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cries, with genuine enthusiasm, 'Oh,
Mr. B , I 've been wanting to meet
you! Please tell me what to give my little ten-year-old girl to read'; and, 'Do you approve of profusely illustrated books for children?' This happens to be a subject which has claimed my profound interest, and about which I have well-defined opinions; but it never occurred to the mother of the tenyear-old to ask my advice. John carefully tells her what he knows to be my conclusions in the matter; she thanks him volubly and at length leaves, hoping that I will not lose my laundress, because 'they are so hard to get in this town.'
We have a guest to tea. She compliments me on the quality of the strawberry-jam, asks if I made it myself, and if it was n't hard to get sugar, and then
turns to John with,' Mr. B , what do
you think of this new play? Is it possible, do you think, that the leading lady merits all the favorable comment she is receiving?' By chance, this gifted leading lady has been my friend for years — we have enjoyed many a pleasant dinner together; but I refrain from mentioning the fact and give my attention to John's criticisms of the play and the further questions of our guest, who presently rewards my attention by asking me if I have seen any pictures of the star and if I don't think her pretty.
When John and I first began to meet this boycott of wives in the field of conversation, we attempted to combat it. When conversation was directed to him which he felt that my experience fitted me to discuss better, he said so and passed the leadership to me. We soon discovered that the unusualness of this manoeuvre so pained and surprised our guests that it made constructive conversation momentarily impossible for them. It was apparent that we must abandon our course, if we were not to suffer the charge of being
boorish hosts and uncomfortable guests. We still protest occasionally, but, as a rule, we exchange an understanding glance, and then John talks, and I assume what seems to be the inevitable role of a married female person — that of serene onlooker at all conversations that have not to do with household matters that any Swedish maid-of-allwork is better equipped to discuss than am I.
Unmarried women, who are themselves engaged in interesting public work, are the leaders in this unconscious shut-out of their married sisters. I know a very intelligent and talented woman whose husband is an architect. He has a studio in his home, where his wife works with him. There is not a plan he makes which has not incorporated in it some idea that was hers. Yet I have more than once seen bachelor-girl guests in their home all but
exclude Mrs. M from a spirited
conversation on building art, and conclude the talk with that exasperating air which says plainly, 'If only these clever men married women who could appreciate them!'
Last summer, at my express request, John and I devoted the leisure we could find in two months to the fascinating subject of French verse. Our guest, an unmarried girl of enviable attainments, came in from the verandah one evening, where she had been in conversation with John, and said, 'It's wonderful what John has got out of his study of French poetry.'
'Yes,' I replied, 'we have enjoyed it, and I am convinced that the French idea of rhythm —'
I got no further. 'Oh,' said my guest in surprise, 'I knew that John had been studying the subject, but I did n't know that he had made you do it.' I am still wondering if I was rude to her. I never can remember what I said, only what I felt. I know that we did not talk of poetry: we talked of the relative merits of cooked and uncooked breakfast-foods, and I was advised about what to give John for a summer breakfast.
What, I ask myself over and over, what do these clever girls imagine becomes of women like themselves? Many of them marry. Do they think that marriage miraculously invests all women with an abnormal interest in potatoes and pans, and inhibits their having ideas on the very subjects of which they were masters before marriage? Do they imagine that, with their names, they will gladly relinquish all right to an interest in the activities for which they were trained by college and work, and that they will be content ever after to lift their voices only in discussions of scalloped oysters, sheeting, and adenoids?
As I go about pondering these things, I keep my left glove on as much as possible, and often, on the car and in the station, I enjoy delightful conversations about opera, drama, Mr. Chesterton— yea, thigmotaxis, if I like! If my charming seat-mate knew what was under my glove, she would, — eight chances out of ten, — with perfunctory suiting of her mind to my pace, ask me if I had any children; and being answered in the negative, she would regard me reproachfully and then speak of the weather.
Yes, yes, surely, children and the high cost of living and jam and laundry and all these domestic subjects
should be interesting to a married woman. I am interested in them. I love children, I like to make jam, my laundress is a wonderful person, and I appreciate her. But I do not want my mind condemned to an exclusive diet of domestic subjects. Only ignorant men are excused if they talk of their business to the exclusion of all other topics. True, a woman can lead conversation into avenues that interest her, if she tries. I affirm it: she can, she does. But why, always, if she be a married woman, must she try? Why is she always compelled to prove that she can perform a housemaid's duties without having a housemaid's mind? Many of us are women who did vital public work before our marriage — we are the same women still. Why does no one ever pay us the compliment of taking our intelligence for granted?
When I am glad
A toy balloon
It swells and swells
Up in my chest,
Not feel distressed.
And when I go
Along the street,
Me off my feet.
A NOTE FOR MORALISTS
In the 'Atlantic's Bookshelf' last month, Joseph C. Lincoln's new book received a warm encomium in which quite incidental reference was made to less creditable 'best sellers,' 'such undesirable characters,' so the reviewer called them, 'as Harold Bell Wright.' It did not seem to us within the bounds of possibility that the term, used in this connection, could be endowed with moral significance; but since it has, in one quarter at least, been open to suspicion, we beg the reader to discard any such imputation. We have not the honor of Mr. Wright's acquaintance, but that his 'character,' in the moral sense, is good, we take, on competent authority, absolutely for granted.
THE CONTRIBUTORS' COLUMN
Arthur Pound, an alumnus of the University of Michigan, lives at Flint, a manufacturing centre for automobiles, where he follows many pursuits, among them the publication of a lively weekly and the conduct of a job-printing plant. His knowledge of the human problems of factory management is the result of years of intelligent and imaginative study. Elizabeth Taylor, once a lecturer on the folk customs, the Arctic farming, and the curious traditions of the people of Iceland, wrote these letters at intervals during the five years' siege of the Faroes by German submarines. Katharine Fullerton Gerould lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Emma Lawrence (Mrs. John S. Lawrence), the author of 'At Thirty,' which we printed last month, lives in Boston.
years ago in Johannesburg, once only in twentysix years; only twice in my whole life have I been within visiting distance of a cinema show.
Vernon Kellogg, whose earliest reputation was won in the field of biology, served during the war as a first lieutenant to Mr. Hoover, and is now revisiting the scenes of his extraordinary success. Jean Kenyon Mackenzie, who tells us, after her missionary wanderings over the earth, that'the praise of steamers is the worship of the exile,' sends us these poems from her present home in Riverdale on the Hudson. Edward Yeomans is a Chicago manufacturer who has recently published through the Atlantic Monthly Press a singularly fresh and invigorating volume on Education — Shackled Youth.
Hans Coudenhove, whose first paper on this subject we printed in the August number, may be fairly described as a detached critic. We quote from a recent interesting letter of his.
The people who are responsible for my coming to Africa, and spending my life in the wilds, have all died long ago. Their names are Fenimore Cooper, Mayne Reid, Jules Verne, and R. L. Stevenson, R.I.P.! I had no intention, when I first came out, to stay more than a few years. But tropical Africa grows upon you. Before 1905 I occasionally visited, besides Portuguese East Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarenhas, — comparatively civilized countries, like the different South African colonies, — but since 1905 I have not left the Tropics. I have been hunting, chiefly for the pot, and prospecting; but the most passionate pursuit of my life, and the chief interest of my existence, is the study of the animal kingdom, not from a biological, but from a psychological point of view. I avoid all European settlements and feel happy only when I live in my tent —• a happiness which increases at the ratio of the number of miles which separate me from civilization. I am afraid that my long and intimate intercourse with Nature has given me a grievance against the being about whom H. Fairneld Osborn has written: 'Man who, through the invention of tools in middle Pleistocene time, about 145,000 years ago, became the destroyer of creation.' I have never seen an aeroplane. ... I have been in a theatre last seventeen
Charles Bernard Nordhoff, whose element, air, earth, water, is the one he happens to be in, writes from Tahiti. Annie W. Noel, the most understanding of suburbanites, sends us her first contribution from her home in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Joseph Fort Newton is minister of the Church of the Divine Paternity in New York City. Joseph Auslander is an American poet who has been teaching at Harvard.
* * *
The correspondence between John Burroughs and Herbert D. Miles began with a challenge from Mr. Miles regarding Mr. Burroughs's book, Accepting the Universe. The challenge was accepted, and many letters made their way between Asheville, North Carolina, and the famous Slabsides. Arthur Sherburne Hardy, diplomatist, editor, and novelist, has contributed to the Atlantic for a full generation. J. Edgar Park is the minister of the Second (Congregational) Church of Newton, West Newton, Massachusetts.
* * *
E. Alexander Powell is a wide-ranging war correspondent, with many years of
remarkable experience behind him. In the list of his important services was the correspondence covering the Turkish and Persian revolutions, the Balkan wars, and the French campaign in Morocco. He was the only correspondent officially attached to the Belgian forces in the campaign of 1914, and was decorated Chevalier of the Order of Leopold. Later he accompanied the Germans during the advance on Paris. He was in Antwerp during the siege, and was the only correspondent to witness the entry of the Germans. Mr. Powell has been connected with the Plattsburg camp and with the movement for military education of young Americans. Samuel W. McCall, long a member of Congress for Massachusetts, and for three years (1916-18) Governor of the State, is well known as a statesman and publicist of notable independence of thought and expression. Colonel S. C. Vestal, of the Coast Artillery Corps, sends, at the editor's request, this paper outlining the theories discussed in his interesting and highly important volume, The Maintenance of Peace. Maxwell H. H. Macartney has been for many years a correspondent of the
• • •
The future that the Orient holds out to Christianity has been the subject of an Atlantic debate of no small interest.
St. John's Untvebsity,
June 15, 1921. Dear Atlantic, —
In the June number of the Atlantic there is an article by Mr. Chang IIsin-hai entitled ' The Religious Outlook in China: a Reply,' which contains some statements requiring, it seems to me, some modification or correction.
Mr. Chang, we learn, is now studying at Harvard University. Perhaps he is not aware that Harvard was established by the Christian people of Massachusetts 'for the education of English and Indian youth in knowledge and godlyness'; in other words, that it was a missionary college receiving in early years generous aid from England for the special object of educating the natives, a college like those in China whose activity and influence he is deprecating.
It is untrue to say that'missionaries have arranged that students may know as little as possible of the grandeur and dignity of their own national genius, the force and beauty of their own civilization, and the splendid character and discipline of their own great men.' As a matter of fact, all educational institutions in China provide courses of studv in Chinese literature, Chinese
history, and Chinese philosophy, as well as Chinese essay-writing, and in most institutions such courses are not optional, but required. Confucius's birthday is quite generally celebrated in mission schools.
Instead of its being the case that 'missionary educational institutions have always been looked on with suspicion,' intelligent and progressive Chinese have generally looked on them with favor, have contributed generously to their expansion and maintenance, and have sent their own boys and girls to be educated in them. The Minister of Education in Peking, Mr. Fan Yuanlien, sent a representative to the meeting of the East China Christian Educational Association, held in Shanghai in February of this year, who 'addressed the convention, expressing the appreciation of the Ministry of the work done in Mission schools and the desire to cooperate and keep in touch with Mission educational work.'
Fortunately Mr. Chang does not mention medical mission work: the benevolence of the doctors, Chinese and foreign, in the Christian hospitals throughout China is so conspicuous, that one would stultify one's self by any unfriendly criticism.
There is no danger of a dull uniformity of ideas when China becomes christianized: on the contrary, Christianity is usually charged with too great a diversity. To begin with, there are the differences between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. Among the former, the various orders which are carrying on the propagation of their faith differ strikingly, and among the latter variety is even more marked. But that China is actually being evangelized, there can scarcely be a doubt. Mr. Chang's article is a symptom of the alarm felt in certain anti-Christian circles at the rapid advance made by the religion of the Cross. China is indeed 'now willing to reckon with the more powerful civilization of the West and to follow it in certain important aspects,' and the most important of these aspects is the spiritual, for 'It is the spirit that giveth life.' Yours faithfully,
Montgomery H. Thboop. * * *
This lady from Philadelphia knows her Aristotle to some purpose.
Mrs. Gerould, in her brilliant article on 'Movies' in the July number, says that the motto of the screen-play should be 'Good-bye, Aristotle'; but Aristotle taught that several things besides the 'Three Unities' went to the making of a good play. He lays tremendous stress on action, 'For,' says he, 'Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of actions — for happiness consists in action, and the supreme good itself, the very end of life is action of a certain kind — not quality.' The things that he thought essential to a play, in the order of their importance, were Plot, Action, Characterization, Sentiments.
Not a bad formula for a scenario!
Mr. Christopher Morley includes the following lines in his Bowling Green, taking for his text a remark of the Shop-Talk editor, and developing the theme with his usual felicity.
PLEASURES OF NUNCPROTUNCKiNQ
'11 is one of the compensations of a publisher's existence that he is compelled to live a definite part of his life in the future — to proceed, as the lawyers say, nunc pro tunc.'
— The Atlantic Monthly.
The publisher: consider him,
Upon reading the lines, our merry printer's devil sat down at the linotype, and hastily dashed off the following untutored trifle.
This poem of Morley's was not slow
It is always valuable to hear many sides of a many-sided question.
Dear Atlantic, —
You have given considerable space of late to discussion of the growth of anti-Semitic sentiment in this country, and justly, for the question is a burning one. The chief indictment against the Jews seems to be that they refuse to be assimilated, to intermarry, even to mingle — that they stand aloof, as a race apart.
I hold a brief for the Jew who wishes to be assimilated. Have you any idea of the difficulties under which he labors? He may live in a Christian community, and have a dozen Christian intimates; he may even join the Church. He is, nevertheless, unable to become a member of the local club, to which all his friends belong. He has not the family backing, the ramifying connections that make for social standing in the community. If he has married a Christian, her friends feel that she has condescended a bit, even though he is an exceptionally fine fellow; and his friends think it's a pity that he should have cut adrift like that, when there are so many attractive Jewish girls to be had. There is always a certain constraint in their presence if the question of religion is touched upon, be it ever so remotely.
They decide to send their children to the neighboring private school attended by their friends' children. Before this can be done, wires sufficient to delight the heart of Tony Sarg must be pulled. The father is then summoned to the
principal's sanctum, and given, gently, tactfully, but unmistakably, to understand, that this is a Christian school and that his children are being admitted by special dispensation.
The question of finding accommodations at good hotels has been discussed ad infinitum, and I will not bore you with the numberless instances of Jews who have been turned away, to their great embarrassment, simply because they are Jews, though they have culture, breeding, and Christian connections. And with the refusal goes a sneer at the Jew for trying to force himself where he does not belong. How about assimilation here?
Finally, is it not unjust to the Jew who is adaptable, who wishes to be a one-hundred-percent American, to find himself constantly classed with the objectionable, noisy aliens who are flooding this country?
Perhaps these few arguments may set some of your readers to thinking, and to putting at least part of the blame for non-assimilation where it really belongs.
H. L. K. • * *
The Chicago Tribune hoists us a friendly signal now and then, this time a warning from a contributor.
A Call For The Watch On The Rhyme Sir,—
In its August number, the Atlantic Monthly has a sonnet in which us, glamorous, radius and continuous, and diameters and carpenters are used as rhymes. And this from Boston! Please pass the beans! Ole Oleson.
Even the editor was aware that the Atlantic's poet neither meditated nor employed the usual sequent rhymes, preferring the more complex assonance that has after all a charm of its own. But any critic from Chicago deserves a Boston audience.
Yeats's Lake Isle of Innesfrae comes to mind as one reads this account, not of a dream, but of a dream come true. Dear Atlantic, —
I am living a unique life. Do you want me to write about it? I am living on an ancestral farm with my son (you have an article from him now, on stock exchange and speculation), and we are almost independent as far as living costs go. About all we buy is soda, sugar, coffee, cheese, and an occasional piece of meat (when our canned meat, which we kill and put up on the place, gives out).
We raise and grind our own wheat for breakfast-food; have our own milk and cream (buy butter); grind our own corn-meal, and get our wheat ground for flour; have all the fruit and vegetables we want; and our living costs us about a dollar or so a week, apiece. For this we live on