The Contributors' Column

‘DIVORCE is a clinic, a piece of social surgery attempting to salvage the wreck of marriages which are manifestly mistakes,’writes Joseph Fort Newton who discusses divorce in this number of the Atlantic. He is minister of the Church of the Divine Paternity, in New York, and the author of a number of Atlantic papers on Preaching in London and Preaching in New York. ¶Pricking the bubble of American complacency is a function for which Agnes Repplier is well equipped. In her present paper, which is as piquant as any she has done, discontent is canonized. James Norman Hall is the author of Kitcheners Mob and High Adventure. Since the war he has found contrast and contentment in the South Seas at Tahiti; but last winter, by way of violent interlude, he sojourned in Iceland, whence comes to us the following: ‘During the past month I have traveled more than seven hundred kilometres on horseback. . . . I have crossed some of the wildest, loveliest country in Iceland: along wide green valleys to the headwaters of magnificent rivers, over mountains, across moorlands alive with wild geese and ducks, plover, ptarmigan, over vast tracts of country as dead to life surely as the surface of the moon; and all the way I have been on my knees in spirit, before such beauty.’ Amy S. Jennings is a new American poet, who appears in the Atlantic this month for the first time.

James H. Maurer has been a tradesunionist since he joined the Knights of Labor at the age of sixteen. For the past eleven years he has been President of the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor. Charles Rumford Walker is the author of Steel: The Diary of a Furnace-Worker, published last fall by the Atlantic Monthly Press. After working in the steel industry as a common laborer on open-hearth and blast furnaces, he followed the trail of ‘ingots and men’ to copper and brass. In one of the largest copper and brass mills of this country he worked on refining furnaces and in the rolling-mills as an unskilled and semiskilled workman. Later he became a personnel assistant for the same company. ¶Soldier, sailor, and artist, Henry B. Beston served with both Army and Navy during the war. He is the author of A Volunteer Poilu, 1916; Full Speed Ahead, 1919; The Firelight Fairybook, 1919. ‘The Wonderful Tune’ is a chapter from a new book of Wonder-Tales, to be published in the fall by the Atlantic Monthly Press. Laura A. Hibbard, assistant-professor of English literature at Wellesley College, is one of the younger mediæval scholars who has already achieved distinction in her chosen field of Arthurian Romance. ¶Formerly president of Reed College. Oregon, William Trufant Foster is now engaged upon a number of economic studies for the Pollak Foundation. He is the author of the paper, ‘Shall We Abandon the Gold Standard?’ which appeared in the July Atlantic.

‘A Meteoric Career,’ by Horace V. Winchell, a mining geologist of Los Angeles, has reference to a few tumultuous weeks of the author’s recollections rather than to the more even tenor of his professional career. Cornelia James Cannon will be remembered for ‘ American Misgivings’ (February 1922), and other provocative Atlantic papers. H. Phelps Putnam is a young American poet who has the faculty of pouring a new and rather heady poetry into the old bottles of the sonnet form. ¶A naturalist, a devoted student of Shakespeare, and a novelist, Charles D. Stewart has yet found time to build with his own hands the stone house in which he lives. Jean Kenyon Mackenzie, missionary, poet, and essayist, is an old and dear friend of Atlantic readers.

George Soule has become known as one of the most scholarly and thoughtful among radical writers on economic and social questions. He was at one time a member of the staff of the New Republic, and later of the editorial staff of the New York Evening Post. He is director of The Labor Bureau, Inc. of New York. ¶We apologize for writing Ramsay Traquair an ‘agriculturist’ in the March Contributors’ Column. He is in reality a Canadian architect, in charge of the department of architecture at McGill University, Montreal. The Reverend Nicol Macnicol, a Scottish missionary at Poona, India, combines a wide knowledge of Indian politics, life, and character with a broad sympathy for the Indian point of view. M. Abel Chevalley is a French diplomat, who was at one time head of the American section of the Foreign Office, and later Minister to Norway for France. Of his paper on the Ruhr, he writes: ‘I have avoided a mere restating of the “official" case. . . . I shall try to translate for your readers the views of a very typical village of rural France, entirely inhabited by very small landowners and vine-growers, of which village, though a diplomatic servant by trade, I am — if you please — the elected Mayor.’ Dorothy North, whose home is in Chicago, has served with the Quakers in France and in Vienna. Last winter she was in charge of relief work in a tiny village in the south of Russia.

The publication of Mr. Belloc’s article on ‘ The Anglo-Saxon and the Catholic Church,’in the same number of the Atlantic with ‘Testing the Human Mind,’ has raised the question of the relative intelligence of persons from Catholic and from Protestant countries. We quote from a recent letter: —

Perhaps the very instructive table given on page 364 of the same number of the Atlantic in which Mr. Belloc’s article appears is not without significance in relation to the present discussion. Manifestly the table is not complete, but it is at least interesting to note that among the foreignborn citizens drafted for our army those from dominantly Protestant countries make up the entire upper half in the scale of intelligence, not a single Catholic country being represented in the first eight, out of sixteen nationalities listed. On the other hand, the lower half is made up almost entirely of natives of Roman or Greek Catholic countries, while the two countries whose natives showed the very lowest average intelligence, Poland, and Italy, are almost exclusively Catholic. France is the only country not represented in the list which might have appreciably raised the Catholic average, and it is by no means certain that its inclusion would have this effect, while the inclusion of Spain would offset any gain that France might bring.

The following letter on the Roman Catholic position is from the Reverend Joseph A. Murphy, D.D., St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, Mass.

The ancient argument on the alleged inferiority of Catholics to Protestants has received new impetus from the comparative statistics furnished by Mr. Yerkes in the March Atlantic. As a recent writer observes, ‘ . . . it is at least a reasonable question whether there is any relation between the facts shown by this table and the teaching of a church which discourages the free use of the reasoning powers and insists upon a complete submission to an authority which may not be questioned.’ Alas and alack! After enduring the laughter of centuries at the involved reasonings of our theologians, our scholastics and casuists, ecstatic metaphysicians who carried reason almost to the reductio ad absurdum, we are now calmly told that the Church ‘discourages the free use of the reasoning powers.’ Is the writer aware that what he attributes to Catholics is plain heresy? Does he know that the Church teaches that reason precedes faith?

The insinuation is that Catholics surrender intellectual freedom. Manning, Newman, Benson, the Chestertons and a host of others found new freedom in the faith of their ancestors. The Catholic, in matters of faith, simply acts as the average man of common sense acts in matters of less importance. He consults authority. Imagine a sick man applying the principle of private judgment and refusing to consult a physician lest his reasoning powers be hampered! Imagine the confusion if everyone were allowed to interpret the Constitution and act upon private illumination of the text! Catholics believe that what will not work in everyday life will not work in the spiritual life. They listen to the Church because they believe it is divinely guided. Its voice is the voice of Christ. Surely if the Protestant believes that Christ speaks to the individual and guides him, it is not unreasonable that the Catholic should believe that Christ speaks to and guides His Church.

As for the supposed inferiority of Catholic mentality everyone who knows the history of civilization will admit that Catholics have contributed mightily to the progress of the world. There is not a single department of art, literature, or science without Catholic names on the roll of honor.

Because the poor peasants of persecuted and divided Poland and Ireland, or the refugees from the agricultural districts of Southern Europe, have not measured up to the intellectual standards of immigrants from the industrial sections of countries of wealth, power, and opportunity, the Catholic religion must be to blame. Farmers versus mechanics in a test dictated by an industrial country! The wonder is that they did so well!

Is Judaism superior to Christianity because of the ability displayed by young Hebrews?

Is Catholicism superior to Protestantism because the citizens of Rhode Island could score higher on an intellectual test than the citizens of South Carolina?

Is Protestantism a failure because of the Kultur it produced in the country in which it was born?

Is Catholicism a success because Belgium, France, and Italy saved the world?

Comparisons are odious and dangerous. Surely with the world on fire all about us it is no time for Catholics and Protestants to be hurling brands of religious hatred at each other.

Let us look backward as well as forward, inward as well as outward . . . and lend a hand.

Here is a sharp though friendly appraisal of both articles on the Anglo-Saxon and the Roman Catholic, by Dean Inge and Mr. Belloc.

Hilaire Belloc and Dean Inge afford much interest by contrast, being Englishmen and writing for the reading American public. Both write as Englishmen, from the English point of view, and Englishlike assume they know the American mind.
I should enjoy reading two articles by the same gentlemen two years from date were they to leave their studies in England and toil as do laymen and clergymen in America, say in the Middle West, fortified by the usual stipends paid here and with the normal day-by-day problems confronting them on Main Street.
The Dean is a polished, exasperating cynic, very careless at times in the use of clever phrases and important words, occasionally satisfying, more often wearying save to those who wish to remain vague, unsettled, satisfied with indefiniteness.
Mr. Belloc is wrong, honest, clear cut, definite, satisfying, practical.
Here is one case where the middle man cannot be eliminated without injustice. Mediocrity may have its vices, and ofttimes be guilty of damnation, but between these two extremes it is most desirable.
To the Atlantic I am most grateful for the two splendid articles. I should like to read Mr. Belloc’s thoughts after reading the Dean’s article. I am sure he could write a very interesting reply.

Here is more light on ‘ talk’ as an educative force — especially for professors:

I am a college professor, and my wife tells me that I talk too much! Imagine then, my secret pleasure in reading, ‘American scholarship will never achieve its high destiny until American professors talk more!’
Your contributor is right in saying, ‘We need more talk’; but he tells only half the story when he concludes that ‘American scholarship will never achieve its high destiny until American professors talk more.’ The Oxford dons learned to talk as students in the Junior Common Room. Shelley and Coleridge and Wordsworth and Arnold and Tennyson all talked as students. Not only do American professors not talk enough, but American students do not talk enough. They memorize inaccurate notes on endless lectures, but their talking is confined to planning fraternity rushing parties, electing dance committees, and foretelling the result of next Saturday’s baseball game.
There you have the American problem! Nothing wiser has been said since Cardinal Newman thus spoke: ‘If I had to choose between a university which dispensed with residence and gave its degrees to any person who passed an examination, and a university which had no professors or examinations at all, but merely brought a number of young men together for three or four years and then Sent them away, I have no hesitation in giving the preference to that university which did nothing. The universities, which did little more than bring together youths in large numbers, can boast of a succession of heroes and statesmen, of literary men and philosophers, of men conspicuous for great natural virtues, for habits of business, for knowledge of life, for practical judgment, for cultivated tastes, for accomplishments, who have made England what it is.’
Our colleges can make America what it will be. At present they do not train our students to talk. No wonder, then, that these students develop into pedantic professors!

Colonel Robert M. Yerkes, in ‘Testing the Human Mind’ (March Atlantic), quotes what he terms a ‘misleading’ statement of A. E. Wiggam, the biologist, to the effect that the mental powers of forty-five million people in this country ‘will never be greater than those of twelve-year-old children.’ Mr. Wiggam believes that an injustice has been done him by Colonel Yerkes: —

The statement may be somewhat in error or merely unfortunately phrased, but, if so, up to fifteen months ago when the statement was written the psychologists had not published sufficient interpretation of their own work to prove it was not true, or if they had, the searching of myself and an assistant through hundreds of psychological and educational journals failed to unearth the fact, and a number of most reputable psychologists at that time were repeating the statement publicly and in letters to me personally endorsed the statement. Can conscientious and responsible journalism go further?
Again, quite obviously, the article was written as coming from a biologist who naturally could do nothing but ask a number of reputable psychologists what were the facts in the case. Consequently the personal injustice to me both by Colonel Yerkes and the Atlantic is to hold me up as responsible for statements made by the psychologists themselves. I speak with the utmost personal courtesy toward both the Atlantic and Colonel Yerkes in saying that, if the psychologists could not tell the biologists the facts of their own work, it would be the utmost impertinence for the biologists to assume to tell them. If the statement is in error, and perhaps it is, slightly, it is plainly the fault of Colonel Yerkes’s own profession and not mine. Colonel Yerkes writes as though I invented the ‘thirteenyear statement,’ but clearly it was the belief at that time of a very respectable percentage of his own profession and, if not true, I, as a biologist, had no means whatsoever of knowing it.
I think I am entirely kind to Colonel Yerkes in saying that, had he quoted a paragraph almost immediately following the one he bases his article upon, he would have had no basis for his article, so far as concerns me, and would have found that I am arguing in entire accord with his own opinions, expressed elsewhere (Professor Brigham’s American Intelligence), that the danger to this country is not from its present intelligence, whether low or high, but from its prospective decline. I state that ‘the danger is not from the ninety-odd millions who have little or no intelligence but from the four millions who have. The four millions are decreasing while the ninety millions are increasing.’ I then go on to show how and why biologists believe this to be true, and that present educational and social methods are hastening the process; but, far from being an alarmist, I go much farther than Colonel Yerkes or Professor Brigham do in pointing out large constructive measures by which this process may not only be cheeked but turned into a great programme of race elevation and race improvement.
Please be assured that I have no idea that either Colonel Yerkes or the Atlantic had any notion of being unfair toward me. It does happen, however, I think, that taking a passage out of an essay designed to prove other things, and one which was entirely constructive, and holding it up as a specimen of irresponsible and alarmist journalism when it was sanctioned by the leading members of his own profession — a profession with which I do not profess and did not then profess to be in the least familiar — is, to say the least, decidedly misleading, and, without intent upon your part or that of Col. Yerkes, does me quite an injustice.
My cordial attitude, however, can hardly be doubted since I am plunging at once into defending this very article of Colonel Yerkes and mental-testing generally. I am also distributing quite a number of Colonel Yerkes’s articles among friends without any adverse comment.

423 West 23rd Street, New York City.

The Atlantic is unable to give a complete statement of Professor Wiggam’s views. Interested readers are referred to his article in the Pictorial Revicw for April 1923.

In Joseph F. Fishman’s article on ‘The American Jail’ in the December Atlantic appeared this paragraph: —

At least, reading matter could be supplied. The American Library Association would find a worth-while field if they would turn their attention toward the jails of the country.

Miriam E. Carey, chairman of the American Library Association, has written now to Mr. Fishman and received from him a suggested programme. She writes: —

Mr. Fishman’s practical outline of ways and means filled me with hope and admiration. For do not the experts usually give counsel of perfection? The field seems hopelessly big, but it is quite out of the question to refuse to take up Mr. Fishman’s challenge.