« ElőzőTovább »
the taskof defending them by sea-power, hitherto so very simple, developed into a problem the complexity of which does not even yet seem to have been completely visualized. If it were possible to rule out these islands, the American people might feel supremely confident as to their naval position. But no one familiar with the American temper ever supposes that the Philippines would be tamely surrendered to the Japanese or to any other invader. Their retention would therefore compel America to concentrate her naval effort in the Western Pacific, where she does not as yet possess a single first-class naval base, and possibly to fight a decisive action at a distance of nearly 7000 miles from her home coast. She has one asset of great value in the Isthmian Canal, which would enable her to transfer naval force from the Atlantic to the Pacific with the minimum of delay; but against this must be set a host of disadvantageous conditions, which cannot be fully realized unless the student has before him a large-scale map of the Pacific.
Assuming war with Japan to be a possibility of the future, three propositions may be advanced without much fear of contradiction. (1) The Western seaboard of the United States is absolutely safe from serious hostile attack, and a military invasion would be a sheer impossibility. (2) In the event of war, the Philippines are practically certain to be seized by Japan unless a powerful American fleet arrives in the Western Pacific within a fortnight after the declaration of war. (3) No such fleet could be sent unless it was sure of finding a secure base, with a submarine-proof anchorage, abundant stocks of fuel and other requisite supplies, and facilities for carrying out repairs, including those necessitated by heavy damage sustained in action. If these propositions are examined with the aid of a good
map, they will be found to contain in a nutshell the strategical problems which the American naval command would be called upon to solve in case of war in the Pacific.
Distance and base-power are the dominant factors in the situation. It is nearly 7000 miles from the American coast to the Philippines, and no fleet dare venture so far in war-time without being assured of finding ample supplies of fuel when it reaches its destination. A few years hence, provided that the plans of the Navy Department are allowed to mature, a well-defended base will have been established at Guam. It will then be feasible for the American battle-fleet to steam across the Pacific and undertake warlike operations against an Asiatic power, using Guam as its advanced base. There is some talk, also, of extending the dockyard at Cavite; but professional opinion is rather averse to this plan, holding, as it does, that the Philippines, exposed as they are to successful invasion by the Japanese, should not be reckoned among the assets upon which the American navy could rely in the event of war. The development of Guam, though apparently now determined upon after many years of hesitation, will be a task of several years' duration, and until it is completed, the American fleet will be practically debarred from waging warfare in the Western Pacific.
Unless they are far less intelligent than we have any right to suppose, Japanese naval officers must clearly perceive the immense strategic importance of Guam; and, this being so, it is reasonable to assume that they would make strenuous attempts to seize the island in the very first stage of a conflict with America. With Guam in their hands, they would have the Philippines at their mercy. Whether under these circumstances the American battlefleet would advance into the Western Pacific would depend far more on considerations of policy than of strategy. From the latter point of view it would be courting disaster to leave the nearest friendly base (Hawaii) nearly 5000 miles behind and venture into an area teeming with enemy submarines, where there would be no harbor of refuge for a damaged ship, no means of replenishing depleted bunkers, and scarcely any possibility of striking an effective blow at the enemy. A cruise of this nature would be a more desperate adventure than the voyage of the Russian Baltic Fleet, and we may be sure that it would not be countenanced by any responsible American strategist.
The Japanese themselves have never disguised their confidence in the impregnability of their position vis-a-vis the United States. A war with that country, they predict, would begin with her expulsion from the Philippines and the summary destruction of such American naval forces as were present in the Western Pacific. Japan, having seized the Philippines, would revert to the defensive and calmly await developments. If her opponent so far flouted the rudiments of strategy as to dispatch a fleet to the war zone, relying on a 5000-mile line of communications with Hawaii, the Japanese would resort to a war of attrition by means of submarines and mine-layers working from numerous bases in the South Sea Islands and off the coast of Japan. Then, when at length the American fleet, harassed and weakened by incessant submarine attacks and with its stock of fuel reduced to a low ebb, proposed to return home, the Japanese battle-fleet in full strength would sally forth at the psychological
moment and repeat the triumph of Tsushima on a magnified scale. Such, at least, is the sanguine expectation of those who would control the Japanese forces in time of war.
But it is usually in war-time that the unexpected happens, and the whole history of the recent world-wide struggle constitutes a warning against taking too much for granted. The German plans took cognizance of every foreseeable circumstance, and by all the rules of logic they were assured of success; yet it was precisely because of circumstances that were not and could not be foreseen that the plans were brought to shipwreck. On the surface of things, a war with Japan in the near future would confront the American naval leaders with a problem so difficult as to be wellnigh incapable of solution. There are, however, several alternatives to the more obvious line of American strategy indicated above; and the very fact that Japan, while professing so much confidence in her present naval position, is feverishly building new fighting ships and coastal defenses, suggests that she is not altogether easy in her mind as to the issue of a conflict with the United States. The risks and uncertainties of war are potent factors conducing to the maintenance of peace, in the Pacific as elsewhere. With the terrible lessons of the world struggle still fresh in memory, it is inconceivable that any nation would go to war except in defense of its most vital interests. There is happily no tendency in responsible quarters to exaggerate the differences now existing between America and Japan, and certainly no suggestion that they are grave enough to justify a resort to arms.
THE CONTRIBUTORS' CLUB
ON A HORSE-AND-CARRIAGE
The farmer's boy is bringing it over for you this morning. You know that it is coming because you can hear the quick click-clack of the horse's hoofs as they slow up on the hard cement road; the creak and grind of the wheels against the sides as they turn in the driveway; the softened thud of hoofs and squeak of springs as the carriage rolls over the grass and comes to a stop below the terraces beside the well. To improve his time, the lean horse droops his head forward and crops, crops, crops at the short, burned grass, takes a step or two, and, munching a delicious, salivary quid, turns to look at you as you approach. When a cow does this, you hesitate. Horses are very different from cows.
I am sorry, indeed, for those who have not had, or have by chance forgotten, all the sensations of using a horse-and-carriage. You back the horse away a little, and turn the front wheel out more, so that you can step up between the wheels; you raise your foot and fit it neatly to the little corrugated iron square; you step, and feel the springs give toward you, and are a little nervous for fear the horse will start while you are in mid-air. A second later, and you are safely established on the burning leather seat. No procedure on earth is attended by a more characteristic sensation than that of settling one's self in a carriage. The rough texture of the upholstery exhales the leathery, stably, but somehow clean, smell of sleek horses and hay and harness; the axles squeak a little in spite of the grease which you so carefully avoided
in stepping over the wheels; and when you have unknotted the reins from the whip-handle, and arranged them in parallel lines along the horse's back, and flapped them once and clucked a little, the horse starts forward, straining to gain impetus up the grassy slope; and the wheels grit on the gravel and then run smartly out on the macadam road behind the metallic click of the horse's shoes as he settles into a trot. There is a feeling of soul in the motion, because a horse has breathing power which cannot be expressed in a chemical formula and a muffler cut-out. He steps briskly along, trot-trot, trot-trot, shaking his mane from time to time and indulging in those ecstatic little horseheaves and whiskings of tail that cut the coarse horsehairs across your face.
There does not seem to be much room for a simple horse-and-carriage on the double-plated, reenforced editionde-luxe expanse of state highway. It is annoying to jolt off and on the high little margin-edge, in order to make room for the touring-cars and motortrucks charging to and fro. There is a country road ahead on the left, and you aim toward it, steering carefully in, ploughing through a sandy curve at a slow walk, and on up over a rise to a soft dirt road which is dark underfoot in shady spots and white with dust for long sunny spaces. TYot-trot, trot-trot, trot-trot — the delicious smells of the countryside are all around you, delicate trailing of wild grapevines, the tang of meadows where daisies and Queen Anne's Lace run riot, intervals of hay font-hunt and buckwheat rampant, with serried rows of corn-banners filing rank on rank between stone-wall divisions.
It is summer: breath of sweet air, simmering noises of insects, shrill locusts high in the foliage, heavy bees wading from milkweed to clover, and a vast range of motions surging through the seeming stillness, the vibrations of hummingbirds, the shimmering of heatwaves over the grass-fields, and, above, the vast piling of the clouds. You sniff great healthy, dusty sniffs, and watch the horse's little pointed ears twitch, now forward, now back, in response to noises that you cannot hear, while his shabby flanks rise and fall under the leather trappings.
And why do I insist upon a carriage behind your horse? Does it spoil the picture of my summer day to see yourself sitting primly upright in a wagon, with all the commonplaceness of its wagging shafts, its blistering varnish, its twinkling wheels, and its cheerful rattle? Would you have preferred yourself a sporting equestrian, with artful crooks to your fingers and elbows and scientific set to your shoulders and a pressure to your knees, a tailored habit, a stock, a crop, and a series of paces, trots, and canters? If so, please step aside. I cannot paint you thus. This horse has never heard of a riding academy, and as for being ridden, the farmer's boy has tried racing him bareback to the pasture once or twice, and has rubbed his ribs with straddling off and on, and torn his mane with hanging to it. Is that what you call riding? He has a very small opinion of it: he prefers people at a distance, behind a dashboard if possible; and as for pulling a wagon behind him — why., it is always easier to draw than to carry, as anyone will tell you.
And now are you content to stay where you are, with my horse-andcarriage, to jog on and on through the countryside in your clouds of dusty glory, with your heavenly hosts of swallows darting among the haycocks?
Ah, you find it very delightful, or you are not the person I take you for. And where are you going? Does it matter? Perhaps to the yellow farmhouse yonder, for a basket of peaches and a jar of cream; perhaps to the white farmhouse under the hill, for the week's crisp laundry and the tiger-kitten with the pink nose, which they have promised you.
WIGS AND TEACHERS
One day, a number of years ago, I, a teacher, had the pleasure of becoming honorary member of a college class. The next morning I received an advertisement which has ever since kept my curiosity awake. It was the announcement that I might buy wigs at reduced rates. Now, why, I pondered, was it intimated to me that a wig would be a good investment? Was it a personal or a general suggestion? Should I look more youthful in a wig, or was I expected to take part in theatricals? The matter was never settled to my satisfaction until recently, when I read the personal papers of my great-greatgrandfather, who died in 1808. He was one who 'most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm by erecting a grammar-school.' For forty years he was headmaster of this New England grammar-school, preparing scores of boys for college. Please note that he was /ifarf-master. Among the papers was a hair-dresser's bill which ran thus:
1784, Aug. 17. — To shave & dress wigs 14 times @ 4d per time = £ 0—4—8;
and so on, from 1784 to 1791, in which year grandfather's 'White Bush Wig' was dressed 48 times — £2 — 12 — 0.
Never before had I thought of wigs in relation to teachers — as an adjunct to authority, as a source of dignity, as a sign-capital of power. In fact, as regards the schoolroom, only one form of headcovering (not the teacher's) has been pointedly distinguished. I began to speculate about the wig as mental furniture in the annals of the intellectual life. Lawyers, in England, still maintain their prestige by wearing the wig. In Edinburgh, tourists flock to the advocates' library, where they can see the young advocates strolling up and down, crowned, not by laurels, but by false, gray hair. Why did teachers abandon wigs to the legal profession? Probably the lawyer's habit of splitting hairs makes it essential for him to have access to an unlimited supply.
Royalty, too, once wore wigs; Roman emperors and Egyptian potentates found them serviceable; Louis XIV revived the fashion, preparing the way for wigs—bag, bob, tie, bush, scratch; curled, dyed, powdered, beribboned.
In the great epoch of Wigs and Whigs, even the author of Robinson Crusoe wore a wig! The hair-dressers of the day evidently vied with one another for custom. One literary perruquier, who wished to allure both sacred and profane had a sign in his shop-window: —
0 Absalom, 0 Absalom,
After all, the fashion of wearing wigs, ridiculous as it seems to us, is only one manifestation of the eternal impulse to cover the head, to conceal it from the eyes of others. Protection from enemies (especially phrenologists), warmth for this poll-ar region of the human body, decoration — all were desired. Anubis (as pictured in the dictionary) wore a head-dress, fur-side outside; the oriental veil, the monastic cowl, the Turkish fez, the anonymous ringlets of modern times, belong with the wig as a sort of surmounting alias.
Woman especially has been instructed to be covered, for her hair is a deadly snare to the observer. The peasant woman in Italy, to-day, wears her blue
or saffron-colored shawl over her head; the Breton girl has the most immaculate white muslin cap, according to the style in her village. I have suspected that the short story of Samson's hair might be interpreted more accurately. Delilah undoubtedly desired a new head-dress. Women are driven to expedients in every age when pocket money is scarce. But to-day the girl of America listens in wrath to a passage which I am fond of reading to my students, yearly, telling —
How he, Simplicius Callus, lefte his wyf.
As a result of my reflections, I think favorably of grandfather's white bush wig. Was there not secrecy and safety in this intellectual ambush? His pupils could not see through his mental processes. The very thought inclines one to revolt against the open mind. I shall ignore the fashion of my own day; I shall not dye 'at the top'; I shall add, to my stature, a fair-haired counterfeit.
PIES — AN ESSAY
At our house pies were a real occasion fraught with happiness, and everything was as it should have been. Mother, distant far-away pretty mother, descended into the kitchen with a large redchecked gingham apron, which flowed all over her pretty shoulders and gave size and matronly proportions to her otherwise slim figure. Her face became flushed with the happiness of manual labor. And I watched her with ecstasy as she handled the huge old range, dexterously shutting a draft here, opening one there, until the stove glowed in pride and a.red heat of anticipated pleasure. Mother allowed none of the servants in the kitchen when she descended to make pies. That was what made the day one long day of satisfac