The Contributors' Column--June Atlantic

The Villager writes with full knowledge, from personal experience of the conditions and tendencies he describes. His name he withholds, if only for his neighbors’ sake. ‘Coretta and Autumn’ is the second of Olive Tilford Dargan’s sketches of the hill-folk among whom she lives. We can avouch the entire competence of the British Liberal to discuss the subject of the momentous step about to be taken in this country. In England he has been well known for the better part of a generation as investigator, editor, and writer. Nathaniel Wright Stephenson is Professor of History at the College of Charleston, South Carolina.

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, one of the bestknown contemporary British poets, has been an occasional contributor to the Atlantic. His last contribution was ‘Firelight,’ in the issue of April, 1916. Hearty Earl Brown, who made her bow to Atlantic readers with ‘The Marrying Time,’ in October last, is an associate professor in the State University of Lawrence, Kansas. In the autumn of 1920 it will be sixty years since John Burroughs’s first contribution appeared in the Atlantic. No other writer, we believe, living or dead, with the single exception of Mr. Howells, has been represented in the magazine over so long a period, and very few have exceeded Mr. Burroughs in actual bulk of contributions, to say nothing of their quality. In this number we conclude Franck L. Schoell’s shrewd account of his experience as secretary ad interim to the ex-Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria. Ferdinand himself, the papers tell us, has written for reservations to a Swiss hotel!

Cornelia Throop Geer was graduated at Barnard (Columbia) College, and was for a time instructor in English at Bryn Mawr. She will be remembered as the author of the two delightful stories, ‘Pearls before Swine’ and ‘The Irish of It,’which we printed in October, 1917, and March, 1918. Her present paper is in soberer mood. Samuel Scoville, Jr., of Philadelphia, is, as he writes to the editor, ‘a lawyer with a fondness for scribbling, and have done during my odd moments quite a bit of writing. ... I am “Chief Woodsman” for the Boy Scouts of Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, and have tried to interest some ten thousand boys in the out-of-door things which can be seen and heard near their homes.

. . . All of the incidents in my nature articles are actual experiences of my own.’ In August, 1918, the Atlantic printed Mr. Scoville’s ‘Everyday Adventures.’ Fannie Stearns Davis (Gifford) is a poet and essayist of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, happily familiar to Atlantic readers. Joseph P. Cotton, a practising lawyer in New York City, acted as chief of the Meat Division of the Food Administration, and for upwards of a year was Mr. Hoover’s representative in London. Dwight W. Morrow, also a lawyer by profession, is a member of the firm of J. P. Morgan & Co., with a distinguished record for useful service abroad during the war. Captain Louis Graves is on duty at Headquarters of the Third Army of the American forces now in Germany.

Since the signing of the armistice, Vernon Kellogg’s activities have rather increased than diminished. As an official of the American Relief Administration, concerned with the distribution of food-supplies in all the hunger-ridden districts, he has, as he writes the editor, ‘been into Switzerland and Holland and Italy, and in Poland and Germany (Berlin, Munich, Leipzig),’ and has ‘had lots of talks with Germans and with people who have had both war-time and post-war contact with Germans.’ Dr. Kellogg has just returned to the United States. L. J. S. Wood has for the past decade lived in Rome, where he has devoted much study to the politics of both the Quirinal and the Vatican. He is the Rome correspondent of the well-known British Catholic weekly, the Tablet, and has written occasionally for the Times and the Daily Mail. A Roman Catholic by faith, he is regarded as a critic of fair and liberal mind. Last summer the Daily Telegraph printed a series of articles from his pen on ‘The Vatican and the Allies.’ Herbert Sidebotham, a favorite and trusted contributor to the Atlantic, was long military editor on the staff of the Manchester Guardian. He now holds a similar position on the staff of the Times.Charles Dawbarn is special diplomatic correspondent of the London Chronicle. His last article, ‘Foch in the Midst, of War,’appeared in the October, 1918, Atlantic.

From the Faroe Isles, a little Danish colony in frozen northern waters, which is irregularly reached by a packet from Leith, comes a letter which shows how vividly the old world has been shaken to its remotest corners in these last years.

Last winter [so the letter runs] was a terrible one. We had no petroleum for fourteen months; no bacon or salt pork for eighteen months, and we have none now [March 24, 1919], but are promised three litres of petroleum a month. No such difficulty has ever been known here. For weeks the gales continued without, pause — all milled up in gray snow fog and the light dim from ice-bound windows. Only fish-liver oil to burn, that smelled to heaven. We all became of an Eskimoish oiliness. It was necessary to say a dozen times a day, ‘Think how much better off we are than those in Belgium!'

We had no celebration at the signing of the armistice. The Faroes are neutral — officially — and then we had been deceived by the first false rumor and had little faith in the second message. It was only a few words. (There is no Associated Press here.) It was tacked up on the outer wall of a little cottage, and a crowd quickly gathered. Some asked me, ‘Can it be true!' and others said, ‘God give it be truth!’ And some wiped their eyes, and that was all. And I said, ‘Gud ske lov!’ (God be praised!) in Danish, and went home and washed my dishes in my attic, and did n’t want to wave flags or shout.

Several years on helpless barren little islands, with submarines going round and round, murdering without mercy, have a repressing influence. What I wanted was a dim old church — the kind that old market women go to with big baskets

— and there to cry all the tears that it did n’t seem best to cry all these four years and more. But there was nothing of the kind on hand; so I just washed dishes.

Washing dishes! How perfectly the domestic ritual expresses the feelings of the writer!

A friend of the Atlantic, whose important duties render him familiar with the correspondence of the American people with their Secretary of the Treasury, culls for our benefit a few bright flowers of democratic speech. The writers’ allusions are commonly directed toward the amount of pay allotted by the Department to dependents of soldiers. A common intensity runs through the appeals.

We have another war baby in our house. How much more do I get?

Dear Mr. McAdoo: I have a wife and four children. Should I have more or less?

Please send me my allotment. I have a little baby and knead it every day.

You have taken my man away to fight and he was the best fighter I ever had; now you will

have to keep me or if you don’t, who in h—— will?

My boy is in France, where he is liable to be hurried into maternity any minute.

A practical mother who had imperfectly understood her boy’s elevation to the command of a platoon writes. —

My boy has been put in charge of a spittoon. Will I get more money now?

I am a poor widow and all I have is in the front.

Please send me a wife’s form.

Now, Mrs. Wilson, I need help badly, see if the President can’t help me, I need him to see after me.

To whom it may concern: Please return my marriage certificate. Baby has n’t eaten in 3 days.

An extract from a boy to his mother: —

’I am writing in the Y.M.C.A. with a piano playing in my uniform.'

You have changed our little girl into a boy. Will it make any difference?

Please let me know if John had put in his application for a wife and child.

I am writing to ask why I have not received my elopement money. His money was kept from him for the elopement I never received.

Just a line to let you know I am widow and four children.

I have a four months old baby and he is my only support.

Dear Mr. Wilson: I have already written to Mr. Headquarters and received no answer, and if I don’t get one from you, I am going to write to Uncle Sam himself.

How natural and normal is this comment!

I received $61 and I am certainly provoked to-night.

I did not know my husband had a middle name and if he did I did n’t think it was none.

You ask For my allotment number. I have 4 boys and 2 girls.

I received my insurance polish, and have since moved my post office.

Could honest, human irritation against form letters be more concisely expressed than in the indignant satire of this reply?

Question: Your relationship to him?

Answer: Just a mere aunt and a few cousins.

An Atlantic subscriber, living remotely in a little-known corner of the world, writes this pleasant word of thanks for the tributes which the Atlantic has printed to merchant ships and sailors, whose heroism has too often gone unrecognized.

I have a feeling of personal gratitude to Mr. Cropley for his papers on the men of the merchant marine. When I return. I shall go on a pilgrimage to the home of an old man—seventyfive years old — who has brought a rusty old hooker, all camouflaged in grays and pale yellows, green and black, chased by submarines again and again. His crew is all of old men. useless for fighting, men from sixty to seventy-five, except one lad who is responsible for the single gun. I wish I could do something more than shake the master’s brave old hand and say ‘Thanky,’for that one old ship has been the only means whereby I have heard from the outer world these last two years— that and one other, which went down last fall, the sea-devils were never so bold nor so impudent as during the very last days of the war in these waters.

An interesting suggestion comes to us from a friend at Anvic, Alaska.

THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
DEAR SIR, —
The November number of the Atlantic has lately been received here. Mr. Cushing’s article on the Coal Dilemma is captivating in its interest and style, and doubtless he is correct in saying that ’it has never been any part of our political scheme to stimulate in any definite way the production of anything’; yet there is an exception to every rule, and it is to the credit of our national legislature, that on one occasion at least it obeyed the promptings of an admittedly altruistic temperament and subsidized an industry that seems destined to have a future.
The introduction of the domestic reindeer from Siberia, begun somewhat more than thirty years ago under the auspices of the Bureau of Education, has proved to be good business as well as sound philanthropy. It is stated that the original importations numbered twelve hundred. Their descendants now number over one hundred thousand. The industry has been firmly established among the Eskimos of the coast ; and now, after some discouragements, seems in a fair way to succeed among the Indians of the interior of Alaska also.
Already the market for reindeer products has been extended to Seattle, and combinations of capital have been formed to promote production on a larger scale.
When one considers the vast extent of country available for herding deer, and probably of no use for any other purpose, and also the fact that for a long time annual shipments of frozen beef have been made to the mining districts of the great interior of Alaska, it is not difficult to understand why the efforts of small capital have already been throttled by selfish combinations of large capital and influence. Some of us who are not personally concerned are very sore over this matter.
It is to be hoped that the really fine spirit that characterized early legislation on the subject of the reindeer industry may be continued into the future. Certainly, it would be a romantic development of Dr. Jackson’s project if the hungry denizens of Ogden and Chicago were to be fed from the opulent barrens of Alaska.
I am very truly yours,
JOHN W. CHAPMAN.

This account of amateur circulation work in France comes to us from a Y.M.C.A. centre, through a friend hitherto unknown.

DOULEVANT LE CHÂTEAC, HAUTE-MARNE, FRANCE, March 6, 1919.
DEAR ATLANTIC,— I’ve just looked through the February number, from the first page to the last. It’s too late for me to read anything, as I have a busy day ahead and it’s late; but I just want to feel the pages, and to see who was present. ! can hardly wait for time to read it, but it is such a joy to see the dear old yellow cover on the table in my little billet, as I run in and out to my big old warehouse of a ‘Y’ hut.
You can never guess how I got this copy. There is a company of a labor battalion stationed near here — negroes, with two white officers; they are cutting wood. I had a chance to get a graphophone for them, also wanted to take some papers and oranges to the lieutenant, who had been sick. As I was leaving, the medico asked if I would like any new magazines, and proceeded to give me a handful and the Atlantic!

One’s busy days are full of vivid contrasts, when I went to Cirey-sur-Blaise, to take the graphophone, it was a cold rainy day, and I went down with the wood detail, in a huge truck. I made my visit while they loaded wood. The lieutenant was billeted in a big old square stone house, which had been the miller’s. From his windows I could see fascinating glimpses of the château — the château, you remember, in which Voltaire lived for years and wrote his play. It was most alluring to look down the vistas to the beautiful grounds, even if one did have to do it through the rain.
The next time I came to Cirey-sur-Blaise it was a beautiful day, full of sunshine (most rare here), and I came in a limousine, with the general and a party, and had tea at the château.
Good old Atlantic, I do love you so!
Hastily, but always with best of wishes, most cordially yours,
REBECCA R. BRIDGES.

Optimism is an unusual characteristic of educational criticism nowadays. To us Mrs. Reed’s paper on the education of her four-year-old son was encouraging; but the following letter raises still larger hopes.

I have just read with interest, but with no surprise, Mrs. Reed’s account of her son Erik’s early education. I say, ‘with no surprise,’ because the children of my generation (I was born in 1844) read when they were between four and five, and, so far as I can recall, with no special effort on the part of their parents. This task was generally undertaken by the nurse who, in those halcyon days, made life a delight for her charge. Can I ever forget, the dear creature who read to me the Scottish Chiefs, and awoke interests that have permanently influenced my life!

I said I was not suprised by Mrs. Reed’s article; one thing in it, however, did greatly amaze me, and that was the inordinate length of time consumed in a process which is a matter of hours only, and not of days, weeks, and months. That the normal child can be taught to read in a day is attested by the experience of the Wesley family narrated in Southey’s Life of Wesley. As I have never heard the passage cited in any of the pedagogical discussions which it has been my misfortune to hear, I quote it, for the benefit of parents who do not desire their children to spend four or five years in sorting colored worsteds, making paper patterns, and learning to button their clothes. Mrs. Wesley thus describes her peculiar method in a letter to her son John: —

‘None of them [her childrenl were taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years in learning than any of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this: the day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, every one’s work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the room from

9 to 12, or from 2 to 5, which were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters, and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly, for which I then thought them very dull; but the reason I thought them so, was because the rest learned them so readily, and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learned the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old the 10th of February; the next day be began to learn, and as soon as he knew the letters, began at the first chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the first verse; then to read it over and over till he could read it off-hand without any hesitation; so on to the second, etc., till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did.

‘Easter fell low that year, and by Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually, and had such a prodigious memory, that I cannot remember ever to have told him the same word twice. What was yet stranger, any word he had learned in his lesson, he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or any other book; by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well.

’The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the letters they were first put to spell and read one line; then a verse; never leaving till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at schooltime, without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learned that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what he had learned that day.’

How perfectly simple was Mrs. Wesley’s method, involving no acrobatic training on the part of parent or child, and no extensive bibliographical outfit!

As we seek other information from our files, the following pregnant inquiry leaps to our eyes. We pass it on, in all its palpitant color.

EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
MY DEAR SIR, —
Does the law of Sex divide the spiritual from the material universe as contended by Sidney C. Tapp in his Truth about the Bible ? Does the sex control the mind, and is all evil in the sex and no sex in soul life as contended by this man? Is Tapp a theological and philosophical quack, or has he solved the greatest question of the ages? He has defied every law of biology and every creed of theology, yet there is something about the man’s idea that remains with you as the truth. I stagger beneath the load of the cold logic of his philosophy.
His idea is creating quite a mental disturbance among the thinkers of my people and I would be pleased to see your views or the opinion of some other critics as to Tapp’s Sex-Law of the Bible, Sincerely yours,
J. S. H.