The Contributors' Column
THE diary of Helen Dore Boylston is the first chapter of the autobiography of an American girl between the years 1917 and 1924. At twenty-two, Miss Boylston, a recent graduate of the Massachusetts General Hospital, was serving her novitiate as nurse with one of the famous medical units in France. The diary, as it was hurriedly written in odd moments at camp, discloses the abrupt breaking-in of grim human realities upon a young girl reared in the best American tradition. Its racy and instantaneous record conveys the sights and sounds, the thoughts and emotions, the very texture of momentous days. Further installments of Miss Boylston’s diary will carry the reader on among the conditions confronting the world to-day. Here is the ‘modern’ young woman in the making. W. M. Leiserson is chairman of the Board of Arbitration for the Men’s Clothing Industry of Chicago. The cases he describes are all matters of fact. The clarity with which they illuminate the problems of labor relations will bring understanding to many readers. ¶Doubtless Earnest Elmo Calkins, an Atlantic philosopher, will persuade others that the democratic notion that all citizens must be of the same length, breadth, and thickness is the most awful terror connected with the advance of the proletariat. ¶The letters of Anna M. Whistler animate the gentle and lovely figure which was first known to us in her son’s portrait. Discovered in a house at Intervale, New Hampshire, once owned by Mr. James H. Gamble, to whom all but two of the letters are written, they eventually became the property of Miss Katherine E. Abbott, who kindly arranged them for the Atlantic.
Traveler, printer, and in recent years designer of the distinctive books of a New York publisher, Manuel Komroff yet finds time for the creation of strange and beautiful short stories. His tales are soon to be collected in a volume which will include ‘The Grace of Lambs,’ originally published in the March Atlantic. Frank Kendon is an English poet whose work we have welcomed to our pages. ¶A new contributor, Mary Lucia Bierce Fuller, has returned to this country after twenty-eight years of devoted missionary service in India. In recalling the friendly group of Brahmin widows and her conversation with them, Miss Fuller seems to have overlooked ‘two or three other types of widows not too uncommon in my dear Maharashtra,’ which in all fairness she feels she must describe.
There is too, of course, the occasional happy widow who has a family and is loved, who forgets herself in the service and happiness of those dear to her; who may even have the oversight of an estate; or who has found peace in meditation, austerities, and self-abnegation. If she is of to-day, she is not shaven, and may be a student, teacher, or nurse. Then there is the widow who enjoys respite, who out of the fire finds the frying-pan a refuge. After all, a dead husband, however calamitous a widow’s status, may not be an actual calamity! But these widows were of those who sigh and ‘go softly all their years’ that they may earn a happier rebirth.
A new translator of the New Testament and Professor of Biblical and Patristic Greek at the University of Chicago, Edgar J. Goodspeed is also a felicitous essayist, as his forthcoming volume will give entertaining proof. ¶For many years Lucy Furman has been writing and working for the cause of the Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky. Her present narrative gives an account of the school ‘raising.’ Begun twenty-three years ago in the heart of the ‘ feud district,’ it has become one of the best known of all mountain schools and an instrument for peace throughout the countryside. At present the institution numbers thirty-three teachers and workers and, including a branch, a total enrollment of 434 pupils. Over six hundred children are waiting for admission. Yet, because of the impoverished district, the school is in grave need of support.
Retiring after twenty-two years in the Indian service, fourteen of them on the western frontier, Leo Crane is qualified to express his frank and stimulating diagnosis of Indian troubles. This narrative and those which have appeared in the three preceding numbers form chapters of the book by Mr. Crane, entitled Indians of the Enchanted Desert, published August 10, an Atlantic Monthly Press publication issued by Little, Brown and Company. ¶The Reverend Justin Wroe Nixon, pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York, will earn the sympathy of many when in such troubled times he defines the difficult and dangerous path of the moderate. Thomas Pearson is a member of the American Financial Commission invited by the Persian Government to administer Persia’s finances. Amid the clatter of an American holiday his serene and simple narrative is refreshing to behold. Cornelia James Cannon, wife of Professor W. B. Cannon, and herself widely known as an educator, is ever ready with trenchant and provocative criticism. Helene Mullins makes her graceful début in our pages. ¶To a number of observers, Valeska Bari’s pictures of Porto Rico are both natural and characteristic. Miss Bari will be remembered for her story, ‘ Majority Rule,’ which appeared in the January Atlantic.Carroll Perry, Rector of the Episcopal Church at Ipswich, Massachusetts, is one of five brothers numbering more wits and good sense than is customarily bestowed upon a single family.
Bulls are not the only animals enraged by red flags. The capacity to give or take an argument about the Soviet without violent loss of temper and dignity is confined to few, and of that few Sir Martin Conway is by odds the most sensible and dispassionate we know. A mountainclimber, a connoisseur, a politician, and a practical philosopher, he has watched life from many angles. ¶According to Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, man shall once more ride off to battle in armor, but, characteristic of a material age, the future Laureate shall sing ‘ The Charge of the Light Tank Brigade.’ Captain Hart has been appointed to succeed Colonel Repington as Military Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. ¶The experience of analyzing the estates of men of affairs has familiarized Raymond Edwards Huntington, of Wellesley Hills, with a practical working knowledge of the inheritance-tax laws.
For those who found themselves discomforted by the disquisition on Darwinism in ‘The Bee’s Knees,’ Mr. Charles Stewart has willingly prepared the following epilogue.
Darwin goes on page after page to show that all animals were built up by chance, fortuitously. They have a tendency to vary illimitably; and coincidence with the environment, chance, does the rest. This varying is not a deity working directly — it is ‘spontaneous.'
About this time he becomes dissatisfied with this ‘chance’ and ‘spontaneous’ way of expression and wants to emphasize that there may be laws (though he does not know what the law is in any of these various cases). And so he puts up a plea that words do not exactly serve him — ‘chance’ or such idea as that does not say it; it is only his way of expression. All of which is all right, especially as anyone who is reading him in the whole gathers what he is driving at.
Suppose that every little variation in the millions that are made, according to Darwin, to produce a slight change was a variation according to a law; and that moreover Darwin knew what that law was. Suppose even that the Creator is behind it all with laws; and that even every little variation is the direct work of Deity. In either case Darwinism is pure chance — fortuitous. Because —
Of the millions of variations, there are millions that are unfitting, of no avail, purposeless, without reason or object or function. Millions of individuals, as Darwin tells us, vary unprofitably and die, are not perpetuated, do not go toward building up a new animal. As he says also, it is not necessarily the best animals that survive — simply those whose variations fit the environment. This is a matter of chance.
Therefore, Darwinism is fortuitous, and blind chance, not because the variations originate by law or not by law, or because they are attributed to Deity or not to Deity, but because of the way they are applied. Their application, the way they are set to work, is haphazard.
Now that is what I say in my article — that Darwin represents an animal as built up by chance. It is true; and anyone who has looked into the theory knows it.
CHARLES D. STEWART
The genuine story of this automobilist is but another proof that thrift and happiness are boon companions.
I have just read with deep interest ‘Confessions of an Automobilist,’ in the June issue. His conclusions are probably very correct — of a certain class of people.
I live in a country town of less than eight hundred inhabitants, with no industry other than farming, and the motor-cars owned here number about two hundred, only half a dozen of which can be called ‘pleasure cars,’ though the rest contribute to the pleasure of their owners.
The mechanic and the farmer look upon their cars as a business proposition. I have had six years’ experience as the owner of a humble Ford. I have two sons in town, one with a home of his own. The other lives at home with us. Both of these boys are mechanics, electricians, carpenters, and builders. They are rarely out of work, but to find constant employment without their cars would be next to impossible. And we have in town a goodly number of young men and women who are enabled to live at home through the genius of Henry Ford. Being of the finer type of country-bred youth, this means much to the social life of such small communities.
My own experience is not unique. An old man, I had no idea of ever taking the risk of learning to drive a car, but when my home-boy enlisted he talked about selling his car, and he had some good offers for it. A friend persuaded me that I could learn, so I asked the boy to leave his car for me to drive.
Living in the country, five miles from railroad and trolley cars, I have always kept a horse as a necessity. I learned to drive the car. I kept the horse, but was able to let her out for enough to pay for her keeping. When the boy returned I found that I needed a car of my own. Now I have my third car.
From the beginning I have kept a careful account. During a period of six years the cost of driving the car, including gas, oil, repairs, and depreciation, has been inside five cents a mile — much less than driving a horse, and the cost is nothing when the car stands idle in the barn. Of course, I have no garage rent to pay, and being something of a mechanic I can do much of the repairing myself.
As an ‘illustrative’ story or two let me add that in my ‘retirement’ I sometimes have calls to preach at a distance from home. For three or four summers I supplied a pulpit twenty miles away. By public conveyance that meant a day’s journey and often staying overnight. With the flivver I could leave home at nine o’clock and be home to dinner.
Last August my three sons and I loaded the camping outfit on to the car, visited my old home in Central New York, and went on to Niagara Falls, a trip of eleven days and 1128 miles, and came home feeling younger than ever, and it cost no more than it would have cost us to stay at home — even for gasoline. If we had been at home we would have been driving four cars about.
The banker’s story does not apply to the country districts, where half or more of the cars are owned. Please give us the true story, the story as a whole.
Very truly yours,
J. N. PARDEE
A verdict from the Bench.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Mr. Towle’s article on ‘The Motor Menace’ in the July Atlantic is a splendid presentation of the case for Compulsory Automobile Insurance as a means of reducing accidents and insuring compensation to the innocent victims thereof. However, greater stress should be laid upon the fundamental distinction between Liability Insurance and Compensation Insurance.
Liability Insurance only guarantees the solvency of the automobile-owner up to definite limits, usually not exceeding $5000 for one injury or death. It does not insure compensation to the victim of an automobile accident, but compels him to engage in an unequal contest with a powerful insurance company’ or a personal-injury suit to obtain damages. In case the party’ inflicting injury (I) cannot be identified, (2) is acting outside the scope of his authority, (3) is engaged in Governmental work, or (4) preponderating proof of ‘negligence’ cannot be obtained owing to the death or unconsciousness of the injured person, Liability Insurance furnishes no remedy.
Even when all the conditions to recovery exist, a personal-in jury suit is necessary to recover damages, and this is at best a slow and expensive remedy. Other than insuring the ability of the automobile-owner to pay a judgment, liability insurance would inure largely to the profit of insurance agents and ambulance chasers.
These reasons led us to discard Employers’ Liability Insurance and to adopt Workmens’ Compensation Insurance, the principle of which has been so successfully applied in cases of industrial accidents.
Compensation Insurance can be written at a lower cost than Liability Insurance and will guarantee prompt and adequate compensation to every injured person and to the family of every person killed by automobiles, according to uniform and definite schedules. It will protect the automobile-owner from his present unlimited liability to respond in damages. It will do away with the evils of the personal-injury suit and relieve the courts of the flood of automobile-accident cases which now clog the dockets.
Society as a whole would be relieved of the burden of maintaining courts and juries who now spend three fourths of their time in the trial of these cases, and of the burden placed upon charities in furnishing medical care to the injured and financial relief to the dependent families of the dead.
Compulsory Compensation Insurance would place these burdens where they properly belong — namely, upon the automobile-owners who cause the damage. In common with many other judges, I feel a debt of gratitude to Mr. Towle for his forceful and popular discussion of this subject.
ROBERT S. MARX Judge of the Superior Court
The land of ‘Ain’t?’
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Frances LeFevre’sstory, ‘The Victor —Who?’ was much enjoyed by my family. We have lived in Reading ten years and number among our friends and acquaintances many of the Pennsylvania Dutch folk.
I well remember with what mingled feelings of dismay and astonishment my wife and I stepped from the train at the old Franklin Street station some ten years ago. It was Saturday night, and as we walked down Penn Street, seeking a hotel, we found that thoroughfare jammed and overflowing into the gutter with a race of people who spoke a strange language. Comfortably fat women, carrying market baskets stuffed with provisions, waddled along dragging tired children behind them. Collarless men with weather-beaten faces, leathery necks, and backs bent from toil in the fields, shuffled along carrying live chickens, ducks, and geese under their arms. Lined up along the curb under the street lights were groups of flashily dressed young city sports ogling the passing stream of women and eating peanuts. Everything was so foreign to the life we had known that it was hard for us to believe we were in an American city.
But with the passing years we have come to love the place and its people. It is a friendly town. And, while the inhabitants have many peculiarities which can only be understood through long acquaintance, they are on the whole kindly, impulsive, warm-hearted people. Above all, they are thrifty.
We have had many laughs at their queer sayings and their queerer beliefs. Many of the older generation have implicit faith in powwowing and when ill will go to the powwow man rather than to a doctor. They also call in the powwow man when they have an enemy to get rid of, believing that he can cast a spell over the enemy so that he will sicken and die. I personally know one old woman who spent comparatively large sums for this purpose — happily without the desired result.
One afternoon my wife and I were standing on Penn Street at the Seventh Street grade crossing. The railroad gates were down and a long freight-train was passing. The interrupted stream of human traffic began piling up about the gates. Pressed close against us by the surrounding crowd was a Pennsylvania Dutch woman and her small son. When at last the caboose hove in sight, the little fellow turned to his mother and in an excited, piping voice exclaimed, ‘Ain’t, mom, when the little red car goes by it’s all?’
One of my wife’s friends had discontinued the service of ice to her house during her absence. Shortly after her return she was awakened very early one morning by a loud pounding on the kitchen door. From her bedroom window she recognized her former iceman standing on the steps below. On perceiving her in negligee the Dutchmen favored her with a broad smile and inquired cheerily, ‘Mrs. Dalton, is you on yet?’ ‘What did you say?’ inquired the good lady. ‘Is you on yet?’ repeated the Dutchman. ‘On what?’ asked Mrs. Dalton. ‘On ice,’ explained her iceman. He merely wanted to know if he was to resume his regular service.
With five young boys going to schools where most of their mates are embryo Pennsylvania Dutchmen, it has been a most difficult task for us to weed out the double negatives and split infinitives from their conversation. All the boys have acquired the Dutch accent and inflection to a large extent and it seems hopeless for us to attempt to eradicate it while we live in this community. Jack, aged ten, will instinctively say ‘wanity case’ or ‘Queen of the Walley’ rather than sound the V where it belongs. Everything in Reading is ‘wim, wigor, and witality.’ You can’t get away from it. It’s as contagious as the measles.
Yours very truly,
J. H. E.