WE wonder if there has been any subject discussed so universally and so intensively in America in the past year or two as Prohibition? In that period argument and special pleading pro and contra have run their course. The Atlantic publishes this month an article based on living examples in order to refocus thought upon what has become a condition and not a theory. The author has never written upon the subject of Prohibition and is not professionally allied with groups either for or against the amendment. Mr. Haywood’s business is adjusting fire losses; his avocation writing short stories, mostly about golf. ¶For fifteen years, as a newspaper correspondent in Washington, Elmer Murphy has been gathering materials from Congressmen, office-holders, political advisers, diplomats, and presidents for this intimate diagnosis of government. Carroll Perry is rector of the Episcopal Church at Ipswich, Massachusetts. His father, Arthur Latham Perry, was for long years professor of political economy at Williams College. We doubt if the true feelings of college graduates at their twenty-fifth reunion have ever been as vividly and accurately set down as in ‘Twenty-five Years Out.’ E. M. Forster is an English novelist, author of Howard’s End, Pharos and Pharillon,The Celestial Omnibus, and other novels and short stories. Rebecca West remarks that there is no one quite like him except Jack Frost. ‘His novels are richly imaginative, wildly and strangely beautiful.’
Atlantic readers will recall a number of papers, in recent issues, touching on marriage and divorce, ‘What God Hath Not Joined, by Joseph Fort Newton, and, last month, ‘What Is Marriage?’ by A. Maude Royden. Katharine Fullerton Gerould, essayist, novelist, and keen critic of American society, brings to the subject wisdom and a shrewd analysis. A. Edward Newton, who writes in this number of a famous
English playhouse, the ‘Old Vic,’ has himself turned playwright and achieved the unusual — if not the impossible — in writing a popular play upon Doctor Johnson. Every Atlantic, reader knows his Amenities of Book-Collecting and The Magnificent Farce ¶We wonder if it is at all widely known among the readers of Amy Lowell’s poetry that, besides her half-dozen books of poetry, she has written a volume of critical essays, and a book of poems translated from the Chinese. For many months of each year she lectures on poetry in every quarter of the United States. Margaret Baldwin will be remembered by her paper, ‘The Road to Silence,’ which appeared in the Atlantic for December 1917. William Beebe, who has written so many accurate and vivid sketches of Jungle Life, is director of the British Guiana Tropical Research Station of the New York Zoological Society.
Among the younger writers of novels, Robert Nathan has achieved a singularly sure and personal style. Though writing delicately and very simply upon such matters as schoolmasters, hay fields, manufacturers of puppets, and little girls who play with them, he has a curious skill in hinting at the same instant of both the pathos and the irony of human life. ‘The Marriage of the Puppets’ is selected from his novel, The Puppet-Master, to be published in the fall by McBride and Company. ¶Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. Joseph Warren Beach is a poet and author of a number of critical studies in English literature. George Herbert Clarke is professor of English at the University of the South, and editor of the Sewanee Review. He was the editor of A Treasury of War Poetry, 1917, Second Series, 1919.
The Merchant Marine has been discussed from nearly every angle but the human one. Why are fewer and fewer young Americans following the sea every year and what can be done about it? William McFee turns his pen for a few moments from his sea stories to tell us. Clifford H. Farr is professor of botany in the University of Iowa, and author of Psychology of Plants’ in the December 1922 Atlantic. Of his present paper,The Mind of the Molecule,’he writes: —
The question may readily arise as to what business has the botanist bothering with mind on the one hand or molecules on the other. I can only reply that the study of plants holds a peculiarly central position among the sciences, with physics and chemistry below, and zoölogy and psychology above. It may after all therefore be left to the botanist to weave it all into a harmonious cosmic philosophy. This work wall then be not so much a matter of his research, nor yet of his recreation, as it is of his religion. And it is with this attitude that I have written this paper.
Edward W. Bok, former editor of the Ladies’ Horne Journal, and now much in the public mind because of his offer of $100,000 for the best peace suggestion, discourses in this number of theAtlantic on what is the matter with advertising, and how it can be made both more artistic and more truthful.
Had Thomas W. Lamont chosen to tell his story less impersonally, credit for the success of the critical world-negotiations he records would go where credit is due. Member of the house of J. P. Morgan and Company, he has placed his experience and wisdom at the world’s service. Since Mr. Hoover’s withdrawal from Europe, no American has accomplished more than he for the general good. Are Turkey, Russia, China, and Japan ‘ facing East’? We publish this month the first of several papers showing the development of an ‘ Oriental consciousness,’ which implies in certain ways a great loss in Western prestige, and a new confidence in Oriental ideals and destiny. The author is in a position which enables him to write with freedom only in case his name is withheld. ¶An English essayist and student of social conditions, Edith Sellers has devoted the past year to a study of lower-middle-class life in France and England.
Here is a legitimate complaint, it seems to us, from a disabled veteran against the disparaging use of the ‘consumptive-looking person’ in literature and the creation of a heroic race of he-men and womanlywomen : —
IS Is it common for authors to choose one type of unfortunates to bring out the qualities of he-men and womanly-women? Really I am tired of taking up a book or short story and reading about that ‘consumptive-looking person.’ Not only that but many authors seem to think that it increases the value as characters to compare them with so-called consumptives. Does he realize in dealing with them in this manner that he deprecates them in the public eye? Does he realize that many make a return to health? Does he realize that in most cases it is only he-men and womanly-women who become consumptive?
Am I any the less a man because I am tubercular? I do not think so. I fought in France with the Marines. Surely I deserve a little consideration as a man. I am paying the price of patriotism. Nor am I a consumptive-looking person in the way our authors are prone to describe them.
I take this issue to Atlantic because I am a reader of it, considerate people read it, most writers read it. I appeal to Atlantic to help us in asking that we be held in a better light. I appeal so that the public will not be horrified when it learns that we have been in sanatoria for T.B.
I appeal to the authors to give us a chance. If they are going to use consumptives as material I hope they will use ns kindly. We are he-men and womanly-women though we be afflicted with this trouble.
A. A. E HERE
Here is a chance for some modern Joseph not yet Freudianized.
ATLANTIC, - — In rebuttal of the idea expressed in ‘The Land of Nod’ (August Atlantic), I venture to tell a dream. I was taken prisoner by a heathen potentate, who gave me eight pieces of cardboard on each of which was drawn the picture of a pig, and was told that I must place the eight pieces touching each other, and at the same time they must cover one mile in length.
‘Pigs have hair,’ said I.
‘Yes,’ said the king.
‘And hair is fur.’
' And fur is long.
‘And eight furlongs make a mile!’ triumphantly declared I.
‘You are free,’said the king, ‘but the night is dark and the forest is full of wild beasts; take these with you.’
And he gave me a long piece of white muslin and two tin dishpans. Soon I was beset on every side by lions. Crouching low I tied one end of the cloth around my neck, and giving a terrific spring upwards, I crashed the pans together with the white streamer trailing behind, and so safely passed through the forest.
P. B. CROSBY.
Are there materials for a true Liberal Party in the United States that would be like the British Liberals? Curtis Nettels of the University of Wisconsin expresses his skepticism in an able comment on ‘Progressivism Old and New’ (July Atlantic); —
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Mr. Merz suggests that the Progressivism of 1923 is somewhat akin to British Liberalism. It is doubtful if theUnited States at an early date will produce a genuinely liberal or truly progressive party. A liberal party, devoted to the uplift of the oppressed classes, is not actually needed in the United States as it was needed In Great Britain before the passage of the last reform bill, because all of the classes of people here who feel themselves oppressed have been schooled in political action, have the instruments of salvation within relatively easy reach, and generally, in hard times, are not disinclined to use them for their own purposes. Accordingly they do not need a set of benevolent, liberally minded men to sympathize with them and to act in their behalf.
Besides, conditions throughout the rural sections of the country are not favorable to the formation of a permanent and consistent liberal party. The farmers have their periodical grievances, and at different intervals give way to bursts of radical passion. But the materials of a permanent progressive or liberal party have n’t yet been assembled in the agricultural districts. The farmers have among themselves no particular class of individuals who stand as a symbol of social injustice — no class which excites sympathy among and inspires liberally minded men to political action for their benefit. The class as a whole is homogeneous and when political action is accomplished for its benefit, it is accomplished by itself. When it does act, it acts as a unit, and when it acts as a unit, it tends to be radical, not liberal or progressive. When farmers are dissatisfied, they are all dissatisfied; when they are contented, they are all contented. In the past they have not been, for a long, unbroken period, either consistently satisfied or consistently discontented — and there is no reason for anticipating that they will be consistent in either in the future.
Accordingly the permanent basis of a real party, liberal or progressive, is lacking. The farmers may be driven by hard times into radicalism, as in 1896, but the return of prosperity will change them into moderates, as in 1900. Moreover, there still remains a good deal of individualism on the farms. Life in rural districts is not so cramped as to necessitate the formation of a political party which will exist in order to rescue the individual from a series of conditions which socially minded people fee! are not good for him. Tins is essentially what a liberal party does exist for.
Among the discontented voters, in the city, the case is altogether different. The conditions under which a great number of them work arc not conducive to individualistic enterprise, and consequently there exists the need of organized political effort for the improvement of those conditions. In the second place, the conditions that cause the kind of unrest which finds a political outlet are more permanent in the cities than on the farms. The chief of these conditions is that each day every one of a great many men has to spend eight hours in contact with a dirty, ugly, unattractive, even repulsive economic system, from which he receives nothing desirable except his pay. There is in this condition a source of discontent and the permanent basis of a political party — not a liberal party, though, but a radical one instead.
The foundation of a real union between city workers and farmers is lacking. The fundamental grievances of the two groups are not the same. Within the cities, among the workers in basic industries, there is a marked solidarity of interest. But among all the other urban classes there is no unity of sentiment — and although the interests of the middle class usually incline it toward Conservatism, still there is no telling how the American democratic tradition may modify that normal interest of the middle class in preserving the status quo, and what state of politieal-mindedness the two working together and reacting one upon the other will produce. For the present, it seems that only small minorities representing the extreme views of conservatism and radicalism can form the permanent bases of parties separated as Mr. Merz and his friends of the New Republic would like to see them separated. The great mass of people in between not yet vitally touched by the great problems arising from the age of machinery do not take their politics nearly so seriously as they take their sports and motor ears and the other similar things which right now have the strong hold upon the public affections.
We think that readers ofThe Quare Women either in theAtlantic or in book form will be interested in the following: —
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I wonder if the people who have read about the doings of the ‘Quare Women’ in their ‘cloth houses’ on the hill above Troublesome Creek twenty-three years ago realize that these were very real experiences, and that that summer’s work resulted in the founding here at Hindman, on the Forks of Troublesome, in the heart of the mountains, of the Hindman Settlement School, in which academic and industrial training are combined with various forms of social service? This school, the pioneer of its kind in all the mountain regions, and the one upon which later settlement schools have been modeled, has for twenty-one years been doing most solid and valuable work.
Because of the extreme sensitiveness and pride of our Kentucky Highlanders, and their aversion to being held up to the world as a peculiar people (qualities which we greatly respect and admire in them, as we do their sterling characters and great natural intelligence), we have never given much publicity to our work, and are still unwilling to do so.
Since the work is entirely dependent upon voluntary contributions, this reticence has been a handicap; and had it not been for the faithfulness of many old friends — some, individuals, others, women’s clubs and organizations of various kinds — who have stood by us year after year, we could not have kept the school going.
It is my hope that The Quare Women will make new friends for us, who will be interested in helping these children to a chance in life. At present we have about eight hundred boys and girls on our waiting list, but cannot take them for lack of scholarships and room. A scholarship of one hundred and fifty dollars provides for a child through the year, together with the daily labor done by the child.
If any of the readers of the Atlantic wish to w rite me on the subject I shall be glad to answer tbeir inquiries; if they belong to any clubs or organizations which would be interested in having one of the ‘Quare Women’ talk to them about our work this fall or winter, I shall be glad to know of it.
HINDMAN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL HINDMAN, KNOTT COUNTY, KY.
Experienced readers of theAtlantic will mark the distinction between those interesting human vagaries often described by the adjective ‘phony’ and the philological achievement expressed by the generic noun ‘Fono.’ We are glad to print the following communication from its inventor, S. N. Stewart, C.E.
As am absnt minded frm old aj frgot to say: If u akspt any of my artel u r to publsh it not latr thn in ur Oct. isu bcauz I uz it erly in Oct. as an xrciz in Fono (my unvrsl languaj) whch isus erly in Oct.
Harold Vinal wrote a poem for the FebruaryAtlantic in which the moonlight ‘burned.’ The controversy over that supernatural phenomenon still rages.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Quite probably there have been and will be other defenders of ‘burning moonlight’ against what is called a ‘successful thrust’ of a railroad man which you print in the August number. To my mind it is not a convincingly successful thrust — however, everyone to his own taste. For I have seen the moon smoulder — dropping behind the hills across the Hudson River on a hot July night, seen from a certain Quaker Bridge road which crosses the Croton River. And it has smouldered so hotly that it was with held breath that we awaited its burst into flame.
And surely the Erie R.R. man has known of the potency of white fire! Shelley would bear me out in this. For I have felt the fire of the moonlight ‘topside’ a coasting steamer in the China Sea, and a Burma moon could burn all common sense and practicality from a teacher of mathematics! As for the smoke that he mentions — I may leave that to other students of moonlight for refutation.
Very truly yours,
ELIZABETH L. VAN BRUNT.