The Contributors' Column
As all the world knows, the Very Reverend W. R. Inge is Dean of St. Paul’s. His studies in Christian mysticism brought him renown as a scholar before he achieved his present eminence as a leader of public opinion. ▵ During Mr. Baldwin’s government, Lord Eustace Percy served as president of the British Board of Education. ▵ We agree with James Norman Hall that the still small voice is no match for the loud speaker; but what is to be done about it? ▵ Appropriately H. L. Harvey hails from Missouri. George W. Alger is a wellknown lawyer recently a candidate on the Republican ticket for the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Conrad Aiken’sSelected Poems was this year awarded the Pulitzer prize. Julius Rosenwald is Chairman of the Board of Sears, Roebuck and Company and founder of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, one of the great benefactions of our times. Lord Dawson of Penn is the personal physician of King George of England. His paper is derived from an address delivered recently in Montreal.
George W. Gray learned in detail the wonders of the vacuum tube during visits to the General Electric, Westinghouse, and Bell Telephone laboratories. Captain George H. Grant has spent many a rough-weather night on the bridge of his United Fruit steamer. Edward R. Finch is a judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. Frank Kendon sends us his verses from England. Leonore Hamilton Wilson, who lives in Maryland, writes of childhood in a less complicated day. Arthur Pound is engaged in the interesting task of editing the papers of the late Clarence W. Barron, the famous financial editor, one volume of which has already appeared. Ken Nakazawa is a member of the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Southern California. Charles Johnston was for many years in the British Civil Service in India. He is now on the staff of the Encyclopœdia Britannica.
Cyrus French Wicker, now Professor of International Law at the University of Miami, formerly served as Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Panama and Nicaragua. Anna Louise Strong, indefatigable observer and reporter of the Soviet régime in all quarters of the earth, made her venturesome journey to the ’Roof of the World’ in company with a garrison of soldiers moving into the High Pamirs to take over a remote post.
With poignant regret the Atlantic learns of the sudden death of Pernet Patterson at the moment when his promise had in a very real sense become performance. No writer of our day, we think, understood with such delicate intuition the processes of Negro mind and heart. From babyhood, through youth and maturity, the dark people were his intimate friends. Yet, in his judgment of the two races so tragically yoked, his sympathies never overbalanced his poise. Neither the homely nor the fantastic elements of the Negro’s composition were beyond his sympathetic but lucid understanding. Witness the delightful vivacity of ‘Buttin’ Blood’ and the sombre melodrama of ‘Cunjur.’
More cures for doctors’ hills.
I have read with interest Mr. Evans Clark’s article, ‘A Cure for Doctors’ Bills,’ in the October Atlantic, and I am disposed to quarrel with the author on the experience of his typical ‘victim.’ That the $9000-salaried man is typical I cannot believe, and that the $3000 bill is typical I know is not true. I have appended a schedule of what such illness as Mr. Clark describes might cost. In most sections one might charge the rates classed as luxurious, but one would certainly not collect them. Even with the greatest ingenuity at my command I am unable to jack up the cost to more than $1362, which is some distance from $3000. Admitting that the hypothetical family man has had an unusual run of hard luck, is it right to blame it on a lack of medical organization, even if the organization is far from perfect?
The chief complaint against medical costs has always seemed to be that they were not an annual fixed charge but one which had an unhappy way of coming up at unexpected times and when earning power was coincidently curtailed. While this is the type of expense budget which would seem to be best provided against by insurance, the practical consideration arises that illness is partly subjective, and cannot be exactly measured and standardized like fire, property damage, and other objective risks.
|10 calls @ $2.50||$25.00|
|20 “ “ “||$50.00|
|30 “ “ “||$75.00|
|Nursed by mother||0.00|
|Practical nurse 4 wks. @ $15.00||60.00|
|Trained “ 8 “ “ $42.00.||336.00|
|Private room 2 wks. @ $42.00.||84.00|
|“ “ 1 wk. “ “ .||42.00|
|Ward 1 wk. @ $28.00||28.00|
|Special nurse 2 wks. @ $42.00||84.00|
|“ “ 2 days “ $6.00.||12.00|
|Physician's services, after-care.||20.00||20.00||20.00|
|Blood transfusion (probably not required)||50.00||50.00||50.00|
|Blood donor (may be relative or friend without fee)||0.00||25.00||25.00|
|Private room 3 wks. @ $42.00||126.00|
|Ward 1 wk. @ $28.00||28.00|
|Special nurse 1 wk. @ $42.00.||42.00|
|Physicia'’s services for 1 year as required||50.00||200.00||75.00|
The laity seem to demand what they consider the best in medical service. Since men of high reputation can demand and receive large fees, they can hardly be blamed for reaping the rewards of the native intelligence, industry, and experience which have built their reputations. However, there is a class of physicians who believe with the Committee on the Cost of Medical Care of the American Medical Association that 90 per cent of illnesses can be satisfactorily taken care of by the general practitioner.
This is a semi-rural community, which has a summer population of many people of considerable means. It is common experience that many of these resort to consultation with high-priced specialists for illnesses which my colleagues and I feel we treat satisfactorily ourselves.
The fault with most schemes for the socialization of medicine is that they do not take into account the fact that the powers that be in such a scheme would probably be the judges of who would take care of the patient and how much care he should have. Perhaps the care would average as good as at present, but who would want, to give up his right to choice of his physician? The Medical Guild idea has somewhat the same objections, with the added probability, on the one hand, that the physician member would be at the beck and call of people with imaginary or slight illnesses, or, on the other hand, that the lay member would be dissatisfied with the amount of attention that the director of the Guild would allot him.
ROBERT W. BELKNAP, M.D.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
In the article by Evans Clark, ‘A Cure for Doctors’ Bills,’the point of view of a hypothetical patient as given by him is certainly that of a large number of our population.
I believe, however, that it is wrong to compare automobile, fire, and even life insurance with health insurance. A physician dealing with illness is unable to forecast any complications or untoward changes that may occur in a given patient. With an automobile it is different. The price of a fender for a standard car is about the same if you damage it in Boston or in San Francisco. You know beforehand how many hours of labor it will take to replace it, the cost per hour, and what the final expense will be. Sick people are different. No two react the same. One patient with pneumonia gets well in a month and his bedfellow may develop a lung abscess and be incapacitated for a year.
With an automobile you are dealing with a machine whose parts and functions are standardized. Unfortunately, with the human body this is not the case.
Mr. Clark says that sick people wonder why they cannot have health insurance when they are morelikely to be sick than to suffer by fire, be robbed, or lose their life. That is just the rub. All insurance companies realize the great hazard of illness as compared to fire or loss of life. These companies are in business to make money. In this age, when insurance can be obtained on nearly everything, is it not strange that the big companies do not carry health insurance on the plan outlined by Mr. Clark? These matter-of-fact business men, backed by a large array of proven statistics, keep their hands off, and yet the doctors, inexperienced in business, should be the experimenters!
In another paragraph Mr. Clark states that a study by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company showed that during a six-month period only 6 per cent of 3000 families reported no expenditures for medical care.
How many insurance companies would sell policies either for life, fire, or automobiles, at reasonable rates, if they knew that within six months 94 per cent of their policyholders must be paid varying amounts of insurance?
Group practice is ideal from the physician’s point of view. It correlates all his work and saves his patient time, money, and steps. Unfortunately, doctors are an independent lot, and as it is usually difficult to get two to agree, how much harder would it be for ten or twenty of them!
Let us hope that in time physicians will see the light and associate themselves in groups and guilds for the benefit of their patients and themselves.
We must not forget, however, that the Mayo and other groups do not have a set fee for every patient, but, as Mr. Clark puts it, charge the wealthy two dollars for a box of breakfast food and give it away to the poor.
I greatly appreciate Mr. Clark’s opinion of physicians in general and realize that something is wrong somewhere. I do not feel, however, that he has hit the nail on the head, and from the physician’s point of view I have attempted to show the fallacies of his arguments regarding health insurance by guilds.
HENRY A. R. KREUTZMANN, M.D.
New HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
As I read and enjoyed Mr. Newton’s ’A Tourist in Spite of Himself — In Stundardland,’ I was reminded of the following lines sent me some time ago: —
To BE HAPPY IN NEW ENGLAND
You must select the Puritans for your ancestors
You must have a sheltered youth and be a graduate of Harvard
You must know Emerson
You must live within two hours of Boston
You should have a professional or literary calling
You must speak low, be a conservative in politics and a liberal in religion
You must drop your r’s, be fond of the antique, eat beans on Saturday night and fishballs on Sunday morning
You must tolerate the Jew, respect the Irish, and love the Negro
You must wear glasses, be fond of tombstones, and, man or woman, carry your parcels in a green bag
You must be a D.A.R., a Colonial Dame, an S. A. R.,
or belong to the Mayflower Society
You must be neighborly to the unmarried
You must read the Atlantic Monthly
You must shudder at the Wests but go to Europe frequently
In age you must live on Easy Street with a little Boston and Albany preferred
You must make sure in advance that your obituary appears in the Boston Transcript.
There is nothing else
Very truly yours,
A. Edward Newton in anecdotage.
Every time a new Atlantic comes I look first to see whether A. Edward Newton is among the contributors. Fortunately I am often rewarded and choose his offering as the hors d’œuvre of the feast.
Two years ago in London I visited the Johnson house in Gough Square. The lady who lives there and shows visitors through the house gave us the most interesting ‘lecture’ I met with on my trip. Since I had read Mr. Newton’s articles about Johnson some years ago in the Atlantic, he came into my mind as she was talking. When opportunity offered, I asked her if she knew A. Edward Newton of Philadelphia. Her face became brilliant as she said, ‘Oh! Do you know him, too? ’ My one-sided acquaintance which had been gained through reading, but which seemed to me intimate, almost betrayed me into saying that I knew him well; but I recovered in time to reply that I had never had the great pleasure of meeting him personally, but that I was quite familiar with his writings and remembered reading some articles in the Atlantic about his visits to the Johnson house. Then she told me the following anecdote. It seems that she had some young women friends who wanted to meet Mr. Newton, so she invited them for tea one afternoon when he was to be there. He was in his best humor and the sallies were flying back and forth when something was said about his being a grandfather. ’oh,’he said, ‘I don’t mind being a grandfather — what I don’t like is being married to a grandmother.’
H. E. HEWITT
A correspondent sends us this paragraph which she found cross-stitched on an old sampler. Child psychologists take notice!
Hast thou ever dared to meditate on death? Answer me! Say hast thou coolly thought: ’T is not the stoic lesson got by rote, the pomp of words, and the pedant dissertations, that can sustain thee in that hour of terror. Books have taught cowards to talk nobly of it. But when the trial comes they start and stand aghast. Hast thou considered what may happen after it, how thy account may stand, and what to answer?
Signed, Sarah Atkins, age nine, 1822.
Sixty-two years ago, happily for us, Mr. Lewisohn entered America as an immigrant. Looking back on a life of singular usefulness, he writes to the Atlantic his advice to young men.
NEW YORK CITY
I am often asked whether it is too late now for good opportunities, whether there are no chances now as there were in former times. The same question that is asked me now was also asked me thirty or forty years ago. My answer is that from time to time there are just as good chances and opportunities now as there were in former times. To make a success in life it is important, of course, to work hard. Especially is it important for the younger people to be constantly watchful and attentive to the work in which they expect to make a success; to be energetic and courageous, at the same time to be ever watchful not to overdo it and not to take too great chances; to avoid large losses, not only on account. of the loss of so much of your fortune, but because a large loss is apt to make you lose your courage for future occasions. In order to be successful a certain amount of courage is essential. One has to figure out the possibilities of loss or gain. The fact that you merely want to do something that eventually turns out successfully does not have any result.
As I sometimes have mentioned, there are three things necessary to accomplish anything, and the last of these three things is the most essential— firstly, that you want to do a thing; secondly, that you are able to do the tiling; and, thirdly, that you do it. The first two are very interesting, but do not mean anything in the end. Say, for instance, you know of a nice country place that looks suitable for you, which you thought of buying and were able to buy, but you did not do the third thing—namely, you did not buy it. No matter how successfully it would have turned out, if you did not have the energy and courage to take action, nothing has happened and you lose all the benefit you would have derived had you been able to make tip your mind and taken action at the opportune time.
I have often been asked how it happened that I went into the mining business and made such a success of it. I was certainly not a mining expert originally, but opportunities were offered to me by people in whom I had confidence. I then made very thorough investigations, considered the matter from all sides, and took action at the rigid moment. From time to time difficulties present themselves which must be overcome with hard work and patience. As in all kinds of business, you have to make sure that losses which may appear are not going to ruin you or force you to give up and discontinue the entire matter. in drawing in experts, you must be sure that they have the knowledge to be able to tell what they can see; also that, in addition to what they actually see before them, they have a certain vision of what is likely to follow; but all of this will be of no benefit, but rather will be harmful, unless they have the right character. The head or the owner must be fair and liberal to the people who work with him. In fact, in order to come out successfully, everybody connected should be treated fairly. In other words, honesty, loyalty, fairness, coöperation — all must go together for final success.
The chemical constitution of the will-o’-thewisp.
SCAUSDALE, NEW YORK
DEAR ATLANTIC, —
The will-o’-the-wisp which Anna Harriet Pierce speaks of in her letter to you in the September issue is actually a gas known as niton, one of the rare gases of the atmosphere. A pound of niton will give off energy at the rate of 23,000 horsepower. As a reference there is E. E. Slosson’s Creative Chemistry, page 295 (star edition).
MYRON H. READ
A lexicographer’s daily business is not without ifs fascination. We print below a letter written by Frank H. Vizetelly in answer to an inquiry regarding his recent paper, ‘ Keeping Step with Speech.’
MY DEAR MR. DENNY: —
The editor of the Atlantic Monthly has kindly sent me your letter, so I hope you will allow me to comment as follows upon it. Good usage has established the forms used by careful speakers and writers, and was itself established by repeated uses by writers of standing in the community. So it comes about that the best English rests on the usage of such men as Shakespeare, Bacon, Jonson, Milton, Dryden, Addison, Pope, and others of succeeding generations to our time. Prior to the development of printing, forms were not fixed; since printing has been perfected we have certain fixed forms. But before then grammarians taught rules that accorded with their limited knowledge, and one grammarian corrected another down the corridor of time, until English grammar has become one of the most intricate of puzzles with which to confuse the brain, for by grammatical dicta alone it is not impossible to prove one form of expression both right and wrong, as you can see for yourself if you can consult Goold Brown’s Grammar of English Grammars. The book was published in 1851 and deals with the principal grammarians of that time.
In view of the fact that English is a collection of Anglo-Saxon dialects formed in the ninth century and amplified from time to time by accretions from other languages and dialects, it could not be otherwise than a hybrid tongue in which one race pronounced the words according to their light and another according to theirs.
We owe to the Scots the first guide to English pronunciation, the next we owe to an Irishman, and the third we owe to an Englishman. Each one gave expression to the speech of his people in his time, and we have modified or ratified these as the years rolled on. John Walker made a very much closer study of pronunciation than either of his predecessors — Thomas Sheridan and George Buchanan.
With regard to the word ‘none,’ the construction is either singular or plural, because ‘none’ has been accepted as an idiom for ‘not one’ or ‘no one and for ‘not any.’ The word has been treated at length in the Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary. ‘None but the brave deserves the fair’ is a line from Dryden as familiar to you as ‘None can cure their harms by wailing them’ from Shakespeare’s Richard III. Shakespeare used the plural elsewhere, but he also used the singular: in As You Like It (act 1, 2, 1. 19), ‘None is like to have,’ and again in Venus and Adonis (1. 971), ‘Every present sorrow seemeth chief, but none is best.’
Now in regard to ‘all of the people.’ You have not forgotten Barnum’s dictum: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.’ This was once erroneously attributed to Lincoln, but denied by Spofford and not found in the speech delivered by Lincoln at Clifton, Ohio, where he was said to have used it. ‘The very all of all’ is Shakespeare’s superlative. ‘All of’ is common to the pages of the Bard of Avon’s work — for instance, ‘ A coward, one all of luxury, an ass,’Measure for Measure (act v, se. 1,1. 506). But he wrote also of Julius Cæsar, ’He sits high in all the people’s hearts.’
It was in the time of Galfridus, the grammarian, that an effort was made to fix the language. In Queen Anne’s reign, Addison made a plea for purification by filtration and the rejection of foreign terms, but the efforts were hopeless from the start, as they are to-day, for as soon as our speech becomes fixed it will decay and then soon pass to be classed with Latin and Greek—among the dead languages.
In Great Britain the standard of speech is that of the educated people of every region. The people of the southeast do not speak like those of the northwest there, any more than we do here. Pause a moment, then, and give thought to English as spoken elsewhere — Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands; then sail oversea to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the East Indies, the West Indies; and on your return cross the border of the Canadian Dominion; and if you listen attentively wherever you may be you cannot fail to note the differences of speech, not merely of pronunciation, but of idiom, and you will realize that grammar is an excellent exercise with which to develop the brain, because it is like a Chinese puzzle. Although ‘no can do’ sounds like bad English to our ears, there was a time when the people of England said ‘no can do’ when they meant ‘I (or we) cannot do it.’
There is no chart or compass other than self-adjustment to conditions, and accepting the dictum, ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do.’
Very cordially yours,
FRANK H. VIZETELLY
Does any reader recall when these lines were first published in the Atlantic? Mrs. Helen A. Walker, of Athens, Ohio, reminds us of them, but our earlier volumes were indexed after what now seems to us a singularly useless fashion, and we cannot fix the date.
Latin is a trumpet clear;
Spanish like an organ swells,
Italian rings its silvery bells.
France, with many a frolic mien,
Tunes her sprightly violin;
Loud the German rolls his drum
When Russia’s clashing cymbals come;
But Britain’s sons may well rejoice,
For English is the human voice.
James Norman Hall describes himself as a ‘past-minded’ man, and defends his philosophy with no little persuasiveness. But if some men are past-minded, it ought to follow that others are future-minded, and it becomes appropriate to inquire a little more closely what this division in temperament means. I omit presentminded men because it is open to doubt whether there are any. The present is something of which we are always in pursuit. It is a bird that the hunter carries in his bag without knowing it while he sends his beaters through the scrub and peers about anxiously for a chance to shoot.
Those who surmounted the various bans imposed on Eugene O’Neill’s play, Strange Interlude, will recall the memorable lines spoken by one of the principal characters: ’The present is a strange interlude, in which we call upon the past and future to bear witness that we live.’ James Norman Hall tells us that he calls on the past; other men call on the future. All civilized men seem to need some assurance of life other than that furnished by the present. Savages and children perhaps live in the present; but this familiar saying really needs to he qualified. For children, if not savages, are continually busy with imagination, which carries them far beyond the immediate, if not beyond the present. It transports them to distant places, and transforms them to alien shapes, and perhaps this is but the immature equivalent of the past-mindedness or futurecmindedness which they will later develop.
Some degree of past-mindedness is almost necessarily ingrained in those who care more for the culture of their souls than the expression of their will. The man of action, on the other hand, is necessarily future-minded. From the past we have received our æsthetic heritage. Fast scenes and events are mellow, rich in connotation, and offer no stubborn resistance to our imaginative desires. The past is an inn where the warmth and wine are always excellent, for the traveler there is his own host, makes his own viands and bed, even his own companions. No wonder that yesterday is a beautiful word.
Some degree of past-mindedness is really indispensable to civilized being. We cannot omit from the definition of the civilized man some share of æsthetic perceptiveness, and not much of this is possible without an appreciation of the remote, the imaginary, and, therefore, of the past. Yet the æsthetic-minded man must also have an appreciation of the immediate; indeed, he is perhaps the only kind of man who ever really sees the immediate — the forms, colors, appearances, and characters of things apart from their dull utility. The artist intent on the colors and surfaces he is transcribing to canvas, the musician sunk deep in his element of sound, are perhaps more truly living in the present than it is otherwise possible to do. Or at least they are living in the immediate, for if it is the present, it is also timeless, without reference either to past or to future, and so removed alike from the world of utility and from that fictitious ‘now’ which is only a mathematical abstraction.
The future-minded man of action is unconscious of the past, and despises it when it is called to his attention. He despises also the world of the immediate in which the artist or the musician finds his riches. He gulps down the present impatiently, bolting the diet set before him, and really feeding on what he imagines is to come. He inhabits the house he will build next year when he has cleaned up his hundred thousand on the market. He runs the national business which he will control when reorganization has expanded his plant fourfold. He rides in the sixteen-cylinder ear he will buy after his next raise. Few indeed are those, whether hard-headed or contemplative, active or æsthetic in temperament, who are content with a level survey of what really lies before them and an undisturbed acceptance of the day-to-day, practical world.
But there is another means of assuring ourselves that we live than by calling either on the past or on the future to hear witness. It is the method of Distraction, accompanied by the loudest possible noise. This is the method of which our country seems to have made an overwhelmingly popular choice. After all, one can only venture into the past or future at peril of going alone, and to be left alone is a thing no American ran endure. Distraction, it must be admitted, has its points. It puts the burden on some other agency than the subject himself; he has only to buy a magazine of ‘short short stories at the corner drug store and turn on the radio when he reaches home, and the vast complex wheels of the modern world begin revolving for his delectation. He presses a button, and the genie of Service leaps forward to scratch and howl in his ear, assault his eye with tabloid doses of emotional pantomime, and assure him that he lives.
Science has furnished Distraction with an amazing armory of weapons, most of them noise-producing: the steam shovel, the subway, the pneumatic drill, but chiefly the radio. It is a solemn thought that millions of Americans, night after night, open wide their ears to receive all the shards, clods, crushed gravel, and smashed crockery of sound — sound, on which Beethoven and Mozart set their stamp, and moulded eternally to their will; sound, the vehicle of highest æsthetic experience. I have heard a veteran say that wind harrowed men’s souls in the war was not the blood and death, not the lice and mud, not the camp followers and the disease, but the incessant, insufferable noise. If it be so, Americans must be a bellicose race, and little hope for peace is found in the quality of their tympana. We cannot expect their minds to be civilized while their eardrums remain barbaric. Hell, I think, must be a place where there is neither past nor future; this is what is meant by calling it eternal. And it was a mistake to symbolize it by flames. It consists solely of Distraction, accompanied by the loudest possible noise. It is simply full of radios.
THE OFFICE ICONOCLAST