Contributors' Column--November Atlantic

M. Marcel Nadaud, aviator, retired from active service after his third wound, is the popular young novelist of aviation, whom Maurice Donnay has so happily dubbed ‘the winged writer.’ His En Plein Vol has been crowned by the French Academy, and his Chignole has shared with Barbusse’s Le Feu the literary success of the past year. M. Nadaud has kindly consented to allow the Atlantic to print in translation the sequel of Chignole’s adventures, which celebrates, under the title of Birds of a Feather, the hero-saga of French military aviation. George H. Cushing, editor of The Black Diamond, the official organ of the coal industry, published at Chicago, is a recognized authority on his subject, and has spoken during these last years from many platforms in furtherance of the efforts of the National Fuel Administration, under Mr, Garfield, to solve the complex and urgent, problem of our coalsupply. ‘I believe,’he writes, ‘that this material, which explains Mr. Garfield and his board, will prove the kind of help he most, needs now.’ Dallas Lore Sharp, a frequent contributor to the Atlantic, lives on his farm at Hingham, Massachusetts, and is Professor of English at Boston University.

Philip H. Chadbourn has had, during these years of the war, a wide and varied experience in many lands. He took an active part, in the relief work in France and Belgium under Mr. Kellogg. At the time of the Russian revolution in March, 1917, he was in Petrograd. having been sent to Russia by the United States government to inspect and report upon the camps for interned Germans in Russia. We are glad to be permitted to inform our readers that lie was the author of the extraordinarily vivid and graphic description of that momentous event, printed in the Atlantic for July, 1917, under the title of ‘The Russian Ides of March.’ and there ascribed to ‘Paul Wharton.’ Hascal T. Avery is a member of the New York bar and has had some experience in newspaper editorial work, also in the field of advertising. He is now ‘vice-president of a subsidiary company of one of the largest mercantile corporations of America.’ ‘Sarah Alden Ripley’ is the third of Gamaliel Bradford’s ‘Portraits of American Women,’the second of which, ‘Harriet Beecher Stowe,’we printed in July.

Ruth Comfort Mitchell (Mrs. Sanborn Young) is a well-known American writer of both prose and verse, who makes her home in California. William Roscoe Thayer, of Cambridge, is a historian and essayist of high repute, who has specialized in Italian history. His Life and Times of Cavour. published a few years ago, is his most distinguished work. Margaret Lynn, a member of the English Department of the University of Kansas, is an Alantic contributor of long standing. Henry P. Talbot is Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His present paper is complementary to the earlier one, ‘Chemistry at the Front.’ printed in our August, issue.

Maria Moravsky is a young Russian poetess, who came to America just before the revolution. ‘She is one of the bestknown of the younger Russian poets,’ says a writer in the New York Evening Post, ‘has done numerous critical essays, and published seven or eight books; but she looks like a child or a young boy in her leather cap and her great-coat.’ To the editor of the Atlantic she writes: —

I came to your country about a year ago with the purpose to study it. I loved America from afar and I was very happy to he sent here as a correspondent of Letopis, the magazine of Maxim Gorky. But very soon I lost the connection with all papers to which I used to contribute in Russia, because, you know, we have plenty of reasons for it now. Then I started to write in English. I said to myself: ‘If I cannot describe America to Russians, I will try to rediscover it for Americans.’ And I feel a little disappointed that my point of view is familiar to you and I could not tell you anything new. . . I have had a hard time studying English here, after the usual ‘twenty-lessons course which the careless foreigner takes before leaving his land.... I must hurry to print wind I write, because I have no other profession; I just know how to think, and it is quite a trial to express my thoughts in your extremely rich and complicated language; I love it so and still cannot conquer it yet!

Beatrice Ravenel is a poet of Charleston, South Carolina, and an occasional contributor of lyrical verse to the Atlantic — ‘For a Sun-Dial’ in July, 1917, and ‘Missing’ in January last. Professor William O. Stevens has been for many years connected with the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he is now Professor of English.

M. Albert Thomas is a leading French Socialist, of that branch of the party which stands firm for a vigorous prosecution of the war. He held office as Minister of Munitions, in the ministry of M. Alexandre Ribot, immediately preceding that of M. Clemenceau. This paper was written at the invitation of the editor. Henry B. Beston, an American journalist, war correspondent, and author has been commissioned by the Atlantic to write a series of articles on various aspects of the naval activities of the Allied countries, and has been given unusual opportunities for observation. Reverend Joseph H. Odell, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Troy, New York, whose vigorous appeal to his clerical brethren. ‘Peter Sat by the Fire Warming Himself.’ aroused such varied emotions, has lately returned from a visit to the seat of war in France. We are not at liberty to reveal the identity of the Staff Officer, whose letters it is our privilege to publish. Dr. John C. Ferguson, of Newton, Massachusetts, is a recognized authority on China, where he has lived for a generation, first in an educational capacity, and since 1902 as an official of the Chinese government in various departments. In 1917 he became adviser on foreign affairs to the President of the Chinese Republic.

From the utmost Antipodes, that is to say, from Yanghokow, Chihli Province, in the Shihpei Assistant District Inspectorate of the District of Changlu of the Chinese Government Salt Revenue Department, comes this pleasant word of appreciation: —

Perhaps it is because I am the only Caucasian in this place, not to speak of being the only American, that the June Atlantic filled such a big place in my life. It is hard to realise the Great War out here, in spite of one’s brothers, relatives and friends all being in some kind of war service. In China, away from the foreign settlements, the European struggle is of secondary or tertiary interest only. Here the poor fishers set and haul

in their nets day and night, singing their onceheard-never-to-be-forgotten fishing chant, the brigands prevent lawful use of the public roads, unmolested in their pillaging, and, higher up, the officials plan how they can borrow more money and how they can squeeze the people a little tighter, to fill their pockets and carry on their political warfare with the South.

So it is that living in this mediæval atmosphere, and serving the chinese Government as one more or less efficient foreign tool to ensure the collection and proper use of this government monopoly, surrounded by grasping and material minor officials, the June Atlantic came like a refreshing shower in the desert. M. Barrès always writes beautifully and so as to make one proud of French manhood and of all the struggling, noble host battling for Righteousness in France. Peculiarly situated as I am, however, ‘An Englishwoman’s Message made the strongest appeal; it is a great message powerfully put and I am a better American, a better Ally, a better man for it. I know now I can’t afford to do without Mrs. Burnett-Smith’s book which you say the George H. Doran Company is to publish shortly.

For fascination and beautiful English Mr. Newton’s ‘A Light-Blue Stocking’ is worth the price of the magazine alone. We who live in China have many Russian friends, and ‘The Mother of Stasya is not only a clever story, but an excellent character portrayal. So I might go on right through the index, but I have imposed on your time already. Each month has two bright days, two brightest days I should say, one material, — pay day; the other mental, ’ Atlantic Day, and I need not add, that, last is best even if the numbers do arrive five weeks late!!


Certain esteemed correspondents have courteously called us to account for the use of the phrase ‘prune themselves,’ in this column in the September issue, in the sense of ‘plume or ‘pride themselves.’ It is not often,’ we are told, ‘that we find the Atlantic napping, but how did such a twist occur?’ We are fortunate in being able to lean on no less eminent an authority than that of the New English Dictionary, where this use of the phrase, although rare, is distinctly recognized. Andrew Marvell, for instance, in his Rehearsal Transprosed, speaks of ‘Divines . . . who pruned themselves in the peculiar virulency of their pens.’

We are glad to say that Miss Kirkland’s paper, ‘The New Death,’ enlarged, and with many quotations from soldiers’ letters, which could ill be spared from the original Atlantic article, has been published in book

form by Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company. This seems to us one of the volumes of permanent significance which the war has yielded.

The writer of the following letter expresses his appreciation of the Atlantic in a form which will, we trust, be as gratifying to the recipients of his bounty as it is to us.

As a matter of charity, for the sake of giving good reading matter to a rural community, and believing from long experience that the Atlantic Monthly is the best magazine published, I desire to subscribe for 20 copies of the magazine for a year. . . . The magazine will be sent to a minister, to be distributed by him to such people as he deems worthy.


New York.

Mr. William C. Scully, still in happy ignorance of the battle that raged over his paper on ‘The Life of the African Ostrich’ in the Atlantic for March last, writes us, on August 4, from the outposts of civilization, at Lobatsai, British Bechuanaland: —

I am up here ‘at the back of beyond.’ You will never find the place on the map. . . . This place is chiefly remarkable for the number and variety of its snakes, which exist in quite embarrassing numbers. A python 26 feet long was killed close to my house, and poisonous mambas, over 12 feet long, often come in among the houses. Lions and most large game have sheered off to the westward, but leopards are a great nuisance. A beautiful cheetah was killed close by, day before yesterday.

. . . Am quite alone, my wife and family being down in a civilized part. I have a small force under me, and have jurisdiction over an area about half the size of Europe.

By inadvertence, we said in this column, in the August number, that Lieutenant Nordhoff was a graduate of the Escadrille Lafayette. He writes us from France, under date of September I : —

I have never been in the Lafayette Eseadrille — which was a squadron fed from the Lafayette Flying Corps, of which latter I was an insignificant member. [He adds:] There was a single tiny misprint, too, the substitution (doubtless long before you saw the MS.) of an n for a c, making it read ‘monoplanes,’ instead of ‘Albatross monoplaces (single-seaters). An Albatross monoplane has never, to my knowledge, made its appearance; whereas the monoplace was formerly a famous Hun scout machine.

A further chapter of Lieutenant Nordhoff’s experiences may he expected in the near future.

Too late for inclusion in his paper on General Foch in the October Atlantic, Mr. Dawbarn sends us an additional paragraph or two adverting to the general’s recent elevation to the highest military rank — that of Marshal of France — in recognition of his eminent services since he has been in supreme command of all the Allied forces. ‘Foch,’he says, ‘wears his laurel and oakleaved hat as a marshal of France at the back of his head, and when he speaks, raises his arm with a free and natural gesture that has no pose in it....His elevation to the rank of marshal consecrates a talent remarkable for its suppleness and richness, for its erudition, and for the wholly French quality of improvisation.’

The many friends whom Captain James Norman Hall has made for himself by his absorbing narrative of ‘High Adventure’ will he gratified to learn that the Atlantic has received a long and interesting letter in his own hand, dated July 27, from the ‘Offiziers kriegsgefaugen Lager,’ Karlsruhe.

Several weeks ago [he writes] I sent you a postcard which I hope you will receive before this letter reaches you. [See the Column in the October number.] . . .

I told you briefly, on my card, how I happened to be taken prisoner. We were a patrol of three and attacked a German formation at some distance behind their lines. I was diving vertically on an Albatross when my upper right plane gave way under the strain. Fortunately the structure of the wing did not break. It was only the fabric covering it, which ripped off in great strips, I immediately turned toward our lines and would have reached them, I believe, even in my crippled condition; but by that time I was very low and under a heavy fire from the ground. A German anti-aircraft battery made a direct hit on my motor. It was a terrific smash and almost knocked the motor out of the frame. My machine went down in a spin and I had another of those moments of intense fear common to the experience of aviators. Well, by Jove! I hardly know how I managed it, but I kept from crashing nose down. I struck the ground at an angle of about 30 degrees, the motor, which was just hanging on, spilled out, and I went skidding along, with I he fuselage of the machine, the landing chassis having been snapped off as though the braces were so many toothpicks. One of my ankles was broken and the other one sprained,

and my poor old hose received and withstood a severe contact with my wind-shield. I’ve been in hospital ever since until a week ago, when I was sent to this temporary camp to await assignment to a permanent one. I now hobble about fairly well with the help of a stick, although I am to be a lame duck for several months to come,

I believe.

Needless to say, the lot of a prisoner of war is not a happy one. The hardest part of it is, of course, the loss of personal liberty. Oh, I shall know how to appreciate that when I have it again. But we are well treated here. Our quarters are comfortable and pleasant, and the food as good as we have any right to expect. My own experience as a prisoner of war, and that of all the other Frenchmen and Englishmen here with whom I have talked, leads me to believe that some of those tales of escaped or exchanged prisoners must have been highly imaginative. Not that we are enjoying all the comforts of home. On the contrary, a fifteen-cent lunch at a Child’s restaurant would seem a feast to me, and a piece of milk chocolate are there such luxuries as chocolate in the world? But for prisoners, 1 for one, up to this point, have no complaint lo make with respect to our treatment.

We have a splendid little library here, which British and French officers who have preceded us have collected, I did n’t realize until I saw it how book-hungry I was. Now I’m cramming history, biography, essays, novels. I know that I’m not reading with any judgment, but I’ll soon settle down to a more profitable enjoyment of my leisure. Yesterday and to-day I’ve been reading The Spoils of Poynton, by Henry James. It is absurd to try cramming there. I’ve been longing for this opportunity to read Henry James, knowing that he was Joseph Conrad’s master. The Spoils of Poynton has given me a foretaste of the pleasure I’m to have.

A prisoner of war lets his compensations. Here I’ve come out of the turmoil of a life of the most intense nervous excitement, a life lived day to day, with no thought of to-morrow, into this other life of unlimited bookish leisure. We are like monks in a convent. We’re almost entirely out of touch with the outside world. We hear rumors of what is taking place at the front, and now and then get a budget of stale news from newly arrived prisoners. But, for all this, we are so completely out of it all that it seems as if the war must have come to an end. Until now this cloistered life has been very pleasant, I’ve had time to think and to make plans for a future which, comparatively speaking, seems assured. One has periods of restlessness, of course. When these come, I console myself as best I may.

Even for prisoners of war there are possibilities of quite interesting adventure — adventure in companionship. Thrown into such intimate relationships as we are here, we make rather surprising discoveries about ourselves and about each other. I should like to write a series of articles for you about life in a prison camp, and the amazing effect it has upon different types of men. But I should need Henry James’s subtlety, all of it, and

something even beyond his uncanny power of analysis, to do the thing justice. There are obvious superficial effects, which I can trace back

to causes quite easily. But there are others which have me guessing.

I had a very interesting experience immediately after being taken prisoner May 7th. I was taken by some German aviators to their aerodrome and had lunch with them before I was sent on to the hospital. Some of them spoke English and some of them French, so that there was no difficulty in conversing. I was suffering

a good deal from my twisted ankles, and had to be guarded in my remarks because of the danger of disclosing military information. But they were a fine lot of fellows. They respected my reticence and did all they could to make me comfortable. It was with pilots from this squadron that we had been fighting only an hour or so before. One of their number had been killed in the combat by one of the boys who was flying with me. I sat beside the fellow whom I was attacking when my wing broke. I was right ‘on his tail,’ as we airmen say, when the accident occurred, and had just opened fire. Talking over the combat with them in their pleasant quarters. I was heartily glad that my affair ended as it did. I asked them to tell me frankly if they did not feel rather bitterly toward me as one of an enemy patrol which had shot down a comrade of theirs. They seemed to be surprised that we had any suspicions on this score. We had had a fair light on an open field.’ Why should there be any bitterness about the result? One of them said to me, ‘Hauptmann, you’ll find that we Germans are enemies of a country in war, but never of the individual. My experience thus far leads me to believe that this is true. There have been a few exceptions, but they were uneducated common soldiers. Bitterness toward America there certainly is, everywhere, and an intense hatred of President Wilson, quite equal in degree and kind to the hatred in America of the Emperor. . . .

Word has just come that we are to move this morning, in an hour’s time. Where we are to go, none of us know. I must hurry my preparations.

. . . We are permitted to receive magazines, but no newspapers. I will be very grateful for the Atlantic.... I shall never tire of reading ‘Jungle Night. I hope Mr. Beebe is to write some more papers for you.

Under date of August 31. Mr. Walter G. Smith, of the prisoner bureau of the Red Gross, writes to us from Herne that, within a few days of that time, that bureau had received news of Captain Hall’s transfer to Landshut in Bavaria, where

there is an officers’ camp for Americans, occupied by about twenty men at this moment. Captain Hall will have the companionship, there of a number of other American aviators, among them Major Harry Milford Brown, Lieut. James E. Duke. Jr., Lieut. Henry C. Lewis, Lieut. B. W. deR. Leyson. Lieut. Harold Archibald MacChesney, and Captain Joseph F. Williamson.