The Contributors' Column
Cornelia James Cannon, wife of Professor W. B. Cannon the biologist, contributed to the September Atlantic a paper on Philanthropy, which stirred much thought and comment. Chauncey B. Tinker, Professor of English at Yale, a collector of distinction and a superlative Boswellian, is taking a midwinter holiday in England. His present paper is a chapter in a forthcoming volume on Young Boswell, for which we promise long life and many friends. Chief Engineer now of one ship, now of another, William McFee is now with the S.S. Maniqui, outbound for Cuba. Happily he has the talent of holding the tiller in one hand while he writes with the other, and this is perhaps the most productive year of his career. Using an agriculturally unnautical simile, he writes: ‘So far from letting the grass grow under my feet, there is no grass in sight.’ A. H. Singleton, of Scarvagh House, County Down. Ireland, has improved the opportunities of this environment by collecting the old stories of the Irish countryside.
Arthur Pound, of Flint, Michigan, as a newspaper writer and editor, has had unusual opportunities for observing the social effects of industry. In addition to his recent work in Flint, he was at one time editor of the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, and later, for several years, chief editorial writer of the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press. His series, which has evoked great interest, will be included in a forthcoming volume dealing comprehensively and most suggestively with the effects of automatic machinery. The spirit of coincidence was the patron saint of the sonnet by Katharine Lee Bates: ‘Could any birthday morning greeting be pleasanter or more appropriate,’ she writes, ‘ than a note from the editor of the Atlantic accepting a sonnet on Time!’ All who once read ‘The Road to Silence’ in the Atlantic need no further word of introduction to the work of ‘Margaret Baldwin.’
Dr. Carl S. Patton, pastor of the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles, browses in ‘Parker’s,’ and in other pleasant shops, for books not always of a theological stamp. William O. Stoddard, Jr., sends us his contribution to the country’s collection of Lincoln stories for the February anniversary season.
Frank Tannenbaum’s critics, who have not denied his main charges, have complained that his papers are destructive only. Of the cell-system they are, it is true, destructive only; but that his views on prison reform are both positive and sane, we offer the present article as adequate proof. A further paper by an ex-warden of a well-known prison will appear shortly. Mrs. Olive Tilford Dargan’s reputation as a poet has been long since established.
Waddill Catchings, of New York City, a member of the firm of Goldman, Sachs and Company, is a director of the Endicott Johnson Corporation, the Studebaker Corporation, the Underwood Typewriter Company, the B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company, the Cluett-Peabody Company, and several other large industrial corporations. He was Chairman of the War Committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce. As President of the Central Foundry Company, the Platt Iron Works Company, and the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company, he has had experience as an employer. He was responsible for the establishment, about a year ago, of the Francis D. Pollak Foundation for Economic Research, the general purpose of which is the study of means whereby the economic activities of the world may be so directed, and the products so distributed, as to yield larger human satisfactions. Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, the distinguished poet whom Rupert Brooke affectionately dubbed ‘ Wibson ’ for convenience’ sake, sends this poem from his home at Journey’s End, in Malvern.
Frances Chapman, who knows both New England and the Middle West, is a contributor new to the Atlantic.
The author of ‘No Courtship at All,’who for her own reasons withholds her name, is a successful professional woman, far removed from the spinsterland of Massachusetts.
For a long time connected with the liberal press in Germany, and with Vorwärts in particular, Hellmut von Gerlach recently attracted international attention by his analysis of ‘The Spirit of 1914.’ He sends this paper at the Atlantic’s request.
Hector Bywater recent volume, published in this country by Houghton Mifflin Company, has been highly praised by Admiral Sims and other competent critics. He represents the best British professional opinion. Victor S. Clark, editor of the Living Age, has just returned from making in person a comprehensive survey of Europe.
It is well to warn the Atlantic community against a gentleman acting as a traveling ‘Vice-President’ of the Atlantic Monthly Company, who asks accommodating friends to cash his cheques on the Shawmut Bank of Boston, and signs the name of the ‘editor’s brother, Arthur Sedgwick,’ to them. The editor never had a brother Arthur, and feels no immediate need of one; but, apart from these supposititious family relationships, we advise our ‘Vice-President’ to get into a better business and the public to see to it that he does.
People look at prisons in two ways. Some look back at the crime and some look forward to reform. One of these points of view is well illustrated by the following letter.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Usually, a man is placed in prison because he commits a crime. There you will find the desperate murderer; the burglar; the thug; the professional killer, or gang-man; the embezzler, and all the other classes of criminals and crooks that infest society. These are enemies of mankind. Human nature, in some cases, finds it hard to resist the temptation to commit crime; that is why our prisons and jails are overcrowded. Therefore, in order to make crime less tempting, we have devised hard and strict punishment for the man who breaks our laws. Confinement in prison is the usual procedure. Being a lawbreaker, the first thing the prisoner does is to violate the prison regulations in some form. True, it may be a slight infraction; but regulations are made to be obeyed to the very letter, and any minor offense is a contempt for the whole. For this he is punished; usually by having some form of liberty taken away from him. This in turn, makes him all the worse; and he proceeds to break other rules. For this he is more severely dealt with — perhaps by whipping, solitary confinement, or some other punishment more brutal iu nature. Very cruel, to say the least: but how else is the warden going to force the criminal to obey the laws?
Right here, we would like a suggestion from Mr. Tannenbaum. Mr. Tannenbaum seems to delight in showing up the lack of education he found in the wardens. Perhaps he would rather have a philosopher or social-welfare worker on the job! Desperate and hardened criminals cannot be handled with kid gloves; therefore, the best warden is the one who can keep order in his own house. We would like to have Mr. Tannenbaum describe his ideal prison warden for us.
Confinement in a cell is grueling to a convict, Mr. Tannenbaum implies. Yes; that is part of his punishment — perhaps the hardest to bear. But when that man committed his crime, he knew he would be placed in a cell, with iron bars and not too much sunlight. Knowing this, he took that chance. Therefore, he should be made to suffer for his crime. The theory back of all punishment for crime is to make it hard for the law-breaker. In order to discourage crime, the punishment should be swift and severe.
The author of this is not calling for undue harshness toward convicts. Their lot is hard as it is. But he is among those few million American citizens who believe that laws are made to be enforced; and that crime should be made as costly as possible; that prisons are places of punishment. He thinks that criminals should be treated as criminals; and that the prisons should not be turned into country clubs, as the author of ‘Prison Facts’ strongly implies. The very structure of the Constitution is based on law and order; and if this is allowed to be flagrantly and consistently violated, there will be no such thing as Government.
Very sincerely yours,
ARTHUR N. CONNER.
A worker in Massachusetts, a state which has made notable advance in prison reform, writes us as follows: —
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Undoubtedly Mr. Tannenbaum gives a correct version of what he saw in some state institutions; but in Massachusetts the key-note is not punishment, but reformation. Massachusetts, among other states, recognizes that there are far more fundamental things than punishment in trying to help a man become a self-respecting, law-abiding citizen. A visitor of the Massachusetts state institutions could find discipline, yes, and punishment for the man not amenable to rules and regulations of the community life, but never the horrors of the cage, flogging, or the underground cell. Massachusetts has substituted in her state penal institutions, industrial training, medical and psychiatric treatment, outof-door exercise, and a resident chaplain interested in the work and play of each individual.
LUCY B. CRAIN,
Secty. Prison Committee.
To sum up the discussion: the real gravamen of Mr. Tannenbaum’s charges is against the use of the cellular system. In frankness we may add that it is the editor’s personal belief that fifty years from now we shall think of the prison in its cellular form much as we think of dungeons to-day.
Patriotism has been variously defined, but seldom so sensibly as in this note.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
Do you not love this definition of ‘patriotism’ by a little five-year-old? During our recent enthusiastic reception to Marshal Foch, the little boy had asked many questions: Why the flags — Why the parade —Why Marshal Foch? After the parade he was making a little sing-song of the word patriotic — patriotic. I asked ‘ What does patriotic mean, Robert? ’
‘To tell the truth, and love parades,’ came the instant answer.
IDA M. SCHERER.
‘My Wife’s Address-Book,’ in a recent Atlantic, serves philosophers with a clue to uncharted areas of woman’s mind, and the masculine race generally with a working hypothesis of System in the Home.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
In our house it is not an address-book, but a filing cabinet. My wife was formerly a teacher of office practice in the largest commercial high school on earth, and to her the whole world is classified alphabetically, geographically, topically, or by the Binet tests. (The trouble of mere man is that he never knows which.)
She is a great systematizer. There is little to dust and nothing to mend when the morning filing is done. The cabinet now comprises some twelve sections, and stands in the kitchen — there is no other place to put it. At one time or another, I have found in it framed pictures, borrowed books ready to be returned, a pair of rubbers left behind by a guest, the head of my favorite mashie destined for a new shaft, and a copy of the Atlantic, filed under B because it contained an article by John Burroughs (on Thoreau), to which I had taken some caustic exceptions; but the poor man died before I got the reply composed, so there was nothing to do — but file it.
The other day I wanted to refer to a previous gas-bill. I looked under G, then under U, for United Gas Company; then I dipped into the H’s for Household Accounts, turned through B for Bills, and P for Paid. At last I called for the Queen of the File.
Her orderly mind gave answer: ‘The boy who reads our gas-meter is named Joseph, and all the gas-receipts are filed under his name.’ But I searched through J in vain. The lady herself came to the rescue. She shut that section in haste, pulled out the drawer marked D-C, and handed me the desired paper, all in a fraction of a second.
‘Don’t you remember,’ she explained, ‘that story you told me of the man who had given his son a name that began with C; and when everybody had failed to guess it, he said it was Choseph? I put Joe’s gas-bills under C, to help me remember the story.’
I took some rather good pictures at the farm this summer and I thought I would have some extra copies printed. So I went to the file for the films. The F’s seemed a sure bet for they included hath films and farm. I was wrong, however, — but P covered both pictures and photographs, so I tried that file, still in hopes. It was only after this second failure that I tried a little character analysis, and decided that the answer was Glen Uplands, the name of our farm. My character was bad. I called for help. My character was restored. The swiftest lady in the world at getting things in and out of a file extracted the films triumphantly from the letter S. ‘The only thing you took this summer,’ she said, ‘that you had never taken before was the old Swimming-Hole. So I put the whole packet under S.’
For some ten years there has been a planisphere in an old bookcase drawer, which it is my habit to get out from time to time, of a starlight evening, to refresh my recollection of the constellations. The other night the planisphere was missing. I suspected that the file had claimed it, and looked under P without any thought of possible error. No planisphere! Then I tried S for Stars, E for Evening, N for Night, and a Shout for Her,
‘Did you file the planisphere?’
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘It seemed needless to hunt through that old drawer for it every time you want it, so I put it in the file where you would know just where to put your hand on it.’
I assured her, in the words of Ruskin, that ‘it was a noble thought but an erring one.’
In a twinkling she produced it from the L’s. ‘I noticed that it was published in London,’ she said.
It is fair to say that in our office-organized household it is presupposed that the file-clerk will wait on all the members of the firm. It is only gratuitous effort when I indulge in these personal excursions. I can only add the fervent hope that, if the file clerk ever goes on a long vacation, she will take me with her.
W. W. D.
‘How Wild can a Young Person be?’ is a question that undoubtedly troubled Cain’s parents. Nor have any subsequent generations been immune.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Apropos of the wild ways of the younger generation, I have just come across this remark in one of Walpole’s letters to Sir Horace Mann (Cunningham’s edition, vol. v, p. 350), dated Nov. 18: 1771: —
‘On the other hand, the young have new words, new language, new amusements; and one can no more talk their talk, than dance their dances.’
J. D. BURRELL.
Not long ago, the Contributors’ Column exchanged a few lines of poetry with Mr. Christopher Morley on the subject of nuncpro-tuncing. Our un-legal use of the Latin tongue so disturbed one of the editorial staff of the St. Paul Docket, that he laid aside the work of preparing a syllabus for a Massachusetts case and dictated the following: —
But to the lawyer it is ‘ bunk,'
Because the handy ‘nunc pro tunc'
In usage is quite firmly sunk.
Tunc does not mean to-morrow;
That is, the lawyer does not say
This Latin phrase in such a way.
It merely means he does to-day
What should have been done yesterday.
These merry rhymesters should straightway
A Black or Bouvier borrow.
We don’t know how our accomplice Mr. Morley will feel about this; but for our part we apologize to the legal profession in a last outburst of melancholy song: —
In chastened mood we read this through
And looked up Black in transitu.
We’ve made an ex post facto vow
To cease from verse right here and now.
We know our rhymes were ultra punk,
And we plead guilty, nunc pro tunc.
A descendant and namesake of Captain Myles Standish once gave his name and address to a saleswoman in a Boston shop. ‘Have n’t you got a famous name?’ said the clerk. ‘Were you named after the Nantasket boat?’ The following letter reminds us that the species of fame makes little difference. Captains, Conquerors, Poets, and Sages — all these are grass.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Searching for a low-priced edition, I inquired of the young woman at a certain counter of one of our leading department stores (known the world over as the up-to-datest of its kind), ‘Have you Whitman’s Leaves of Grass?’
‘Leaves of Grass?’ she pondered, ‘Leaves of Grass?’ Then lightly motioned me to the other side of the aisle, with a gracious smile saying, ‘All our garden and agricultural books are over there. If it’s recent, I know you ’ll find it among them.’
Which reminds me of what Lord Tennyson said about Americans, most of them, being ignorant of even the name of the greatest poet their country had produced.
M. B. FEURER.
When youth is on the rampage, a certain conservatism among our adult classes is hardly reprehensible.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
On a recent railway journey, the chair near me was occupied by a plain but estimable woman, whose solid worth was self-evident. After a few moments of desultory conversation, she asked me what I was reading. I told her that it was the Atlantic Monthly.
‘Are the stories good?’ was her next question.
I replied that I enjoyed them.
Then, settling herself back in her chair with a sigh, she said, ‘Well, I was brought up not to read yellow-back novels, and I don’t believe I had better start in now.’
MAY LADD SIMONSON.
A little pessimism now and then adds to the essential satisfactions.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
We’ve been glad and sad. Why not strike one more note on the emotional gamut and be mad, or have you had enough?’
There seems to be
A raging bull
Inside of me —
He roars and rushes
In my head
I see is red,
He is so strong
He makes me do
All sorts of things
I ought n’t to,
And oh! the dread-
Ful things I say
Before at last
He goes away.