DISCUSSING our relatives is perhaps the most ancient, certainly the most delicious, form of criticism. Hilaire Belloc is sensitive to the contrast between the American and the English ‘Social Spirit,’and, as brother-inlaw of Gilbert K. Chesterton, he has written his impressions with an acute, often paradoxical, distinction that would seem to be a family trait.Hans Coudenhove still keeps his tent in the Nyasaland country. It is nearly twenty years since last he touched the outskirts of civilization — to use a term which he would not admit. H. H. Powers, lecturer and publicist, will be remembered for his much-discussed ‘A Question for Christians,’ which appeared in April of last year. Mary Webb, a young Englishwoman, has written this, her first story in the Atlantic, about a parish tradition such as is all too scarce in the United States.

Gamaliel Bradford, analyst of souls, believes that some of us will find much that is familiar in the worshipful attitudes of the great Diarist. Archibald MacLeish, recently a Boston lawyer, feels, after the poet’s fashion, the New Hampshire winds blowing along the boulevards of Montmartre. ¶Now engaged in the work of the National Research Council at Washington, Vernon Kellogg was formerly professor of biology in Leland Stanford Jr. University. Earnest Elmo Calkins, by profession a master of the advertising art, continues in this issue the adventures of that small deaf boy who in the Atlantic of last July had something to say about his reading. Olive Tilford Dargan is a poet and woman of letters who has been a sensitive dweller among the mountain folks of Kentucky and the Carolinas. This is the fifth of her ‘Highland Annals.’

Most opportunely Marian Storm makes her Atlantic début with an article on oilwells which is both rich and above suspicion. Claudia Cranston, once of New York, now of Florence, Madrid, and way stations, is the author of fanciful sketches and unusual, imaginative verse. Kirsopp Lake is the Winn professor of ecclesiastical history at Harvard where his interpretation of the Old Testament has become a glowing reality. An anonymous Contributor presents, in all modesty, a true account of that prevalent malady which Langdon Mitchell has so successfully diagnosed. ¶Of the many papers which were stimulated by M. E. B.’s ‘Death as a Dream Experience,’ none, we believe, has possessed a larger significance than ‘What Death Is Like.’ Its author, M. M. G., writes us: ‘ The experience was extraordinarily vivid, but it is well nigh impossible to convey to other minds what must be experienced to be fully realized. It was because I felt the inadequacy of my words, and also because of omissions in the account, that I offered to answer questions if any were put. . . .’

William Howard Gardiner, well known as a serious and penetrating student of naval problems and foreign affairs, may be suspected in his present paper on the Far East of expressing the stern voice of authority. The Honorable C. F. G. Masterman is a scholar, publicist, author, M.P., a former member of Mr. Asquith’s Cabinet in 191415, and always a Liberal. Arthur Moore, correspondent of the London Times in the Balkans, in Russia, in Mesopotamia, in Palestine, and in Persia here relates the supreme adventure of finding an undiscovered country.

Mrs. Ellen Egryn gives us a glimpse of that struggle which so many have to face in choosing Mr. Traquair’s ‘Art of Expression’ or Miss Marsden’s ‘Art of Living.’

Claremont, Cal.
Always I have loved children — babies, tiny babies. Always I wanted babies of my own, not just one or two, but a dozen or two. At least there was a time (a long, long time ago) when it seemed to me that a dozen children would hardly satisfy me, so much I loved them. When I was married I wanted children. But not right away. For I loved music, too. I was studying and I wanted to study a little longer, get a little farther on before turning my attention to babies.
But the babies did not wait. One after another they came into my life, as fast as babies can come. Five of them. Business reverses came too. And I learned to work as I had never dreamed of working. I cooked and cleaned and ironed and sewed and took care of the babies. I finally learned to wash. I remember that the first time I did my family’s washing was one of the proudest, if also one of the tiredest, days of my life. I had admired and rather envied women who could do their own washing if they had to. Now I could. And for a while I had to.
I was not strong and I was not the ‘naturalborn housekeeper’ that many fortunate women are. Everything involved effort. Always I was tired, desperately tired. And it is not too much to say, it is hardly enough to say, that never for one moment, night or day, during those first years, was there absent from my mind the longing to go back to my music, the longing to play. I used almost to wish that I could like music, instead of loving it, that I could enjoy it in a comfortable way, as most people seemed to do, instead of in such an uncomfortable way. I almost hoped that my children would not care for it, that they might escape my conflict.
Always I knew perfectly well that I would not give up my husband and babies for all the music in the world. Wifehood and motherhood were more than I could have dreamed. The coming of our first baby was a revelation, the opening-up of an unimaginable world, both to my husband and to me. But that did not change the fact at all that part of my nature was unsatisfied and crying always for satisfaction.
I used to think that very likely if I had been a genius, my time and strength would have gone to music first, in spite of everything, and my family would have had to get along with what was left. But I know that I was wrong. Even if I had been a genius, my family would have won in the struggle, music would have lost.
Perhaps this struggle, which is a part of many a mother’s life, this longing for something that she cannot have and would not have for the price she would have to pay, perhaps this is part of the stuff that her son’s genius is made of.

Would Mr. Sherman, for all his professional authority, have dared to say this to Cornelia?

Yonkers, N. Y.
In Professor Sherman’s profound analysis of the problem novel, in his ‘Conversation with Cornelia,’ I am arrested by this statement: ‘I find myself in pretty thorough sympathy with the current tendency to revolt against the doctrine of the irrevocable as applied by Goldsmith and certain of the Victorians. The early Georgian principle that virtue, in this connection, means to maintain permanent relations with one who is thoroughly agreeable to you begins to sound like orthodoxy, that to maintain permanent relations with one thoroughly disagreeable is vice.’
This recalls a conversation I had a number of years ago with a friend who had lived a great many years in Latin America, and had worked untiringly for the betterment of conditions among the peon class. I heard everywhere of her work and yet, even on her husband’s ‘haciendas’ and in the villages near I found marriage among these people almost unknown. One day I voiced my concern for the morals of the people to this friend. She smiled and said, ‘ I felt just as you do when I first came down here. A happy young bride myself, I could n’t imagine an unmarried relation between a man and the woman he lived with as being anything but immoral — degenerate.
‘So I started in to reform the world about me, beginning with the servants in my own house and the workers on the coffee plantation. I offered to pay all expenses incurred in legalizing and sanctifying the relation between each man and his “woman.” I felt like a crusader and my husband was as zealous as his manifold duties would permit him to be.
‘The men met my proposal willingly enough, but you can imagine my dismay when I encountered strong opposition from the women! I could n’t fathom it, for my limited Spanish and their limited vocabulary made ethical discussions difficult.
‘ Finally, however, an old woman of more than ordinary education and intelligence — really “une grande dame” in her class, solved the mystery for me. She walked ten miles over mountainous country roads from her village to beg me to confine my missionary activities to securing better teachers for the children and vocational schools for the older girls. These she heartily approved.
‘“But, Señora, do not make my people think it is wrong to live together without the ceremony of a marriage. So long as a woman consents to live with a man, he treats her with respect and is faithful to her, and is considerate of the children. When she has to live with him, he abuses her, takes the money she earns, and is not afraid to go openly to another woman. And if the children belong to him he hires them out and pockets the wages or even sells them. Oh, don’t you see, Sefiora, we women.have more freedom and happiness and our men are better when we are not bound to them — when we can pick up and leave them if they don’t behave?”
‘And,’ added my friend, ‘all the old Dofia said is true of these people. And,’ she laughed, ‘I sometimes encounter an attitude toward one’s responsibilities among my own friends which almost makes me wonder — Oh no!’ she interrupted herself, putting up her hand to shield her from my horrified expression, I suppose, ‘I still believe in the institution of marriage!’
M. M. B.

Philistia, after all, is not an unsocial or unsatisfying place.

Bristol, R. I.
Your very mournful February number, with Mokleby’s diary and the story of bad dreams, was certainly the place for Mr. Langdon Mitchell to have his say. It is very interesting, but why should Mr. Mitchell take it upon himself to say whether or not others are happy — really enjoy themselves? Why should he assume that because a certain person does not enjoy something that means a great deal to him evidently — as the theatre, or poetry — that that person is not able to be happy, or to lead ‘that larger, freer, more fruitful life’?
One friend of mine is ninety-one years old. He is the active head of a big manufacturing company, which he owns, is a chemist, in his industry, known all over the world, has twice been Governor of his State, served the United States as Consul-General at one of the great European capitals for six years. His recreation is not the theatre, but mathematics; he has been working for the last ten years on an astronomical theory. He is one of the most delightful men I know, able to talk on a wide range of subjects. And certainly no one can say his mathematical recreation is unintellectual!
I come under Mr. Mitchell’s heading of commercial traveler. I have had twenty-five years of chemical engineering, pretty well over the Western Hemisphere, and have finally gotten ‘back home,’ on the business side of my profession. But I do not stand on the street corners; I am most decidedly not discontented; and as for having to kill time, as for being bored — why, I always have many things ahead that I am doing for love of doing them. I don’t mind going to the theatre, but can remember just twice in my life going to see the play; all the other times were to be with whoever the other person — occasionally persons — was. I am very fond of poetry, but hesitate to think of Mr. Mitchell’s shudder when I say Longfellow is my favorite, with Chaucer, Whittier, Kipling, and Don Marquis very close. I was forced to read one of Shakespeare’s plays — I forget which — in school, and I never will read and I never have read another! I am fond of music, but cannot even dance decently, because the time means nothing to me, and I will always remember my one evening at the Boston Symphony, where I sat with my watch in my hat, hoping it would be over. But I read a great deal: history, economics, several novels a year, every issue of the Atlantic, Life, and the Literary Digest. I love to talk about what is going on. These things are recreation. BUT, they all pale into insignificance — I have no dictionary handy, and that does n’t look right — beside my Marblehead twenty-one-footer! My ancestors have sailed the ocean for generations, and the salt water is as near Heaven as I ever hope to get. I would rather sail than eat, but I would about as soon work on a boat as sail her. It is n’t the joy of creating, for I have built several plants and while I love that, the feeling is not the same; I can’t describe it. But Mr. Mitchell will object — if he should ever see this — that there is nothing intellectual in such a recreation. I wonder how much he knows about mathematics, even the simple redesigning of your sail-plan? I really don’t care the snap of my finger for any of his pleasures, but I am thoroughly happy all the time. I can hardly say anything about vulgarity.
One more illustration. My brother is a doctor, and — I, at least, believe — rather above the average. He is as fond of the theatre, music, and poetry as I am. His recreations, outside of social meetings, are purely mechanical. He built a beautiful doll-house for his daughter, and I believe derived more pure joy from the building of it than even she has had from using it. He gets out of inventing and installing automatic control for his oil-burning heater the same pleasure that I get from my boat. He is thoroughly happy, and he never has any time to kill!

Mr. E. M. Fergusson sends us this epigram ‘as a postscript to Mrs. Adams’s tonic plea for “The Will to Love.”’ It appeared in one of Nolan R. Best’s editorials in The Continent some years ago: —

Love in man for woman and in woman for man is a gift that the wise bestow where it is deserved, and a debt that the faithful pay where it has been promised.

We do not think the following compliment entirely prejudiced.

Cleveland, Ohio.
It would interest me to know more of Elizabeth C. Adams, whose article—‘The Will to Love’ — appeared in the February Atlantic. Am I prejudiced, I wonder, by the author’s name — when I say I think it the best article of its kind which has yet been published in your columns.

M. E. B.’s ‘ Death Dream’ has aroused interest far and near. Operations and nocturnal rabbits were the usual causes ascribed for the subsequent phenomena, although one reader, a lawyer, seems to have been swallowed by the identical tiger. For want of space we must reserve for our own and M. E. B.’s pleasure all but the following.

Schenectady, N. Y.
I can parallel M. E. B.’s account of ‘Death as a Dream Experience.’ I was in a prison deathhouse about to be electrocuted. The dream began precisely at that point and I cannot say aught as to the crime that I had supposably committed. I had no remorse, no fear of death, no speculation about a hereafter. I was simply waiting to be led out. My state was unaffected by the impending event except for wondering somewhat who would be the witnesses and whether I should recognize any.
Presently the march began. We passed through the ‘little green door,’ which I had once seen during a visit to Sing Sing Prison, the attendants strapped me into the chair, adjusted the electrodes — and I braced myself for the shock. I had once accidently come into contact with high-voltage electricity and I knew how horrible the sensation is. But though I waited and waited in a growing anguish of suspense, still the shock did not come. My distress relieved itself in anger that I should be kept in a situation of such agonized uncertainty.
My eyes had been closed; but I opened them in the act of voicing my protest to the sheriff, and though my head had been covered, I found that I could see. My bonds too had become loose and my limbs were free to move. My instant thought was that something had gone wrong with the dynamo and that the officers, unwilling to protract the horror of an interrupted execution, had resolved to return me to my cell. The attendants seemed however to be paying no attention to me and when I rose from the chair, no move was made to hinder.
I walked toward the row of chairs where the witnesses had sat. Standing near them were several men whom I recognized as friends or acquaintances of former years. I engaged them in conversation, marveling that such liberty was accorded to me. One of these men was W— L—, a boyhood friend to whom I remarked, ‘I suppose they ‘ll be taking me back to my cell directly. Perhaps you can come to see me before they really execute me.’ His reply was tinged with a sort of grimness as he said, ‘You’ve got another guess coming. You’ve been executed.’ From this preposterous assertion I vigorously dissented, but L— smilingly insisted and added that when he had died he had not realized it. ‘Hardly any of them do,’ he added. I turned toward the electric chair, reasoning in my bewilderment that if he were right I should behold it still supporting the body that had been mine. A glance over my shoulder found my eyes resting not upon that ugly oaken frame nor yet upon the walls of the room that I had lately entered. There was bright sunshine and L— and I were in the open country. We had not gone there by any act of motion. We simply were there. We talked, but I do not remember of what. I was conscious mainly of a great sense of exaltation and relief, and I remember repeating many times those words: ‘Just to think of it! Dead! Wonderful!’
This sensation of extreme solace and wonder continued until — without any evident provoking circumstance — I awoke. It was still night, but I realized that I had had an unusual dream and so I forced myself wide awake in order to fix it firmly in memory.
At the date of this occurrence, I had had no news of my friend L— for many years. Students of the occult would probably find it significant were this chronicle to add that on the morrow I received word that he was dead or that he had indeed died on the very night. The truth is not such, however, for he is still very much alive.

And what an awful Pilgrim’s Progress this!

East Orange, N. J.
I dreamed I died. Still in mortal form I immediately set out upon man’s last journey to his final home. I at once found myself trudging, alone, up a broad, dusty, slightly ascending road filled with myriads of footprints. After negotiating, in my solitude, about a quarter of a mile of this much traveled thoroughfare, I arrived at its apex, staring at an old two-way country signpost, guiding one into either of its two forks — the right-hand finger reading, ‘To Heaven’; the left hand ‘To Hell.’ Just the four words— nothing more.
Perhaps it was the journey upon which I was bent, or it may have been that which in all men dictates to them that only in this earthly life can they fool themselves; at any rate, with the thought‘ I know which way my ticket is punched ‘ I turned into the left-hand fork. I had but made the turn when I felt a hand gently laid upon my right shoulder and, upon turning my head, found myself gazing into a face that indelibly impressed itself upon my memory for two reasons: first, its wonderful kindliness of expression; second, it was the original of all my childhood pictures of St. Peter. He was robed and sandalled, too, as tradition has portrayed him to us and in his right hand carried his long, crooked staff. In the mild, fatherly voice that could but be his he asked of me simply: ‘Have you not made a mistake?’ Neither the solemnity of the occasion nor the august presence in which I stood were quite sufficient to down the modicum of humor which had been my only gift in life and I, perforce, did answer, with a dry smile: ‘I reckon not.’ To my surprise and relief, good St. Peter replied: ‘But, you know, there is a way of telling.’
This prompted me to counter-query: ‘And how, may I ask?’ With that my elderly friend slipped his left hand through my right arm and, turning me around, straightway started for the right fork. The road was wide, even at the top, and the forks were broad, and it took us some minutes to traverse, at a slow pace, the distance we had to go. Upon our way he imparted to me that the footprint of every living human being at the time his journey started was in that road, some taking the right-hand fork, some the left; that he thought we might at least look for mine first in the right-hand fork.
At this moment we reached the entrance of that fork. The kindly old man peered intently, for a brief space, at the many prints which stood out so plainly in the dusty highway to eternity and, indicating with his staff a No. 12, remarked: ‘That looks as though it might be yours. Try it!’ I raised my right foot and was carefully lowering it to the print in the road when, at the precise moment of indecision upon the all-important question, I awoke, sitting straight up in bed with beads of perspiration standing out from every pore of my forehead.
I submit that from the purely personal standpoint M. E. B. had the most satisfying dream. He knows his finish; I do not.

Initiation fee: As many pages of genial humor as one can comfortably afford.

Somewhere in the Carolina Mountains.
If it is not too much trouble, will you please tell me what one has to do to be eligible for membership in ‘The Contributors’ Club’? Does it yield any further reward than the honor of appearing in print in such dignified company? I am a hobo by temperament and have had as a result a lot of amusing experiences that ought to make good ‘ copy.’ I have tried unsuccessfully to teach in a New England country school, boarding meantime in the village. I spent nine months in France, including a two weeks’ ‘leave’ devoted to browsing round the battlefields all by myself. I have slept in a haystack a few miles outside the Baltimore city limits, and have put in a week-end as a guest of absolute strangers. I’ve been lost in the mountains of North Carolina where I have tramped and motored for miles. (There are places where driving a Ford over the main road is an adventure in itself.) Now, I am helping start a chicken farm in the country in South Carolina, and manning a public service bus on the side. The wolf is sitting in his taxi at our door. He has several times got as far as having the chauffeur take off his bags preparatory to settling himself for a long stay. I’d give anything to be able to turn some of this into amusement for others and bread and butter for the family. Is there any chance? ISABEL N. FISHER.

Our stern Readers have come to sympathize deeply with all mothers of straying children. Occasionally in the mail will come a letter announcing that its author is hopefully sending us under separate cover a manuscript. Why letter and manuscript are separate — so very separate — it is hard to say. Each successive mail must be searched for the young hopeful, and only after days, even weeks, of apprehension, can letter and manuscript be united in the embrace of a wire clasp. Then comes the reading, and perhaps the hue and cry have not left the Readers in their usual receptive humor. There is a moral!

Ladies will please turn to the rotogravure advertising section which graces this month’s issue of the Atlantic, and consider the really important things of life.

All letters intended for the Contributors’ Column must be short. Two hundred and fifty words is a reasonable limit and briefer communications are much to be desired.