The Contributors' Column

SINCE the days of Columbus the young men of Europe have been going West to discover, if possible, the American secret. According to Thomas T. Read, a supervising mining engineer, the secret of our success is the large number of ’invisible slaves ’ which each United States citizen commands. From 1919 to 1923 Mr. Read was Chief of Information Service, United States Bureau of Mines. ¶A cleric who writes and preaches with keen judgment and prophetic insight, the Reverend Herbert Parrish is rector of an historic New Jersey church. ¶As the senior partner of a prominent advertising concern it is the duty of Earnest Elmo Calkins to be on the outlook for every change in fashion or invention. Captain Thieny Mallet, a French veteran, now president of Revillon Frères, spends four months each year inspecting the fur-trading stations in the north countree. ¶Apart from her short-story writing, Georgiana Pentlarge has lately divided her interest between painting and what she calls ‘stage journalism. Theodore Morrison finds time from his editorial duties for occasional essays and verse. ¶The letters of Hilda Rose, the first installment of which we printed in the February Atlantic, came to us through the friendly agency of Mrs. Clarence G. White, of California, a correspondent with the little pioneer. Mrs. White sends us the following description of her meeting with Mrs. Rose: —

This summer I made occasion when returning from Yellowstone and Glacier parks to meet Hilda Rose.

She and ’Daddy’ and the Boy had given up the struggle on the ‘stump ranch,’ had sold all they could, paid all debts, and were headed for Canada — for the Peace River country, to take up a homestead. Taking Daddy back to die on Canadian soil. Daddy had gone ahead, traveling in the box car with the horses and wagon and household furniture. Mrs. Rose and Boy met me and we had forty minutes in the station at Spokane.

She is all and more than the letters indicate. Five feet tall (or short), slight ; all muscle and no spare flesh; and with a light in her blue eyes and an indomitable will in her square little chin. Every line of her face was kindly and hopeful, with a will to be gay.

Claud Mullins is a prominent barrister of London. Margaret McIntosh Linton, who is accompanying her husband, Ralph Linton, on the Marshall Field Expedition to Madagascar, writes us from Majunga as follows: —

Here there is no fever, at this season, but we are in the midst of a bad plague epidemic. We took reports of bubonic plague very calmly at first, having been surrounded by twenty-five cases of pneumonic last winter in the capital. Bubonic is only 90 per cent fatal. Two weeks ago we began to be really frightened, a sensation I had come a long way to meet, and did not enjoy when I met it. We got inoculated, though that has its dangers, too, when the doctors are rushed and careless. We are presumably safe by now, though two inoculated people have died. We are continually exposed because we are doing collecting in the heart of the most congested districts. The natives, being in unusual need, are willing to sell fine old jewelry and ceremonial mats which they would not ordinarily part with. Ralph feels he must get all the jewelry he can, for if it is sold to the Hindu traders it will be melted down as just so much old gold or silver, and the best examples of Arab-Malagasy craft will be lost for all time.

Writer at large, Harvey Wickham has moved his headquarters from Paris to Rome. ¶It was last summer that Ethel Wallace Hawkins made her literary pilgrimage to Shropshire. Alice Brown is one of our most distinguished New England poets. Oswald Couldrey is an English writer and artist, now comfortably at home after a distinguished career in the Indian Civil Service. ¶That men are really less selfless than women is (so thinks a man) a perilous generalization, but in making it N. B. Blankenship (of the other gender) has the courage of conviction. ¶An American, Wallace Thompson has studied Mexico for twenty years as news correspondent, editor, investigator, and vice consul in Mexico, and as author of several books. F. W. Taussig is professor of economics at Harvard University.

During the six years the Sacco-Vanzetti case has been before the courts of Massachusetts it has become one of the most celebrated cases in the history of criminal procedure in the United States. Not only in this country, but in half a dozen countries abroad, it has aroused wide interest and deep differences of opinion.

Few people, however, know anything about the case beyond its merest outline. They know that Sacco and Vanzetti are Italians, that they are radicals, and that the crime for which they were convicted in 1921 was a typical pay-roll holdup in which the paymaster and his guard were killed. They know the courts have been considering the case for years and they wonder vaguely why the men have not been executed long since.

This paper by Felix Frankfurter is the first effort to give the public a complete and accurate résumé of the facts of the case. The account is based on the record of the successive court proceedings through which the case has gone, with such references to extrinsic facts as are necessary to understand what took place in court. The record itself covers thousands of pages of printed matter, accessible to anyone who wants to take the trouble to read it. The paper represents a necessary abridgment, compressed to make printing possible, but compressed accurately and fairly by a trained and responsible lawyer. Mr. Frankfurter was for four years Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York; he is now professor of administrative law at the Harvard Law School.

It should be added that a more detailed account, with all necessary references, has been arranged by Mr. Frankfurter, in a small volume which will be published on the first of March as an Atlantic Monthly Press publication.

Reader, if you want the whole truth, that article by a Progressive Militarist in the January Atlantic was irony — unadulterated, sulphuric irony. Innocently enough we had supposed that the suggestion of disemboweling elderly gentlemen in public in order to harden the ‘civil population’ would be taken, not literally, but as satire on the militaristic attitude. We were quite wrong. At least forty letters have assured us that a public shambles is as contrary to the Gospel as it is opposed to ordinary politeness. Dr. Holmes used to talk about the dangers of being as funny as one can. Irony is a lot worse. It is harmless for children, as Swift proved, but for grownups — never.

As evidence of the mixed emotions with which the paper was read we quote portions of three letters, the first from a clergyman : —

I am sending his ‘modest proposal’ to the proper bureau in the War Department in Washington, with a request for their immediate attention and action. It is my own and I shall do what I can to make it their opinion that the sooner this young philosopher and all others of his intellectual ilk are either incarcerated or else permanently removed from this country, the better for its welfare. . . .

The second from a doctor: —

There is hope for a nation that can produce a worthy successor to the Dean of St. Patrick’s.

It is encouraging to find a magazine strong enough to publish ‘A Modest Proposal.’

The third from a militarist: —

Even a magazine of such widely recognized excellence as the Atlantic Monthly is to be congratulated upon the brilliant contribution in the January number, entitled, ‘A Modest Proposal,’ The author shows remarkable ingenuity in solving an important national problem as well as an admirable modesty in refusing to have his name associated with the plan. While his general plan cannot but make a strong appeal to intelligent Americans, there are one or two points of detail which, it seems to me, could be improved.

It will, doubtless, be conceded by the author that the results which he desires could be more satisfactorily attained by a greater appeal to the sense of hearing instead of depending almost entirely upon the sight. It is therefore desirable that cries of distress and terror be produced in as great volume as possible during the exercises which he proposes.

As is characteristic of noble animals, the horse suffers in more or less silence. It is evident that for this part of the plan a lower order of animal should be chosen.

The selection of retired army officers for the second phase is favored by their well-known willingness to sacrifice themselves for their country, but there appears the same objection as above. As men of courage they suffer in silence and would, therefore, not be suitable for this purpose.

It appears logical to me that the choice for the leading rôle in both parts of this plan should fall upon one of the lower order of animals whose lack of courage would cause them to make a great outcry and whose extirpation would be a benefit to the country. There is one class whose characteristics fit them perfectly for this part — the professional pacifists.

The conflict between good salesmanship and good publicity is ably suggested in this letter to Mr. Calkins.

Your article in the January Atlantic Monthly prompts me to write you, not only because I strongly agree with the arguments advanced, but because it deals with a question that has become extremely important for anyone engaged in advertising or selling work.
As far as I am personally concerned, your article is timely. We are just now considering the cancellation of a part of our regular advertising appropriation, in order to use that money as a retainer fee for a professional publicity man, who could undoubtedly give us a great deal more space, and, from certain standpoints, more effective space, than could be secured for the same amount in actual advertisements. I don’t believe that ours is an isolated case. At any rate it indicates that the magazines and newspapers stand to lose money through the activities of ’public relations’ experts and the willingness of newspapers to carry their ‘releases.’
As you say, it is hard to understand why the business policy of newspapers in deleting advertising from news stories is so inconsistent with their editorial policy of admitting publicity that is simply advertising very poorly disguised. The question the advertiser must face, however, is how to get the greatest value from every dollar spent. If an altruistic editorial policy plays into his hands, so much the better. I have no doubt that many other advertisers are in the same position as ourselves in weighing the relative benefits we might receive from spending, say, $500 a month as a retainer fee for a capable publicity man, against $500 a month for newspaper space that ranges as high in cost as $14 a column inch.
Unless there is a decided reversal of policy on the part of the newspapers in the way of more rigid exclusion of free space, I think it quite likely that the choice of many advertisers will be in favor of the publicity man, in which event not only newspapers, but likewise advertising agencies and even the general public, are likely to be the losers. It is unfortunately true that a stick of free publicity is often worth more than a quarter page of paid advertising, if only for psychological reasons.
The only reason why I personally am opposed to publicity as against advertising expenditure is that the features of a company or product that are ‘good publicity’ are not necessarily good salesmanship, and cannot be depended on to present a permanent, consistent, and complete picture to the public. There are many people who would disagree with me in this respect,and such individuals would not hesitate in spending money for publicity rather than for paid space. Those who can well afford to do both would certainly be foolish to spend their money entirely for advertising and fail to take advantage of the present opportunity for publicity.
Very truly yours,
G. D.

From the larger laboratory.

Reading ‘Invisible Presences’ in the January Atlantic brings me to the point of writing what I have long had in mind to record — an experience of myown. We lost our oldest son, a high-minded, talented, unselfish young man of great promise, and already much accomplishment.
The third day after he became invisible his father heard his voice saying, ‘ I have not gone away, Father.’ But I heard nothing for more than a year. Then a younger brother, to whom he was in life devoted, was taken very ill. It was summer time, and we were at our country place, several miles from the city. Our physician was off on vacation and we must get another. Who should it be?
As day dawned I went to the kitchen and made coffee. After drinking a cup I sat down on a porch looking into the woods. My mind was entirely on the questions of what physician and what nurse. Then I heard our beloved, departed son, his voice natural as in life, say, ‘Let me have him, Mother.’ I replied instantly, ’Oh, no! Don’t ask me that! ’ feeling that I could not bear it to lose both.
That was all that happened. The voice came from an exact spot at the edge of the woods, not just out of the air — about thirty-six feet from me, and as if he were standing above the ground, about two feet perhaps, so that I thought at once, ‘Spiritual bodies are not affected by gravitation.’
Since then I do not say I believe, because I know. I know that what we call death is only transition to a better life. It must be better or he would not have wanted his brother to share it. And it is a great comfort to be assured that the departed know of our affairs, keep their interest in us, and help us as far as they are able.
Do you not think that if all persons (not ‘ Spiritualists ’) who have any sort of communication from the other world would report it to the Atlantic, exactly as it occurred, it would be of value?
L. W. M.

In the November Atlantic Agnes Repplier dedicated her article to the ‘Thieves of Time.’ One of the gang forthwith held her up with this ironical letter and questionnaire.

To Miss Agnes Repplier, Authoress
I am engaged in compiling a little book of personalia which, I flatter myself,—and not, I am confident, without reason, — will be of extraordinary value to posterity. From such a book the absence of information regarding the personal habits, tastes, and predilections of Agnes Repplier . . . would proclaim it a predestined failure.
May I ask for an hour or two of your time — always, I am sure, at the command of the Earnest Seeker?
Will you be good enough to fill out the accompanying questionnaire and let me have it at your earliest convenience? . . .
What seem to you to be the salient points of Homer’s Odyssey as contrasted with the verse of the late Amy Lowell?
If Shelley had been familiar with the American bobolink, would he not, in your opinion, have apostrophized that bird rather than the skylark?
Would it have been possible for Walt Whitman to have written Evangeline or for Longfellow Leaves of Grass? If not, where lie the inhibitions?
I have learned that you reside on Clinton Street. Do you think the names of city streets should perpetuate those of distinguished men of history or of literature? Would it not be better to call them after the police?
You are fond of cats. Do you think that properly applied science of eugenics would result in developing a tail in a Manx cat?
Of what limitations are you yourself conscious? Do you suffer fools gladly or the reverse?
You have stated that you are of the Roman Catholic persuasion. In your opinion should Gentlemen Prefer Blondes be placed upon the Index?

Everybody asks about Miss Boylston. As a vicarious excuse for her nonperformance, we quote from her recent letter from Somewhere in Albania.

Please don’t look at me like that. I don’t deserve it. Truly I don’t. I ask you as man to man what you would do in my place. Since November we have had
1 revolution
1 international crisis
3 balls
37 earthquakes
A great deal of my time has been spent in running out of the house and then running in again.
The Italian consul has just been here and he says I am all wrong in my earthquake count, because he himself counted sixty shocks before he lost track of them. Have you ever heard of a serial earthquake?

The Atlantic is read —

You often tell us where and when,<br/> By whom — but up to now
I have never seen a statement
Of just exactly how.
So let me give my method
(Which I highly recommend) —
Begin at the beginning
And read straight to the end!