The Contributors' Column
Frank Tannenbaum leading a mob up Fifth Avenue, and Frank Tannenbaum graduating with distinction from Columbia University, have attracted diverse expressions of opinion. We quote an interesting editorial from the New YorkGlobe.
The shopworn adventure of the poor boy who became rich has been outdone by Frank Tannenbaum, although the latter’s career has hardly begun. Mr. Tannenbaum got into the public eye in 1914, when, by leading an orderly little inob into a church, he called attention to the pitiable condition of the unemployed. The method he used did not appeal favorably to those who look upon churches as places of worship, but it opened the eyes of many people and the hearts of a few. As for Tannenbaum,he found lodging on Blackwell’s Island for a year. His history since then throws light upon America during one of the most eventful lustrums in its annals. In 1914 most newspaper readers probably considered him a dangerous radical, although in that golden pre-war age the man in the street, instead of going into hysterics, merely smiled in a superior and rather convincing way at the antics of the little band of Utopians.
Two years later, Tannenbaum was working in a shipyard and trying to stir his fellow workers to greater efforts to counteract the ravages of the German submarines; two years after that, he was in the army, and by his patriotic zeal had earned the rank of sergeant; a year later he had resumed his studies at Columbia University; and this week finds him graduating with ‘highest honors in history and economics,’ a Phi Beta Kappa key in recognition of a brilliant record in his studies, and a scholarship which will enable him Lo take an advanced degree.
There is another moral in this story than the mere conversion of a ‘radical’ to ‘liberalism.’ Phis is that youth, enthusiasm, and a degree of ignorance sufficient to make a youngster a noisy and irrational objector to the existing order may cover up the most admirable qualities and the highest abilities. Probably Mr. Tannenbaum has found out that if the world is to be made better, it must be done by prolonged hard work and painstaking preparation; but probably he does not regret that, before this was quite so clear to him, he flung his gauntlet blindly in the face of what he thought injustice and a cruel indifference to human suffering.
George Herbert Palmer, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, has for nearly two generations been a famous teacher at Harvard University. Discussing popular fallacies about the Puritans, he writes not uncharacteristically: ‘We should remember that something like ten per cent of mankind are constitutionally sour. How unfair it is to pick out that ten per cent of Puritans and make them representative! ’ Vicente Blasco Ibanez first attracted to himself the attention of Spain by a political sonnet which won him applause and imprisonment. More than thirty years later, though long since famous in his native country, he attracted the attention of the world by his Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Born in Valencia, of Aragonese parents, he is now living in Paris. Editorial writer, printer, investigator, and practical philosopher, Arthur Pound lives in Flint, Michigan, where the Buiek, Chevrolet, and other familiar types of cars are made, and where there is detailed opportunity to study the effect of automotive machinery on human character.
Wilbur C. Abbott has been a member of the History Department of Dartmouth, University of Michigan, University of Kansas, University of Chicago, Yale, and now, Harvard. He is a professor among professors — and something more. DuBose Heyward, a poet of North Carolina, makes his first appearance in the Atlantic. William Beebe is a household word in the Atlantic Dictionary. Emma Lawrence (Mrs. John S. Lawrence) is a Bostonian whose first story appeared in the Atlantic two months ago.
Rufus M. Jones, the author of many valuable studies of the Quaker faith, is Professor of Philosophy at Haverford College, and editor of the Friends’ Review. Edward Carrington Venable, a member of the Flying Corps during the war, lives in Baltimore. Anne Winslow (Airs. E. E. Winslow) is a contributor new to theAtlantic.
Lieutenant-Colonel Charles a Court Repington saw early and brilliant service in India, Afghanistan, Burma, the Sudan, and other British outposts of Empire. Subsequently he was Military Attaché at Brussels and The Hague. After leaving the army, he became military critic of the London Times, where his articles (we quote from his most bitter critic) ‘are almost models of their kind; clear, sprightly, telling— almost classical journalism.’ Leaving the Times under dramatic circumstances, he joined the Morning Post. Every reader who has followed the war is familiar with his subsequent record, and all students with his Diaries of the First World-War. To all interested in Colonel Repington’s adventurous and dramatic life, we recommend his autobiography, published under the title of Vestigia. His competence to discuss the present subject will not be called in question. Walter B. Pitkin, who has devoted much time to the study of the Far East, writes in the belief that ‘American readers have heard too much about the Open Door in China and too little about soy beans in Manchuria, coal in Shensi, cotton in South China, and a hundred other concrete matters that cannot be disposed of by fine generalities.’
J. O. P. Bland knows China, if anybody does. For years he was Secretary to the Municipality for the Foreign Settlements in Shanghai, and representative in China of the British and Chinese Corporation. More recently, he has served as a distinguished correspondent of the London Times. A world-traveler and carefully trained observer, Mr. Bland may be definitely classed as a realist in his discussions of political and social questions. E. Alexander Powell has corresponded for the papers round the world and back again. A veteran in the service, he has devoted a great deal of time to investigating the questions centring on the western shores of the Pacific. Herbert Sidebotham, who succeeded to the post left vacant by Colonel Repington, under dramatic circumstances, as military critic of the London Times, has just severed his connection with that paper. Hector C. Bjnvater is a British naval critic, of recognized attainments. At the Atlantic’s request, he writes this judicious and important comparison of the relative strength of the American and Japanese navies. Admiral Sims gives, in another column, a highly interesting estimate of Mr. Bywater’s views.
News from Russia is more voluminous than authentic. Our readers will be interested in this record of the actual experiences of a Russian lady, whose name, for prudence’ sake, we do not reveal.
We are alive, but our existence can hardly be called living. We are buried alive: no news from the outside world, no new books, papers, or magazines. ‘They’ have their own publications, in which they can lie to their hearts’ content. I never read them.
We suffered from hunger and cold, especially in the winters of 1919 and 1920. I had the scurvy, but am better now. This last winter we suffered less, but our life is still hard to bear. We subsist on rations which are distributed to us, and consist of black bread of inferior quality, smoked herring which I cannot swallow, frozen potatoes, and sometimes meat; also a little butter and a few apples; no genuine lea, coffee, or cocoa. We depend mostly on porridge (cereal) and a few other things such as we can buy; for although it is illegal to trade, almost everyone ‘speculates.’ We cannot keep servants, and do our own work. I don’t find that so very hard, but it is hard to witness Russia’s complete annihilation; that is painful, indeed. A country without trade is dead.
You would not recognize Petrograd — it is depopulated. The former millions have shrunk into hundreds! No traffic in the streets, no iztoshzhiks; most of the horses have been killed; only a few wretched conveyances, which are so crowded that an old woman like myself dare not venture to use them.
We live in a wild country, among savages who rule by terror. Lies, devastation, famine, contagious diseases, and privations of all kinds are common.
They are not organizers, but destroyers. The greater part of the forests have been cut down, but still we have no wood to keep us warm. A great many wooden houses have been demolished, and hardly a summer home remains standing. It will be a desert soon. It is impossible to describe the misery we have suffered. One has to live in the midst of it to understand. The despotism of the Tsars was nothing in comparison. We cannot move, we cannot go anywhere without leave, and to obtain leave is well-nigh impossible. One must negotiate for weeks, and even months; and at present the railways can hardly be said either to be safe for travel or to function sati-factorily. (Les ehemins de fer sont presque annihilés; ils sont depuis longtetnps dans une position catastrophique.)
It is three years since we have been able to buy any wearing apparel or footwear. Nothing is obtainable, not even pins and needles. I am old and need but little, and what I have may last me until I die, but the young people are almost destitute — dans une position incroyable. Everything has been stolen from our country-house, even our library — and we had been collecting books for fifty years! The trees in the park on the estate have been all cut down; everything has been desolated (saccagé); but we only share the genera] fate.
Wells could not have been allowed to see much, as he was ‘conducted’ most of the time, and saw only what they chose to show him. He may have heard the truth, however, from Pavlof [the wellknown professor of physiology, who received the Nobel Prize].
We are in almost total ignorance as to what happened in the years 1918, 1919, and 1920.
Although the salary of — as Professor is fifty thousand rubles a month, the money has no value and prices are monstrous. An egg costs a thousand rubles, a pound of bread three thousand, a pound of butter seventeen thousand, and a pound of meat ten thousand and more.
Cherish no illusions about our higher schools, universities, or polytechnic institutions: they are not flourishing, they are only shadows of their former selves. There are few students, and those who atttend cannot study with any degree of comfort. The buildings are not heated, and it is impossible to study in a temperature of six degrees below zero [Réaumur], There is neither water nor gas in the laboratories.
It is the same everywhere. In such conditions you would not think that life was possible!
One used to believe that the names of the great and celebrated should not suffer abbreviation. According to the following letter, however, the Plague of Abbreviation is no respecter of rank.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Your article on the Plague of Abbreviation called to mind some correspondence with a brother clergyman, who always signed himself ‘yours in the faith of O.B.L.’ It took me a good while to find out what O.B.L. really meant.
It took us a good while, too.
OldAllantics are carefully kept. Note this curious instance.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
While walking in the Adirondack Mountains, I came across an old log-cabin and went in to investigate. I found in a crevice a magazine. Judge my surprise when I discovered it to be an Atlantic Monthly published in 1867, two years after the Civil War. Although the cabin is almost a ruin, the print is in first-class condition and also the paper, although it has lain here for fifty-four years. I think it is a unique find, and if you are interested, write to
PATRICK H. FOESSLEH.
’Our Street,’we agree, is open to further discussion, and to friendly traffic of every sort. For this little thoroughfare, not less than ‘Main Street’ and ‘The Drive,’is found on the road-map of every American town. And for some of us it is the familiar road toward home.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Never before have I wished to usurp the editorial prerogative — but why could n’t there have been more of ‘Our Street’? Why could n’t the Atlantic have sent it back with a request for a little more detail, a little wider vista, perhaps for a larger, more comprehensive canvas? For there is more of it, a great deal more of it, in spite of Masters and Mencken and Sinclair Lewis.
Let me confess that for me ‘Our Street’ is making the most effective assault possible upon the so-called realists — it is so real, and at the same time so permanent, like Truth and Progress and Human Charity. Its reality and its fine permanency speak to me every day through all my windows and my open doors, with the wafted odors of my neighbor’s baking and the strong young voices of her children. We are plain people, working-people all, with barely a college degree to go around. But there are no fences between our houses; our green corn and our new biscuits find their way to more than one table; when one of us gets to hear Rachmaninoff, he brings the programme home for the rest to see. We exchange paper patterns and opera records and Atlantics; for how could one have all these things at once? And quite often we go shopping for a new dining-room rug and come home with books.
Periodically, usually in the spring, some of us wonder if we should n’t try to find a house on the Drive — for the children’s sake, you know. But somehow we never do. The soil seems to suit us, here on Our Street, and moving might very well destroy in us something native and natural to that homely environment.
I have heard, somewhere, the story of a Quaker who overtook a man traveling with a van-load of household goods.
‘Is thee moving, Robert?’ asked the Quaker. ‘Yes, and I’m glad to get away from that town,’the man replied. ‘Those people are a poor lot; not a decent soul among them.’
‘ Friend,’said the Quaker, ‘thee will find the same wherever thee goes! ’
Very likely for some folk heaven itself would have its Main Street.
These rumors of Archæology in the Backyard make us long unseasonably to spade the garden.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - Upon my return to-day to the little khaki tent on a big New Mexican ranch which constitutes my temporary home, I had the exhilarating experience of reading Mr. Moorehcad’s article in your September issue. May I be allowed a comment or two?
I, too, am an archæologist, and one of the younger school that went ‘West, South, or abroad.’ Each one of us, when he reached the parting of the ways, chose that American culture which interested him most, as the subject for his life-work. The entire New World is roughly divided into large geographical areas, each of which was once the home of some distinct civilization. In nearly every case, these old civilizations differ one from the other as widely as ancient Egypt from Babylon in its prime. Each archaeologist, in attacking the many and varied problems in his own area, soon becomes a specialist, and, as such, becomes incompetent to judge of the detailed problems of other areas. However, all of us have a sufficient knowledge of the general problems of American archaeology to appreciate those of another area. When all is said and done, we are one in our desire to extend the history of the American Indian backward in the realm of time.
Mr. Moorehead has mentioned public interest in archaeology. I quite agree with him that this interest should start at home. If, however, the antiquities of one area of our country have received a modicum of attention in excess of another, the men working in that area are to be congratulated. Even at its best, the interest our public takes in the history and archaeology of its own country is discouragingly small. It is our great dream that some day the public as a whole will awaken to the great fund of romance and history that now lies hidden in the ruins, not only in one area, but in all parts of the country. The slogan ' See American First’ should be changed to ‘Know America First,’ in all that the change of the verb implies. A better knowledge of Indian history, and also of the remnants of that race still living, would certainly do much more good than harm.
These few sentences are not to be construed as a criticism in any way. They are simply in the form of a footnote. I congratulate my friend, Mr, Moorehead, and also the Atlantic, upon this article, which gives promise of a better, saner interest on the part of the public in our work, because it is a serious article, put before the right kind of a public.
CARL E. GUTHE.
Here is a note which will appeal to bibliophiles— and bibliophilistines, too.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - I had an experience in one of our bookstores that may interest Mr. Newton. I inquired for Frank Stockton’s The Lady, or the Tiger? The salesman replied, ' I am sorry, madam, but we have neither.'
EDNA L. TAYLOR. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
The following inquiry suggests that the corporate octopus may still need an additional tentacle or two.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - Will you please advise me concerning the possibility of my having a poem accepted by the Atlantic Monthly Company? Do you buy them from companies or from individuals? If from individuals, would you ignore the work of an unknown writer?
Very truly yours,
By way of defining the policy of the magazine, we may state that, if any excellent company poems should ever come our way, we should doubtless accept them without inquiring too curiously into their authorship.
This question is a poser, but we think the Apex wins.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Here’s a new situation, and I want you to answer this all-important question.
This morning’s mail brought the new Atlantic, which I am always anxious to peruse. The family washing had to be done. The ancient axiom ‘Duty before pleasure’ again held sway, but I changed it.
Descending into the laundry, laden with the washing, surmounted by the Atlantic, I started my labors and then, while the Apex Electric Washing-Machine chug-chugged the clothes to snowy whiteness, I laughed over A. Edward Newton’s ‘Twenty-five Hours a Day.’
Here is the question: Would the above situation be a better ‘Ad’ for the Atlantic than for the Apex Electric Washing-Machine Co.?
HELEN DORCAS MAGEE.
Will any Atlantic reader in possession of letters from the distinguished painter, Abbott H. Thayer, be so good as to communicate with Mrs. Abbott H. Thayer, Monadnock, New Hampshire. All originals will be carefully returned.