The Contributors' Column
Arthur Pound, an alumnus of the University of Michigan, lives at Flint, a manufacturing centre for automobiles, where he follows many pursuits, among them the publication of a lively weekly and the conduct of a job-printing plant. His knowledge of the human problems of factory management is the result of years of intelligent and imaginative study. Elizabeth Taylor, once a lecturer on the folk customs, the Arctic farming, and the curious traditions of the people of Iceland, wrote these letters at intervals during the five years’ siege of the Faroes by German submarines. Katharine Fullerton Gerould lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Emma Lawrence (Mrs. John S. Lawrence), the author of ‘At Thirty,’ which we printed last month, lives in Boston.
Hans Coudenhove, whose first paper on this subject we printed in the August number, may be fairly described as a detached critic. We quote from a recent interesting letter of his.
The people who are responsible for my coming to Africa, and spending my life in the wilds, have all died long ago. Their names are Fenimore Cooper, Mayne Reid, Jules Verne, and R. L. Stevenson, R.I.P.! I had no intention, when I first came out, to stay more than a few years. But tropical Africa grows upon you. Before 1905 I occasionally visited, besides Portuguese East Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarenhas, — comparatively civilized countries, like the different South African colonies, — but since 1905 I have not left the Tropics. I have been hunting, chiefly for the pot, and prospecting; but the most passionate pursuit of my life, and the chief interest of my existence, is the study of the animal kingdom, not from a biological, but from a psychological point of view. I avoid all European settlements and feel happy only when I live in my tent — a happiness which increases at the ratio of the number of miles which separate me from civilization. I am afraid that my long and intimate intercourse with Nature has given me a grievance against the being about whom H. Fairfield Osborn has written: ‘Man who, through the invention of tools in middle Pleistocene time, about 125,000 years ago, became the destroyer of creation.’ I have never seen an aeroplane. . . . I have been in a theatre last seventeen years ago in Johannesburg, once only in twenty-six years; only twice in my whole life have I been within visiting distance of a cinema show.
Vernon Kellogg, whose earliest reputation was won in the field of biology, served during the war as a first lieutenant to Mr. Hoover, and is now revisiting the scenes of his extraordinary success. Jean Kenyon Mackenzie, who tells us, after her missionary wanderings over the earth, that ‘ the praise of steamers is the worship of the exile,’ sends us these poems from her present home in Riverdale on the Hudson. Edward Yeomans is a Chicago manufacturer who has recently published through the Atlantic Monthly Press a singularly fresh and invigorating volume on Education — Shackled Youth.
Charles Bernard Nordhoff, whose element, air, earth, water, is the one he happens to be in, writes from Tahiti. Annie W. Noel, the most understanding of suburbanites, sends us her first contribution from her home in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Joseph Fort Newton is minister of the Church of the Divine Paternity in New York City. Joseph Auslander is an American poet who has been teaching at Harvard.
The correspondence between John Burroughs and Herbert D. Miles began with a challenge from Mr. Miles regarding Mr. Burroughs’s book, Accepting the Universe. The challenge was accepted, and many letters made their way between Asheville, North Carolina, and the famous Slabsides. Arthur Sherburne Hardy, diplomatist, editor, and novelist, has contributed to the Atlantic for a full generation. J. Edgar Park is the minister of the Second (Congregational) Church of Newton, West Newton, Massachusetts.
E. Alexander Powell is a wide-ranging war correspondent, with many years of remarkable experience behind him. In the list of his important services was the correspondence covering the Turkish and Persian revolutions, the Balkan wars, and the French campaign in Morocco. He was the only correspondent officially attached to the Belgian forces in the campaign of 1914, and was decorated Chevalier of the Order of Leopold. Later he accompanied the Germans during the advance on Paris. He was in Antwerp during the siege, and was the only correspondent to witness the entry of the Germans. Mr. Powell has been connected with the Plattsburg camp and with the movement for military education of young Americans. Samuel W. McCall, long a member of Congress for Massachusetts, and for three years (1916-18) Governor of the State, is well known as a statesman and publicist of notable independence of thought and expression. Colonel S. C. Vestal, of the Coast Artillery Corps, sends, at the editor’s request, this paper outlining the theories discussed in his interesting and highly important volume, The Maintenance of Peace.Maxwell H. H. Macartney has been for many years a correspondent of the London Times.
The future that the Orient holds out to Christianity has been the subject of an Atlantic debate of no small interest.
ST. JOHN’S UNIVERSITY,
June 15, 1921.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In the June number of the Atlantic there is an article by Mr. Chang Hsin-hai entitled ‘The Religious Outlook in China: a Reply,’ which contains some statements requiring, it seems to me, some modification or correction.
Mr. Chang, we learn, is now studying at Harvard University. Perhaps he is not aware that Harvard was established by the Christian people of Massachusetts ‘for the education of English and Indian youth in knowledge and godlyness’; in other words, that it was a missionary college receiving in early years generous aid from England for the special object of educating the natives, a college like those in China whose activity and influence he is deprecating.
It is untrue to say that ‘ missionaries have arranged that students may know as little as possible of the grandeur and dignity of their own national genius, the force and beauty of their own civilization, and the splendid character and discipline of their own great men.’ As a matter of fact, all educational institutions in China provide courses of study in Chinese literature, Chinese history, and Chinese philosophy, as well as Chinese essay-writing, and in most institutions such courses are not optional, but required. Confucius’s birthday is quite generally celebrated in mission schools.
Instead of its being the case that ‘missionary educational institutions have always been looked on with suspicion,’ intelligent and progressive Chinese have generally looked on them with favor, have contributed generously to their expansion and maintenance, and have sent their own boys and girls to be educated in them. The Minister of Education in Peking, Mr. Fan Yuanlien, sent a representative to the meeting of the East China Christian Educational Association, held in Shanghai in February of this year, who ‘addressed the convention, expressing the appreciation of the Ministry of the work done in Mission schools and the desire to coöperate and keep in touch with Mission educational work.’
Fortunately Mr. Chang does not mention medical mission work: the benevolence of the doctors, Chinese and foreign, in the Christian hospitals throughout China is so conspicuous, that one would stultify one’s self by any unfriendly criticism.
There is no danger of a dull uniformity of ideas when China becomes christianized: on the contrary, Christianity is usually charged with too great a diversity. To begin with, there are the differences between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Among the former, the various orders which are carrying on the propagation of their faith differ strikingly, and among the latter variety is even more marked. But that China is actually being evangelized, there can scarcely be a doubt. Mr. Chang’s article is a symptom of the alarm felt in certain anti-Christian circles at the rapid advance made by the religion of the Cross. China is indeed ‘now willing to reckon with the more powerful civilization of the West and to follow it in certain important aspects,’ and the most important of these aspects is the spiritual, for ‘It is the spirit that giveth life.’
MONTGOMERY H. THROOP.
This lady from Philadelphia knows her Aristotle to some purpose.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Mrs. Gerould, in her brilliant article on ‘Movies’ in the July number, says that the motto of the screen-play should be ‘Good-bye, Aristotle’; but Aristotle taught that several things besides the ‘Three Unities’ went to the making of a good play. He lays tremendous stress on action, ‘For,’ says he, ‘Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of actions — for happiness consists in action, and the supreme good itself, the very end of life is action of a certain kind — not quality.’ The things that he thought essential to a play, in the order of their importance, were Plot, Action, Characterization, Sentiments.
Not a bad formula for a scenario!
MARY ELEANOR ROBERTS.
Mr. Christopher Morley includes the following lines in his Bowling Green, taking for his text a remark of the Shop-Talk editor, and developing the theme with his usual felicity.
PLEASURES OF NUNCPROTUNCKING
‘It is one of the compensations of a publisher’S existence that he is compelled to live a definite part of his life in the future — to proceed, as the lawyers say, nunc pro tunc.'
Who never lives ad interim.
He is compelled to haw and hem.
He cannot live, like us, pro tem.
For future days he packs his trunk,
Exclaiming sadly, Nunc pro tunc!
Upon reading the lines, our merry printer’s devil sat down at the linotype, and hastily dashed off the following untutored trifle.
To reach us in our status quo.
It hit the very hominem
Who was its terminus ad quem.
Eheu! The poem made quite a stir,
And we’d reply to Christopher,
But we are out of rhymes just nunc,
And he will have to wait till tunc.
It is always valuable to hear many sides of a many-sided question.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — You have given considerable space of late to discussion of the growth of anti-Semitic sentiment in this country, and justly, for the question is a burning one. The chief indictment against the Jews seems to be that they refuse to be assimilated, to intermarry, even to mingle — that they stand aloof, as a race apart.
I hold a brief for the Jew who wishes to be assimilated. Have you any idea of the difficulties under which he labors? He may live in a Christian community, and have a dozen Christian intimates; he may even join the Church. He is, nevertheless, unable to become a member of the local club, to which all his friends belong. He has not the family backing, the ramifying connections that make for social standing in the community. If he has married a Christian, her friends feel that she has condescended a bit, even though he is an exceptionally fine fellow; and his friends think it’s a pity that he should have cut adrift like that, when there are so many attractive Jewish girls to be had. There is always a certain constraint in their presence if the question of religion is touched upon, be it ever so remotely.
They decide to send their children to the neighboring private school attended by their friends’ children. Before this can be done, wires sufficient to delight the heart of Tony Sarg must be pulled. The father is then summoned to the
principal’s sanctum, and given, gently, tactfully, but unmistakably, to understand, that this is a Christian school and that his children are being admitted by special dispensation.
The question of finding accommodations at good hotels has been discussed ad infinitum, and I will not bore you with the numberless instances of Jews who have been turned away, to their great embarrassment, simply because they are Jews, though they have culture, breeding, and Christian connections. And with the refusal goes a sneer at the Jew for trying to force himself where he does not belong. How about assimilation here?
Finally, is it not unjust to the Jew who is adaptable, who wishes to be a one-hundred-percent American, to find himself constantly classed with the objectionable, noisy aliens who are flooding this country?
Perhaps these few arguments may set some of your readers to thinking, and to putting at least part of the blame for non-assimilation where it really belongs.
H. L. K.
The Chicago Tribune hoists us a friendly signal now and then, this time a warning from a contributor.
A CALL FOR THE WATCH ON THE RHYME
In its August number, the Atlantic Monthly has a sonnet in which us, glamorous, radius and continuous, and diameters and carpenters are used as rhymes. And this from Boston! Please pass the beans! OLE OLESON.
Even the editor was aware that the Atlantic’s poet neither meditated nor employed the usual sequent rhymes, preferring the more complex assonance that has after all a charm of its own. But any critic from Chicago deserves a Boston audience.
Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innesfrae comes to mind as one reads this account, not of a dream, but of a dream come true.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — I am living a unique life. Do you want me to write about it? I am living on an ancestral farm with my son (you have an article from him now, on stock exchange and speculation), and we are almost independent as far as living costs go. About all we buy is soda, sugar, coffee, cheese, and an occasional piece of meat (when our canned meat, which we kill and put up on the place, gives out).
We raise and grind our own wheat for breakfast-food; have our own milk and cream (buy butter); grind our own corn-meal, and get our wheat ground for flour; have all the fruit and vegetables we want; and our living costs us about a dollar or so a week, apiece. For this we live on the top, everything being fresh and appetizing. Our inner life is delightful. We have all sorts of good books, papers and magazines, music, and perfect quiet, with only the birds singing about us. I throw down a blanket and sleep under the trees, and the birds and I begin the day together.
I have lovely flowers, to the raising of which I attend, often before the sun is up.
We have a car, and the roads are fine, so we can exchange our idyllic existence for the advantages (?) of city life whenever we so desire.
Our habit of life being So simple is, I think, largely responsible for our quiet, happy, and useful existence.
Neither my son nor I (we are alone here) eat breakfast; and when we eat at noon, it is that cracked wheat, hot or cold — generally out of the fireless cooker. No cooking for me until evening, when I throw a few of our new potatoes into the pot, and cook some eggs, and provide fresh applesauce and sweet corn, five minutes from the field before cooking.
It seems to me that from this quiet harbor, where life sings on so quietly and happily, there might come a message of simplicity and happiness to a bedeviled city population which could produce something of the effect on country-lovers that Thoreau’s Walden did on me when I read it in Chicago, and yearned with all my heart to go and do likewise.
This life seems heavenly to me; and not one person who has been here but feels the charm and wants to return.
ELLEN DE GRAFF.
Apparently the amenities of stamp-collecting may be appreciated by the stampcollector’s family, or then, again, they may not.
‘Dear, your balance is running low.’
‘Bought some more stamps.’
And again I had to listen to the Evils of Throwing Away Money. Would it not be well to stop squandering ray hard-earned cash on mere scraps of paper, etc., etc.
Scraps of paper, indeed! Was not this stamp one of the great rarities? And here was a gem procured in Alaska. Not an ordinary one-cent stamp as the family would have it, but one which had been sent all the way from Washington by rail, steamer, and pack, to the gold-fields, there to lie until I should stumble across it. Useless to explain that it was a variety unknown until I found this specimen.
And this little engraving, worth many times its weight in gold, was found in a country postoffice, where the postmaster refused to show me his stock one Saturday afternoon because he kept his stock upstairs in the safe, ‘and,’ he explained, ‘some of the women are up there taking a bath.’ No romance in stamps? Why, here was romance to saturation!
Useless to try to explain why sane men with national-bank letter-heads and big-corporation stationery forgot their stenographers and scrawled me letters telling me of their finds. No, it was a childish pastime. Foolish, frivolous, and fruitless.
One fine day, a strange chap walked into my office and asked whether I would sell my collection. I would. I would convince that family of mine there was something in that album.
Things moved rapidly. I took the stranger home, showed him the treasures, took his check, and sent him down the road with my Alaska find, my bathroom stamps — my hobby. (There is no climax to this tale — the check was O.K. Philatelists habitually trust one another.)
Now, I would show in one-syllable words what I had parted with. With the proceeds I bought a car, and every time the family admired the flitting scenery I reminded them that they rode on postage-stamps.
But my victory fell flat. I had lost my hobby. No longer could I turn to my album for solace after an off day at the office. No pages to turn long winter evenings into hours of pleasure. I felt lost.
Once a collector, always a collector. I became interested in old maps. The romance of old charts with their sea serpents, mermaids, and Terra Incognita fascinated me. I began gathering old books of travel, with their quaint cartographical insets; old folio atlases, with their handpainted pages. The void would be filled! I would make a collection that would be a pleasure and a joy forever.
‘Dear, your balance is running low.’
Our correspondent is conservative. Another stamp-collector of our acquaintance sometimes receives from his banker a letter that reads, in substance, ‘Dear, your balance is overdrawn.’
In these days of General-Information tests, it is refreshing to know that at least one young candidate for future honors is beginning early to store up geographical lore against the day of the Edison examinations.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
That the Monthly has a certain fixed place in the scheme of things is well known to all readers. Extra proof ‘out of the mouth of babes’ may be of interest.
Small boy of four who has his ‘toy world’ (globe), and interests beyond his own fireside: —
‘I know the names of the oceans.’
‘Well, and what are they?’
‘One is Atlantic and—I think the other is Monthly.’
D. A. STEWART.