The Contributors' Column
Owing to the destruction of our bindery by fire, it has been necessary to stitch these magazines with wire. New machinery has been ordered and is now on its way, and future copies will be sewed as usual.
When the World War broke out, Paul Dukes was living in Petrograd. Unable to pass the physical examination required by the army, he took advantage of his accurate knowledge of the Russian language and people, and volunteered for the British Secret Service. He was assigned to the place of a valuable agent recently murdered by the Bolsheviki, and for the better part of a year lived a life such as any master of detective fiction might profit by. Dukes served in a munition factory, and subsequently was drafted into the Red army itself. He organized an extensive courier service and sent out information of great value. Subsequently he was knighted for his services. This Atlantic article describes in detail the opening chapter of his extraordinary adventures. Dallas Lore Sharp is Professor of English at Boston University. Katharine Fullerton Gerould is, fortunately, a frequent contributor to these pages. Jean Kenyon Mackenzie is the well-loved author of Black Sheep, and the more recent Fortunate Youth, which we never cease from recommending to every Atlantic reader.
Laura Spencer Portor (Mrs. Francis Pope) is connected with a leading women’s journal of New York. L. Adams Beck is an English scholar and traveler, now living in the Canadian West. William Beebe has returned from one of his most profitable sojourns at the Jungle Laboratory in Kartabo. The Atlantic is glad to announce that the second of the four gorgeous volumes of his monograph on the pheasant is now off the press. We call them ‘gorgeous’ advisedly, for there is, perhaps, no more intense beauty in nature than a pheasant’s plumage; and in both text and pictures that beauty is caught and held to an extent which, to us, at any rate, seems quite incredible. Alfred G. Rolfe is senior master at the Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Belle Skinner, who has ‘adopted ' the village of Hattonchâtel, is an American who has done much generous and self-sacrificing work in France. Harry Hubert Field is a young Englishman, who went from the public school into service in 1914, and served with distinction and continuously until his demobilization in April, 1919. After the appearance of the American divisions in France, he happened to be assigned as ‘observer’ to one after another of the successive detachments of raw troops. A friend of Captain Field writes to the editor: —
His mental attitude toward America from 1914 till April, 1917, was the attitude that ‘the thin red line could scarcely escape. . . . [But] it was the acquaintance thus made with Americans in the flesh — coupled with the deepened and sober thoughts that four and three quartcrs years of war so extraordinarily developed in that remnant of England’s best that yet lives — that brought home to him personally the real significance of the Anglo-American relation. So, no sooner was he demobilized than, with a directness of action that showed the fundamental sincerity of the thought, he got straight to the job as he saw it: pushed aside any idea of a period of rest, came directly to America, and with a notion that the understratum of our structure might be the one to learn first, went to work as a day-laborer in one of the big factories in Buffalo. Day-work and piece-work among the common run of Poles, Hungarians, negroes, and what not — he stuck it out for seven months: learned, by sharing, the conditions under which the men lived and worked, visited their homes as one of them — and was accepted by them as a comrade. All this, not from the point of view of an ‘uplifter,’ or a ‘muckraker,’ or a Socialist, but from that of an English gentleman, anxious to learn our domestic conditions and difficulties in order that he might sympathetically interpret, in some later time of need, America to England. Personally I think that I have rarely heard of any more unselfish and high-minded bit of service, or of one more difficult. . . . The name [Paul Zonbor] is the only bit of fiction in the narrative.
Grover Clark was born in Japan of American parents. He was educated in America, and is a graduate of Oberlin and Chicago universities. For the last three years he has been in Japan and China, engaged in teaching and research work along sociological and political lines. He now holds a chair in Government at the University of Peking. Christopher Morley is the happy ‘ columnist’ of the New York Evening Post.Nicholai Velimirovic was born at Valjevo, Serbia, the son of a Serbian peasant. He was educated in Serbian schools and the College of Belgrade, and studied also in Switzerland, France, England, Germany, and Russia. He became Professor of Theology at Belgrade, and chaplain to the court; in 1919 he was elected Bishop of Chachak, and in November, 1920, Bishop of Ochrida. In the reconstruction work now going on in Serbia, he has a leading part. He is President of the Serbian Child-Welfare Association of America, which, in coöperation with the Serbian government, is carrying out a most advanced and constructive programme of public health and child welfare. In 1915 he was sent to the United States, to recall Serbians living here to the defense of their country. At that time he made addresses in many cities of the United States and Canada, and left behind him a profound impression. Bishop Nicholai is at present making a second visit to America in the interest of his country and her people.
Gertrude Henderson sends her first contribution to the Atlantic from New York City. Theodore M. Knappen is connected with the Washington bureau of the New York Tribune.Frances Lester Warner, Assistant Professor of English at Wellesley College, is about to join the Atlantic’s permanent staff. Paul Scott Mowrer is the representative in Paris of the Chicago Daily News.
The country-wide interest roused by the publication of Mr. Alger’s paper on the ‘ New Privilege’ sought by American farmers led the Atlantic to invite Mr. Bernard M. Baruch to write an article representing the farmer’s point of view. Though not a farmer himself, Mr. Baruch’s broad experience, his recognized sympathy and public spirit, make him an admirable spokesman for ‘the largest business in the United States.’ Everybody knows, of course, of his services as Chairman of the War Industries Board; but everybody, perhaps, has not read the informing and very useful report that he sent in answer to the request of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for his opinion on coöperative buying. Herbert Sidebotham, for many years an important member of the staff of the Manchester Guardian, became a ‘student of war’ in the service of that paper. The keenness and comprehension of his articles brought him wide reputation, and in 1918 he joined the Times, in direct succession to its military correspondent, the famous Colonel Repington. At present he is a ‘ student of politics’ on the Times staff. Anne O’Hare McCormick, of Dayton, Ohio, sends this informing little contribution from abroad.
It is the Atlantic’s oft-expressed opinion that many of the ‘roads to Americanization’ lead to something both different and undesirable. Contrast, please, these two descriptions.
This from Springfield, Massachusetts: —
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Every fair-minded person will admit that the United States government has provided laws which, consistent with the safety of the nation, aid the alien to become a full-fledged citizen, with the rights, duties, and responsibilities — save only eligibility to the office of president—of the native born. . . .
It is unfortunate, therefore, when the execution of these laws is entrusted ... to judges who, by their treatment . . . breed in the heart and mind of a petitioner, not affection for this country, but fear and distrust.
For instance, thirty alien men and I went to the Court to take out our Declaration of Intention to become citizens. We had been led to take this step through daily contact with men and women who had typified to us the fine qualities of true, loyal Americans. We were conducted immediately to the office, where the fee was collected. This was only a trivial matter, but I know that it impressed me with the idea that ‘ pay as you enter’ could apply to more than street-cars. However, after this introduction, we were ushered into the presence of the judge before whom we were to be sworn in, and from whom we were to receive our certificates.
Surely, this ceremony would be impressive, I thought. But, no, we were only foreigners to the judge, who evidently thought that since the majority knew little English, they required but little courtesy. We stood before the bar, for there were no seats on our side of it, for over an hour, while the judge, with his feet on his desk, smoked, and talked casually to other men in the office. No explanation was vouchsafed to us for the delay. We simply stood, and waited his pleasure. After an hour had elapsed, I asked a nearby clerk if he could tell me the cause of the delay. This was his answer: ‘Oh, you’ll have to wait till the judge gets ready.’
The judge finally decided that he was too busy to attend to us and turned the affair over to his deputy. This was the impressive ceremony I heard: the deputy read my name, — which fortunately for me was the first on the list, — said, ‘Hold up your right hand,’ read the Oath of Allegiance, which he mispronounced and mumbled so that I had difficulty in recognizing it, handed me my ' First Paper,’and said, ‘ Next.’
The undue haste in administering the oath, the discourtesy shown to us because we were foreignborn , imbued me, not with respect for the court, but with relief that the transaction was over, and indignation that one man had misrepresented to thirtyone potential citizens the ideals and traditions of true Americanism.
DORA M. BRIGGS.
And this other from Nashville, Tennessee.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
You may be interested in an account of the welcome given sixteen new citizens last week in Nashville, Tennessee.
The social took place in the assembly hall of Watkins’s Free Night School, where there was an audience of over 500, mostly foreign-born.
Addresses were made by the judge, who had granted citizenship papers, the mayor of the city, an immigrant of many years standing, and one of the new Americans.
After the four addresses the band played the National airs of all the countries represented, while the audience visited the booths along the side of the wall, where French, Austrians, Roumanians, Russians, Italians, Swiss, Syrians, and Hungarians, dressed in the national costumes, served their native dishes and greeted us in their mother tongues.
This unique gathering was the work of the local Chapter of Colonial Dames, the Council of Jewish Women, and the Bertha Fensterwald Settlement.
Yours very truly.
With even-handed justice, we print the following: —
SOUTH HADLEY, MASS.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Since you have gone into the advertising business with such happy results for the spinster who wished a ready-made, self-supporting family, do you think you can conscientiously refuse other applications of a soul-stirring description?
As expressing, perhaps, the suppressed desires of a majority of your readers, I would like to suggest the following advertisements which might result in untold happiness for so many.
I. I am an earnest student, who has completed all the work which can be done in my line in this country. I have always wanted to travel, and as no institution seems eager to give me a fellowship for foreign research, I am anxious to find someone who will supply the financial backing and permit me to go to Europe for an indefinite time. A regular income during my absence would be necessary.
II. I am a young woman, thirty years of age, who has grown tired of wearing her suits for years and years and years, and mending and patching her clothes. I am very good-looking and feel that a suitable setting for my beauty should be provided before it fades away. Will you put me in touch with a woman whose jewels and clothes are no longer a shrine for beauty.
III. I am a poet whose poems have been accepted by the leading magazines, but poems en masse are repellent to my sensitive spirit, and I fear the effect on my genius. There must be someone who, if my plight were known, would gladly give, that my poems might be privately printed, de luxe.
IV. Well-educated college professor (with the usual salary), devoted reader of the Atlantic, takes special pleasure in an uninterrupted evening’s browsing. Lacking the subscription price of his favorite periodical, a walk to the College Library is now necessary, in order to procure the mental stimulation at the price of breaking up the evening. Will some kind person supply the home need?
Very truly yours,
CATHARINE W. PIERCE.
We are glad to give space to this forceful communication from one of our recent fellow citizens who happens to disagree with the statements of a contributor. We quote litteratim from this ' American’s ’ letter.
CHICAGO, ILL. May 16, 1921.
THE EDITOR, ATLANTIC MONTHLY: —
Inclosed you’ll find a page from the Czechoslovak Review exposing your lying statements in your magazine.
Liers are the greatest danger to the prosperity of the world and you are one of them liars
I hope you ’ll die like a dirty dog for being a liar.
a American of Czechoslovak extraction.
Regarding the prejudice against Jews, so sensibly discussed by Mr. Boas in a recent Atlantic, many Americans of Anglo-Saxon origin may listen with profit to this roll of the Captains of Israel, called in a very interesting letter from E. J. Doering, Lt. Col. M. R. C., United States Army.
. . . It seems our narrow-minded coreligionists have forgotten the Jewish saints, the founders of the Christian religion. They probably never heard of Sir William Herschel, H. Goldschmidt, and W. Meyerbeer, the astronomers; of Lassar Cohn and Victor Meyer, the chemists; of David Ricardo and Ferdinand Lassalle, the economists; of Geiger and Sir Francis Cohn Palgrave, the historians; of Ezekiel, Israels, and Epstein, the sculptors; of Madame Rachel, Edmund Kean, Warfield, and Sarah Bernhardt, the dramatists; of Sir George Jessel and Asser, the jurists; of Georg Brandes and Max Nordau, of literary fame; of Cohnheim, Gruber, Stricker, Traube, Abraham Jacobi, the great physicians; of Jacobi and Einstein, the mathematicians; of Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Joachim, Rubinstein, the musicians; of Spinoza and Moses Mendelssohn, the philosophers; of Disraeli, Sir Matthew Nathan, Bernard Abraham, the statesmen; of Baron de Hirsch and Professor Morris Loeb, the philanthropists; nor of Lord Reading, the Lord Chief Justice of England; Louis D. Brandeis of the United States Supreme Court; Nathan Strauss, Julius Rosenwald, of the Council of National Defense; Jacques Loeb, the biologist; Professor Hollander, the economist of Johns Hopkins; Felix M. Warburg, the financier; Simon Flexner, of the Rockefeller Foundation, and hosts of others.
It is our plain duty to fight all alienism in this country, and work for Simon-pure, unadulterated, true Americanism.
One more echo of ‘ Plantation Pictures,’ but one well worth listening to, comes from Mississippi.
There must be an awakening, and as the editor of the Atlantic Monthly says, ‘There must be schools and more schools’; but to add_—in Mississippi — there must be SCHOOLS. The pulpit, the pew and the press of the State must awake. There must be an understanding between the better class of whites and the better class of colored. This is not a one-man problem, nor even a race-problem — but a human problem. There is not as much need for sympathy as there is for a straightforward, candid relationship between landlord and tenant, and with a good deal of the white man’s civilization mixed in, as Mr. Snyder says they possess.
If there is any section of our glorious Democratic America where any class of people is so filthy, so barbarously ignorant, so indifferent to life, so forgetful of his loved and lost, as those described in ‘ Plantation Pictures,’ not only Central Mississippi, not only all of Mississippi, but in a measure all America, in the great chain of circumstance, must be the sufferer. — But back to Charles Dickens and his Bleak House: —
‘ There is not one atom of Tom’s slime, not a cubic inch of any pestilential gas in which he lives, not an obscenity or degradation about him, not an ignorance, not a wickedness, not a brutality of his committing, but shall work its retribution through every order of society up to the proudest of the proud and to the highest of the high.’
The Poet answers to the Poet’s call. A distinguished officer of the American Navy writes in response to Mr. Eddy’s poetic query in the April Atlantic.
The reason why it pays to publish the letters of William and Henry James, but would not pay to publish the sentences of Frank and Jesse, is that, while thousands hang upon the sentences of William and Henry, only Frank and Jesse James themselves ever hung upon their own sentences. (As a matter of fact, Jesse was killed by a Ford — Bob, not Henry.)
In other words: —
THE REASON WHY
To print the sentences imposed
On Frank and Jesse James that day
Is very readily disclosed.
The sentences of William James,
And Henry is another son
A host adoring still acclaims.
Were those on which they both were hung,
And since they ceased to be ‘in esse,’
Their sentences are best unsung.
S. E. M.
This comment on the ‘new schools,’ by a conservative, voices the natural doubts of many teachers and parents.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
The articles in the Atlantic have interested me. I have a desire to ask questions. We hear much about fitting the boys and girls for life. That means, or should mean, fitting them to become good citizens of a great country. Will these progressive schools do that? What are some of the fundamental lessons children should learn? What does a schoolroom need for effective work?
The most important lesson is that of obedience. If not learned in childhood, like some diseases of children it comes hard later in life. American children of the present day are not famed for their respect for authority. Will these methods develop that quality? If so, welcome freedom in the classroom, socialized recitation, student government, and all the rest.
A second lesson is perseverance — the doing of a task whether we feel like doing it or not. We cannot go fur in life without coming right up against that necessity. Here is something to be done. The child dislikes to do it. Devices to arouse interest fail, as they sometimes will. What then? Does this continual appeal to the interest of the child develop and strengthen the right kind of fibre in his character? Is ‘the irksomeness of the steady grind’ altogether to be deplored?
The musician knows what the steady grind means early in life. The hours at the piano or violin are a strain upon muscles and nerves. Is it physically more harmful for a child to sit on a chair adjusted to his needs and give courteous attention to class recitations and discussions? The writer of one article speaks of the temperamental child who suffered so much under this strain that he jumped out of the window and went home. Is it not possible that there may be children who will be disturbed by the noise of the carpentry bench in the corner of the room, ‘to which the boy may repair when tired of mental work? ’
Not only the musician, but the artist, the artisan, the scientist, the athlete, the farmer, and the home-keeper know the weariness of routine. They know, too, that the world’s business must be done, and they set themselves to the task. Is that not the attitude of a good citizen?
And now, what about the schoolroom? What is needed there? Air and sunlight, certainly, but why luxury? An artist’s studio is not a place of ease and luxury; it is a place suited to his work. The laboratory of a scientist may not be beautiful: it is a workshop. A glance at either of these places shows the nature of the work done there.
A schoolroom is a place where the child learns to do things, where he discovers things by his own thinking and experimenting, and where — after some patient drudgery, it may be — he experiences the joy of accomplishment. Does it need to suggest the luxury of a cultured home, so that some children ‘ need not step down when they leave their homes for school’? If they do ‘step down from these homes, and touch elbows with others who step up when they enter the school, it seems to me a wholesome preparation for citizenship.
Too conservative? Perhaps so; though projects and motivation are a part of my creed. But has not the educational pendulum swung far enough in this direction? M. T. H.
English as she is spoke in Boston, we have fully discussed; but of English as Boston writes her, the publication of the following example may be of educational interest to Chicago and way stations.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
The wonderful tales which have been related by your correspondents concerning the super-educated proletariat of Boston are by no means incredible to me. Of course Bostonians are expert linguists — they have to be, in order to get about their city and keep out of jail.
For example, on a visit to your city, my eye lighted on this sign: ‘Smoking allowed on this ear only when weather permits running cars with windows open, and then only back of cross seats, when at least four windows on each side, including windows back of cross seats, are open.’
I repressed my desire. But suppose some unfortunate, more venturesome than I, had decided to take a chance. Suppose that, after reading this sign carefully, he had taken his place as directed, back of the cross seats, and that the four windows on each side were open, including the windows back of the cross seats. But suppose that, having only a single-track mind, he had failed to note that it was raining outside, and hence, although the windows were open, the weather really would not permit running the cars with windows open. He would of course be violating the regulation by smoking, and the poor devil would be liable to fine or imprisonment. Personally I am inclined to account for the culture of Bostonians by the operation of the law of natural selection or the survival of the fittest. The unfit are either in jail — or Heaven.
Very truly yours,
CHARLES L. DIBBLE.
‘From Missouri’ comes this pointed contribution to a current discussion.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
What do teachers know?
One of them who is taking an extension course in English asked me not long ago for some information regarding modern poets. I am not an authority, but I gave her a few names, while she took notes industriously.
‘Grace Fallow Norton, I said, ‘occasionally has a poem in the Atlantic.'
She carefully put down, ‘Norton — Atlantic.'
I would n’t have spoiled that for the world, so I went on hastily, though somewhat chokingly, to say that Amy Lowell is perhaps at the head of the school of free verse in this country.
She was very businesslike. ‘Amy Lowell,’ she jotted down, ‘school of free verse.’ Then she looked up, pencil poised, — ‘ And where is this school located? ’ she asked.
MARY F. ROBINSON.
And while we are on the subject of teaching, perhaps it is appropriate to notice a certain attitude toward it on the part of some parents. We print this remarkable example sent us from a famous school.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Behold the trials of the secondary school which endeavors to teach the youth of to-day the art of English Composition. The paragraph below is the reaction, in part, of a lawyer of New York City whose son had failed to meet the requirements. The name of the boy and of the school are changed, the rest is an exact transcript.
‘Just how a boy can fail in the subject of English, even I today with my own experience, cannot see or understand, and without hesitation or fear of possible successful contradiction I assert that no man lives today who could mark a pupil as having failed or succeeded in English, except on possibly definitions or lack of committing something to memory; the subject of English is too broad to be marked down that way to a day, one might be very learned in English along one line and be utterly dumb about another, who then could say failure, it seems incredible to be argued even, but for fear you may not understand me I wish to say definitely that I am raising no issue with you or Kensington. I do not occupy any position to do that, but it is such an all important element to all growing young men that good views of any person might be valuable even to Kensington when submitted by fair impartial men and I am trying to do that, notwithstanding John is involved.'