The Contributors' Column
Alice G. Masaryk, daughter of Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, now President for life of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia, wrote these letters to her mother from the prison in Vienna where she was held as hostage for her father, who was outside the jurisdiction of the Austrian government. The comments in brackets are translations from an account of their prison experiences given the editor by Rela Kotikova, to whose cell Miss Masaryk happened by chance to be allocated. For nine months, A. G. M. and Kotikova were cell-mates — an experience which developed a deep and lasting friendship. After being released, A. G. M. wrote to Kotikova regularly, giving her news of the world and encouragement to keep up her spirits. These letters were recently published in Prague (in May, 1920). Miss Kotikova is at present acting as private secretary to Miss Masaryk in the office of the Czecho-Slovak Red Cross.
Charles Bernard Nordhoff is still ‘strolling ’ in the South Seas, whence he sends us this characteristically delightful version of the story told him by his friend. Sisley Huddleston, an English journalist of high professional standing, represented the Westminster Gazette at the Peace Conference. His striking paper, ‘The Menace of the World,’ in the Atlantic for May last, will be remembered. Viola I. Paradise sends this, her first contribution to the Atlantic, from New York City. The story is based upon an actual occurrence.
Harriet Smith, having enlisted in the Red Cross for war-service abroad, was awaiting the call when the Armistice was signed. Thereafter, she gladly accepted an invitation to join a Red Cross unit being formed to accompany the Near East Relief Commission to Asiatic Turkey. She writes, —
Thus did it happen that, in addition to carrying relief to the starving refugees of the terrible massacre and drive of the Armenian nation in 1915, after all, I got nearer to the battlefield than many who had gone to France; for in the war of the Turks upon the French Army of Occupation, a part and aftermath of the Great War, I was in the first-line trenches, as it were, for our house formed an outpost of French defense, occupied for nearly two months by a garrison of twenty to thirty soldiers, and for those two months we were continually, night and day, under rifleand shellfire, and the object of many direct attacks.
After a brief stay at Prinkipo (famous as the seat of the convention which did not convene), and a tour of duty at Derindje, Konia, and Aleppo, Miss Smith arrived at Urfa, in Upper Mesopotamia, and reported to Miss Caroline Holmes of the American Orphanage, ‘ where I was to have supervision of the health of a thousand children. This, before the war, was the Orphanage erected and presided over by Corinne Shattuck of Boston, whose name is still honored and revered throughout that part of Turkey, by Moslem and Christian.’
Urfa [she says] is a national battleground, and has been so for ages, for here Turk, Kurd, and Arab meet. It is an independent sanjak, owing allegiance only to Constantinople, and all three races covet it, so that every now and then the ‘kings of earth go forth to war, and on their prowess rests the fate of Urfa and its hundreds of bee-hive mud villages scattered over the adjoining plain of Hassan, where Jacob served for Rebecca so many years ago.
The Mr. Weeden frequently mentioned in the narrative will be recognized as Charles F. Weeden, Jr., author of the spirited but very brief account of the same siege of Urfa, which we printed in September.
Olive Tilford Dargan, after her delightful interlude of story-telling in the Carolina mountains, returns to the form of expression that we associate instinctively with her name. Cornelia James Cannon is the wife of Walter B. Cannon, Professor of Physiology at Harvard. Nathaniel Wright Stephenson is Professor of History at the College of Charleston, South Carolina. He contributed ‘The Confederacy Fifty Years After’ to the Atlantic for June, 1919.
People are still interested in manners! Who would have thought it? Yet it is so; the publication of the Grundy Family papers in the Atlantic has brought about a literal avalanche of replies, assents, rebuttals, rejoinders, and simple expletives. We should like to follow these pleasing divagations further, but there are other subjects on the carpet, and to the débutante author of the present letter we give a woman’s privilege of the last word. That it is prettily and sensibly said, we hope our readers will generally agree. H. C. Kittredge is one of the masters at St. Paul’s School, Concord, N.H., where, it is interesting to remember, his father, Professor George Lyman Kittredge, preceded him a generation ago. Gamaliel Bradford, as Atlantic readers will like to know, is bringing out this season two volumes of poetry — one, a dramatic story in verse, A Prophet of Joy, issued by Houghton Mifflin Company; the other, a volume of poems, Shadow Verses, bearing the imprint of the Yale University Press. Gretchen O. Warren (Mrs. Fiske Warren), poet and lover of the Classics, lives in Boston. John Irwin Bright, a newcomer to the Atlantic’s pages, is an architect of Philadelphia.
Albert Kinross, novelist and essayist, throughout the war saw service of the most varied sort. During the Mesopotamian Campaign Captain Kinross was attached to the Commissariat, and as the army lived largely off the country, he had unusual opportunities for intercourse with the civilian population. Leo Pasvolsky, a Russian journalist and writer, but of liberal and antiBolshevist sympathies, is one of the group of literary émigrés whom the turn of affairs in Russia after the second revolution has driven into temporary exile. Until recently he was associated with Vladimir Burtzeff, editor of an anti-Bolshevist newspaper in Paris and staff-writer for Victoire; but he is now residing in this country. Melvin T. Copeland is Assistant Professor of Marketing and Director of the Bureau of Business Research at Harvard University. Charles Johnston, whose experience in the British Indian Civil Service has heretofore borne fruit for readers of the Atlantic in a number of interesting sketches, has made a long and detailed study of conditions in Mexico.
It is with very deep satisfaction that we are privileged to tell our readers — this time on indubitable information — that Madame Ponafidine is still living. From more than one source, rumors of her death, only too plausible, reached us; but now we know that she is living, though under most difficult circumstances. Her blind husband, worn out with suffering and privation, died last year. Certain other particulars we have learned, but for the present, on Madame Ponafidine’s account, it seems prudent to add nothing to this statement.
An aspirant to the Atlantic’s pages, to whom the chill comfort of a note of rejection was recently administered, approaches us again thus pleasantly: —
Ain’ you-alls ter home?
I keeps a-rappin’ at yer do’
Ter let yer see a pome.
In de speech ob nigger folks?
En does you feel too biggetty
Fer li’l’ songs en jokes?
Des tickles me ter def —
Ez ef I’d dremp a happy dream
Erbouten me, mahse’f.
Hit sho’ly hain’t no sin —
In hopes dat bimeby you-alls ’ll
Ax me ter come in.
L. A. G.
THE ATTITUDE OF PRAYER
Having noticed the pleasure the Atlantic takes in hearing its praises sung, I wonder if this tribute I heard this summer has ever been reported.
At a tiny resort on the Maine coast, when summer ended, a visitor took the discarded magazines to the lighthouse keeper. As his eyes fell upon the pile, he exclaimed, —
‘I’m glad to see the Atlantic.’
With some surprise his caller asked if he liked to read it.
‘Why, you see,’ he replied, ‘it just fits my knees when I paint the steps.’
Who loves a dog will love these lines, though strange or thrice familiar.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I wonder if Atlantic readers, who have read and appreciated ‘Peter,’ know Bishop Doane’s beautiful lines? At the risk of being gratuitously redundant I append them: —
Since He is God on whom each one depends
For life, and all things that His bounty sends —
My dear old dog, most constant of all friends;
Not quick to mind, but quicker far than I
To turn to God I know and own; his eye,
Deep brown and liquid, watches for my nod;
He is more patient underneath the rod
Than I, when God his wise corrections sends.
He looks love at me, deep as words e’er spake;
And from me never crumb or sup will take
But he wags thanks with his most vocal tail;
And when some crashing noise wakes all his fear,
He is content and quiet if I’m near;
Secure that my protection will prevail;
So, faithful, mindful, thankful, trustful, he
Tells me what I unto my God should be.
FRANK W. CREIGHTON.
Nature, the ‘ Whimsical Goddess ’ of Mr. Herbert Ravenel Sass (see August Atlantic), has an appreciative devotee in Vancouver, who sends us this curious instance of her crotchets.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I was engaged on a warm afternoon hosing some flower-beds in my garden. One was a bed recently seeded, over which, a foot above the ground, I had suspended a wire screen covered with ferns, to protect the seedlings from the searching August sun. While I was spraying this bed, a hummingbird, a constant visitor, buzzed up to the spot, and at once appeared to be greatly exercised over the phenomenon of an isolated shower under a bright sun and a cloudless blue sky. He floated over and around it, up and down repeatedly, and finally came within three feet and peered at me most intently for a few seconds. Returning to his investigation of the spray, he gradually approached it until a few of the outer drops of water touched him, when he at once floated back from the stream. Hesitating for a moment or two, as if uncertain whether he enjoyed the sensation, he once more, with an air of purpose, moved into the spraying water. This time he went well into the stream.
Not yet sure that he enjoyed the shower-bath, he again backed out, hesitated a moment or two, and again venturing with more confidence into the spray, he poised a moment right in the centre of it, then, slowly sinking, came to rest on the fern-covered screen on which I was playing the water. With his beak turned upward and the water running down over his back, he rested for perhaps thirty seconds; then, slowly rising, he soared over to a clump of raspberry bushes, and alighting on a broad leaf, he rolled and shrugged himself over its surface, for all the world like a dog coming out of the water and rolling and drying itself on the grass; then, rustling out his wings and preening his feathers a little, he flew off.
I was so greatly interested in this extraordinary performance that I called my wife and daughter to tell them of it, and while so doing, was amazed to see the little fellow return to repeat the experience. This time there was no ‘September Morn’ hesitancy. He sailed right into the showering water and once again settled down on the screen. He rested perhaps a minute or more under the spray, his little head lifted upward, his wings half-spread, palpitating gently to let the water run beneath them, his whole attitude indicating a high degree of enjoyment and satisfaction. Presently he rose straight through the drenching spray, his emerald body gleaming and glistening like a polished jewel, and away he flashed, doubtless thinking more highly of himself because of his unusual and heroic toilet proceedings.
I have seen sparrows and robins come to take a bath when I have been hosing the lawn, but always outside the range of the spray, in some hollow where the water had gathered.
I never before saw a hummingbird alight on a flat surface or on anything which it could not grasp with its feet, and never until this occasion saw one take a bath under any condition.
Now, what moved this mite to a course so unusual? His movements at first certainly indicated a great deal of interest in the hosing, but what led him to such an extraordinary performance as he gave us, I confess I am at a loss to suggest. Was he a little more generously endowed with initiative and individuality than all the others in ten thousand, or was it just a freakish bit of playfulness for the enjoyment of this dainty atom of life, one of her creatures, on the part of that versatile lady, the Whimsical Goddess? Who can tell? Yours truly,
G. F. GIBSON.
Were we to give up, not only this department, but the whole Atlantic, to the repercussion of the Grundy debate, it would be totally inadequate to contain the noise thereof. All we can do is, from the mass of correspondence, to select one or two notes by way of ultimate conclusion and definitive comment.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Like the welcome thunderstorm which cleared the atmosphere a week ago comes this short, sharp article from John F. Carter, Jr., ‘One of Them. ’ After all the beating about the bush and pussy-footing comes a statement, straight and clean, drying up the humidity of this controversy.
Have n’t I sat at luncheon-tables and heard mothers of the present generation inveighing against their own young! and have n’t I sat at dinner-tables and shared the extravagance and delighted in that very beauty and simplicity, which was, in truth, but the flower of a hypocritical prudishness which does not fool Mr. Carter! And do I not know that, now, to enjoy fullheartedly my own generation, as I do, I must blind myself, as I do, to our complacent folly! Vain, idle, kindly, conscientious, well-meaning, blind, or clear-seeing and cynical, whatever our part, good or bad, we did make and are responsible for this Thing we have handed the younger generation; and fond of it as we may be, fooled by it as we may have been, how we can deny our responsibility for it, passes my comprehension. And yet that bland casting off of all accountability for the present state of affairs is what I hear on almost all sides. We raise our voices against labor, but have respect for traditional idleness; and damn Germans and youth, but deny all responsibility for the war and the times. Yet, somehow, we did let this poor-quality youth suffer the war and win it, while we, for the most part, vain and frivolous, amused ourselves with it. Deny it as we may, that is what we did in our spick-and-span uniforms, with our activities and our drives. For most of us enjoyed ourselves as never before, seriously deceiving ourselves as to the present, and taking no thought for the morrow. Many a time have i heard the phrase, ‘My dear, I have no time to think, or read anything but the papers,’ and yet it does seem as if bandage-rolling might have offered time for thought as well as for gossip.
And as for this talk of the ‘decay of religion,’ to my mind religion either is or is n’t, like truth or diamonds, but does n’t decay. No, the fault can’t be foisted off onto the decay of religion, even if at their moment of greatest opportunity the priests of religion preached salvation by cannon, while we in the congregation sang that in the Cross alone we conquered.
No, even though we didn’t mean it, we have been a vain,foolish, self-satisfied lot, sowing where we would not reap, taking our eating and drinking, facing nothing half so grim as dying, but hoping, like Mr. Britling, somehow to muddle through, and that our children would not ‘go a-thinking,’ but would be a credit to us, in both senses of the word. Well, thank Heaven, they are, in the best sense, at least, with their high adventure and their dazed eyes, their scanty clothes, their free talk, and their unabated courage, facing a world we would have shrunk from into safe and sound investments, marriages, or charities.
Now, I am not ‘telling on’ my own generation, which I love and enjoy, and in many cases reverence, just for the fun of it; nor because of an inherent censoriousness; I really do not care what flowery path of dalliance my friends choose, so long as they do not, by some strange, anachronistic logic, when they find their destination, place the responsibility for it on babes and infants still unborn when the choice was made. I simply could n’t stand it another minute, this shirking of responsibility, for I have nephews and nieces of my own, being (and I hope Mr. Carter may eat his words) sincerely yours,
A MAIDEN AUNT.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
After rereading the 1920 characteristic views of one of a younger generation, I could think of nothing but a scene at the breakfast-table, when an over-indulged only son slouched into the room, exclaiming, ‘Everyone in this house is an Old Grouch! Papa is an Old Grouch! Mamma is an Old Grouch! Auntie Kate is an Old Grouch.’ Thus rewarding the efforts of over an hour to get him to school on time.
My generation did not teach the three R’s — religion, respect, and reverence; and unless the ‘younger generation’ comes to some realization of the need, we shall never revert to the fineness of the ones who are spared seeing our failure.
A [NOTHER] MAIDEN AUNT.
And here is one last disrespectful word.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
It is absurd for me to waste your time, instead of Mr. Carter’s, with this letter, but one must occasionally throw a sop to the growling Grundys, — a concession a month, like the Boy Scout’s daily good deed, — since, after all, we wild young people would never have had our generation had they not gone before us. I want merely to thank Mr. Carter for his article—we ’ve laughed and nodded our heads over it, and read it and quoted it to our elders ever since it appeared. Most of us have been too busy, not only to explain ourselves, but even to formulate in our minds the explanations of our misconduct. What with wars in Europe, bombs in Wall Street, and a League of Nations to fight for, we simply have n’t had time.
But the feminine of us chortled in our joy, and almost called, ‘Come to our arms, our beamish boy,’ at the ‘mist of muslin, flannels, tennis, bicycles, Tennyson, Browning, and the Blue Danube waltz.’ My mother is of the Grundy generation, but not of the tribe; and although sometimes she feels it her duty to remark the growing shortness of skirts, she also remembers the stockings that girls wore — Grundy girls, too — beneath their sweeping dresses back in 1890 or so. It seems that they were demurely black almost to the knee, and then — But perhaps the Grundy boys who stood about on rainy days will remember the flashes of green and of scarlet.
Of course, I am not. justifying our conduct because of the lapses of the older generation. Far from it. Personally, I think we’ve improved. To cite Mrs. Gerould’s fable of the old-fashioned maiden in the movies, I’ll agree with her that we rarely— if ever — slap the young man who kisses us. We differ from the maiden’s generation in that we do not permit him to kiss us unless we want him to — and then, why the silly form of a gentle slap? I’ll wager that we’re kissed no more often than were our mothers and aunts — and we save the energy they put into slapping for the work they’ve bequeathed us.
But I’m not planning to add to Mr. Carter’s explanation of us — there’s no need. I want merely to thank him, under the chaperonage of the Atlantic editors, for his splendid article, and to lay my gratitude at the feet of those same editors for putting it before the Grundys.