The Contributors' Column
On his return from active service in the army overseas, Charles Rumford Walker, Jr., determined to enlist in a basic industry. He chose steel, and soon found his place in a working shift where he learned at first hand the technique of the shovel and the teamplay of the open hearth. This paper is the first of a series of articles describing what he saw and only what he saw. ReverendKirby Page was, until recently, pastor of a church in Brooklyn, most of the members of which were working people. He spent last summer studying industrial conditions in England and Central Europe, and is now devoting all his time to the solution of the difficult problem of reconciling Christian principles with the conditions of modern industry. He has striven to make his presentation entirely fair, and before publishing this paper he discussed his ‘points’ with Judge Gary, by whom he was most courteously received. Readers of Lucy Furman’s story will like to know the foundation beneath her account: —
In the heart of the Kentucky mountains, that romantic and little-known region long regarded as the home of feuds and moonshine, the first rural social settlement in America was begun in the summer of 1899 under the auspices of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs of Kentucky.
Half-a-dozen young women from the more prosperous sections of the state, under the leadership of Miss May Stone and Miss Katharine Pettit, went up into the mountains, two and three days’ journey from a railroad, and, pitching their tents, spent three successive summers holding singing, sewing, cooking, and kindergarten classes, giving entertainments for people of all ages, visiting homes —establishing friendly relations with the men, women, and children of three counties.
The second summer — that of 1900 — was spent at the small county-seat of Knott County, Hindman, at the Forks of Troublesome Creek; and here, at the earnest solicitation of the people, accompanied by offers of land and of timber for building, a combined social settlement and industrial and academic school was permanently established in 1902 — the pioneer of its kind in the southern mountains.
Beginning in a small way, this work has, in twenty years, grown to large proportions and exerted a deep influence upon the life of half-a-dozen mountain counties, having become not only the best known of all the mountain schools, but the model for the more recent ones.
Miss Lucy Furman has been for many years connected with the Hindman Settlement School, and has written a number of stories about the mountain children, which have been printed in magazine and in book form. In the series of stories, ‘The Quare Women,’ starting in this number of the Atlantic, she goes back to the very beginnings of the work, the tent days with their varied and unusual adventures, and gives an authentic picture of the people whom President Frost of Berea College has so aptly called ‘our contemporary ancestors’ and of the impact of modern life and ideas upon them.
Carl W. Ackerman, as director of the foreign news service for a syndicate of American newspapers, was constantly in touch with British and Irish leaders during the recent negotiations between England and Ireland. Through his influence with the press and the confidence he enjoyed among the leaders of both parties, he was able to play a unique part in the extraordinary events he describes. If there is a Celt alive it is James Stephens, author of The Crock of Gold. Of his brief paper he writes: ‘It is really an attempt, given the present state of stagnation in art, music, and literature in Europe, to discuss what direction these activities may take in the near future.’ Anne Goodwin Winslow occasionally sends us a poem from her home on Governor’s Island. In the midst of a busy life in New York City. Mary Alden Hopkins still retains her love for the open fields.
The Irish stories gathered by A. H. Singleton are left quite as they were told to the children beside the peat fire in many a cottage in Galway and Donegal. A baker’s dozen readers have written to tell us that they have heard of these stories before — that they are stolen stories. Indeed they are. Take ‘Jack the Robber.’ The Egyptians stole him thousands of years ago, and the Greeks stole him from the Egyptians. The Italians stole him from the Greeks, and the Scandinavians from the Italians. The Irish stole from them, and now the Americans are all ready to make a little Yankee hero of him — a ‘ smart Aleck ’ of their own. Roderick Peattie of the Department of Geology in the Ohio State University went ‘hunting oil’ as the culmination of a geographic training at Chicago and Harvard. In Oklahoma, however, he was in the field not for geography but for geology. For two summers, since his return from the fighting zone, he has carried on field investigations in petroleum for a corporation in Tulsa. He is a son of Mrs. Elia W. Peattie, essayist and critic in the old days of the Chicago Tribune. The President of Antioch College, Arthur E. Morgan, has interested himself in working out an educational experiment now generally known as ‘the Antioch idea.’ Is there, we wonder, a place in America where a few hundred thousand dollars would yield a larger harvest? Education is the American religion, and the Antioch idea, properly financed and brought to recognized success, would have a profound and beneficent influence on American character. Mary Ellen Chase is a member of the English Department of the University of Minnesota. In connection with his work at Simmons College, Robert M. Gay finds that the study of literature and the art of writing go hand in hand. Ilis recent textbook, Writing Through Reading, puts into practical form the famous advice of an early nineteenthcentury German professor who, asked by a young student what was the best way to learn to write, answered, ‘Lesen! Viel lesen! Viel, viel lesen!'
Bertrand Russell, famous alike as a mathematician and a political philosopher, has recently returned from a year in China. Author of Americans by Adoption, and of a series of studies of the industries of the country, Joseph Husband likes equally well to turn his attention to cities and their ways. The spring of the year seems a most fitting time for a poem by Fannie Stearns Gifford. At the Atlantic’s request, General Erich von Ludendorff gives his considered estimate of the American forces as he met them on the Western front. An American officer of high rank, who has read General Ludendorff’s paper in manuscript, makes, in a letter to the editor of the Atlantic, these interesting remarks: —
General Ludendorff’s article divides itself under four heads, namely: —
(a) The neutrality of the United States prior to April, 1917.
(b) The unrestricted U-boat warfare.
(c) The German theory of the campaign of the spring and early summer of 1918.
(d) The operations of the American troops from the midsummer of 1918 to the Armistice.
General Ludendorff’s remarks under the third head are interesting because they are a clean-cut statement of what we all at the time believed to be the fact: viz., that the Germans knew before the end of 1917 that, if they allowed America the time, sooner or later they would be ‘up against’ the fully developed military and naval power of the United States. Their only hope lay in forcing a decision before any further development of that power. Those on the Supreme War Council at Versailles, — British, French, Italians, as well as Americans, •—’notwithstanding that things looked very black for the Allies at the beginning of 1918, knew perfectly well that their main hope lay in the effect that the mere threat of ultimate powerful intervention by America would have on the immediate military plans of the Germans. The operations of 1916 and 1917, with terrible losses to the Allies, had merely ‘ dented’ the German lines on the Western front, and there only at one or two points. With no radical change in conditions the Germans might as easily have held out, and with no more loss, in 1918—but the Allies, perhaps, could not have. And there was the German advantage due to the collapse of Russia and the Italian disaster at Caporetto.
These disasters to the Allies made it possible for the Germans, if some additional motive made it seem desirable, to change their attitude on the Western front from one of successful defense to one of problematic (problematic in spite of their increased strength due to those disasters) offense. The additional motive came from the developing American threat. Were it not for that they could have proceeded in a more leisurely and more certain way. Instead of bringing all their troops from Russia to France, they could have sent a part — a small part — to Macedonia, broken that front, forced Greece out of the Alliance and opened her coasts to submarine warfare. They could have sent part to Italy, very probably have broken that front again, and forced Italy out. Either of these possibilities — I believe, probabil ities — might have ended the war; both, almost certainly would have ended it; and if not, the full force of Germany could then have been brought against the front in France and Flanders.
But General Ludendorff makes perfectly clear that they had no time for that course — though he does not intimate that they would have taken that course even if they had had the time. They were obliged to pass from the safe defensive to the dangerous offensive. Their hope lay in withdrawing a sufficient number of troops from Russia to give them the necessary preponderance in France. But a cold-blooded calculation showed that their maximum number of rifles no more guaranteed success against the Allied defense with proper resistance on the part of the latter, than a similar proportion had guaranteed Allied success against them. Solely due to a great and avoidable error of the Allies, the Germans gained their initial success of March 21,1918, which alone prolonged the war. Had it not. been for that error the Germans would have butted their heads against a stone wall, as the Allies had theretofore been doing. And with that result, the issue would have been clean-cut, Neither side could have done anything, but await the arrival of the Americans in increasing numbers. The end would have been only a question of time. That end would have been just as plainly in sight in March as it became in September. And a reasonable peace could have been made many months before it came.
Points (a) and (b), above indicated, of General LudendorfFs remarks open a most interesting and important line of study — at least so it seems to me. To comment on his remarks about the attitude of neutrality of the United States prior to April, 1917, requires information that I do not possess. He alleges a ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ between important men in France, in England, and in the United States, directed against the alleged ‘Pan-Germanism Danger,’ and binding the United States to interfere in case of a war with Germany or Austria. No agreement between important men could bind any country to war unless those men were authorized by their governments to make such an agreement; nor, in the case of the United States, would that be sufficient. General Ludendorff alleges that Mr. Wilson made an agreement with England in 1913 promising benevolent neutrality and a copious supply of arms and ammunition. As it stands, this is a mere assertion. It would have to be answered by Mr. Wilson himself or, perhaps, by the files of the State Department. I would not dispute the fact that a very strong sentiment existed in the United States adverse to the Central Powers. But such a sentiment has often existed in a neutral country without affecting the official attitude of neutrality of that country. The allegation that the United States showed an attitude of unneutrality in permitting the export of war material could only be sustained by proving that foreign governments, as governments, invested their public funds in the United States, with the knowledge of the United States, for the purpose of erecting plants for the construction of war material for the use of those governments. But this is a subject for an international lawyer.
The remarks about the U-boat warfare suggest an inquiry as to how far a nation, which believes that its very life is in danger, is justified in using any means of defense or offense at its disposition, regardless of the rules thitherto in force restricting the employment of certain means. The interest that attaches to this subject lies in the fact that attempts are now being made to limit the use of agencies of submarine warfare, noxious gases, and so forth. I have stated my opinion in public addresses that, if the modern system of nations completely trained to arms continues, a war between any two of them is coupled with the latent threat that defeat will mean the probable destruction of the defeated party; that this fact, regardless of any so-called rules of civilized warfare, will lead the nation that is in danger of defeat to resort to any means whatever to preserve its existence. I see no reason to change that view. The progress of science has placed at the disposition of nations — and will do so more completely in the future — means which, however horrible they may be, may enable them to save themselves from otherwise inevitable defeat and resulting paralysis for generations to come. If the ease of Belgium were to be reënacted; if it found itself again invaded as in 1914; and if the resources of science then enabled it to cover its fields with noxious gases which would instantly kill millions of invaders, I have no doubt that that would be done. The attempt that is now being made to restrict the use in war of new and horribly destructive agencies of science is a hopeless attempt to bring back the old condition of things when war was a more pleasant — or at least, a less unpleasant— thing to contemplate. It is a hopeless fight against the tendency of human nature. The world in the future is not going to ask whet her the agency employed was in accordance with civilized rules, but will ask only whether the nation that employed it was fighting for its life in a just cause against an unjust adversary.
Ralph Butler, a cosmopolitan Englishman who has been associated with many diplomatic missions since the war, is intimately familiar with the languages and customs of Central Europe. He has interested himself particularly in the Balkan States, and has recently served on the Supreme Economic Council, British Delegation, Vienna. ‘Getting out’ of Russia was peculiarly difficult for Baroness Wrangel, on account of her distinguished son, hut her experiences are not uncharacteristic of those which befell thousands of her countrywomen. E. M. S., as tutor in a household in India, met Gandhi on his own ground.
Those interested in the signs of the times will read with attention this German student’s letter.
In the last issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Mr. S. Miles Bouton has given a description of the political meanings of Germany after the revolution. You will be of my opinion, if I say a foreigner could not know a country, or make the acquaintance of it, so intimately as a native can do. So I might be allowed to state your correspondent has answered his own question, namely, whether Germany would return to monarchy or not, in a manner which does not show the real mind of German people. There is, indeed, great dissatisfaction throughout Germany and, as Germans are a people quite unpolitical — particularly, I am sorry to say, among the so-called gebildete (educated men) — it is true many of them lay the blame for every unpleasant thing on the Republican Government. Your correspondent is right too, if he states thereare many Monarchists, even among the lower classes of the German people. But all that does not hit what is most important: firstly, that the German people, in its great majority, has taken the place of the Republic, when Kapp and his military adherents tried to reëstablish the Monarchy in 1920; and then, that every attempt in order to abolish the Republican constitution is, from the first, condemned to fail, simply, as it is practically unaccomplishable. For, as Germany before the revolution had 23 monarchies and 3 republics (the 3 Hansa stadte) it would be necessary to recall 23 princes, what is, as every man will admit, a very absurd idea. On the other hand it is quite impossible to transform Germany into a centralized empire with one monarch at the head; for, firstly, it would be a very difficult thing to discover such a prince who would be acknowledged throughout all German countries.
It is true that, for this reason, most (of) Germans are presently ‘vernunft republikaner' (prudent republicans), you must give time (everything) —but those ‘ vernunft republikaner’ will, sooner or later, become real republicans.
I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
OTTO HELMUT BURKHARDT.
The illustrated journal has al ways its own peculiar vogue.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -•
I think the following will show that the booklover is just as subtle to obtain his ends as the drug-fiend. I was staying with a friend of mine who had been very sick and the doctor had given orders that he was not to read. Shortly afterward his wife came to me and said, ‘George wants to know if he can borrow your A tlanttc Monthly?’
‘But,’ said I, ‘I thought the doctor said he was not to read.’
‘No!’ she replied. ‘That’s all right. lie says he just wants to look at the pictures.’
Stevenson used to say ’The ground of a man’s joy is sometimes hard to hit.’
Another ex-service man has a grievance! Tony was going the rounds of the hospital saying prolonged good-byes to us all. Still in his khaki, he nevertheless made a point of proudly proclaiming his citizenship, triumphantly waving, as proof, his newly acquired discharge papers. He was on his way to the Federal Board and freedom. When it came my turn I held out my left hand to meet liis — Tony had ‘done his bit’ in the war; his right arm hung limp and helpless.
‘Tony,’ I said, ‘ we are going to miss you. Let us know how you get on. You ’ll promise?’
Two weeks later he returned. After his ‘ civies ’ had received their due amount of comment and approbation, I said, ‘Well, Tony, how goes it? Tell us about yourself; are you at school?’
A puzzled look clouded those clear, brown, Italian eyes as he answered, —
‘Why—y’see — it ees these-a-way. Those Federal Boards — they no understand. I do not want-a a education — I want-a a peanut stand.’
After all, as competent ferryman, would one prefer Charon to Noah?
On a search for a copy of John Kendrick Bangs’s Houseboat on the Styx, I entered a little store that was a sort of toy and bookshop combined. I stated my errand to the effusive young clerk, who stood puzzled for a moment and then dashed to the rear of the store. Almost instantly he reappeared bearing aloft a very familiar-looking toy. ‘This,’ said he, ‘is not a houseboat on sticks, but a Noah’s ark on wheels. Will it do? ’