The Contributors' Column
ON December 2, 1921, was sold at auction to the editor of the Morning Post, London, a ‘batch of books’ which contained the diary of Joseph Farington. Like the famous diarists, Pepys and Evelyn, from whom Farington is surely the direct literary descendant, ‘he knew almost every eminent man and woman of his time —Napoleon, Josephine, Wellington, Nelson, Boswell, Lord Orford, the King, Wordsworth. We print a prefatory note and selections from six volumes, made by the editor of the diary, James Greig of the staff of the Morning Post. ‘On the Technique of Being Deaf’ is the personal record of one who succeeded in turning deafness into an asset. Earnest Elmo Calkins is a member of the advertising firm of Calkins and Holden of New York City. Some of the thoughts in this paper were first delivered to the Alumni Association of the Nitchie School for Lip Reading. The author writes. ‘There were about 115 deafened folks present, and they “heard” me, if they did hear me, by reading my lips, or with the aid of various devices — cornuted, auricular, or electrical. From such auditors (or spectators) my reception was naturally warm.’ Henry Tracy Kneeland, who is both discoverer and editor of the letters of Lafcadio Hearn to his brother, graduated last year from Trinity College, Hartford.
Surely it was a thousand years ago that Congress appropriated $200,000 for the raising of the Maine! It is of these ‘ancient days of the Spanish War’ that John Davis Long tells in his diary, wherein one hears the talk of McKinley, of Sherman, then an old man, of Lodge and Penrose — young Senators then, and Roosevelt, an impetuous Assistant-Secretary of the Navy. Lawrence Shaw Mayo, who edits the diary, has already done notable biographical work in a life of John Wentworth and a life of Lord Jeffrey Amherst. Laurence Binyon is the well-known English poet who for some thirty years has been publishing poetry and critical essays. From Chikala, Nyasaland, Africa, the land of lions and lesser beasts of the field, Hans Coudenhove, hunter, naturalist, aud philosopher, sends us his paper for this month’s Atlantic. Elizabeth A. Drew took first-class honors in the schools of English language and literature, Oxford, has been lecturer in English literature at Cambridge,and during the latter part of the war was head of the Womens Staff of the Department of Education, for the British Army of the Rhine. A tale of the ‘younger generation’ in China has come to us from Pearl S. Buck, of the University of Nanking, China. Adele Lathrop sends us this month her first, contribution to the Atlantic.
Robert Hunter is a sociologist of wide reputation, one-tune resident of Hull House and other settlements, and the author of Poverty, Labor in Politics, and other volumes. He is a lecturer in economics and English at the University of California. Readers of the Atlantic will remember ‘Matches’ by Viola Paradise, which appeared in November 1920. She sends us this month ‘Only a Conversation, from Dresden, Germany, Charlotte E, Wilder’s first contribution to the Atlantic appears this month. She is on the staff of the Youth’s Companion. Atlantic readers who have made ‘The Wonderful Pilgrimage to Amarnath’ with L. Adams Beck, Englishman and Oriental scholar, or who have learned ‘ How great is the glory of Kwannon,’ will make a sympathetic part of his audience this month for the ' Ghost-Plays of Japan.'
Charles F. G. Masterman has had a long career in English public life, being several times member of Parliament, Undersecretary of the State Home Department, and Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He is author of The Heart of the Empire,In Peril of Change, and The Condition of England. Guglielmo Ferrero is chiefly familiar to Americans as the greatest historian of modern Italy, the author of Young Europe, The Greatness and Decline of Rome, The European War; but a French critic speaks of him as ‘traveler, orator, philosopher, in one of his books almost a novelist ... an extraordinary incarnation of the fascinating charm of the Latin genius which owes its modern definition to him.’ To the knowledge of an economist and sociologist, H. H. Powers adds a wide acquaintance with European affairs. Formerly professor of economics and sociology in Smith College, he later associated himself in the same field with Leland Stanford Junior University, and Cornell. He resigned from the work of teaching in 1902 and devoted himself for several years to the Bureau of University Travel. At the present time he is best known as a lecturer and publicist. Manley O. Hudson, who is professor of law at Harvard, attended the Peace Conference as a member of the commission on ports, waterways, and railways, and of the commission on new states and the protection of minorities. He was legal adviser to the International Labor Conference at Washington in 1919, and at Genoa in 1920. He is a member of the legal section of the secretariat of the League of Nations.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
May I present a new angle on that justly famous poem you recently published, ‘Leave Me Lay’? In Booth Tarkington’s Gentle Julia, on page 174, young Florence is estimating her value to her large and seemingly unappreciative family. ‘I bet if I died, they would n’t even have a funeral,’ she says cheerfully. ‘They’d prob’Iy just leave me lay!’
Of course the author of your poem did not go so far as this, but he did his bit, and a third stanza might have used this phrase of Florence’s as happily as did the other two.
MABEL LONGLEY PADELFORD.
We doubt whether any novelist’s property man has placed the moon in its proper setting. Indeed, a heinous instance of an impossible moon occurred in Jane Eyre, and the Atlantic, too, pleads guilty!
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In the June Atlantic (p. 760), in Miss Furman’s charming sketches of the ‘Quare Women,’ she says: ‘All gathered on the porch while the soft darkness came on, and a bright crescent moon rose slowly over the mountain.’
And yet nobody ever saw a crescent moon rise in the evening. Nearly every month we see the crescent moon in the evening sky, but it is always the western sky and the moon is near its setting.
To see a crescent moon rise one must get up early in the morning, and see the waning crescent, or decrescent moon. I have long wondered why publishers did not have a ‘moon censor’ to see that writers make their moons behave like the real moon. While Juliet speaks of ‘the inconstant moon, that nightly changes,’ its habits are really very regular from month to month, and should be very familiar.
It should certainly furnish the novelist all the variety he (or she) needs, without making it do the impossible things credited to it. I happen to recall a story in which the lovers are watching the new moon one evening, and the next are gazing on the full moon rising at midnight!
p. H. H.
Wanted: a Moon Censor!
Letters from the heart of Africa have a peculiar glamour. Here is one to the editor from Hans Coudenliove, the author of ‘ Nyasaland Sketches’ in the current Atlantic.
DEAR MR. EDITOR, —
No doubt my mode of existence on Mtonia mountain, which, by the way, I have long exchanged against a much wilder part of the country, must appear strange and uncongenial in the social maelstrom in which you live. And yet I should not wonder if, some day, when the fancy took you, you dropped your pen, or your whole typewriting machine, into your wastepaper basket, and went out somewhere into the wilds and beat all records, as is the fashion of your wonderful countrymen! An American mining engineer kills more lions in a month than Gerard, ‘le tueur de lions,’ during his whole existence; a fashionable New York preacher shoots more antelopes and zebras, in a short holiday, than a whole family of lions would kill in a year!
I could multiply the instances, but you are no doubt familiar with them yourself.
Yours very sincerely,
Here is a reply of the unsentimental realist to Edward Yeomans’s regrets in the November Atlantic that Aouth has to live in the city.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In the current number of the Atlantic a Chicago business man shows us, with no little art, Prometheus bound to the wheel in the persons of two young things working in minor capacities in big commercial undertakings in a great city. The conclusion is that these young people should not be in great cities, nor working for big commercial organizations, nor employed in minor positions. He feels that they are somehow missing their birthright: that their proper setting is the Maine woods or the farm, that they are wasting their irreplaceable youth with pens and cash registers when they should be chopping down trees or milking cows or playing tennis. He is quite naturally sorry for them — something is wrong with a world that makes such things visible. Are the youths about whom he is so concerned sorry for themselves? Let him offer them the positions he thinks more suited to their age and musculatures and listen to the response he gets.
They are not sorry for themselves because: —
(1) They are young, and it is good to be alive.
(2) They are iu the great city which represents opportunity.
(3) They are working for great corporations and may rise high.
(4) They are economically independent. (5) Adventure, potentially, lurks around every street corner.
(6) They are not subject to that too intimate scenting called gossip.
(7) They are their own bosses after closing time, with numberless movies, dance halls, libraries and lectures, cafeterias and automats waiting to receive them without personal comment or criticism.
(8) They may be lonesome, but tomorrow* they may find a new friend.
(9) They are bossed, but uot by their families.
: 10) They are poor, but all around them is wealth, visible, tangible, — theirs if they make good,—and all around them are their contemporaries doing just the same thing.
Dn. R. H. RAMSON.
Mr. Bernard MacGillian of Chicago writes us in detailed refutation of a recent Atlantic article, entitled ‘Irish Backgrounds.5 We have not, unfortunately, the space to publish Mr. MacGillian’s long letter, but it is only fair to our readers to cite his principal points: —
1. Mr. Bretherton writes of ‘the Labor and Independent candidates capturing nearly four fifths of the contested seats.’ What are the facts? The number of Labor and Independent candidates elected was 30.
2. Joseph M. Plunkett is referred to as ‘having been shot for treason — he went to Germany to get help for the Easter rising, in 1916,’ when as a matter of fact he never went to Germany for that or any other purpose.
3. Mr. Bretherton asserts that, had the Catholic Irish accepted Partition and the King in 1914, they could have had as complete self-government as they now enjoy. The facts are that the Act of 1914 restoring the Irish Parliament withheld all powers of taxation from the Irish government to be set up, and reserved for Imperial control the judiciary, the police, the army, land purchase, and so forth.
4. When the proposal to exclude Ulster, or a part of Ulster, from the operation of the Home Rule measure was put forward, it was not the ‘Catholic Irish,’ but instead the Ulster Orangemen, who objected to it.
5. When Lloyd George proposed as a ‘war emergency measure’ the immediate grant of selfgovernment to twenty-six Irish counties, including three in Ulster, it was not the ‘Catholic Irish’ who rejected it. No, it was Mr. A. Bonar Law, the present British Premier, who stated in his place in the House of Commons that he could not give his assent to the settlement.
6. We are told of the sufferings of ‘Protestant Loyalists.’ But in view of the facts that 24,000 Catholics have been driven from their homes in Belfast: that some 2000 of these homes have been burned and looted; that 446 Catholics have been killed and 1790 seriously wounded in the Belfast pogroms, while not a solitary individual has been brought to justice for these outrages, is it surprising that in a few isolated instances ‘Protestant Loyalists’ have been attacked?
Another critic of ‘Irish Backgrounds’ takes exceptions to Mr. Bretherton’s ethnology.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Mr. Bretherton’s reading of Irish politics may stand for what it is, an honest attempt by a strong partisan to describe that which he sees. But his racial stratification of the Irish people is altogether too neatly complete, and his historj too violently foreshortened, to accord with the facts. The legendary Milesians, Danaans, Firbolgs, and Formorians, may have existed and acted as tradition will have them to have done. And their original relations may equally well have been as they are portrayed. But it is many a long day since their caste-barriers disappeared. Even if these had not been broken down by the ’blue’ Danes, from the time of Strongbow onward there has been a never-ceasing commixture, both of breed and class, throughout the greater part of the country. Here and there, it is true, there might be an isolated islet of invaders, keeping themselves relatively to themselves,— as did the ‘Beany Bags’ of Wicklow till quite lately, — but each wave of invasion drove the dispossessed before it. Normans, Edwardians, Elizabethans, Cromwellians, Williamites, in turn, were beaten down into the ‘lowest stratum,’ or took refuge in the rougher parts of the West. Thus the ‘Firbolgs’ of to-day, when submitted to anthropometrieal tests, reveal the stigmata of a dozen races, and when transplanted to Australia or America are unrecognizable within two or three generations. Some of the finest specimens of humanity I know are ‘unmixed’ products of small, blackish, prognathous ‘Firbolgs’ after a few years of freedom and good feeding. Even at home there is little unity of ty pe. Not one of the leaders of Sinn Fein, enumerated by Mr. Bretherton as being ‘Firbolg’ by descent, betrays a trace of that strain, either in conformation or name.
H. HALLIDAY SPARLING.
‘What can we do about heredity?' is what one reader asks in an interesting letter from which we can print only a paragraph or two.
DEAR ATLANTIC, - The article by Vernon Kellogg in your November issue, entitled ‘The New Heredity,’ is of great interest to everyone. Mr. Kellogg gives very lucidly the modern concepts of heredity and environment and he deplores the fact that these are practically disregarded in actual human matings; but, at the end of it all, may I be permitted to ask, What are we to do about it?
What in actual fact are the calamities which are threatened us, and what the benefits hoped for, in ease we continue in haphazard fashion, or, reforming, heed the writing on the wall?
Is the whole animal kingdom, and the vegetable as well, threatened in the same way? There is a tendency in nature to produce an excess of individuals always, and particularly of the lower forms. All that the selective breeder has to do is simply to reverse this law.
This has been going on for æons, and, strangely enough, evolution has been uninterrupted.
What has man been able to accomplish in animals by selective breeding? An improvement physically, but how much has he improved the intelligence of the carefully bred animals? The veriest mongrel cur of the gutters is often the brightest, and many a high-bred animal is mentally unstable. Truly, attention may not have been directed towards improving the intelligence, but there is no shred of evidence that it can be done.
It is an opinion widely held, though not susceptible of proof, that the human race has achieved its peak of intellectual development and may even now be on the decline.
The sum of human knowledge increases enormously from year to year, but there is no reason to think that the intellectual powers may be increased by breeding beyond the narrowest of limits. The law of filial regression prevents.
Nature, left to herself, works out the best results in the long run. Man, intervening in his impatience, makes a mess of things.
In the personal opinion of the writer prohibition is a modern instance of this sort. The American nation was approaching the goal where, by education of the public conscience, the problem of drunkenness would solve itself. The wellendowed majority (probably), not satisfied with being good itself, sought to make virtue universal by legislation. The result Is that the wellendowed are surreptitiously breaking their own law made for the benefit of others.
LAWRENCE W. STRONG,
Recent Indian papers of ours have stirred memories of the East in the hearts and minds of old travelers. We quote from a pleasant letter.
One day an Indian preacher, whom I delight to think of, was trying to preach to a crowd of Mohammedan villagers. An old hostile maulvi stepped up and said, ‘If you think you are wise enough to preach to us, answer me one question.’ He intended to have that a knockout blow. ‘If you think you are able to instruct us, tell me this. God made the world, did n’t He. Well, what did He do with the pieces that were left? You know there must have been some scraps.’ Without hesitating, the preacher stretched out his arm, pointing directly to something in front of him. The crow’d turned to look. ‘There are the pieces,’ he cried dramatically, indicating the horizon of Himalayas which shone in their snows dazzlingly after a winter rain. The crowd looked and fell silent. ‘That’s so!” conceded the awe-struck muulvi. And they heard him reverently to the end, never doubting his wisdom.