The Contributors' Column
SOLDIER and author of Kitchener’s Mob and High Adventure, James Norman Hall set forth after the war on an Æneid that led him to the South Seas, then on to Iceland, home, and off again. In this story, written at Papeete, Mr. Hall recounts a martyrdom amid the terrible soft loneliness of the Islands in a manner that will distinguish him among modern writers. ¶ The saga of F. DeWitt Wells describes the climax of as exciting a voyage as ever a landsman made. Judge Wells and his bold crew were perhaps the first since the days of Leif himself to follow the Viking trail in a small boat. The account of the entire voyage is shortly to be published in a volume issued by Minton, Balch and Company. Glenn Clark, professor of English at Macalester College, is the author of that most widely appreciated of all recent Atlantic papers, ‘ The Soul’s Sincere Desire.’ The thousands of readers who found comfort in his message will be gratified to hear that these two essays will form chapters of an inspiring volume to be published by the Atlantic Monthly Press shortly before Easter. Of the great truth that faith will move mountains, Dr. Clark is perhaps the most interesting modern exponent. ¶ At the age of sixteen, Nell Shipman led her own stock company into Alaska. After playing in musical comedy and vaudeville, and for a year and a half as leading lady in Rex Beach’s The Barrier, Miss Shipman entered the films. With eight years’ experience she became a star and producer of her own pictures. In this and subsequent chapters she records an adventure that far outstrips her art.
William O. Stoddard is the last surviving member of Lincoln’s official circle. From his memories he has taken this vivid picture of his years within the White House. An account of his frontier association with Lincoln appeared in the February Atlantic.Wilfrid Gibson is an English poet of Pembrokeshire, four of whose poems we have been proud to publish during the last year. ¶ As a preface to his heterodoxies on medicine, Arthur B. Green writes: —
Engineering, especially in the management of mills, is my business, and I do not fancy for myself any greater interest in medicine than common. I have been curious about it, and am still. I have tried to find reason in it. That, I suppose, is an engineer’s privilege.
It was many years ago that I made the discovery that a medical-school professor, very prominent at that time as a pathologist, on the faculty of Johns Hopkins, knew absolutely nothing about homoeopathy. That made me feel that I should know more about it. I suppose that, too, is an engineer’s privilege. . . .
I hope other laymen may take courage and speak up.
Frank Jewett Mather, Jr., Marquand Professor of Art and Archseology at Princeton University, served as an ensign in the U. S. N. R. F. during the war. ¶ We believe that Stephen F. Hamblin, Director of the Harvard Botanic Garden, and his associate, Miss Ann Alderton, plead the cause of garden-lovers everywhere with this candid and effective presentation of arbitrary and unwise policies of one of Washington’s bureaucracies. It is prophesied that within a year the country will feel the severe stringency of the Federal Horticultural Board’s regulations. George Madden Martin has always proved herself a daring banderillero in the feminine arena of American politics. There is, we think, good reason for politicalminded women everywhere to consider her remarks with candor and without prejudice.
Next to keeping a lighthouse, we have always cherished the thought of keeping a store. Maude Hume’s experience tempts us to reverse our choice. John Jay Chapman, a writer skilled in every form ol literary art, is the father of Chanler Chapman, whose adventures aboard the Shanghai are related in this issue. Manuel Komroff is a young author whose stories of Russia have brought him wide and deserved recognition. William L. Chenery, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Collier’ s Weekly, is the author of that pertinent dialogue, ‘Peter’s Coat and the Tariff,’ which appeared in the February Atlantic. ¶ In considering the intellectual sympathy that exists between himself and his pig, Rusticus writes with the charm if not the appetite of Elia.
George W. Anderson, Judge of the Circuit Court of Massachusetts, presents a vigorous plea for the salvation of those valuable railway-lines now in danger of the scrap-heap. Benjamin Stolberg, a graduate of faculty service in the University of Oklahoma and the University of Kansas, has recently become a familiar figure in Labor circles. ¶ The comedy and tragedy of present-day China are touchingly apparent in these letters of An American Spectator.
Publishers ourselves, we recognize the justice of the Publisher-Bookseller’s creed in the January issue. We would answer this critic on all her counts.
NEW YORK CITY
At luncheon, in a literary club, a publisher was descanting on his ideal publishing plant. He was listened to with interest. When he had quite finished, one of his audience said: ‘We have been told of the perfect working-conditions, the fine presses, the up-to-date machinery; the model village for employees; the comfortable houses for department heads; the mansions for the officers of the company, and the park which is to lead up to the chateau of its president. But — ‘ he hesitated for a moment to search his memory — ‘nowhere has there been a mention of the little hutches for the authors.’
Something like that is the effect the article, ‘Fewer and Better Books,’ in your January issue has had upon me.
Not to go into the writer’s estimate of the cost of production, which is open to attack in several directions, let us take up his creed — commandments might be a better name.
The first, being between publishers, we pass.
For the second, may I ask what business any publisher has with the private affairs of an author, whether as to his relations with other publishers or anything else? And, should he learn that a book had been rejected, could he promise it the same unprejudiced reading that he might give without knowledge of that fact?
Third: — What right has a publisher to dictate how long an author shall spend on a book? The final product should be his only concern. How is it possible to say a book demands at least a year ‘for breadth and maturity’? In my own family there are several authors and no two of them work in the same way or at the same rate of speed. Moreover, a man or woman may turn out a fine, simple work in a short time and stumble along for years over some turgid, complex theme. Conversely, the simplest thing is often the most difficult to get right.
Granted that a publisher can make more money out of one book a year when he is freed from competition, will he guarantee that the royalties will keep his author alive? After all, the publishing business, with all its perfect pressrooms, remains dependent on the authors for something to publish.
Fourth: — He demands discrimination against authors who have previously had magazine syndication, especially in fiction. This seems almost too weak to combat. Why discriminate if the work offered is of merit? That should be the one and only test.
Fifth: — Bookselling. The author leaves that to the business management.
Sixth: — ‘I pledge myself never to pay more than 20 per cent royalty.’ Dear man! He is shy about stating that 20 per cent is paid only where the publisher is to market a book of such importance, due usually to some previous great success made by the upstart author, that the publisher’s risk is nil and his profit assured.
Frankly, dear Atlantic, I think the gentleman would have had sympathy from all of us instead of a deserved meed of ridicule had he confined himself to his firstly, fifthly, and lastly (which, in effect, is to publish only what he believes to be worth the expensive paper he purposes to print it on).
There the author will benefit also, for it is only when he believes in a book that a publisher does — is able to do — his duty by it in placing it properly before the public.
Were his creed to be adopted in its entirety I am quite convinced, however, that he would attain one of his objectives. Publication would be lessened, for there would be few authors if authorship meant selling yourself into slavery from which there was small chance of escape,
EMILIE BENSON KNIFE
As the honorable third speaker we rise to support the articles of the Proposer’s Creed and to answer his critic.
The first and the fifth are accepted without criticism.
Second: — in every partnership, particularly that of author and publisher, a friendly understanding is requisite to good faith. In the matter of judgment we can say that there is no pleasure known to a publisher comparable to the successful publication of a manuscript rejected by another.
Third: — Count the instances when an author writes two worthy books a year. The argument would seem to refute itself.
Fourth: — Will our critic admit that the book written with a double objective ever achieves either with satisfaction?
Sixth: — If a publisher is not to earn enough from his successes to compensate for his failures, it is obvious he had best shut up shop and go fishing.
The drama of æons of existence.
‘They seem to me when thinking of them to belong to far distant times.’
It was this statement that caught my attention as I was skimming down the Contributors’ Column in the December Atlantic. It caused me to hunt up immediately and read, and read again, the article by Nora Connolly O’Brien. For in this particular her ‘Visions’ are like certain dreams I have had. I call them dreams, for they come in my sleep, but they differ greatly from the dreams I usually have. In the first place, each is only a vivid impression of a certain scene; there is action, but it is arrested action, suggestive of much that has gone before, and much that is to follow. This vividness, as well as their seeming reasonableness, is in marked contrast to the haziness and irrationality of other dreams, and probably is one reason why I remember them, even after the lapse of years, with as much distinctness as the events of yesterday. They are linked together by several common features, but the most distinctive is the presence of two female companions. The Younger I always see plainly; she sometimes gives me a message from The Other, who keeps out of sight in spite of my efforts to see her.
In the first of these dreams, we are climbing along the steep side of a mountain stream. Huge trees almost cut off the sun’s light; the growth of shrubbery and grass is most luxuriant. The Younger and I have just passed an old ruined mill; The Other is on the opposite side of the ravine, for the moment out of sight. I have just turned to look for her.
Again, I am ploughing in a rolling field. I throw out my plough at the end of a furrow and prepare to swing my team around, meanwhile looking across at an ancient castle, that holds something of great interest to me. Suddenly The Younger stands at my horses’ heads, imploring me to hasten to the assistance of her mother in the castle. I feel a sudden faintness at the realization that I may be too late, as I must make a considerable detour around an obstacle that lies between me and the castle — an impassable gully, filled with thickets and rocks.
Much more peaceful is the next scene. I am in an oak-paneled room, floored with stone flags. My head almost touches the huge rafters of the low ceiling. It seems to be a dairy. The Younger, who has just finished tidying up and putting pans of milk on the shelves behind little wooden doors in the walls, informs me that her mistress will be ready presently. I wait, leaning on my heavy cane, my broad-brimmed hat on my head.
These two have figured in other dreams, which, as I have said, are all alike in that they seem to give a snapshot, as it were, out of the distant past. Occasionally the feeling comes that I am in another world as well as another age. I have furthermore the impression, equally unexplainable, that each is but a link in a long chain. Not that in any dream I remember any preceding one. I simply have the feeling, ‘Another of these experiences,’ even while I am dreaming. From all these dreams I waken with a feeling of ineffable bliss, as if I had been in intimate communion with more than lifelong friends. This feeling of bliss was present even after the dream of the castle, for I felt sure the danger had been averted.
The last of this series came about seven years ago. I had in this no feeling of the past, but rather of the future. I stood at the top of a small slope. Before me stretched a lane carpeted with soft green grass, ankle deep. Overarching trees, like eucalypti, which I had never seen at that time, grew in front of the little cottages. The Younger came to my side, placed one hand on my arm, and smilingly directed me downward. I advanced slowly, feeling somehow that I had come to the end of a long journey. As I approached the end of the lane, The Other came to meet me from the last of the cottages, and I saw her face for the first time.
‘Don’t you know me?’ she said. ‘I’m Bee,’ and she raised her arms to me.
Where the name ‘Bee’ came from I cannot imagine. Nor can I tell why I had the dream at that time, nor why I have had no more of that series. Is it because the drama of icons of existences must come to an end in some such scene?
I would give a good deal to have more of those dreams.
Further evidence of perplexing and divided nationality.
The article, ‘ When Is a Citizen Not a Citizen? ‘ in the January Atlantic, has been read with a great deal of interest. There are anomalies with respect to citizenship outside the scope of the article and that apply to native-born Americans under certain conditions.
After a five years’ residence in Canada, even a native-born American is not recognized as an American citizen by the United States Consulate so long as he remains in Canada, being ‘a man without a country,’ although all rights are automatically restored on recrossing the line into the States; yet the Internal Revenue Office still calls him an American while resident in Canada and holds him liable for the income tax, even on a purely Canadian income.
The United States Immigration authorities apparently do not recognize a transfer of the allegiance of the parent as applying to minor children. This was ascertained when asking for permits for the sons to enter the States after the writer had become a British subject. Canada claims as British subjects those born within the territory, regardless of the father’s nationality.
The writer was born and brought up in New York City, of native-born American parents, but has lived here continuously for nineteen years. With the entry of the United States in the Great War and the policy with respect to its income tax, quite naturally there was objection to rendering tax statements to two countries on the same income, even when later credit was allowed for the Canadian tax and no payment actually required for the American tax.
It is appreciated that after a protracted foreign residence one may not be entitled to the protection of the native flag, since there might be abuse of it; but it is inconsistent, to say the least, on the one hand to deny all rights of American citizenship, and on the other hand to hold amenable for the taxation as described. As the most sensible way out, and to secure the protection of some flag, a number of Americans of permanent residence have become British subjects; but it still affects those with an extended residence representing Canadian branches of American concerns, who expect eventually to return.
In dealing with the United States Consulate, United States Immigration or United States Customs officials, or for that matter with the Canadian officials of like authority, the writer has met with the utmost courtesy, and the comment as above is against the principle and not on account of grievance against any official.
C. L. SCOFIELD
Boys bring all sorts of prices, as the parents who pay the bills well know, but we hold this a sound and moderate estimate.
EAST WEYMOUTH, MASS.
R. S. S., in the Column for January, asks for figures on the cost of a boy up to his sixteenth year. Here they are: —
These are actual figures, covering the years 1908-1923, in a family of five — income rising slowly from $1200 to $3000. Except for the item of shelter, these figures cannot be greatly reduced, with due regard to the true welfare of the boy, though they can be reduced somewhat without danger to health in the bodily sense. The item of shelter is figured as 10 per cent of rent, heat, and light for the period. The seemingly small item of recreation is based on the idea that, given a certain minimum amount of start, it is in every way best for the boy to work out for himself a goodly share of his recreation.
Of course, any amount can be spent on the boy. It is a question in my mind whether much is gained, in health, education, efficiency, or morals, if the above figures are much expanded. I should be glad to give R. S. S. any other information in my possession.
FRED V. GAREY
For reasons undetermined, our business department — which divides its responsibility between the Atlantic and the House Beautiful — employed a quantity of stickers bearing the legend, ‘ East, West, Hame’s Best.’ Some of these took their surreptitious way to the mailing-desk, where unwittingly they were attached to rejected manuscripts. Thanks to a good-natured contributor we have been prevented from further injury.
WAPPINGERS FALLS, N. Y.
I am in receipt of my manuscript, ‘The Creative Impulse and the Family Wash,’ which you have returned. I note the rather too appropriate stickers which you have used to seal the envelope and which bear the motto ‘East, West, Hame’s Best.’ I can only say with the poet; Of course it was right to dissemble your love, but you need n’t have kicked me downstairs.
Very truly yours,