The correspondence of Governor Smith and Mr. Marshall conducted in this magazine is an incident not unlikely to become historic. Owing to the unauthorized publication of Governor Smith’s reply by a newspaper in defiance of our copyright, it was felt to be in the national interest that the publication of the May Atlantic be hastened and the release of the article to the press be made a week earlier than was intended. In this unique instance it proved impracticable to mail subscribers’ copies before the news-stand edition was on sale. We are glad to make this public explanation and again to affirm our consistent policy of serving subscribers first.
Rabindranath Tagore, the Hindu poet and philosopher, is still the very active head of his school in Santiniketan which he founded over a quarter of a century ago. Famous for his prose and poetry in both English and his native tongue, Bengali, Dr. Tagore in 1913 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. ¶In these days of sober reports it is a joy to know that there are Innocents Abroad who, like C. Lester Walker, an American business man in Manchuria, are able to tell when the joke is on them. Robert Lynd’s definition of the bounds of decency comes pat at a time when a Boston official is banning fifty-seven varieties of books and the New York courts have sentenced the actors and producers of condemned plays. ¶If ever a man had to curb the deviltry of inanimate objects, it was Captain K. C. McIntosh of the United States Navy. ¶More than imagination has gone into the making of A. Cecil Edwards’s stories. Thirteen years’ residence in Persia provided the author with a rare understanding of the East. ¶One hundred and sixteen years ago John Adams was writing thus to his friend, Professor Waterhouse: —
H. [Hamilton] and Burr, in point of Ambition were equal. In Principle equal. In Talents different. H. Superior in Litterary Talents: B. in military. H. a Nevis Adventurer, B. descended from the earliest, most learned Pious and virtuous of our American Nation, and buoyed up by Prejudices of half the Nation. He found himself thwarted, persecuted, calumniated by a wandering Stranger. The deep Malice of H. against Bur, and his indefatigable Exertions to defame him are little known. I knew So much of it for a Course of Years, that I wondered a Duel had not taken Place Seven Years before it did. I could have produced Such a Duel at any Moment for Seven Years. I kept the Secrets Sacred and inviolable : and have kept them to this day.
This letter, which forms part of the earlier correspondence published in the May Atlantic, and the present selections were discovered a few months ago in a strong box where they have lain through the generations.
‘I hope you will like my silver-icy reindeer,’ writes Fannie Stearns Gifford; ‘he was a real dream, and I have a fondness for him. I saw him leap high towards the sunrise over October Mountain and woke almost ready to look with Teresina for his hoof marks in the snow.’ ¶A frequent contributor to our pages, Sir W. Beach Thomas is an English naturalist who roves the countryside in the interest of birds and beasts. ¶One of our most eminent philosophers, Alfred North Whitehead has brought his benign influence from Cambridge, England, to Cambridge, New England. Fellow and late Senior Lecturer at Trinity College, Dr. Whitehead is now Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University. Margaret Higginson Barney is the daughter of Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, whose friendship and encouragement were the precious means of drawing Emily Dickinson from out her mystical seclusion. Their friendship — for they seldom met — was bound by the correspondence of over twenty years. ¶A member of the Atlantic’s staff and a contributor of essays and poems, Theodore Morrison loves a long walk — whether with or without a golf stick. Professor Jerome Davis of the Yale Divinity School has come to know a good deal of the Ford organization both in his studies of its Trade School and in his personal and editorial associations with Mr. Ford. Fifty of Professor Davis’s students are taken into the plant each summer.
The Junior College has been referred to as ‘the most menacing and urgent aspect of contemporary education.’ Professor Palmer’s critical review of this new growth, published in the April Atlantic, is now supplemented by the experienced account of one who has taught in a large junior college and who for obvious reasons cannot afford to be identified. Herbert Hoover is as enthusiastic a fisherman as ever directed the Department of Commerce. Thus, when an occasion arose for him to confer with fellow anglers, he was able to produce facts which concern the happiness of every household in the country. Gaetano Salvemini, an Italian historian of the very first rank, has been forced into voluntary exile because of his critical attitude toward Fascismo. John McCook Roots, son of Bishop Roots of Hankow, has spent two thirds of his life in China. Last summer Mr. Roots had the opportunity of visiting the Nationalist officials and institutions at Canton and of making observations which, because of his knowledge of the language, are more telling than most.
Mazo de la Roche, the author of the Atlantic prize novel, lives with her sister in Toronto, where for a dozen years she has been writing—first short stories, then novels and plays. As her name indicates, she is of French descent. One of her royalist ancestors was guillotined in the Revolution. ‘Since then,’ she says, ‘we have been notable only for our improvidence.’
The first installment of ‘ Jalna’ appeared in the May Atlantic.
From Mrs. Clarence White of California, the friend of Hilda Rose, a telegram has been received giving us the first news of Mrs. Rose and her frontier family since the snows shut them in. It will be remembered that they were clearing a new homestead at Fort Vermilion, two hundred and fifty miles distant from Peace River, Alberta, the nearest postal station. The message reads in part: —
Letter from Hilda Rose this moment arrived. Will forward to-morrow. She received the good news and the check for her Atlantic contribution just when she needed it so badly. On February 5 she fell and sprained her back and was injured internally. It took two weeks to write this letter, she said. She was sitting up for the first time March 12 and the old world seemed good after all.
That an attitude of ‘ respectful unconcern’ for the Church is sometimes to be observed nobody will deny. But the contributing causes of this unconcern are far to seek.
NEW YORK CITY
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In an article on ‘The Break-up of Protestantism’ published in the March Atlantic, the Reverend Herbert Parrish has made a discriminating survey of the inner weaknesses that have been undermining the foundation of the non-Catholic churches in America. But I disagree with his assertion that the present problems facing the churches are either directly comparable to or derived from the great religious revolution of the sixteenth century. He regards the present age as one of transition and readjustment for religion; one that portends the ultimate dissolution of Protestantism in America. ‘There is reason to believe,’ he writes, ‘that the historians of a hundred years from now will pronounce the present decade the crest of a movement more significant and portentous than the Reformation itself. . . . As the authority of Rome was shattered in those nations which followed the trend of thought at the Reformation, so the Reformation settlements now find their authority shattered by the logical consequences of the position they then took.’
But are the development and implication of the two issues analogous? At the time of the Reformation religious problems centred about questions concerning the authority of the Catholic Church. Though the Protestants repudiated many claims made by the hierarchy, they accepted the more fundamental articles of faith as propounded by the Church of Rome. For example, both Catholics and Protestants regarded the Bible as an inspired book containing an immediate revelation from God, and both held the same ideas of God, the Trinity, and the Person of Christ; also their conceptions of the doctrines of sin and grace were not dissimilar, and neither ever dreamed of a separation of Church from State. The Reformation was primarily a dispute about ecclesiastical authority carried on by avowed believers in the efficacy and necessity of religious teaching. Besides, the conflict was waged with equal interest and fervor by both Catholics and Protestants.
To-day the problems confronting the Protestant sects do not pertain to questions of theology. Far from implying the demand for reform within the Church which constituted the nucleus of the sixteenth-century controversy, the present situation reveals Protestantism making a despairing effort to rekindle the waning interest of the layman in religious matters. The Reformation owed its occasion in large measure to the popular demand for ecclesiastical reform made by a public that considered orthodox religion an inseparable part of their secular life. It was because of their explicit faith in and desire for a reformed Church that the people were so ready to take sides in the dispute. As this faith was responsible for the Reformation, so the present absence of it points to the radical dissimilarity between the Reformation and the modern problems confronting the Church.
The Reverend Mr. Parrish attributes this rapid declension of faith on the one hand to the faulty organization of the Protestant churches which is responsible for sectarianism and the pressing need for money. On the other hand he believes that the radio and the newspaper, combined with the critical attitude of the age, have tended to discourage the fashion of going to church. He will not regret the final disappearance of Protestantism from American life because it ‘does not answer to the deep needs of human nature.’ Yet he thinks it reasonable to hope that ‘the children of the new age will construct out of those values which have been the real sources of inspiration and power, both for Catholic and Protestant, a church that will meet the needs of the day and generation.’
If this were likely to occur, or even suppose it should, would another organized church with its prescribed systems of belief and fixed codes of morals fulfill our subjective human requirements? It is precisely these arbitrarily conceived factors, once an effective force but now an inner weakness, that serve more than anything else to alienate the layman from his church. Because a person no longer seeks an answer to his moral problems in the exhortations of the Sunday sermon it does not signify that he is free from their anxious cares or that he can allow them to remain unsolved. But it does indicate that, instead of relying upon the Church for assistance, he feels he can settle them just as effectively without its intercession on his behalf. And surely this sense of intellectual independence should be welcomed as an auspicious indication of greater spiritual freedom rather than deplored as the sign of an unregenerate age.
The chief reason for the break-up of Protestantism is not at bottom due to its faulty organization or to the distracting influence of the newspaper, radio, and so forth. Nor is it traceable, as the Reverend Mr. Parrish avers, to the ‘logical consequences of the position’ taken by the Protestants at the Reformation, though it is true, as he says, that the critical spirit of the age has greatly affected the attitude of the lay public toward the Church. The churches, it seems to me, are confronted by an entirely novel kind of ‘belief,’ or rather unbelief, that manifests itself in an attitude of respectful unconcern for the erstwhile venerated creeds. That a different variety of church would prove more congenial with the needs of the day and generation is dubious, for it is the ecclesiastical organization and not religion that has become discredited.
The Return of the Muse.
DEAR ATLANTIC, — I am sending you a poem which has been the source of some excitement. It was written by a young lady whose chief talent is prose, but who as a child had an enthusiasm for poetry.
Recently she was hypnotized by a friend, and in the course of her reminiscences of childhood she asked for a pad and pencil. Then on three large sheets she wrote the three stanzas.
Hush the heart that grieves
Under the sound of the wind surf
Rushing along the leaves.
Sky is shallow water:
Put to sea in a cloud-ship,
Sail for the storm’s quarter.
Nights entombed in pain,
Find release in tempests,
Comfort in the rain.
On waking she had no recollection of having written the poem; she was stupefied when it was shown to her; nor does she remember any previous thinking on the poem with the exception of a single metaphor which occurred to her three years ago.
C. D. M.
Empty houses and crowded apartments.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
I have read with interest ‘The Missing Rooms’ by Mr. John Carter, in the February Atlantic, and the subsequent comments, and it seems to me they have all missed the point. Mr. Carter attributes the housing shortage in cities to the fact that there are approximately one million marriages yearly in this country and only half that many new living quarters provided. The real explanation is to be found in the great number of abandoned farmhouses not only in New England but over all the states which are dotted with manufacturing towns.
From our home in eastern Ohio we can see five empty farmhouses — not shacks, but six-, eight-, and ten-room houses. Similar conditions prevail throughout the county, state, and the states to the east. In the city of Cleveland (sixty miles away) it is estimated that there are fifteen hundred former residents of Columbiana County. They have formed an association, which makes facts more easily obtainable. Few of them went directly to Cleveland from the farms, but a great many moved first to the small towns and thence to the city. Youngstown, Akron, Pittsburgh, and Detroit probably have as many each of this county’s ex-residents. Many of the old families who were all with us twenty-five years ago have not one representative on our farms to-day, but are scattered from coast to coast, mostly in cities. For many years the returns from farming have been inadequate as compared with other industries. To those living near industrial towns the contrast has been too glaringly apparent and the alternative right at hand. They have gone where there is more money and less arduous work and most of them seem to be moderately prosperous. They dress better and have more of what the world calls luxuries and pleasures than their old neighbors who have continued to farm, but when they die their estates, on an average, do not foot up any better. A few have returned because they could not get the fondness for country life out of their systems. A very few who have been eminently successful — Mr. Firestone, of tire fame, for example — have made their old homesteads into show farms which are a credit to the community but add nothing to the contentment of the ‘dirt farmers’ who must make their money out of then farms.
Everybody cannot have everything. If you prefer to live in cramped apartments in congested cities and push buttons, that is your privilege. I’d rather have a real home in the country with trees, flowers, friendly birds and animals and kindly folks for neighbors, and time for meditation, — the unappreciated luxuries, — though it means hard work, wearing last year’s garments, and having no buttons to push — yet. Many farms hereabout now have electricity and all may have it when these empty houses are again inhabited. If any others feel like this about it, there are many places where farms, neglected but productive if cared for, can be bought for less than the buildings on them are worth. The West has been overdeveloped and overadvertised. The only place where one can get something for nothing to-day is in the forgotten agricultural East, where we have all the advantages of a longestablished civilization, are comparatively free from drouths, floods, devastating .storms, and great extremes of temperature, can grow anything common to the temperate zone, and are at the very gates of the big Eastern markets — not always satisfactory markets, but always markets. We are more prosperous and on a firmer agricultural foundation than any other part of the United States at the present time, and some of these days the public will wake up to the fact.
We urge those who are still perplexed by Mr. Jensen’s solution of the Spider and the Fly problem — as discussed in the April Contributors’ Column — to make for themselves a larger replica of the figure and to fold this into the shape of the room. In this wise the diagonal path of the spider can clearly be traced, and the distance traversed — 40 feet — will be proved rationally and geometrically the shortest distance between the two points.
Further proof that ‘the heart of youth is Hellenic.’
KUTIEN, FUKIEN, CHINA
March 12, 1927
Mr. Lucien Price
C/o Atlantic Monthly
DEAR MR. PRICE: —
I want to thank you. The occasion for it is your ‘Hardscrabble Hellas,’ appearing in the February Atlantic, which reached me just last evening. It was a very great delight indeed. I should want to thank you if for no more than the insight revealed in those two short sentences about the interior of the hearts of boys. ‘The heart of youth is not Hebraic. It is Hellenic.’ The entire article has the tonic effect of an October day — either in my native Ohio or in my adopted New England.
Perhaps one reason I appreciated it so much is because of the hardscrabble conditions of life here. Plain living and high thinking are gloriously necessary under the present stage of development of China. And the boys with whom I work — there are just about eighty of them in the academy here in Kutien — also know the hard-scrabble life. They live on three dollars a month, and once they learn how, under the Christian environment, they have a splendid time doing it.
Once more, thank you.
E. M. STOWE
This letter gives a practical demonstration of the further encumbrance of the Junior College. It should be read as a postscript to the discussion introduced by Professor Palmer and continued in this issue.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
In the April number of the Atlantic Professor Palmer treated the evils of ’The Junior College’ from the point of view of the student and graduate; may I add a few words in agreement with him from the point of view of a teacher in a high school of New York?
I should look with apprehension upon any move of the New York Board of Education to add the junior college to our secondary schools. I know I am not wrong in saying that, if such an addition were made, the teachers of that part of the school would be compelled, as we are now, to punch a time clock at 8:40, teach five classes a day, spend any extra time at supervisory and clerical work which could be far more efficiently done by clerks at half our salary, and at 3 P.M., or later if there were outside curricular activities, again punch a time clock. After such a day, only persons with extraordinary vitality and a not too conscientious regard for their jobs as teachers could take graduate work. Most teachers would be compelled, if they wished that breadth coming from meeting minds of equal or greater maturity, to do as I feel I must do next year — take time off at their own expense. How many could afford to do this?
As a junior-college teacher such as I should have to be under the ‘ system,’ I should feel like a liar and a cheat, attempting to substitute my meagre outlook for the breadth of vision which comes from freedom from clerical detail, abundant leisure, and the privilege of spending that leisure in travel or valuable research. I should feel that I was superimposing upon an innocent group a goose step of scholarship instead of liberty of thought, especially as I realize that such an establishment of a junior college might emanate from a desire to save money on our two free city colleges, which financial reason, I rather imagine, moved educational authorities here to establish junior high schools.
No, I think that most of us do not wish to combine college and high school any more than we wish to see high school and elementary school one. Perhaps it might do college instructors a great deal of good to visit frequently our high schools, just as we, as high-school teachers, ought to visit elementary schools for a full realization of their problem.
Perhaps, too, some of the difficult questions encountered in the freshman and sophomore years at college might be more readily solved did colleges welcome to their teaching staffs those of us with the broader outlook, whose teaching has been carefully supervised, and who, because of frequent visiting in other high schools, both public and private, and because of fortnightly discussions of matters pedagogical, have kept abreast with the most modern methods of instruction of youth.
As for adding to the high school that which belongs neither to the high school nor to the college, may a conscientious board of estimate, which now scrutinizes our every penny, keep us from it!
H. J. B.
When Light meant Life.
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
Professor Leuba’s learned article on ' Invisible Presences’ at first dismayed me, as I had for years cherished the memories of what I considered manifestations of a Spiritual ‘Presence.’
Twice before a most severe trial I was assured of support through what was to come, and the Light Jane Steger writes of was around me.
The last ‘appearance’ was a few years ago when I had been specially anxious about fuel and finances. I was awakened in the early morning from a deep sleep with the overpowering consciousness of a Presence, whether outside or in I cannot say. In a gently humorous, loving manner (as if a mother should assure an anxious child about something) I was made so sure that these matters would be cared for that I have never been over-anxious since, though the coal strike tried to break my faith!
The ‘subconscious’ has popped up for me many times, but surely this ‘Presence’ was different! Like many folks ‘convinced (almost) against their will,’ I am ‘of the same opinion still!’
S. E. T. S.