The Contributors' Column
THE Atlantic rises to a question of privilege. We are informed that a clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Reverend M. E. Goodrich, speaking on January twenty-first at Tiffin, Ohio, before a meeting in behalf of the Near East Relief made the following statement: —
‘Turkish money has bought out the Atlantic Monthly for the purpose of spreading propaganda against the Armenians.’
It is hard to associate so reckless and false a statement with the honesty and gravity of the profession of a clergyman. It is unpardonable that an untruth should be permitted to besmirch an appeal in a great cause.
Le Baron Russell Briggs is a professor of English at Harvard who, during many college generations, has metamorphosed the title Dean from a byword of reproach to an expression of natural affection. George W. Alger, a well known member of the New York bar, is an Atlantic author of twenty years’ standing. At this moment, A. Edward Newton is revisiting, amid the chill realities of the nineteen-twenties, the romantic scenes of forty years ago. Charles D. Stewart, author of many books, best known among them, perhaps. The Fugitive Blacksmith, descants with the detachment of a disinterested observer upon matters infinite and intimate in their importance to himself. George Villiers, a young English poet, has already contributed delightful verse to the Atlantic.
Arthur Mason is a sailor home from the sea who has not forgotten all that he has seen and loved. Robert Macdonald recollects in the tranquillity of Pitlochry the long chances he took as a prospector for gold and jewels in Australia. Florence J. Clark, in the Henry Street Settlement in New York, whites of things she knows of.
Archer Wall Douglas is one of the vicepresidents of the Simmons Hardware Company of St. Louis. When business hours are over, Mr. Douglas educates himself in human nature by analyzing character from handwritings. Hannah L. Protzman sends from Columbus, Ohio, this first story to the Atlantic. While a teacher in high school, the janitor told her ‘colorful tales’ of his life, which she wrote down as nearly as possible in his own words. ‘ Roast Chicking’ the first of them.
Upton Close is the nom de guerre of Josef Hall, a lecturer and writer on Eastern subjects who has traveled and lived in the Orient. Joseph Auslander is a member of the English Department at Harvard and a poet whose harmonies are not unfamiliar to our readers. George P. Brett, whose life-long vocation has been successful publishing, writes of the dearest avocation of his later years. Bentley W. Warren is a distinguished member of the Boston bar.
On March twentieth next, President Eliot will be fourscore years and ten. The occasion will be national, and affords the Atlantic an appropriate opportunity for publishing this article so characteristically confident of our nation’s future. Our readers will mark that on this day the Atlantic publishes a volume by President Eliot entitled A Late Harvest.Charles W. Brown, who has come to anchor as president of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, has spent many years afloat. If you ask whether he is a practical seaman, we reply that Captain Brown has sailed his ship round the Horn. Raymond Leslie Buell, now connected with the department of history of Harvard University, has recently returned from the Philippines. Alfred G. Gardiner, for years editor of the London News, is now living in alert retirement, a sharp observer of British politics.
Henry W. Bunn, who retired from the army on account of disabilities incurred in service, has for many years made an intensive study of European politics.
The following passage, taken from a recent letter of Brigadier-General P. R. C. Groves, is an interesting comment on his important article: —
Few Englishmen can be hostile to France, and I am certainly not one of them. It is with deep regret that I now find myself driven into the ranks of those who are opposed to her present policy.
The French reply to me will probably be that I myself have constantly urged Britain to develop her air power. That is true. So long as France pursues her present policy her neighbors must arm; they have no alternative. If force is to remain the only form of arbitrament, then force we must possess; but the interests of humanity nevertheless call for a protest against the fervid militarism which is marching all Europe at the quick step towards catastrophe.
Since my article was written I have seen it stated in the Press that the Italian air programme has been expanded and now envisages a total of 4000 heavier-than-air aircraft by the end of next year. Only last, week our own Air Ministry called for an additional 400 pilots. Certain it is if the competition in aerial armaments is to continue, it is bound to be intensive. But who is to call a halt? Obviously if either of the Powers which are behind in the race were to make the first move the result would be merely a charge of self-interest. In my judgment, America alone is in a position to take the initiative. I feel that you will not consider it impertinent of me to suggest that this task is incumbent upon her. The Fates have made her the trustee of civilization, and civilization is in peril.
Countless readers have been ‘listening in’ at Professor Sherman’s remarkable ‘Conversation with Cornelia.’ Their opinions take many forms. Here is one: —
KANSAS CITY, MO.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Cornelia’s moral standards and Mr. Sherman’s critical are alike incontrovertible. Can they be any less infallible in their judgment of the younger generation? I dare the question because I read books with Cornelia’s daughters until they are eighteen and go away to college; and until they are twenty and past, they come back to sit beside my fire and talk. (Eighteen to twenty was Cornelia’s perilous period.)
Between the ages of fourteen and eighteen Cornelia’s daughters read with me, directed by the all-wise Providence of the College Board, those nineteenth-century novels which Mr. Sherman instances in his study of ‘the idea of chastity.’ I fancy that Cornelia read them at the same age, as I, half way between Cornelia’s generation and that of her daughters, did. May I ask Cornelia whether it was a development of ‘the idea of chastity’ that she found in that reading of David Copperfield and Adam Bede and Tess and The Scarlet Letter? At eighteen was it ideas that she found in novels?
Last spring Hilda, who went to Vassar this fall, read Adam Bede. She talked to me about it with so much appreciation that I was pleased. ‘But one step in the plot I must have missed,’ she remarked finally. ‘I never could find when Arthur and Hetty were married, but they must have been, for Hetty had the baby.’ — Hilda is bobbed and lip-sticked; her gold vanity case always lies on top of her notebook. She it was who told me of the empty flasks in the boys’ dressing-room at the Christmas dance.
This year Martha and Helen, who are going to university and college next year, read The Scarlet Letter. They discussed it with me. Said Martha, who is eighteen: ‘It was beautiful like a piece of music, the forest, and the dancing figure of Pearl, but so queer and mysterious. What did that letter mean ? ‘
Perhaps these girls are exceptional, but they are in no way set apart from their associates in manner or appearance. I am inclined to believe them rather like Cornelia’s daughters. In the colleges in which they will spend the years from eighteen to twenty I hope that they will learn the physiology which Cornelia should have taught them. But why is it certain that in those colleges their literary diet will be exclusively the novels of Mr. D. H. Lawrence and his peers? Frances, a college junior, lent me Sabatini’s newest novel this Christmas, and Janet, a debutante, was deep in Hawkeye. They do not really like novels, they tell me, which deal with the lives of old married-folk of thirty-five and thereabout; and, fortunately, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Hergesheimer and Mr. Galsworthy do. Some novels of this type they will read, but if Cornelia and school and college have helped them to find bravery and beauty and fidelity in books, will the noisome vapors that sometimes reach them spoil that taste and tarnish their shining youth?
The lady’s elder brother, you remember, had an idea of chastity, but the lady herself passed safely through the dark wood in the ‘sun-clad power of chastity.'
EVA MCKINLEY WEST.
ʚIt is always a pleasure to set New York right. Will our anonymous critic from the Metropolis, who takes for granted Boston’s perfect ignorance concerning all things topical, take note that when Mr. Pound (January Atlantic) wrote, ‘dozens of “Ford alumni,” as Dean Marquis calls them,’ he meant just what he said. Even on Arlington Street we know that Don Marquis is a bird — and a brilliant one — of quite a different feather.
We shall not soon hear the last of Mr. Haywood’s discussion of the all-important subject. Scores of letters simply rehearse, with greater or less emphasis, opinions on one side or the other, strongly held. Some, however, cast a new and interesting light on this subject. Note the following: —
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
You have for many years been a welcome visitor in the home of a couple of middle-aged high-school teachers in the wilds of the State of Washington, thus forming the link that joins them to the thinking world at large.
Mr. Haywood’s article has been used by me for classroom work in English. I thought it might interest you to get the opinion of twenty upper classmen in our H. S. ‘Charley’ and the ‘Ex-Soldier’ divided honors for most contempt, the Italians and the ‘Fanner’ for most sympathy. In answering the question asked by the article, twelve were for unconditional repeal of the Prohibition amendment; four wanted a National Referendum, one did not want the open saloon back but a system of distribution based on Canada’s. Three were for more and better law enforcement, blaming severely judges and courts for slackness and graft.
We live not far from the Canadian line, the country is mountainous and full of stills, hence booze is plentiful. This explains perhaps the overwhelming ‘wet’ vote of the class.
It is in keeping up the continuous struggle for more moral earnestness that your publication comes as a monthly inspiration.
LYDIA T. VAN HOUTE.
What sort of a man best loves a cat?
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I hesitate to quarrel with as entertaining an article as Mr. Wickham’s presentation of Maupassant’s cat, but it contains a reference or
two that come as a sort of last straw, and I feel that some of us should set the world right about cats.
The particular passage to which chief exception is made is: ‘ Maupassant was not the sort of man one would expect to have a cat. He was extremely active.’
What sort of man would one expect to have a cat? I knew a cat, no less attended than the Piroli, who was the sole pet of a railroad roundhouse, and made regular trips in a certain locomotive. The other day when the battleship North Dakota was placed out of commission, no less than twenty-eight cats were to be disposed of; practically all found excellent homes. At least two were taken hundreds of miles inland to the homes of sailors. Then there was Dick Baker’s cat.
My last ten years have been spent mostly in construction camps and on ships; I have seldom been without a cat and could fill pages with anecdotes of ‘active’ men’s cats. Why then do people arch their brows and say, ‘Why, I did n’t know men liked cats!’
Please allow the remark in passing that comparatively few old maids of my acquaintance do like cats.
One other little point — the ‘Maupassantian perversity’ is rubbing the fur the wrong way. Where was that superstition born? A cat likes nothing so well — when done with understanding.
M. R. J.
Apropos of this, a delightful letter comes to us from Harvey Wickham himself; —
I adore cats. Did you ever notice how much greater a place the cat occupies in literature than does the dog? I don’t mean books about cats, which are usually detestable. But the real literary cat finds itself recorded in stray paragraphs.
I have come across one even in such an unlikely place as the Memoires of Goron, a former Chef de la Police de Sûreté, Paris,
He was at the old Château Rouge — said to have been the hotel of the notorious Gabrielle d’Estrées, onetime favorite of Henri Quatre — showing certain people of importance the slum sights of the town, I believe. For the place by that time had become a thieves’ hang-out, sordid even among the has plafonds of Paris. He was regarding ‘ une pauvre vieille, dormante, la tête appuyée sur un panier contenant quelques chiffons — tout ce qu’elle possédait.’ Then he sees her companion, ‘un angora chetif, à colé d’elle, somnolent aussi. Expulsée de sa dernière mansarde, la malheureuse n’avait pas voulu se séparer du fidèle compagnon de sa détresse.’
The ‘malheureuse,’ observe, was the old woman, not the angora, even though it was a trifle ‘chetif.’ Being a cat, it was comfortable and had managed to preserve itself from the contamination of its surroundings. Perhaps that is why we love the little beasts. A dog would have been horribly pathetic, faithful, suffering, and dirty. The real agony of cats, when it comes, is something much worse than that. In a certain sunken court at Rome I have seen thirty odd cats — all starving to death. They had leaped in after bits of garbage, and could n’t get out again. And at Messina, a few years after the big earthquake there, I was once ‘entertained’ by a melon-seller, who thought he would show his appreciation of my continued patronage by letting me see him dispose of a litter of kittens by throwing them one after another as high as he could into the air — to fall and die at leisure in the hot dust of the hard road. The cat appears to awaken the devil in some people.
But Goron was n’t of that sort. And it being nearly 2 A.M., the hour when all ‘ malheureux,’ according to the one rule of the place which seems to have been enforced, had to leave Chateau whether they had any other place to go to or not, he has the grace to wonder what became of the angora.
Then there are Pierre Loti s eats: M. Souris, ‘surnommé La Suprématie,’ who loved the sonatas of Mozart; the cat, ‘un vrai,’that welcomed him to the palace of the Empress in the Forbidden City; the kédis of Eyoub, and many others. Some day I simply must write an essay on Loti’s cats, and if I had the slightest sense of timeliness I would have done it when the newspapers announced poor old Julien’s death last June. Perhaps I was too lazy, like those cats of Baudelaire — ‘les chats qui se pâment sur les pianos.’
Someone asked me once if that meant pianoforte!— was thinking, I suppose of the cat’s fugue of Moscheles. (Or was it his? Who wrote the thing? I have forgotten.) It’s not so easy to translate, at that. ‘The cats which swoon upon the floors’ sounds ridiculous. Somewhere I have tried to render it, ‘The cats that dream.’ But the real meaning won’t come across. In English a cat will do no more than sleep upon a rug.
A kind friend sends us the following, copied literatim from a letter written by a Korean youth to a lady in Honolulu.
DEAR MRS. F, —
It is with faltering penmanship that I communicate with you, about the prospective condition of your house-girl Sarah.
For remote time past, secret passion has been firing my bosom internally with loving your girl Sarah. I have traveled all the channels in the magnitude of my extensive jurisdiction, cruelly to smother the growing love knot that is being constructed within my inside.
But the timid lamp of my affection, trimmed by Cupid’s productive hands, still nourishes my lovesick breast. Needless would it be for me to numerically extemporize the great conflagration that has generated in my head and heart.
During the reign of nightness my intellectually cranium has been entangled in thoughtful attitude of my beloved consort. Nocturnal slumbcrlessness has been the infirmity which has beseiged my now generated condition.
My educational abilities have abandoned, and now I cling to these lovely stresses of your much coveted girl, like a mariner shipwrecked on the rocks of love.
As to my scholastic caliber, I was ejected from the Honolulu school. I am now masticating and will make a motion as soon as I perceive the business of life a little laxly.
I am of lofty and original lineage and independent income, and hoping that having debated proposition in your girl’s mind, you will concur daintily, corroborated in espousing Sarah progeny to my tender bosom, and thereby acquiring me into your friendship circle.
As your faithful,
JOHN ALI GIN.
Offers of help still come pouring in.
EL PASO, TEXAS.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Would you buy all my storys that I may write or furnish I want to sell them all to just one party it’s so much trouble and expence to write and send my manuscripts to so meny Publishing houses.
I had rather sell all just to one eaven if I had to take less for tern. What doe you pay for short and long stories.
If you dont buy them cant you write me some one that would buy all of me.
I remain thanking you for a satisfactory reply, I am
Yous very truly,