To open the new year the Atlantic selects a story which discovers, we believe, an auspicious new talent. The author, Geoffrey Household, is an Englishman in his mid-thirties. As so many of his race, he traveled widely before homing to London with six months’ freedom in which to write — a freedom, incidentally, which we shall do our utmost to prolong. Spain is his second country (he speaks effortless Spanish); he has lived in the Balkans, and likes the length and breadth of Latin America. ∆ A traveler of another feather is Albert Jay Nock, who prefers Portugal to Manhattan and Belgium to Portugal. The truth, of course, is that, being a philosopher, he is genially content in any clime so long as he can find a grindstone on which to whet his mind. ∆A Yorkshireman with a canny capacity for facing facts, H. B. Elliston served several years as a press correspondent on the China coast before coming to Boston as the Financial Editor of the Christian Science Monitor. His account of how Britain and the United States have struggled out of the slough of despond provides a contrast which no thinking American can escape. The second half of his essay, depicting Britain’s plans for the future, will appear in our February issue.
Donald Moffat, New Englander to the marrow, and his friend Mr. Pennyfeather enjoy discussing a pastime which is peculiarly fascinating to the Northerner. ∆ After a business career with downs and ups, F. R. McCreary dropped anchor at Cambridge, where he teaches English and finds the calm for his poetry. ∆ In this issue the Honorable Lewis W. Douglas brings to a climax the series of papers which have subjected to fearless scrutiny the fiscal policy of our present administration, Press and private citizens alike have followed his vigorous argument with increasing respect. His five papers have been bound together inexpensively and will be distributed, on order, to individuals and institutions. ∆ From Danger Island in the far Pacific Robert Dean Frisbie sent us what is unquestionably the biggest fish story in the world. And then, lest we be skeptical, he added this note to his letter: —
This story of the big fishing of the three Mauis (‘The Grandpapa of All the Fishes’) is a well-known legend throughout Polynesia. One hears it on every island. The incidents of the yarns, bananas, and breadfruit are Puka-Puka additions, but I have taken the freedom to transfer them into the Tahitian version. It really makes little difference, for everyone who tells the story makes his own changes as his imagination dictates.
Author of Upstream and well remembered for his criticism in the Nation,Ludwig Lcwisohn bus come to the valiant and vigorous defense of his race. ∆ An American who wrote with wit and sauce and who never ceased to delight his friends, Oliver I ferford lives again in the reminiscence of Carolyn Wells. ∆ Dean of Teachers College, Columbia University, William F. Russell reminds us bow easy (and generally how contaminating) it is to get something for nothing. ∆ There is a Franciscan flavor about Henry Williamson’s story which makes it appropriate for the holiday season. For those in doubt, we can say that, the parson certainly had a dog biscuit in his pocket. ∆ The author who so sensibly, so coolly set his house in order is known — under his rightful name to every wide-awake schoolboy in our land. The question is, what would you have done had you been ‘Stephen Dirck’? J. Frederick Essary, one of the most dependable observers on the Baltimore Sun, has returned from a circuit of the United States, bringing with him an N-ray of the campaign ahead. ∆ T. J. Wertenbaker is chairman of the Department of American History at Princeton University. ∆ Versatile in his knowledge of men and machines, Arthur Pound is well qualified to interpret the manufacturing problems of to-day.
The Atlantic regrets that an erroneous statement appeared in the Contributors’ Column for December. Dr. E. A. Cross, the author of Painless Education,’ is a member of the faculty of Colorado State Teachers College, and has no connection with the ColgateRochester Divinity School.
A neighbor’s remembrance of Huey Long.
Thank you for the publication of Mr. Sokolsky’s admirable sketch of the late Senator Long. As a Northerner, recently returned from the scene of Louisiana politics, I am keenly interested. However, after seven years’ sojourn a few miles from the Senator’s birthplace, I feel qualified to correct Mr. Sokolsky’s error — a widespread one indeed regarding the ‘poor while’ origin of the Long family.
As the Atlantic is doubtless aware, the term ‘poor white’ invariably applies to those numerous and prolific folk found in the hinterland of the South, shiftless, illiterate, dirty, upon whom even the Negroes look patronizingly.
Poor the Long family undoubtedly was, as an aftermath of the Civil War. Huey Long’s father gave up a cherished ambition to become a doctor and settled on his own land. His mother, a highly gifted woman of fine stock, so impressed her children with her own enthusiasm for good citizenship that the beginnings of Senator Long’s career can easily be traced through those early years.
A peep into the home of any one of Senator Long’s sisters and brothers will reveal the quiet, wellordered beauty of a cultured American home; as a matter of course a good library the current Atlantic on the table! All this is far removed from the sad ugliness of the ‘poor white’ environment.
The poor people of Louisiana loved and trusted their ‘Huey.’ He knew them. and fought hard to better their condition. If the Contributors’ Column will publish this brief tribute to the memory of a great American and to a line American family, it will deserve the gratitude of a multitude of Senator Long’s friends.
From a veteran new spaper correspondent now in retirement on the Riviera comes this interesting analysis of the Japanese factor in the Abyssinian problem.
Dear Atlantic, —
It may interest you to know that in Europe, at least, the Japanese factor in the Miyssinian problem has escaped attention until disclosed by an article in the Revue de France of November 1, entitled ‘ Les Clefs de l’ Afrique,’ the proof sheets of which were sent me by my friend Raymond Recouly, proprietor and editor of that publication.
The article fully confirms information already given in one of my letters several months since, and may be briefly summarized as follows:
Twelve years ago. Manchester enjoyed practically a monopoly of the cotton textile fabrics supplied to the markets throughout Asia and Africa, but Manchester’s most formidable rival appeared with the Japanese cotton mills at Osaka and Kobe, supplied with up-to-date machinery far superior to the oldfashioned methods of Manchester, and worked by artisans paid only one sixth of the wages required by the Manchester operatives. Japanese textiles soon replaced those of Manchester, not only in the Oriental markets, but also in Europe.
The British Government, in hope of averting or postponing the ruin of the Manchester industry, put prohibitive tariffs on raw cotton exported to Japan from India, the Sudan and the British colonies. The Japanese cotton syndicates, liberally subventioned by the Tokio Government, at once made intelligent researches all over the world to find a soil capable of producing the long-libred article equal to the raw cotton grown in the American Sea Island region and in the Sudan, where the cotton farms belong exclusively to the powerful Manchester syndicates, which have the full support of the British Government.
The Japanese started their cotton farms in Iran. Afghanistan, Uruguay. Central America. Dutch India, and in Manchukuo, but the results were not satisfactory, and the Japanese mills were largely supplied by Sea Island cotton.
About live years ago, after careful technical investigations, the Japanese Government subventioned its ’national cotton syndicate’ which obtained from Abyssinia an exclusive concession of two million hectares of the best cotton-producing soil in the world. A large colony of young intelligent Nipponese was established in the region around Lake Tsana, which is the source of the Blue Nile, 1760 metres above the sea level, and into which flow the perpetual torrents and streams from the vast region of mountains of from three thousand to four thousand metres altitude. Since 1933 the Nippon colony has exported, free of duty, to Japan the best grade of long-fibred cotton; this, if continued, will soon make the cotton mills of Osaka and Kobe independent of the supply of raw cotton from America of elsewhere. This would be a death blow to the long-suffering cotton mills of Manchester.
Such is the situation as disclosed by ‘Purcheron’ in the Revue de France of November 1.
I am enabled to supplement this by information that reaches me from an absolutely trust worthy source, according to which an eminent Japanese engineer and scientist who recently investigated the condition of the Nippon Cotton Farms near Lake Tsana made a detailed technical report, now in the hands of the Tokio Government, demonstrating that it is quite feasible to divert the course of the Blue Nile from its source, the vast mountain lake Tsana, so as to make the new river, eventually navigable, flow by way of the Gondar region, and the beds of ancient water courses, through Abyssinia, and empty into the Red Sea near the Gulf of Massowah, instead of flowing, as at present, in a circle around the Gojam mountains and joining the White Nile near Khartum. This diversion of the Blue Nile would nidically alter the face of Oriental Africa, to the immense advantage of Abyssinia. This vast engineering scheme, as explained in the report, would entail difficulties of excavation and leveling in three ranges of mountains, and cuttings one hundred miles in length. The proposed work long and costly, but quite practicable - would realize a triumph of engineering skill second only to that of the construction of the Suez and Panama, canals. If carried out, however, it would destroy the Manchester Cotton Farms in the Sudan, now watered exclusively by the Blue Nile, and would greatly increase the industrial, agricultural, and strategic value of Abyssinia. The White Nile, although deprived of its most fertile branch, would still suffice to keep Egypt alive.
This aspect of the Ethiopian problem, without considering at least three other factors, each vital to Great Britain, explains why England, even at the risk of a European war, will never permit Lake Tsana, source of the Bine Nile, to pass under the control of Italy, or of any other independent civilized nation.
Abyssinia never had the qualifications to become a member of the League of Nations, and was only admitted to the League in 1923 by the frantic, philanthropic efforts of Italy and France—to-day most bitterly regretted — and in spite of the violent opposition of England. What an irony of European diplomacy!
C. INMAN BARNARD
Is there logic in war or dictatorship?
Would Frank H. Simonds kindly explain the logic of Mussolini’s encouraging mass marriages and increased birth rates by gifts and privileges in view of the so-called desperate need to expand because of the pressure of population? Also, I should like to know why hunger brought on by the results of a previous war—which required exorbitant expenditures for killing and not for feeding—can now be allayed by another orgy of the same type.
W. D. S.
The widow’s state.
Dear Atlantic, —
‘Notes on Being a Widow,’ published in the November Atlantic, is a personal record, intimately, honestly, and ably written. As such it has intrinsic value which I recognize and appreciate. There is wisdom in it, and poignancy and courage, and, I believe, some mistaken conclusions.
I question whether widowhood would basically change for the worse the emotional responses and behavior of many women, and suspect that the ‘complex of importance’ and ‘chance to attract concern’ when they manifest themselves at such a time have existed and been taken advantage of since infancy. Most of us share them.
Did the possessive aunt suddenly develop that quality as a result of her bereavement, or had it permeated her relationship with her husband as well? Had marriage also meant for her an aggrandizement of self, and had her primary satisfactions there taken rise in the presence of someone to attend and protect her? If marriage had held for her any intimation of the richness of vividly shared experience, if love had transmuted itself into a larger tenderness, if there had developed through this closest of all relationships an increasing sensibility to the feelings and needs of another, and consequently of others, if the possibility of a self-fulfillment of such nature had been realized in even its minimum terms, could the aunt so have enslaved the niece or so violated the personality of the nephew ?
Does love ‘lie embedded in approval,’ — I find myself rejecting that word, — or is the reverse more profoundly true? May it not be that love intensifies our perception of the spiritual travail and triumphs which mark the growth of either husband or wife, and sympathy, appreciation, and reverence develop from such insight ?
Truly to love is to suffer, and Mrs. Harkness has shown us in how many, as yet unrealized, ways new stabs of pain may sometime come.
She has given masterly expression to the precious, intimate significance that a glance may hold, or the barest gesture. Here the miracle seems to me to lie in the fusion of two personalities the sensitivity which makes the one aware of the subjective experience of the other, because the one has, to that extent, become the other rather than in the message such a revelation may bring.
Through the magic of memory such a glance or such a gesture is ours to cherish forever when the more material token of affection which we may, or may not, have had has perished.
However, it would be ungenerous indeed to complain because Mrs. Harkness does not tell the whole story when the whole story can never be told.
Love does mean suffering, but, through its own nature it can transcend its own longing, futility, and grief and in its maturity bring us exaltation, a lifting up.
It is from the security of a height so attained that we may first become aware that, just in so far as it rescues self from isolation and solitary purpose and identifies it with life about it, losing it in its littlest sense to find it in its greatest, love does cast out fear.
J. W. H.
Miss Juanita Harrison, whose travel notes appeared in two previous issues of theAtlantic,is now living in Honolulu. Readers who relished the enthusiasm of 4My Great, Wide, Beautiful World’ will chuckle to hear that the moment Miss Harrison received her firstAtlanticcheck she gave up her job and bought a tent to live in.
In this connection we wish to reproduce a jolly letter from a grammarian.
Dear Atlantic, —
My class has been engaged in demonstrating (to its own satisfaction, at least) what a course in Freshman English could do for Juanita Harrison. Now if anyone wants to read ‘My Great, Wide, Beautiful World’ (those self-conscious commas!) in strait-andnarrow textbook English, these students can supply a pure version. They ought to have their subscriptions canceled, twenty-nine of them, for doing such a thing.
But, as a matter of fact, you ought to be thrown out of class for showing freshmen how well Miss Harrison gets along without any grammar. Here’s a sample: ‘ I offer a tip but they wont take it they say because I am alone but just when I go to step out the door they kiss me, the same thing has happen in every Town it is done so quick it make me laugh. Rome is very dusty its nice you dont hafter shine your shoes,’ says Miss Harrison, talking to us real friendly-like, as she might say. Here is a grammarian’s funeral for her:-
‘Although I offered them a tip, they would n’t accept it. They explained that, because I was alone, they could n’t take it. As I went out of the door they did a very funny thing. They did it in every town I was in. They kissed me. They did it so quickly that it made me laugh.
‘Rome is . . . very dusty. ... In nice weather it is so very dusty that you have a good excuse for not shining your shoes.’ Complete, even to emendation.
One more. Which is better. Juanita’s ‘Everything are pyjrnas‘ or the freshman’s ‘The style here is all pyjamas’? The reach for the grammar book in both instances exceeds the grasp!
T. M. H. BLAIR
State College, Pennsylvania
Life within a walled city.
Dear Atlantic, —
We don’t often realize that we are living in an old walled city. The line of truncated stone blocks which I glimpse from my window could just as well be the top of a house. But recently we had an adventure that brought realization.
Tsi Chung came back from Shanghai on Tuesday and the same day told how a friend of his would be coming through Nanking on the Shanghai-Peiping express the next Saturday night. He would get the car (the one he has the right to call) and I was to make some real American club sandwiches and ice a bottle of white wine and make a quart of coffee in the thermos, and all three of us, including Wang, would meet the train and have a midnight supper in the short time allowed.
So I fixed the food, Wang got the car, and we all rode down to Hsiakwan station. The train got in at five minutes to eleven, and Tsi Chung’s friend met us on the platform. He took us into the dining car and we spread the feast.
Now the train was scheduled to stay in the station for twenty minutes. Then it is broken into three sections and the locomotive takes these off one at a time on to a flat boat by means of which the Yangtse River is crossed Id Pukow. We had figured that the diner, being in section 3, would go over last. Much to our surprise we discovered ourselves being hauled on to the flat. Then, before we moved forward, the other two sections were likewise brought aboard, and there we were crossing the river at midnight to Pukow !
Well, we made a great joke of it and finished our wine and coffee and sandwiches. When we docked on the other side in about forty minutes we thought we could get right off, à la Hoboken, and take a ferry back. Not so! We had to wait another thirty minutes for that darned locomotive to pull us all ashore. By that time we had missed the boat, and we had to wait fifty minutes for the last ferry. It proved to be, not the regular passenger ferry, but nothing more than a tug, or lighter. But anyway it got us over. Meantime it had started to rain, a fine drizzle, which made the night velvety soft and all the lights along the river mysterious. The little boat got a lot of spray. I enjoyed it, and so did Wang, but Tsi Chung, as usual, was having fits imagining all the awful things that might happen.
When we reached the river’s brink we luckily found three sleepy rickshaw men to pull us back to the station. But when we got to Hsiakwan our car was gone! The very station was dark, locked and barred. At three o’clock in the morning no public telephone was available. And it was now pouring rain.
So, for what was a fortune to them, our three solitary rickshaw men promised to pull us to Wu T’ai Shan for fifty rents apiece; a distance of over three miles! We started off a I an easy pace, all behind oilcloth shields, and all went well till we got to the city wall. Here the great bronze gates were closed. Now what ?
Tsi Chung did n’t have a card with him, nor was he wearing either of his medals. Wang had his, how - ever, so he knocked gently, very gently, on the big iron doors.
’Why don’t you rap harder. Wang?’
‘If I’m impolite they won’t hear at all!’
He knocked gently again, and cleared his throat politely. Behind the bronze someone yawned. Quiet again.
He rapped with his knuckles. A voice answered: ‘ Who’s there?’
Wang explained in Chinese, Then, on the far side of the three great gates, a small door just large enough to admit a man’s face, and placed near the ground, opened. A stooping soldier looked out of this and called to us. We moved over.
Wang explained again, but the soldier was skeptical. It was n’t until the very wilted American t’ait’ai got out of her shrouded cab and knell down to smile her sweetest that the soldierly hearts melted. Maybe they saw another international scandal in leaving a foreign t’ai-t’ai cooling her heels in the rain. Anyway, they finally let us all in, though at first they wanted us to leave our rickshaw men. Picture us walking home after that jaunt! We arrived safely at 4.30 A.M., Tsi Chung none the worse for wear but mad as the devil. He still is. Wang had a swell time. And I, you see, gleaned a story to write home about, which does n’t happen too often.
When ignorance is bliss.
Dear Atlantic, —
A persistent wire-haired terrier introduced me to his owners, who asked me where I came from, and told me they came from Boston. Did I know Boston? I answered that all I knew of Boston was that for years it has been putting out the best magazine in North America. ‘Which one?’ ‘The Atlantic Monthly.‘
‘ Atlantic Monthly? . . . We never heard of it!‘
Did the next question, ’ D’je ever eat Boston beans?’ — to which I had to answer. ‘ No,’ — prove us equally ignorant?
Saint Petersburg, Florida