The Contributors' Column
IT was in 1864 that Joseph Pulitzer, an eighteen-year-old Hungarian,‘jumped ship’ in Boston Harbor and swam ashore to a new world. After serving in the Federal Cavalry until the end of the Civil War, Mr. Pulitzer became a reporter on the Westliche Post of St. Louis. With hardihood he made his own way as a journalist, lawyer, and politician. In 1878 he bought the St. Louis Dispatch and united it with the Evening Post as the Post-Dispatch. In 1883 he bought the New York World which, under his direction, rose to prominent popularity. In 1887 his health was irrevocably broken by over-work. He died in 1911. Mr. Pulitzer was particularly successful in the selection and the loyalty of his assistants. With him for fifteen years served Don C. Seitz, as Business Manager of the World — an office which Mr. Seitz has maintained since his old Editor’s death. For more than a decade, Mr. Seitz has been gathering material for the biography of Mr. Pulitzer from which this portrait is taken. ¶In this and his other recent paper, ‘ London — Forty Years Later,’ A. Edward Newton proves himself the most brightly comparisoned of American travelers. He has always been the most brightly caparisoned.
William L. Chenery, until recently editor of the New York Telegram-Mail, will quell many diatribes with his fair-minded consideration of Tammany. Mr. Chenery wrote us: —
I have long believed that journalism — in New York, at any rate — would be much sounder if editors or, better, owners, understood why it is Tammany has never been divorced from the affection of the people.
Stuart P. Sherman is enjoying Continental relaxation before assuming his critical habit on the New York Herald Tribune. We know of no friendship that has achieved so happy an expression as that of Cornelia and Professor Sherman. A volume of their conversations — many of
which have never been overheard in the Atlantic — are to be published in October by the Atlantic Monthly Press under the title My dear Cornelia. ¶That a spectre and a bad joke have been ridiculed to death by such a humorously wise Philosopher will be a comfort to every mother of married children. William Sidney Rossiter, president of the Rumford Press at Concord, New Hampshire, and President of the American Statistical Association, knows a man who lost an umbrella. Alice Brown, long an occasional contributor of ours, is an accomplished novelist, essayist, poet, and playwright. ¶To fathers who pay bills and their college sons who run them up, a graduate of ‘90 speaks in mellow appreciation.
With his accustomed understanding, Gamaliel Bradford has interested himself in a mild-mannered poet who had rather be damned than happy. ¶We asked Elizabeth de Burgh to tell us something about her literary experiences. She replied: —
We were a nurseryful of scribblers, spurred on to constant effort by the example of an uncle who was — to us, incomprehensibly —actually asked by grave and reverend editors for articles on Burmese life and character, and of a literary nursemaid — a far more dazzling personality — who had once received half-a-crown from Tit-Bits for an anecdote. With some of us the habit has stuck, that is all.
Archibald MacLeish, poet of Boston and Paris, has deliciously described a tea party somewhat different in spirits from the only other tea party that matters. Ludwig Stein, distinguished German professor, philosopher, and publicist, is an associate editor of the Ullstein papers, whose foremost journal is the Vossische Zeitung. ¶Reading A. Cecil Edwards’s account of Omar Khayyam’s tomb many will envy the stimulating simplicity of the poet’s life.
A veteran, Willard Cooper, was formerly a reporter for the Springfield Daily News. On his return from overseas, he joined the executive staff of the American Legion and was one of its publicity experts in the battle of the Bonus. William Henry Chamberlin has been in Russia for the last two years as Moscow correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor. ¶Another traveler, Ralston Hayden, gathered the material for his article during eighteen months’ residence and journeying in the Orient as exchange professor of political science in the University of the Philippines. ¶any important letters, well deserving print, have come to us concerning Dr. Inman’s paper, but we have thought best to continue the discussion of our relations with Latin America in articles published in the magazine itself. This month the Honorable Sumner Welles, Commissioner to the Dominican Republic, a man of great experience in Latin-American affairs, writes in sharp disagreement with Dr. Inman’s contribution. It is mere justice to add that Dr. Inman’s purpose was far other than that ascribed to the demagogue in Mr. Hughes’s Amherst speech.
IN Dr. Samuel Guy Inman’s muchdiscussed paper, ‘ Imperialistic America, ‘ the statement is made that ‘the United Fruit Company and other American financial interests have secured control of the railroads, which now become a part of the International Railways of Central America — the largest American-owned railway enterprise outside of the United States.’
The authority for this statement was a detailed article in the New York Times for March 26 last. We are now informed that the United Fruit Company owns no shares or securities in this railroad, nor has a lien upon it in any way whatsoever. We are glad, therefore, to make this correction, and since Dr. Inman’s specifications were made carefully and after consideration, to add in response to individual inquiries that, in his subsequent allusion to ‘ banana interests ‘ in Costa Rica, no reference to the United Fruit Company was made or intended.
It is interesting to note that the fathers of poets are the same the world over.
POONA, INDIA. DEAR ATLANTIC, — Sir Bezenji Mehta of Nagpur, a very old friend of our family, seems to be a subscriber to the Atlantic. He happens to be in Poona for the present and sent us a copy of the May number, which contains my ‘A Pianoforte Recital’ and that original little notice of yours in which you describe me as an ‘East Indian’ — and why not? Sir Bezenji sent the Atlantic to my father pointing out my ' arrival ‘ as an event of family interest — almost. It was as if he regarded me as fulfilling the traditions of our family as writers, albeit, so far, in our own language, Gujerati. My father who has hitherto studiously avoided giving me encouragement, moral or practical, in my various literary experiments, was that evening actually moved to read and criticize the poem in our little family public! So you see what the Atlantic can do for a struggling aspirant at this distance overseas! FREDOON KABRAJI.
Applicants for joy apply at Heaven or Greenwich Village.
CLEVELAND, OHIO. DEAR ATLANTIC, — I have tried every prescribed ‘source of joy’ ever printed on paper or shouted from a platform only to find that joy consists in such a number of things. I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings if we could only find the things. Because ‘the victim’s’ particular hunger-need was filled by giving out to others in the environment in which she happened to live, does not signify that Priscilla Dalton could find the same source of joy in the New England village in which she lives. She is in the wrong environment and can no more find a source of joy there than a sea gull can find a source of joy in a jungle.
I do not believe the Bible teaches that the Christian religion is in itself the source of joy. I believe the Bible teaches that the Christian religion is the source of wisdom that will, if understood, bring conditions that produce joy. Does it not teach us to seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added, for the Father knoweth we have need of all these things? Of ‘all these things’ none is so important as a knowledge of one’s individual hunger-need. The only thing to do with unhappiness is to solve it, each for himself. The source of Wisdom guides us into but does not give us joy. If Priscilla Dalton would let her Source of Wisdom lead her to Greenwich Village I ‘ll wager her a romp in the snow, and no questions asked, she’d forget even to seek the Kingdom of Heaven first. What is a fern’s Source of Joy? A bird’s? Yours? Mine? A bear’s? C. S. B.
‘S’ had better look out for his own head! SHARON, MASS.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Another wood-alcohol tragedy! S’s letter gave this reader the sensation that either he or S had been ‘taking something.’ One checked the first impulse of resorting to the simple and easy explanation — ‘none so blind’ — Sober second thought suggested the caution that one should be extremely careful in the selection of his private stock for the five-foot shelf; for ‘none so blind’ as those who, wittingly or otherwise, absorb an overdose of wood-alcohol. Obviously S’s humor is moist, but his wit is not very dry if he considers ‘Cornelia and Dionysus’ one of the ‘most subtle and convincing articles against prohibition’!
Mr. Sherman set such a full table — or shall I say such a line of mixed drinks? — with arguments for every taste, wet and dry, and S so enjoyed the arguments for drink, imbibed them so freely, that he had no taste for the cold-water arguments which flowed even more freely. So one may be pardoned for setting these points by themselves: —
First: — The necessity which put through the Volstead Act was the war . . . the necessity of maximum production . . . the necessity of a workman sober seven days in the week. Second: — The war-necessity having passed, the release of the workmen from ruinous drinkexpenditure has given opportunity for the creation and gratification of other tastes — homebuilding, autos, baby bonds, victrolas, education, which men and their wives are not ready lightly to surrender, in order to return to a state of ‘personal liberty.’
Third: — Drinking and automobiling don’t go together. We have fifteen million cars . . . one out of every six or seven ‘souls’ drives a car, is an engineer on the highway. In one city we killed some seven hundred people last year with cars . . . we are all private engineers nowadays and must submit to the same regulations as governed—long since—engineers on the railways. And the argument is pointed by the dramatic illustration of the mother and son run down at that very moment by the intoxicated son of the cynical worshiper of Dionysus.
To what other conclusion could such arguments lead an intelligent man than advocacy of the strictest possible enforcement of the prohibitory law? If S cannot see the point he may
feel it sometime, if he is ever run down by a drunken chauffeur — which may his god Dionysus forbid! JOSEPH B. LYMAN.
‘ — first prize awarded to Paul Green.’ ALBANY, GA.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I do not know Paul Green as an author, but I want to congratulate you on the publication of a ‘true story.’ It is seldom that one reads a story of folk-life that rings as true as the ‘Devil’s Instrument.’ I happen to be rather familiar with the author’s type of characters and setting, and I find his accuracies in the use of dialect, and in the portrayal of the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of this phase of life to be unusual; and what is still more remarkable is that such events as he describes actually occur now, and not so far from the so-called civilized haunts of men, as some of your readers might suppose.
I have lived in the Georgia mountains and been on friendly terms with many of our mountaineers, and I am sure that the incidents of the ‘Devil’s Instrument.’ have happened there many times. I may never have witnessed an actual replica of the ‘ meetin’ ‘ scene, but I have seen occurrences that were strongly tinged with the fervor and excitement that he describes. I shall never forget at a revival meeting in a small mountain town seeing a woman mount a bench, wave her arms, and scream at the top of her voice, ‘Hurrah for Jesus! I ‘m saved!’
The dialect too of the story gives Mr. Green away. Some of the expressions that he uses I have never seen before in print. Mr. Green was either formally one of them, or he has sneaked in and played a part at it — no casual observer could get such a slant.
It is a good story, and tells of a phase of American life which is becoming more and more rare.
SUSAN FORT REDFEARN.
From one who knew to ‘A Boy Who Went Whaling.’
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
The hero of those adventures, Len Sanford, was known to me as a quiet, dignified, elderly man, and the story was told me by his brother a few months after his death.
Mr. Hawes’s article left the boy swinging by his arms from the topmost branches of a lofty dead pine-tree, and directly under the eagle’s nest. A friend accompanying him had climbed a closely adjoining live pine and suddenly saw — and heard — the distant parent eagles flying swiftly to the rescue. He called out the danger, and as the huge ferocious birds drew nearer, he threw all his weight on the branch nearest the nest and swung it over. Sanford desperately clutched at it, it held, and he was saved, but not before he had thrown fluttering to the ground a squawking eaglet.
It should be mentioned here, that it was not from home life that the boy ran away to sea, but from boarding-school, where he was preparing for college. And in later years his only son evidently inherited his love of the sea; for as a young naval officer he was aboard the squadron which Roosevelt sent around the world in 190810.
Knowing the father’s devotion to his son, it is pleasant to recall my last sight of them, fishing together in a shady New England brook, and enjoying the silent communion of kindred spirits. MARY G. ELLINWOOD.
So ladies must go properly clad if only to preserve the immortality of this masterpiece! BALTIMORE, MD.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — A contributor to the July Atlantic maintains that the masterpiece of the type of limerick that uses abbreviations is one that appeared long ago in the Harvard Lampoon: —
Says that Cupid, the C. D.,
Does n’t cast for his health,
But is rolling in wealth —
He ‘s the John Jaco — B. H.
I was shocked by such judgment, for I had supposed that the masterpiece of this genre was written by myself and published in Life about 1903. This is said with all modesty, for I was merely the ‘lyre’ —spell carefully, printer — ‘on which the spirits played,’ as you will agree when you read how the thing happened.
I was shaving one day when a student at the University of Virginia and, to while away the moments of scraping, tried to imitate a limerick that had just appeared in a college paper, something about Fla., which rimed with Ha. — as good a rime in Fla. or Va. as it is in Boston. I started running through the states in order to receive inspiration from the Atlantic seaboard. Me. might have helped me: —
There was an old maiden of Me.
Who never knew when it would Re., — but this seemed innocuous. Neither N. H. nor Vt. could ever inspire me as they do Robert Frost and Calvin Coolidge, and I was so discouraged by Mass. and Conn. that I scuttled past N. Y., N. J., Pa., without stopping. Thus I happened upon Del., which brought me a vision of Und., and then the real masterpiece came bubbling into my mind: —
Of the latest French fashions was Well.,
‘For the outside, you see,
They look fine, but,’ said she,
‘I had Rath. Del. Und.‘
Now this poem is obviously superior to the other, for Cupid with his Darts and Hearts has the musty smell of the valentine, mortal enemy of the limerick, and the fifth line, which is the real test, just as the fifth act has been said to be of a tragedy, is certainly inferior to mine, not only because there are fewer abbreviations and because John Jacob Astor had already figured in a limerick that you would not be willing to print, but chiefly because it is an ephemeral poem that can live no longer than the fame of the Astor family, while my theme is eternal. Eternal, yes, unless you are prepared to argue that the day will soon dawn when young ladies will no Long. Del. Und. or any other.
H. CARRINGTON LANCASTER.
Sometimes, on very cold nights, we have dreamed it — the nightmarish tramp, tramp, tramp of unnumbered poets, as they prepare to storm the editor’s Bastille. Here’s matter worth considering.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — Your magazine has many pseudo-enemies. They are the writers of the poems which you have sent back ‘with regrets.’ This vast army of disappointed poets have an unanswered question rankling in their hearts: ‘ Why did the Atlantic Monthly return MY poem, and print another not half as good?’ There must be some reason I have never dreamed of, for my poem was from-my-heart sincere, and had a lilt.
I know this — that, were you to publish a brief article on some such subject as ‘A Specimen Rejected Poem,’ giving the reasons for its non-acceptance, many, many hundreds of would-be, ‘rejection-slip’ poets would buy your magazine instantly. May I send you two of my returned poems for the basis of such an article?