The Contributors' Column
Is it all in the newspapers and on the surface of an over-jazzed existence, or has there actually been a change in the way Americans regard the relations between men and women, and the institutions by which those relations are surrounded ? There is much idle talk upon the behavior of the younger generation, but is there any deeper change, indicating the evolution of new standards for old? To read the novels of Joyce, Cabell, May Sinclair, Sherwood Anderson, D. H. Lawrence, — a majority, indeed, of those novels now most influential with young men and women, — one would say yes. The whole question - as vital a one as any to ordinary human beings — is the theme of Stuart P. Sherman’s ‘ Conversation with Cornelia.’ Some will recognize Cornelia as their aunt, or their schoolteacher, perhaps some will find in her a fair replica of themselves! Stuart P. Sherman, as most Atlantic readers know, is professor of English at the University of Illinois, and the author of several volumes of literary criticism. In July we published his provocative study of the censorship, ‘Unprintable.’ Henry W. Kinney, who reports the Japanese earthquake for the Atlantic, has enjoyed a curiously varied career. Born in Hawaii, he was graduated from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, did graduate work in the University of California, and returned to his native island. There he became, at different times, teacher, rancher, purser on island tramps, editor, and superintendent of public instruction. Five years ago he went to Japan and is now managing editor of the Trans-Pacific. He writes: —
I was in about the centre of the disaster.
. . . It gave me the opportunity to walk right through the principal earthquake region immediately after the quakes . . . over 36 miles in about 13 hours.
‘Our Unsuitable Marriage’ is the true story of a young woman of education and refinement who in a spirit of adventure went to teach in the Kentucky mountains. She had a mountaineer in one of her classes who was a ‘moonshiner’ — and handsome as well. She fell in love with him — but that’s the story. . . . ¶Arthur Pound, by turns a printer, editor, and always a student of social and political problems, writes this month a study of Henry Ford and of the idea that is Henry Ford. Mr. Pound is the author of The Iron Man in Industry.Edward W. Bok has been a very active man of leisure since he resigned the editorship of the Ladies’ Home Journal, and began to ‘play.’ His offer of a hundred thousand dollars for the best idea to promote peace has recently attracted world attention. Persons numbering 22,165 and representatives of twenty-two countries have submitted suggestions for obtaining world peace to the jury of award.
Atlantic readers will remember Olive Tilford Dargan for her tales of the hill-people of North Carolina among whom she makes her home. We publish a fourth of these ‘Highland Annals’ this month. Edgar J. Goodspeed is professor of Biblical and Patristic Greek at the University of Chicago and secretary to the President. It is an interesting news item that his recent translation of the New Testament is being printed serially in the Chicago Evening Post, ¶As an American poet and essayist Atlantic readers are familiar with John Jay Chapman. He is the author of A Glance Toward Shakespeare, William Lloyd Garrison, and many volumes of verse and prose. Harvey Wickham, wandering essayist and familiar Atlantic contributor sends us his manuscript this month from Vienna. F. Lauriston Bullard is a veteran journalist who continues the discussion of the abuses of trades-unionism begun in the December Atlantic.Agnes L. Taylor is a writer of short stories that remind us a little, by their flavor and their subject, of Anthony Trollope. She is a new Atlantic contributor. Sarah N. Cleghorn is both poet and novelist, and the author of A Turnpike Lady, The Spinster, Portraits and Protests.
Henry W. Bunn since 1920, following his retirement from twenty years’ active service in the army, has been a journalist with a judicial and philosophical bent. For the January 1921 Atlantic he wrote a succinct and comprehensive review of the preceding twelve months. James Murphy for over twelve years has engaged in a study of Italian questions. During the war he was appointed by the Italian Government to direct their press propaganda in London, but upon the advent of the Fascists to power he returned to Italy. Sarah Wambaugh has been a member of the secretariat of the League of Nations and has served as an expert adviser on questions regarding the administration of the Saar Basin and the Free City of Danzig. She was at Geneva throughout the first, third, and the latest League Assemblies. Mark O. Prentiss, American industrial engineer, concludes his personal story of what the Turks did at Smyrna in this number of the Atlantic. Present in the city during its capture and burning, he met and talked with Mustapha Kemal and the principal Turkish leaders.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
A bit of genuine appreciation!
Last night, as it drew near a small boy’s bedtime, I discovered a combination hard to break up — my eight-year-old, an easychair, and ‘A Week-End with Chinese Bandits.’ Reluctantly I pried him loose and sent him off to bed, only by promising that he could tuck the magazine under his pillow and finish the yarn at break of day. Evidently bandits under the pillow produce light slumber, for the first thing I was conscious of this morning was the low murmur of his voice in the next room, as he continued the story aloud for the benefit of his six-year-old brother. Occasionally there was a halt, and, raising his voice to carry through the thin partition of the old farm house, laboriously he spelled out for parental assistance, ‘phenacetine’ or some other stumblingblock.
Now the two of them are off to our little country school for the day, but the lure of an unfinished tale will bring them hustling home again. Who says college professors monopolize the Atlantic! AGNES D. GOFF.
Our castigators too are vocal — very.
I congratulate you on your par-excellent JOURNALISTIC COWARDICE.
Undoubtedly your blatant bigotry, chivalrous injustice and crass ignorance of religious truths, preëminently befit you to sit in judgment of what may be of service or disservice to any church.
Please oblige with balance of my subscription, and the discontinuance of your magazine.
J. P. VLOSSAK.
Among all that we have printed of marriage and divorce, for pure wisdom we commend this.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
While the subject of marriage is occupying so much of your attention — and ours — you may like to hear what an old colored man said to me on an occasion when he thought I was taking the relation too lightly: —
’Dis heah marryin’ is a ser’us bizness, Miss Cid. Didn’ you nevah stop an’ ‘cidah whut a ser’us bizness it is? Pshaw! Lots o’ folks don’ think nothin’ ‘bout it, dey jes’ pats dey foot an’ hops in. But jes’ look how you dun got Gawd all tangled up in it, an’ see all dem things you dun promise — you say no mattah how sick he be, nuh how po’, he keep agittin’ po’ah an’ po’ah, you dun promise stay by him; he git sickah an’ sickah an’ you dun promise stick by him an’ he dun say de same by you. An’ in de matermony it say de time dun cum fer ter tu’n aloose fum eve’ythin’ an’ holter yo’ husban’. I tell you, Miss Cid, its a ser’us mattah an’ can’ nobody keep it fum bein’ a promise eben ef you dun gone an’ marry somebody else an’ lef’ him; not tell you die, one uh de udder.
‘ But sum folks, when de shoe pinch, dey shake it off.’ CID RICKETTS SUMNER.
In this number of the Atlantic we publish Edward W. Bok’s own explanation of his internationally advertised peace award, under the title, ‘What I Expect.’ We heartily urge our readers to participate in the nation-wide referendum to follow the announcement of the award. A word about this referendum which is really a gigantic experiment in the expression of public opinion has been sent us by the Peace Award Committee: —
The competition closed on November 15th last. We think the Jury will have made its selection by January first. Immediately after that, the winning plan is to be submitted to the widest possible public for consideration and for a vote. On the release date a number of leading papers throughout the country, including the New York Times, the New York Tribune and the New York World, will carry with the text of the winning plan a ballot which will contain space for the signer’s name and address, a statement as to whether or not he or she is a voter, and a statement as to whether or not he or she approves the winning plan in substance.
Several hundred organizations and institutions, including the eighty-eight great national organizations which are members of our Coöperating Council, will send the winning plan with the ballot to each of their members for a vote.
These organizations include the most distinguished professional, fraternal, civic, and religious organizations (all faiths) in the country. The interested participation of these widely differing groups in the ‘referendum’ is to be explained only by the fact that they realize the vast opportunity which the American Peace Award offers for crystallizing public sentiment in this country and for making articulate the interest of millions of our citizens upon a subject of vast importance to us all. Participation in the referendum does not involve endorsement of the plan or commitment to any programme with regard to it.
We realize that some voters will wish to express themselves more fully than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote permits. We ask in this case that they by all means send us their fuller opinions, but that they do this in some separate communication. The ballots may be sent directly back to us; we shall have them tabulated by states, with all duplicates removed, in order that the result may be a really authentic record of popular judgment.
AMERICAN PEACE AWARD
342 MADISON AVENUE
NEW YORK CITY
In this number Henry W. Kinney records as an eyewitness some measure of the appalling destruction the earthquake has wrought in Japan. The possible effect of American relief work on peace between Japan and America is pointed out in a pertinent letter from Major H. A. Finch of the United States Army: —
Americans living in Japan in 1921 testify to the gravity of the situation there in that year. And it kept getting worse up to the very day of Secretary Hughes’s speech before the Limitation of Armaments Conference. Many Japanese were convinced that the Conference was to be another diplomatic defeat for their country. Immediately following the Hughes statement, showing the United States to be sincerely working for peace and not for advantage over Japan, the tension eased tremendously. War talk stopped like magic and it has never since regained its preConference volume.
But revived it has to some extent, and this letter is to emphasize the fact that, in extending relief to the Japanese in their present distress, we again have an opportunity to prove to them that we are not the scheming, militaristic nation they have imagined us to be.
Even if this work of American dollars were to be evaluated solely on a mercenary basis, it would be hard to find a better way to invest a few millions. Certainly our country gained much in good will through its gracious gesture in returning to China our portion of the extracted Boxer indemnity. For twenty years the fine feeling thus engendered has persisted in China, and it seems fated to crystallize into ‘a traditional friendship.’ To cite a more recent case — it is almost inconceivable that the Belgians could ever take up arms against the country that for years did so much toward their relief.
The Japanese are a supersensitive people, and while they may be keenly appreciative of favors rendered, it cannot be expected that one good turn will necessarily remove all possibility of war. It may do much, however, toward restoring us to a position nearer the ‘ favored nation’ place we held for so many years in Japanese eyes after Admiral Perry’s visit.
The contention of Cornelia James Cannon in ‘The Dissociated School’ (November Atlantic) that all private schools are undemocratic and, ergo, should be eliminated, has caused a wave of protest, as well as of commendation. We are permitted to quote from Frank W. Cushwa’s editorial in the Phillips Exeter Bulletin.
The Atlantic writer speaks ‘of our great heritage [this democracy] sanctified though it has been by the services of a Washington and a Lincoln.’ To Exeter Washington sent his nephew; and Lincoln, his own son. In the past decade sons of high officials,— of the President of the United States, — sons of workingmen, of captains of industry, of shopkeepers, have all been drawn to Exeter by a common ideal.
But this ideal is vastly more comprehensive than that held by this ardent protagonist of the public schools. It does, however, as our charter indicates, begin with democracy. As we have stated elsewhere, we are not so sure that democracy is or can be more surely fostered in the public high school than in a private endowed school like Exeter. Here in the Academy, for example, conditions are ideally favorable for democracy; and here surely a real democracy exists. The boys are detached from their families, from their social environment; and, except in rare instances, neither their teachers nor their fellow students know of their social position or influence at home. Anything besides the boy’s real self and worth is irrelevant.
There is also an independence in the board of trustees and in the faculty that makes the standards of scholarship and discipline absolutely uniform and inflexible. Moreover, there is a tremendous gain for the maintenance of an intelligent democracy in the cosmopolitan character of the student body; by the perspective that a boy gets from association with other boys from every section, he loses his provincialism, his home-town attitude. Here he not only sits in a classroom with boys of all classes and sections, but he lives, eats, works, and plays with them, spends practically his whole time with them. In the local high school, on the other hand, the boy’s family is known by both teachers and students — the kind of car he has and the influence his father wields. Mothers and fathers know with whom their sons and daughters associate, and often do not regard family standing as irrelevant. Nor are the teachers or the members of the school board always independent; membership on the school boards is oftentimes the first round in the political ladder.
As for standards of scholarship and discipline, the average parents wish them to be no higher than their own sons can attain. The parents pay the taxes; they have different degrees of influence, culture, and taste; and sometimes they control the destiny of teachers. Moreover, life in the high school does not necessarily produce intimate relationship among all classes; the students merely go to school together, they do not live together. Cliques in the high school follow generally the social lines of the community. The public schools, it is admitted, promote democracy, but the democracy is not necessarily inevitable or complete. Nor is democracy a monopoly of the public school. Exeter, we believe, has conditions that produce democracy, and a democracy resulting from those conditions that no high school can surpass.
But we believe that schools exist for reasons other than social. Scholastic standards can be more successfully maintained, we believe, in a school like Exeter than in the great majority of town or city high schools. And the training of the body must be looked out for also. There can be no doubt, we think, that life in the Exeter countryside, with the bracing climate, is more conducive to physical growth and health — moral, too — than life in our great crowded cities. With private schools retained, most boys, it is true, have to remain in the city; many can go to private schools in the country, but most cannot. But are we to consider everything harmful that cannot be universally enjoyed?
Other elements in the situation seem never to be considered by those who would abolish private schools. In H. G. Wells’s recent biography of Sanderson of Oundle — ‘a great teacher-pioneer’ — there is this sentence: ‘Out of a small country grammar school, he created something more suggestive of those great modern teaching centres of which our world stands in need than anything that has yet been attempted.’ It happened at Oundle, at Rugby, as it happened at Andover, at Exeter, and some other places in this country, that schools, relatively insignificant at first, have become great teaching centres. It has not happened that every town and city has such a centre, and it probably never will. It is a reasonable thing to believe that in the future as in the past, for secondary education as for college and university, many will not be able to get what they want at home, certainly not the best training, and they will have to seek it where it can be found.
Katharine Fullerton Gerould in her ‘Ritual and Regalia’ (November Atlantic) has aroused the men to retort and irony.
The secrets of these organizations have been the only ones which men have been able to keep from the genial all-inquisitiveness of the female sex, and the possession of these secrets therefore gives the numerous male members of them their one claim to superiority. This answers why they appeal to men. The answer to the question why women do not like these secret organizations is the same — namely, that within them there are some things which have resisted countless generations of insatiable female curiosity.
Finally, she asks in great apparent distraction, Why the regalia? This question can best be answered by a conundrum which runs like this: What animal is it that is very large, has four feet, a long slender tail, a trunk of ivory, and crows like a rooster? The answer is an elephant. But you say an elephant does not crow like a rooster. That is conceded; it is only put into the conundrum to make it hard. That answers why the regalia: it is simply put in to make it hard so that women will not guess the secrets.
C. D. C.