The Contributors' Column
The Very Reverend W. R. Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, is recognized as one of the most rigorous thinkers of present-day England. His better known volumes include The Church and the Age, and Outspoken Essays.
Alexander Kaun is a member of the Slavic Department of the University of California. He bases his paper on a sheaf of unpublished documents recently released from the secret archives of Soviet Russia. For the first time we have a translation of the last pages of Tolstoy’s diary, revealing the explanation of his flight. Students of Tolstoy will find in the Living Age for January 14 and January 21 highly interesting papers dealing with the last episodes of the master’s life. The essay on ‘Poverty,’ by Countess Vera Tolstoy, curiously supplements the thought and experience of her great kinsman whose adventures with poverty were so much more deliberate than hers. E. Barrington, who loves to interpret the most elusive personalities of bygone centuries, has brought the mystery of Stella back again. The thesis is novel and, we think, most interesting.
Hans Coudenhove, hunter and student, has shifted camp from Mtonia Mountain, which, it seems, was too little removed from civilization to be entirely to his philosophic taste. To the lovers of Fannie Stearns Gifford’s poems, it will seem significant that the first one to be published in the Atlantic, in 1906, was called ‘The Moods.’ Ever since, at intervals, the varied moods of varied seasons have been delicately suggested in her expressive verse.
No citizen is better fitted to speak of a warden’s province than the warden himself. Brice P. Disque writes in the light of actual experience. Trained as an army officer, his views are unaffected either by politics or by sentimentalism. In the spacious days of McClure’s Magazine, if ‘S.S.’ was the man of genius, Miss Roseboro’ was the woman of taste. Always the best of ‘ readers,’ this first Atlantic essay of hers reveals a writer such as she herself might have loved to discover in those other years. Arthur Pound is cutting his own path in this vigorous series, and students, as well as the general reader, will do well to follow the blazed trail. Miss I. L. Mudge is an English writer unknown to our readers unless they chance to be acquainted with one of her volumes, Impressions of Warsaw, or London Then and Now.Roger Wray is the pseudonym of an English writer new to the Atlantic.A. H. Singleton has gathered folk-tales from the traditions of a familiar Irish countryside. There is no sudden invention here. The tales just grew.
Only a few of Professor Tinker’s delightful chapters can appear in the Atlantic. His book Young Boswell will appear shortly, for the enduring pleasure of every reader who cares for an evening’s holiday in the pleasantest society that the eighteenth century produced. It is a dull year at the Atlantic office when the postman brings no news of the work of Jean Kenyon Mackenzie. Elizabeth Choate, daughter of the distinguished lawyer Charles F. Choate, comes of a family which has seldom lacked for talent. Arthur E. Morgan, a progressive engineer of Dayton, Ohio, has, during the past year, assumed the presidency of Antioch College, where he is carrying on an experiment in education which we hope to describe in a later issue of the magazine. Samuel W. McCall, long a distinguished representative and afterwards thrice Governor of Massachusetts, has been following the Disarmament Conference for the Boston Post. This paper embodies his more deliberate reflections.
Mr. E. Alexander Powell’s last paper on Japan brought from a schoolmaster in Korea this interesting bit of personal history: —
Only last week thirty-nine boys from my school were arrested for calling ‘Mansei’ for the independence of Korea; fifteen are being held for further examination, while the rest were released and are back at work. Students from the girls’ school demonstrated the day before, and twentythree of them are being held. The afternoon of the demonstration a machine gun was mounted to cover the approaches to the school grounds, and we are still lreing guarded by armed police.
You can understand, therefore, with what interest I am reading the articles in the Atlantic on Japan and on the Disarmament Conference. The latter was, according to the testimony of the boys, the immediate occasion of their demonstration.
Before coming to this country, Joseph Szebenyei was on the staff of the London Morning Post. Accustomed to carrying on his literary toils in five different languages, he writes to say: ‘My editors make a point of remarking, in time and out of it, that my English sounds French and my French German, not to mention that my German rings particularly Hungarian or Russian.’ We need not add that the ‘Dollar in Wonderland’ rings particularly true.
To those critics who have accused Mr. Tannenbaum both of radicalism and of excessive sentiment in his treatment of prison reform, we commend this sober estimate of Mr. Taxmenbaum’s constructive programme sent us by the President of the American Prison Association. In brief compass, he says much.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - I have read with interest Mr. Frank Tannenbaum’s article entitled ‘Facing the Prison Problem.’ I find 14 points with which I agree: (1) that ‘properly conceived, the prison should be our special means of redemption ... a healing ground for both the spirit and the body ‘; (2) that the first need is ‘to take polities out’; (3) that ‘ no man should be a warden unless he is a certified and trained professional’; (4) that the present ‘mechanical structure, the instrument, the technique, the method which the prison involves . . . must go by the board’; (5) ‘the abandonment of the idea of punishment.’ The conception of the prison as a place of punishment is based upon the idea of revenge. This idea is justified by the theory that the prisoner is receiving a just recompense for his wrongdoing; but a very little study will convince any thoughtful person that it is impossible for human agents to prescribe a penalty exactly, or even approximately, proportioned to the ill-desert of the offender. (6) The necessity for ‘the disintegration of the prison population’; (7) the importance of the ‘problem of health — using the word in its broadest sense’; (8) the fact that‘work . . . is an unsolved problem in prison,’
(9) that ‘the men need and . . . the prison needs . . . something new in educational work’; (10) that ‘work in prison should be made to have intellectual value,’ and that we should ‘give it an intellectual and scientific setting’; (11) that ‘the indeterminate sentence is essential to prison reform’; (12) that ‘there should be a much broader development of the parole system’; (13) that ‘self-government is necessary for the men and for the officials’; (14) that ‘there is nothing in the programme here outlined which the present generation cannot accomplish, if only it has the will and the interest.’
I cannot agree with Air. Tannenbaum’s sweeping condemnation of the prison warden, when he says: ‘The small henchman, from which the average warden is recruited, is not an expert in anything’; that ‘he is usually ignorant’; and that ‘there is hardly a college man among the wardens of our penal institutions.’ I recall instantly six prison wardens, within my acquaintance of recent years, all of whom, I think, were college men, and six more, who, while not college-bred, were men of high intelligence and competent for their job, both in training and in spirit. I believe in education and in college training for prison wardens; but I have known those who would have been better wardens if they had less college education and more common sense and human spirit.
Mr. Tannenbaum is absolutely right in his view that there should be systematic training of prison wardens; but lie makes no mention whatever of the need of systematic training for the subordinate officers of the prison. We have successful training schools for police officers, but, except in two states, no organized plarffor the training of prison officers; and, thus far, we have seen no suggestion of the need of special training for jailers, who meet the prisoner at the most critical point in his criminal career.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Tannenbaum’s paper on ‘Prison Facts’ could not have been printed in the same issue with this paper on ‘ Facing the Prison Problem.’ The former article, taken alone, makes an unduly pessimistic impression, which is relieved by the present article.
HASTINGS H. HART.
Recent liberties that the Atlantic has taken in discussing the press found many echoes. The following shows that Mr. Allen’s suggestions are reasonably practical.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - ‘I should like to see lectures on “How to Read Newspapers” given in colleges and schools and elsewhere.’ It will be of interest to Prof. Allen — and perhaps to others — to know that, here in the heart of the City of New York, we have felt the problem of newspaper-reading to be of such importance that in this high school a course in newspaper-reading is an integral part of our curriculum. In fact, in one of our senior classes all of the work for a month centres about the reading of one of the evening papers.
The pest we are fighting is not so much distorted news as the ‘tabloid illustrated.’
JOHN M. AVENT. Chairman, Dept. of English.
We quote from another letter touching on the same subject, by a man well known in recent American history.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — There is in the popular mind a tremendous presumption in favor of the veracity of the printed word, and, so far as I know, neither our secondary schools nor colleges undertake in any systematic way to teach people how to read newspapers. That is to say, how to make a proper discount for political, personal, racial, or class prejudice. If there could be set up in the secondary schools classes in comparative newspaper-reading, the body of instruction consisting of having the pupils read the accounts of the same piece of news in several newspapers, the professional and admitted bias of which was known, as, for instance, a Democratic paper, a Republican newspaper, a Socialist newspaper, and an Independent newspaper, and the students were then required to discover and comment upon the effect which such predilection had upon the publication of the news, it would lead to an analytical approach to all newspaper-reading forever after; and after a while we should have a population educated in newspaperreading, which would in turn react upon the newspapers themselves and make them feel that their constituency was not clay in the hands of the potter, but an exacting and critical audience.
One further comment, this time on Mr. Moorfield Storey’s point of view.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - 1 have just been reading Mr. Moorfield Storey’s article in the January Atlantic on ‘The Daily Press.’ Such a title, to me, is particularly enticing, for I was a newspaper man for a good many years.
Mr. Storey’s article is essentially sound and true. Some of its details might be questioned, indeed, but that seems to me, at the moment, neither needful nor helpful. Yet, with his legal mind and his wide observation and experience, Mr. Storey could now proceed to write with equal strength and accuracy upon the shortcomings of lawyers and doctors and clergymen — of merchants and statesmen, and whom you please.
Very well - - and what then?
I he fact is that, on the whole, there has been a slight — hut by no means unimportant — advance in journalistic standards in this country in the past fifty years. Newspapers used to print things that they do not print now. Newspapers used to do for pay what they will not do at all now - that is, they used to publish advertisements unhesitatingly, and as a matter of course, that would now not even be offered to them.
Their mere tender would be considered an affront.
The clock of human progress must tick off a few more seconds, that is all. As this takes place, many things will be seen and done that are not now seen and done.
The present truth is that Mr. Storey’s indictment is not against the newspaper business: it is against all mankind.
ARTHUR ELLIOT SPROUL.
The Age of Innocence is always alluring. We are sorry that this is not a bantling for the Atlantic’s brood.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — I have a story manuscript which I should like to submit to you. The manuscript contains approximately seven thousand words, and it tells the story of the birth of a boy, and gives his lifehistory up to the time he learns to walk, at about eight months of age.
Ned is Ins name,
Ned is in some respects unusual; but taken all together, he is about the same as others of his kind with perhaps a few extra degrees of that ‘sameness.’
No plot, no intrigue; nothing sensational.
Would you be interested in such a manuscript?
Yours truly,— —
Mr. Bertrand Russell calls attention to a printer’s error for which we sincerely apologize.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — Would you kindly correct a misprint on p. 774 of your December number? You make me say: ’The Government had just spent nine million dollars in corrupt payments to three teachers who had descended upon the capital to extort blackmail.’ Instead of ‘teachers,’ it should be ‘TUCHUNS,’ i.e. Military Governors. I am afraid that, if you do not correct the misprint, China will be flooded with impecunious members of the scholastic profession, under the impression that it is an Eldorado.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — Last Sunday a group of young people raised the question as to whether the Atlantic Monthly would publish Paul’s Letters if they were written to-day, and various answers were given. If you can find time to give me an authoritative answer to this question from one of the staff of the Atlantic Monthly, I would greatly appreciate it.
A. S. BURWELL.
What do our readers think? For ourselves, we hardly know. Certain of the Epistles could hardly have slipped unnoticed into the rejection pile. Secretly the editor believes that he would have experimented with one of them —and he thinks he knows what would have been remarked of the Atlantic ’s lack of reticence and conservatism.
The national conscience is uneasy over America’s treatment of returned soldiers. It is patent from the multitude of letters called forth by our recent narrative by a victim of shell-shock. The particularity of this letter is worth noting.
SAN DIEGO, CALIF., Jan. 10, 1922.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — Saturday is ‘clean-up’ day at our house. Rugs had been swept and dusted and were on the porch railing. As I sat resting, I read ‘Shell-Shocked and After’ in the December issue. A young man came up with writing tablets for sale. This sheet of paper is out of one. He was an ex-service man, — so his story went, — trying to make his way back to Brooklyn. He was courteous, wellspoken, had been in the marines.
Before concluding the reading of the article, another ex-service man appeared, with photograph-coupons for sale. He hail walked from Los Angeles. ‘Lots of work up there, but too many men to be employed.’ He did not look equal to hard physical work.
Within a half-hour a third ex-service man came by, with a vacuum-cleaner, demonstrating its merits. Though I stated I was not in the market to buy a cleaner, he cleaned a 9x12 rug for me. He was a college-trained electrical engineer. Left a $60 a week job in N. C., to go to the front. Was gassed, and his wife died of ‘flu during his absence.
Does it overtax your credulity when I write that a fourth ex-service man offered silver polish for sale within an hour? All over the land Memorial Funds are being raised, with which to erect stadiums, monuments, etc., and yet many exservice men are wandering over the country, out of employment, or in casual work far below their abilities. The disabled are suffering still more. When will a fair balance be found?
F. E. LAHMER.
We knew it was so when we published Miss Gibbs’s charming chronicle of ’Cunjur and ’Suasion.’ But for the willfully incredulous we adduce further testimony.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — When I read of the ‘mare-maids in the ’Tomac river,’ in your December issue, I sent right away to the plantation for Aunt Scylla. She came up as soon as she ‘got my answer,’ and here is her testimony.
‘Yas ’m, I sho is seen er maremaid. When wus it? Lemme see. Hit wus when my Dave wus er baby, en dat ain’t so long ergo. I ain’t kilt out wid age, but jes’ hard work.
‘ Yas ’m, I seen it down to ’Mopolis. Er man had her in er tent. I paid fo’ bits (50 cents) to see her. Hizaah down to de ferry boat cot her in his net jes’ as she wus comin’ out de water goin’ to her den in dem bluffs. Her hair wus long an’ black, down to her feet. Hit wus so long she wrop herse’f up in it. She got er face like folks en she’s white — white as you are. She jes’ beg pitaful to ’em to turn her loose. I wonder er had the heart to er kep’ er.
‘Tail? Yas’m, she had er tail to er, lak er fish, en feet — Mam? Yes ’m, she got feet, good es you is. She people lak you.
‘Nome, she died. Dis air ain’t her climaty, en she pine to be turn loose.
‘Dey ain’t no harm in ’en. Dey ain’t go hurt you. Dey ’proaches folks fer company. ‘In de big ocean dey call yo’ name’s if dey know’d yer, en dat man gwinto throw you off, ’cause dey turn de boat over ef he did n’t. Nome, dey ain’t gwine hurt yer. Dey jest craves company.
‘Now lemme quit my mouf — you-all jes’ projerkin’ wid me. Miss, ain’t dey no coffee left frum de table? I ain’t had er drap terday.’ Are not the rivers of Alabama as great as those of ‘ol’ Ferginia’!
I have quoted Aunt Scylla verbatim, for she is much too wise for my ignorant help. Has she not seen a ‘maremaid,’ and in addition to that ‘er flyin’ fish comin’ down the river soundin’ lak er train er roarin’ ?’
I am surprised that this news had not traveled as far as Mars Jeems’s plantation, for Livin’ston is n’t far from ’Mopolis.
MARY WINN W. COLEBECK.
In Massachusetts we have always known that the strong silent men come from Texas. But the strong vocal ones come from there, too. From the Bryan, Texas, Daily Eagle we quote this burst of lyric emotion.
Does n’t the world with you smile?
This is no time for moaping,
But thank ‘God’ that you live.
Stanza after stanza of this solemn and resonant music, and then, —
By your darling Mother and Sister Sue
Now you know if you were n’t here
You would be shipped in casket, too.
But, though emotion may grip the Texan, it may not subdue him. His final thought transcends even his devotion to his loved ones. His country is ever his first or his ultimate thought.
Will always remember well,
That while they slept in comfort
We were having supreme hell.