The Contributors' Column

THE analysis of the very serious breakdown in the merit system of Federal employment by Mr. Lawrence .Sullivan in the FebruaryAtlanticdrew instant and national response. There is hardly a newspaper of large consequence in the country that did not comment on it editorially and in no uncertain terms.

On January 30 the President released a statement that there is ‘no question of government of broader effect than the maintenance and extension of the merit system.’ and to bear out his words the new army of 3600 clerks required by the bonus distribution was made subject to Civil Service regulations.

THE European experiences of Patience and her brothers (p. 257) have by no means been confined to France. They moved from country to country with their father as he covered photographic assignments for British and American newspapers. The two years they spent in Moscow gave them intimate impressions of the Soviet experiment. They arrived in Berlin just in time to witness Hitler’s accession to power. For several years they lived the life of the typical German school child, trudging off each morning, booted and with leather knapsacks, to a German public school. Their father writes, ‘When I announced to the children that the Atlantic was going to print their story, they sat bolt upright in their three-ina-row beds. After the unanimous Outery of joy, Patience inquired, cautiously, “Is the Atlantic a good paper?”’ Next month the Atlantic will publish the comments of the trio upon the Nazi scene.

A Manhattan lawyer, for forty years George W. Algor (p. 269) has interested himself in civic affairs. He drafted the New York Employers’ Liability Act; he is responsible for amendments to the child-labor laws; at the invitation of Governor Smith he investigated the management of the state prisons, and during Governor Roosevelt’s administration he helped to frame the law of parole now enforced in New York.

Essayist second to none in America, Agnes Repplier (p. 279) commemorates the second millennium of a great Roman poet. What American poet will be so remembered in the year 3936?

One does n’t need to have smothered in a feather bed in order to enjoy the situation so well sketched by Wilson Follett (p. 288), a situation that is rightly part of every Sentimental Journey.

Riley E. Eigen’s misgivings about the future of the railroads (p. 298) arise from his experience of thirty-two years in financing, constructing, operating, and managing railroad property, He has served on the Interstate Commerce Commission and was for a considerable time chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of the District of (Columbia.

The Atlantic’s quest for poetry brings together the characteristic work of three American authors: Robert Hillyer (p. 307), author of eight volumes of verse and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1934: Josephine W. Johnson (p. 308), whose short stories and whose first novel, Now in November (also a Pulitzer Prize book), mark her as one of the most skillful and sensitive of our younger writers; and David McCord (p. 309), a New Englander by adoption whose poetical humor has frequently tickled the New Yorker.

For fifteen years Madame France Pastorelli (p. 310) has been an invalid; for the past four she has been confined to her bed. At an early age she showed rare genius as a pianist, and she made the most of a long and careful training under the direction of Professor Vincent d’Indy, whose favorite pupil she was. Then, the second year after her marriage, came the first attack of that heart trouble which was to reduce her to such courageous bondage. This and the following, paper, to appear in our April issue, will form part of Madame Pastorelli’s book, The Glorious Bondage of Illness, which has been translated from the French by “A. D.’ and will be published in the United States this spring.

Johnson O’Connor (p. 318) is director of the Human engineering Laboratory at Stevens Institute of Technology. for years he has been studying young minds in the making; the conclusions which he has reached will, we believe, offer fresh understanding to all problem parents.

After fighting a losing battle on their Oregon ranch, Elizabeth C. Forrest (p. 326) and her young husband determined on a new start, To Wainwright, Alaska, they went as government teachers for the Eskimos. Their nearest while neighbors were a hundred miles away, a predicament which became somewhat hazardous when, as Mrs. Forrest described in the February Atlanlic, the Stork was Fxpected at Point Barrow.

Now in his twenty-fourth year, John Chrever (p. 331) makes his first appearance in the Atlantic with a chronicle very telling in its delineation of young America at the crossroads.

A small town, so said Earnest Elmo Calkins in the February Atlantic, is practically heaven on earth. Constance Cassady (p. 344), who had to live in one, thinks differently.

Professor of Economics at Smith College, William Orton (p. 351) has followed the development and the large implications of radio with a watchful eye. In a recent statement Sayre M. Ramsdell, vice president of the Philco Radio and Television Corporation, made this sensible observation: ’Freedom of the press was attained in America only after years of struggle. The problem now facing America is freedom of the air. Neither radio nor the public can wait for the issue to be decided by a policy of drift.’

Those whose business it is to use words know how alive they are and how easily they can be corrupted by barbarians. Lord Dunsuny (p. 360) declares war on a form of corruption increasingly noticeable in our headlines of to-day. We hope Lord Dunsany’s next barrage will be aimed at those who endeavor to convert nouns into active verbs: i.e., ’I contacted a most attractive blonde in Hollywood.‘

Theodora Laroeque Codman (p. 363) is an American disciple of George Sainlsbury. Her husband, Charles Codman, is a wine consultant fora large Boston importing firm. Mrs. Codman has accompanied him on frequent trips (the first was in 1924) to the chateaux, the vineyards, and the cellars of France — expeditions which have been delightfully recorded in her book, Was It a Holiday? An œnophile in good standing, she gathers her material from tasty and authoritative sources.

Month by month George E. Sokolsky (p. 369) travels through the United States, talking to thousands of people, listening in turn to every shade of opinion, and observing those changes in our national mood and character, changes which he believes are in large part the aftereffects of the New Deal.

Attention, please!

J. Frederick Essary is an accomplished commentator, and it is seldom that he is guilty of a flal. error. We regret a mistaken statement of his on page 98 of the January issue, in his article entitled ‘An X-Ray of the Campaign,’ in which he stales that Hudson County, New Jersey, went Republican.

William H. Kelly, Democratic State Chairman of New Jersey, wriles calling our attention to the fact, which is that Hudson County last November polled the greatest Democratic majority in its history, giving the Democratic candidates a lead of approximately 135,000 votes over the Republican candidates. This tremendous vote definitely establishes Hudson County as the greatest Democratic stronghold in the country.

One way to cross the bar.

Dear Atlantic,
In the Contributors’ Column of the January Atlantic, the question is asked. ‘What would you have done had you been “Stephen Dirck"?’
There is more than one way of setting one’s house in order. This is how my friend did it.
She did not know she was to have just a little more than two months before she was to die, but she did know she was going to die in a short while. There was no doubt, no hope, no question whatever of the outcome. She was a nurse; she knew. It was at Eastertime that dilliculty in breathing, as she went about her exerutive work, sent her to her doctor, who just one year previously had removed a malignant growth. At that time she knew the diagnosis and the chances of recurrence, but then there was hope, and the possibility of years more of life. So she had gone back to her work and to the full enjoyment of her social life, determined to fill whatever remained of time with friendship and service. Only a few of her friends knew what was hanging over her, for she saw no reason to add this grief and worry to the burdens of those she loved.
To me, who had been a friend since we were both children and who had been through many vivid experiences with her, she wrote the facts at the time of the operation. As soon as she was able to travel she came to me in another city for a month and together we faced the situation. Then she went back to her work with her ‘flag at the top of the mast,’ as she wrote. During the summer I was with her for two weeks at her vacation home. Full of energy and fun, she threw herself into all the activities of her gay group of friends, and not one guessed that she knew that this might, be her last vacation with them. Then came eight months of full life until that day when the X-rays told her and her doctor that the lungs were invaded by the disease and normal life and everyday thinking stopped. Following a short period in hospital for some temporary relieving treatment she came back to me. for there was some important business to attend to about a dependent relative. After that was completed, again together we took the facts out and talked them over and made final plans. A friend took her back to her home, using, as when she came, wheel chair and Pullman drawing-room. One week was long enough for her to give instructions about giving away all her possessions and to make final arrangements with her lawyer. There were gay little parties in her rooms too all that week.
There was to be a week in the hospital before coming back to me. The night before she went to the hospital several of her friends took her for a drive, to places she had known and loved all her life. They all knew it was a last visit, but not a word was said about it. She held up the whole group with her jokes and courage. So too in the hospital, where friends flocked to see her, there was no sadness, at least inside, her room. She was the strong one, making things as easy as possible for the friends who would never see her again. It was at this time she wrote: ‘The apartment is finished, nothing more left, and I feel so naked with no belongings except those in two bags and a small trunk. It’s rather wonderful. I’ve sublet the apartment and sold the car, had my insurance policies refunded, done all my business, and now there is just one thing left, the only important thing to get to you, and I m going to be there soon. After that nothing matters — whatever plans you make for me will be right, I won’t have to think, or plan, or worry, or be concerned about anything.’
We had four weeks together after she was brought back to me. For three of them it was possible to take her out into the garden, and for long hours she lay on a cot under the trees. Over and over she said, ‘Heaven could n’t be any lovelier than this,’ and every night, ‘ Another happy day.’ and when she was told that the doctor had said she need not go to a hospital for the end : ‘What have I done to deserve all this?‘ Never was there a word of complaint, or selfpity. Once she asked me casually if I did n’t think she was much weaker. We both knew it. was the case, but I said, ‘That is one of the things that it will be easier for me if you don’t say .’ Quick as a flash she looked me in the eyes and said, ‘All right, I won’t again,’ and she never did.
She had planned the giving away of everything she had brought with her and worked out all the final details, like lists of people to be notified, and was anxious only for fear that someone or something that would make things easier had slipped her mind.
Friends from all over the country had surrounded her with evidences of their love. Cheerful letters, books, flowers, and gilts, all of which she acknowledged herself up to the last week. During the final few days, as she was slipping away from all thoughts of any kind. I said to her once as she roused a little from a mercifully drugged sleep, ‘Dear, do you feel all the loving thoughts that are surrounding you?’ She opened her eyes, the strain left her face as a smile spread over it and she whispered, ‘And how!’ and slid again into the depths.
The man who wrote ’I Set My House in Order’ did n’t have to face a fact, just a possibility. He excuses his crankiness because he was ‘played out’ and ‘suffering acutely.’ My friend was breathing daily with a smaller and smaller portion of her lungs and with increasing choking. She did n’t want pity or ‘doleful tenderness.’ She did not ‘slump limply on the sympathy of others.’ She let a few share her burden with her, and between them they carried it easily and gayly, and to one friend she gave unforgettable final weeks of happiness and the joy of giving her what she called ‘ sanctuary.’ Would anyone wish to he denied such a privilege?
A. B.

Readers who recall with pleasure the two installments of Juanita Harrison’s travel journal, published in theAtlanticunder the title My Great, Wide, beautiful World,’ will take interest in these excerpts from a letter of Miss Harrison’s which came to us early in the new year. Miss Harrison is at present living in a tent on the beach at Waikiki. Her travel diary will appear in book form this spring.

Dear Atlantic, —
I do not like to read diaries unless it is very snappy and short. I hope you have enjoyed publishing mine. I have enjoyed every penny of what I have spent of the fee and I am going very slow and careful. I am living a perfect Beachcomber’s life. I work just two hours on Wed. A.M. and 2 on Sat. A.M. and my only desire is to shake off those 4. It keep me from being a real Beachcomber but the money won’t last forever.
I write most of the time am glad that I enjoy itYou would pitch it in the wastebasket. Last Sunday week I sat down and wrote my Christmas in China and took it into the Advertiser asked them if they accepted articles. They came to my tent several times to get some photos and only found me Friday so the article will be in Sunday’s paper.
The neighbor children have been just wonderful to my Tent they look on it as an untouchable beautiful toy. I will have a white Christmas tree for them.
I am taking you at your word if I Came to Boston there would be Friends. I’ll never be in Boston as I’ll never be smart enough to earn the money to come but would like to have some Boston Friends. I have just finished getting off letters and Hawaiian cards to 50 People in different countries thanking them for their kindness and there are many more that I misplaced.
Thank you for the poems that was before my article ‘Death Rides from the Sunset and ‘(Girl Child.’
Honolulu, Hawaii

Ludwig Lewisohn’s article, ‘Jews in Trouble,’ which appeared in the January issue, has occasioned considerable comment. To the Editors it seems not a little strange that there should be so much internal friction among those who are striving for a common objective. By way of illustration we quote certain pertinent paragraphs from a reply to Mr. Lewisohn prepared by Rabbi Irving Frederick Reichert, of the Congregational Emanu-EI. San Francisco, California.

The current issue of the Atlantic Monthly contains an article by Ludwig Lewisohn entitled ’Jews in Trouble’ in which Mr. Lewisohn has seen fit to wheel the sick Jewish member of our world society into the clinic of public opinion and subject him to another painful literary vivisection. By the adroit use of that literary skill and verbal dexterity which has deservedly placed him in the front ranks of American authors, Mr. Lewisohn manages to convey the impression — even more, the conviction — that he is a certified spokesman for American Jewry and is enunciating opinions in which the overwhelming majority of his fellow Jews vociferously concur.

Speaking as a Reform rabbi, and voicing the convictions of organized Reform Judaism in America as expressed again and again in its official bodies, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, I repudiate Mr. Lewisohn’s gratuitous assumption that most Reform Jews consider themselves Jewish nationals, and I reject his Zionist political philosophy. Our political nationalism is American. We deny that Israel is a nation in any modern sense of the term, but a socio-religious community only, sharing a common continuity with Jews in all the countries of the world. I do not believe that as American Jews our political salvation lies in Palestine. On the contrary, I denounce this secularism which seems to dominate the thinking of so many nationalist Jews as alien to the historic traditions of Israel. I believe firmly that this new heresy is irrelevant, misleading, and that it is fraught with grave danger to our position in the Western world.

I charge Mr, Lewisohn with having unfairly presented the position of the American Jew to the American people, I accuse Mr. Lewisohn of sabotaging that Jewish unity of which he speaks by forcing Reform rabbis who are in sympathy with Palestine into a position where they are compelled publicly to re-debate the issue of Zionism. I accuse Mr. Lewisohn of injuring the Zionist movement by provoking a controversy over Zionism when all of us, Zionists and non-Zionists alike, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and unsynagogued, should be straining our constant and united efforts tow ard making Palestine increasingly available as a refuge for our persecuted brethren.

This letter from a noted German skier now serving as an instructor in this country is characteristic of the comments which have come to Mr. Donald Moffat in appreciation of his article, ‘ Mr. Pennyfeather on Skiing.’

Dear Mr. Moffat :
With great interest, satisfaction and joy I have red in Atlantic about Mr. Pennyfether on skiing.
You spoke the words, which I try to say all the time since I am here. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the public) I have not the gift to write so cleverly as you do. I am surprised about your knowledge concerning European and American skiing questions.
I might tell you that I am one of Hannes Schneider’s chief-instructors and that I was teaching at St . Anton for six years. Now I try to organize and to teach our Arlberg method over here. Probably you have seen my name in the New York papers.
I would be very glad to make one day your personal acquaintance. The end of January I shall be back at Pockett’s and in the meantime I work at Altman & Co., New York.
OTTO LANG. Peckett’s-on-Sugar-Hill Franconia, New Hampshire