The Contributors' Column

THERE are many ways of liking to read. Some people read for the delight of it; some for knowledge; and some, again, to learn whether they cannot find out something about the author. Now, the right way to read The Story of Opal is for the delight of it; but if you want to speculate about the author and her education, you may do so to your heart’s content. About her past, the editor knows only what she has told him, but about the manuscript he knows a good deal; and during the five months she has passed in piecing it together at his instigation, he has seen her frequently and with some intimacy. The difficulties of her task are increased by the diarist’s frugal practice of printing on both sides of the sheet; but the color of the chalk, varying with the life of the crayon used, and the quality of the paper, give a superficial clue to kindred portions of the manuscript. The method employed is to fit sheets, and, later, fragments of episodes, together, smoothing out the paper bags on which, for the most part, they are written, and proceeding after the fashion of the experienced solver of picture-puzzles. Whenever a small fragment is completed, it is typed on a card; and in this way Miss Whiteley has prepared a card system that would do credit to a scientific museum. Finally, the cards are filed in sequence, and the manuscript is then typed off just as it was first written, except for capitals and punctuation. In the original, the style employed was all capitals and no punctuation — much like inscriptions dug up by archæologists.

Politics is become our American obsession. It has moulded the very structure of our minds into its own tortuous shapes, and there is no reform, social or personal, of which we do not think in political terms. Dr. Jack’s original and highly stimulating paper helps one’s thoughts discharge into channels long unused, and we are very glad to have the privilege of publishing it. As all men know, he is Principal of Manchester College, Oxford, and, incidentally, editor of the Hibbert Journal.Anne Douglas Sedgwick (Mrs. Basil de Sélincourt) is again at work in England, after two years of service with her husband in France. Edwin Bonta is a Syracuse architect, who saw much of the Russian people, owing to his years of relief work during the war.

M. A. DeWolfe Howe, long ago an associate member of the Atlantic staff, has returned to the office, and is now in editorial charge of The Atlantic Monthly Press. All we may say about the writer of ‘Boys’ is that the author has had ample opportunity to know them. Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, best known, perhaps, by his striking volume, Daily Bread, has often contributed to the Atlantic. A poem of his, which we are particularly glad to recall to the reader, is ‘Solway Ford,’ which appeared in the Atlantic in October, 1913. These are stanzas which we have never forgotten. C. Gouverneur Hoffman, a new contributor, is a New Yorker, who saw service with the American Air Force during the war.

A. Edward Newton, with whose literary achievement this magazine has been so closely identified, ‘commenced author’ with his papers on ‘The Amenities of Book-Collecting ’ in the Atlantic for March and April, 1915. Mrs. Helen Ellwanger Hanford sends this her first contribution from a Southern college town. Edward Yeomans, a Chicago manufacturer, contributed a paper on ‘Geography’ to our February issue. The Schauffler family, in spite of predilections for music and literature, can be warlike on occasion. Robert Haven Schauffler had four brothers, seven nephews, and two cousins in the army and navy during the war, of whom not one was drafted. All the brothers were over the draft age. Of the thirteen, seven served in France and three in Germany, and there are three Croix deGuerre in the family. Furthermore, Mrs. Schauffler, then unmarried, served as a War Camp Community Service Worker.

Claudia Cranston, a young Texan of Quaker descent, now living in New York, was the author of two fanciful sketches, ‘ A Thin Day’ and ‘The Invisible Garden,’ which we printed in July, 1918, and September, 1919, respectively. James G. Cozzens is a fourth-form boy at the Kent School in Connecticut.

I entered the school at the bottom [he writes]. I have been personally affected by some of the experiences which Mr. Parmelee mentions. [In ‘A Boarding-School Inquiry,’ January Atlantic.] Most of the fellows of boarding-school age are woefully ignorant of the beautiful things of life which they do not yet appreciate. This comes later. At Kent, however, I have never known anyone to be seriously ridiculed because he enjoyed nature, good pictures, or good music. The boy who really cares for these things is not worried by disparaging remarks from those who don’t understand.

Another boy, a sixteen-year-older from an Eastern boarding-school, writes as follows:

I had the latest Atlantic, so you see I did not lack good reading matter. I think the article on the boarding-school is wonderfully correct and good. Any man who is able to see the facts in the light that the author saw them in, and he saw them incorrectly in not a single detail, deserves credit. I was of the opinion that only a boy himself in such a ‘prep’ school would be able to think in that fashion. But what he says about the present-day school-fellow is absolutely indisputable. His boy waiting till he is alone to play good music on his Victrola for fear of jibes from the others is probably in every school; and furthermore the conditions which force this boy to do this in all probability exist in every school. The boy who reads good literature, who likes good music, is considered snobbish; the naturalist is an eccentric. I am not agreeing with the author because of any personal experience, but because of my observations in my school. I begin to realize that in almost any company of fellows an attempt to start a discussion about current events would be jumped on immediately and would be, at the best, very short-lived. However, after all, were not these conditions identical fifty or one hundred years ago? Will they not be the same that many years hence? The world must be the same always, fellows between the ages of fifteen and twenty are bound to be the same the world over and for all time. Of course, there are exceptions to everything.

Robert Kilburn Root is Professor of English at Princeton. Victor S. Clark, economist and student of contemporary history, and for several years past on the staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, is now controlling the political destinies of the Living Age, published from the Atlantic office. Dr. Clark has just returned from a visit to Japan. Frank W. Taussig, for many years Henry Lee Professor of Political Economy at Harvard, is recognized as a leading political economist. He has recently resigned from the United States Tariff Commission of which he had been chairman since 1917. His Principles of Economics (1911) is perhaps the most notable of his numerous publications. Arthur Greenwood is an English economist and student of social problems. At one time Lecturer on Economics at the University of Leeds, he is now General Secretary of the Council for the study of International Relations. John Kulamer, of Czecho-Slovak origin, is a lawyer of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

This appeal, tragic in our ears as some old chorus of ‘The Trojan Women,’we gladly print as showing how fruitful, throughout Europe, is the harvest of ancient wrong.

Give us Liberty, or give us Death!

‘Better a free life of few hours, than forty years of servitude and shackles.’ We, women and men of Thrace, have solemnly sworn, to accept no other resolution of our question, pending before the conference in Paris, but the union of our land with Mother Greece.

The souls of our beloved dead shall condemn us and their bones will have no peace, nor rest, were we to accept less.

We seek nothing that does not belong to us. We only desire the freeing of the land where we live.

Our hearts bleed, danger and despair hang over our heads. Our only cherished hopes and our sacred desires are ignored. Our expectations that we, too, may live free in our beautiful Thrace, Greek from immemorial time, are extinguished.

In these momentous times, and this hour of our agony, we, the women of Thrace, appeal to you, the women of America, who have the good fortune to be born free, and inhale the breezes of liberty and the inspiring air of your land, to raise the clarion call of danger for downtrodden poor Thrace.

When the servitude yokes are cast asunder and the peoples of Europe are freed, our distressed land suffers.

We hope for nothing less than the union of Thrace with Mother Greece, and the freeing of her from her depressing bonds.

We, for whole centuries suffered cruel servitude; the double-edged sword of Turk and Bulgar hangs, night and day, over our heads; our honor is not secure, the lives of our fathers and husbands, of our brothers and daughters are not safe.

We have stood all the cruel persecutions, deportations, robberies, expropriations, imprisonments, exile, forcible conversions to Mohammedanism, desecrations of our houses of worship and of cemeteries, expecting the proper time to cast aside the overhanging tyranny.

When the war was raging in Europe, a war of freedom against servitude, we, the Greek women of irridenta Greece, hoped that the time had arrived for Thrace to be freed and throw herself on the bosom of Mother Greece.

But we are greatly disappointed. Greek Thrace suffers the yoke of those beasts in human form, the Bulgars, and bleeds, in full twentieth century, under the feet of bloodthirsty Turks.

After solemn promises of the powerful, that this was a struggle against tyranny and for the freeing of the downtrodden, when hundreds and thousands of our brothers fought beside the Allies, when other hundreds of thousands suffered martyrdom and death in the hands of Bulgar and Turk, hundreds of thousands of women, old folks and children, naked, hungry, and downcast from persecution, lie unburied and unlamented, far from their homes — after all these, we see our rights ignored and in this, the twentieth century, they abandon us, anew, as lambs to slaughter. The situation becomes, from day to day, worse.

We have no security of life, neither in town nor village; especially those in the fields are mercilessly butchered; murders and robberies continue, we know not what is to-morrow in store for us.

They are armed, we defenseless.

And now that our fortunes hang in the balance, our hearts turn to you hopefully, and plead,with all our might, in the name of all the tyrannized Greek population of Thrace, that by all means in your command you raise your voice, through your society, the press, through meetings, by your influence, for our rights that are being ignored.

Hoping that the entire freedom-loving American public will support us, and thanking you in advance, we remain sincerely yours.

SILIVRIC (Thrace), October 15, 1919.

(Sea of Marmora).

Dr. Brubacker’s ‘Plain Talk to Teachers’ has roused wide and deep interest. Here is one teacher’s reaction.

CHICAGO, December 17, 1919.
May a grade teacher say a few words regarding Mr. Brubacker’s article ‘Plain Talk to Teachers ’ in the December Atlantic. He deplores the lack of professional spirit among teachers, but does not seem to know the reason for it. May I tell him?
The teacher expresses the enthusiasms, the ideas of other people. She is bound by a cast-iron graded course, which obliges her to teach certain definite things. As to her methods, she must use those desired by her superiors — principals or supervisors. Her judgment, her ideals, her common sense, her conscience must be set aside. Many times she teaches what she knows is not best for her pupils — but she must not ‘reason why,’ or ‘make reply.’ She is treated like a cog in a machine, and naturally becomes like one.
Mr. Brubacker compares teachers to doctors and lawyers! What doctor advises patients, gives prescriptions, or performs surgical operations under the orders of superiors who never allow him to use his own ideas, and give him no freedom to think or act as he judges best? A lawyer, or architect, or writer expresses his own judgments; a teacher cannot, and therefore cannot be compared to the members of other professions. After a few attempts to do and dare, most of them, tiring of the ‘Everlasting Nay’ of their supervisors, give up in despair, and plod along, trying to keep their positions by doing meekly what they are ordered to do. Hence their lack of ‘professional conduct.’

Another teacher writes: —

I wish to thank you for the article ‘Plain Talk to Teachers,’ by A. R. Brubacker.

I have been a teacher for many years in a special line, — training of nurses, — and I deplore the evidence of many destructive elements in my own line of work, as well as in high schools, normals, etc. Two faults particularly I have had to contend with in practically all my pupils — particularly those just out of school: stressing methods instead of principles, which tends to negative reasoning because it emphasizes memory; and, second, the effort to learn pupils instead of teaching them, by preparing sets of tasks and then pouring them into the mind. Our teaching should, it seems to me, make for thinking; for when we get a thinker, then we get a learner. And if the direction of the life has been borne in mind for constructive purposes, principles will work out through thinking for good results in the individual. Very truly yours,

L— C— B—.

To anyone who can speak of ‘ Cousin Abe,’ the editor listens hat in hand. We are glad to pass on to our readers this interesting letter.

Mr. Morgan’s article, ‘New Light on Lincoln’s Boyhood,’ in the February Atlantic, reminds me of the stories I used to hear from my mother about her uncle Tom. She was the daughter of John Lincoln, brother to Thomas Lincoln, hence first cousin to Abe Lincoln. When John and Thomas left the old Lincoln home in Rockingham County, Virginia, John, my grandfather, settled in Ohio and Thomas in Kentucky. Mother’s stories about her uncle did not extend beyond his residence in Kentucky. Living somewhat remote from her early home, she was fond of telling us children about the scenes and events of her girlhood and her family history. What she said about Uncle Tom agrees on the whole with incidents of his life already published, hence need not be repeated here. One incident, however, I have not seen in print, namely a skirmish with Indians in which Uncle Tom was slightly wounded.
My brother, John Lincoln Hicks, was named for his grandfather.
I voted for Cousin Abe in 1860, responded to his first call for volunteers, and served throughout the war. I never sought any favor from Abe, and, unlike John Lynch, I never had occasion to thrash anyone for disrespect to him.
As for the alleged poverty of the Lincolns, I can say this: John Lincoln was a substantial farmer, and I never heard any hint that his brother was any less fortunate or less worthy of respect. Unlike Andrew Johnson, Abe Lincoln’s boyhood was not darkened or embittered by any sense of social inferiority.
‘Uncle Tom made the little wheels.’ That sentence in Mr. Morgan’s article brings vividly to mind the cheerful picture of my mother sitting at her spinning-wheel, deftly drawing out the smooth linen thread. The ‘little wheel’ was turned with a treadle and spun hetcheled flax. The ‘ big wheel ’ was twirled about with the right hand on a spoke, and the woolen thread drawn out by walking backward with the carded roll in the left hand. Frequently both wheels were humming at once, mother at the little wheel and one of my sisters at the big wheel.
Like Cousin Abe, I wore in boyhood home-spun and home-woven linen and woolen. We left the linen in its natural color instead of dyeing it with walnut or butternut. For table-cloths we bleached it.
One of Mr. Morgan’s statements challenges critical comment. ‘Very little wheat was raised, as it had to be cut with a scythe, threshed with a flail, and carried to some small water-power for grinding.’ Cutting wheat with a scythe pertains to a later period than Lincoln’s boyhood. The sickle was the more primitive tool, and its use persisted even into my own boyhood. Then came the cradle, a broad scythe reinforced with curved rods, to hold the wheat cut at one stroke. Much strength and skill were required to swing the cradle and lay the golden grain evenly for binding into sheaves.
As for the use of the ‘flail,’ treading out the grain with horses was much more frequent and efficient. Many a day have I sat astride of staid old Bob, with frisky young Tib by his side, swinging round and round the circle, and I doubt not Cousin Abe had a similar experience.

One of the ways not to recommend one’s wares is illustrated by the ‘lucid directness’ of the following note.

Man, to sustain his earthly being and preserve its power of activity, must engage in energetic endeavors relative to his general formation. By such exertions he gains double compensation, the livelihood and the preservation.
To thus employ his energy for personal sustenance he must seek active and progressive quarters where his serviceable efforts may be of commercial usefulness, and where through earnest solicitation he may obtain the desired employment.
Being thus informed of the modern method of solicitation, I write this letter to you to announce my pressing desire for literary employment. I seek profitable work in the literary world; a pursuit indeed barren of joy.
I am a writer new and unknown; and being thus free of glory and fame, my literary efforts move on unread and if read, misunderstood; for my writing is based on a system of human philosophy that is new; and being new it appears strange.
This system conceived I aim to expound in essay form of simple delivery, in a style of lucid directness. My aim is to enlighten all thinking beings, not a mere few with obscured composition; for the thoughts I wish to diffuse and inculcate are of the vital problems perplexing the average thinking man.
It is therefore that I earnestly ask you to grant me a reading, a careful reading; that is all I ask: for then you will perceive the universal importance and human usefulness in the submitted work. And by obtaining for publication my literary and philosophic work you will not only encourage and sustain this humble writer, but you will add glory to your name and wisdom to mankind. Permit me to send an essay for your intelligent perusal. I may also furnish you short poems and short stories that are unlike others.
A speedy response to this call will indeed be received in joy, for great will my suspense be till then.
Your earnest and humble servant, J. D.

The suspense was great, but mercifully brief.

The rapid growth of the Atlantic is the text of many remarks, deprecatory and enthusiastic, minatory and exulting. But the one we like best to quote comes to us through the kindness of a reader, Mrs. B. G. Wilder, who reminds us of this prophetic impromptu of Dr. Holmes: —

When the toughs, as we call them, grown loving and dutiful,
All worship the good, and the true, and the beautiful,
And, preying no longer as lion and vulture do,
All read the Atlantic, as persons of culture do.