The Contributors' Column

Charles H. Grasty, a journalist of great experience, now correspondent of the New York Times, represented that journal at the Peace Conference. He has maintained close relations, political and personal, with Mr. Wilson for many years. Of his own history Carleton H. Parker once wrote: —

I was born on March 31, 1878. My father was a banker and orchardist. In the fall of 1896 I entered the University of California. The greater part of 1897-98 I spent farming. From 18981900, I was in college again, working during vacations in a coal-mine. In 1900 and 1901 I worked underground in Canada; following this, I was for six months a reporter in Spokane, Washington. At the end of this time I returned to the University, and graduated in 1904. From June, 1904, to September, 1905, I traveled in Europe and Africa; from September, 1905, to May, 1906, I was Secretary of University Extension at the University of California. After two years and a half in the employ of a banking house, I took a year’s postgraduate work at Harvard. In 1910, I went to Germany and studied at the Universities of Leipzig, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Munich. In 1912 I returned to Heidelberg to take my examination for a doctor’s degree.

The present paper embodies some of the results of the work to which he devoted himself during the last years of his life. He died March 27, 1918. His biography, by his wife, a human record of very remarkable interest, is now in its fourth large edition.

Carol Wight, because of ill-health, abandoned long ago the opportunity for a business career, and has since supported himself as a carpenter and, more rarely, as a mason.

When my health gave way [he writes], I had to give up study, and went later into business in New York, first in one of the big title and trust companies, and later as private secretary of a ‘promoter,’ or consolidater, of industrial concerns. Then, when my health broke again, I went to sea, and worked out of doors to get my nerves back in shape, principally at carpentry. At this trade I worked for the government during the war, and spent the last year of it at the League Island Navy Yard, with occasional excursions into New England farming. In the country districts a Yankee is always supposed to be able to do anything, and so I have driven wells and laid bricks, and practised other trades as well as my own. I have long been interested in the rise of the under classes (freedmen) at Rome, and wishing to compare their story with my own experience, I am at present here at Johns Hopkins, working in Latin and Greek. ... I have really seen a good deal of good and bad in both camps, as I told you in another letter; and a man who is caught in either caste cannot free himself and repudiate it. The railroad president must run his railroad. He may want to give all he has to the poor, but his first job is to run that railroad and not to be a philanthropist.

William McFee has been honorably discharged from His Britannic Majesty’s service, and he ‘practised literature’ for more than three weeks in New Jersey before he shipped again, this time in the South American trade. His welcome letters have been coming to us for the past year from H.M.S. Kharki, which, in our simplicity, we thought might be an anagram devised for our mystification; but —

No [he writes], the Kharki is not an anagram. She’s an anachronism. She is a humble minnow who has to rush frantically after 35-knot creatures as fast as ever she can, and when she does come up with them, breathless and disheveled, where they lie majestically and enigmatically at anchor, she starts a battery of highly polished and efficient pumps in her auxiliary engine-room and feeds them out of a fourinch flexible copper teat, with oil. When they have drunk their fill, they wipe their mouths and say, ‘Now you stop right here while I go out and do a clip to Smyrna and back. Shan’t be long.’ And she stops for a while, cleaning herself up and scratching herself in the sun, and very nearly falling asleep over it, when zip comes a wireless to proceed to such and such a place to oil so-on and so-forth. Such is her life, and no anagram could stand it for a week!

Edwin Arlington Robinson has long been known as a poet with a thoughtful philosophy of his own, and a talent for dramatic condensation unique perhaps in his generation. John Buchan, one of the most versatile of modern writers, is not more at home in the eighteenth century, which long ago he made his own, than in the capital detective stories which soften the asperities of his career as a serious student of history and a historian, on a ‘quarto’ scale, of the world-war. Incidentally he is a member of the firm of Thomas Nelson & Sons, the largest publishers in the world, we imagine. During the war, not neglecting the duties of which we have spoken, he was on the staff of one of the British armies operating in France, and later Director of Information to the Prime Minister.

Mr. A. Edward Newton is known to the readers of the Atlantic as the most genial of book-collectors and the author of The Amenities of Book-Collecting, now generally recognized as the classic of its kind. To his partner and business associates (as perhaps they would be willing to allow us to state) he stands as a large factor in the success of the I.T.E. electric circuit-breaker, which the Atlantic recommends to every wellequipped American household. Edwin W. Bonta has that pleasant characteristic of the intelligent traveler — a pictorial mind. Who he is, is best described in a recent letter.

When America went into the war I signed up with the American Y.M.C.A., to help carry out their work among the Russian troops, and started learning the language. Our party reached Moscow in May, 1918, lived in Bolshevik Russia until September of that year, and then, coming out through Scandinavia, circled around to join the North Russian Expeditionary Force at Archangel. I was placed with Russian troops, and for months my life was lived ‘in Russian,’ some of the time in the rest camps immediately behind the front. I dwelt in the huts of the peasants, traveled with them, and spent hours in discussion.

With what result, other sketches by Mr. Bonta will show our readers.

In these concluding letters from Java it wall be noticed that the author has changed her style to the married title, Raden Adjoe Kartini. Cut off by early death at the moment when her influence promised to be greatest, she has inspired others to continue her work. Amory Hare is a poet and a sailor’s wife to boot. For many years she has been sending to the Atlantic poems beautifully descriptive of Nature’s moods. The following brief summary of the first part of Wilson Follett’s ’The Dive’ is printed for the convenience of new readers.

Ronald Ronald, a youth of nineteen, spends his vacations at his grandfather’s farm in Chiswick Valley, his mind steeped in the family traditions which he had learned from the talk of his grandfather Elijah and his uncle Eustace. Most important is the part played in the boy’s impression by the river flowing through the valley, and its tributary, Salter’s Run, which finds its way through a gorge to a narrow rock-ledge called the Shelf, over which it plunges into the ‘Seven Farms Reservoir.’ The water at the foot of the Shelf is of unplumbed depth, and Ronald’s favorite amusement is to dive from the ledge, seeking, but in vain, to reach the bottom.

One day, he listens to his uncle Eustace’s story of a Ronald Ronald of the eighteenth century, who had fought with Stark at Bennington, and came home on furlough to the farm, to his wife and their child, born in his absence. This Ronald, on the very morning after his return, was drowned in the old well on the place.

Before dawn the next morning, our Ronald Ronald, lying wakeful in bed, with the old family legends pursuing one another through his mind, until he was, not himself, but ‘ nobody in particular,— just a suspended consciousness played upon forcibly by a jet of other men’s memories, sensations . . . and whirled round and round in them, churning them into a spray of images,’— dresses, leaves the house, and at last finds himself on the Shelf, and, in his half-waking, half-dreaming state, determines that he must reach the floor of the gorge, before certain proposed work on the dam ‘had laid it prosaically bare to the inquisitive sunlight.’ Stripping off his clothes, he flings himself outward and down. He seems to have found the bottom at last. A stinging pain in his head is followed by a mass of confused sensations. ‘A blinding white light flashed upon him. . . . There was something that he must beat his way through until he came out clear beyond. He wished he understood what it was that . . . lay waiting for him beyond.’

Herbert Sidebotham, long military critic of the Manchester Guardian, now on the stall of the London Times, is a frequent contributor to these pages. Edward W. Parmelee is a master at the Salisbury School, Salisbury, Connecticut. Edward Yeomans, a newcomer to the Atlantic, who knows as much about electrical pumps as Edward Newton does about circuit-breakers, is a civil engineer of Chicago. Whatever his success, he ought to have been a teacher, as readers of the Atlantic will soon come to know from the articles on classroom practice which will succeed his present stimulating paper. William Beebe is now Curator Emeritus of Ornithology at the New York Zoölogical Park.

Graham Wallas, Professor of Political Science at the University of London, has had a long and honorable career in the field of education. He has given many of the best years of his life to the social development of his city as a member of the London County Council. In 1914 he lectured at the Lowell Institute in Boston, and is at present teaching for a season in this country. George H. Cushing, editor of the Black Diamond, the official organ of the coal-industry, is a recognized authority on the subject he discusses in this paper. During the war he devoted much time to furthering the efforts of the National Fuel Administrator to solve the urgent and complex problems of the coal-supply. Gertrude Slaughter and her husband were in charge of the work of the American Red Cross in the Venice district for ten months, and stayed on in Italy for some months after the Red Cross work was ended. Her book, Two Children in Old Paris (1918), has had a deserved success.

Many members of the legal profession have written to the Atlantic calling attention to an apparent discrepancy in the narrative of the author of ‘Up from Insanity.’ The writer stated that, while he was a newspaper reporter, he was instrumental in securing the conviction of a certain woman charged with murder; that the accused was once acquitted by the jury; and that subsequently she made a confession as to the murder and was sentenced to the penitentiary. The facts when stated thus have an incredible sound, but we believe them to be true. The history of the case is as follows:—

A certain woman, jealous of the marital felicity of her own sister, placed upon her dressing-table a box of poisoned chocolates. But the fatality exceeded her plan of operations, for the chocolates killed the sister and her husband, too, and made three other persons ill. The guilty woman was immune from suspicion because she had never in any way exhibited signs either of jealousy of her sister or of affection for her brother-in-law. The law, then, would have passed her by, but for a remark she chanced to make to the author of the Atlantic article, then a reporter on a wellknown paper. She was tried for the murder of the man and acquitted; but subsequently, owing to new information, she was tried for the murder of the woman. The crime in both cases was the same, but the victim, and therefore the responsibility, was different.

We have alluded once or twice in this column to the use of the Atlantic now current as a recognized badge of social respectability. Some people are so good as to call it an emblem of distinction; but perhaps that case is not proved, and we fall back on the more established reputation. It is pleasant to hear from friends who go to the movies oftener than we do, that the heroine of ‘Erstwhile Susan’ is so fortunate as to be permitted to accompany with familiarity a certain lady of admitted social stability. To suggest this instantly to the bright eye of the movie fan was difficult, but the artist knew his job, and the lady carries her Atlantic with the name outside.

We venture to quote with appreciation from another authority on the niceties of social gradation. ‘She was,’ says the Saturday Evening Post of one of its heroines, ‘what it is found convenient to call a good girl: that is to say, she said her prayers, read the Atlantic Monthly at least two nights a week to her silver-haired father, never used any scent save orris-root, and entertained no young men who did not meet with Mr. Fairley’s approval.’

We could furnish other credentials, but they seem unnecessary.

At Judge Anderson’s request, we call attention to the fact that in a considerable number of copies of the December issue containing his valuable paper on ‘Our Railroad Problem,’ there is an error in the footnote on page 847, where the citation of the Debs case is ‘ 158 Federal Reporter,’ instead of ‘ 158 U.S.’ The correction was made as soon as we were advised of the error, while the form was on the press, so that the citation is given correctly in something like half of the copies.

An intelligent observer who is a familiar correspondent of ours writes us thus interestingly of the complexities confronting British citizens to-day.

The Feminist question is complicated in this country by the surplus womanhood. This now amounts to over two millions. It is really very serious, and will lead to great restlessness and unhappiness from purely physiological causes. Practically England is the only country where masses of women of over thirty have not found husbands. Consequently, you have a large electorate with little sense of responsibility, — with none of the responsibility that comes to a man in providing for wife and children, — and yet with the power of making laws. Sex-antagonism is a real thing. The psychologist knows that the real cause of this is often purely physical. In many cases under my observation a woman on the brink of divorcing the mate, who is admittedly unfaithful and has stayed away a long time, is easily induced to resume cohabitation when the absent-minded wanderer returns. Indeed, unnatural conditions having been created, we must expect a certain amount of abnormality.

Unfortunately, the women who have gained the upper hand in the political world are not of the best type. They are ignorant and aggressive, thirsting for notoriety, whilst the superior sort, of which there are many, — highly educated, well-balanced and soundly patriotic women, — hold aloof. Therefore it seems to me that we are in for a period of experiment, more or less crude and painful in its manifestations.

Then we have to deal with convention, especially in regard to morals. Illegitimacy has sprung up as one of the war-effects. How is that to be dealt with? Many observers think that the mass of women, in clamoring for the vote, are not merely interested in the franchise, — perhaps hardly care for it at all,—but want emancipation in its widest and broadest sense. They want to be free to do what they like, as a man is; they want latch-key liberty. I think they are right in their conclusions. The Land Girls, who adopt men’s clothing, adopt also men’s moral standards, so far as I can judge. With their petticoats, they have sacrificed much of the old-fashioned feeling of women. How far this is ephemeral, I do not know.

Take domestic service: that has gone by the board. I doubt if young women of the working class will come back to serve the middle classes any more. This must create profound differences in women’s mentality, for women’s cruelty to women was one of the causes of the servants’ revolt. All these things have to be considered.

Then take the drink question: it has never been honestly and scientifically treated. The real cause of drink in England is bad cooking. Man drinks because his body is ill-nourished and he must have food. I was struck with this on visiting a big gunfactory in Sheffield recently. The food given to the men was either flimsy, in the shape of sandwiches, cakes, etc., or abominably cooked and almost indigestible. Masses of English women have no household science at all; they are a long way below the French and German women. It is a curious fact that, although we have the best meat in the world, it is worse presented than in any other country.

Perhaps women will go to the Colonies and develop themselves in that way. No doubt they will take a large part in politics. I think on the whole it will be better for politics, which has got into a terrible state of extravagance and ineptitude. But a great deal of the mediæval nonsense of Parliament must go. I can hardly believe that sensible women will tolerate the spectacle of the bewigged Speaker sitting in his ridiculous box, closed in at the sides and at the top, with all the ceremony that goes with it.

The insecurity of man’s dominion is so notorious nowadays that we supposed ourselves quite immune from the attacks of those to whom triumphant Feminism is the single essential buttress of a righteous universe. We were mistaken, much mistaken.

DEAR SCRIBE [writes one who in gallanter days might have been termed a ladies’ man], Judging from the trend and tone of all your Master-Class matter, you do not consider the unpaid mothers as of that ‘ Sovereign People ’; but I am one of them, and I have created five others under very crude, corrupt conditions, and I am cursed with a horrid habit of saying things that do not fit in and harmonize with the Costly Carousings, Wretched Writhings, Ghastly Gaspings of the World-Wide Wasteful Wickedness blazoned so boldly by all those who are so recklessly responsible for the Calamitous Collapse of Corrupting Competition and Exasperating, Extravagant, Expensive, Extreme, Exact language of all male Master-Class exploitation of the mothers of the world. Women, lay down your arms! You do not need to fight your own sex any longer. Hold up each other’s hands! The sex-battle is on!

Nothing except life itself is so interesting as life as it is imagined. We think with pleasure of the cozy hours a reader might spend lost in the romances proposed to us by unknown friends. ‘Dear Editor,’ writes a Lady Georgian, ‘Are you in the market for a serial story of twenty-eight thousand words, a romantic tale of a sadonic batchellor [sic] and a young society girl?’ Another, with the precision of an orderly imagination, asks us, in replying, to ‘please to refer to D.S.G. 5715—3995,’ and proceeds, —

DEAR SIRS: Attached hereto find a poem entitled ‘Home,’ which I trust you will find suitable to run in an early issue, and if satisfactory will send you others from time to time.
What style of story do you prefer ? I have written over 350 short stories and 23 novels, none of which have ever been published. Let me have your interest and best offer. Have received flattering proposal from large film company, but would also wish to run them in several popular magazines. Shall await your reply together with check.
Very respectfully.

How pleasant such imaginings, and how swiftly glide the writer’s hours until he receives the editor’s reply!