The Contributors' Column
A YOUNG American, Robert Dean Frisbie has for the past four years been conducting a South Sea trading station. We have it on the word of James Norman Hall that PukaPuka, or Danger Island, the scene of Mr. Frisbie’s commercial venture, is ‘one of the few really primitive atolls left in this part of the Pacific,’ or in other phrase, ‘one of the loneliest islands in all the Pacific galaxy.’ When Mr. Frisbie first took up his enviable abode in the lands where professors sleep unashamed with their classes. Captain Hall urged him to keep a record of his life as a trader. George E. Putnam is economist to the great packing firm of Swift and Company. His paper, as he writes us, ‘is intended to offer, among other things, an economic explanation of the growing gulf between the United States and foreign countries. It is the explanation which has been given me repeatedly in the course of almost continuous European travel during the past six years.’ In this light Mr. Putnam’s Conclusions may be profitably compared with the social explanation of the same phenomenon presented by M. André Siegfried in the Atlantic for March 1928. ߡ The pellucid lens which William Beebe trains upon a varied world discovers endless curiosities and unnumbered delights. D. M. Armstrong, as his signature reveals, was the United States Consul in Rome at the time of the capture of the city by the Italian troops in 1870 — an event of decisive importance to the Temporal Power and to the modern Italian State.
The history of European revolutionary movements has proved an engrossing study to Lucy Wilcox Adams and her husband, a teacher of history at Yale. Charles Johnston, experienced long ago in the British Civil Service in India, releases pent-up imagination and invites us to inhabit a kingdom broader than the four winds. ߡ Two years ago Madame G. A. Miloradovitch could describe herself as ‘an exile, just beginning to regain a hold on normal life.’ After a full experience of the revolution in Russia, she wrote: —
We — or at least a few of us — lived and kept sane — because we ceased to act as sentient human beings; we became marionettes in a human tragedy. Sometimes I found myself thinking, ‘All this can’t be true. It is too horribly dramatic.’
Madame Miloradovitch describes her poem as an exact line-by-line English version of a folk song.
If the young understand President Allan Hoben as well as he understands the young, then Kalamazoo College must be happy hunting ground indeed. Ian Colvin is the leading editorial writer of the London Morning Post. He is the author of a volume of poems translated from the Chinese, and of a play, The Leper’s Flute, which has recently served as the basis of an opera. Eleanor Risley sends us her sketch from Arkansas. Her own words picture the adventure from which the experience grew: —
We made the journey because I was confronted with invalidism, hospital observation, and insulin. Why not die with my boots on? A century ago my great-grandfather and some of his friends went from New York City to live in these mountains. And on this journey, when the natives asked us why we wandered in their mountains, I would answer that I was seeking my great-grandfather’s tomb. They seemed to consider this a natural and laudable ambition. Incidentally, I found the tomb.
We took the train at Mobile across the black lands, and then sauntered toward the mountains of northern Alabama. The first day I could only walk three miles. We avoided highways, and followed any dim old road. Once at Grassy Cove we penetrated a fertile valley where only one of the inhabitants had ever seen a motor car. I grew stronger, swinging along all day, sometimes walking warm moonlight nights, sleeping sweetly with pebbles under my spine.
The mountain people are austere, hostile to ‘furriners,’ and sullenly on the watch for revenue officers. We knew we were in constant danger. Often men with guns would turn us from our way, and quite politely tell us not to look back. Once I slept in a room where there were three other beds. Before I went to sleep six gaunt mountaineers filed in, laid down their guns before the beds, and presumably slept. So did I. The next morning back of us near the river rose the smoke of a still. The armed guard, quite civilly, accompanied us to the next ‘sittlemint.’ We grew to love the face of danger. Curiously enough, danger proved a tonic and I thrived on it.
I doubt if we could have succeeded in winning the friendship of these people without the violin. We lived off the land. The people paid me in fruit, vegetables, and eggs for playing at torndown school houses. Once I attended a musicale where all were lawbreakers. Frequently on Sundays I read to an assembly gathered quickly by grapevine telegraph. Once these reserved people accepted you. there was difficulty in getting away to continue the journey.
A college instructor, Daniel Sargent gathers rhymes while the dew is still on them. ߡ The author of ‘The Sensible Man’s Religion’ is an experienced man of affairs. He is not unaware of the claims of mysticism, but writes: ‘I do not think that anyone can safely fly in that aeroplane until he has studied the ground beneath for “take-offs” and “landings.”’ ߡ Preeminent among military critics of his generation, the late Colonel Charles a Court Repington must be accorded high place also among diarists. His two volumes, The First World War, are indispensable to history and absorbing to the general reader. The events and conversations of a ‘goodwill’ visit to the Allied capitals in 1924 are recorded in the notes which we print herewith. William L. W. Field is headmaster of Milton Academy. ߡ A veteran both in tournament play and in writing of lawn tennis for the London Times. A. Wallis Myers comments on a new national supremacy. Charles D. Stewart — novelist, journalist, grammarian, critic, and follower of curious quests — knows the ins and outs of bees, and informs his knowledge with wise sympathy.
A1 Smith has given the sad young men something to be at least moderately glad about, thinks Parker Lloyd-Smith, a recent graduate of Princeton now engaged in newspaper work. ߡ The frequent hostility of English opinion to Fascist rule will give special interest to the broad and considered judgment of Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, the able successor to Colonel Repington as military critic of the London Daily Telegraph. A recent visit to Italy, with the particular purpose of viewing the Italian military forces, gave the occasion for the conclusions which Captain Hart has reached. ߡ For several years Chief of Information Service, United States Bureau of Mines, Thomas T. Read will be remembered as the author of ‘The American Secret.’ in the Atlantic for March 1927. Gerald Gould, an English critic of note, is wary of fishing in the ‘stream of consciousness.’
It was not to be thought that the challenge presented by Theodore F. MacManus’s vigorous expression of the Catholic position would go unanswered, and the Atlantic has enjoyed a wide and animated correspondence in reply. From this correspondence we now quote: —
FIRST REFORMED CHURCH RIDGEWOOD, N. J. When a Catholic writes about Protestants ‘in this particularly significant political year,’ and assures us that he has determined to be unusually amiable, and will use only the best English (even Oxfordian) manners, we begin to fear ‘thou dost protest too much.’ Here are some of the words which Mr. MacManus applies to his opponents which do not sound quite Oxfordian, — not to say English, — though they may be IrishEnglish: ‘Topsy-turvy, irrational, idiotic, insane, gayly starched surplice, convulsive, epileptic, silly, soppy songs, soppy sermons, morons, without reason, mummery, ludicrous, convulsive gestures, parrotlike, raucous parrot shriek, blinking and bewildered, malinterpretations, vulgarity, banality, travesties, cowardly, devilish, animalistic, platitudinous parrot, mediocre, aberration, insanity, inanity (these three in the same line), mob spirit, pursuit of passion.’ There are others, but these are picked out in a casual reading. And the only redemption for this awful country, ‘in this particularly significant political year,’ is to ‘go over to Rome, en masse.’
Sorry, old friend MacManus, we are not ready. We have studied history. Please recall the results in many nations in which your church has had undisputed ‘authority,’ and do not wonder why, in spite of all the faults of this great country, and of the Protestantism by which the country has grown, we prefer to remain where we are.
WILLIAM CHARLES HOGG
(Born in Ireland; educated in Ireland,
Scotland, Germany, and America)
Another correspondent trains his guns particularly on two expressions used by Mr. MacManus: —
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
CRANE JUNIOR COLLEGE
The first is ‘private judgment.’ It may be true that most or even all of the ills of our modern civilization are due to this monster. But I strongly suspect that it is responsible for the good things also. I do not recall just now any feature of our modern life that was not once the child of a private judgment, with sometimes a long, hard struggle ahead of it before it became acceptable to the public. To take one example with which he will not wish to quarrel, there was a time when even Christianity was, and had to be, a very private matter indeed.
But we will grant his statement that everything is going to the bowwows because of private judgment. Suppose I become impressed with the necessity of doing something to set myself right. Shall I not consider the claims of the Catholic Church? Will not some kind Father set before me the reasons for believing in the Apostolic Succession? Suppose the said Father succeeds in convincing me of the desirability of entering the bosom of Mother Church, would I not be welcomed, even by Mr. MacManus? My action, in that case, would have come about as the result of my private judgment that all my previous religious thinking had been wrong; and private judgment is the root of all evil, says Mr. MacManus. Or does he mean that private judgment is wicked only when it leads to conclusions different from his? Or has he never used his judgment in regard to religious matters?
And it seems to me that objection might very reasonably be made to the Catholic abuse of the term ‘Protestant.’ It had a significance once, just as Smith, Wright, Baker, Clark, once had. Now these are proper names with none of the original meaning. My family has been Protestant as far back as our records run, some four hundred years, I presume there were some protest-ants at first. But not for a long while now. Generation after generation we have got our religion as I suspect Mr. MacManus got his. It was sucked in with our mother’s milk.
But I forget! There were two protest-ants of some note a short time ago; prominent because of their father’s ability as a story writer. So emphatic was their protest against their family religion that they made a public renouncement of it, and embraced the Catholic faith. So far as I know, there was no outcry against this exercise of private judgment by Nathaniel’s daughters on the part of any Catholic, and while others of the family may not approve of their decision, we honor them for the courage of their convictions.
To be sure, we boast of some other protest-ants, though not in the religious lines. There was Governor William Hawthorne, who protested most vigorously against the orders of the King that he return to England and stand trial for general insubordination. There have been other protest-ants against the slave power. And protest-ants against injustice in high places. For that matter, some of the Popes were glorious protest-ants against wicked and tyrannical kings. Christ and the apostles protested against the best form of religion known to the world at large at that time, because they had something better.
But why continue. Protest-ants there have always been; always upsetting things; always a thorn in the side of those who wanted things left as they are. Without them we would all, to this day, be educated in the higher branches — and swinging by our tails from those branches.
W. C. HAWTHORNE
In defense of ‘ loveless and unloving infidels.’
Mr. MacManus does not seem to realize that there are many individuals mentally and spiritually incapable of accepting the doctrines of Christianity (either Catholic or Protestant). Usually they are people with inquiring minds who spend much more thought on religion than do those who are happy in an inherited or embraced orthodoxy. I do not think they are the destructive force that Mr. MacManus considers them. Surely he could not call Burbank a ‘ loveless and unloving infidel.’ He was more successful than most infidels, but his tolerance, his faith in humanity, his constructive work, are quite typical of the greater number of such challenging, questing minds. Burroughs, Henri Fabre, many other names come to mind to refute Mr. MacManus’s sweeping statement.
DOROTHY W. NELSON
This concluding note contains starch, even though surplices be ‘ironed soft.’
YONKERS, N. Y.
Upon one point Mr. MacManus should not have erred; he refers to the gayly starched surplices of Episcopalians. They are of pure white linen, never gay, and never starched. They are ironed soft. This fact is not unknown to the Catholic Church. The thing was not done under a bushel. For thirty years my laundresses, and there were many (average tenure of office two months), were all Catholics. Mr. MacManus could have and should have known this, so when he attempts to take the starch out of Protestantism he makes a bad start at the Episcopal surplice.
His article as a whole reminds me of a conversation on a religious topic between three men. When two had stated what they thought, and referred to the third, he replied: ‘Bejabbers, I’m a Catholic, I don’t have to think.’
REVEREND R. H. WEVILL
An organist files objections.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
I must take immediate exception to Mr. Harvey Wickham’s attitude towards the modern organ and modern organists in his article, ‘Sons of Tubal-Cain,’ in your April issue. The organ has not been deprived of its erstwhile dignity: there has simply been added a richness of orchestral and other effects that has ennobled it nearly to tonal perfection, while the mechanical devices, so lightly considered by Mr. Wickham, have made the organ a truly flexible instrument, as it should be.
To-day you may hear a modern recitalist give as noble an interpretation of a Bach number as may be desired, but he can follow it with a Debussy transcription made into ravishingly beautiful organ music, a thing impossible under the old order.
When he has business on the top floor of an office building does Mr. Wickham trudge the stairs in preference to using the modern elevator? I do not know. But I suspect he used a sputtering coal-oil lamp when he wrote his article, as he is very much in the dark about organs and organists.
STANLEY R. AVERY
Organist and choirmaster,
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Mr. Wickham, against whom the preceding excoriations were delivered, bids fair to become a Knight of the Bellows as a result of his paper, which not unnaturally aroused the notice of musicians on two continents.
I little thought, in writing ‘Sons of TubalCain,’ that it would put me in communication with one of the actual wind-raisers of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris. But here they are, the two letters from Chet Shafer, Grand Diapason of the Guild of Former Pipe Organ Pumpers, which you were kind enough to forward to me. And I have looked up the article of his which he mentions, published some two years ago in the Saturday Evening Post. He seeks to prove that organ blowing is not only the one true road to good organ playing, which was all I hoped to show, but that it is the sole practicable and infallible highway to greatness of any sort, and cites a great many examples of illustrious bankers, poets, editors, generals, whatnots and what-have-yous, graduates of the treadle and of the bellows handle, to establish his thesis upon a sound foundation. As a former pipe-organ pumper myself, though not affiliated with the Guild, I can find no fault with the theory at all. May Chet’s grand diapason never be stopped, or warped out of tune!
Sorry was I to learn, however, that ‘ an electric blowing apparatus was installed in Notre Dame by New York philanthropists’ more than two years ago. A pox on New York philanthropists!
And now the Grand Diapason asks me to join his Guild of Former Pipe Organ Pumpers, membership 1500 and more. He practically guarantees my acceptance by the Engineering Corps because of my Atlantic article. He offers to confer upon me the degree of Fellow Pumper. He does everything, in fact, save to offer to remit the three-dollar initiation fee. Three dollars is some fifty-seven lire. I don’t know. I am a fellow of a sort already. Really, I think I am entitled to the degree of Master Pumper. So I hesitate, well knowing that the pumper who hesitates is lost.
Mr. Newton — God bless him! We could better spare a less fallible man.
BEVERLY FARM, ST. MICHAELS, MD.
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
My acquaintance with Mr. A. Edward Newton and his charming humanistic literary style was made, through the pages of the Atlantic, long ago, when residing in France. Like Oliver Twist, I wanted more, and Amenities was bought in a third edition and then nothing would do but a first edition Amenities at twenty-odd dollars, which seemed then a huge sum and more so when I thought of francs and the rate of exchange.
As I write to-night, I can see on my shelves The Greatest Book in the World, A Magnificent Farce, Dr. Johnson, A Play (all in large paper), a little case containing some of Mr. Newton’s delightful Christmas Greetings, and a slender volume, The Writings of A. Edward Newton, by George H. Sargent. Several hundred other volumes, in first editions, are near, all added to my library since that momentous day when the postman delivered my Amenities.
From where I write, I cannot see my bank balance, which is just as well, but I can feel in my heart the pleasure that I have received from the purchase of these books (I now call them items), the reading of many subsequent articles in the Atlantic by Mr. Newton, and that received from his literary guidance. I was in sympathy with his views on prohibition and cigars and with some of his marital views and had begun to look upon him as a mentor and almost infallible.
Each month, when the Atlantic arrived, my first glance was for the cover page to see if he was a contributor, and if so, that was the first article to be read.
A few days ago the May number arrived and ‘A Tourist in Spite of Himself’ caught my eye. ‘ Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan? ’ Here my mentor tells me that the city of Christiania changed its name to Oslo, twenty-five years ago. I wondered why its inhabitants did not know this when I was there for the International Regatta in 1914, and so tinned to the Encyclopœdia Britannica and, not having a first edition, contented myself with the eleventh. Here I found that Oslo was founded by Harald (Opslo) Segurdsson in 1048. After a fire, Christian IV refounded the capital and gave it his name, Christiania, in 1624. January 1, 1925, the city of Christiania changed its name to Oslo.
I then read that in European travel one usually finds a Bristol Hotel and as a rule it is the best. ‘Depend upon it, Sir, this is too strongly stated’—a quotation Mr. Newton will recognize. The tourist, in France will have a hard time to find a Bristol Hotel. He will find one at Biarritz, Boulogne, Marseille, and Paris, but where else? Only in Paris will it be first-class, but then everything first-class one finds in Paris. The tourist in France who depended for a night’s shelter on a Hotel Bristol would be in the same fix as the one who was told to try either the Hôtel de Ville or the Hotel-Dieu.
Had Mr. Newton taken with him, to read en route, his Baedeker, instead of A Sentimental Journey, it would not have been such delightful reading, but he would have read, ‘In the same latitude in which Franklin perished in the Arctic and in which lies the inhospital region of Eastern Siberia, the water of the Western Fjords of Norway never freezes, except at their upper ends,’ and then he would not have had to wear that blue alpaca suit.
When Maréchal Petain wrote, in his celebrated order, ‘Ils ne passeront pas,’ it was the rallying cry for the poilus at Verdun and never used in its translated form of ‘They shall not pass’ by the Tommies at ‘Wipers.’
I anticipate that in the June number of the Atlantic Mr. Newton will take us to Paris. Please do not let him tell us that turtle soup and roast mutton at Simpson’s are better than homard thermidor at Voisin’s, or that the view up the Champs-Élysées, looking toward the Arc de Triomphe late in the afternoon, is not so fine as some view of St. Paul’s, for if so, how can we be sure that the Gutenberg Bible is the greatest book in the world or that Dr. Johnson is the most quoted writer since Shakespeare? Do hurry Mr. Newton to London, which he knows so well and of which his descriptions are always so delightful.
MORTON B. STELLE
And from Mr. Newton himself: —
May 18, 1928
DEAR ATLANTIC, -
I am overwhelmed with letters about my silly paper in the Atlantic, and a dozen or more people have told me that a ‘Black Knight’ bandage is manufactured in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and sent me circulars describing the device. And several people have sent me the thing itself, with suggestions that I carry the ‘Black Knight’ bandage around with me instead of a black woman’s stocking (black woman’s stocking, you observe).
But only one woman has accompanied her gift with a poem, which reads as follows: —
Was the first to use stockings to shut out the light —
Though his Princess, Joanna, abhorred the sight
And lectured His Highness through curtains each night.
To make up his loss of a single black stocking,
Since his wife wears chiffon, pale flesh, without clocking —
Quite useless to Edward, whose sad state is shocking.
To bind on your eyes — since lisle ones you lack.
Why not use the chiffon ones to stuff in your ear,
And shut out the sound of those lectures you fear?
‘Respectfully submitted after reading the May Atlantic.'
A. EDWARD NEWTON