic writes in the Philadelphia Public Ledger: ’Her writing has that rare quality called style, by which is meant the impress of personality on the written word.... It is proved once again that there is no other writing that has the charm of the writing of an educated woman of temperament.’ The group of strange and tragic verses by Mrs. Louise Morgan Sill was called forth by things dreadful and beautiful which she has seen and heard in her work in Paris among the French wounded. Mr. A. D. McLaren is a Scotsman who has lived many years in Germany and is the author of that excellent and well-informed book, Germany from Within, His paper on ‘ The Mind and Mood of Germany To-Day,’ in the Atlantic for December last, will be remembered as a good example of his careful observation and balanced judgment. Robert M. Gay, whose pleasant essays on familiar themes have often appeared in the Atlantic, is Professor of English at Goucher College, Baltimore. Henry J. Ford is Professor of History and Politics at Princeton, and President of the American Political Science Association.

Mrs. Laura Spencer Portor’s Adventures, which unhappily conclude with this paper, will eventually be gathered into a volume which many readers will be glad to possess. Sidney A. Merriam, author of ’Bill,’is the son of a captain in the United States Navy, and has himself seen service in the Marine Corps from 1903 to 1911, retiring with the rank of first lieutenant. At the outbreak of the great war, he enlisted in the Canadian forces, and fought on the Somme and at Ypres, and was wounded at Vimy Ridge, He was invalided home to Canada, where he is now convalescing. Laura A. Hibbard is a member of the English department of Wellesley College. Ellwood Hendrick, chemist, stock-broker, and essayist by turns, contributes occasional speculative and imaginative papers to this magazine. The most recent was ‘Adventures in Philosophy’ (October, 1915). Henry Rutgers Marshall, by profession an architect, is a frequent contributor to artistic, psychological, and philosophical journals, as well as to literary magazines and reviews, and has published several volumes on Æsthetics and kindred subjects. He is a member of many learned societies, and has been President of the American Institute of Architects (New York Branch), and of the American Psychological Society.

Arthur Ruhl has seen long service as a correspondent, in peace and war of Collier’s Weekly. In the course of the present war he has spent much time in Russia, and the present paper is an agreeable reflection of his personal observations and experiences. Wilbur Daniel Steele, of Provincetown, well known as a teller of strange tales, has not, we think, before written so earnestly of the things which lie in his heart. James Norman Hall, author of Kitchener’s Mob, has recovered, we are thankful to say, from his severe wound, and is once more flying on the Western front. C. Journelle is a French writer of distinction, whose long-continued investigation of conditions in the invaded districts of France, led the editor to invite this paper. Joseph Husband, once a coalminer, as he has told readers of several years ago in his thrilling narrative, ‘A Year in a Coal-Mine,’ has in the intervening years reached success as an advertising agent in Chicago, and is now, as his present paper so vividly informs the reader, an enlisted man in the naval service of the United States. This is the first of a series of papers planned to describe in very human detail the training of men for the American Navy.

We ask our readers kindly to act upon the suggestion in the following letter, which comes to us from the Library War Service, of the American Library Association:

We are just in receipt of a communication signed by the Camp Librarians at Camps MacArthur, Logan, Bowie, Travis, Pike, and Doniphan, stating that there is in these camps a demand for the Atlantic Monthly, which is far in excess of the copies received through the Burleson ‘one-cent’ privilege. It is very desirable that more copies of the Atlantic Monthly reach them promptly from the original subscribers. On behalf of the thousands of reading men whom they represent, they ask us ‘ in some emphatic way’ to place this matter before your subscribers, and see if it is possible to get more copies of this magazine into the post office under the Burleson Act. The need is urgent.

There is an over-supply of some magazines, but an under-supply of yours. We are of the opinion that this need of a supply exists at many other camps, and we therefore hasten to call this matter to your attention.
Very truly yours,
Assistant to the Director,
Library War Service.

In this column there has appeared more than one appreciative reference to the efficient poets of our day. Unbusinesslike sensibility is departing, and businesslike sense remains. A practical suggestion for the amplification of the poetical supply comes to us from a young Parnassian of the Dakotas, who, in sending us a ’little poem ’ for publication, remarks,—

‘ I have discovered that unconsciously I did compose along somewhat the same line as Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life.” I cannot remember of having read this poem for several months before I wrote mine. But as some one has said, “ There is nothing new, only a new way of saying it.” ’

Well, there certainly is a new way of writing what Longfellow wrote! We quote a stanza from our correspondent’s version: —

You are here, so am I,
All is ’fore us, so why cry?
‘Life is real, Life is earnest,’
Life is as heart doth yearnest.

Yearn, yearner, yearnest. So the singing ages climb onward and upward.

‘ Neighbor Hans,’ the true story of a Prussian neighborhood in Mexico, brought the Atlantic many interesting letters of personal experience recorded in confirmation of the spirit of the tale. Here is an interesting example which comes to us from an elderly lady.


I have read with much interest the article in your current number, entitled ‘Neighbor Hans.’ I believe it to be a plain statement of facts which are significant, though I should have doubted it but for a personal experience some years ago.

In 1904 I was making a tour in Algeria with a friend, our ages being then about sixty and seventy years, respectively; and our grey hairs usually insured us some of the consideration shown to age in all countries. We were much accustomed to travel, and met with courtesy from Spaniards (though this was directly after our Spanish-American War) and from Arabs. On the occasion of which I speak, we had entered our sleeper on the road from Constantine to the oasis of Biskra (the scene, by the way, of Mr. Hichens’s Garden of Allah) and settled our luggage in our compartment, whose door opened, continental-fashion, on a corridor running lengthwise through the car, when I became aware of a man in the doorway, saying calmly: ‘My friend will occupy a berth in this compartment.’ The speaker was a middle-aged, rotund blond, oozing prosperity and self-complacency, whom I had already noticed with his placid wife and seventeen-year-old daughter. Beside him stood the designated friend, a tall man who said nothing, and the conductor, a little Frenchman, or Algerian more probably, who looked cowed and evidently proposed to do nothing.

‘Impossible!’ I said; ‘this compartment was engaged and paid for in Algiers,’

He offered no excuse nor pretext whatever of need or preference — merely insisted, ’My friend will occupy a berth here.’

Evidently the door must have been without lock of any sort, because I remember revolving plans for barricading ourselves.

At last I said (more from curiosity as to his answer than from any other motive): ‘How would you like it if your wife were treated in this way?’

’I should n’t like it,’ he laughed indifferently.

We were at a loss as to what to do, but though considerably perturbed, remembering that we were alone in Africa, and that the conductor evidently had no intention of protecting us, we allowed our luggage to be taken to another compartment, thankful to find that this was to be permitted us; but I tried as a parting shot, ‘This does not end the matter. I am going back to Algiers, and shall at once report the incident to the railroad officials.’

This too had no effect, unless to make the conductor look somewhat unhappy, I did report it, but I think nothing was done. I understand the road to be French owned. Naturally, this German was the first person to enter the omnibus at Biskra; naturally also, he and his women-folk were the first to appear on the flat roof (when we had freshened ourselves for a view of the most wonderfully beautiful sunset-landscape I ever saw).

The ’friend’ I saw no more. The man did not look exactly like an officer—I thought him rather a rich manufacturer or official, perhaps of Krupps.

The incident is trivial, but in its triviality lies its significance. I never mentioned it till this war, and its illuminating events. I thought it the strange freak of an individual, not to be set down against a people. Besides, the whole thing seemed so improbable that I thought friends must believe I had forgotten some point which would be explanatory. We are accustomed to think that people act with a motive, save in rare cases of degenerates; but what could be the motive here in molesting and alarming two old ladies, total strangers? Not scarcity of accommodations, as was shown by our obtaining places elsewhere. I do not remember whether they were as good — that was a minor matter, forgot ten in the stronger emotions. And what was his uncanny hold over that silent conductor? Was it sheer love of showing power? What satisfaction could that give him alone, against two old ladies?

This has been to me a most illuminating experience, causing me to say often, when incredible tales of needless brutality have come to us in the course of the war, ‘I believe! I remember the man on the road to Biskra.’

Concerning the late Reverend Arthur Russell Taylor, creator of Mr. Squem, whose early and lamented death we have already noticed in this column, his ecclesiastical superior, Bishop Darlington of the Episcopal Diocese of Harrisburg, sends us this warm tribute: —

The Reverend Arthur Russell Taylor, D.D., Rector of St. John’s Church, York, Pa., died on the operating table in the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, on January 7, 1918. . . . He valued your acceptance and approval of his articles highly, and often spoke to me about your kindness. . . . For years he has been suffering from a tumor on the brain, which had totally destroyed the sight of one eye, and which by its pressure was causing him constant pain, sleepless nights, and the gradual failing of his remaining eye. I think it only right that your pages should bear some tribute to the heroic battle this noble Christian man fought for many years. Like Robert Louis Stevenson, he was cheerful and brightened the lives of others until the very last, and almost his final writings were sent to the Atlantic.

Mr. Buxton’s paper in the March Atlantic has stirred the fires of controversy. We are glad to give space to the following critical scrutiny ol the Buxton position by Professor Duggan of Columbia University. To TUB EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC.
Once in a while I read a letter of explanation in the Contributors’ Column of the Atlantic, and I am wondering whether you would object to publish this one from me.

As a student of the Balkans for many years,

I am anxious that at this critical time intelligent Americans should not be misled by the article of Noel Buxton’s which appears in the current Atlantic on Austria-Hungary and the Balkans. Mr. Buxton is an authority on the Balkans, and we are all indebted to him for his admirable The War and the Balkans. But his views on AustriaHungary do not carry with them the authority of other scholars with whom he is wholly at variance. H. W. Steed, who for twenty years was the representative of the London Times at Vienna, and whose Hapsburg Monarchy is the classic on that subject in English, strongly condemns the position of Mr. Buxton. So does R. W. SetonWatson, who knows more about, the South Slavs than any other foreigner, and whose South Slav Question is the mine from which so many others dig.

Mr. Buxton was the leader of the Bulgarphils in 1914-1915, whose futile optimism misled English opinion until it was finally awakened to the truth when Bulgaria stabbed Serbia in the back at the time of Mackensen’s invasion of Serbia. Mr. Buxton is now the leader of the Austrophils in England, who profess to discover a chastened and liberalized Austria-Hungary in which the subject nationalities will no longer suffer the outrageous oppression which has been their lot hitherto.

The limited space of a letter wall not permit anything like a complete answer to Mr. Buxton’s statements, but attention may be directed to a few of the most misleading. In comparing Austria-Hungary with the Balkan states he says, ’To put it bluntly, most of the Balkan nations have yet to learn the most elementary lessons in racial tolerance.’ To imply that Austria-Hungary has learned them, in the face of the bitter repression of the subject races during the past decade, is truly astonishing. Has Mr. Buxton forgotten the scandalous trial of the fifty-three Serbs at Agram in 1909, or the notorious Friedjung trial at Vienna in 1910, when it was proved that the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office deliberately forged documents to secure conviction of the leaders of the subject nationalities? ’Even Hungary now possesses a cabinet pledged to universal suffrage.’ The pledge was given in 1910, and has not yet been fulfilled. Moreover, it is not two months since the Hungarian Premier, Dr. Weckerle, stated that the Hungarian democracy must be based upon Magyar domination. What that means for the subject nationalities is evident from the fact that, though they number more than 11 millions of the 21 millions of inhabitants of Hungary, they have only 47 of the 453 members of the Hungarian Parliament.

No session of the Austrian Parliament was held from the outbreak of the war until after the Russian Revolution. The troops were mobilized and the loans issued without its coöperation. The early sessions after its reopening were devoted to hearing the bitter complaints of the Czechs, Poles, and Slovenes about the murders, deportations, and outrages committed among their people. The session had to be closed to allow the passions to cool off roused by the leader of the German liberals when he shouted, ‘They did not hang enough of them.’

Mr. Buxton professes to believe that AustriaHungary will become a federal state made up of autonomous nationalities. The files of the New Europe are open to him as to us. in which he can read the speeches of Dr. von Seydler in the Austrian Parliament, and Dr. Weckerle in the Hungarian, wherein they state, on the authority of the Emperor-King, that there is no intention of changing the Dual Monarchy into a federal state.

Mr. Buxton seems to be as much in error concerning Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian designs for the future as he is in drawing inferences from their past. He provides a disposition of territory ‘that might satisfy all parties.’ I will refer to but one of his suggestions: ‘Bulgaria’s former frontiers to be restored, and, in addition, her claims recognized to the so-called unenntested zone, to the Bulgarian portion of the recent Greek acquisitions in Macedonia, and to the part of the Dobrudja taken from her in 1913 by Romnania.’ Bulgaria is now in possession of the whole of the uncontested zone except Monastir, and of the Bulgarian portion of the recent Greek acquisitions in Macedonia. She not only has secured the part of the Dobrudja taken from her in 1913 by Roumania, but the whole of the Dobrudja, which Roumania was but yesterday compelled to cede to the Quadruple Alliance, is part of her booty. Moreover, Mr. Buxton must know that Mr. Radoslavoff, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, has the support of the leaders of the various Bulgarian parties in the demand that he has put forth for the whole of Serbia east of the Morava River. Even the moderate Mir, the organ of Mr. Guesehoff, approves this demand, and as its fulfillment null make Bulgaria coterminous with Austria-Hungary, and enable the railroad from Berlin to Constantinople to pass through wholly friendly territory, it will, no doubt, be accomplished should the war result even in a draw.

Is it not strange that, while the Central Powers are carving up Russia and dismembering Roumania, scholars like Mr. Buxton should show such concern for the integrity of Austria-Hungary? They are the cause of the greatest discouragement to the Czechs, Slovaks, and the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary, and to Serbia and Montenegro, which have suffered so terribly and which can survive only in the event of an Allied victory.

Surely the Atlantic Monthly would have intelligent Americans familiar with all the facts, and not have them rely upon hopes which the past history of Austria-Hungary justifies us in believing will not be realized. Mr. Buxton’s views have been controverted in English magazines like the Fortnightly and the Contemporary. But few Americans read the English magazines. Hence this letter.

Very truly yours,

Call a man a liar in your discretion, but be careful how you tell him, point blank, that he has no sense of humor. Conversely, if you wish to pass his guard, flatter his sense of humor. These remarks are called forth by our pleasure at this flattering comment from a gentle reader: —

‘An editorial sense of humor is, I like to believe, of even rarer quality than that of my little daughter, though she assures me that she only laughs at “ things that are really funny, like when somebody tumbles down.”’