As every schoolboy knows, William Beebe has recently returned from hunting the denizens of the deep in the Sargasso Sea and the Humboldt Current. In a diving-suit Mr. Beebe made over seventy forays into Neptune’s fields, and there found creatures as mysterious and fascinating as any that roam the jungle or Galapagos. Mr. Beebe is the only man who ever tickled a sea lion and saw him smile. ¶Since 1894 Samuel McChord Crothers has been an Atlantic headliner and minister of the First Church (Unitarian) of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lately Dr. Crothers has been rigging the intelligence market. His shares will go like hot cakes. ¶The diary of Helen Dore Boylston, a Boston girl of the war generation, preserves the very spirit and feeling of those years which have made so lasting an impression on our veteranchildren. Charles M. Sheldon, editor-inchief of the Christian Herald, reminds us that the Bible is forbidden to far more schools than is Darwin. ¶We quote in part a letter from Lucy Furman: —
As many of your readers already know, the background of my stories about ‘the quare women ‘ is a real one — the Settlement School at Hindman, in the mountains of Kentucky.
During the twenty-five years which have passed since the beginnings with which these stories deal, this school and settlement have grown steadily.
Twice there have been destructive fires. The first of these wiped out the beautiful log buildings which had been ‘ raised ‘ with such pride and hope, leaving only a small five-room cottage. Although this fire occurred in the night, the quare women were able to save all the children, and a teacher down with typhoid, escaping themselves in nightgowns and with bare feet. The people of the village took them all in.
When the main buildings had been again destroyed by fire, some years later, the citizens did a remarkable thing. Feeling that the houses should not be crowded together as they had been on the three-acre plot originally donated, the men of the village and county, out of their poverty, raised the surprising amount of six thousand dollars to buy the mountain -side on the opposite bank of Troublesome Creek, where many of the buildings now stand. It is things like this —the privilege of helping those who are forward to help themselves — that so endear the work to the quare women. The parents of the resident children pay a small tuition fee for each, while the children help themselves by their labor, each working twenty-eight hours a week for his or her board. The past year has been a very hard one for all charitable enterprises, and Hindman has been no exception. Help is needed in various directions. A scholarship of $150 a year must be raised for each resident child. At present there are more than six hundred on the waitinglist. Five hundred dollars is needed at once to complete the salary of the Public Health Nurse, part of which is paid by the people themselves. One thousand dollars is desired toward the salary of a school principal. Money to build new cottages to house the children is another need. But the most crying of all is an endowment fluid, so that the crushing burden of raising so much money yearly may be lifted from the shoulders of Miss Stone (the ‘Amy’ of the stories), who for twenty-five years has given her life and strength to the work.
Gifts may be sent to Miss May Stone, Hindman, Knott County, Kentucky.
I. A. Richards is a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and the author of The Principles of Literary Criticism. ¶The primitive and natural melodies of Virginia Moore are rooted in the earth of the Mississippi plantation where Miss Moore and her family have lived for generations. ¶The record of Benjamin Harrison Chaffee is true, every word of it. Now studying for his Doctor’s degree, Mr. Chaffee intends to return to the North Carolina village of his narrative, there to apply his new doctrines. ¶More than imagination has gone into the making of A. Cecil Edwards’s stories. Thirteen years’ residence was sufficient to familiarize Mr. Edwards with the suavity, charm, and certain other qualities of Persian gentlemen. ¶An occasional contributor, Clifford H. Farr has lately been appointed Associate Professor of Botany in Washington University.
A Croix-de-Guerre man, Robert Alden Reaser is a young artist who admirably contrives to butter and sugar his bread without disloyalty to his austere Mistress, ¶Author and educator, Abraham Flexner has been secretary of the General Education Board since 1917. ¶Bulls and bears, not to mention the shorn lambs of Wall Street, will do well to listen to the admonition of Edgar Lawrence Smith.
Eastern expert and late Professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language at London University, Arnold J. Toynbee has recently composed a Survey of 1924 for the British Committee of International Affairs. During the war Mr. Toynbee served in the Political Intelligence Department and was a member of the British Delegation to the Peace Conference. Evans Lewin describes the present and contemplated struggle for cotton which is now concerning longheaded business men on four continents.
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’Buying it’ — a corollary.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I have just read the article called ‘Selling It’ in the July Atlantic, signed by a social worker who is not a propagandist.
I am also a social worker directing work in three of the worst sections in the same city. However, I am a propagandist, — it’s a good word, though suffering a temporary disrepute, — and I have most definite opinions relative to the new and thriving industry of bootlegging, of which your contributor gives so true and so vivid a picture. It is true that I have a little different slant on the picture, but it should only serve to corroborate her evidence.
My neighborhood is made up largely of those who are ‘buying it.’ Those who are ‘selling it’ do not consider me a friend. An appeal made So me to intercede for a mother of three small children who had been selling it in her candy store was refused as forcibly and expressively as my vocabulary permitted. I have appeared repeatedly before local magistrates as complainant, and before the Grand Jury, Cases of illegal selling which come to my attention are reported, my theory being that every citizen has a duty to help enforce the law. It’s too big a task for one man and a police force. Besides, as I said in the beginning, I am a propagandist. I see too many little children whose fathers have been buying it. In the section where I live, in one year, two families of small children were left homeless, with a murdered mother and a prison-sentenced father, as the result of a debauch on poisonous hooch. The doorbell rings too often at the appeal of a woman asking protection, or a child shut out on the streets at night by a drink-crazed parent. I stumble over too many sodden wrecks on my doorstep and evade their staggering progress on the street. And always there burns in me an indignation against the person who has exploited their weakness for money.
In three months’ travel this spring, which gave me opportunities to talk with men and women of the north, south, and west, including that outpost of the Pacific, Hawaii, I heard just one favorable word for the principle of Prohibition, and that defense came from the wife of a widely known manufacturer, whose opinion she reflected.
I came to see that large numbers of people, perhaps a majority, are sincere in believing that their personal liberty has been unwarrantably interfered with in so flagrant a way that they are justified in outwitting the law.
But employers of labor, educators, physicians, social workers, — we who know the unhappiness and deprivation of the innocent and the even more pitiable wastage of once promising youth, — we surely must each radiate from the centre of his little sphere, not only a spirit of protest against criminally lax government control, but a positive attitude of sharing responsibility for law enforcement.
Furthermore, the issue will have to be faced: Is enforcement of the present law possible? If not, agitation and education for a modified law that can be enforced even though we count as antagonists both the Volsteadian and the bootlegger.
PHŒBE HALL VALENTINE
Engineers, and lovers of Franklin in particular, have been disturbed by Alexander McAdie’s query, ‘Where and when did Old Ben fly his kite?’
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Let me thank Mr. McAdie, through you, for his diverting article on ‘Franklin and Lightning.’ I read it to my wife last night during a thunder shower, appropriately enough. I must say, however, that I was stunned, as by an electrical shock, when I read the passage in which your breezy contributor expresses uncertainty as to the historicity of the famous kite experiment. I could not forbear placing an exclamation mark in the margin, and this morning I have been rereading the Autobiography, a human document, which, as a loyal Philadelphia boy, I have long cherished.
Now what does ‘rare old Ben’ say? Speaking about the interest of the French in his experiments, especially about one ‘for drawing lightning from the clouds,’ Franklin then says: ‘I will not swell this narrative with an account of that capital experiment, nor of the infinite pleasure I receiv’d in the success of a similar one I made soon after with a kite in Philadelphia.’ Now is n’t this definite enough? Mr. McAdie expresses the hope ‘that some corroborative evidence by someone who saw these flights may yet be found in old journals and diaries.’ I certainly share in that hope, but I can’t for the life of me see why he should refuse to accept the plain affirmation of honest ‘old Ben.’ True, the evidence is scanty. But, '’t will serve.’
I rise, Mr. Editor, to Poor Richard’s defense. I am not a scientist, nor the son of such. I am only a simple-minded lover of books and of men, and a neophyte in the handling of both. We are dealing here with historical fact. ‘Rare old Ben’ was the incarnation of level-headed common-sense. I would no more accuse him of self-deception than I would my saintly grandmother.
Please let’s have further light! Mr. McAdie, I’m not convinced.
CHARLES E. DUNN
Mr. McAdie defends his position.
DEAR DOCTOR DUNN, —
The Editor of the Atlantic has kindly sent me your letter of June 30 and I am glad to try to answer the inquiry regarding the famous kite experiment of Franklin.
You are quite right in quoting the Autobiography and regarding it as a human document. It is a classic; and of course I am familiar with it. Ben does say ‘that capital experiment’ and ‘the success of a similar one soon after with a kite at Philadelphia.’ So far you win. But the Autobiography was not based on notes. It was not begun until 1771, Franklin being then sixty-six years old; and, as I understand it, was only brought down to the time when he was twentyfour years old (1730). About 1783 or 1784, Franklin resumed the writing of the Autobiography. He was then about seventy-seven and memory at that age is sometimes uncertain. An account of the experiment given by Stûber — he says that he talked with Franklin — is the account generally accepted, and it is so full of contradictions that it is plain that either Stûber or Franklin put color in the brush. Franklin, you will remember, was not strong on saying his prayers. And he sometimes said things that he knew were not so. Also, in setting forth the requisites for success, he placed thrift first and honesty eighth on the list.
But all this has not influenced us. We have tried to ascertain the date of the kite experiment. Surely if it was a capital experiment he would have put down the date.
I have had the help of the best authorities on Frankliniana in this country (Philadelphia authorities included) and we are all unable to find a date for the kite experiment.
P. S. — You say that Ben was the incarnation of level-headed common-sense. I tried to fly kites in thunderstorms; and the remarks made by relatives and friends were not complimentary.
Let there be light.
RANDOLPH, NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In the flood of current publications pro and con evolution, this drop in the Atlantic — ‘The Bee’s Knees’ — is worthy of passing comment. For it concludes so inconsistently, ‘Science . . . solves nothing,' after its gifted author, through simple scientific observation, has so interestingly solved how the bee cleans its antennæ, how it conveys its food hiveward, how it empties its pockets, and so forth, and so forth. At last the keen observer confesses himself ‘completely frustrated’ by the question ‘whether the bee’s antenna existed first, and needed a cleaner . . . or whether the cleaner happened first and needed something to clean.’ It is then, after repeating some of the earliest criticisms of Darwinism, that he declares that evolution ‘has become a sort of theology’ and ‘has got itself mixed up in our educational programme.’ Not so fast, Mr. Layman! Evolution is in our educational system because it points the way to solving just such problems. If antennæ exist in insects generally and these cleaners do not, it suggests a priori that the antennæ were there first. That the front legs were used in cleaning them — that a special spine came to play a perfect part in the cleansing process — does not seem particularly mysterious. What are the arrangements in other insects? In other words, what is the comparative anatomy of the structure? If one is not interested to push the inquiry, should he ‘drop the subject’ in the Atlantic, and spell mystery with a capital?
‘Scientists are simple folk,’ as Osterhout observed. They have enough to wonder at, but the wonder more and more becomes directed toward objects worthy of it. And science solves much, for as Carlyle remarks, — and here is the theology of it, — ‘ All light and science, under all shapes, in all degrees of perfection, is of God; all darkness, nescience, is of the Enemy of God.’ Is it not Carlyle’s teaching, rather thanStewart’s, which needs publication just at present?
FREDERIC T. LEWIS
The East and West of it.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
The direct-primary law works better in California than in Pennsylvania, judging from the article of Imogen B. Oakley in the June Atlantic.
Its success in California may lie attributed, I think, to three factors in our political life:
First: The Legislature, soon after the enactment of the present primary law some twelve years ago, adopted a statute abolishing partisan designations after the names of candidates for city, county, and township offices. The advantage gained by appending partisan designations to the names of candidates for these offices on the ballot was largely responsible for the efficient political machine maintained in this state before the primary law took effect.
Second: The abolition of the legalized saloon and the almost complete eradication of saloons, legal and illicit, in this state, have deprived the machine of the gathering-places where, previous to the enactment of the Volstead Law, the deliverable vote usually collected previous to election for the purpose of being directed how to vote. I have known a single saloon where, between Saturday morning and Monday night preceding Tuesday’s elections, three hundred ballots were marked for voters who were willing to follow the leadership of the boss and his henchmen.
Third: The appointment of women election officers has greatly reduced election frauds. County boards of supervisors and city councils have found that women serve as well as do men on these boards, and the unwillingness of men to serve for the fees paid has caused women to absorb almost completely the duties of election officers.
Elections in California may be said at present to be clean, and in reply to a questionnaire submitted by the Commonwealth Club of California, a civic organization composed of all classes of professional and business men, the vote was almost two to one in favor of its retention.
In California, however, a determined and insidious attack, instituted at the time the primary law was passed and constantly pressed ever since, is encouraged by such articles as that of our Pennsylvania friend. The ills which have been corrected by the primary law in California will be in time forgotten by a generation who will not have known them, and no doubt California will be compelled in the near future again to pass upon the question whether its primary law is good or bad. When that time comes I hope the Atlantic will not be quoted against the law.
WILLIAM A. BEASLT
How fast can you stop?
PAUL SMITHS, X. Y.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I have just finished Herbert L. Towle s article, ‘The Motor Menace,’ in your July issue. It is very good and most interesting, but why do all such articles deal so much with ‘penalties,’ ‘insurance,’ and ‘psychology’ and so little with mechanics?
I have owned and operated cars since 1905, and have always contended that half the cars on the road have brakes so worn or poorly adjusted that they won’t stop at twenty miles an hour as quickly as the car with properly adjusted brakes will stop at forty miles an hour. Steering gears too are often so faulty in adjustment that they are slow to act.
I believe that, if the cities and states withdrew half their motorcycle policemen and put them in plain clothes with the power to stop any man anywhere, any time, and make him demonstrate his brakes and steering gear, the net result in a practical way would be far greater than all Mr. Towle’s suggestions put together.
Incidentally this need not be a hit-or-miss inspection, for the Bureau of Standards has an instrument that instantly shows the rate of deceleration when brakes are applied.
GEORGE H. TOWNSEND
That maternal instinct!
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Here is a tale of Kentucky which might have come from the pen of Lucy Furman in her chronicles of the Southern mountaineer. However, there are ‘ Quare Women ‘ even in the small towns of the Bluegrass.
The public health nurse was holding one of the monthly clinics, and among those whom she had cajoled or otherwise induced to come was a weary-looking, bedraggled woman with three small children tugging at her skirts.
An unsuccessful attempt was made by the nurse to obtain the ‘histories’ which the doctors required for their examination, but the mother’s answers were altogether vague.
At the conclusion of his tests, the physician turned to the woman and explained: ‘Your youngest child has diseased tonsils and a bad case of adenoids. We will have to take them out as soon as you can make the necessary arrangements.’
Suddenly the woman was interested! ‘No, sir!’ she exclaimed. ‘I aims ter bury ‘em with all their parts!’
EMMA HARPER APPLEGATE
The little glory that attends publication is too often bestowed on the editors instead of being divided equally between them and the business staff. This letter is a gracious monument to our publisher, who has been responsible for the physical character of the Atlantic for over a quarter of a century.
GREEN LAKE, WISCONSIN
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
The Contributors’ Column, very appropriately, has many good things to say about the contents of the Atlantic, but to my mind far too little is said about its delightfully satisfactory binding. It is perhaps of first importance to have something worth binding, but, like a good tea made vastly pleasanter for perfect china and linen, the Atlantic authors are given an advantage of fine binding and general make-up which I hope they are humble enough to appreciate. The Atlantic may be read in bed, or on a mountain top; it may travel for days in a pocket, be turned inside out a hundred times, and yet be sound enough to join the goodly company of its predecessors on library or attic shelves.
When the Atlantic passes through a family and among its friends, and is handed down to one, two, or three generations intact, one wonders what upholds, among those workers in the background, the spirit which maintains such a degree of perfection. If it is a tradition, a family secret, let us hope it may be nurtured as one of the Atlantic’s treasured possessions, for its value would be difficult to estimate.
‘Blest be the tie that binds’! Not only the efficient tie that binds the pages of the Atlantic, but the mysterious thread of friendship that seems to join the magazine to its readers. It is natural to go to the Atlantic for an explanation of this feeling of freemasonry, and perhaps a recent good phrase, ‘reverence for perfection,’ contains the secret. ‘Reverence for perfection’ on the part of editors and publishers, and real reverence from readers for the high standard maintained.
Many years ago, as a child, I pieced out Elsie Venner and The Guardian Angel from a shelf of old Atlantics in my grandfather’s bookcase, and nosed about among fascinating Civil War articles with a delight which is still vivid. I decided then that no Atlantic ought ever to be thrown away. I have never seen an Atlantic on an ash-heap, and hope I may be forever spared this sacrilege!
HARRIET L. KUTCHIN
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The editor has enough responsibilities of his own. This conundrum is respectfully referred to our readers.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Here’s a little story for you. It is true.
Some time ago, not without malice aforethought, I wrote a poem. Now I have written some hundred odd poems in the course of the past few years; but this particular poem was different from the others. It consisted of twelve rows of words, idle words, strung on their grammatical wires correctly enough, but purposely conveying no meaning whatever. Not a sign of a thought back of them — simply high-sounding phrases, put together so that they looked like a perfectly good poem of the modern imagist school. (I took care that the verses should contain plenty of imagery, to cover up the total lack of thought content.)
This ‘poem,’ with no comment and with some misgiving, for I will admit it was not exactly the sporting thing to do, I sent with other bona fide poems to a man I should not dare say how high in the world of literary criticism — oh, terribly high! Well, the great man swallowed the bait, hook, line, and all, saying a word in commendation of the group of poems, but singling out the fake poem for honorable mention!
The above incident raises a horrible question in my mind — a question which has been skulking in my mental back porch for some time. Is it possible that some of the modem poetry — you know the variety I mean, all mauve soul-throbbings and green whispers and passionate stardust — is concocted during a mental lapse on the part of the writer; or does the ‘poet’ intentionally pile colorful words upon colorful words, the whole fabric interwoven with no more meaning than was my own gem; or what have you?