The Contributors' Column
Ernest M. Hopkins (p. 383) is one of the great collegiate administrators of our time. Trained in personnel work, he served a sympathetic apprenticeship with the late President Tucker, and has himself guided the affairs of Dartmouth for a generation. President Hopkins is widely known as a leader of liberal social thought, and his lifework has been the mental, physical, and moral preparation of young men for citizenship.
The Letters of Anne Douglas Sedgwick (p. 392), which have been collected for book publication this autumn, proclaim that the gentlest of arts did not perish with the Victorians. An English novelist quite at home in America, she will be remembered for her popular success, The Little French Girl, and for her stories of rare vintage which appeared in the Atlantic more than a decade ago.
Walter Lippmann’s (p. 403) famous column in the newspapers is based on the definite social philosophy he is describing in the Atlantic. It may be said with truth that his whole active life has been spent in direct preparation for this important series.
Napoleon carried a sachet of poison through the Russian campaign and up to the eve of Elba, by which time it was so stale it had lost its potency. The account of his attempted suicide was recorded by one of his most devoted aides, General Armand de Caulaincourt (p. 413). After being suppressed for a hundred years, the Caulaincourt diaries came to light and have now been ably translated by an American, George Libaire.
Recognized as one of the ablest critics of the lively arts, Gilbert Seldes (p. 422) has spent recent months in Hlollywood and is thus able to give us an inside view of the most glamorous industry in the twentieth century. Mr. Seldes has devoted serious thought to the preparation of his new book, Mainland, which reaffirms his faith in an America which shall be neither Fascist nor Communist, but itself.
Harry Harrison Kroll (p. 432), who makes his first, but by no means his last appearance in the Atlantic, has pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, His father came to western Tennessee in a covered wagon and there settled down to be a share-cropper. Young Kroll was farmed out by his mother, and picked up whatever education he could in the fields and woods. Not till he was over twenty-one did he cross the threshold of a country school; he entered with the sixth-grade children, managed to get a teacher’s license in six months of intensive study, and so began his career as an ‘educated man. He has one book to his credit, The Cabin in the Cotton, and more to come.
R. S. (p. 442) is the nom de plume of a withdrawn and sensitive poet whose home is not far from the State House on Beacon Hill.
Richard Sheridan Amis (p. 444), formerly Western news editor for N.B.C., tells what the producers of broadcasting have to contend with when they endeavor to please the world and his wife.
Ranked close to the top in American tennis in the years immediately before and after the war, R. Norris Williams, 2nd (p. 453), is a stylist, a good sport, and as likable a representative as the United States has ever sent abroad. We know of no one better qualified to discuss a game which has now become international.
Allen H. Wood, Jr. (p. 458), who lives in Boston, has devised a perfect outdoor sport for October evenings.
Arthur Pound (p. 460) is an economist well versed in the theory and practice of our industrial age.
We have asked our reporter at large, George E. Sokolsky (p. 164). for a close and informed view of the rivalry between William Green and John L. Lewis.
Mrs. Winthrop Chanler (p. 473) is a cosmopolitan who has lived the world over and who is now bringing together, in the serenity of her Genesee farm, the mellow reminiscences which made her first book, Roman Spring a national best seller. A second and concluding volume, Autumn in the Valley, has been announced for publication this fall.
Albert Jay Nock (p. 481) is
Or else a little Conserva-tive.
He has been accused of being both. Personally, we think he is just a little bit Independent.
When Stephen Leacock (p. 490) writes about imaginary persons, he is actually identifying for us characters whose names have become so commonplace that we literally know nothing about them. This paper will appear as a chapter in Mr. Leacock’s new book. Funny Pieces, which will be published in the early autumn.
And finally, the youngest contributor in the Atlantic family, Timothy Fuller (p. 494), was a member of the Class of 1936 at Harvard.
Not the Fan, but the Sword.
Dear Mr. Sedgwick: —
I have read with delight your paper on the Sword of Japan. A detestation of fans (forgiven the Spanish women only because many of them are uncomfortably warm for six months in the year) spoiled my pleasure in your first article; but the sword is another part of speech. It was with the sword that the Japanese were fighting (superb little soldiers!) in the thirteenth century when Marco Polo visited Japan.
I was in Berlin in June 1904. and I went to a dinner given to a Japanese officer who was being recalled to fight the Russians. He was a very little man, even for a Japanese, and the sons of the North looked like giants by his side. When we drank his health, he arose, made the round of the table, and presented the hilt of his sword for each of us to touch. It was a consecrated thing.
I trust all things go well with you.
Your friend always,
Few will fail to recall the demand for a thorough investigation of the New York Stock Exchange, following the market collapse of 1929. To Malcolm B. Ronald’s comments (in The Dakota Twins) upon President Hoover’s rôle in the ensuing Senate inquiry, the former President makes reply.
Dear Mr. Ronald, —
I have read with great interest your penetrating article in the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly.
There is one paragraph which I feel, because of the importance of the publication, requires some correction. In connection with an inquiry of the Banking and Finance Committee of the Senate into the New York Stock Exchange in 1932, you say. ‘When it became evident that he [Senator Norbeck] planned to expose the entire procedure, President Hoover became alarmed, fearing that such disclosures might frighten prosperity away from her post, “just around the corner.” He asked that the investigation be handled “tactfully.”Senator Norbeck . . .’etc.
The facts of the matter are that after several attempts to secure a correction of the abuses in the New York Stock Exchange, I myself took the initiative and asked the Senate Committee to undertake an investigation in order to determine the facts preliminary to Federal action to cure these abuses. This request was made by me through Senator Frederic C. Walcott, a member of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, in February 1932. There was indeed some delay in the Committee’s starling the inquiry and on various occasions, when the investigation lagged, I gave urge for its continuance.
No such conversation as you report ever took place between Senator Norbeck and myself. On the contrary, my notes show that on April 12, 1932, at 4.35 p. M., Senator Norbeck called at the White House and I urged him to leave no stone unturned to get at the truth.
If you will refer to the Myers Newton book, The Hoover Administration, on pages 178 and 192, you will find reference to these matters, as well as in the current press.
I am sending this letter to the Editor of the Atlantic Monthly, asking that he give it the proper publication. Yours faithfully,
The moot problem of ‘social security,’ discussed by the Chairman of the Social Security Board in the July issue, touches all of us. Here is one rejoinder.
Dear Atlantic, —
The ‘approach to security’ set forth in Mr. Winant’s article does not seem to get to the root of the problem. To begin with, its alleged purpose is to provide for competent people out of a job during a depression. Now during the present depression it seems that all must be provided for, whether competent or not. There would be a terrible hue and cry if anyone were hard-hearted enough to suggest that no money be given to incompetents.
From this it would seem that the real problem is to provide for everyone, not only in hard times but in good as well, for does not Mr. Winant state that during the prosperous twenties one twelfth of the employables in this country were out of a job and had to be supported?
The philosophy behind the federal security legislation does not seem to take into account two important things: (1) Who is going to pay for all this security? (2) How can the Federal Government control economic forces admittedly beyond the control of employers and employees?
One of the arguments offered in favor of the national social security legislation is that the states cannot afford it. That is undoubtedly true, but how can the Federal Government afford it when even the richest states are unable to care for their unemployed without the aid of federal funds, which are supplied to the states in the face of a mounting national deficit?
Those favoring social security legislation argue that European countries have recognized the need of unemployment insurance and old-age pensions and have accordingly established them by law. No doubt t hey have, but unemployment insurance has a strange habit of breaking down when depressions last long enough to use up the funds reserved, or when they follow each other with such short intervals of prosperity that the reserves cannot be built up in time to withstand the next onslaught. Besides, most European countries have devalued their currency within the last fifteen years, and more are apt to follow in the near future. Devaluation plays havoc with both unemployment insurance and old-age pensions, because the workman who has saved for a rainy day under these laws finds himself robbed when he is eventually paid off in cheapened currency.
No one but a flint-hearted, ultra-rugged individualist would seriously deny that social security for all would be a wonderful thing, but what is the use of embarking on a venture which we cannot a afford, or of undertaking a half measure which does not meet the problem on a practical and realistic ground?
STANLEY BRIGHT, JUNIOR
Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania
Those Wisconsin grasshoppers.
Dear Atlantic, —
Mr. Richard Sullivan’s ‘Thunder’ begins its delightful rumbling in the August issue thus: ’The leaves were just beginning to burst,’ and an almost immediately sequent reverberation runs: ’Grasshoppers jumped around him high as his waist; they hit his hands as he walked.’
Can it be that the Kenosha grasshoppers are more precociously responsive to thunder than their congeners elsewhere, or is Mr. Sullivan, pedantically speaking, guilty of an entomological anachronism? The phenomenon related might occur in late midsummer, but I gravely doubt whether even the grasshoppers of progressive Wisconsin could in early April have achieved the amazing high-jump record attributed to them by Mr. Sullivan! Far be it from me to vex the poet’s mind,’ but — I wonder.
Epitaphs which reveal more about the living than the dead.
Dear Atlantic, —
Those of us who, like Addison, ‘amuse’ ourselves with tombstone inscriptions deplore with Glanville Smith the fact that the epitaph has gone out of fashion. We long, as he does, for its return, although our reasons are undoubtedly less practical than his. My own reason is that my collection of epitaphs furnishes me with endless material for speculation. I turned to it after reading ’Young Mortality’ in the July Atlantic and once again noted one or two things which have always interested me, but which are not emphasized by Mr. Smith.
Why is it that epitaphs often reveal more accurately the character of the living by whom they were written than that of the dead to whom they were dedicated? Was this revelation unintentional on the part of the writer, or was he deliberate in calling more attention to himself than to his subject? What was in the mind of the writer of the following lines, taken from a tombstone in Massachusetts: —
BENEATH THIS STONE
A LUMP OF CLAY
LIES UNCLE PETER DANIELS
WHO TOO EARLY IN THE MONTH OF MAY
TOOK OFF HIS WINTER FLANNELS
Now of course it is possible that the above epitaph was written by a professional more concerned with his own ability to make a rhyme than with Uncle Peter. But I like to think that the lines express the real sentiment of some devoted niece or nephew, and to read into them the conscientiousness of the writer as well as the stubbornness of Uncle Peter.
There is also the inscription on a stone in Fell’s Churchyard in Pennsylvania which would seem to indicate that things military were more important to the writer than things spiritual. This example is a match for Fulke Greville’s lines in what Mr. Smith calls “algebraic brevity.’
TO THE MEMORY
A PATRIOT, A CHRISTIAN
A FRIEND OF WASHINGTON
AND A FRIEND OF GOD
I cannot resist adding one more quotation which I believe Mr . Smith will enjoy — in case he does not al ready know it because it establishes the fact that in one instance at least Old Mortality was remembered by Young Mortality: —
HERE LYES YE BODY OF POOR FRANK ROW
PARISH CLARK AND GRAVESTONE CUTTER,
AND YS WRIT TO LET YE KNOW,
WHAT FR YNK FOR OTHERS USED TO DO,
IS NOW FOR FRANK DONE BY ANOTHER.
(From the ancient Benedictine Abbey, Selby. England)
‘This man and this woman.’
Dear Atlantic, —
The verses entitled ’Romance’ by R. S., in the May number, are charmingly constructed, yet I cannot subscribe to the picture they present; nor can it be admitted that it is typical of the American husband and wife who are still to each other ‘this man and this woman’ they vowed to be when joined in marriage.
He, having dined well, sits down to the complete absorption of his newspaper, while she gazes wistfully at him through tear-dimmed eyes that see him, again, as the eager, fair-limbed lover of years long gone. Unable, finally, to bear further the change she sees in him. she hastily says good-night and departs with the merest nod from him.
We who follow the sea cannot get that picture. Instead, we visualize the husband standing beside the mantel looking down on her as she sits at the fire and watching her graceful fingers weaving in and out as they knit a garment for a grandchild. How many years, indeed, have those bright needles, so capably guided, created lovely garments for herself, for her children, and now for her grandchildren! Can it really be more than thirty years, he wonders. As he watches her thus engaged, he marvels at the love that has been knitted into every stitch.
She looks up and catches his eye. ‘You must be glad that all those weeks of mameuvres are over and that they went, so well, as the papers say.’
’Yes,’he replies. ’It is good to be home.’
T heard from all the children during the week.
They are well and send their love to you.’ Their love? it is her love through them, is his thought.
’I saw Janet’s husband in Callao. He showed me such a happy picture of their little girl whom we have never seen.‘
’We’ll get a copy, I know. This dress is for her. When it is finished, I will start on a sweater for that bright little boy in Boston — your namesake.’
Thus, together their mingled thoughts go back to the days when, as a bride, she ‘followed the ship’ and life was gay and young. Separations there were, of course, and many of them, and always hard to bear; but ever present was the joyful anticipation of return.
She has dropped her knitting and her hand lies lightly on the arm of her chair, He leans over and takes it in his as he says, ‘Come, darling, let us turn in now,’
This is the picture as we reconstruct it. Call it sentiment, if you will. It is far more enduring than that. But for Heaven’s sake do not call it romance, that word whose meaning has been prostituted throughout our land in this day of uprooted basic values.
W . T. CLUVERIUS ‘U.S.S. Argonne,’At Sea
The following telegram delivered to the Atlantic office shows that at least one keen reader was on the track of the ’Harvard Homicide.’
8 Arlington St. Bsn.
PONDER ALL new YORK STORIES IN MARCH THREE BOSTON NEWSPAPERS SLADE MUST KNOW OK FRAUD INVOLVING FITZGERALD SINGER AND RENIER RENIER SURELY LITTLE MAN WHO INQUIRED WAY TO HALLOWELL HOUSE LOOK FOR STOLEN OR BOGUS MADONNA AT FOGG AND FAIRCHILDS WILD HUNCH HADLEY YOUR MAN DON’T LET FULLER GET AWAY
HENRY T. CHAMBERS
’For one half hour only.‘
Dear Atlantic. —
I have just made the acquaintance of ‘Jupiter Jones’ in the main branch of the New York Public Library, where force of circumstances compels me to do my magazine reading temporarily. I was principally intent on reading ’Bread Line,’recommended to me by a well-to-do friend who assures me she will never again, as long as she has a dollar, refuse a beggar a coin.
Though I should like to be the first to pass along the news, some of your other Manhattan friends no doubt have told you that in the periodical room of the Main Branch of the N.Y.P.L. the current number of the Atlantic is tagged ‘for one half hour only,’ which brings me lo the humiliating confession that on sighting this notice I shamefully quit Mr. Sedgwick with his sword and fan, lured to the back of the book by ‘Jupiter Jones.’
LUCY MERRTON SHIEL
New York City
More precious than jewels.
Dear Atlantic, —
As you know, on all the big liners it is customary for ladies of wealth to drop about the ship the jewels most dear to them. That this custom holds on this voyage, and this ship is shown by advertising notices ‘Lost.’ Someone misses a string of priceless pearls, another a brooch of large diamonds, another a ruby bracelet.
But in larger letters, amid these cries for the return of lost jewels. burn the strong and simple words: ‘Lost. A copy of the Atlantic Monthly.’
Yours with appreciation,
HELEN CHURCHILL GANDEE
On board ‘Aquitania’
And again Africa speaks.
No, noit was very naughty of you to publish the letter from Mrs. Theo Hewitt on ‘Housekeeping in Rhodesia’in the July Atlantic. I don’t blame Mrs. Hewitt one whit for writing the letter; but to have it published hurts every one of us who have come with our husbands to this fascinating Africa or followed them after they have taken root in this soil.
I do not know housekeeping conditions in Southern Rhodesia. but I can’t think they are very different from here in Kenya. When I was footloose and a frequent victim of wanderlust. I wandered through South Africa, through Southern Rhodesia via Bulawayo to the Falls, and out via Salisbury and Beira. At Salisbury, at Miekel’s Hotel, if my memory is right, — when I came down to dinner, being a lone female, I was put at table with three other women. I was accorded delightful hospitality by two of the ladies and gradually I heard their stories.
The first was the wife of a farmer. He had been a clerk, she a school-teacher, and their future had seemed void, so they risked everything and took a small farm in Rhodesia. I wish you, and Mrs. Hewitt, could have heard the pride in her voice, as she told how her husband’s lands had grown in size and productiveness, how his name was adequate security for any amount with the banks in the district, and how all the children were in very good schools. Her health, she said, was not so good just then, but nothing to complain of. She waved to me as she drove away with her husband the next morning, happy to go back to the farm.
Then came the story of the wife of a mining engineer. Life had been very rough as she had known it. Her husband had worked hard, too hard, and had had more than his fair share of malaria, and yet she had nothing to complain of. Her husband had made his fortune while they were still young. They would soon return to England: their bouse was already picked out in the South of England. They would retire, develop a hobby, and enjoy each other. In a few years they had made and saved more than many would have made in a lifetime at home. She had stood beside her husband always, not stopped in England as so many wives did.
Then the other lady at the table started. There was not one good word she could say for the whole continent of Africa. She hated it. There were no lectures, there were no concerts, no high-brow conversations, no art exhibitions — nothing but tin shacks and dust. At that moment the two ladies of Rhodesia said good-night and left the table. I stayed and tried to defend Africa, which I knew then only as a traveler; tried to argue real versus artificial pleasures. So now l have wasted a whole evening scolding you, dear Atlantic. However, I argue not as a wanderer, but after living in Kenya for seven years.
I adore Kenya. I love the gaudy gardens where everything blossoms at once. In this room are roses, chrysanthemums, peach blossoms, and Easter lilies, and in the dining room are roses, carnations, and phlox. I dare not give you a list of the flowers in the garden, bordered with dahlias the size of soup plates. Bananas, peaches, passion fruit, apples, loquals. and avocado pears shelter seedling beds. I have no idea what the names are of half the flowering shrubs along the drive. I love the purple mist in the valleys when the jacaranda trees are in blossom; the sudden splashes of color of the flamboyant; coffee trees in flower like snow or orange trees. I love being lazy, and silting in a large chair and shouting lustily for a boy to come and close a door rather than move and do it myself. I hated to have to clean my own shoes while I was at an English coast village for a holiday two years ago. I hate split families, but that must be put up with until the coffee and the family are a bit older, and this is really a wonderful place to bring up a family — verandah playrooms, and hours out of doors every day all year long, to say nothing of fresh fruits and vegetables in the garden year round. Then, of course, there is a very special thrill on fine mornings, when far away to the north I can see the pinnacles of Mount Kenya’s eternal snows on the equator.
So please don’t run down this fascinating, littleknown Africa of ours. There are many of us who love it, and although the housekeeping is rather different from that I used to know and there are drawbacks, there are compensations as well, and I personally would hate to have to live anywhere except right here on a coffee farm in Kenya.
MARY E. F. CROWTHER
Postscript to ‘Old Abe,’ Raiser of Funds.
Having read Charies D. Stewart’s delightful paper on ’The American Eagle,’in the July issue, I am moved to remind him that although Shakespeare may not have said anything about the bald eagle’s astonishing downward plunge, Tennyson has observed it; —
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
But the real matter which prompted me to write this letter is Mr. Stewart’s brief mention of the work done by the Wisconsin Eagle in the Sanitary Fair of 1865, held in Chicago. That wonderful $16,000. a great sum for those days, was raised by Alfred L. Sewell, head of a printing firm at 138 Lake Street. Mr. Sewell thought of an army, an Eagle Army, a children’s army; almost overnight he formulated his plan. It was necessary that he should be commander in chief, — there had to be one, — but he utilized all the titles from lieutenant general down to corporal. He had silken badges printed with a likeness of the Wisconsin Eagle on each and a suitable title. Any child or older person who sold one picture of the Wisconsin Eagle became a corporal, and proportionate sales brought proportionate titles, until some enthusiastic children earned very distinguished titles.
Mr. Sewell brought the plan to the attention of a great many newspapers, and the children sprang to it with utter enthusiasm and loyally. That feeling was kept up by Mr. Sewell’s own inspiring letters, not many could write better letters than his, — and responses with small enclosures of money began to pour in. soon to be followed by much larger enclosures. The presses were kept busy almost day and night, for the time was limited in which the children could work. Special help was employed to take care of this onrush of mail. The most careful work of human hands and brains was put to the task of sorting, classifying, crediting, sending out badges to the enthusiastic children —sometimes also to many more mature. That is how it was done. And $16,000 was cleared above all expense, and donated to the Sanitary Fair a large sum for those days. EMMA k. PARRISH Western Springs, Illinois
Dear Mr. President: —
All we know out in the country is what they say in them city papers. Lately we read hicks like us livin’ in the country towns, villages, and cities still make or break Presidents, and that if you get another spell in office it will be because we want you. Is this true, Mr. President ?
What in land sakes do you mean by say in’ the Constitution is a relic, a relic of horse-and-buggy days? Down our way, Mr. President, we all still got horses and buggies, old-fashioned ways, and American traditions. Did you think them days was over?
You could sure learn a lot from boardin’ out in the country a spell. You would see how much time we got for everything, even changes in the government. Maybe we live too slow, like the city folks restin’ up here say. But we do stay healthy. You Washington boys, rushiu’ by hell-bent for election, never see bow nice and easy things are goin’ here. Why don’t you stop a spell, Mr, President, take, a rest from them red-tie boys drivin’ from the back seats and let things kinda settle down?
You’ll admit things are gettin’ pretty bad down South when we start agreein with them Republicans. Take this business about the Constitution bein’ a relic. We looked in the dictionary and it says ’relic’ is somethin’ left behind; the remains; the corpse. The boys don’t like the sound of that at all. Mr. President. And this same book says our Constitution is all the physical and vital powers we got; also all the fundamental organs the government’s got. Was you plannin’ to bury them with other relics — say like us horse-and-buggy folks?
Write me quick, Mr. President, and let me know what you’re goin’ to do about it — the Constitution, I mean.
Your nervous country correspondent.
New Market, Virginia
P. S. Don’t send no red-tie brain busters to explain. The boy s don’t like ’em.