HOME after a quiet sojourn in England, A Returning American, a distinguished man of letters and a bachelor, has been overwhelmed by those tumultuous changes which most of us are too busy to recognize. ¶Lawyer and banker, William P. Gest is president of the Fidelity Trust Company of Philadelphia, and a pertinent investigator of our lawmaking industry. ¶LA specialist in criminal law, John Barker Waite retired from practice in order to become professor of law at the University of Michigan. Harriet Sampson, a Wellesley graduate, makes her début in our pages. ¶Faithful readers will remember that, as the son of Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, Langdon Mitchell has inherited a genius for diagnosis, as displayed in his paper on ‘The American Malady,’ which appeared in the Atlantic for February 1924, A member of the New York bar, he has for many years preferred the rôles of author and playwright. ¶In Herodotus Emily James Putnam found the source material for her stories, classical in detail, modern in implication, two of which have previously appeared in the Atlantic for April and May. We quote literatim a translation of the text which suggested the present narrative.
Now it happened that this Candaules fell in love with his own wife; and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world. There was in his bodyguard a man whom he specially favored, Gyges, the son of Dascylus. All affairs of greatest moment were entrusted by Candaules to this person, and to him he was wont to extol the surpassing beauty of his wife. So matters went on for a while.
At length one day Candaules, who was fated to end ill, thus addressed his follower: ’I see thou dost not credit what I tell thee of my lady’s loveliness; but come now, since men’s ears are less credulous than their eyes, contrive some means whereby thou mayst behold her naked.’
At this the other loudly exclaimed, saying, ‘What most unwise speech is this, master, which thou hast uttered? Wouldst thou have me behold my mistress when she is naked? Bethink thee that a woman with her clothes puts off her bashfulness. Our fathers in time past distinguished right and wrong plainly enough, and it is our wisdom to submit to be taught by them. I hold thy wife for the fairest of all womankind. Only, I beseech thee, ask me not to do wickedly.’
Gyges thus endeavored to decline the King’s proposal, trembling lest some dreadful evil should befall him through it. But the King replied to him, ‘Courage, friend; suspect me not of the design to prove thee by this discourse; nor dread thy mistress lest mischief befall thee at her hands. Be sure that I will so manage that she shall not even know that thou hast looked upon her. I will place thee behind the open door of the chamber in which we sleep. When I enter to go to rest, she will follow me. There stands a chair close to the entrance on which she will lay her clothes, one by one, as she takes them off. Thou wilt be able thus at thy leisure to peruse her person. Then, when she is moving from the chair toward the bed, and her back is turned on thee, be it thy care that she see thee not as thou passest through the doorway.’
Gyges, unable to escape, could but declare his readiness. Then Candaules, when he judged it to be bedtime, led Gyges into his sleeping chamber, and a moment after the Queen followed. She entered and laid her garments on the chair, and Gyges gazed on her. After a while she moved toward the bed, and, her back being turned, he glided stealthily from the apartment. As he was passing out, however, she saw him, and, instantly divining what had happened, she neither screamed as her shame impelled her, nor even appeared to have noticed aught, purposing to take vengeance upon the husband who had so affronted her. For among the Lydians, and indeed among the barbarians generally, it is reckoned a deep disgrace, even to a man, to be seen naked.
No sound or sign of intelligence escaped her at the time. But in the morning, as soon as day broke, she hastened to choose from among her retinue such as she knew to be most faithful to her, and, preparing them for what was to come, summoned Gyges into her presence. Now it had often happened before that the Queen had desired to confer with him, and he was accustomed to come to her at her call. He therefore obeyed the summons, not suspecting that she knew aught of what had occurred.
Then she addressed these words to him: ‘Take thy choice, Gyges, of two courses which are open to thee. Slay Candaules and thereby become my lord, and obtain the Lydian throne, or die this moment in his room. So wilt thou not again, obeying all behests of thy master, behold what is not lawful for thee. It must needs be that either he perish by whose counsel this thing was done, or thou who sawest me naked and so didst break our usages.’
At these words Gyges stood awhile in mute astonishment; recovering after a time, he earnestly besought the Queen that she would not compel him to so hard a choice. But finding he implored in vain, and that necessity was indeed laid on him to kill or to be killed, he made choice of life for himself, and replied by this inquiry; ‘If it must be so, and thou compellest me against my will to put my lord to death, come, let me hear how thou wilt have me set on him.’
‘Let him be attacked,’ she answered, ‘on that spot where I was by him shown naked to you, and let the assault be made when he is asleep,’
All was then prepared for the attack, and when night fell Gyges, seeing that he had no retreat or escape, but must absolutely either slay Candaules or himself be slain, followed his mistress into the sleeping room. She placed a dagger in his hand and hid him carefully behind the selfsame door. Then Gyges, when the King was fallen asleep, entered privily into the chamber and struck him dead. Thus did the wife and kingdom of Candaules pass into the possession of Gyges, of whom Archilochus the Parian, who lived about the same time, made mention in a poem written in iambic trimeter verse.
HERODOTUS, Book I, chapters 8-12
Alfred North Whitehead is an eminent philosopher and mathematician of Trinity College, Cambridge, now at Harvard University. ¶As a comparison shopper or ‘scout,’ Zelie Leigh has studied the department store business from the inside as well as the outside. ¶After scouring England in search of an amenable country or city house, A. Edward Newton found there was no place like Home in Daylesford, Pennsylvania. ¶From Brookline Morris Gray, Jr., sends us the first story he has written. Major-General Sir Frederick Maurice, who in 1915 served as Director of Military Operations, Imperial General Staff, backs with experience his remark that Lincoln’s formula for the relations between statesmen and soldiers in a democracy at war has never been improved upon. David E. Adams is minister of the East Congregational Church at Ware, Massachusetts. ¶When last heard from, Margaret Lynn was on her way to Normandy and the Channel Islands, far from her familiar Kansan plain. Humbert Wolfe is an English poet who has found steady satisfaction in civil service. Between poems, as it were, he is Principal Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Labor. In his capitalization Mr. Wolfe does not follow Atlantic practice. ¶Froin the University of Minnesota, Mary Ellen Chase, a professor of English, sends us this rather dizzy compliment: ‘ One of our instructors, reading the April Atlantic two weeks ago, fell off the curbing and broke her arm. She says, however, tile number was really worth a plaster cast and the usual accompanying discomforts!’
Captain Owen Tweedy was on Lord Allenby’s military staff in Cairo during the Egyptian rebellion of 1919, and later was appointed to his diplomatic staff at the Residency as Liaison Officer and Assistant Oriental Secretary. Albert Kinross, English playwright and novelist, volunteered for general service in the late lamented strike, and when it was over went cheerily back to his books and cricket. Ernst Jonson, philosopher and craftsman, is now in Italy. Mr. Jonson left Sweden at the age of twenty, attracted to America by the fame of Richardson the architect. After engaging in architecture and engineering he became a decorative designer, devoting himself particularly to recovering for the furniture industry the quality, artistic and technical, of the old handcrafts.
This credo, from a letter of a prominent college president, looks from the past to the future of education. It is, we think, an apt corollary to those observations on ‘Home’ which lead this issue.
However, there is one very definite and imperative need arising at the present time, which, as a matter of fact, involves the whole usefulness of a branch of our work, and only a little less definitely involves our ability to work out our educational policy.
Perhaps I should say a word in regard to this last statement. Without going into detail, I believe that one of the most serious transitions in American life is the transition of the last two decades, during which we have become preponderantly an urban society rather than a rural. Not only that, but physical inventions in the form of the automobile, the movie, the radio, and the telephone have destroyed anything in the nature of isolation, and, in doing this, have eliminated all the different influences that originally were found inleisure and the consequent self-communion that pertained to life in the American village home.
I have a theory that Webster in his long horseback rides of several days between here and Fryeburg, Maine; Washington in the separateness of himself from other men on his surveying trips; and Lincoln, in the remoteness of the Western settler’s life, acquired a tremendous proportion of the worth which later proved to be in them.
Not only adults, but even the youngest children of to-day know nothing about leisure, to say nothing of solitude. They are rarely brought into any contact with the elemental forces. They turn up thermostats instead of cutting wood for fuel; they turn electric buttons instead of filling lamps with oil; and they drive through our beautiful north-country mountains at forty miles an hour instead of climbing the slopes or walking along the crests of the Y—— Range. The result is that when somebody asks them for an opinion they look for a button or a switch or an accelerator pedal to manipulate instead of falling back on any realization of the fact that they have been given minds and that these are presumably for occasional use. The pleasantest memories of my childhood are the memories of the quiet evenings about the dining-room table, in the centre of which sat a large lamp and about which were ranged the parents and children, all with books and all quiet. It was something to be looked forward to through all the day, and it was an influence the value of which I shall never be able sufficiently to appreciate.
A few weeks ago, a number of the prominent boys in college were at the house for dinner, and I got to discussing the old-time family prayers. No boy in the group had ever heard of the existence of such an institution in the American home. I then began to talk about the rapidity of change in home life in the quarter century, and spoke of the influence of these quiet evenings at home upon myself and upon the boys and girls of my time who were brought up in or about villages. The boys were politely and courteously interested, but it was perfectly apparent that I might just as well have been talking about the home life of the sea kings of Crete as in regard to the programme of life in the American home of my youth. It did develop, however, that of the group there was no single one who had ever had any idea of his being at home in the evening or who would have understood the presence of his parents in the home had he himself been there. I do not say these men are representative of all in the college, but they are representative of the majority, and the proportion is increasing.
All of this is a tremendously long preamble to my statement of what it seems to me the function is of the Eastern, privately endowed, historic college of liberal arts. I think its function is, in so far as possible, to provide the atmosphere, the environment, and the stimulus which shall interest men in things outside of what is going to be their highly specialized and professionalized interest through life. We have men in all of the professions and in all types of business who are keen and intellectually alert enough for any purpose. What the world most lacks in these positions of authority and leadership is men of imagination and men of breadth and culture. The intellectual keenness and the mental alertness which education gives may become a positive detriment to mankind if unaccompanied by qualities which make for size and by sensitiveness which makes for insight.
At X——, consequently, we have been swinging further and further away from utilitarian and vocational courses, and from specialized training even for the professional schools, in the belief that these can be acquired rapidly and will be acquired sufficiently without the college emphasis upon them.
My own conception of the desirable liberal college of the present day is the college which most completely gives a man understanding of and appreciation of those things which make for beauty and value in life outside the field of what is to be his specialized or professionalized interest.
Many have sought to answer ‘The Challenge,’ by L. Adams Beck, in the May Atlantic. This letter presents evidence which cannot be overlooked.
SI AN FU, SHENSI, CHINA
I met a woman once when I was traveling in Honan. We had to stay in a little town for a few days to wait for mules, so I had this woman, who lived across from the inn, do some washing for my babies and myself. My youngest never was well,—a dear little patient whom the Chinese wondered at but loved, — and she sat down beside his basket in the little courtyard to tell me about her boy. A man of twenty-one he was, and a lunatic, strong, destructive, hungry—taking all her life to keep him alive. ’My neighbors only scoff at me,’ she said, ‘ when I come home to find the house a wreck, for they say it is my own fault. I have the right of life and death — why do I not get rid of him? But I worship our Heavenly Father, and I know that would be a sin. Besides, I love him.’ There was no bitterness in her face, but only quiet peace. The message of Buddha and Confucius — I wonder if it would appeal to L. Adams Beck if she were in her place?
Another woman, too, I can remember, who also loved my children, but she could never look at them without tears. Seven of her own little girl babies had she killed with her own hands before she knew about the Gentle Jesus. Miserable remorse had worn her body thin and saddened her face. She had visited shrine after shrine, paid vow after vow, but nothing availed for rest of mind until she heard about the Saviour who could take away even her sin. Now, as with the other woman, the prevailing impression of her personality is a quiet and assured peace as she helps to take care of other women’s little girls.
I can understand the appeal of Buddha and Confucius to those who only read of them and of their righteous lives and teaching. What I cannot understand is the ignoring of their total lack of any message to sinners for whom Christ came. It is these with whom I have had to deal in China, and I thank the Lord that I had the message of His love to give to hearts that were crushed under the burden of Law. I wonder if L. Adams Beck ever visited a Buddhist temple with a ‘Hell’ in the entrance courtyard. One of the ghastly figures represents the spirit which gives women courage to commit suicide. Many young brides go home after a look at that evil, leering countenance to throw’ themselves down the family well.
L. Adams Beck has wonderful power of description. I wish she could tell us more of what she has seen in the temples of the East. Has she ever been — where I have — to Hwa Yin Miao, the great temple at the base of China’s loveliest ‘Flower Mountain’ — a temple of perfect beauty and heavenly surroundings which is kept up by the earnings of wretched girls who come to the neighboring inns at night? They have sung outside my door. What does she think of the Lame Temple in Peking? The Church of Christ is not what He would have it, But can we ignore actual Buddhism as it is seen in practice in China to-day?
How many of our charter members will recognize this free quotation?
ANN ARBOR, MICH.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
On May 5, 1858, one Marcellus Jackson of Newtonville, Mass., officer aboard a ship then lying at San Francisco, wrote a letter to Miss Emma U. Jackson and posted it. Sixty-eight years later, on May 5, 1926 his letter was put up at auction and fetched a rather good price — for philatelic, not sentimental, reasons.
Upon reading the Writing, which is much better than would be learned in the common schools of to-day, I find the following passage: — ‘ You know I never trouble you with advice and never remark upon dress, manners, habits or anything of that sort, but there is a passage in the Atlantic for Nov. which notices two or three common habits among girls, and which I hope does not apply to you: —
‘“When a young girl wears a flat circular sidecurl, gummed on each temple, when she walks with her beau or anybody of the other ‘seck,’ not arm in arm but his arm against the back of hers, and when she says ‘Yes?’ with a note of interrogation — you are generally safe in asking her what wages she gets and who the ‘feller’ was you saw her with. Also, the girl that calc’lates is lost.”’
Marcellus Jackson must have carried that Atlantic around the Horn with him, eh?
H. BEDFORD JONES
With a thirsty conscience, is it honorable to rebel? A just question.
Such an article as Mr. George W. Martin’s ‘Liberty and Sovereignty’ in the July Atlantic is significant of the serious consideration which thoughtful men opposed to Prohibition as a national policy are giving to the problems raised by the present revolting state of affairs. Mr. Martin speaks eloquently for those who feel that the evils arising from the invasion of personal liberty, by means which they regard as contrary to our rights under the Constitution, outweigh all the possible benefits of Prohibition. It would be idle to gainsay many of the points these thoughtful men are making. But in their zeal for personal liberty are they not overlooking other considerations perhaps equally serious?
One of the recognized functions of the lawyer is to show the layman how he may evade the law — in spirit if not in letter. When a lawyer cites the development of such revolutionary leaders as Garrison through the nullification of the Fugitive Slave Law, as Cromwell through that of ship money, and as Washington through that of British tax laws, he may be true to the letter, but what of the spirit? Each of these honorable rebels could inscribe after the word ‘Liberty’ on his banner a more impressive word than ‘Liquor.’ The knight in quest of chivalric adventure and the land-grabbing baron have always fallen into different categories.
But our legalistic friends tell us it is not the drink they are concerned about — only their freedom of action under constitutional guaranties. Very well, — I filch a rejoinder from a legal friend, — ‘ Defy the law on the highest grounds of patriotism; buy your bootleg liquor, by all means; but, to convince me completely of your motives, pour it promptly away as a libation to liberty once you have demonstrated your scorn of oppression.’
I make no question that there are opponents of the present law so sincere that they would pursue this quixotic course if they could persuade themselves that it would take them anywhere. I am equally certain that the vast majority of the bootleggers’ clientele buy their liquor for the simple and perfectly valid reason that they want it, for themselves or for their friends, more than they want to keep an inconvenient law. Motives so patent and frank stand clearly forth in their own light, and, like the good wine that prompts them, need no bush. I cannot help feeling that an article like Mr. Martin’s is of questionable influence through its providing a multitude of readers far less intelligent than he with the pretexts for the immemorial process of ‘making the worse appear the better reason.’ The genuine, true-blue patriot and constitutionalist commands all respect. The man who primarily wants his drink and tries to deceive himself and others into thinking he is performing a conscientious duty through an illicit traffic is a bird of another feather.
The fact is that the finespun arguments of recent years have caused the whole community to forget the original purpose of the prohibitory laws — which was, in spite of some annoyance in quarters where drastic reform was not needed, to make a gigantic experiment in the direction of curing what was universally acknowledged to be a national evil. The step, even after a century of discussion, may have been too long and too rapid; I dare say it was. But a shocking evil stalked the land — not so much among the more as among the less prosperous and intelligent. All were asked to give the experiment a chance — a request calling for some generosity and selfrestraint on the part of those whose resources enable them easily to break the laws. That chance has not been given, and those who have withheld it must share with the precipitate lawmakers the responsibility for the consequences. Among these consequences it begins to look as if the evils from which the less favored portions of society have heretofore been the chief sufferers are in the process of transfer to the more favored. The remoter consequences, not yet apparent, hold appalling possibilities. To avert them by ushering in a new day, better than either the past or the present, is an object on which all will agree. The only laws and customs which can bring that day to pass will have their basis in an unselfish intelligence and an honesty above selfdeception.
If the experiment is to fail, the conscientious lawbreaker must ask himself whether he would have preferred to make his direct contribution to that outcome of the matter or to the square test of a national mode of life toward which the country was moving steadily when the hands of the clock jumped forward. Whether the experiment is to fail or to succeed, it deserves at least fair play, from both government and people, and a sincerity which it has not encountered at the hands of friend or foe. Yes, I venture these final words in spite of a recent reminder that less than twenty years ago I was myself chanting the praises of the vine in the pages of this very Atlantic Monthly.
We are glad to print this proposal for a fitting memorial to the Great Cardinal.
To THE EDITOR OR THE ATLANTIC: —
Undoubtedly some of the readers of Mrs. Kellogg’s article on Cardinal Mercier will be interested to know of the plans under way for a crypt, or tomb, to be constructed under the High Altar of Malines Cathedral. Canon Dessain, secretary to the late Cardinal, and to Mgr. van Roey, the Archbishop-elect, has written of the plan. ‘At present,’ he says, ‘the Cardinal’s coffin lies on the floor of a very poor vault under the High Altar of our Cathedral, next to the coffins of thirteen of his predecessors. The sail vault is small, overcrowded, and inaccessible to the public. Our idea is to make a crypt, or small subterranean chapel, under the choir of the Cathedral. At the end would be placed an altar, the exact replica of the one in the Cardinal’s private chapel, at which he said Mass every day. In the middle of the crypt would be placed the Cardinal’s tomb or mausoleum, with a bronze effigy of the Cardinal reclining on it. The access to the crypt would be managed by a double staircase descending in front of the entrance to the choir. . . . The cost is estimated at two million francs; we hope to find half that amount by a subscription here [in Belgium].’
Father Dessain, in another letter, suggests that if Americans feel that they would like to contribute to the cost of this memorial their gifts would be welcome. There must be many of our compatriots who — regardless of sectarian differences — would like to show their reverence and admiration for one of the greatest figures in modern times; who might regard as a privilege the opportunity to contribute to this memorial. I am sure that a draft, sent to the Reverend Canon Francis Dessain, at Malines, Belgium, would be very gratefully received.