The Contributors' Column
AN Atlantic, pilot for twenty-eight years, Ellery Sedgwick (p. 129) recently crossed the Pacific to appraise for himself the hospitable anchorage and the seafaring experience of the Japanese.
After speaking his mind (in our January and April issues) on two subjects of concern to every New Englander,—the zest of skiing and the iniquity of Manhattan, — Mr. Pennyfeather has sailed down East to spend the best of the summer with his friend Donald Moffat (p. 139).
Educated at Columbia, George E. Sokolsky (p. 150) followed the yearnings of all young radicals when he journeyed to Russia in the months immediately following the Revolution. His next call took him to China, where he married and lived as a participant in the struggle between nationalism and Communism. On his return to the United States, theory and practice had converted him to a conservative philosophy.
In a Letter which Pope would have enjoyed, Robert Hillyer (p. 158) pays his respects to those who dwell on the Parnassian slope —and those who don’t. Chiefly his words arc addressed to the most highly esteemed poet in America to-day, Robert Frost.
Hugo Johanson (p. 164) has been in bread lines, flophouses, and on relief since 1931. He knows what continued exposure to such disheartenment can do to one’s morale.
When not in Spain, Geoffrey Household (p. 177) is usually to be found at his London address. An Englishman now in his thirty-fifth year, he has had four short stories in the Atlantic since the turn of the year, evidence enough that we think his prose is worth discovering.
A Chicago lawyer, Mitchell Dawson (p. 184) reminds us of an imperative tax which most of us pay without knowing it.
It was while serving as a liaison officer with the British Expeditionary Force that André Maurois (p. 187) began seriously to study the English temperament. He created at that time a fictitious warrior, ‘Colonel Bramble,’ who was a central, if quiet, character in his first two books. The novelist promoted Bramble to a General in 1922.
In forty short stories, four novels, and one play, Walter D. Edmonds (p. 189) has made a good beginning on his lifelong ambition to tell the history of New York Slate in terms of fiction. His novel of the American Revolution, Drums along the Mohawk, is the August selection of the Book-ofthe-Month Club.
Timothy Fuller (p. 193) saw Harvard as a member of the class of 1936. The youngest contributor to this issue, he has contrived a story fresh, crisp, and colloquial, but one which is not based squarely on fact. No homicide has yet occurred to mar Harvard’s three-hundredth birthday.
Within his country’s borders, Italicus (p. 201) has watched those moves in international chess which have compelled Mussolini to take the initiative.
From the manuscript of Agnes Repplier’s (p. 210) new book, In Pursuit of Laughter, we selected two delicious helpings. The first. — entitled ‘ The House of Laughter’—appeared in the Atlantic for July.
A student of economics, Clifford B. Reeves (p. 217) is a business man with headquarters in New York City.
From Australia Mrs. Ethel Anderson (p. 226) sends us her design for a most romantic garden.
A native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Richard Sullivan (p. 228) is a free lance with all the courage and zest of twenty-seven.
Stanley Casson (p. 233), a don at New College, Oxford, will be recognized by other authorities in archæology.
In the Contributors’ Column of the June Atlantic, we published a poem dedicated to New York — parentage unknown — a copy of which was forwarded to us by Dr. Dykes of Thomasville, Georgia. The author, Byron R. Newton, now steps forward to acknowledge his child. ‘That little poem of mine on New York,’ he writes, ‘has been wandering about the world anonymously for thirty years and now appears in your magazine under the foster-fatherhood of a doctor in Thomasville, Georgia. In its pilgrimage it has been claimed by or accredited to authors and poets of high and low degree from Kipling to Christopher Morley. In recent years it has been generally accredited to Sir Alfred Noyes.
‘Naturally, in its tender years I felt a parental compassion for the homeless little urchin, but now, in its adolescence, it is quite comforting to know that it has found shelter and domicile with a kindly country doctor—hope he may be a real Dr. Dafoe to my little quin.’
The time, the place, and the man.
Dear Atlantic, —
William Hard’s article in the May Atlantic on ‘Overburdened Men in the White House’ is very interesting, but I think he missed one vital point. He compares the labors and responsibilities of the President and the Premiers of France and Britain, but does not mention that the latter, whether they take office at forty, sixty, seventy, or eighty, are taking a job which they are thoroughly familiar with, have probably held once or several times before, and have spent from twenty to fifty years preparing for.
The President, on the other hand, is thrown into his titanic responsibilities with no proper apprenticeship. In fact there is no office, series of offices, or any other means of education which even begins to prepare a man for the Presidency of the United States. Is it, then, any wonder that the Presidency is hard to handle?
The heads of the European democracies are recruited from only one source and by only one system — by the long grind of parliamentary procedure. They have spent long years in the ranks of the opposition and in minor positions in the government until their powers are thoroughly tried and known to their colleagues, their opponents, and themselves. Of course they are masters of the technique of their jobs, because they have been exercising the same technique in other positions for years, and if they did not have the special talent required in a superb degree they would never have arrived anywhere near the top.
Our Presidents are recruited from almost anywhere, and by such miracles of manipulation and fortuitousness as only an inscrutable providence can account for. They have been Governors. Senators, Representalives, Cabinet Members, Vice Presidents, and soldiers. None of these positions is anything like the Presidency, or prepares a man with either the knowledge, the technique, or the art to be a successful President. A Governor of a populous state with a diversity of interests does have a similar job on a much smaller scale, and probably this accounts for the fact that so many of our more successful Presidents have been Governors. A Congressman gets no experience in administration, so when one becomes President he is being tossed into a new held. Probably the poorest antecedent of all is a career of purely administrative positions, such as Cabinet or Army, for then there has been no experience of dealing either with Congress or with the electorate.
Gladstone and Clemenceau were undeniably grand old men, but if there was anything that they were supremely able to do in their old age it was the same thing they had been able to do and had done in their younger days. It is certainly no injustice to them to doubt whether they would have been so successful in a new and untried field, either when they were making their last magnificent efforts or forty years before, when they were developing their powers.
If the European systems of government have any superiorities over our own, they probably are to be found in this difference in the roads to power. Yet America does seem to have a way of getting the right man in the right place at the right time once in a while when the need is greatest.
R. J. WILSON, JR.
Somerville, New Jersey
The ‘Letters from the Dust Bowl’ by Mrs. Caroline A. Henderson, which appeared in our May issue, brought to the author this gratifying response from Washington.
Dear Mrs. Henderson: —
Your article in the May Atlantic is very interesting. These ‘ Letters from the Dust Bowl’ will give a good many of our city people a better understanding of some of our farm problems and the courage with which farmers are meeting them. You are certainly to be congratulated.
(sgd) H. A. WALLACE, Secretary
Department of Agriculture, Washington
An archæologist speaks.
Dear Atlantic, —
I read with great interest and sympathy Mrs. Caroline Henderson’s article in the May issue of the magazine.
My work has taken me through some thirty states the past fifty years, particularly in the South and our great Southwest country. We are entirely responsible for dust storms and floods. We destroyed the buffalo grass, thus changing a grazing country into a wheat area. Buffalo grass was nutritious and furnished food for countless millions of buffaloes and antelopes—later for great herds of cattle. During the past twenty years our agriculturists have, through most of our states, industriously drained their acres; thus the surface water rushes off during winter and spring. There are protracted droughts throughout the summer. One of our most famous foresters told me a few years ago that we were cutting timber three times as fast as it grew.
Destruction of native grasses and timber results in lowering of what is termed (he water table. Ibis, persisted in, will not only destroy animal and vegetable life, but also drastically affect human existence in our country.
I ran several expeditions many years ago through the Great Plains and Southwest. There were occasional dust storms, especially on the upper Canadian and Arkansas rivers, but they were not nation-wide in scope. Old cattle men and Indians, who knew the past, informed me that we should have ‘held’ a Great Plains section for grazing.
Space does not permit a lengthy comment on the destruction of game, birds, and fish due to deforestation and pollution of streams. It should be mentioned that our laws are sufficient to prevent pollution of streams, yet they are not enforced. There is widespread destruction of bird life along our seaboard from Maine to New Orleans, due to the fact that oil tankers ‘clean out’ when a few miles offshore. Countless numbers of ducks, geese, snipe, and even the hardy gulls have perished.
A mining engineer who knows his America contends we should build small dams near heads of our small rivers. This would cost less than enormous dams downstream; thus we could minimize flood menace as it grew.
WARREN KING MOOREHEAD
In praise of Ph.D.’s.
Dear Atlantic, —
‘Extra Ribs in Pigs,’ by F. Emerson Andrews, in your June issue, prompts the writer’s first letter to the Column.
For your information, there are theses and there are theses (with profuse apologies to Gerty Stein), even as there are plumbers and there are plumbers — good and bad. Amongst the 20,000 theses submitted yearly, perhaps not more than an even dozen will be worth the paper written upon. However, if these dozen (or less) prove to be practical, then my premise is that the effort expended will have been not in vain. (Yes, I have been through the mill along with those score of thousands of researchers!) Marie Curie, in the early 1900’s, received her Doctorate from the Sorbonne, on her epoch-making study in radium. A practical study? Thomas Minehan, at Wisconsin, won an advanced degree on his research (gained by first-hand experiences) of ‘Boy and Girl Tramps of America.’ A practical and interesting dissertation?
Sometimes the world hears, reads, and uses to practical advantage studies made by seekers of Masters’ and Doctors’ degrees; most often this is not the case. Witness the study recently made by a scholar, entitled ‘Ventilation of Classrooms.’ The author of this paper found, among other things, that instead of spending large sums of money and practically’ dismantling some school buildings in order to install expensive apparatus for ventilation, the most effective type of ventilation may be gained by merely opening the windows! Who, might you ask, was responsible for the shelving of this thesis?
As to the silly titles of theses on page 680. any pedagogue could, within live minutes’ notice, by referring to government pamphlets on thesis titles, supply an even sillier and larger number. However, let us not condemn a thesis merely by its title, unless we desire to be consistent and condemn a book by its cover. Which reminds us of the excited patient about to undergo an operation, who asked, ‘Doctor, how long after this is all over will I know anything?’ To which the doctor answered, ‘Well, don’t put too much faith in the anæsthetic.’ Merely a case of poor grammar.
To end my dissertation — a young lady in an Eastern tower of learning received tier Master’s degree with a thesis, ‘How to Bake an Apple Pie.’ Silly? Hardly! If a good apple pie resulted, I vote to grant, her a Ph.D. What this country needs is a bigger and better apple pie! And if studious young men and women can in any way point the way to progress — whether it be educationally, chemically, and/or in the culinary arts — let us view their earnest efforts with tolerance, and bid them godspeed!
A Generation that won’t be Lost.
Dear Atlantic, —
In the June issue Joseph Barber, Jr., reviewed Maxine Davis’s The Lost Generation, and in closing said, ‘It [the lost generation) cannot afford to accept passively the implications bound up in Miss Davis’s mass of evidence.’
We are not ‘lost’ any more than any other generation living to-day. A depression places all people under economic strain and to make such a hullabaloo about one class is like making headline material of a child’s death from a wreck which killed a number of people.
It is implied that we are a race of weaklings — resigned to our fate and an easy mark for some harebrained leader who promises an answer to our problems. We are Young America! For us to rebel is not a whit more probable than for all America to do such a thing. We have intelligence enough to recognize wartime conditions — and to accept them without sense of defeat. Nor have we been so terribly and pitifully idle as was implied. Of course we had no money, and no honest-to-goodness job — but we worked here, there, and everywhere. We learned a lot — and know the things a dollar can buy. We are sure to be the lightest losers of any generation living to-day. We’ve had only ourselves to worry about. Those older than us had families; those younger were not able to help themselves. What about them? What are their losses?
In other words, we are n’t children any more. If we can’t take a man’s part in American life to-day, — come what may, — there’s no need to waste time and effort on the weak impotent creatures we should surely be if we were to accept ‘passively’ the term ‘Lost; Generation.’
P. S. I graduated from high school three years ago — and have yet to attend college. I should n’t have even tried to write — but these propagandists make me sore. If Maxine Davis is young and a member of depression-hit youth, she ought to be shot for lying down and crying. A lot of youngsters are too young not to believe the things she says. Why could n’t she have written something we could have used like a banner — instead of dissecting us like pigs and making us think we were the most pitiful objects in all creation! The book is an insult to clear thinking. Forgive this outburst.
Dear Atlantic, —
The article by Roy Palmer Clark in the May Atlantic, ‘The Schoolmaster of’ Pitcairn,’ interested me very much.
On Christmas day, 1882, the ship of which I was a junior officer — British ship Illawarra — hove to off Pitcairn Island. Four boatloads of the islanders came off to us and spent a couple of hours exchanging their products, baskets, native fruits, etc., for such books and clothing and stores as we had, and yarning of their life on the island in turn for our news. Very probably the man ‘Coffin’ Mr. Palmer speaks of was among them.
What has stayed in my memory longest was the incident in their leaving. When the ship squared away to continue her voyage round the Horn, the four boats ‘tossed oars’ and the occupants sang most melodiously ‘Pull for the shore, sailors, pull for the shore’ as long as we were within hearing.
I. CAMPBELL HAYWOOD
Around the World in Eleven Years,the original chronicle by Patience, Richard, and Johnny Abbe, has, since its serialization, attracted to us a number of characteristic utterances from other youngsters, one of the most entertaining of which was written by E. Moffat, who, in her fourteenth year, was studying abroad.
Darling Mummy and Daddy and family in general and Mary,
You’d be surprised but school is quite fun at times. But the first few days the meals were horrid. I’m getting used to them now. The beds are just as you described anil the pillows are straw and lumby and about an inch thick. The kids are frightfully nice and very pretty most of them.
There’s Joan and Helen and Tati and Helga and Haya and Moi in the big dortoire. Then there’s Debby and Mary and Marianne in another and Janine and Marthe and Suzanne and a couple more somewhere above up on the next floor. Suzanne is very pretty and fiery and with a lovely complexion and large dark bleu eyes and long black eyelashes.
Suzanne is arguing violently with the perfectly loathesome teacher who said she was whistling or rather trying to whistle through her tongue the way the guitarist at Stuben did. So that started one of the everyday quarrels that occur every single day. She gets sent to bed without her supper tonight and in consequence she keeps very slim.
And you ought to see my skating, the skates are lovely (feeling and looking), I go simply whizzing round the pond every time we go and I only fall down about three times par jour. Oh by the way we went to that theatre lecture quo j’ai te dit sur le telephone. The lecture was awful. Bui the movie afterwards was wonderful. It was of the Arlberg and St. Christophe and St. Anton with Hannes Schneider for hero!!!! which topped it off beautifully. And Willi Walch was in it in the ski school and the same girl and the two cowboys that were in the thing at Senlis.
We saw the Zürser See! but not Stuben! Wah!! We saw near the Ulmer Hütte and lovely views all around, oh and about the lecture the man kept telling about how many changes of underdraws he had in his rucksack and he read us his letters and télégrams and how when he slid down a small glacier with a small avalanche his head swoll up and his eyes closed and his face was all bloody and dirty from scratches and he said it was such a lovely sensation when the hands of a woman wiped his face and it was the loveliest thing he ever felt in all his life. By the way will you send me a few absorbent blotters and a couple of pencils and my fountain pen, maybe I told you that on the telephone.
(Next morning). We are going to a place called Gryon to ski and I’m sure it is not going to be half as good as Stuben. (6 in the evening). Home at last it was quite nice, especially the snow. None of the kids are any good really cuz they can only go down hill straight.
By the way you know the gratings they bad at Stuben well there was one of those at Gryon and I slipped and fell on the damn thing and I think I have broken something I mean when I move it around to much it clicks in a dull painful sort of way.
That dratted bottier at Lausanne made my boots too wide so I’ve got the skis on the opposite feet.
By the way the surprise was they had found another pond for skating nearer La Pelouse. The anatomie lesson with the Dr is very interesting. He’s been telling us about artificial respiration. The victim lies on the back with something under the shoulder blades and then squeezes like anything. Guess what the temperature is in our house it is 10 degrees above zero and 5 below I should say in the dortoire so in consequence 1 wear 2 wool shirts all the time. I change socks only 2 times a week and I wear my bedslippers and ski-socks so my feet are warm anyway but my hands and face freeze.
For breakfast on Thursday morning we have bread and butter and honey all stuck in a sandwich and then a kind of cold cereal that smells heavenly and looks gorgeous but tastes like Odol toothpaste and so I gobble it in haste and then eat a couple of sandwiches. The lessons: daily news: I get up at 15 minutes of 7, shower, breakfast 7.30, clear up, make bed, read for 30 minutes in biblio then lessons t ill 10.30 or study, then 2 prunes (uncooked) and a piece of dry bread. Lessons till 12.00. 2.00 skating till 4.30 gouté then — um — lessons or study till 7.00. Supper, gaiety, sleep. Well, there’s my schedule. I’m about to go over to supper. I’m being lectured on respiratoire wery wery fiercely in a very noisy study not crossly we are learning rapidly how to skate H. and I.
P. S. A girl going to Bex is going to get me 2 bars of chocolate with a few centimes I gave her and boy what isn’t going to go on in the dortoire tonight.
All my very best love to you both and the kids and Mile.
La Pelouse, Bex (Vaud),Suisse