‘To how many of the thousands of intelligent men and women who attend all the concerts is music a means of sell-expression? How may we realize its possibilities?‘ That question was propounded in last February’s Atlantic by Henry S. Drinker, Jr., whose sister, Catherine Drinker Bowen (’The Music Makers’), champions again the ‘neglected language.’ Mrs. Bowen lives, breathes, and plays the fiddle across the road from the house outside Philadelphia where her brother gathers together a chorus of more than two hundred voices to sing the world’s choral masterpieces.Henry Williamson appeared last in the Atlantic more than six years ago, but ‘Christmas’ will recall his delightful nature pieces and such books as The Pathway and Tarka the Otter, which have won for him a high and special place in modern literature. M. Beatrice Blankenship needs no introduction to Atlantic readers. ‘ All Sweet Things’ and ‘The Enduring Miracle’ have prepared a warm welcome for ‘Death Is a Stranger,’another generous sharing of wisdom and experience gained as the mother of four boys and of one little girl, dearly loved and lost, whose passing made Death a familiar in her household.

‘Following the Gleam’ is the second installment of Vincent Sheean’s chronicle of his adventures, mental and emotional, in Devolution. His intense, personal type of reporting made him an invaluable foreign correspondent (he went to China in 1927 as an emissary of the North American Newspaper Alliance); and his lucid grasp of essentials gives him authority on such great issues as the Chinese Revolution. Dumas Malone (‘ The Geography of American Achievement ’) is editor in chief of the Dictionary of American Biography, and with the latest statistics in hand writes an interesting sequel to the Atlantic editor’s ‘Perspectives’ in the issue for January 1932, Dorothy Thomas’s understanding of ‘First Love’ was delightfully demonstrated in the story by that name, and now again in ‘Hazel.’ She bids fair to succeed Willa Cather as First Lady of Nebraska, for her stories appear in print as fast as she can write them, and readers clamor for more. ▵ Who is this Bergen Evans? A hireling in the pay of Russia? All we have been able to discover is that he is a young professor in the English department of Northwestern University; anything that he says (‘Nursery Crimes’) may be used against him. ▵ ’With the B. E. F. in France’ is a further excerpt from the journal of Harvey Cushing, Professor of Surgery first at Harvard, now at Yale. Dr. Cushing was awarded not only the American Distinguished Service Medal, but also the French Legion of Honor, for his work as head of American Base Hospital No. 5. ▵ These ‘Two Poems’ are the latest work of Josephine W . Johnson, whose first, novel, Now in November, has won instant acclaim. Her Atlantic stories, her novel, her recent poetry especially, make it hard to realize that her years number only twenty-four, all spent on a Missouri farm or at Washington University near by. Earnest Elmo Calkins’s interest in that ‘Sixth Sense’ which the handicapped seem often to develop COMES as the result of his own years of deafness, years which did not prevent him from enjoying an enviable career as head of a large advertising firm until his recent retirement. ▵ If you have ever conducted a vigorous campaign against the Japanese beetle, you will thoroughly appreciate Frank Jewett Mather. Jr., ‘On Beetling.’ Here is strategy of the first order, planned and executed by the distinguished Princeton professor-emeritus of art and archæology who now fights the good fight at Washington Crossing, Pa. ▵ Some time ago the editor of the Atlantic wrote to the leading citizen of Cleveland the following letter: ‘If I wore asked the essential change which the revolution of these last years has wrought in America, I should be inclined to point to the current conviction that the entire nation has the responsibility of the support of every citizen. . . . When I was a boy, every family group in the village where I was brought up felt that the last misfortune was to permit any member of the group to on the town.” Now, instead of on the town,” he comes on the United States of America.’ In this issue, after the unavoidable delay caused by his innumerable obligations as lawyer and chief of the national 1934 Mobilization for Human Needs, Newton D. Baker has contributed his reflections on the subject in a paper which is a classic of human sympathy and wisdom (Decay of Self-Reliance’). Margaret Marks (‘The Child ) graduated from Barnard in 1929, and in spite of her ‘favorite vice of indolence’ has written and published poetry ever since. ▵ ‘Hede’ is concluded in this issue. It is by Paul Hoffman, a native of Utica, New York, who has published a novel and several stories since his graduation from Harvard in 1932. ▵ Inspired by F. Emerson Andrews‘Excursion in Numbers,’Hendrik Willem van Loon goes off on a jaunt of his own and offers some ‘Hints for Beformers.’ Since he has written for every other audience, he should be welcomed even by such reformers as are more used to giving hints than to receiving them. Philip Cabot’s interesting scheme in ‘ Industry and Government’ has been tried out to some extent at HarvardGraduate School of Business Administration, where he is professor of public utility management. Grenville Clark (‘Federal Finances and the New Deal’) is a member of the law firm of Root, Clark, Buckner, and Ballantine, a Fellow of Harvard College, a holder of the D. S. M.

Madame Sun Yat-sen in Georgia.

Dear Atlantic, —
Mr. Vincent Sheean’s article on revolutionary China not only pleases me, but awakens strange tendrils of memory. Incredible as it may seem, that ‘figure of enchanting delicacy,’ Madame Sun Yat-sen, once walked the streets of our Georgia mountain town, and her sister, Mei-ling Soong (now Madame Chiang Kai-shek), attended our ‘hick college’ for a number of months. The incident has one or two curious features which may interest your readers.
Ching-ling Soong (later Madame Sun Yat-sen) was a student, about thirty years ago. at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. With her she brought her little sister Mei-ling, then eight, or ten years old, intending that she should study in the Macon public schools. But there was a city ordinance, devised in Reconstruction days, that no pupil of other than the white race could be admitted. In their perplexity they heard of Piedmont College in the mountains, which would admit students of any age to its preparatory department. So Mei-ling was sent to us.
The child, so small, so dainty, and always smiling, was at once a favorite. She was put in charge of our most undeniable ‘Southern aristocrat,’ a tiny, soft-voiced woman who was like her small pupil in fragility, and in pride of ancient family.
Later in the year, the grown-up sister from Macon came for a visit, accompanied by another young Chinese woman. Some fancy struck the three of them to put on the richest silks of their own country and explore our streets on Saturday afternoon. In Georgia, Saturday afternoon is a national holiday, and all the mountaineers were in town to trade. As the Chinese girls, in strange and gorgeous costume, glided along our board sidewalk, the rustics made an astonished path for them. The mountaineers were too polite to express disapproval, but their glance was full of suspicion, distrust, and racial arrogance. Whatever the Chinese girls were thinking, they kept it to themselves. Their faces were as impassive as masks, and they walked almost as if performing a rite.
As a boy of thirteen or so, I was tremendously impressed. I longed to know what they were thinking—if they felt, perhaps, even more arrogant than the mountaineers looked. I wanted to speak to them, but did n’t dare.
This still seems to me the best example of exotic human contrast I have ever seen.
Demorest, Georgia

The origin of our numbers.

Dear Atlantic, —
I wonder whether it is worth while to call your attention to a slight but certain error of fact in Mr. Andrews’s article about numbers in the October Atlantic. It does not affect his main point at all, but it is an error.
In speaking of the Roman numerals he says, ‘The letter C was taken for 100 because it was the initial letter of the Latin word for one hundred. centum; and so with M (mille) for one thousand.’
As a matter of fact this correspondence is merely a coincidence. When the Romans took over the Greek alphabet from the Greeks in southern Italy there were a number of characters for which they had no need as alphabetical symbols. Some of these came into use as numeral symbols. Among them was the letter known to us as phi, which was used as a symbol for 1000. From the form ɸ it became Φ, then, opening at the bottom, M. It looks like M but has nothing to do with M. The D used for 500 is one half of this original Φ. Another Greek letter similarly used was the theta for 100. Originally Θ, it lost its inner bar or dot, one side of the circle came open, and it looks like a C but is not really a C. The L for 50 comes from another Greek letter, the chi of the Cumæan alphabet. At first it was ↓, then the side strokes became horizontal, then the left one fell off, leaving apparently an L, but not the L that, comes after K in the alphabet.
I can quote you authorities on this if necessary.
Professor of Latin, Lawrence College
Appleton, Wisconsin

EDITOR’S NOTE: The New English Dictionary cites the following: —
’C, now rarely c. = Latin centum a hundred; the common sign for 100 in Roman numerals, as in dates, numbering of books or chapters; so CC = 200, CCCC or CD = 400.’
’D, the sign for 500 in Roman numerals, as MDCCCXCIII= 1893. [Understood to be the half of CIϽ, earlier form of M = 1000.]’
’L, the Roman numeral symbol for Fifty. As in the case of other Roman numeral symbols, this was originally not the letter, but was identified with it owing to coincidence of form.’
’M, the Roman numeral symbol for: A thousand.’
Under ’Numeral,’the Encyclopœdia Britannica has this to say :—
‘The most familiar case of the use of letters as numerals is the Roman system. Here C is the initial of centum and M of mille; but instead of these signs we find older forms, consisting of a circle divided vertically for 1000 and horizontally, ϴ, or in the cognate Etruscan system divided into quadrants, ⊕, for 100. From the sign for 1000, still sometimes roughly shown in print as CIϽ, comes D, the half of the symbol for half the number; and the older forms of L, viz. ⊥ or ˡ͜ suggest that this also was once half of the hundred symbol. So V (Etruscan A) is half of X. which itself is not a true Roman letter. The system, therefore, is hardly alphabetic in origin, though the idea has been thrown out that the signs for 10, 50, and 100 were originally the Greek X, Ψ, ϕ, which were not used in writing Latin.’

Magic Zero.

Dear Atlantic, —
For the last year and a half I have been working in an industrial chemical laboratory. The analytical work entails much multiplication, division, subtraction, and addition; the development work requires transposition of one set of units into another, as centimetres to inches, pounds to grams, litres to quarts. In short, I was constantly dealing with numbers. One day last March I began to wonder about these numbers which I had accepted since childhood: What did they mean? What was division? How was multiplication invented?
I set out on this quest of the meaning of numbers and their manipulation without the aid of any books dealing with the theory of numbers er the number concept, although I had heard that such books were available. I did this purposely as a kind of test, to find if I could arrive at any definite conclusions from my own thought and inquiry. I worked at it for several days, perhaps a week, but finally dropped it because of constitutional indolence.
About a week ago I came across the notes and tables I had made, knowing that the Atlantic often published articles which contained new or original thought. I decided to write up my inquiry in essay form, calling it ’Magic Zero.’ Two days ago I made an incomplete first draft. To-day I saw the October Atlantic, and I cannot tell you with how much pain and exasperation at my own indolence I read F. Emerson Andrews’s ‘Excursion in Numbers.’ There, in print, were the very things I myself had arrived at, even the discovery that the use of zero was a stroke of genius, and all this in the very publication to which I wished to submit my essay! Although it inflated my ego to know that another man had reached the same conclusions I had, it deflated my hopes of ever having my article published.
Akron, Ohio

Almost converted.

Dear Atlantic,—
Mr. Andrews’s ‘Excursion in Numbers’ is interesting and though-provoking, and he almost persuades me to become a duodecimalarian. If Congress were to adopt the duodecimal system to-day, I could gleefully cavort around as a mere youngster of 49. But hang it all — I knew there was a nigger in the woodpile! I should have to wait 18 years, instead of 8, to be eligible for retirement on pension at 65. Down with such radicalism! I’m a conservative.
Cleveland, Ohio

Another sign of the times.

Dear Atlantic,—
A reading of Mr. Edward Weeks’s ’Signs of the Times’ in the October number prompts me to send you the following from my OWN collection. On the side wall of a furniture factory I found this gem: ‘ We Stand Behind Every Bed We Sell.‘
Oakland, California