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Full text of "The North American review"

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THE 

NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 



Volume 240 



NEW YORK 

597 MADISON AVENUE 

1935 



Copyright 1935 by the 
North American Review Corporation 



5 O O Vo/,2 (4 o 



INDEX TO VOLUME 240 

ADAMS, CHARLES MAGEE. Who Bred these Utopias? 8; Recovery of 

What? 396. 
AGAR, HERBERT. Just Why Economics? 200. 

BURDEN, M. P. Name Five Venezuelan Ventriloquists! Verse, 458. 
BRYANT, WILLIAM GULLEN, Poem (Thanatopsis) by One of our Earli 
est Contributors, 119. 

California in Thy Fashion ! 68. 

CHASE, MARY ELLEN. A Pinch of Snuff. Story, 122. 

CHUBB, THOMAS CALDECOT. How Spring Comes in Georgia. Verse, 

45. 

COFFIN, R. P. TRISTRAM. Going After the Cows in a Fog. Verse, 419. 
Contributors' Column, 191, 383, 575. 

CORDELL, WILLIAM. Dark Days Ahead for King Cotton, 284. 
CORDELL, WM. and KATHRYN. Unions among the Unemployed, 498. 
Corporate Reserves vs. Prosperity, 27. 
CROOK, KILE. Wickford Gardens. Verse, 264. 

Dark Days Ahead for King Cotton, 284. 

Devotional. Verse, 349. 

DICKINSON, ELBRA. Devotional. Verse, 349. 

Emancipating the Novel, 318. 
ENGLE, PAUL. Prologue, 225. 
Essay on Essays, An, 409. 

FIELD, LOUISE MAUNSELL. Emancipating the Novel, 318. 

FIGART, DAVID. Corporate Reserves vs. Prosperity, 27. 

FISHMAN, JOSEPH FULLING. Old Calamity, 470. 

FLOWER, SYD BLANSHARD. The Very Last Deal, 47. 

Foreword, 3, 195, 387. 

FROST, FRANCES. Road through New Hampshire. Verse, 85. The Plum 

Tree. Verse, 511. 
Future of States' Rights, The, 238. 

GEROULD, KATHARINE FULLERTON. An Essay on Essays, 409. 

Going after the Cows in a Fog. Verse, 419. 

"Good Neighbor" and Cuba, 325. 

GORRELL, DOROTHY. Tumultuous Cloister, 350. 

Grant Wood, Painter in Overalls, 271. 



[ iv ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVi 

HESSLER, L. B. On "Bad Boy" Criticism, 214. 
History as a Major Sport, 359. 
How Spring Comes in Georgia. Verse, 45. 
HULL, GEORGE, JR. Profit Sharing, 425. 

In Behalf of States' Rights, 265. 
In Defense of Horsehair, 355. 

JOHNSON, BURGES. A Statistician's Dream, 86. 
Just Why Economics? 200. 

KENT, FRANK. New Deal Catharsis, 421. 

Letter to Walter Damrosch, A, 278. 
Little Girl's Mark Twain, A, 342. 
Long Way to Atlantis, The, 106. 

McGIFFIN, NORTON. The Long Way to Atlantis, 106. 

Mahaley Mullens. Story, 512. 

Martinez, and Mexico's Renaissance, 445. 

Mexican Small Town, 434. 

Mexico, My Beloved. Verse, 433. 

MILTON, GEORGE FORT. History as a Major Sport, 359. 

Miss Craigie. A Glimpse, 314. 

Modern American Biography, 488. 

MOTT, F. L. One Hundred and Twenty Years, 144. 

Name Five Venezuelan Ventriloquists! Verse, 458. 

New Deal Catharsis, 421. 

NICKERSON, HOFFMAN. In Behalf of States' Rights, 265. 

NIGGLI, JOSEPHINE. Mexico, My Beloved. Verse, 433. 

ODEGARD, PETER. The Future of States' Rights, 238. 

Old Calamity, 470. 

On "Bad Boy" Criticism, 214. 

One Hundred and Twenty Years, 144. 

O'Neill and the Poet's Quest, 54. 

O'NEILL, E. H. Modern American Biography, 488. 

One Purple Patch, 96. 

Our Tipstaff Police, 294. 

PELL, HERBERT C. Reorganizing these United States, 460. 
PELL, JOHN. Foreword, 3, 195, 387. 



INDEX [v] 

PICKERING, RUTH. Grant Wood, Painter in Overalls, 271. 

Pinch of Snuff, A. Story, 122. 

Plum Tree, The. Verse, 511. 

Poem. Bryant's Thanatopsis (Reprinted) 119. 

Polyphemus, 20. 

Profit Sharing, 425. 

Prologue, 225. 

QUICK, DOROTHY. A Little Girl's Mark Twain, 342. 

Radio, and Our Future Lives, 307. 

Recovery of What? 396. 

Reorganizing these United States, 460. 

Road through New Hampshire. Verse, 85. 

ROBINSON, HENRY MORTON. Our Tipstaff Police, 294. 

SCOTT, WINFIELD TOWNLEY. Where Ignorant Armies. Verse, 487. 
SHAW, PAUL VANORDEN. "Good Neighbor" and Cuba, 325. 
SKINNER, RICHARD DANA. O'Neill and the Poet's Quest, 54; A 

Letter to Walter Damrosch, 278. 

SMITH, CATHARINE COOK. In Defense of Horsehair, 355. 
Songs of a Mountain Plowman, 391. 
Statistician's Dream, A, 86. 
STEIGMAN, B. M. One Purple Patch, 96. 
STEVENSON, PHILIP. Mexican Small Town, 434. 
STUART, JESSE. Songs of a Mountain Plowman, 391. 
SUGRUE, THOMAS. California in Thy Fashion ! 68; To a Pair of Gold 

Earrings. Verse, 293. 

To a Pair of Gold Earrings. Verse, 293. 

TOWNE, CHARLES HANSON. Miss Craigie. A Glimpse, 314. 

Tumultuous Cloister, 350. 

TURNEY, ROBERT. Mahaley Mullens. Story, 512. 

Unions among the Unemployed, 498. 

VAN DYCK, ARTHUR. Radio, and Our Future Lives, 307. 
Very Last Deal, The, 47. 

WARING, BROOKE. Martinez, and Mexico's Renaissance, 445. 
Where Ignorant Armies. Verse, 487. 
Who Bred these Utopias? 8. 
Wickford Gardens. Verse, 264. 
WOLFE, THOMAS. Polyphemus, 20. 



[ vi ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

BOOK REVIEWS 

Andrews, Charles M. The Colonial Period of American History. The Settlements, 
366. 

Best Short Stories of 1935, The. Edited by Edward J. O'Brien, 554. 
BOIE, MILDRED. Notes of Death and Life. By Theodore Morrison, 571. 
BRICKELL, HERSCHEL. He Sent Forth a Raven. By Elizabeth Madox 

Roberts, 177; The First Century of American Literature. By Fred Lewis Pattee, 

374; // Can't Happen Here. By Sinclair Lewis, 543. 

BURNHAM, PHILIP. Lucius Q. C. Lamar. By Wirt Armistead Gate, 564. 
BURTON, RICHARD. Eugene O'Neill: a Poet's Quest. By Richard Dana 

Skinner, 568. 

Caldwell, Erskine. Kneel to the Rising Sun, 379. 

Carroll, Gladys Hasty. A Few Foolish Ones, 381. 

Gate, Wirt Armistead. Lucius Q. C. Lamar, 564. 

Gather, Willa. Lucy Gayheart, 549. 

CORDELL, WM. and KATHRYN. The Best Short Stories of 1935. Edited by 

Edward J. O'Brien, 554. 
CHUBB, THOMAS CALDECOT. The Voice of Bugle Ann. By MacKinlay 

Kantor, 550. 

DEBEVOISE, DOUGLAS. Black Reconstruction. By Burghart Du Bois, 369. 
Du Bois, Burghart. Black Reconstruction. 369. 

FIELD, LOUISE MAUNSELL. Time Out of Mind. By Rachel Field, 182; 
Deep Dark River. By Robert Rylee; Kneel to the Rising Sun. By Erskine Cald 
well, 379; Vein of Iron. By Ellen Glasgow, 546. 

Field, Rachel. Time Out of Mind, 182. 

Freeman, Douglas S. Robert E. Lee, 184. 

Glasgow, Ellen. Vein of Iron, 546. 

Hesseltine, William B. Ulysses S. Grant, Politician, 559. 
Hummel, George F. Heritage, 381. 

Kantor, MacKinlay. The Voice of Bugle Ann, 550. 
Kittredge, Henry C. Shipmasters of Cape Cod, 368. 

Lewis, Sinclair. It Can't Happen Here, 543. 

MITCHELL, STEWART. The Founding of Harvard College. By Samuel 
Eliot Morison, 377. 



INDEX [ vii ] 

Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Founding of Harvard College, 377. 

MORISON, SAMUEL E. Shipmasters of Cape Cod. By Henry G. Kittredge, 

368. 
Morrison, Theodore. Notes of Death and Life, 571. 

O'NEILL, E. H. Robert E. Lee. By Douglas S. Freeman, 184; The Colonial 
Period of American History. The Settlements. By Charles M. Andrews, 366; 
Ulysses S. Grant, Politician. By William B. Hesseltine, 559. 

Pattee, Fred Lewis. The First Century of American Literature, 374. 

Renascent Mexico. Edited by Hubert Herring and Herbert Weinstock, 372. 
Roberts, Elizabeth Madox. He Sent Forth a Raven, 111. 
Rylee, Robert. Deep Dark River, 379. 

SKINNER, RICHARD DANA. Feliciana. By Stark Young, 553. 

Skinner, Richard Dana. Eugene O'Neill: A Poet's Quest, 568. 

SLOCUM, JOHN. Of Time and the River. By Thomas Wolfe, 175; Lucy 

Gayheart. By Willa Gather, 549. 
Syke. Hope Williams. Second Hoeing, 381. 

VAN ALEN, ELEANOR L. Heaven's My Destination. By Thornton Wilder, 
180; Heritage. By George F. Hummel; Second Hoeing. By Hope Williams 
Syke; A Few Foolish Ones. By Gladys Hasty Carroll, 381. 

Wilder, Thornton. Heaven's My Destination, 180. 

WILSON, P. W. Renascent Mexico. Edited by Hubert Herring and Herbert 

Weinstock, 372. 
Wolfe, Thomas. Of Time and the River, 175. 

Young, Stark. Feliciana, 553. 



THE 

NORTH 

AMERICAN 

REVIEW 



Founded 1815 



JOHN PELL Editor 
RICHARD DANA SKINNER Associate Editor 



VOLUME 240 JUNE 1935 NUMBER 1 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Foreword J- P. 3 

Who Bred these Utopias? CHARLES MAGEE ADAMS 8 

Polyphemus THOMAS WOLFE 20 

Corporate Reserves vs. Prosperity DAVID FIGART 27 

How Spring Comes in Georgia. Verse THOMAS GALDECOT CHUBB 45 

The Very Last Deal SYD BLANSHARD FLOWER 47 

O'Neill and the Poet's Quest RICHARD DANA SKINNER 54 

California in Thy Fashion ! THOMAS SUGRUE 68 

Road through New Hampshire. Verse FRANCES FROST 85 

A Statistician's Dream SURGES JOHNSON 86 

One Purple Patch B. M. STEIGMAN 96 

The Long Way to Atlantis NORTON MCGIFFIN 106 

Poem ONE OF OUR EARLIEST CONTRIBUTORS I 1 9 

A Pinch of Snuff. A Story MARY ELLEN CHASE 122 

One Hundred and Twenty Years F. L. MOTT 144 
Book Reviews 

Of Time and the River JOHN SLOCUM 1 75 

By Thomas Wolfe 

He Sent Forth a Raven HERSCHEL BRICKELL 1 77 

By Elizabeth Madox Roberts 

Heaven's My Destination ELEANOR L. VAN ALEN 1 80 
By Thornton Wilder 

Time Out of Mind LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 1 82 

By Rachel Field 

Robert E. Lee E. H. O'NEILL 184 

By Douglas S. Freeman 

Contributors' Column 191 

THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW: Published quarterly by the North American Review Corporation. 



of March 3, 1879. 

Copyright, 1935, by the North American Review Corporation: Walter Butler Mahony, President; 



Copyright, 1935, by the North American Revi 
David M. Flgart Secretary; John Pell, Treasurer. 
Title registered U. 8. Patent Office. 






THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

VOLUME 240 JUNE, 1935 NUMBER 1 

Foreword 

T^HE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW celebrates its one 
" hundred and twentieth anniversary with this issue. During 
the greater part of its long existence it has been a quarterly, 
although at times it has been a monthly and a bimonthly. Its 
files comprise the most complete chronicle of American life and 
letters in existence; its two hundred and thirty-nine volumes 
contain work of most of the poets, statesmen, and economists 
that our nation has produced. 

The function of a review may be defined as creative criti 
cism. The method which we propose to follow is twofold: first, 
to focus the attention of our subscribers on the important 
trends of thought (rather than incidents) which are con 
stantly molding and refining the American scene, just as the 
Gulf stream, unseen and unknown except to navigators, fash 
ions the climate of the British Isles; and second, to define the 
terms and phrases which profoundly influence these trends, 
though representing, in the minds of many, only vague emo 
tional patterns. There are professed conservatives who have 
never considered what part of American life they would con 
serve, and liberals who are liberal only with their own opin 
ions and the taxpayer's purse-strings. 

During the last five years, there has been an astonishing 
increase of interest in American institutions and American 
ideas. One of the blessings of the depression (and there are 
many) is the slackening of the pace of life: freed from the 
slavery of the stock- ticker and the mad scramble of "keeping 
up" with the Jones's we have time, once again, to discover 
ourselves and to enjoy human intercourse. Even the Jones's 

[3] 



[ 4 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

have turned out to be intelligent and kindly people, keenly 
interested in American history and proud of America's achieve 
ments in the arts and sciences. If you will believe it, Jones has 
become something of an economist: he says he can put his 
finger on what is wrong today, though, to tell the truth, noth 
ing is really wrong any longer, so far as Jones himself is 
concerned. 

This newly popularized science of economics deserves more 
than passing comment. There was a time when priests and 
lecturers, senators and society women were interested in re 
ligion and ethics, art and human happiness but now all 
seem to be concerned exclusively with economics. The Royal 
Oak Shrine of the Little Flower might better be called the 
Temple of the Paper Dollar; the New Deal is the supreme at 
tempt to solve life's problems by economic experiments. 

In a recent issue of the "Atlantic Monthly," Rexford Tug- 
well has a lucid and scholarly essay entitled "The Progressive 
Tradition." This statement of the aims and ideals of the New 
Deal commands both sympathy and respect: it is impossible to 
doubt the sincerity of the author. "The policies which are 
spoken of as new," he says, "have an entirely honorable lineage 
in American history; they are an expression of American faith 
. . . Our nation came into existence as a protest against the 
aristocratic, ecclesiastical and commercial privileges of the old 
world . . . Both natural forces and social privileges have been 
regarded, with us, as obstacles to be overcome for some deeper 
purpose ... To define this deeper thrusting purpose is to ap 
proach the realm of morals and religion, and to deal with life 
itself. The law of nature is that life is the purpose of life. . . . 
The law of the Western religions on which our civilization is 
based is that virtue the good life is the object of life." 

Certainly no political creed can claim a higher purpose 
than this; so complete is our sympathy with it that we are 
printing in this issue an article which suggests a simple but 
effective plan for removing one of the most disastrous conse 
quences of a certain type of privilege. Nevertheless, we per 
ceive a growing attitude of disappointment and distress, and a 



FOREWORD [ 5 ] 

wide-spread recognition of the failure of the New Deal to 
attain its objectives. 

The alchemists of the middle ages were not mistaken in 
believing that the production of gold from air and water was 
desirable, but their efforts proved fruitless with the tools and 
materials at hand, the trick simply could not be turned. Mod 
ern economists have evolved statistical yardsticks which ap 
proximate the truth with marvelous precision. But a com 
modity index, for example, bears at best the same relationship 
to the price level that a thermometer bears to the weather. 
You can control the thermometer smash it on the ground if 
it does not behave but you cannot control the weather. 

The New Deal represents neither a carefully prepared eco 
nomic program which has benefited from the experience of the 
past, nor a philosophy of government produced by deduction 
from abstract concepts, such as Jefferson's or Wilson's. It is 
merely a slogan which aroused the hope of a bewildered 
people and gained their sanction for a series of unwarranted 
experiments. It is political pragmatism and nothing more. 

When the branch of a tree is rotten, you can save its life by 
pruning the dead wood but you save nothing by chopping 
down the tree. In the fabulous 'twenties there were corrupt 
men in high places who abused their privileges and betrayed 
their trust. Our financial institutions needed to be purged but 
not destroyed. As the President put it, replying in his most 
recent fireside chat to critics of certain abuses which have ap 
peared in the relief program: "It should be remembered that 
in every job there are some imperfections. There are chiselers 
in every walk of life, there are those in every industry who are 
guilty of unfair practices, every profession has its black 
sheep." 

Might it not be wiser to concentrate on the elimination of 
the chiselers, rather than risk destroying the industries which 
they happen to infest? It is true that when rats are found in a 
house a most effective way of removing them is to burn the 
house, but that necessitates moving to a new house, and some 
times rats are found there, too. It is almost time for the New 



[ 6 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Dealers to realize that government is needed chiefly to protect 
our liberties from foreign invasions and from the ruthlessness 
of predatory individuals: it can safeguard our freedom and 
husband the countless opportunities of an abundant land, but 
it cannot provide us with a substitute for work. Like Gulliver, 
it can injure its Lilliputian masters by a gesture or a sneeze, but 
it is incapable of helping them to help themselves. 

Some economists talk about the absence of demand, the 
lack of purchasing power. The fact is that supply creates de 
mand and production alone creates purchasing power. If you 
question this statement just look at American history. In 1 800 
there was no demand for rail transportation but fifty years 
later railroads had become a necessary part of our life. In 1 900 
there was no demand for automobiles, but in 1935 a single 
manufacturer is producing a million cars to meet the "de 
mand." Twenty years ago there was no demand for airplanes 
and air-conditioning, radios and electric refrigerators, rayon 
and cellophane. Today there is no real demand for prefabri 
cated houses and streamlined trains, television and transat 
lantic air service, but in twenty years they will be regarded as 
necessities. Remember that America is the land of opportu 
nity, but also remember that opportunity and security are 
antipathetic, and that the buggy business was made highly 
insecure by the automobile. Even opportunity has its "just 
price." 

But what of other things than economics? Really it is curious 
that the science of money should occupy such a prominent 
place in the national consciousness at a time when the real 
value of money is rapidly declining. Value rests partly on 
scarcity, but mostly on prestige. Copies of the Gutenberg 
Bible and Shakespeare folios are rare, but so are many long 
forgotten books. Prestige results from the opinion of the com 
munity: fickle in many respects, it is strangely consistent in its 
attitude toward the masterpieces of art. 

A generation ago, wealth conferred great prestige on its 
possessors: money was the symbol and the only symbol of 
success. Did anyone question the importance of a dowager in 



FOREWORD [ 7 ] 

a well turned out victoria? But something has happened to the 
prestige of wealth. If our standards were the same as those of 
our parents, movie stars would outrank bank presidents, and 
baseball players take precedence over supreme court judges. 
In the last few years racketeers and bootleggers have acquired 
fortunes, only to discover that nobody cares. Kudos can no 
longer be bought with dollars alone. The privileges which our 
reformers seek to destroy may already have become as harm 
less as Don Quixote's windmills. Even without the undermin 
ing efforts of communists and demagogues, the foundations of 
aristocracy are as insecure as quicksand and as mutable as the 
fortunes of a political party. 

There have been aristocracies based primarily on cultiva 
tion. The age of Pericles and the age of Louis XIV afford 
examples. Certainly there has never been a greater interest in 
American culture than there is today. In the small towns of 
the east and middle-west people are eagerly listening to visit 
ing lecturers who have more fundamental knowledge than the 
old Chatauquas. Most of those lecturers who have recently 
been out through the country report that they are moved by 
the simplicity and energy of this interest. An American ballet 
gave its first performances this winter; an American conducted 
the New York Philharmonic orchestra for the first time; and 
an American impressario was chosen to head the Metropolitan 
Opera Company. 

Is it possible that an age of cultivation is about to dawn in 
this country? 



Who Bred These Utopias? 

CHARLES MAGEE ADAMS 

rrX) MANY spectators of our unfolding national drama 
the most momentous if not foreboding socio-political 
resultant of the economic depression is the emergence of a 
militant mass movement. 

The phrasing of that statement may tend to bog it down in 
quibbling over terms. At best, "mass" is an ungracious word. 
Those whose terminology follows the hallowed traditions of 
stump speaking will want to substitute "the common peepul." 
Others whose philosophy has a Marxian inspiration will insist 
on "the proletariat." While still others, taking their cue from 
Washington, will prefer the now accepted "underprivileged." 
However, I stand by "mass" as being more accurate, despite 
its curse of complacent superiority. And regardless of terms, 
the meaning is much the same. In the sixth year of the de 
pression, we are witnessing perhaps the most widespread 
manifestation of aggressive mass-consciousness that has ever 
developed in the United States. No one who is aware of what 
is afoot can be insensible of that. 

This mass movement of course takes many forms: Upton 
Sinclair's ill-fated EPIC, Utopia Inc., the Townsend plan, 
Huey Long's Share-the-Wealth society, Father Coughlin's 
National Union for Social Justice, and the immediate cash 
payment of the veterans' bonus, not to mention various 
agrarian schemes. Irrespective of differences in name and 
detail, all these have one element in common. They seek to 
improve the economic status of the low-income group by the 
more or less disguised expedient of taking from the "haves" 
and giving to the "have-nots." 

To anyone who can separate thinking from wishing it is 
scarcely necessary to point out that, even granting the 
highest of motives, this fell-swoop solution of our difficulties is 
more illusory than promising. However, the fundamental 
problem which these glittering cure-alls raise is not economic 

[8] 



WHO BRED THESE UTOPIAS? [ 9 ] 

but human; not to show why the blue-prints of paradise 
would prove grim futilities if carried into practice, but rather 
to discover why such impossible schemes have become the 
spearhead of what gives every indication of being the greatest 
mass movement in our history. 

Superficially, the explanation is simple. Whenever any con 
siderable share of the population finds itself in want, chronic 
social stresses become acute, with the consequent emergence 
of schemes calculated to cure all economic ills. Every major 
depression has demonstrated this. During the hard times of 
the 'nineties, for example, Populism and Free Silver served 
as mouthpieces for mass discontent. The present mass move 
ment is greater than its predecessors only because the present 
depression is more severe. But correct as this diagnosis is with 
regard to root cause, it does not explain the significant pe 
culiarities which distinguish the current mass movement from 
its predecessors notably, its scope and character. 

Taking the membership claims of the various economic 
cults at anywhere near face value, it would appear that up 
wards of seventy-five million Americans subscribe to (more 
important, are financially supporting) one or another of the 
current millennial "isms." The Populists and Free Silverites 
never recruited any such host as that. The total far exceeds 
the most pessimistic estimates of the unemployed. Neither is it 
likely that so many people are in even what could rightly be 
called straitened circumstances as a result of the depression. 

The character of the present mass movement is still more 
sharply different from its predecessors. The Townsendites, 
Utopians and Share-the-Wealthers are organized with a 
shrewd thoroughness that makes the efforts of the 'nineties 
seem crude and fumbling. Further, their programs are ag 
gressive, not to say dictatorial. There is nothing of abject 
pleading about $200 a month, a $4,000 living standard, or 
the Kingfish's proposal of a home, food, clothing, a radio and 
a car. In short, the 1935 model economic cult gives ample 
indication of being based on the existence of a coherent and 
aroused mob opinion. Clearly then the present situation must 



[ io ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

contain some factor or other which accounts for the distin 
guishing extent and militancy of the current mass movement. 

The business community finds this factor as obvious as the 
proverbial sore thumb. Leading industrialists and financiers 
have of course given the matter much attention. Overwhelm 
ingly orthodox on economic doctrine, they are meeting the 
onslaught of the millennial cults with a blast of denunciation 
which betrays deep concern over the possibilities implicit in 
the situation. And according to the conservative tycoons, the 
causes responsible for the disturbing clamor of the masses are 
these: Communist propaganda, "pink" professors, and wild- 
eyed demagogues. Since the popular unrest has been blamed 
so regularly and vociferously on this infamous trilogy, it may 
be well to weigh the evidence critically. Any statement re 
peated over often is likely to repay close inspection. 

Begin with the item of Communist propaganda. It is true 
that there is a Communist party in the United States. And 
like all other parties it seeks converts to its doctrines. It is also 
known that a certain amount of propaganda has reached 
America from Russian sources. But notwithstanding the 
"revelations" of congressional committees, it is unlikely that 
the sum of these efforts can account for any considerable share 
of the present mass movement. American Communists are too 
few, and Russia can spare little energy for world revolution. 

Consider then the "pink" professor. Granted, more than a 
few of the instructors at our universities hold economic views 
which are liberal under any construction of the term. They 
have not hesitated to express these views through media other 
than classroom lectures. To assume, however, that their ut 
terances have played any important part in fomenting the 
masses is to pay them an undeserved compliment. The gulf 
between higher education and "the common peepul" is for 
biddingly wide. Even assuming as seems the conservatives' 
custom that every collegian automatically becomes a carrier 
of revolutionary infection, the "pink" professors' wholesale in 
oculation of the masses would be a slow and doubtful process. 
Remains the wild-eyed demagogue. Of business' three fa- 



WHO BRED THESE UTOPIAS? [ n ] 

vorite scapegoats the case against him is possibly best. Thanks 
to modern communication which facilitates the marshalling 
of mob opinion, he is a more potent factor than in previous 
depressions. But it must be remembered that the type of 
public on which demagogues thrive is proverbially fickle. 
That alone reduces their effectiveness to a surprising extent. 

So it is exceedingly doubtful whether these familiar male 
factors are as black as the conservative business community 
likes to paint them. Together, they may have tipped the apple 
cart of popular opinion. But they have not upset it. For the 
most part they work at cross-purposes. The worst that can be 
said of their efforts is that they constitute a contributory cause 
of the predicament in which economic orthodoxy finds itself. 
What then is the reason for the situation? Why are the citadels 
of conservatism yes, of common sense and logic being 
besieged by a swarming mob, following as fantastic an assort 
ment of banners as ever deluded the unthinking into a fore 
doomed cause? 

It seems to me that business itself supplies a considerable, if 
not the major, share of the answer. Admitted, this statement is 
not calculated to evoke enthusiastic cheers from the United 
States Chamber of Commerce. Neither is it intended to be 
universally inclusive. A goodly number of commercial institu 
tions could be mentioned which stand out as heartening 
exceptions to the rule. In the main, however, I think a con 
vincing case can be made for the proposition that business 
has ironically played an important, if unwitting, part 
in creating the situation it now finds so disturbing. Further, 
the case can be made without resorting to evidence beyond 
the ken of the intelligent layman. 

As has been indicated, the distinguishing characteristics of 
the present mass resurgence are its unprecedented scope and 
the existence of a coherent and assertive mob opinion. Such 
things do not "just happen." The group is notoriously inert, 
amorphous, inarticulate. Therefore the current social solution 
must contain some catalyzer heretofore absent which has had 
the effect of awakening and spreading the sense of mass 



[ I2 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

consciousness. Far more powerful in this respect than the 
three widely publicized ferments is the reagent business has 
poured into the national test-tube: namely, mass selling. 

'T'HERE can be no doubt that the most important change 
-*- which has taken place in the objective and method of Ameri 
can business since the last major depression is the development 
of volume distribution. At first thought this would seem to 
have no bearing whatever on the emergence of a militant mass 
movement. Technically, volume distribution is predicated on 
high quality merchandise at low prices, made possible by 
quantity production. Actually, however, it involves factors 
and practices which have had a profound socio-political effect, 
as will soon become evident if one examines the subject fur 
ther. To state the matter in broad terms, business has not been 
content to build volume sales on the appeal of aristocratic 
quality at plebeian prices. It has improved on fundamentals by 
flattering the importance of the mob. 

The first and perhaps most damning evidence of that is the 
fatuous "the-customer-is-al ways-right" philosophy. Like so 
many of the other sonorous dogmas in the public-relations creed 
of business, this is a dangerous half-truth. Sometimes the cus 
tomer is right. But more often he is wrong. What with inten 
sive specialization and willful ignorance, the average layman 
is pretty certain to lack sufficient information to judge the 
merits of even commonplace commodities. Yet the doctrine 
that "the customer is always right" is the implied, if not 
frankly avowed, premise of volume merchandising. 

That glorious exponent of commercial progress, the auto 
mobile industry, supplies a devastating example of the tragic 
length to which this spineless principle can be carried. Anyone 
who has even an approximate notion of automotive costs is 
well aware that the dire need of the American motorist is a 
really economical car. Given a free hand, the engineers could 
turn out such a vehicle; one selling for less than three hundred 
dollars and assuring at least forty miles to the gallon of fuel. 
But no such car is to be had. The motor magnates go on sacri- 



WHO BRED THESE UTOPIAS? [ 13 ] 

ficing economy and public safety to the insatiable god 
of speed. Their defense is that the public wants faster and still 
faster cars. What they mean is that they lack the intestinal 
fortitude to tell the motoring morons that they are criminally 
stupid when they demand eighty miles an hour or more. 
Many other instances of the same grotesque sort could be 
cited: lighting fixtures blighted by considerations of style, 
home radios capable of delivering auditorium volume, 
houses which sacrifice the primary necessities of shelter to 
"front." 

Technicians can and would design products admirably 
suited to the known needs. But their hands are tied by the 
master minds of the sales departments. To these eminently 
"practical" gentlemen the first and greatest commandment 
is "give the public what it wants, regardless." Which, in 
practice, becomes "give the saps what they want." For the 
moment you establish the principle that the uninformed 
layman not the trained engineer or artist is the arbiter 
of technical and aesthetic questions, you inevitably elevate 
the ignorant to a position of dictating the wishes of the buying 
public. It is a case of the fleet being held to the speed of the 
slowest ship. 

But the cringing premise that "the customer is always right" 
is only the obscure cornerstone of volume selling. The gaudy 
superstructure reared on this insecure foundation affords 
more direct and ironically amusing evidence of the 
ways by which business has flattered the mass into assertive 
self-consciousness, without troubling to weigh the social and 
political consequences. 

Consider for example, the volume merchandiser's fixed and 
narrow conception of the average buyer. To the mere outsider 
it would appear that, even though a manufacturer wants a 
quantity market, it should not be necessary for him to scale 
down his typical prospect to a predetermined norm. Appar 
ently there are intelligent as well as stupid people who might 
buy his product. But that assumption is hopelessly naive. "To 
get volume you've got to concentrate on the common people, 



[ i 4 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

and they're just a lot of dim-wits." So runs the cynical dictum 
of the sales departments. 

The fine art of "talking points" shows how richly this thesis 
can be elaborated. To the uninitiate, a product is sold on its 
intrinsic merits: utility, desirability, the details which make it 
superior to its competitors. The modern "creators" of consumer- 
demand, however, have progressed far beyond these crude con 
siderations. They hold that the "common people" (of whom 
the Lord providentially made so many) never think, they 
merely feel. To sell them, you must appeal not to reason, but 
emotion; preferably vest your product with a golden aura of 
romance, outlined against a backdrop of fear. 

Accordingly by reading or listening to really advanced ad 
vertising, we find that the up-to-date maiden does not buy 
toilet soaps, dentifrices and antiseptic solutions for the sordid 
purpose of coping with dirt and germs. She employs them to 
ward off the host of dread menaces all bearing horrific 
names which stand between her and her coveted goal, the 
altar. Once she has "got her man" she buys certain foods, not 
for their flavor or nutritive value, but to cajole her sulking 
mate by the well-known stomach-to-heart route. Of course 
his ill temper is due to his having to endure that torturing 
masculine ordeal, shaving; and any of the certain aids to 
"starting the day with a smile" will solve the problem. In the 
remote event that happiness still eludes them, the fine ecstasy 
of the honeymoon can always be recaptured by the use of an 
(of course not habit-forming) laxative. And should there be a 
"blessed event," the heir is certain to become an athletic 
champion if he eats glowingly endorsed cereals. 

To be sure, there is a modicum of truth in these glamorous 
claims. There is also a modicum of truth in the proposition 
that war brings out the best in man. Yet thinking people are 
not advocating wholesale carnage for that reason. 

Such advertising the rule rather than the exception 
is of course nothing more than the frank exploitation of gul 
libility. It preys on shallow emotions and prejudices, not to 
mention superstition. (One manufacturer of an avowedly 



WHO BRED THESE UTOPIAS? [15] 

scientific product has even used astrology to "ballyhoo" his 
wares.) It brazenly caters to thoughtlessness or downright 
ignorance. By doing so it inevitably, if unwittingly, prepares 
the soil of the public mind for the growth of "crackpot" 
economic cults. 

Nor is this calculated exploitation of vapid sentimentality 
the only trick in the volume merchandiser's capacious bag. 
Another which is still more powerful in molding mass opinion 
is the sort of living standard set up as typical. Examine a 
dozen or hundred random specimens of our best advertising, 
not for specific content, but for atmosphere. Is there any 
suggestion that the millions of American families with modest 
incomes are content to live in decent simplicity; any faintest 
hint that millions more can make ends meet only by the 
practice of stern frugality? Spare the thought. According to 
the advertisers, the "typical" American family lives in a riot 
of luxury. Every detail of the domestic establishment, from the 
sublimated kitchen equipment which takes the "drudgery" 
out of housework to the intimate accessories of my lady's toilet, 
flaunts the hall-mark of an almost Lucullian magnificence. 

Granted, there is a shred of justification for this distorted 
picture. The desire to possess is a powerful incentive to work. 
Unfortunately, however, desire and ability are not synony 
mous. For the overwhelming majority of Americans, the 
standard of living depicted in advertising is unattainable, and 
will continue to be under any economic system which can be 
evolved in this generation. That being the case, dangling such 
an impossible prize before those who cannot win it is not only 
sardonic cruelty: it has profound and sure social consequences. 

The "typical prospect" for whom the volume merchandiser 
is gunning does not pause to reflect that the luxury depicted in 
advertising is as unrepresentative as the De Mille bathroom. 
She for a woman is generally the chosen target more or 
less consciously takes it for granted that every other woman 
has fur coats, evening gowns, filmy under-things, a swanky 
car, exquisite furniture, and a profusion of automatic gadgets 
that whisk all the grubby details out of her idyllic existence. 



[ !6 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

From this assumption it is only a short step to the credulous 
conviction that the possession of such an earthly paradise is a 
universal and inalienable right. 

The certain result is a rebellious dissatisfaction, of the kind 
that breeds envy rather than ambition. Moreover, it has been 
intensified by a fantastic system of installment selling which 
seems to put every luxury within reach of those whose de 
mands have been fanned to fever pitch, only to snatch it away 
when the day of reckoning dawns. To put the matter another 
way, volume merchandising has, for reasons of short-sighted 
expediency, created a composite American who can be de 
scribed about as follows: well-groomed, well-fed, more than a 
little vulgar as to tastes, "smart" after the fashion of the 
"wisecrack," rather frankly sensual and possessing a mediocre 
mind which is rarely used. 

'T'HE social consequences of this caricature would be lamen- 
* table even though the type were merely an occasional individ 
ual. But again for reasons of short-sighted expediency, business 
has glorified its importance by the magic of multiplication. 
Consider those pet phrases of the "ballyhoo" artist: "the 
world's fastest selling line," and "ten million buyers can't be 
wrong." It is "immaterial, incompetent and irrelevant" that 
the "world's fastest selling line" has, in more than a few cases, 
been shown to be of dubious merit; or that ten million buyers 
can be deluded into paying fat prices for inferior goods. The 
mere fact of volume sales flatters the crowd into believing that 
its judgment is infallible. Given sufficient numbers, no matter 
how obtained, any error of opinion takes on the sanctity of the 
popular will, than which there is no higher law. 

If this transformation of a mistaken judgment into unques 
tioned Tightness by the magic of numbers had to be reckoned 
with only in the field of tangible merchandise, its effect on the 
mass mind would be serious enough. But the impact of its 
wholesale extension into the intellectual and cultural spheres 
dominated by commercial considerations shows how deadly 
the fallacy can become. Broadway and Hollywood fairly 



WHO BRED THESE UTOPIAS? [17] 

bristle with "horrible" examples. It would be futile, for in 
stance, to tell the average boxoffice patron that "Abie's 
Irish Rose" was an execrable play. Millions packed houses 
from coast to coast to see it. Therefore it must stand as one of 
the all-time classics of drama. 

Similarly, Zane Grey is a greater novelist than Joseph 
Conrad; Irving Berlin a greater composer than Ludwig Bee 
thoven, Edgar Guest a greater poet than John Keats; Aimee 
Semple McPherson a greater preacher than Harry Emerson 
Fosdick; and Walter B. Pitkin a greater savant than Ralph 
Waldo Emerson, for the unassailable reason that their work is 
more popular. The multitude can never be wrong. 

Its domineering intolerance of anything above dead level 
dogs the steps of everyone engaged in writing or lecturing for 
"popular consumption." If technical phrases cannot be 
avoided, they must be ridiculed. Something requiring thought 
should be shunned as the plague. One must always be human 
and interesting; which is to say, obey every slightest whim of 
that jealous tyrant, mediocrity. 

For a clear, if devastating, picture of the extreme to which 
this philosophy can be carried, no contemporary illustration 
is better than the radio. Here we have a perfect conjunction of 
the two factors business, in the person of the commercial 
sponsor, and the mass audience. The result, as anyone can 
observe is a program tailored to the lowest common denomi 
nator of listener taste. 

What is not so evident, and infinitely more significant, is 
the arrogance of the group whose tastes are being served. 
The "mass" listener not only dotes on his crooners, low come 
dians and syrupy "philosophers," but indignantly resents any 
suggestion that he may be wrong. If a poll shows ten thousand 
listeners want blues and only one thousand a symphony, a 
symphony is automatically condemned. It is a betrayal of 
democracy nay, a sin to have tastes at variance with the 
crowd. In other words, radio exemplifies the full flowering of 
that paradox of present-day culture, the insufferable snobbery 
of the overwhelming mass. 



[ i8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Now, running true to form, this insufferable snobbery of the 
crowd, this tyrannizing mediocrity, is spreading its indomi 
table sway into the politico-economic realm. Why not? All the 
elements of the national drama make that the logical next act. 
Glorified and kowtowed to in every other department, the 
mass is cocked and primed to accept the brood of mad millen 
nial adventures which charlatans and deluded idealists have 
spawned. 

To venture to point out that the Townsend plan means 
certain national bankruptcy; that Long's Share-the-Wealth 
menaces the middle-class along with the rich; or that Cough- 
lin's inflation is sure to make the poor still poorer, is to brand 
the dissenter as one of those arch public enemies, "traitorous 
Tories." The mob, seventy-five million strong, has hailed 
these schemes as the infallible means to salvation. And the 
irrefutable logic of numbers makes anything right. So the 
mob will brook no parleying on the score of mere reason. 

All this, it seems to me, is the partial, if not major, explana 
tion of what lies behind the militant mass movement we are 
now witnessing. It would be absurd, of course, to say that it 
is the only cause. The situation is too complex, modern society 
is too tightly articulated, to warrant any such claim. 

And when delving for basic causes one stumbles para 
doxically on the factor of popular education. As compared 
with frontier conditions under which literacy was more the 
exception than the rule, our population now has general, if 
rudimentary schooling. But true to the principle of "a little 
knowledge," this has had the ironic effect of bringing disdain, 
rather than added respect, on the scholar. Save in the techni 
cal fields, the average individual, with his smattering of 
information, feels himself pretty much the equal of the gen 
uinely trained mind. Certainly this must be set down as a 
contributory cause of the situation. In the main, however, I 
think the pragmatic philosophy of business with respect to 
mass distribution is a far more important factor, though one 
which thus far has been ignored. 

Assuredly, by its sedulous if cynical truckling to mass 



WHO BRED THESE UTOPIAS? [ 19 ] 

moronity, business had done an admirable job of tilling and 
fertilizing the soil for the bumper crop of economic quackery 
now so near to bearing thistles. It could scarcely be otherwise, 
considering the time and skill expended on preparation and 
the notorious susceptibility of the crowd. 

The grim humor of the situation is that business, confronted 
with the imminent possibility that its very life may be trampled 
out under the feet of the mob it has flattered and pampered 
into self-consciousness, is frantically adjuring the public to 
pause and "think straight." The appeal seems perilously late. 

After years of being not only permitted but taught to be 
lieve that deadly speed is the prime desideratum in a car, that 
cosmetics are the key to personality, that the "funnies" are the 
heart of a newspaper, that crooning is great music, and that 
luxury is the common birthright of all Americans, the mass is 
scarcely in a position to think straight on economic funda 
mentals. Under such circumstances, any wide-spread recog 
nition of fallacies would be more than amazing. It would be a 
social miracle. 

True, one can sympathize with the alarm of the tycoons. 
Every thoughtful person recognizes the grave dangers implicit 
in the situation. But unfortunately, the law of cause and effect 
cannot be suspended by invoking the emergency clause. A 
spoiled child does not become a self-disciplined adult in a 
twinkling. If the onslaught of the economic cults is stopped 
short of our common destruction it will be in spite of the 
decisive, albeit unwitting, part business has played in spawn 
ing them. 



Polyphemus 

THOMAS WOLFE 

A ONE-EYED Spaniard, one of the early voyagers, was 
** beating up the American coasts out of the tropics, per 
haps on his way back home, perhaps only to see what could be 
seen. He does not tell us in the record he has left of the voyage 
how he happened to be there, but it seems likely that he was 
on his way home and had been driven off his course. Subse 
quent events show that he was in a very dilapidated condition, 
and in need of overhauling: the sails were rent, the ship was 
leaking, the food and water stores were almost exhausted. 
During the night in a storm off one of the cruellest and most 
evilly celebrated of the Atlantic capes, the one-eyed Spaniard 
was driven in and almost wrecked. By some miracle of good 
fortune he got through one of the inlets in the dark, and when 
light broke he found himself becalmed in an enormous inlet 
of pearl-grey water. 

As the light grew he made out seawards a long almost un 
broken line of sandy shoals and islands that formed a desolate 
barrier between the sea and the mainland, and made this bay 
or sound in which he found himself. Away to the west he 
descried now the line of the shore: it was also low, sandy, and 
desolate looking. The cool grey water of morning slapped 
gently at the sides of his ship: he had come from the howling 
immensity of the sea into the desert monotony of this coast. 
It was as bleak and barren a coast as the one-eyed Spaniard 
had ever seen. And indeed, for a man who had come up so 
many times under the headlands of Europe, and had seen the 
worn escarpments of chalk, the lush greenery of the hills, and 
the minute striped cultivation of the earth that greet the sailor 
returning from a long and dangerous voyage and awaken 
in him the unspeakable emotion of earth which has been 
tilled and used for so many centuries, with its almost personal 
bond for the men who have lived there on it, and whose dust 
is buried in it there must have been something particu- 

[20] 



POLYPHEMUS [21] 

larly desolate about this coast which stretched away with the 
immense indifference of nature into silence and wilderness. 
The Spaniard felt this, and the barren and desert quality of the 
place is duly recorded in his log, which, for the most part, 
is pretty dry reading. 

But here a strange kind of exhilaration seizes the Spaniard: 
it gets into his writing, it begins to color and pulse through the 
grey stuff of his record. The light of the young rising sun 
reddened delicately upon the waters; immense and golden it 
came up from the sea behind the line of the sea-dunes, and 
suddenly he heard the fast drumming of the wild ducks as 
they crossed his ship high up, flying swift and straight as pro 
jectiles. Great heavy gulls of a size and kind he had never seen 
before swung over his ship in vast circles, making their eerie 
creaking noises. The powerful birds soared on their strong 
even wings, with their feet tucked neatly in below their bodies; 
or they dove and tumbled through the air, settling to the 
water with great flutterings and their haunted creaking 
clamor: they seemed to orchestrate this desolation, they gave 
a tongue to loneliness and they filled the hearts of the men 
who had come there with a strange exultancy. For, as if some 
subtle and radical changes had been effected in the chemistry 
of their flesh and blood by the air they breathed, a kind of 
wild glee now possessed the one-eyed Spaniard's men. They 
began to laugh and sing, and to be, as he says, "marvelous 
merry." 

During the morning the wind freshened a little; the Span 
iard set his sails and stood in towards the land. By noon he 
was going up the coast quite near the shore and by night he 
had put into the mouth of one of the coastal rivers. He took in 
his sails and anchored there. There was nearby on shore a 
settlement of "the race that inhabits these regions," and it was 
evident that his arrival had caused a great commotion among 
the inhabitants, for some who had fled away into the woods 
were now returning, and others were running up and down 
the shore pointing and gesticulating and making a great deal 
of noise. But the one-eyed Spaniard had seen Indians before: 



[ 22 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

that was an old story to him now, he was not disturbed. As for 
his men, the strange exuberance that had seized them in the 
morning does not seem to have worn off, they shouted ribald 
jokes at the Indians, and "did laugh and caper as if they had 
been madde." 

Nevertheless, they did not go ashore that day. The one-eyed 
Spaniard was worn out, and the crew was exhausted: they ate 
such food as they had, some raisins, cheese, and wine, and 
after posting a watch they went to sleep, unmindful of the fires 
that flickered in the Indian village, of sounds and chants and 
rumors, or of the forms that padded softly up and down the 
shore. 

Then the marvelous moon moved up into the skies, and 
blank and full, blazed down upon the quiet waters of the 
sound, and upon the Indian village. It blazed upon the one- 
eyed Spaniard and his lonely little ship and crew, on their 
rich dull lamps, and on their swarthy sleeping faces; it blazed 
upon all the dirty richness of their ragged costumes, and on 
their greedy little minds, obsessed then as now by the Euro 
pean's greedy myth about America, to which he remains 
forever faithful with an unwearied and idiot pertinacity: 
"Where is the gold in the streets? Lead us to the emerald 
plantations, the diamond bushes, the platinum mountains, 
and the cliffs of pearl. Brother, let us gather in the shade of 
the ham and mutton trees, by the shores of ambrosial rivers: 
we will bathe in the fountains of milk, and pluck hot buttered 
rolls from the bread vines." 

Early the next morning the Spaniard went ashore with 
several of his men. "When we reached land," he writes, "our 
first act was to fall down on our knees and render thanks to 
God and the Blessed Virgin without whose intervention we 
had all been dead men." Their next act was to "take posses 
sion" of this land in the name of the King of Spain and to 
ground the flag. As we read today of this solemn ceremony, 
its pathos and puny arrogance touches us with pity. For what 
else can we feel for this handful of greedy adventurers "taking 
possession" of the immortal wilderness in the name of another 



POLYPHEMUS [ 23 ] 

puny fellow four thousand miles away, who had never seen or 
heard of the place and could never have understood it any 
better than these men. For the earth is never "taken possession 
of": it possesses. 

At any rate, having accomplished these acts of piety and 
devotion, the Spaniards rose from their prayers, faced the 
crowd of Indians who had by this time ventured quite close 
to all this unctuous rigmarole and discharged a volley from 
their muskets at them ("lest they become too froward and 
threatening"). Two or three fell sprawling on the ground, and 
the others ran away yelling into the woods. Thus, at one blast, 
Christianity and government were established. 

The Spaniards now turned their attention to the Indian 
village they began to pill and sack it with the deftness of 
long experience; but, as they entered one hut after another 
and found no coffers of nuggets or chests of emeralds, and 
found indeed that not even the jugs and pots and cooking 
utensils were of gold or silver, but had been crudely fashioned 
from baked earth, their rage grew; they felt tricked and 
cheated, and began to smash and destroy all that came within 
their reach. This sense of injury, this virtuous indignation has 
crept into the Spaniard's record indeed, we are edified with 
a lot of early American criticism which, save for a few ar 
chaisms of phrasing, has a strangely familiar ring, and might 
almost have been written yesterday: "This is a wild and bar 
barous kind of race, full of bloudie ways, it exists in such a 
base and vile sort of living that is worthier of wild beestes than 
men: they live in darkness and of the artes of living as we know 
them they are ignorant, one could think that God Himself has 
forgot them, they are so farre remote from any lighte." 

He comments with disgust on the dried "stinkeing fysshe" 
and the dried meat that hung in all the huts, and on the al 
most total lack of metals, but he saves his finest disdain for a 
"kinde of weede or plante," which they also found in con 
siderable quantity in all the dwellings. He then goes on to 
describe this "weede or plante" in considerable detail: its 
leaves are broad and coarse and when dried it is yellow and 



[ 2 4 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

has a strong odor. The barbarous natives, he says, are so fond 
of the plant that he has seen them put it in their mouths and 
chew it; when his own men tried the experience, however, 
they quickly had enough of it and some were seized with 
retchings and a puking sickness. The final use to which the 
plant is put seems to him so extraordinary that he evidently 
fears his story will be disbelieved, for he goes on, with many 
assurances and oaths of his veracity, to describe how the plant 
may be lighted and burned and how "it giveth a fowle 
stinkeing smoak," and most wonderful of all, how these na 
tives have a way of setting it afire and drawing in its fumes 
through long tubes so that "the smoak cometh out again by 
their mouth and nostryls in such wyse that you mighte thinke 
them devils out of helle instead of mortyl men." 

Before we leave this one-eyed fellow, it is ironic to note with 
what contempt he passes over "the gold in the streets" for 
which his bowels yearn. As an example of one-eyed blindness 
it is hard to beat. For here was gold, the inexhaustible vein of 
gold which the marvelous clay of the region could endlessly 
produce, and which mankind would endlessly consume and 
pay for; and the Spaniard, devoured by his lust for gold, 
ignores it with a grimace of disgust and a scornful dilation of 
his nostrils. That act was at once a history and a prophecy, 
and in it is all the story of Europe's blundering with America. 

For it must be said of all these explorers and adventurers, 
the early ones and the late ones, who came back from their 
voyages to the Americas embittered because they did not find 
gold strewn on the earth, that they failed not because there 
was no gold, but because they did not know where and how to 
look for it, and because they did not recognize it when they 
had it under their noses because, in short, they were one- 
eyed men. That gold, real gold, the actual honest ore, existed 
in great quantities, and often upon the very surface of the 
earth as these men supposed, has since been abundantly 
shown: it is only one of the minor and less interesting episodes 
of American history a casual confirmation of one of 
Europe's fairy tales. They tried to think of the most wonderful 



POLYPHEMUS [ 25 ] 

fable in the world, these money-haters, and they evolved the 
story of gold on the ground. 

It was a story as naive and not as beautiful as a child's 
vision of the lemonade spring, the ice cream mountains, the 
cake and candy forests but, at any rate, America confirmed 
this little fable about gold in one short year of her history, and 
then proceeded to unpocket and unearth vast stores of wealth 
that made the visions of these old explorers look absurd. For 
she unearthed rivers of rich oil and flung them skywards, she 
dug mountains of coal and iron and copper out of the soil, she 
harvested each year two thousand miles of golden wheat, she 
flung great rails across the desert, she bridged the continent 
with the thunder of great wheels, she hewed down forests of 
enormous trees and floated them down rivers, she grew cotton 
for the world, her soil was full of sugars, citric pungencies, of 
a thousand homely and exotic things, but still the mystery of 
her earth was unrevealed, her greatest wealth and potencies 
unknown. 

The one-eyed Spaniard, however, saw none of these things. 
He looted the village, murdered a few of the Indians and 
advanced eighty or one hundred miles inland, squinting about 
for treasure. He found a desolate region, quite flat, with soil of 
a sandy marl, a coarse and undistinguished landscape, 
haunted by a lonely austerity, and thickly and ruggedly 
forested for the most part with large areas of long-leaf pine. 
As he went inland the soil deepened somewhat in hue and 
texture: it had a clayey, glutinous composition, and when rain 
fell he cursed it. It grew coarse grasses and tough thick brush 
and undergrowth: it could also grow enough of the pungent 
weed whose fumes had so disgusted him to fill the nostrils of 
the earth with smoke forever. There was abundance of wild 
game and fowl, so that the one-eyed Spaniard did not go 
hungry; but he found no nuggets and not even a single 
emerald. 

The one-eyed Spaniard cursed, and again turned eastward 
toward the sea. Swift and high and straight as bullets the 
ducks passed over him, flying toward the coastal marshes. 



[ 26 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

That was all. The enormous earth resumed its silence. West 
ward in great hills that he had never seen, cloud shadows 
passed above the timeless wilderness, the trees crashed down 
at night athwart the broken bowl of clean steep waters, there 
was the flash and wink of a billion little eyes, the glide and 
thrumming stir, the brooding ululation of the dark; there was 
the thunder of the wings, the symphony of the wilderness, 
but there was never the tread of a booted foot. 

The Spaniard took to his ship, and set sail gladly. He was 
one-eyed and he had found no gold. 



Corporate Reserves vs. Prosperity 

DAVID FIGART 

"FEATHER NIEUWLAND, who was recently awarded the 
- highest honors of the American Chemical Society for his 
discoveries in synthetic rubber, said: "It is surprisingly easy 
... to persist in overlooking the simply obvious." This study 
is an attempt to discover the obvious. It was prompted by the 
diversity of recovery measures urged upon the country. Its pur 
pose is to show to what extent the country's welfare depends 
upon the manner in which industry uses its financial power, as 
reflected in surpluses and reserves. 

Artificial combinations of capital and labor, as represented 
by the corporate form of organization, grew up in response to 
the need for more efficient means of producing and distribut 
ing wealth. But a corporate society of necessity involves the 
shifting of certain responsibilities from the individual to the 
corporation. A man in primitive society produces for his own 
needs; but when hired service is substituted for direct effort, 
continuity of employment becomes essential to prosperity. 
Shifting responsibility for maintaining employment from in 
dustry, where it belongs, to government, is the basis of certain 
foreign political systems, but should have no place in this coun 
try. It is not our government's job to engage in industrial opera 
tions when industry fails in its responsibility; it is government's 
job to compel industry to discharge that responsibility. 

Advocates of some form of centralized control over industry 
overlook the fact that there are certain natural economic 
forces which, if allowed to operate, automatically maintain 
industry on a reasonably even keel. The trouble in the past 
has been that human forces have interfered in such a way as to 
cause the periodic disturbance of our economic balance, 
whereupon natural forces were expected to restore it by their 
certain but slow and painful operation. It would be better if 
the natural forces were allowed to operate in good times to 
maintain prosperity, so that they would not have to be de- 

[27] 



[ 2 8] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

pended upon in bad times to restore economic equilibrium. 
If we are to reach an intelligent appraisal of the part that 
corporate surpluses and reserves are playing in our eco 
nomic well-being, it is first necessary to examine some of the 
present and proposed plans for restoring employment and 
prosperity. 

MONEY 

Taking up first the claims of the inflationists, it is said that 
inflation reduces the burden of debtors by decreasing the value 
of the money in which they will eventually pay their debts. 
The theory is based upon the false premise that all debtors are 
poor men and all creditors are rich men, and that the relation 
ship between debtors and creditors is one of the most im 
portant factors retarding recovery. Inflation will transfer to 
debtors wealth belonging to creditors, but it will harm the 
latter to the extent it benefits the former. 

Another theory is that inflation will cause a rise in economic 
levels by cheapening money, and that buying in anticipation 
of higher prices will commence creating greater demand, 
and eventually causing the factories to increase production, 
gradually abolish unemployment, and increase purchasing 
power. The first effect of inflation, however, is instantaneously 
to cut the nation's purchasing power by the extent to which 
the inflation is effective. It does not seem logical that to in 
crease purchasing power we first must reduce it. Unless re- 
employment and rising wages occur faster than inflation cuts 
the value of money, the country loses. 

One theory that has led to much confusion of thought is 
that the supply of money or credit controls the state of busi 
ness. The reverse would seem to be true. The money system of 
a country should be designed so that credit will expand with 
expanding business, and contract with contracting business. 
Inflating or deflating the monetary medium does not touch 
the fundamental problems involved in the economic well- 
being of the community. Wealth is created by labor, not by 
the printing press. Government edict can shift wealth from 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITY [ 29 ] 

one class of people to another, but it cannot create wealth. 
Nor can industrial output be stabilized by tinkering with the 
device employed for exchanging that output; but if there is an 
uninterrupted flow of goods from producer to consumer, the 
medium of exchange will automatically stabilize itself. 

If a country's international trade is vital to her welfare, 
then the question of an international monetary standard be 
comes of great importance not so much the specific kind of 
standard, but whether it is a stable or a fluctuating measure. 
If an exporter never knows from day to day what price his 
product is going to command, his activities will be hampered. 
When a country goes in for inflation it reduces the value of its 
own money in terms of other currencies. That means that to 
acquire foreign goods it will now take ten or twelve hours of 
labor instead of eight hours as before. How a country can 
grow rich by giving away more of its labor in exchange for the 
same things is not clear. To attribute such industrial recovery 
as England has experienced to a broadening home demand 
seems more logical than to attribute it to monetary manipu 
lation. 

As the result of a recent study, Colonel Ayres says: "Prob 
ably it is fair to draw the inference that the natural forces mak 
ing for recovery tend to prevail over even such important in 
fluences as those of the money systems." 

THE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH 

The confiscation of all wealth above a certain figure, and its 
redistribution, would not solve our economic problems. The 
everyday livelihood of our people comes, not from past accu 
mulated wealth, but from current production of wealth. If we 
produce much, we will have much to divide. If we produce 
little, there will be little to divide. How we should allocate 
current production, rather than past production, is the prob 
lem we must solve. 

The extravagances of a few wealthy persons here and there, 
alongside of distressing poverty, may offend us, but such cases 
are too limited to be of great importance. The rich can eat only 



[ 3 o ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

so much, wear certain clothes, consume a limited amount of 
wealth. In their expenditures they are providing employment 
for others. The same is true of their so-called extravagances. 
Liquidate the wealthy, as the Soviets did in Russia, and you 
destroy the means of employment of certain types of skilled 
labor and artisans. 

The trouble comes not with what the rich spend, but with 
what they do not spend that is, with what they invest and 
how they invest it. It is not their possession of wealth that mat 
ters, but the power over wealth which that possession gives, 
and which has been frequently abused sometimes know 
ingly, more often unknowingly. That those in control of great 
wealth should use this power to add to their wealth through 
unethical methods, such as market manipulation, watering of 
stock, or the destroying of competitors, is deplorable and should 
cease. But that does not solve the problem of men of the high 
est standards of honesty, motivated by a desire for the welfare 
of the community, who unwittingly invest their excess income 
in undertakings which prove harmful in the end. Our indus 
trial history is full of instances of new investments destroying 
old investments of current wealth replacing past wealth, in 
stead of adding to it. 

PUBLIC WORKS 

The fundamental objection to any government relief pro 
gram is that it violates the principle of industry's responsibility 
for its workers and for the community welfare. Any venture of 
government into the field of business is full of dangers. Aside 
from the question of politics which is bound to crop up, it is 
extremely difficult for government either to enter the field of 
private industry or to withdraw, without serious disturbance 
to those whom the measures are designed to aid. The bigger 
the program the worse the dislocation. If there is a method of 
insuring that industry itself shall maintain a proper economic 
balance, it is far better that government should keep out of 
business altogether. The philosophy of the Socialists is sound in 
many respects; but in substituting government operations for 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITT [ 31 ] 

private initiative, it is simply substituting unknown evils for 
known evils. 

Public works must be paid for by those members of the com 
munity who pay taxes, and taxes are always painful. That part 
of our income which is taxed for public works is equivalent to 
savings confiscated by government and spent in something we 
may or may not think is of benefit. We would prefer to employ 
our income as we please, to save it or spend it; and if we save 
it, we want to choose our own type of saving. There are lots of 
things we might prefer to the projects upon which the Govern 
ment is spending billions. 

The fallacy of "self-liquidating" public works is shown in 
two articles by David Cushman Goyle in Harper's for Decem 
ber 1934 and January 1935. "The idea was that such projects 
paid for themselves, because the people who paid for them 
were not visible. 53 He says capital invested in such projects is 
"distributed to the consumer with one hand and taken away 
from the consumer with the other hand." 

GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF INDUSTRY 

The government has tried to regulate industry by means of 
anti-trust laws. But these should take into consideration items 
other than mere size. From the standpoint of service to the 
community some of the biggest corporations are the best, some 
of the smallest are the worst. Where large corporations are less 
efficient than small, it is generally because of mismanagement. 
There unquestionably are economies in large-scale manage 
ment, up to a point; and such economies enable the bigger 
companies to undertake the invaluable research and develop 
ment work which has contributed so much to America's in 
dustrial progress. 

Price-fixing is another suggested solution of industry's prob 
lems. This is impractical, in the first place, since no one man is 
wise enough to determine the proper price and no two men 
would agree. Price is the shadow, not the substance. That 
lowering the price expands the market is true only insofar as it 
reflects increased efficiency. The price at which goods move 






[ 32 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

from producer to consumer is not the most important factor, 
since price to the consumer is wage to the producer. (By wage 
is meant payment to labor, management and capital.) The 
fundamental question is the distribution of community income 
in such a manner as to permit consumption of the goods pro 
duced. 

To delegate power over the complex industrial activities of 
the country to governmental bodies, code authorities, or trade 
associations, is to credit human nature with a wisdom which it 
does not possess. One weakness of the code system lies in an 
undue reliance upon the cooperation of individuals. In the 
stress of a great national emergency, our shattered morale will 
lead us to promise almost any reform but as the emergency 
passes, human self-interest will begin to reassert itself. A fur 
ther weakness in the code system is the principle of boycott and 
coercion of one group by another. This does not eliminate 
trouble; it breeds trouble, and it is un-American. 

CAPITAL INVESTMENTS 

Many competent observers say that we would solve our de 
pression problem if we could restore employment in the dur 
able goods industries. But if recovery is to come through 
adding to a capital investment, in building and plant, which al 
ready exceeds our present needs, are we not simply laying the 
foundation for the next depression? We may concede that the 
potential consuming power of this country is much larger than 
we have ever approached, and at the same time recognize 
that as a practical matter the capacity to produce goods in 
1929 considerably exceeded the then-effective demand. One 
need only consult a few corporation executives who went 
through the cut-throat period preceding the crash to verify 
this statement if it needs verification. 

To bring recovery through large scale investment in indus 
try would mean adding to an amount of debt which is already 
burdensome. If we cannot earn profits on present capital, it 
will be more difficult to earn on an enlarged capital. Yet to 
scale down present debt to make room for new debt not only 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITY [ 33 ] 

seems illogical, but involves the sacrifice of one section of the 
community to another. We might better strive to restore in 
dustry to a point which would justify present capital values. 

It has been said that much of our plant has become obsolete 
during the last four years. It would be difficult to define the 
term "obsolete" in such a way as to satisfy everybody. There is 
a point where the modernization of plant may run up against 
the law of diminishing returns where the cost to the com 
munity in terms of capital destruction, or increased competi 
tion, or unemployment, may be excessive. Any wholesale re 
placement of plant at this time comes in the same category as 
expansion of capacity, and would be a questionable policy 
until we have shown an ability to use our present capacity 
effectively. 

AGRICULTURE 

Chester G. Davis, in an article published December 9, 1934, 
in the New York Times, said: "Gross income of farmers and 
total factory payrolls are almost economic twins. . . . In 
creases in farm income depend largely on the increased buying- 
power of those engaged in industry. As this increase develops, 
the farm income will be boosted both through higher prices 
and through whatever increase in production can be con 
sumed by a more prosperous industrial community." If farm 
income depends on factory payrolls, a rise in farm prices with 
out a corresponding rise in payrolls simply means that wage 
earners no longer can buy as much as before. 

It is known that in our most prosperous years a large part of 
our population was insufficiently nourished. It has been esti 
mated that instead of restricting agricultural acreage, a sub 
stantial increase would be necessary properly to feed all our 
people. There are a few crops which still would show an ex 
portable surplus. If our natural conditions are so favorable 
that we can market this surplus at competitive prices abroad, 
no readjustment will be necessary. If, however, we cannot 
compete with world prices, or if countries formerly importing 
from us have raised tariff barriers behind which their own 



[ 34 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

agriculture is being developed, then we must face some read 
justment. 

When government attempts to restrict crops wholesale, it 
may have the problem of transporting entire communities 
from one locality to another, which is certain to disturb seri 
ously the industrial life of these localities. Such readjustments 
would come automatically and naturally, through individual 
action, if government did not interfere. Government can help 
on general financial policies, and in raising agricultural stand 
ards. To go farther than that, to invade the individual freedom 
of the farmer which is part of his compensation for being a 
farmer, would seem to be overstepping proper bounds. 

No doubt part of the so-called farm problem lies in the ex 
istence of so many marginal farmers men attached to the 
soil, loath to leave it, yet without any reasonable hope of mak 
ing a fair living. One cannot see any clear future for such men; 
but if industry were speeded up to the point where the de 
mands of the American people were reasonably well satisfied, 
the problem of the marginal farmer might solve itself either 
by his being absorbed by industry, or by his being enabled to 
make a proper living through greater demand for his crops. 
The plans of Henry Ford looking toward the provision of part- 
time factory work for agricultural workers, and for ascertain 
ing new uses for agricultural crops through research, may con 
stitute one answer to this problem. 

A large part of the farmer's problem lies in speculative pur 
chases at excessively high prices, swamping him under a bur 
den of debt from which it is difficult if not impossible to escape. 
If he has a few good years he may work out. If not, he faces 
bankruptcy. Extending federal aid may or may not be bene 
ficial. When a man is suffering from too much debt, increasing 
the debt may not be the logical way to relieve him. 

The objection to any artificial restriction of a product neces 
sary to life or comfort is obvious. Designed to increase wealth, 
it starts out by reducing it. Theory may point to an inevitable 
price rise, and a resulting benefit to some one section of the 
community for the time being; but the very imposition of re- 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITY [ 35 ] 

strict! ve measures may have a depressing effect on consumers. 
It advertises either an existing over-supply, or a potential over- 
supply to be available as and when necessary; so why pay 
more? This was well demonstrated in the British rubber re 
striction plan of 1922. 

Any restriction plan is almost certain to harm the people it 
was designed to benefit. The British rubber plan caused the 
substitution of reclaimed rubber for plantation rubber, and 
led to intensive planting by the native populations. The re 
striction of American agricultural crops will lead to the sub 
stitution of foreign-grown crops and the permanent loss of our 
market. 

Restriction penalizes the efficient producer by subsidizing 
the inefficient. It makes no allowance for the unexpected 
such as drought and floods. The supposed need for restriction 
may have passed by the time the measure is introduced. It 
would be difficult to prove that the increase in agricultural 
prices last year was due to crop restriction rather than to the 
drought and other natural agencies. 

Moreover, any plan involving coercion is distasteful. Suc 
cessful administration is impossible. As bureaucratic pressure 
increases, evasion increases. Efforts to enforce such a law will 
stimulate violations, which are demoralizing and which will 
nullify the law. Instead of having one prohibition problem on 
our hands, we will have hundreds. It would seem that with so 
many objections to a policy, all possible alternatives should be 
exhausted before it is adopted. 

If America insists on growing wheat for export it will have 
to sell in world markets and compete with countries possessing 
lower living standards. Because of efficiency of production, we 
can do this in many manufactured articles. Can we do it in 
agriculture? Certainly not by reducing output and increasing 
unit costs. To attempt to maintain one price for domestic con 
sumption and a lower price for foreign consumption offers 
almost insurmountable obstacles from the standpoint of prac 
tical business. To do this without government aid seems 
impossible; to do it with government aid brings up all the 



[ 36 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

problems we seek to avoid, besides still further problems in 
international relations. 

SIGNIFICANCE OF CORPORATE RESERVES 

Modern business is so complex, and the function of money 
so confusing, that intelligent and honest men, reasoning from 
the same set of facts, reach quite different conclusions. But 
there is another way of approaching the problem that is, to 
reason from assumed premises which are drawn with such 
simplicity that the underlying principles are apparent to all. 
Since industry naturally falls into two main classes, (1) con 
sumable goods and (2) durable goods, it will be useful for this 
purpose to assume two isolated communities, the first a fertile 
island where the population is engaged solely in the produc 
tion of consumable goods, the second an island unsuited to 
agriculture, where the population is engaged solely in the pro 
duction of durable goods building materials, iron, copper. 
It will further simplify matters to assume that the affairs of the 
first community are directed by one manager. 

The first community produces consumption goods in excess 
of its own requirements, and exchanges this surplus for dura 
ble goods produced by the second community. It is clear 
that so long as this exchange is uninterrupted, even though 
demand increases rapidly, both communities will remain 
prosperous. 

If the manager responsible for the activities of the first com 
munity is guided by the needs of his people, he will end up 
each year's operations with his storeroom empty. This does 
not mean that he has not made a profit; it means that he has 
distributed the profit. If he turns out goods which he prices at 
one hundred thousand dollars, in the production of which he 
has spent ninety thousand dollars for labor and materials, he 
has ten thousand dollars' profit for his stockholders. Or, in 
other words, he has accumulated on his shelves goods worth 
ten thousand dollars. These belong to his stockholders, to 
whom he distributes them for consumption. 

But if the manager forgets about demand, and begins to 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITY [ 37 ] 

think in terms of "accumulated profits" or "reserves" or "sur 
plus" as reflected by his balance sheet, he will carry over un- 
consumed stocks of goods as "inventory," which will increase 
from year to year. It may be that he has kept half of his com 
munity on the verge of poverty while storing up the very goods 
they helped to produce. Finally the day comes when these 
stocks are topheavy; so he says to his community: "Operations 
must be reduced until stocks are wiped out." Since his citizens 
live by their labor, when the opportunity to work is now denied 
them, they are thrown into distress. 

Or the manager may aspire to outshine his predecessor by 
building a bigger factory. So he withholds increasing quanti 
ties of consumable goods made by his community, to exchange 
for increasing quantities of durable goods with which he en 
larges his capacity. If he builds beyond the combined needs of 
both communities, but does not utilize this increased capacity 
to accumulate undistributed inventories, no particular harm 
will be done; and the manager will be able to point with pride 
to a fine surplus on his balance sheet, proof of the "powerful 
financial position" of his undertaking. His citizens might feel 
that they would have liked a bigger share of the consumable 
goods themselves, but the manager has his eye on the balance 
sheet, rather than on community welfare. 

The real trouble is going to come when the manager starts 
up the new factory on his "mass production" schedule, with 
out regard to demand; when he attempts to operate his in 
creased capacity to justify the increased capital employed. 
Then he will find inventories overwhelming him; his expan 
sion program will collapse; demand for durable goods will dry 
up; unemployment will be general in both communities. 

It is strange, but true, that the manager regards his power 
over his "reserves" as autocratic. He may concede that they 
belong to his stockholders, but will probably oppose any dis 
tribution even to them. It does not occur to him that since it 
was the labor of his communities which contributed most to 
the producing of the goods, these very same workers whom he 
has thrown into want possess a substantial equity in the goods 



[ 3 8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

with which his shelves are loaded down. At best he is bound to 
go through some period of readjustment because people can 
not suddenly eat a lot of accumulated food or wear out a lot of 
extra clothes. But if the consumption of the accumulated goods 
is facilitated by making them readily available to the needy, 
instead of discouraged by forcing the communities on to a 
mere existence basis, dependent upon charity, the period of 
readjustment will be short instead of protracted. 

By return of these goods to the community at the first sign of 
depression the manager could prevent the suffering which his 
policies have brought on. But he would oppose such a policy 
because he objects to using "reserves" built up "to protect his 
business in times of stress." Yet events compel him to do pre 
cisely this even though he may not understand what is hap 
pening. As the depression develops he is forced, through 
charitable contributions, through idle equipment, through dis 
posing of inventories below cost, to make the very contribu 
tions he would voluntarily refuse; he is forced to give back to 
the communities the goods which the communities helped 
to produce, but of whose use they were deprived. 

What is the way out? Since his present factory facilities have 
been such as to create an apparent over-supply of goods, the 
manager will certainly not want to add to capacity, nor per 
haps even to modernize equipment in such a way as to increase 
output because by doing so he will be setting the stage for 
a recurrence of his present troubles. He may hit upon the idea 
of public works; and to the extent that he can utilize the prod 
ucts of the durable goods community in exchange for excess 
inventories of consumable goods he may be justified in this 
measure. However, he is perhaps unwarranted in deciding 
what the people want rather than letting them decide for 
themselves. It may be that they would rather have better 
homes than more public works. Realizing this, the manager 
may plan for a general housing program, but the first obstacle 
he runs up against is that those members of the communities 
most in need of new homes are least able to pay for them; 
they are unemployed, and lack any sense of security for the 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITT [ 39 ] 

future which would encourage them to assume the necessary 
obligations. 

Confronted with obstacles whichever way he turns, the 
manager may finally become so harassed that he will be will 
ing frankly to face the facts of his relationship and obligations 
to the communities, and to review his operations in that light. 
It may shock him to realize that his former ideas of successful 
management were pretty inadequate. In terms of accounting 
and finance, he has been a great success: for he has shown con 
sistent profits and mounting reserves and surplus. Yet he has 
conducted operations in such a way that both communities 
have been thrown into turmoil. From the standpoint of his ob 
ligations, as the chosen representative of the community, to 
direct its industrial activities for the general welfare, he has 
failed. He will discover that all his trouble arose through the 
unwise employment of what he terms "profits and reserves"; 
that the more he attempts to pile up profits and reserves, the 
bigger the readjustment he will have to go through; that in 
stead of accumulated profits and reserves being the goal of 
business, they are something that must actually be avoided. 

REMOVING THE BARRIERS TO DISTRIBUTION 

The even flow of goods from producer to consumer must be 
insured in order to prevent periodical accumulation result 
ing in industrial chaos and unemployment. This could be ac 
complished by distributing corporate earnings after allowing 
reasonable reserves for unemployment and dividend insur 
ance, for adequate depreciation of plant and machinery, and 
for special purposes such as research and development. A 
modest reserve for emergencies should be allowed, sufficient to 
carry the corporation through a brief period of stress, but not 
sufficient to disturb the economic balance of the community. 

Possibly the simplest means of insuring the distribution of 
earnings would be by imposing a prohibitive tax on all un 
distributed earnings in excess of permitted reserves. Since a 
few large corporations are responsible for the employment of 
most of our industrial workers, the exemption of the smaller 



.** * 



[ 4 o ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

corporations to simplify administration could be con 
sidered, as well as the exemption of public utilities and rail 
roads, and corporations engaged in working natural resources. 
This is not a revenue measure. The proposed tax would prob 
ably never be collected. The purpose is control of corporate 
activities to safeguard employment, taxation being the device 
by which this control would operate automatically. 

The policy of accumulating reserves and surplus as an in 
surance against emergency conditions is sound and commend 
able. The error has been in not earmarking these reserves for 
specific purposes, such as unemployment and dividend insur 
ance, so that when an emergency arose, distribution of the re 
serves would begin automatically, thus maintaining commu 
nity purchasing power and providing a measure of security to 
both workers and stockholders. 

Corporations will point out that they must have capital 
available to modernize their plants and to expand in order to 
meet demand for new business. The device outlined above 
would not interfere with the legitimate growth of business, but 
would make the volume of community savings reinvested in a 
business depend solely upon the utility of that business to the 
community as indicated by whether or not it was operating 
at a profit instead of permitting the reinvestment to be dic 
tated by motives unrelated to community welfare. 

To limit the power of corporate management to withhold 
and reinvest earnings would not interfere with earning ability, 
but should enhance it by forcing the increase of effective com 
munity purchasing power through larger dividends and 
wages, since all earnings above the legal reserves would be 
distributed rather than reinvested in doubtful enterprise. 
Corporations could invite the immediate reinvestment of such 
earnings for purposes of expansion; but corporate manage 
ment would be obliged to show an earning history, or a reason 
able prospect of future earnings, to make the shares attractive 
to prospective investors. This proposal would compel corpo 
rate managers to operate at a profit or answer to their stock 
holders, and it would build up a type of management based on 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITY [41 ] 

efficiency and integrity, rather than on autocratic financial 
power. 

To the argument that an enforced distribution of earnings 
would penalize the efficient units in industry, it might be 
pointed out that efficiency by no means determines survival 
in every instance. Often a financially powerful but inefficient 
concern will crush out a more efficient rival. 

A great deal of commercial distress has been caused in the 
past by the small margin of profit and at times loss en 
forced upon manufacturers by large buyers. Under the plan 
suggested this would no longer be possible. Without reserves 
to absorb losses of this kind, no manufacturer could afford to 
sell to large buyers at an inadequate profit. The buyers would 
have no alternative but to pay the profit: since they would not 
possess the necessary reserves to enable them to manufacture 
the product themselves, and could not raise the needed capital 
unless there were marked inefficiency in existing plants or in 
adequate sources of supply. 

Without reserves to finance over-expansion and destructive 
competition, corporate management would be obliged to 
shape policies with a view to continuous earnings. In case of 
losses they could no longer fall back upon reserves, dissipating 
the assets of the community, but would be compelled to take 
corrective measures without delay. 

It may be regarded as too hazardous a policy to place the 
burden of new capital construction directly upon the com 
munity rather than upon industry itself, on the grounds that 
adequate capital for plant expansion might not be provided as 
and when needed. The fear is probably not well founded. The 
aggregate intelligence of the community, as reflected by its 
willingness or unwillingness to buy a certain product, should 
be fully as reliable as the intelligence of corporate manage 
ment. If the time comes when all the factories in this country 
are operating at capacity to supply the wants of our people, 
and no capital seems available for industrial expansion, the 
situation can be reviewed. 

Most of the leading corporations in America now possess 



[ 42 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

large surpluses and reserves. The effect of the proposed legis 
lation where present surpluses and reserves aggregate the 
maximum which could be set up under the law would be to 
compel the distribution of future earnings in their totality. 
How such earnings should be divided between stockholders 
and employees might be left to work itself out equitably. If too 
large a share is distributed to stockholders, in the form of high 
dividends, the corporation will be making itself a target for 
new competition. The higher the profit, the more people will 
want to get into the game. Labor is likely to become restive 
under such a policy, feeling that its share is unduly low, and 
labor troubles may nullify a previous good earning history. 

If the management of the corporation appreciates that its 
prosperity will depend on the purchasing power of the com 
munity, derived for the most part from wages, it will want to 
share profits fairly with labor in order to protect its market. It 
may do this either through high wages, or through recurrent 
wage bonuses. It would be to the interest of corporations to 
pay labor all the traffic would bear; and since labor obviously 
could not demand a share in earnings when there were 
no earnings to share, the opportunity for misunderstandings 
and conflict would diminish. 

EFFECTS OF DISTRIBUTING SURPLUSES 

The ownership of American corporations is becoming wide 
spread, and any policy looking toward a better dividend his 
tory will benefit the entire community. As shares in industrial 
concerns become more stable in their dividend policy, they be 
come more attractive to the workers as a means of saving; and 
as workers become stockholders, solving of industrial disputes 
becomes less difficult. 

Depriving a corporation of reserves excepting those set up 
for specific earmarked purposes would leave no incentive for 
either corporate or individual speculation such as the country 
experienced in 1928 and 1929. Financial practices have been 
such that the owner of common stock is forced to be a gambler. 
Sometimes he buys stock because it has shown an earning his- 



CORPORATE RESERVES VS. PROSPERITY [43] 

tory. Sometimes he is asked to add to his holdings in an in 
solvent concern with the idea of making it solvent. Most fre 
quently he buys stock because he expects to sell it for more 
than he paid. The money that owners of common stocks have 
lost must amount to astronomical figures. If income were the 
controlling factor in investment, the field for artificial manipu 
lation of any kind well-intentioned or otherwise would 
be eliminated. 

The form which such legislation should take, the amount of 
detail to be included and to be left to administration officials, 
could be worked out without great difficulty. A maximum 
limit on the amount that could be placed to reserve should 
probably be fixed as some percentage of the capital issued. 
Perhaps this percentage should differ for different industries. 
There probably should be a minimum provided for, as well. 
The question should be treated on broad lines, as the principle 
of earmarking reserves for specific purposes is the important 
thing, rather than the exact amount of such reserves. The ad 
ministration problem raised by the proposed law would offer 
little difficulty, since it means only a slight modification in the 
duties of tax officials. 

The size of a corporation's issued capital probably would 
not matter so far as the operation of the law was concerned. If 
the capital is large, the reserves permitted would be propor 
tionately large, but the corporation would be in a weaker posi 
tion competitively from the standpoint of earnings on an in 
flated capital. On the other hand, if the capital were small, the 
corporation would be in a better competitive position, but the 
proportionately smaller reserves would give it less leeway in 
time of trouble. 

Uniform accounting methods are desirable, and probably 
will come; but for the purposes of this law they would not seem 
to be essential so long as accounts are kept on the same basis 
from year to year. When uniform accounting methods are 
finally made compulsory, they should provide for proper 
methods of capitalizing an undertaking. At the present time 
new owners can take over bankrupt properties and operate 



[ 44 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

them at a level of income so low as to kill off competing own 
ers, who have acquired their properties at reasonable values 
and operated them on sound business methods. Properties ac 
quired through bankruptcies or receiverships or at sacrifice 
values should be capitalized at a figure which would be fair to 
competitors perhaps at replacement values. The voluntary 
adoption of such a practice has been under consideration by 
one of our larger industries. 

Uniform accounting methods should probably provide that 
each major department of a large corporation should show its 
operations separately. A corporation which makes little or no 
profit in one department or, as sometimes happens, consistent 
losses, which are charged up against the profits of other de 
partments, is competing unfairly in that particular department 
and may disrupt a whole industry through such policies. We 
have had outstanding examples of this in recent years. 

CONCLUSION 

Corporate management thinks of profits and reserves in 
terms of money. But money itself is not wealth; it is only the 
means of exchanging wealth. If corporations thought in terms 
of goods instead of money, profits and reserves would assume 
an entirely different aspect. Thus a corporation with ten mil 
lion dollars of accumulated profits, called reserves or surplus, 
instead of considering itself in a sound financial position, 
could see that it might be blocking progress in good times, and 
discouraging recovery in bad times, by the possession of ten 
million dollars worth of unconsumed inventories and of idle 
plant and machinery. Corporations do not have dollars in re 
serve: they have goods and plant; and it is unconsumed goods 
and idle plant represented in the balance sheet by dollars 
that bring bad times. 



How Spring Gomes in Georgia 

THOMAS CALDEGOT CHUBB 


This is the way that Spring comes in Connecticut. 

Early in March the ice, set free, starts to drift down the river, 

But then it is cold again; 

There is sleet; there is freezing weather 

Winter's overlong pain. 

Late in March, the sap stirs in the elm-trees and birch-trees. 

The cowslips bloom hopefully. 

Sometimes you see a bluet. 

And then the wind swings back to the north-northeast, 

And is wet with freezing rain ! 

In Georgia, there is no such sarcastic mockery. 

In Georgia, Spring is a gracious lady. 

She rides a white palfrey of dogwood. 

She wears a frail garment of plum blossoms. 

Her hair is the golden jasmine that trails through the pine 
trees. 

And even in February 

(Then in Connecticut snow is still blue on the shadowed hill 
sides) 

You hear, like the bells on her bridle, 

The shaken bells of the hylas 

Chime their refrain. 

[45] 



[ 46 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

This is the way that Spring comes in Connecticut. 

Early in April, the sudden warmth of swift showers 

Soothes the rich brown of the earth with gentle fingers, 

Promises roses. 

Promises lilacs abundant 

As some fragrant soft haze. 

But then 

The promise is broken. 

It is a lie given by a shrewd trader who vends his goods to you, 

A lie told by a Yankee who sells wooden nutmegs. 

Spring in Connecticut is a bargain not kept. 

It is a pledge one makes to secure some advantage, 

And later betrays. 

But oh, in Georgia how different ! 

And oh, in Georgia what glory ! 

This is how Spring comes in Georgia. 

It comes like the song of a mocking-bird poised on a branch of 

wistaria and swelling his throat in the moonlight. 
It comes like the flight of a cardinal. 
It comes like the bob-white love call 
Or a fluffy young baby white heron. 
Yet Spring is none of these. 
Spring in Georgia is an old time southern belle made dainty 

with crinoline. 

She walks with soft step in the shadows under magnolias. 
Her arms carry Cherokee roses, 
And magnificent days. 



The Very Last Deal 

SYD BLANSHARD FLOWER 

"T A7E LIVE in a swift age, gentlemen," said the Oldest 

* * Member, settling himself more comfortably in his 
chair. He took a sip from his glass and seemed to ponder. 

We waited. He frowned. 

"But not swift enough," he added, and drained his glass. 

"It seems to you that we are a little slow?" someone in 
quired, with a hint of satire in his tone. 

"Not slow," amended the Oldest Member: "Blind! Blind, 
because, in spite of our willingness, even our haste, to mort 
gage our future to a public debt of hundreds of billions of dol 
lars, we do nothing about the greatest of all possible human 
undertakings." 

"Which is ?" 

"Changing the climate of the world, gentlemen," said the 
Oldest Member, impressively. 

"The climate!" 

"Of the world?" 

"We have done some pretty big things, sir," said a younger 
man, "but when you speak of changing the climate of the 
whole world, really I suspect humor." 

"I was never more serious," said the Oldest Member, 
solemnly. "But, come, you might like to hear how, why, 
when, where?" 

"Very much," we said in chorus. 

"It is a matter I have thought out very carefully," said the 
Oldest Member, "and in telling it I may seem to monopolize 
the conversation, but, if you don't mind that, I shall really be 
glad of this chance to lay the thing before you. It seems to me 
important, and quite in the spirit of the times. Let us be glad, 
gentlemen, that we live in an age when nothing is too big for 
the United States to undertake." 

"And, perhaps, bring to a successful issue?" 

"Perhaps." 

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[ 48 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

"To change the climate of the globe should be big enough 
to satisfy us," it was suggested. 

The Oldest Member nodded to the last speaker. 

"It should," he said. "Gentlemen, I shall take you into the 
thick of it at once. Are you all comfortable? Good." 

"The north polar circle of our earth is depressed, like the 
flat top of an orange. It is actually below the present sea-level. 
The north polar region is therefore nearer to the molten center 
of the earth than any other spot upon the earth's surface. Do 
you see that?" 

"Quite," we said. 

"There is enough glacier, berg, and pack ice in the north 
polar basin to raise the oceans of the globe six hundred feet 
above their present level, if that ice were all melted" 

"How do you know that?" 

"I have measured it," he replied, simply. "This ice has been 
often melted in past eons of time, following the successive Ice 
Ages, as every geologist knows. I say it can be melted today by 
boring holes to tap the heat that lies below the crust of the 
earth. One hundred of these holes, each five miles from the 
next, will start this melting over a sufficiently wide area. Once 
started, it will keep going of itself, enlarging the vents by heat 
and pressure from below. Ten miles depth will do." 

"But, good gosh, no drill could bore at that depth!" 

"On the contrary, American, British, Swedish, Japanese, 
Italian, Russian, German engineers will bear me out that 
harder drill-tools, resistant to heat, are coming, and that 
these, assisted by dynamite, will give us this boring to a depth 
of ten miles!" 

"But, look here . . . !" 

"I have said that there is enough glacier, berg and pack ice 
in the North Polar basin," the speaker continued calmly, "to 
raise the seas of the globe six hundred feet above the present 
ocean level, if that ice were all melted. Gentlemen, it has been 
melted before, with the effect, invariably, of deepening the 
existing oceans as the floods found their way at last to the sea. 
I propose now merely to melt our northern ice-cap, and to 



THE VERT LAST DEAL [ 49 ] 

melt it finally, so that there will be no more ice-caps on the 
north end of our globe, and this time, gentlemen, the melting 
will be done under intelligent human direction, to subserve 
human ends, human aims, human needs. This, I think, is en 
tirely in line with the spirit of the New Deal. Am I right?" 

"Yes, but ... ?" 

"This melting will raise the ocean level, slowly, at the rate 
of eight feet a year, proceeding continuously, summer and 
winter. In seventy-five years, therefore, the British Isles, and 
the greater part of Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Aus 
tralia, will again be six hundred feet beneath the sea. The 
Sahara Desert, the Gobi Desert, the Mississippi Valley and 
Great Lakes country will all, again, be mighty inland seas, as 
once they were." 

"Yes, but look here. New York . . . ?" 

"Boston?" 

". . . Philadelphia?" 

"... Chicago?" 

"... San Francisco and Los Angeles?" 

"... Paris, London, Berlin?" 

"Gentlemen, please! You interrupt the narrative. All the 
great sea-level cities of the world will naturally have ended 
themselves in face of the advancing waters." 

"What about your precious climates then?" 

"The bitter cold of Alaska, Siberia, Labrador, Greenland, 
Poland, Lapland, Finland, gives way to the grateful warmth 
of the Garden of Eden. Again man r centers Paradise, so to 
speak, retrieving Adam's blunder." 

"What about the Gulf Stream?" 

"That is unimportant, gentlemen. The courses of the Gulf 
Stream and the Japan Current will be switched. It is immate 
rial what becomes of them. The world will no longer have 
need of Gulf Streams. England, sunk fathoms deep, will not be 
interested, and Japan, having left her island chain to be the 
sport of earthquake, volcano, and the high seas, will be busy on 
the mainland of Asia, developing Manchuria, Mongolia, 
Korea. I wish Japan would realize that with an ocean pressure 



[ 50 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

of five miles' depth today, right against her shores, she is apt at 
any moment to be blown into fragments, without an instant's 
warning. Was Lisbon warned? Was Martinique? Was San 
Francisco? The sacred Fujiyama may blow her head off to 
morrow. Japan is like a child playing with matches. She 
makes me nervous." 

"Can't you have an earthquake without deep ocean pres 
sure?" 

"Certainly not. All earthquakes and volcanoes are due to 
deep ocean pressures which generate enormous heat, melting 
rock, and thrusting magma sideways and up into the shudder 
ing crust. This proposed addition to the oceans, of billions of 
tons of fresh water from the newly melted snow and ice of the 
frozen north, will certainly ring every continent with new 
shorelines of active volcanoes, shattering old coasts, exploding 
new. There will be abrupt changes: lands will go, their people 
moving to more solid ground." 

"In effect, to higher ground?" 

"Exactly. To higher ground not less than six hundred 
feet above the present sea-level. Any physiographic map of the 
world will show you where these people must come to rest. 
Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, averaging 
three thousand feet in altitude, become of course the most 
densely populated parts of the United States." 

"Do I understand that the British Isles will be completely 
submerged, sir?" 

"Naturally. Of course, a peak or two will show. But not 
many." 

"Do you assume that England will mildly await this end 
ing?" 

"Gentlemen," said the Oldest Member, "we live in a rea 
sonable age, I hope. We are familiar with changes undertaken 
in a commendable spirit of good fellowship. England will, 
perhaps, object to total submergence for the sake of the im 
provement of climates in general, but I feel sure that the com 
mon sense of all nations, echoing the altruism of our example, 
will urge upon England that in this matter of world-benefit the 



THE VERY LAST DEAL [ 51 ] 

narrow, selfish, insular view must not intrude; that the great 
est good of the greatest number must be sought as the guiding 
principle; that her present climate is far from agreeable; that 
her present land area, even including Scotland and Wales, is 
ridiculously tiny; that her people are now unhealthily crowded; 
that she will have room to expand in the new land of her 
choice, wherever that may be." 

"Where, sir, would you suggest that England make her 
home?" 

"That is immaterial. In the New Day that is at hand all 
lands will be equally agreeable, equally attractive." 

"Such as remain above the sea, of course?" 

"Exactly. England will have room to expand in northern 
Canada where, in the new climate, palms and orange-blos 
soms will make sweet the air, where the sun will shine, where 
magnolias will bloom. In the course of seventy-five years she 
will have ample time to determine whether Canada, South 
Africa, Siberia, Australia, or Alaska, would best suit her." 

"Is it not remarkable, sir, that you seem to have exactly 
caught the invigorating spirit of change that affects all con 
nected in any way with the New Deal? Is that, too, a sign of 
the times?" 

"Apparently. Yes. England, in moving her people and 
goods to fairer surroundings, will not be parted from her 
treasures, however such treasures may have come into her 
possession. I am thinking of Cleopatra's Needle and the Elgin 
Marbles particularly. On the other hand, she will be well rid 
of her hideous native statuary and squat buildings, which she 
leaves behind her with her slums, her fogs, her gloom. A hap 
pier day dawns for England. Her migration to this or that 
continent will be not only a blessing to herself, but an ad 
vantage to the native stocks, ensuring her a warm welcome, 
notably from Soviet Russia, where the mass-intermarriage of 
the Celt, the Saxon, the Norman, the Scot, and the Pict, with 
the Slav, the Circassian, the Georgian, the Mongol and the 
Tartar, will be watched with the friendliest interest by all 
ethnologists, anthropologists and eugenists. In short, as her 



[ 52 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Byron so well said, she can look around and choose her ground 
and take her rest practically anywhere, sure of a welcome." 

"Yes, sir, but if you'll pardon me . . ." 

"In thus benefiting herself," continued the old gentleman, 
"England will have the opportunity once more to inject into 
the affair that tone of high moral purpose, as of one perform 
ing a duty to God, to King, and to Country, without which 
England never makes a move of any kind, to the enormous 
merriment of her neighbors, France and Germany, who have 
cursed her heartily through the centuries for a bare-faced old 
liar and a hyprocrite of the blackest, while envying her cun 
ning. In brief, this is another golden opportunity for Eng 
land to spread the blessing of the British Crown among the 
heathen, with a fat commercial profit to herself on the side!" 

"But who, sir, can be found to direct this stupendous 
hegira?" 

"The hour and the man! Can you ask? The Right Hon. 
Winston Churchill, a most capable mover, will, I doubt not, 
take complete charge. That is a way he has. Standing, with 
reluctant feet, where new land and ocean meet, Winston will 
not hesitate, I think, to urge England to embark. He is no 
stranger to mobilizing fleets. And here at last is a right use 
for Britain's Navy. To what worthier purpose than to this 
national moving job could its aid be lent? Moreover, there is 
no hurry. This is no scramble, like Mahomet's hegira to 
Medina, but a leisurely transit. Much can be done, in the way 
of moving, in seventy-five years when your heart's in the 
work." 

"Don't you think, sir, that life can be made too easy for the 
undeserving?" 

"I do not. In the Lexicon of the New Deal there are no un 
deserving. And what a lot of trouble that saves ! But I see your 
objections. You would say that if life were made easy and 
pleasant for the mass of mankind there would be an end of 
ambition. On the contrary, I feel sure that whatever this new 
earth and new climate may offer, monotony will be no part of 
it. We do not picture the leaping lizard a prey to boredom. As 



THE VERT LAST DEAL [ 53 ] 

I see this Great Movement of the Nations it is full of pleasant 
activity for everybody." 

"For everyone that's left, sir?" 

"Of course." 

"But how about national rivalries, sir, when every big na 
tion is boring its own hole in the Arctic Circle to tap the in 
terior heat?" 

"Ah, yes. That calls for firmness, of course. Firmness with 
tact. But I anticipate no trouble on that score. The nations 
will be rather thoroughly occupied in getting to higher 
ground, I think." 

"If that interior heat is allowed to work on the waters of the 
earth unchecked, the effect will be ultimately a boiling ocean, 
will it not, sir?" 

"Undoubtedly. Yes. If unchecked. But, you remember, we 
have left the South Pole out of this work of alteration of the 
world's climate, and this for a two-fold reason. First, because 
the South Pole stands some ten thousand feet above present 
sea-level, and secondly, because we need the South Pole for a 
control, furnishing the brake that science demands. Even 
though we move to the liberation of an earth from its glacial 
incubus, we move, I hope, with none of the rash enthusiasm 
of the amateur, reckless of consequences. That is not our way. 
We are scientists first." 

"Well, really, sir, I am speaking for all of us, I am sure, 
when I say that you have given us something to ponder upon 
tonight." 

The Oldest Member bowed graciously. 

"You are entirely welcome," he said. "The world does 
move, gentlemen, as Galileo was first to observe. Let it be the 
proud boast of this Newest of New Deals that it has taught 
the world the grandeur of moving on a big scale in short, 
an approximation to Perpetual Motion. Good-night." 



O'Neill and the Poet's Quest 

RICHARD DANA SKINNER 

THE PLAYS of Eugene O'Neill have never seemed to be 
solely of the theatre. They have, as it were, followed one 
out into the noisy streets and into the privacy of one's room, 
into the greater privacy, even, of one's inner thoughts and 
feelings and not for a few hours or days, but with a certain 
timeless insistency. They have become a part of the real world 
as well as the world of make-believe. They simply refuse to 
stay locked within the walls of the theatre. Nor, in this bursting 
of traditional bounds, do they confine themselves to one seg 
ment or another of realistic affairs. 

Bernard Shaw was once capable of writing a play that 
mixed itself up later on with the actual doings of Fabian 
socialists; and Ibsen wrote many plays that prompted clinical 
quests into actual heredity or made one speculate moodily 
about false pride and the social order. But neither Shaw nor 
Ibsen had the poet's gift of reaching to the emotional and 
moral inwardness of life without any relation to specific events 
or times or people. O'Neill has that gift in abundance. His 
plays are neither social sermons nor contemporary satire. 
They are more like parables. 

Parables of course are dangerous weapons in the hands of a 
poet of real stature. They are enormously effective in implant 
ing an idea; but the idea itself may be a false one, or those 
listening to the parable may apply it in many ways never 
intended by the teller of the tale. O'Neill's plays have suffered, 
as parables, both from the confusion and variety of his own 
ideas and from the many interpretations audiences have read 
into them. As an individual poet, O'Neill has gone through 
countless phases of thought and emotion, many of them con 
tradictory and many of them tortured with alternating doubt 
and premature discovery of spiritual solvents. All of this has 
found expression in his plays and has carried through, for 
good or ill, to vast audiences. He has been accused of every- 

[54] 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 55 ] 

thing from charlatanism to extreme morbidity and immoral 
ity, and has been praised for everything from supreme tragic 
expression to profound philosophical insight. But there is 
another way to appraise and eventually to revere the O'Neill 
plays, and that is in their singular continuity as the expression 
of the immemorial "poet's pilgrimage" as the representa 
tion in outer and objective form of certain elemental struggles 
and conflicts which were as much a part of the humanity and 
the poetry of China, Palestine and Greece as they are of the 
tumultuous life of our own day. 

The poet lives a vastly larger life than the man. He lives to 
the utmost possibilities of human nature, both in good and in 
evil. He may be the summation of all virtues in his private life 
and yet experience in his poetic imagination the nadir of 
moral degradation. He may pass his entire life in a country 
village and yet encompass the catastrophe of an empire. His 
parables are not the outline of himself but the rhythm and 
splendor, and often the terror, of something far above and 
beyond his personal experience. 

Eugene O'Neill has written many plays in which the ma 
terial obviously results from the impact of personal experience 
his early plays of the sea, for example. In other plays, a 
personal moral conflict is clearly indicated, not in the outer 
material but in the theme. Yet through all these plays, as well 
as through his more highly imaginative creations, there is a 
larger unity, almost like the movements of a symphony, which 
expresses the larger life of the poet as distinct from the per 
sonal life and problems of the man. It is this larger aspect of 
the O'Neill plays which has always seemed to be not merely 
of the theatre, but also part of the great stream of poetic 
literature coursing through all history and legend. It follows, 
in many extraordinary details, a universal theme found in all 
deeply rooted folk-lore, and in the innermost experiences of 
great mystics. In its simplest sense, it is the conflict of good and 
evil a picture in objective form of the stretching and tearing 
of a soul between a will toward the good and an appetite for 
the revolt of sin. In its deeper sense, it is the quest for a resolu- 



[ 56 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

tion of this conflict and for ultimate peace and inner unity. 

Folk-lore, as the poetry of a race, abounds in examples of 
this major theme. The dragon or the beast must be conquered 
before the peace of love can be achieved. The princess of 
legend is not content to let her knight languish at her feet in 
an ecstasy of love. A dragon is destroying the countryside. 
Her knight must go forth into the slime and terrors of this 
reality outside, before he can claim the perfection of her love. 
Often the dragon is a beast of many heads and many lives, 
like the multiplicity of evil to be conquered in the soul. Again, 
we have the whole series of legends, like "Beauty and the 
Beast," in which the struggle is not so much to conquer evil 
as to attain that maturity which transforms the fears and the 
monsters of youth into instruments of peace and beauty. A 
child is allowed to grow up with a vague horror of sex, as 
something evil in itself, only to discover later that it can be 
come the supreme physical expression of man's creative im 
pulses. The "beast" can be won, through love and under 
standing, to an end of beauty. In still another group of legends 
we have the fears of immaturity appearing as giants blocking 
the path to manhood. The Jacks must kill the giants of fear, 
before the world is fit to live in. It is hardly necessary to delve 
into the intricate theories of racial subconsciousness to see how 
universally mankind objectifies in legend and story, the com 
mon experiences and the terrifying inner struggles of the 
pilgrimage from tortured youth to peaceful maturity. 

Poets are peculiarly sensitive to the almost infinite varia 
tions of this inner conflict. No matter how objective in detail 
the poet's story may seem, he is almost certain, in his major 
works, to catch up the fury and agony of inner strife to attain 
that ultimate virtue which will bring the warring elements 
into harmony. We find this in the wanderings of the Homeric 
heroes, in the Virgilian descent into Hades, in Dante's progress 
through the Inferno and Purgatory into a paradise filled with 
that love "which moves the sun and the other stars." We find 
it again in Milton, in Francis Thompson's "Hound of Heaven," 
and in Richard Wagner's cycle, in the "Ring" tragedy, 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 57 ] 

culminating in the exaltation of Parsifal. Blake found in his 
"Book of Job" another expression of the universal conflict and 
quest. Shakespeare was never a more universal poet than in 
probing the soul of the searching Hamlet. The Greek drama 
tists thought and wrote of little else than the fates, furies and 
conflicting obligations which beset every human action and 
decision. 

In a still larger sense, the peoples of the earth have fought 
and lived almost as if they were acting out a poet's dream. 
They have reached a summit of achievement and discovered 
the pride that follows it, only to sink again into blackness 
and despair and the terrors of a mighty purging. Greece, and 
the shadowy imitation of Greece that was Rome, fell into the 
dark night of Europe, to reawaken for a short period of 
incandescence in the thirteenth century. Then came pride of 
intellect in a new form, the renascence of a Greek culture 
that no longer fitted the souls of men, and the new terrors of 
the dark age of science which was destined to last another five 
centuries. 

Science, which was to liberate man through his own intel 
lect, became the master instead of the servant. Instead of 
exalting man, each new discovery, like a mystical increase in 
the "knowledge of good and evil," made man smaller and 
smaller in his own eyes. It multiplied his problems of good and 
evil a thousandfold. It threw him into the wild and tortured 
confusion and savagery that reached their first grotesque 
crisis in the Great War. Mankind finds itself today a chained 
Prometheus for having brought the new fire of science to 
disrupt the soul. The problem of humanity today, as the poet 
would feel and describe it, is to discover the humility which 
can make man master of his new science. A paradox, certainly 
but not a new one. It is "Beauty and the Beast" all over 
again. It is not science that is wrong, but the pride with which 
men have used science. It is men who have made science their 
beast; and the beast can be transformed only through a new 
humility among men themselves. It was in Palestine that the 
words of a parable rang forth "he that humbleth himself 



[ 58 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

shall be exalted." These words were wholly forgotten when 
man proudly set out to free himself through his scientific 
intellect alone. 

It is because Eugene O'Neill is of the very stuff and fibre of 
this age that his poetic intuitions are of immeasurable im 
portance to us, as a reflection of what we are as individuals and 
as a rumor of what we may become. He is part of an age which, 
if we were not living in it ourselves and filled with the egotism 
of it, we would recognize as a darker night of civilization than 
the world has known for many long centuries. What man is 
there living, unless he be supernaturally inspired, who will tell 
you that he sees clearly the road ahead? The very multiplicity 
of our knowledge of detail has obscured our vision of the 
whole with a veil as black as midnight. Wars, conflicts, riots, 
revolutions, racial deities, sullen envy are these the day 
light of civilization, or rather the valley of the shadow of 
humanity's dreams? 

O'Neill is not, in the accepted sense, a poet of his times. 
That is, he rarely attempts consciously to write of current 
conditions or problems. When he does, as in his play, "Dyna 
mo," the result is not always happy, for he is not that rarest of 
all persons, a poet who is also a philosopher. But in the sense 
common to all poets, the problems that he objectifies in the 
characters of his plays are those of peculiar moment to the 
present day; and in an age which thought it had discarded 
morals, these problems turn out to be moral ones! It is pre 
cisely in this fact that his intuitions are probably far keener 
than those of the essayists and the philosophers. In an age 
which superficially deifies science and amorality, O'Neill is 
obsessed with questions of good and evil. In a world still given 
over to economic determinism, he writes of sin and retribution 
and what he writes proves to be of absorbing interest to 
millions ! 

What O'Neill has done, after the historic fashion of poets, 
is to sense far in advance of the intellectualists a deep change 
in the currents of individual men's thoughts and emotions. In 
that curious super-life which the poet leads, which may be in 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 59 ] 

almost absurd contrast with his actual life as an individual 
man, the hunger and pain and doubt of great masses of people 
may of course seem very personal. He finds himself fascinated 
with the titanic pride of such a man as Emperor Jones, and 
writes of his tragic downfall with perhaps little thought that 
he is prophesying the collapse of a whole era of proud in 
dividualists. Or, again, the incest problem of the old Greek 
plays becomes strangely urgent. It may never occur to him 
that incest is in one sense a symbol of self-worship and self- 
seeking, and that this has become the besetting sin of a genera 
tion that denies any power greater than humanity, and so 
moves on to slow death through man's worship of mankind. 
The play is written as a story of individuals. But in the doom 
of its characters can be read the fate of nations. 

Yet it would be a grave mistake to think of O'Neill chiefly 
as the poet of a social order in process of vast change. That 
would exaggerate the faint though discernible connection 
between his instinct for moral issues and the social character 
istics of the day. He is, above all else, the poet of the individual 
soul, torn and warped, perhaps, by the surrounding mass 
currents but still supremely the master of its individual 
choice. The Ibsens and the Shaws have used individuals to 
express the problems of masses or of a social system. Their 
characters have been almost passive victims of inheritance, or 
of a convention, or of mass view-point. But with O'Neill, the 
problem of the individual as a soul in distress or torment has 
been clearly supreme. It is the individual's rebellion against 
the mass, or his abject surrender to it that counts, rather than 
the action of the individual as representing the mass. O'Neill 
as a poet does carry something of the force of a prophet in his 
writings, but in the sense that the achievements of his charac 
ters prophesy the types of individuals likely to be bred from 
the anarchy of our times, rather than the mass types and the 
collective trends. 

One might ask, for example, "Are the days ahead of us apt 
to bring forth a new Francis of Assisi?" and hope to find a hint 
of the true answer in O'Neill's work. But one could spend no 



[ 6o ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

end of futile days trying to discover a rumor of the typical 
business man, or factory worker, or politician, or middle-class 
householder of the next generation. Looking backward, we can 
say that the long night of Europe did eventually produce a 
Saint Francis, a Dante, a Thomas Aquinas, and a Leonardo 
da Vinci. If we had lived in the tenth or eleventh centuries, we 
might have gathered this in advance from the poets of the day. 
The Troubadours of Provence, strangely enough, foreshad 
owed not a little of the Franciscan idea of love. But to discover 
what the mass population of Europe was going to be like, the 
poets would have helped us very little. In the clear progressive 
unity of O'Neill's writings, we can discover a great deal con 
cerning certain rare individual types likely to emerge from our 
discouraging present. But to try to make a social philosopher 
out of him, as some have tried, is to miss the whole point of his 
special genius. He is the poet of the individual soul, of its 
agony, of its evil will, of its pride, and its lusts of its rare 
moments of illumination, of its stumblings and gropings in 
surrounding darkness, and of its superbly romantic quest for 
deliverance through loving surrender. 

' I \HE preoccupation of Eugene O'Neill's plays with good and 
-* evil gives them at once their singular inner unity and their 
universal impact. Just as no European could have written 
these plays, because of their sensitive reflection of impending 
changes in American life and mood, so no European could fail 
to understand them, because they pass far beyond the limi 
tations of the American scene and vibrate with the intensity 
of the universal life-struggle. Had O'Neill merely mirrored 
back the American soul to itself, he would have remained a 
minor poet. But he has searched instead into the depths of the 
larger soul of mankind itself. 

It would be exceedingly difficult to catch the deeper notes 
of O'Neill's work without attempting to understand the quality 
of some of those rich and terrifying inner experiences which 
the poets and mystics of all ages have tried to express. The 
greatest of them have ultimately passed beyond the turmoil of 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 61 ] 

doubts and fears and divided selves, into something resembling 
a peaceful unity of mind and soul. They have actually moved 
from inner discord to inner harmony, and what they have 
learned has the value of perspective. 

They tell us, with almost one voice, of a first state when they 
seemed to be two distinct persons, if not the tumult of a whole 
mob. Yet they were like two persons welded together with un 
breakable chains. Their two selves could not live in peace 
yet they could not live apart. They were dimly conscious that 
the binding chain itself was also a part of them. It was their 
soul and their will, the animating principle of their lives, torn 
and twisted and stretched between the two contending selves 
a state which the saints, at least, called very simply, 
"temptation." From this point, their progress might be termed 
the process of making the chain into a harness, light, flexible 
and sensitive, guiding the two selves into one path ahead. 

It is the first instinct of the poet to put this struggle of the 
selves into words and, if possible, into objective characters. In 
the old morality plays, the authors freely labeled their char 
acters with the names of sins and corresponding virtues. 
Bunyon carried on the tradition in English literature. The 
poets of our own day, like O'Neill, are often less keenly aware 
of what they are doing when they "create" characters which 
represent the many "selves" of a single person. The poet, let us 
say, is acutely disturbed by signs of his own potential weak 
nesses in people he sees about him. He suffers a sort of agony in 
the presence of a proud man, but quite possibly because he 
knows only too well the destructive effect of pride to his own 
inner peace. He knows the imperative need of checking his 
own pride and so resents furiously the pride he sees in others. 
He decides to write a play about the destructive force a proud 
man creates in his own world of friends. But almost inevitably, 
the poet will find another character to represent his own ideal 
"self," either as the victim or the protagonist of the proud man. 
Then other characters will be added, each representing parts 
of the poet's personality which pride endangers. For he knows 
how devastatingly pride may reach into every corner of his 



[ 62 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

being, into his love-life, into his feminine tenderness and 
mercy, into his male forthrightness, into his spirit of friend 
ship, even into his very creative ability as a poet. The play 
ends by being a complete description of his fear of the effect 
of pride. 

The more sensitive the poet, the more apt he is to "project" 
after this fashion a great diversity of struggles between the 
divided selves. An ordinary mortal suffers from one or two 
major temptations throughout most of his life, and hardly 
notices his other faults. But the poet, very much like the saint, 
recognizes himself as beset with all the temptations in varying 
degrees. He lacks the smugness of the vegetable being which 
can say, "I am naturally honest and kind, and I have con 
quered most of my evil inclinations." On the contrary, the 
poet says to himself: 

"I am a strange mixture of all possible beings. Given suffi 
cient temptation, I could be a murderer or a pervert. I could 
dominate nations with my pride, if fate led me to be a ruler. 
My envy of others' talents and abilities is enough to make me 
lie and cheat to destroy them. I am not certain of my honesty 
and integrity if they were put to a real test. I am utterly weak- 
willed before the onslaught of my passions; and what little 
virtue I maintain is merely by strictly avoiding the occasions 
of lust. I love to possess both people and things. I am all these 
things in my mind and soul, and I despise myself for these 
hidden things which are really just as much myself as the kind, 
sympathetic, upright person my friends think me to be. My 
soul is stretched like a taut wire between all the evil I am 
capable of, and the good I desire. I know myself for what I 
might so easily be; and I run cold with fear when I see this 
possible self in others." Sometimes the poet is incapable of 
putting these torturing thoughts into words. He shuns them as 
realities, but he cannot escape from the vague and terrifying 
consciousness of their truth. 

In his mind, if not in his actual daily life, the poet lives the 
tragedy of the proud man, or the hounding fate of the mur 
derer, or the shame of the unnatural monster; and whether 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 63 ] 

his medium of making these inner struggles objective be paint 
ing or sculpture, or the written word or a play, he "creates" 
the very thing that torments him secretly. He projects it from 
his inner being to an outer form of expression. The number of 
such struggles which he gives us in his art is limited only by 
the possible selves to which he is still blind. 

Those who do not concern themselves overmuch with the 
way of a poet, often ask why he chooses this or that "grue 
some" or "morbid" subject for a novel or a painting or a play. 
On meeting the poet in the flesh, they are surprised to find 
that he may be a very affable and reasonable human being 
"quite unlike the terrible people he writes about." There are 
many good people today who probably believe that the 
author of "Mourning Becomes Electra" must show in daily 
life the effects of a diseased mind. They do not understand the 
gulf between the potential evil in all souls, and actual wrong 
doing. They do not understand (to revert to the terminology 
of the saints) the difference between temptation and sin. In 
fact, they understand very little of any of the deeper currents 
of life surging about them. Yet it is precisely because the poet 
reacts as he does to his own potential weaknesses that he is 
able to create the objective material for his work of art. Like 
the saints, he, above most other men, understands the sinner 
and fears the sin. 

In the second stage of their pilgrimage, the great mystics 
tell us even more that is helpful in understanding the poet. 
The phenomenon of the divided self gradually gives way to a 
moment of apparent peace and discovery. The saint is a 
convert in more senses than one. He actually succeeds in con 
verting the potential evil in his soul to a good end, recalling 
again the folk-lore analogy of "Beauty and the Beast." He 
accepts the facts of his nature, and through accepting them 
discovers that the wild beasts can be tamed. They are danger 
ous only so long as he fears them and the saints have a 
way of seeking the end of fear through reliance on a spiritual 
power greater than themselves. They have called this power 
through the centuries Divine Grace; and the source of that 



[ 64 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

power, God. But we are concerned only in passing with the 
supernatural life of the saints. It is sufficient to record as a fact 
(though wholly inadequate as an explanation) that the saints 
do find a way of overcoming the fear of their own evil inclina 
tions, and of harnessing them in such a way as to draw the soul 
forward on its chosen road. For a time the saints find unity 
instead of discord. They do this and have been doing it for 
centuries without ever hearing of the word "sublimation." 

Unfortunately the saints have also discovered that the first 
taming of the beast is a transient victory. The beast has many 
forms. The saint may have tamed his beast in the form of lust, 
only to find that the same beast has grown twice as strong in 
the form of untamed pride. His renewed onslaught comes with 
astounding violence. The saint is plunged again in darkness 
and fear, and sometimes in that strange thing which is worse 
than fear utter and devastating dryness of soul. What re 
sistance he offers is reduced to a pure act of will unaided by 
emotional stimuli. In the writings of the mystics, we find this 
referred to as "the temporary withdrawal of Divine assist 
ance" ; as if the convert were being tested as to his own strength, 
or were being shown once and for all his dependence on God. 
But, again, we are not chiefly concerned with the supernatural 
life. This familiar "dark night of the soul" has its counterpart 
and foundation in purely natural religion, and in the experi 
ence of the poet as well as the saint. 

One reason for assigning Eugene O'Neill an exceptionally 
high place among the poets of history, is precisely because his 
poetic experiences, as objectified in his plays, correspond with 
such depth and intensity to the universal pattern of the mys 
tical experience of the saints. This does not imply, even re 
motely, that Eugene O'Neill as a man is in the process of 
becoming a saint ! It merely implies that, as a poet, giving free 
rein to his creative imagination, he understands, partly by 
direct experience, of course, but even more by magnificent 
intuition the universal character of the struggle between good 
and evil and the clearly marked stages in the pilgrimage from 
turmoil to peace. He has made, or rather, his characters have 



"> I ' 

' - '*^ 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 65 ] 

'****i*iaimiB ; 

made some superb spiritual discoveries, even in his earlier 
plays. But the same characters, with different names, have 
again found themselves later on in darkness. Like the saints, 
they have reached a first crest, only to sink into another valley 
where new fears attack them and where the night is very black 
and without stars. 

This is the universal language of the human quest, as the 
poets have always understood it. Odysseus found the long road 
home beset with greater and greater terrors as he neared his 
goal. The generations of the House of Atreus found no abate 
ment in the attack of the furies as they sought expiation for 
primal guilt. Dante went down into the pit of the Inferno 
before he found himself pure and ready to ascend to the stars. 
The poetic genius of Richard Wagner, adapting folk-lore to his 
mystical intuitions, found ultimate release from the incest- 
cycle of the "Ring" only in the death of the hero and of the 
gods themselves. Not until Siegfried was dead to his old self, 
could he live again as Parsifal, the pure fool who could attain 
the Grail. 

It is easy enough to say that there is no connection between 
the "Niebelungen Ring" and "Parsifal," that they were sep 
arate poetic concepts. But the unhappy Nietzsche knew other 
wise. He felt the "betrayal" of the poetic concept of the 
superman when Wagner brought his hero back to life as a 
knight of the Grail, humble before God. It was not till then 
that Nietzsche's adored Wagner became "human, all too 
human." The whole point is that Wagner did become human! 
He became the universal poet of human experience, instead of 
remaining with Nietzsche in the twilight of dead gods, fash 
ioned in man's own image. The universal poet seeks, with the 
saints, the resurrection from the valley of the shadow of death 
a release in humble surrender, or in death to the old self, 
from that strangely insistent pursuit "down the arches of the 
years." 

In the truly great poet, then, we may expect to find a 
spiritual progression corresponding very closely to age-old 
inner struggles of the human race. This provides the inner 



[ 66 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

unity to the poet's work. In the case of a playwright, we may 
expect to find the plots and materials of his plays widely diver 
sified. There is no outer or objective unity between the hero of 
one play and the heroes of a dozen succeeding plays. Even the 
theme problems will vary, ranging through all the forms of 
sin and virtue. The choice of a theme problem will depend on 
which of the infinitely varied struggles of the two selves hap 
pens to be uppermost in the playwright's emotional life at the 
time he writes. The higher poetic unity between the plays will 
come out in the way the poet, through his objective characters, 
meets the successive problems. 

In the case of Eugene O'Neill, it is very plain that the 
changing conditions of American life from the 'nineties to the 
present have largely conditioned his choice both of plot and 
theme. Environment has naturally made him more acutely 
conscious of certain inner problems than of others. The strug 
gle of the 'nineties between a general smug complacency and a 
limited but intense idealism and devotion to beauty and art; 
the philosophic unrest and discontent of the succeeding decade 
with its intellectual pride; the defeat of scientific materialism 
in the great war, and the impulse to a new maturity in the dis 
astrous years after the war all of these national currents of 
mind and soul have influenced profoundly his consciousness of 
special forms of human struggle. But as a poet in the larger 
sense, he has also, in his successive handling of these problems, 
reflected the inner development in his own soul of the univer 
sal poet's quest. Moreover, we may well believe that his poetic 
progress is deeply prophetic of changes about to take place in 
the deeper sources of American life and emotions. 

With the poet, reflecting intuitively the experience of the 
saints, our real concern is with the new forces of will, under 
standing and charity we can discover at work in the objective 
form of his characters. Suppose we were to say to ourselves, 
Robert Mayo, the Hairy Ape, and Bill Brown and Nina Leeds 
and Abbie Putnam, and Brutus Jones and John Loving and 
Young Richard Miller are all one person one many-sided 
person trying to find a way through the maze of life's emotions, 



O'NEILL AND THE POETS QUEST [ 67 ] 

temptations, sins, victories over self, storms of false pride and 
moments of great peace. At first it would seem preposterous. 
Then, as we caught the feeling of a great poet, as we began to 
understand his strange inner union with the highest and lowest 
in human emotions, we might know in our hearts that it was 
not preposterous at all, but the simple statement of a towering 
truth. We might begin to see his plays in an entirely new aspect 
as a progressive document of the immemorial experience of 
mankind. We might see about them the flickering shadow of 
our own day and times. We might also see something of the 
poet himself as an individual, living in our times, and inspired 
or distressed or angered by them even limited and warped 
by them but struggling constantly to rise above them to a 
life as broad and unlimited as the souls of men have ever 
known. 

We would surely see something we had not seen as clearly 
before, of good and evil in mortal conflict; of human will gird 
ing itself for the passage through the valley of tears; of the 
human soul crying aloud for help from a power greater than 
itself. Our charity might be stirred at the sight of repeated 
failures, and our admiration unleashed at the sight of renewed 
struggle and increasing courage. Certainly our own problems 
would become clearer from this better understanding of one 
who is part of our own life. Eugene O'Neill is neither prophet 
nor saint. As his characters tell us, he has often, even as a poet, 
been deeply confused. Many of his darkest doubts and many 
of his most tragic defeats have sprung from immature emo 
tions. But so have most of our own temptations and failures, 
not only as individuals but also as a nation. We should accept 
O'Neill as a companion on our own pilgrimage rather than as 
a leader but surely as a companion whose poetic insight is 
deep, whose consciousness of our moral problems is vibrant, 
whose experience of the soul's conflict is sharper through 
intuition than most men's, and whose willingness to seek a 
path even in the darkest shadows marks an extraordinary 
tenacity and the quality of a high romance. 



California in Thy Fashion ! 

THOMAS SUGRUE 

r T 1 O THE axiom that anything can happen in love, war 
- and politics, there has been added by popular consent: 
"or in California." 

California is the home of Aimee Semple McPherson, the 
Reverend Bob Shuler, the entire population of Hollywood and 
Max Adelbert Baer. It is the place wherein the late Luther 
Burbank succeeded in turning the biology of fruit inside out, 
and wherein the late Mr. Wrigley bought an island and 
offered twenty-five thousand dollars to the person who could 
swim from it to the mainland faster than anyone else. It is the 
place where, when it rains, cities are flooded; and where, 
when it does not rain, there is apt to be fog, an earthquake 
or a tidal wave. It is the place which possesses at one and the 
same time the highest and lowest geographical points in the 
United States, the largest landlocked harbor in the world, the 
biggest and oldest trees on earth, the nation's only active 
volcano, the highest waterfalls known to man, and the most 
publicized people on the globe the movie actors. 

It is the place wherein Al Levy invented the oyster cocktail 
and Walt Disney discovered Mickey Mouse; wherein will be 
found every known phase of surface geographical character, 
every geological peculiarity of the North and South American 
continents, every kind of soil known to temperate and semi- 
tropical zones, and all climates except the tropical. Soon it 
will have, between San Francisco and Oakland, the longest 
suspension bridge in the world. Already it has the longest 
motor highway bridge in the world, the San Mateo. Yet its 
population is less than that of the city of New York, and its 
government is facing a deficit of one hundred and thirty-nine 
million dollars in the 1935-1937 budget. 

Its basic income dropped more than a billion dollars be 
tween 1929 and 1931 ; its exports dropped two hundred millions 
between|l929 and 1933, with an equal decline in imports. 

068] 



CALIFORNIA IN THT FASHION! [ 69 ] 

Income from agriculture, its most highly developed industry, 
has been cut in half since the depression, and the small, in 
dividual farmers and ranchers are literally starving. Bank 
debits have dropped twenty-five billions since the boom years. 
During this period the cost of living for wage-earners and low- 
salaried workers dropped from eighteen to twenty-two per 
cent, but it is still twenty- two percent higher than in 1914. 
And in 1934 one tenth of the population was unemployed. 



state of California has been an enigma to the rest of 
the United States since a bleak day in November, 1916, 
when it tardily announced that Woodrow Wilson, the incum 
bent, not Charles Evans Hughes, the challenger, was to be the 
next President. Thin-cheeked, denim-wrapped men in Maine 
on that occasion gathered in groups and whispered of a madness 
beyond the Sierras. In Boston, school-teachers whipped the 
pages of the World Almanac in a frantic effort to discover the 
date on which Sutter's Mill was admitted to the union. There 
was wild talk of the new industry of motion pictures, the Mexi 
can influence and the Yellow Peril. New England, scowling, 
faced a disillusionment. 

I remember how my grandfather, reading the news at 
breakfast, looked dreamily past my grandmother and mused. 
He had not yet recovered from the shock of the Titanic disas 
ter, which he considered in extremely bad taste, and this new 
catastrophe was almost more than he could stand. "Those 
people beyond the Alleghenies," he said finally, "are going to 
be troublesome. I had better have another egg." 

After that we forgot about California and concentrated on 
the war, and when the war was over we concentrated on the 
coming of prohibition. Grandfather said it wouldn't work, 
completed his map of the tactical movements of the battle of 
Shiloh, and died. Senator Lodge became a figure and the 
League of Nations an issue; Rex Beach, Zane Grey, and other 
popular literary chefs began to serve a marvelous dish of 
romance and love; Arthur Guy Empey wrote a book about the 
war; sturdy Democrats hung a new portrait next to that of 



[ yo ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Washington, from which the bland and^dreamy-eyed physi 
ognomy of the war President stared, somewhat fruitlessly, 
at an American flag. Suddenly, like a comet streaking across 
the track of a telescope, everything was going to be all right. 

It was with this conviction that the state of California came 
back to the consciousness of its sister commonwealths. America 
had saved the world for democracy. There was plenty of 
money, and both liquor and prohibition. Women were al 
lowed to smoke and show their knees, and to retain the jobs 
they had acquired during the war. The American Legion be 
came an integral part of civilian life; savings banks began to 
pay higher and higher interest; building and loan associa 
tions promised every man his own home; the Notre Dame- 
Army football game was given the preferred position on the 
front page of New York newspapers; Mr. Grantland Rice com 
pared Mr. Rockne's backfield to the Four Horsemen of the 
Apocalypse. 

Into such a setting walked California in the role of a land 
beyond the Jordan, holding out hands yellow with manna and 
speaking of the leaven of peace. From her mouth, as she spoke, 
rolled a sea, a rash, a plague of facts and adjectives and photo 
graphs taken with a red filter over the lens. Through the 
national magazines, the United States post-office and by word 
of mouth, the information went forth that heaven had taken 
up residence on earth, and was at home to friends from the 
Oregon state-line to the Republic of Mexico, and from the 
Sierra Nevada mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It was a 
splendid and an edifying announcement and everyone said it 
was undoubtedly true. 

The population of the state of California increased sixty- 
five and a half percent between 1920 and 1930. The city of 
Los Angeles became, in area, the largest municipality in the 
world. More motor cars per capita were reported in the state 
than anywhere else in the country. The Tournament of Roses 
was begun, and the Rose Bowl football game on New Year's 
Day became an event of national significance. The University 
of Southern California turned out a championship football 



CALIFORNIA IN THY FASHION! [ 71 ] 

team. It was decided to hold the 1932 Olympic games in Los 
Angeles. The Corning Glass Works in Corning, New York, 
began to make the largest telescopic lens in the world for 
Mount Wilson Observatory in Pasadena. The Mayor of New 
York visited the state to plead for the freedom of Thomas 
Mooney, a prisoner in San Quentin. My sister's godfather 
took up permanent residence in Los Angeles. 

Then, almost simultaneously, the depression and talking 
pictures arrived. Hollywood, which had barely held its own 
with the climate and business opportunities as a lure, surged 
to the front. Newspapermen, hack writers, Tin-Pan-Alley 
bards and tap dancers flooded the studios. Dream women of 
the silver screen came to life and spoke to the millions who 
adored them. A new type of advertisement, the "trailer," 
inundated the movie palaces, showing enticing bits from forth 
coming attractions which suppressed literary geniuses, for a 
hundred dollars a week, described as Stupendous, Amazing, 
Epic, Smashing, Daring, and Grim. New stars appeared, 
varying in age from six months to sixty years. The loves and 
lives of kings and queens came to the public in a silver chafing- 
dish. The newspapermen and hack writers rewrote Shake 
speare and Dickens; the Tin-Pan-Alley bards composed torch 
songs for Roman courtesans; one of the suppressed literary 
geniuses, finding that Ernest Dowson's line, "I have been 
faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion," did not quite fit the 
allotted space, changed "faithful" to "true," and remarked 
that he considered the change an improvement. 

Meanwhile the eternal sunshine, the manna, and the leaven 
of peace became a bit tarnished. Rumblings of discontent 
came from the caravans encamped in heaven, and short 
answers were given to newcomers who innocently asked the 
way to the Elysian Fields. The sale of motor cars fell off, a 
state sales tax was greeted with snarls, and the Utopian So 
ciety of America came into being. Mr. Upton Sinclair, the 
writer, after sixteen years of quiet residence in Pasadena, de 
cided that the iron was hot and devised an EPIC plan to end 
poverty in California, with which he struck terror into the 



[ 72 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

hearts of capitalists, Republicans and Democrats alike. Only 
after a campaign in which he was the target for mud-slinging 
such as has seldom been seen in America was Mr. Sinclair 
defeated by the incumbent, Frank F. Merriam, for whom 
Republicans, in their verbal and individual campaigns, 
sincerely apologized. 

With that over, California faced the reward of her folly. In 
the land which she advertised as heaven are some two million 
malcontents, each sorry for the day he left his home in Iowa, 
Nebraska, Texas or wherever it was, to settle down and await 
eternity on the blessed slopes of the Sierras and along the 
shores of the Pacific. The savings they brought with them have, 
for the most part, been swept away. Many have lost the homes 
they built or bought. They drive the cars they had in 1 928 and 
1929 because it is an economic necessity to have a car in 
California. They came to retire, so they have no jobs, and 
even if jobs were available most of them would be incompe 
tent. Their only accomplishments are horseshoe-pitching and 
the drawing of astrological charts. They have few friends 
among themselves, and none who are any better off. Some of 
them are starving, some are despondent, some are hopelessly 
ill. All, to a man, woman and child, want a change. Something, . 
no matter what it is, has got to be done. 

The larger portion of this unemployed population is in 
southern California, along with a complementary group of 
unemployed which is not included in the statistics of the 
labor department. This latter comprises those who came to 
California to retire and who are now forced, through the 
dwindling of their incomes, to seek a means of livelihood. 
The majority of both of these groups reside in and around 
Los Angeles county, where the Sinclair vote was heaviest, and 
where the Utopians are strongest. 

Los Angeles is the boom city of the state. It was founded in 
1781 by the Spaniards, and its first census listed forty-four 
residents. By 1910 it had over three hundred thousand; by 
1920 it had nearly six hundred thousand; the 1930 census 
showed a population of well over a million, an increase of 



CALIFORNIA IN THY FASHION! [ 73 ] 

almost one hundred percent in ten years. By 1933 it had a 
budget of seventeen million dollars, a debt of one hundred and 
fifty-five million dollars, and an assessed realty valuation of 
slightly more than a billion. It also possessed in 1933 the third 
largest stadium in America; an aqueduct as long as the state 
of Massachusetts is wide; more people over the age of seventy- 
five than any other American city except New York, Chicago 
and Philadelphia; and eighteen thousand, five hundred 
illiterates. 

Unofficially (for statistics are not kept in such enterprises) 
Los Angeles has more psychic mediums, more spiritualists, 
more astrologers, more fortune-tellers, more esoteric cults and 
more bizarre religions than any other city in the country, not 
even excluding New York. Also, and again unofficially, it has 
the most baroque and variegated architecture, the oddest 
specimens of humankind, the greatest degree of self-absorp 
tion, and the most complete imperviousness to the realities of 
existence of any other city, town, village or nation on earth. 
It is in Los Angeles, really, that anything can happen. By 
comparison, the rest of California is a model of sophistication 
and cultural repose beside a farrago of nonsense and banal 
absurdities. Southern California, which revolves about Los 
Angeles as the earth revolves about the sun, is not what it said 
it was, back in the early 'twenties, when it set out on a career 
of self-exploitation. Neither climatically, geographically, artis 
tically nor pleasurably does it fulfill its own prophecy. 

Instead, and paradoxically, it fulfills a much older and 
greater prophecy. 



state of California begins at the top of the Sierra 
-* Nevada mountains and slopes to the Pacific ocean. From 
tip to tip it is a thousand miles long and half of this, roughly, 
is southern California. The northern half for the most part is 
well forested, sparsely populated, and given over to mining, 
agriculture, the city of San Francisco and the state capital of 
Sacramento. It conducts itself calmly and in good taste, looks 
after its affairs without fuss and keeps its house in order. Most 



[ 74 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

of the native Californians (rare specimens nowaday) reside 
there, and in the annals of American history and the minds of 
American people it occupies an honorable and well-thought-of 
position. 

Southern California is a desert. Where there are hills, they 
are denuded, and when rain falls there is nothing to hold it in 
the mountains or on the slopes. Agriculture proceeds by 
irrigation, and the water supply is piped from a stream that 
begins high in the mountains, near Yosemite. The eternal 
sunshine beats down pitilessly during most of the year, blast 
ing every vestige of color and feeling from the earth beneath. 
The trees that grow are those that need no rain the 
eucalyptus, orange, fig, pomegranate and palm. There is no 
spring, no summer, no autumn, no winter. Every day, all day, 
the land is colorless, the ocean slate grey, the sky a faded blue. 
The grass and flowers and trees and all things that should be 
green are anaemic. The white houses shine like the faces of 
tenement children. The oranges are only oranges; the roses 
have no odor; the women are only women, doubly plain. 

It was to this that a million people came between 1 920 and 
1934, leaving behind them their homes and their roots, 
seeking a heaven on earth. They had lived in the cities and . 
towns of the middle-west, the east, and the south, and the 
families of some had not moved for generations. Some of them 
had amassed tiny fortunes, and were old; some had made 
nothing of life, and were young. Among them were pioneers, 
idealists and perennial malcontents. None among them was 
great; none was a genius. Mediocrity pervaded the lives of all, 
and a terrible gnawing. Yet they all believed in God; they all 
believed in heaven; they all believed in the Bible. 

The Bible told them that the lot of man was happiness, that 
virtue was its own reward, that the meek shall inherit the 
earth. They were human, they were virtuous, they were meek. 
So when the word came that California was waiting a 
Valhalla, Nirvana and heaven all in one they girded them 
selves with the belief in happiness on earth, and strength of 
virtue, and the frightening faith of the meek. They came like an 



CALIFORNIA IN THY FASHION! [ 75 ] 

army in armor, with trailers behind their shiny automobiles 
and travelers checks in their pockets. Quickly they built their 
homes, sent to mail order houses for furniture, erected churches, 
voted for more schools, organized chambers of commerce, 
canvassed from house to house for the community chest, 
attended strawberry festivals and entered teams in the horse 
shoe-pitching tournaments. This done they relaxed, examined 
the sky, and nodded. Soon they wrote letters back home saying 
that everything was as advertised. 

The wave that followed^this news was not up to the standard 
of the first influx. In it were the halt, the lame, and the blind 
of intellect; the punch-drunk, the weary, the defeated and the 
mad. Babbling of Elysia, they came in broken-down motor 
cars, shorn of fenders, with patched tires. They lived off the 
land as they came along, and they lived off their friends when 
they arrived. But their friends, with faith unshaken, explained 
that their living was for everybody, and soon even the most 
worthless were maintaining themselves: selling hot dogs, 
pumping gasoline, training kinkajous, guiding tourists through 
the homes of movie stars, selling trinkets on the street corners. 

They were not, in any sense, a united group of people. The 
lowans took over Long Beach, a hundred and twenty-five 
thousand strong, and the Minnesotans and Nebraskans herded 
together in various spots. They all became ardent southern 
Californians, but this was the only exoteric bond. Esoterically 
they shared a single belief, but they were not aware of it. One 
man could not see the mote in his brother's eye because his 
own eye was stricken with a beam. Yet they all held this 
common, and nowadays singular belief: they were certain 
that they deserved happiness on earth and in heaven, re 
gardless of what they did to attain it. They did not, in fact, 
believe that it had to be attained. To them it was a birthright, 
granted by God to all children on His earth. 

The average man realizes, or feels intuitively, that happiness 
is something to be attained. That is why he labors, suffers pain, 
gives to charity, and prays for his own and his brother's soul. 
That is why, too, he is able to laugh. Man's humor is founded 



[ 76 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

on man's understanding of his own incompetence, his own un 
importance in the scale of the universe, the ridiculousness of 
his vanity. The people who migrated to southern California 
did not have this understanding. They believed that in the 
scale of the universe each occupied a small but very important 
place, and they did not consider it a laughing matter. 

Nor would they, after they had arrived, believe the testi 
mony of their senses. They would not admit the colorlessness 
of the desert in which they lived, the drabness of the climate. 
They agreed that it was necessary to wear a topcoat on almost 
any night during the year, but they said such cool evenings 
made sleeping more enjoyable. They admitted that the small 
oysters which come from the Pacific ocean were not tasty, but 
they said that they did not care for oysters anyhow. They 
could not deny that the roses had no odor, but they argued 
that sight is more important than smell in the matter of a rose. 

To offset the pitiless sunshine and the colorlessness of the 
earth they set about artificially enlivening the landscape. 
They built gasoline stations, rest rooms, hot dog stands, way 
side cabins, markets, fruit stands, movie theaters and animal 
hospitals, in the most baroque forms their minds could con 
ceive. They built them in the shapes of derby hats, howling 
dogs, weeping pigs, spouting coffee-pots, crouching monkeys, 
coiled cobras, automobiles, old hats, tin cans and Mother 
Hubbards. They colored them red, green, blue, sapphire, 
orange, yellow, or not at all. On the menus of their restaurants 
they jestingly called food "grub," spelled egg "aig," and ad 
vised the use of bicarbonate of soda after eating. (Strangely 
enough this is sound advice in most instances!) 

And then, with nothing else to do, they became dilettantes. 
They had come to retire, many of them, and yet they wanted 
something to occupy their time. So they began to grow dates, 
bottle olives, train canaries, breed rabbits, and talk over the 
back fence about astrology and the great adventure that was 
still before them. Religion had naturally played an important 
part in their lives before coming to California, but there were 
not many who clung steadfastly to one creed. Having found 



CALIFORNIA IN THY FASHION! [ 77 ] 

happiness and heaven on earth they turned naturally to the 
next step. Egotists all, their ectoplasm began to bother them 
oozing out in the night when, had they worked hard during 
the day, they would have been asleep. Little groups began to 
gather and to draw each other's horoscopes. 

Very quickly southern California became a stamping ground 
for all kinds of psychic and medicinal quackery. Theosophy, 
Buddhism, Mohammedism, Brahmanism and Reincarnation- 
ism forged to the front, and Aimee Semple Macpherson 
built Angelus Temple. The Rosicrucians sprang up in a dozen 
different places, and astrologers and numerologists flocked to 
the country. Palmists, spiritualists, ordinary fortune-tellers and 
hypnotists found themselves in a paradise, and every book 
store, magazine counter, novelty shop and newspaper stand 
stocked up on religious books, astrology handbooks and charts, 
and tomes on magic. A great friendship with the "Beyond" 
grew up, and the newspapers, cognizant of it, tabued the verb 
"to die" and referred to those who had left the world as having 
"passed on." Queer cases began to drift into the District 
Attorney's office, and the police began to scratch their heads 
over strange crimes. 

Alongside the white magic there grew up, of course, a good 
deal of black magic. The Eleusinian mysteries arrived side by 
side with the Akasic records, malism, black cats and the 
swastika (not the Nazi variety, but that of Hermes) . Swamis, 
Yogis, Water Wizards, Levitators and Messiahs sprang up by 
the hundreds, and those who had "passed on" came back to 
run the affairs of those still living. 

A group of believers pickled a corpse in alcohol, nursed it as 
an invalid, seated it at the dinner table, took it riding in the 
afternoon, and each night waited for the soul to return. A man 
built a seven-branched candlestick of three hundred and sixty- 
five pieces in three hundred and sixty-five hours according to 
an order received in a dream, and sat down to await an ex 
planation. Dominick Craddock owned four houses and six 
black cats turned off the water, gas, and electricity, and died. 
His sister tried to nurse him back to life at the request of 



[ 78 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

spirits. Dominick had been dead for twelve days when police 
arrived. 

Reincarnationists have discovered that Geraldine Farrar 
was Joan of Arc, that Elinor Glyn was an Egyptian queen who 
was buried alive, that June Mathis was Valentino's mother. 
Psychics have divined that ninety-two million dollars from 
the old San Gabriel mission were buried under Coyote Pass, 
in Monterey Park. People appear in court almost every day 
to have their names officially changed so that they can avoid a 
numerological curse in the letters. 

Hypnotists regulate women's diets, so that they can become 
slim without effort; one hypnotist forced a woman to approach 
a seventy-year-old man, then blackmailed the gentleman with 
letters signed, "The Vengeance Club of Southern California." 
There was, and is, the Spiritual Psychic Science Church, Inc., 
with four hundred and fifty branches throughout the world. 
The Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles, investigating it, 
found that for ten dollars one can become a minister in the 
church, for five additional dollars a doctor of divinity, and 
for twenty-five dollars a bishop. 

In a single building in the heart of Los Angeles, the follow 
ing are listed as tenants "Spiritual Mystic Astrologer; 
Spiritual Psychic Science Church, number 450, Service Daiiy, 
Message Circles, Trumpet Thursday, 8 p.m.; Circle of Truth 
Church; Spiritual Psychic Science Church, number 166; 
First Church Divine Love and Wisdom, Message Service 
Wednesday and Friday; Reverend Eva Coram, Giving Her 
Wonderful Cosmic Readings, Divine Healing Daily; Spiritual 
Science Church of the Master, Special Rose Light Circle; 
233 South Hill Street, Nothing Impossible." Los Angeles 
also encompasses the Church of Applied Psychology, the 
First Church and Academy of Astrology, the First Church 
of Christian Metaphysics, the Truth Center of Hollywood, 
Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Unity Church of Divine Healing. 

The most popular and respected astrologer in the Los 
Angeles district not long ago gave out the information that, 
according to her calculations, the next President will be a 



CALIFORNIA IN THT FASHION! [ 79 ] 

Republican, there will be a revolution in America between 
1941 and 1942 ending with a dictator behind a puppet Presi 
dent, Hitler will be assassinated by the spring of 1936, the 
United States will never have a war with Japan, there- will be 
a war in Europe in 1936, Mussolini and Italy are under the 
benign rule of Leo, as is also a leading motion picture com 
pany. This astrologer has been serving screen stars, producers, 
and ordinary civilians of the community for twenty-eight 
years. Her opinions, as mentioned above, were printed in the 
Sunday Magazine of the Los Angeles Times, which has a 
wide circulation. What is a person's attitude toward life, his 
country, and his job when he believes the above? 

On the other hand, what is the attitude of more than a 
million people who believe themselves to be victims of a great 
injustice, to revenge which the Hand of God will assist them? 
Some indication of their attitude was given in the Sinclair- 
Merriam campaign last year, when they rallied behind the 
EPIC candidate. The power and the faith and the fanatical 
belief in predestined happiness on earth was gathered from 
the swamps of psychic quackery and the Nirvana of Hoover 
Republicanism, molded by hunger and poverty into a single 
entity, and sent forth to cry "Wolf!" at the door of every land 
holder, every jobholder and every capitalist in the state. From 
north, east, south and west of California the jobless and the 
malcontent swarmed, ready to hold the banner aloft for a 
New Day, and a New Deal that Washington never dreamed 
about in its wildest New Deal days. 

It was a close call, and the victory may only be temporary. 
Southern California today is marching toward a prophecy it 
had not anticipated. Like the Promised Land of the Israelites, 
it is a desert. It has a voice crying in the wilderness. It is 
hungry and restless. United, it can out-vote northern Califor 
nia and rule the state. It is ready to try anything. Anything 
can happen, and probably will. 

r ~T 1 HERE are other things which contribute to the scene of 
* California to make it an enigma, an anachronism, a 



[ 8o ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

fabulous country with a charm that comes, not from its scenery 
or people, but from the spiritual undercurrent which drives 
it forward. 

The people themselves seem lost, as exiles. They are friendly 
on the street and in public places, but they go to their homes 
alone, and seldom invite a stranger or mere acquaintance to 
visit them. Perhaps it is because the roots of their homes are 
elsewhere, or because they are tired of the mail order furniture 
which makes one house look exactly like another. Anyhow, 
they do not invite. They meet you in the lobby of your hotel. 

They speak a strange tongue which many observers, hearing 
casually, report as excellent English. On the surface it seems 
so, because there is little broken English. The people were 
born in America, of American parents, and they all attended 
public school. But their speech is clotted with malapropisms, 
their vocabulary extends hardly beyond arm's length, and their 
grammar on many ordinary points is bad. In three months of 
intense listening I did not hear a single Galifornian, not even 
Upton Sinclair, say, "If I were." Every one of them, Mr. 
Sinclair twice in five minutes, said, "If I was." I was not able 
to find out whether the form is taught thus in the schools. 

On the average they dress plainly, conservatively, and in 
absence of taste. What chic there is comes from Hollywood 
designers, and is more bizarre than tasty. Nobody bothers to 
observe the ordinary rules of dress for morning, afternoon and 
evening wear. At a Sunday night supper which I attended, one 
girl appeared in riding habit, another in a tea gown, another 
in a sports outfit. Other than myself, only one man wore a tie. 
Women wear evening clothes to the night clubs, but the men 
usually wear sports clothes or business suits. Black ties with 
tails and white ties with dinner jackets are common. 

The average drink is Bourbon or rye with gingerale. Lemon 
is served with Scotch and soda, unless otherwise demanded. 
Little attention is paid to brand or age. Most people choose by 
price. If they are new-rich or out for a night they choose the 
most expensive drinks; otherwise they take the cheapest. They 
seem to have chromium-plated stomachs, and the women 



CALIFORNIA IN THY FASHION! [ 81 ] 

never suffer from hangover. Next morning they ride horse 
back, swim a few miles, or perhaps go out to the rifle range and 
ruin a few bull's-eyes. Their complexions, because of the 
climate and the incessant sun, are brown and dry. Few of 
them are beautiful, none exotic. 

Except for Pierre's, in San Francisco, and a few of the hotels 
in that city and in Los Angeles, there are no good food spots in 
the state. The food is plain, the beef is local and second-rate, 
and the cooking very dull, without relishes or sauces. 

The service in restaurants is amusing if you are not in a 
hurry. There is no servant class among the white people in 
the state, and the waiters and waitresses have very little in 
terest in their work. They are thinking of other things as they 
amble about among the tables, and they resent their menial 
position. The chefs apparently are in the same fix, because the 
average time for a simple four-course dinner is an hour and a 
half, and there is seldom anything palatable. The whole scene 
gives the impression of an I-am-doing-you-a-favor-by-feeding- 
you attitude, and after a while you get to believe it yourself. 

Much of the food situation can be traced to the local beef 
and to the unfortunate Pacific, which besides being slate grey 
in color seems cursed with an inability to impart tastiness to 
its inhabitants. Except for the filet of Gatalina sand dab, which 
is honey sweet, and such dishes as baby barracuda and sea 
bass, the things that come out of the Pacific are not fit to eat. 
Eastern oysters are brought here and transplanted, but even 
such a short life in Pacific waters seems to rob them of their taste. 

The prosperity of the place, like its beauty, is largely myth 
ical. Just as the homes, except the rococo castles of the movie 
stars in Beverly Hills, are a hodge-podge of freak architecture, 
so are they cheaply built and cheaply furnished. Things that 
easterners consider necessary to the comfort and dignity of a 
home are lacking, such as bookcases, a den, or etchings and 
paintings for the walls. The Galifornians have their cars, 
tennis rackets, golf clubs and slacks, but they have none of 
the other things. Culture is still a word in the dictionary that 
is sometimes bandied about by professors in lecture rooms. 



[ 82 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Yet California has a public school for every one hundred 
inhabitants, and thirteen colleges and universities. The only 
cultural bulwark I found was the Henry E. Huntington li 
brary in San Marino, near Pasadena, with its privately 
assembled collection of a million and a quarter original manu 
scripts and its two hundred thousand rare books. In San 
Francisco I found only six bookstores for its seven hundred and 
fifty thousand people. In attempting to elicit, from a young 
lady clerk in one of these stores, information about the reading 
habits of San Franciscans, I asked her how many copies of 
James Joyce's "Ulysses" the store sold every month. 

"About one every two months," she said. "We don't go in 
for snob literature out here. The people prefer Galiforniana." 

Daily newspapers in California cost five cents, and there is 
little in them. National news is treated briefly, and the local 
news is handled according to the policies and prejudices of 
the paper and its owners. A story which makes the front page 
of one newspaper may not even be mentioned in the pages of 
its rival's edition. Newsprint is bad and the quality of the paper 
used is low. Sports pages occupy a prominent place, and during 
the football season coaches and players of prominence in the 
local colleges have daily columns, written by ghost writers who 
sometimes hire ghost writers to ghost for them. 

The town of Carmel, near the old capital city of Monterey, 
on the coast a hundred miles south of San Francisco, takes 
precedence as the cultural seat of the state. It is inhabited by 
Lincoln Steffens, Robinson Jeffers, and a few hundred artists 
who live quietly in a wholesome community spirit. I spent a 
day examining the town, charmed by its woodland beauty, but 
I could not find any of the artists at work. A few dull still-lifes 
were in the shop windows for sale, and a few books and pam 
phlets, written by residents, were also on sale. That was all. One 
of the most pretentious offices was that of an astrologer. On 
the bill-board at the post-office were a dozen requests for rides 
to San Francisco over the week-end, nothing else. 

Monterey itself was still and drab when I got there. At the 
hotel bar, after dinner, one of the members of the Junior 



CALIFORNIA IN THY FASHION! [ 83 ] 

Chamber of Commerce was telling a few friends why the town 
was dying. 

"We don't capitalize on our Spanish history," he informed 
them. "We got to make our town all Spanish architecture, 
see? Make this hotel Spanish. Get some Mexicans here. Plant 
a lot of roses. Write books about our Spanish history, see? Then 
we'll get the Eastern tourists. Those guys got a lot of dough." 

Other towns, such as Santa Barbara and San Diego, do 
capitalize on their Spanish history, holding Spanish festivals 
every year. Everybody goes and gets drunk. 

T^ROM one end to the other, and from the Sierras to the 
-* Pacific, California is a colorful state. San Francisco has lost 
the flush of its youthful, bawdy days, but it still has its fascinat 
ing waterfront, its Nob Hill, and its Chinatown and cable-cars. 
Los Angeles is a pipe dream of pop-eyed wonders, with people 
who peep at life as a kangaroo looking timidly from its built-in 
papoosery . The lovely valleys of San Gabriel and San Fernando 
lull the eye with endless miles of orchards. Yosemite, General 
Grant and Sequoia national parks are superb works of natural 
art, ideal vacation lands. Hollywood is a madhouse. I watched 
the shooting of two scenes and fled. 

Last night I visited a young man there who has taken a 
house on a high, almost inaccessible hill. As we sat before the 
log fire, trying to keep warm in the "ideal" California weather, 
there was a knock at the door. My host admitted two men in 
khaki uniforms. They said they belonged to a private police 
force which patrols the district, and wished to offer their 
services for a stipulated sum. My host said he did not own the 
house and considered the matter up to the landlord. The 
policemen said it was a matter of the tenant. My host refused 
the offer of help. 

"We'll come back again when you've had a chance to think 
it over," one of them said. "You'll need protection." 

When they had gone my host scratched his head. 

"The last two district attorneys of Los Angeles were in 
dicted on pretty serious charges, you know," he said. 



[ 84 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Yet all of the foregoing has served but to fortify my belief 
that something great will come out of California. It has been 
the observation of many visitors that the beauty of California 
deserves better people than inhabit it. Perhaps the people will 
be worthy of it when they get together and become part of it. 
And the word beauty, I think, is here misused. Beauty does 
not overawe and compel. Beauty is not a desert without color, 
demanding irrigation and constant care. I think instead that 
California is a promised land, waiting for its people to catch 
up with it. 

I began to believe that, when I was returning from Monterey 
to San Francisco. We stopped at a place in the mountains 
which called itself, in signs ten feet high, the Holy City. We 
stopped to eat sandwiches and discover the holiness. 

It was only another cult, but there was something grand in 
its isolation on a mountain, and in its stern credo. Tersely, the 
sandwich man informed me that the white Christian male alone 
is supreme on earth, and that all other races and creeds are 
beneath him and fit only to act as his menials. Women, he 
added, were also inferior animals, to be used as slaves. 

"Have you no women here?" I asked. 

"Yes, but we don't marry them and we don't live with them. 
We are above them." 

"What do you do with them?" 

"Make them work." 

Yes, I think that something great will come out of Cali 
fornia. 



Road through New Hampshire 

FRANCES FROST 

There was a road through summer; and the first 
green field, by Indian-paintbrush flecked to red, 
faded to mustard-gold; a cornfield's thirst 
was quenched by slanting rain from a thunder-head. 

The road curved into weeds, and there the shadow 
moved over the white, five-petalled starry flower, 
and there an infant fox, a russet fellow, 
sped in a windy hemlock-colored hour. 

And grassy stubble, golden in the sun, 
abandoned by the mowers, sloped between 
forest and forest, and the road went down 
seeking the secrets of the further green. 

And Indian-pipes their ghostly whiteness lifted 
from ancient moulder, and the maple-thickets 
flushed while the dappled waning sunlight drifted 
over low mushrooms orange-thatched for crickets. 

And the leopard-lily, bronze and spotted gold, 
rose upon her tall and emerald stem, 
and silvered by the swift September cold 
hung pinched for summer's silent requiem. 

There was a road through summer: where it went 

onward through scarlet autumn and was lost, 

I cannot tell: I know the grass was bent 

with glitter and sumac-leaves were stroked by frost. 

[85] 



A Statistician's Dream 

SURGES JOHNSON 

r "T 1 HERE is no such thing anywhere on this footstool as a two; 
-* nowhere can there be found, in the heavens above, or in 
the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth, a three or 
a four. These are not things they are figments of a mathe 
matician's dream. When the user of them constantly remem 
bers that they represent or qualify things, he may arrive at 
Truth by means of them. But if he continues to use them after 
they have ceased to represent anything in his mind, the result 
may be nonsense. 

"If one man can do a piece of work in twelve hours, how 
long will it take two men to do it?" asks the teacher. Is a child 
permitted to bring his native common sense into action and 
ask "What kind of work?" No indeed. He is taught to divide 
twelve by two. That two men will do a piece of work in half 
the time that it takes one man to do it is an absurd fallacy. If 
physical labor is meant, two men can do it in less than half the 
time; if mental labor, then one can work faster than two. One 
may work faster than a hundred. 

It is the habit of statisticians to collect the figures that are 
attached to objects, separate them from the things to which 
they are attached, deal with them in various mysterious ways, 
then attach the results to the objects again and think that 
they have truth. A boy in a tree can pick six quarts of cherries 
in half an hour; then let the farmer borrow the services of his 
neighbor's daughter, and the boy and girl, so he is told, can 
pick six quarts of cherries in fifteen minutes. But any child 
knows that if you put a boy and a girl together in a tree they 
may not pick six quarts of cherries all day. 

Mr. Wilbur Nesbit did a most excellent piece of figuring 
when he asserted that if a fox terrier two feet long, with a 
three inch tail, could dig a hole three feet deep in half an 
hour, then to dig the Panama Canal in a single year would 
require only one fox terrier a mile and a half long, with an 

[86] 



A STATISTICIANS DREAM [ 87 ] 

eighty foot tail. Any statistician would gravely consider this 
statement, do a bit of figuring and assure you it is true; but a 
child would doubt it. He would question whether that kind of 
a fox terrier would dig where he was told. 

It was once my pleasant fortune to be attached to a college 
for women (an attachment, may I add parenthetically, which 
in my heart still continues). In those days a statistician who 
lived in Pittsburgh, or some such place, announced that he 
had been making a study of the vital statistics of segregated 
colleges. He had discovered that the graduates of Vassar pro 
duced three-quarters of a child apiece, and the graduates of 
Harvard contributed to posterity only half a child per gradu 
ate. From this he deduced that such colleges not only were not 
reproducing themselves and must therefore cease to exist, but 
that they were a menace to civilization because they tended to 
reduce, generation by generation, the total number of edu 
cated people. 

I was deeply interested in this; and my depraved fancy 
led me to wonder what gruesome fraction of an infant might 
come into the world if a graduate of Harvard married a gradu 
ate of Vassar. But as a more serious inquiry, I sought the 
source of the numerical symbols to which his mind had ap 
plied itself. I found that he worked with reports supplied by 
the colleges whose figures were obtained by "questionnaires" 
addressed to graduates. He had found the total number of 
graduates who had answered, and the total number of chil 
dren that they had reported, and had conscientiously divided 
one figure by the other. 

But a study of the letter-writing habits of college graduates, 
quite apart from any symbolic figures, reveals this interesting 
truth: that a young graduate who marries and acquires her 
first baby is very likely to write promptly to the alumnae secre 
tary, or even wire the dean. When the second arrives, a be 
lated postcard announces the fact. But after there are three or 
four in the family, the parent may forget to write at all. More 
over, such statistics are assembled from living graduates, 
seventy-five percent of whom are still physically able to bear 



[ 88 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

more children. Such data would be of value only if it dealt 
with those alumni who have been out of college for forty years 
or more, or are dead. 

But the statistician is interested in figures rather than hu 
man behavior. Having detached his symbols from living 
things, manipulated them, and then reattached them, he 
finds that such colleges must eventually disappear through 
failure to reproduce themselves. This is based on the assump 
tion that all future students are produced only by former ones. 
Granting that absurdity, it would still be questionable whether 
such colleges menace our civilization! Common sense points 
out, on the contrary, that if Harvard and Vassar were clois 
tered spots, sending out trained graduates pledged to celibacy, 
devoting their lives to teaching and social service, civilization 
still might benefit from their existence, or even be more 
greatly benefited than at present. 

I recall that in that far-away time I wrote to the gentleman 
in Pittsburgh, pointing out some of the facts cited above, and 
added that my own researches revealed that statisticians were 
producing a quarter of a child apiece and that therefore in 
sixty years or so there would be no more statisticians, for which 
heaven be praised. I am still awaiting his reply. 

Statisticians would do little harm if they avoided disguises. 
The mere preparing of statistical tables may perhaps keep 
them out of worse mischief. But it is when the statistician 
calls himself an efficiency expert that I most fear him. For 
then he takes his facts, detaches them from reality, manipu 
lates them, and attaches them again, with some sort of vested 
authority to operate in human affairs. There is, for instance, the 
famous bricklayer and the stop watch. The efficiency expert 
observes the habits of the humble layer of bricks and times his 
motions. He discovers that the man picks up the brick, turns 
it over two or three times in his hands in order to get the facing 
uppermost, spoons up a little mortar with his trowel, perhaps 
even shifts his implement and his brick from one hand to the 
other, pauses to spit, and then puts the brick in place. 

"If you will cut out three unnecessary motions," says the 



A STA TISTICIAWS DREAM [ 89 ] 

efficiency man, "you can lay twenty more bricks in an hour. If 
you can make your helper place the bricks in his hod with their 
faces up you can lay thirty more bricks in an hour." Figures 
are just as true in this instance as in the case of the fox terrier. 
How the bricklayer may feel when his behavior is thus mecha 
nized is not the concern of the efficiency expert. How much a 
man wants to hurry with his work is not a ponderable force. It 
cannot be added or subtracted or multiplied into the equation. 
So forty bricklayers lay thirty more bricks apiece per hour, for 
one week, and go on strike at the beginning of the second 
week, and that's that. 

This is not a fanciful picture. At a certain canning factory 
within my ken a number of non-English-speaking women 
were employed at manual labor. Their employer had recently 
read about that converted bricklayer and was himself con 
verted; so he sent for an efficiency engineer. First of all the 
factory was rearranged so that the several processes would be 
housed in logical order the filled cans finally landing at the 
very doors of the freight cars. All that was well and good; the 
cans seemed to be as happy as ever, and production was in 
creased. 

But then the engineer began upon the lady Lithuanians. He 
studied their idiosyncracies and found that some discerned 
color more quickly than others, and some had speedier mus 
cular reactions. So he jumped them about, until those who 
best distinguished colors selected labels for cans, and those 
whose feet moved most quickly operated foot-power ma 
chines, and so on. Then the wage was based upon a minimum 
output per individual, and a bonus offered for results in excess 
of that. 

At the end of the first week a large number of these women 
earned a bonus and immediately struck. No one in the place 
could discover the reason. It was too subtle for the regular 
interpreter. But a priest was found in a neighboring city who 
spoke their tongue and he got at the root of the trouble. They 
had struck because they were overworked, but they did not 
know they were overworked until they were paid so much. 



[ go ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

The efficiency engineer departed in disgust. There was some 
thing there in addition to his figures which he could not add 
up. 

Let this be credited to the teacher of elementary arithmetic, 
that he never urges a child to multiply six apples by two 
hippopotamuses in the belief that he will get twelve of either. 
Only a very stupid teacher would ask a child to divide, even 
on paper, one bone among six dogs and determine the frac 
tional result, either in dogs or bones. He would fear a recru 
descence of the child's common sense. It is only after the teacher 
has become a statistician that he can subtract this year's white 
birthrate from this year's black birthrate, multiply by fifty 
years, and then frighten us with a rising tide of color. 

I recall the pathetic instance of one such delver in digits 
who had spent years assembling figures relating to farm prod 
uce in a certain area. Finally he achieved his goal, which 
was to determine the average annual production. But by that 
time the inhabitants had begun raising something else. 

"GTROM the foregoing you may assume that I entertain a mild 
* prejudice against statisticians. But there is nothing personal 
about it; and I admit it proves me no whit wiser than the 
average of my fellow citizens. For a statistician is merely one 
kind of an expert. And it is a weakness of democracy to dis 
trust its experts. 

Let me be frank with myself and the rest of us: this distrust 
is due in part to jealousy rather than ignorance. It is our 
democratic tradition that success comes naturally as a result 
of dogged, plodding labor, or "sweat." We also allow for luck, 
or "striking it rich." Rail-splitting to our mind is the ideal 
background; if this is accompanied by the study of a few books, 
preferably by candle-light, so much the better. That much 
learning is within anyone's reach! But the intellectual expert 
has acquired a superiority which cannot be secured through 
mere plodding, or luck, or money, or votes; so we regard him 
with suspicion, and feel that there must be something un 
democratic about him. 



A STATISTICIAN'S DREAM [ 91 ] 

Most of my fellow democrats will explain that what they 
really distrust is a theorist. No man, they say, can gain special 
knowledge of a subject by reasoning about it; practice is the 
only teacher. Josh Billings is their prophet when he cries out, 
"It is better not to know so much, than to know so many things 
that ain't so." Bankers and insurance men, railroad presidents, 
soldiers, journalists, and farmers boast that their fathers at 
tained success by a process of trial and error; so the sons who 
are spared the trials assert their right to continue the errors 
theorists to the contrary, notwithstanding. 

But having conceded this much, let me get back to my 
statisticians and assert that we distrust our experts mostly 
because of their own faults. First, they won't speak our lan 
guage; second, they are likely to talk too much at the wrong 
time; and third, they devote their minds so undividedly to one 
pursuit that they lose their common sense. 

When an expert so exalts his favorite idea that he cannot 
see around it or over it whether it be a tonsil, or a grain 
of wheat, or a submarine, or a collection of digits then he 
gains his only social pleasure from conversation with other 
specialists of his own kind about their common subject. The 
next step is inevitable: a new language is born. For it is natural 
that in such conversations a sort of verbal short-hand should 
develop which makes for scientific accuracy, and saves time. 

But if the truth were told, accuracy and time-saving soon 
come to be secondary reasons for using this patter. It serves as 
a mystic symbol, a fraternal "high-sign," an abracadabra 
admitting initiates into a secret brotherhood, and effectively 
excluding barbarians. It is an awesome experience for any 
common man to overhear the conversation between two pro 
found specialists in penology, let us say, or adenoids, or foreign 
exchange. I omit mention of the higher orders of statis 
ticians, because they have probably gotten beyond the need 
for words of any sort, and talk to one another only on their 
figures. The common man shrinks from the sound of this 
esoteric vocabulary as though it were a malign incantation, 
or resents it as though it were a taunt. He begins to feel like 



[ 92 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

rejecting the expert's opinion even when he can understand it. 

It is my observation that the more narrowly confined a 
specialist has become, the more he has recourse to this special 
jargon; with the unfortunate effect that he builds up for him 
self one more barrier between his mind and the common 
human mind, exchanges less and less the currency of common 
ideas, and so is likely to reduce still further his own quota of 
common sense. While he must retain the ability to translate 
into his own tongue the material for his problems, he loses all 
ability to translate his results back again into the vernacular. 

Of course Heaven sends us in every decade a few specialists 
who keep themselves generally informed, and have a com 
mand of common, everyday English; but they are often 
martyred, and oddly enough it is their own fellow specialists 
who hurl the first stones. But the narrower ones those who 
fill their minds so full of uncommon knowledge that there is 
no room left for common sense are the ones who help to 
destroy popular confidence in experts, by talking out of turn. 
Perhaps one wins world-wide recognition as a builder of 
locomotives, or as a leader of armies. This recognized special 
knowledge gives to any of his pronouncements a wide hearing. 
Whereupon he is induced to voice silly views of art or history 
or politics; and a scornful public cries "I told you so," and be 
gins at once to distrust even the man's profound special 
knowledge, and the profundity of all other experts as well. 

But democracy is in most woeful need of all the expert 
theorists it can produce. It has bumbled along too far already 
without enough of them. In a monarchy or a despotism this is 
not the case (and if that be treason, make the most of it). 
Supreme authority scrutinizes its resources, discovers special 
ists in this or that, and summons them to the service of the 
state; and the populace does not resent this any more than 
other acts of omnipotence. On the contrary it is inclined to be 
boastful of its experts, making the same sort of fuss over them 
that it does over a royal family. 

Certainly we democrats ought to have learned by this 
time what the expert theorist can do for us when we give him 



A STATISTICIAN'S DREAM [ 93 ] 

a chance. There is, for instance, a wide-spread and apparently 
well-founded belief that our bankers have been saved from 
final discredit by men who are pure theorists, so far as banking 
is concerned. Insurance men once went through their own 
valley of the shadow, when they suddenly learned that the 
world had been changing around the insurance business, and 
it was necessary for a theorist to tell them about it. 

Our railroads inevitably prospered, as migratory peoples 
flowed in along their rights-of-way; and railroad executives, 
while cheerfully paralleling one another's lines, claimed 
credit, like Father Abraham, even for the populations, and 
for a hundred years allowed an obsolete type of stage coach to 
determine the shape of a railway car. But at last when popu 
lations stopped flowing and business fell off they welcomed the 
counsel of government theorists. 

But it is more tactful of me to write about farmers. They are 
thick-skinned fellows who do not mind being written about. 
Several years ago an elderly theorist retired to his estate in an 
eastern farming section. He was depressed by the depleted 
soil and inferior stock and antiquated methods of his farmer 
neighbors, and eagerly desired to be of practical use to them. 
He suggested the introduction of another breed of cattle as 
best suited to their hillsides; and certain European tricks of 
viniculture that promised better results. But they would have 
none of it. Finally his farm manager, who was a native and 
knew his own people, suggested building a good fence around 
everything, and then following a policy of extreme reticence. 
The plan worked. Neighbors climbed the fence by night and 
borrowed the ideas, as well as a little breeding from the foreign 
stock. The whole neighborhood was greatly benefited, and every 
farmer felt that it was a result of his own rugged individual 
ism. Experts be durned. 

I met a young stage driver in South Dakota who pointed 
across the distant prairies to his home farm, and I asked why 
he had not followed in his father's footsteps. "Because farmers 
haven't any sense," he answered. "Even after the state granted 
tree claims, you couldn't get some of these farmers to plant 



[ 94 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

trees. They never had planted trees before and why should 
they now? Wheat was what they planted, and they knew all 
they needed to know about that. When the state offered to 
give a squatter full title to a piece of land if he would plant 
trees and stay until they had grown into a storm barrier, a 
few outsiders came in and took advantage of the offer. But my 
dad never would, and he's had all his savings swept away 
twice by wind storms. 

"Take pigs," continued the lad. "When I was a youngster 
we always kept one family of pigs around the back door. They 
used up the family swill and we killed them when they got big 
enough. One family of pigs was enough for one farmhouse. 
We knew they would thrive in this climate, but that didn't 
suggest anything to a farmer. All he could see was wheat. It 
took some crazy expert from the state college to pound into 
the farmers' heads the idea that they might raise more pigs, 
and they resisted the idea as long as they could. Now a big 
part of the state's wealth is pork products." 

TT LOOKS as though democracy might get along better if 
* the specialist and the practical man of affairs could work 
together in hearty cooperation, each supplementing the other. 
This might happen if any one of the following conditions could 
be brought about: first, if every practical man of affairs were 
also a specialist; second, if every specialist were a practical 
man of affairs; third, if we could train up a trusted and trust 
worthy body of interpreters. 

The first condition will come about when every citizen is 
possessed of so thorough a knowledge in some one field that, 
with the humility of the true scholar, he respects the learning 
of others. This presupposes universal education, and the 
millennium. The second might come about if we could pass 
laws requiring every specialist to spend three days of every 
week in general reading or mingling with his fellow men and 
striving to understand them. This seems equally difficult ! The 
third condition is a matter for the press. The newspaperman is 
our interpreter. If our experiment in democracy is to work, 



A STATISTICIAN'S DREAM [ 95 ] 

we must be able to count on his integrity, high purpose and 
good sense. 

Unfortunately, the newspaperman has become, to a con 
siderable extent, merely a dealer in a commodity called Sen 
sation. Instead of searching out the expert in order to explain 
his profound discoveries to common men, he persuades him to 
say something silly, and gives that to the world in letters an 
inch high. He teaches wise men to distrust newspapers and the 
public to distrust wise men. He might save experts for democ 
racy; he might, and should, save democracy for itself. 



One Purple Patch 

B. M. STEIGMAN 

"C*VERYTHING that man wears today reaches him in a 
-" more or less completely manufactured state. When he 
dresses he merely assembles, mechanically speaking, a number 
of standardized parts. A few bolts and buttons and he is 
ready to be shipped from his dressing-room. There seems to 
be hardly anything that is actually constructed on the 
premises. 

Not so in days of yore. The Roman cast his toga about him 
and experimented like a curtain draper before he was satisfied 
with the effect. The Indian made a heaping big mess with 
paint and feathers and wampum-beads before he strutted out 
to make a killing. The Turk passed hours in swathing his 
turban; the Jap took days to make honorable his coif, and 
spent months, years, in embellishing his unworthy kimono. 
The Assyrians and Phoenicians unfortunately were completely 
covered (the present investigator has found, after a visit to the 
museum) with square stone beards, beneath which consider 
able excavations must still be made if further corroborative 
evidence is to be bared. 

Modern man is easier to investigate, for he makes no at 
tempt to hide behind an unshaven hedge and except for an 
occasional Frenchman, sensitive to style exposes unob- 
structedly, from the chin down, how completely he has sur 
rendered the liberty he originally took with his apparel. Gone, 
gone is his gaudy freedom of choice as to the color and cut of 
his doublet and hose. Two centuries ago he could still dazzle 
his damsel with scarlet breeches and a flouncing profusion of 
ruffles and lace; and even a hundred years ago he was expected 
to come courting her in a cobalt topper and a canary-colored 
waistcoat. 

Today, however, he is a drab vestiarian robot whose stiff, 
creased front of dingy tweed has been prescribed for him to the 
last fixed seam. He has been "brooks-brothered" and "rogers- 

[96] 



ONE PURPLE PA TGH [ 97 ] 

peeted" into a sack suit: and there he must stay, and to that 
he must be true, or he will be despised as a turncoat. 

THE GOAT 

There he must stay: for it is virtually a social epidermis 
into which man slips in the morning, so unremovable is his 
coat even on the hottest day. Only when in wrath all decorum 
is flung to the winds, and eyes blaze and fists clench, is the 
ultimate challenge hurled to a scoundrel to take off his coat, to 
shed his twentieth century being, for you desire to deal with 
him as Neanderthal man to man. On the other hand, the 
more civilized the form of activity you undertake, as when you 
are called upon, say, to do a tap-dance or address a political 
meeting, the more obvious becomes the instinct to make 
secure your unobtrusive and impeccable self by buttoning it 
up as you get into action. 

Unobtrusive oxford grey, navy blue, dark brown im 
peccably sober, unromantically sombre, damnably dull! 
Redcoats at one time dashed brightly across the Boston Com 
mon and clattered gloriously up (and down) Bunker Hill; 
and though their crimson raiment made them, alas, easy tar 
gets for ragged rebels, they are assured a colorful page in 
history for their gallant sacrifice to sartorial splendor ! The red 
coats are, of course, still worn on occasion in England; for the 
British are quick to learn, and the ease with which their 
ancestors could be sighted and popped off by an enemy has 
taught them how to safeguard themselves against any ex 
ploratory marksmanship of their fellow hunters. Another trib 
ute to British ingenuity! 

But generally a garish coat is the pride merely of the 
doormen of our modern world. Strange colors are not ad 
mitted however significant in the pages of romance or 
sociology may be the wearing of Lincoln-green in the north 
woods, of the yellow jacket in the east, or a coat of dark tan at 
the equator. We moderns are not alone in this prejudice, 
however. A streak of it can perhaps be traced even as far back 
as Biblical days, when Joseph tried to sport a coat of many 



[ 9 8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

colors, and found himself promptly ditched by his preco 
ciously hard-boiled brethren. 

The gunny-sack cut of our coat is no less rigidly prescribed 
for us than is its gloomy hue. One choice at least we are given, 
dating from the time a Napoleonic tailor's scissors snipped the 
great schism that has since divided all men into the dichotomy 
of the single-breasted and the double-breasted. This breach in 
our regimented manhood seems a veritable chasm. By im 
plication it becomes clear why our stable social order dis 
courages any rugged habilimentary individualism. 

For we see everyday how weak-chinned, weak-kneed men of 
manifest intestinal paucity are operated upon by an enter 
prising tailor's shears and emerge clipped and slashed, and 
transformed from their simpish, single-breasted selves into 
seemingly tremendous, double-breasted supermen. There is no 
mistaking those who have undergone the operation. You can 
see them from afar, bulging and of twice the common single- 
breasted chestiness. You can hear them farther yet: their 
thoracic compartment having been made duplex, they are 
capable of twice an ordinary pulmonary performance. But 
it is especially when they manage to lay their hands on you 
that you appreciate their gifts for the heartiness of their 
salutation cannot possibly be pumped by a single aorta. 
You are convinced that they have become automatically 
double-breasted. 

You may feel no great enthusiasm over such transformation 
in your unavoidable neighbors. You may consider it all very 
well for Napoleon, say, to have strutted about that way, his 
arm inside his huge lapel, for his colossal spirit could hardly 
have been encased within a single-breasted coat. Or you may 
have a picture of Washington standing upright in the rowboat, 
as his men pushed it through the icy Delaware (though in this 
case the two rows of buttons may have been put on his coat 
in a desperate effort to help him maintain his balance!). To 
such, you concede, the double-breasted coat may be an excel 
lent fit a sartorial sacrament that is an outward and visible 
sign of an inward and extraordinary expanse. But whether you 



ONE PURPLE PA TCH [ 99 ] 

are radical or conservative on the subject, whether you take 
the left side or the right side of the double-breasted coat 
(which, unless it's a misfit, makes hardly any difference), you 
are bound to be impressed with the tremendous potentialities 
of a complete liberation of man's drab, gunny-sack coated 
spirit. 

THE VEST 

The failure of the vest to maintain a spectral independence 
of the coat and trousers is of anthropologic interest. Stripping 
the subject bare that we may disclose the naked truth, we 
discover that man in his primordial state was furnished by 
nature with a hirsute covering on the site now occupied by the 
vest. In those savage and pre-cheviot days, the hair was in 
tended to protect his lungs. Now it serves him merely for 
occasional reference and self-patting, to make him feel that he 
is still robust and he-manly and close to nature. It is in a class 
with his camping outfit. 

But some of its properties have passed through to its "hair- 
apparent," as the vest might be called. We discover here, too, 
a subdued, protective coloration. We discover, again, a woolly 
expanse in front but not in back. We discover, once more, an 
unshedable attachment during all seasons. Just the same, the 
owner of a vest must concede it to be less impressive as a he- 
masculine attribute than the shaggy, forebearish hair on a 
primitive chest. Fortunately for his shrinking ego, his defense 
mechanism has deftly cut armholes in his vest, where his 
thumbs may repose, much to his own aggrandizement. He 
thrusts his chest forward as if it still exposed his aboriginal 
virility rather than a manufactured expanse of tweed or 
worsted 

Historically the vest has proved of vast importance. When 
Disraeli made his first appearance before the House of Com 
mons, he was hooted and razzed and would have been hope 
lessly lost had he not made a last desperate stand and in 
trenched himself within the armholes of his vest. For the rest 
of his days thereafter, that became his fighting front, from 



[ ioo ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

which he put his opponents to rout. His position, to be sure, 
was greatly strengthened by the array of gold chains and seals 
and keys that dangled formidably at his every movement. And 
the disconcerting color of the vests he brought into action 
could hardly have been of aid and comfort to an enemy. 
Yet they are generally ignored by students of Disraeli's 
parliamentary strategy, who instead pore futilely over musty 
volumes of his speeches. 

Someday history may be rewritten in terms of this significant 
garment. The evolution from bearskin to white dress vest is the 
story of civilization. It centers about such conflicts as that 
between the polished steel breastplate and the homespun in the 
feudal age, and the leather jerkin and the shirt frills some cen 
turies later. Compare the pictues of Cromwell and of Charles 
I, and see where their essential difference lies. The French 
revolutionist watched with contempt how the noblemen 
flaunted their flimsy silken ruffles; he banged his fist on his 
own hairy chest and walked off to the market place to set up 
the guillotine. 

Economically the vest achieves importance in the mind of an 
American at a very early age. He sees cartoons of wretched 
little creatures marked "Taxpayer" or "Common People," 
crushed down by a huge man whose balloon-like vest bears 
the label "Vested Interest." The name sticks in his mind. He 
discovers several meanings also in the label "Corporation." 
Behaviorist psychology might point moreover to his association 
of property with the four pockets of the vest, to which he sees 
grown-up men have recourse for most of their really serviceable 
belongings watch, knife, pen, matches, and especially the 
coveted dime or quarter. There may be childish images in his 
mind when he is told the meaning of the term "investment." 

Perhaps that is why the vest clings to him so when he has 
grown up, and why liberal and liberating arguments on the 
subject are to him wild talk which he resists desperately, like 
the man in the fable when the hard-blowing wind tried to 
make him disrobe. By contrast, woman must have seemed 
reckless when she made her sensational break from corsets and 



ONE PURPLE PATCH [ 101 ] 

all those barricades and bulwarks of padding, hoops, founda 
tions, and endless petticoats to appear in the rotogravure 
section of today, almost wholly liberated, submitting to noth 
ing but a flimsy little butterfly thing, over whose precarious 
hold she smiles in triumph. 

We return, hastily, to the cautious coloration of the vest. 
We prefer to keep our vested selves unobtrusive at all times. 
Some twenty years ago there was a brief efflorescence of the 
vest: but the bold blades who sought by their own resplendent 
example to rally our somber-bosomed American manhood 
behind an array of flowered mauve and heliotrope, soon lost 
heart, and surrendered that most brightly promising vestment 
to be a mere auxiliary to the coat and pants. 

THE PANTS 

Not the trousers for those severely respectable habili 
ments could never offer us any bright-colored hopes. The 
pantaloons, named so for gracing the shanks of San Pantaleone, 
patron saint of glamorous Venice, might lead one to cheerier 
expectations. The word trails carnival color and abandon; but 
alas, the garment degenerated to serve mere circus buffoonery. 
When the ignominious last syllable of the word was lopped 
off, the remainder was no longer an attribute of clowning, 
nor conceivably of romance. It was assigned instead to cover 
the plodding legs and sedentary seat of a working world. 

No, not the pants. Man's nether self is something he has 
been taught to consider quite beneath him. He had better 
draw a curtain about it of noncommittal cloth: he had better 
lengthen his coat to cover his hips and envelop his limbs so 
that not a curve of calf or thigh is visible. The legs are for 
utility, not for ornament. Some years ago there was much to-do 
in our papers about whether Charles G. Dawes, ambassador to 
England, would or would not don silken breeches and stock 
ings at the court of St. James. Opposition to such a rare re 
maining display of the cavalierish grace that whilom did 
tread all the courts of Europe, could have arisen only in a 
country where legs from the very start were relegated to path- 



L 102 J THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

finding, trekking, claim-staking, and then to a restless climbing 
of the ladder of success. 

It has become universal, that strange aversion of ours to the 
curves and symmetries from the hips down to the toes. We 
drape a round worsted curtain around each leg, and then we 
have these creased and flattened lest we be suspected of even 
cylindrical rotundity. Ornamental effects are unheard of. 
Youth recklessly dons white flannels. And on gala dress occa 
sions, by way of festive effect, we do permit ourselves grey 
stripes below the cut-away. In certain parts of Brittany the 
fishermen wear red pants. Tourists come from all over the 
world to see them. 

For a while it seemed that the World War, which could 
achieve the emancipation of the veiled face of Oriental woman, 
might do something for the ankle and calf of Occidental man. 
The advent of leggings and puttees seemed to restore to us the 
eighteenth century age of reason with its monumental dis 
covery that man's leg is logically divided at the knee. The 
world would be made safe, we felt, as we pulled on our tight 
khaki breeches, for democracy's return to the free and ostenta 
tious thigh, and the romantically clasped, knightly gartered 
knee. When the war was over the silken clad leg would be 
stepping out; and then just watch the line it would have to 
offer the damosels of eloquence, of ardor, of ineluctable 
impudence, yea, of triumph ! 

Yea? When the war was over we had had enough of trapes 
ing about in outlandish outfits, and were all for respectability 
and trousers. And for our more playful moods there began to 
appear a misbegotten offspring of the breeches and pants, 
destitute of function, style, comfort or proportion, abortively 
called "knickers". As if that (certainly not the least horrible) 
consequence of the war were not appalling enough, its 
ungodly perpetrator extended it into incredible monstrosities 
that are named "plus fours", "plus sixes" - an arithmetic 
progression downward to the ankles, beneath which small, 
bewildered-looking feet emerge like turtle necks from out of 
their staggering hulks. The next war, according to all author- 



ONE PURPLE PATCH [ 103 ] 

ities, will be even more horrible: it will wipe out everything. 
Here, surely, is a potent argument for world peace ! 

THE GALLANT CRAVAT 

We may ignore the shirt. The most powerful dictators have 
succeeded in establishing only the usual dismal tones of brown 
or black. Those who humbly wear them, we suspect, are not 
happy: for we remember how many of those who came here as 
immigrant workers, in the legendary days before 1929, let 
loose when they found themselves in possession of an abun 
dance of liberty and cash, and paraded silk shirts of riotous, 
revolutionary hues. The vertiginous memory of those colors 
does something at least to explain the present acceptance 
abroad of Fascism. When will mankind manage to emerge 
from the alternatives of drunkenness and prohibition? 

The American shirt is sober enough, humdrum in fact, and 
vapid, so that per se a stuffed shirt is without even pictorial 
interest. The trouble is that we have been too much concerned 
with industry to use shirts for parade or finery, and instead 
just want to roll our shirt sleeves up and get to work. Broad 
cloth, linen, silk or percale is to us just so much essential 
covering of one's nakedness, one's ne plus ultra: to lose one's 
shirt is to lose everything. So we stick to "solid" colors that 
are supposed to look substantial, or concede an undeviating 
stripe for "fancy" effect. Perhaps the enforced tranquillity of 
shirt sleeves during the depression will give them a chance for 
aesthetic cultivation, leading who knows? to a burgeon 
ing, a renascence of the lace and silver gauntlets of the lordly 
cavalier on a canvas by Van Dyck or Velasquez. 

In the meantime there is unto art in male attire but one 
concession, one challenge to technocratic raiment, one purple 
patch in the prosy account of what our ill-dressed man must 
wear. Given his wardrobe, apparently the modern beau can no 
more modify the total effect than can the assembler of a factory 
piano or a Ford car. But one reservation he does make, which 
thereby assumes vast significance: he takes the flat and 
shapeless material he gets at the haberdasher's, and with his 



[ 104 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

own hands he constructs the necktie he is to wear for the day. 

This seems the last stand of modern man against being 
turned into a clothes-rack by our mechanistic age. His neck 
wear gives him one slender outlet for whatever he has left of 
individual expression. That is why, according to story writers, 
he must stand so long before the mirror before he meets his 
love: he is preening his one feather, he is making his throat 
articulate with sonorous color. More, the artist in him is 
aroused: he seeks perfection by repeated efforts, modifying, 
rejecting, beginning afresh. He undergoes cravatorial creative 
throes. 

He has become a specialist in his selection of the four-in- 
hand his raw material, his canvas, his plastic clay. He is a 
connoisseur of foulard and rep and grenadine; he discourses 
learnedly on Spitalfields patterns and Barathea weaves; he 
has achieved cosmopolitan taste for Swiss moires, Italian 
twills, British handblocks, French jacquard warps. He is 
absorbed too in structural considerations, and tests and twists 
and makes a great to-do about dispansion, resilience, tractility, 
sequaciousness. . . . There is dolorous truth in the cartoon of 
how he wails in anguish when he receives Christmas ties 
selected by well-meaning, no doubt, but appallingly un 
initiated females. 

Better let eternal masculine vigilance be aroused in behalf 
of the liberty of the cravat. For even this sole remaining link 
with the more brave and haberdashing periods of history is 
continually in danger of snapping, tugged at as it is by modern 
machines. It snapped in the days of our great-grandfathers, 
who for a time abandoned their tracheas to stiff, starched 
stocks. It snapped again when our grandfathers took to their 
bosom the bulky Ascot tie. Even in our own days there is a 
constant straining, and an ominous clatter of machinery in the 
direction of our freemen's necks. We can still remember when 
we were clutched at the throat with ready-made dress ties. 
Aux armes, mes enfants! 

For should the glory of the cravat ever be dimmed, and 
made to pass the way of the silk breeches and the buckled 



ONE PURPLE PATCH [ 105 ] 

shoes, man's bareness would be a natural calamity much 
like the loss of its antlers to the deer, or its comb and showy 
crowing to the cock. As it is, man has shrunk his personality 
into the insignificance of the dull cloth he selects for his 
garments. In vain has he been urged to restore something of 
the gaiety and splendor of the days of powdered wigs and 
jeweled swords. To remove his one remaining touch of bright 
ness would be to have him undergo a total eclipse. Against the 
powers of darkness every enlightened man should hasten, in 
defense of the gallant cravat! 



The Long Way to Atlantis 
NORTON MGGIFFIN 

A CLOUD, no larger than a man's hand as yet, is rising in the 
-^^ Southwest and bringing promise of a deluge which may 
engulf the Roosevelt administration. Huey Long, the Creole 
King of the Canebrakes, the self-confessed tribune of the peo 
ple, is its personification and threatens, in his own inimitable 
fashion, to prick the complacency of James A. Farley. Having 
proceeded to make Louisiana a satrapy of his own with an 
obsequious state legislature bowing to his every whim, he 
seeks new worlds to conquer, projecting himself into the center 
of the national political picture with vindictive determination, 
the most persistent gadfly yet to plague the Roosevelt regime. 
What Huey Long intends to do between now and the ides of 
November, 1936, perhaps not even Huey Long knows. He is 
the man who would be king of a new political dynasty which 
would climb to power over the broad backs of the men with 
the hoes and the picks and the shovels, the submerged and 
underprivileged segment of America's voting population 
which is not yet aware of its strength. The Louisiana Kingfish 
is the embryonic Hitler who undoubtedly plans a putsch which 
will ultimately carry him into the White House, who has not 
yet decided in his own mind when and how the attempt shall 
be made. 

General Hugh Johnson has, with characteristic vigor, posi 
tively identified the senator from the bayous as America's 
Political Enemy Number One, at the same time linking him to 
his political soul-mate, the radio priest, Father Charles E. 
Coughlin. Pungently and aptly he has labeled this duo the 
Siamese Twins of chaos, calling on the economically sane ele 
ment of the nation to be on guard. His analysis indicates quite 
conclusively that the administration lost a shrewd and pene 
trating student of political conditions when it decided to exile 
Johnson to Elba. The former NRA chief, with a boldness 
truly Napoleonic, has pointed the way for the Roosevelt board 

[106] 



THE LONG WAT TO ATLANTIS [ 107 ] 

of strategy to follow, in seeking the President's reelection in 
1936. By taking the offensive, the administration might pos 
sibly wreck the Republican campaign posing as the cham 
pion of conservatism, as the chief antagonist of the left-wingers. 
If the President can make the American people believe that 
the battle is, in effect, a choice between himself and Huey Long, 
that a vote for the Republican candidate is half a vote for the 
Kingfish, he need have no fear of the result. The members of 
the Union League Club, fearing the onward march of the 
Share-the- Wealth crusader, would hold their high-bred noses 
and vote for Groton and Harvard's gift to the nation as being 
the lesser of two evils. 

That type of strategy would undoubtedly be forthcoming 
if the administration had political chiefs half as clever as they 
have been touted, yet the casual manner in which the bright 
young men have addressed themselves to the task of squelching 
the prickly pear from Louisiana would seem to indicate that 
they vastly underrate their opponent. The suave Mr. Farley 
has only recently taken official cognizance of the Kingfish 
jibes. Seemingly without a care in the world, he has assumed 
the attitude that the election of 1936, to use a sporting par 
lance so dear to his heart, is already "in the bag." Yet the 
Washington correspondents are already talking about a third 
party of forgotten men which will gather Father Goughlin's 
lambs into the same sheepfold with the humble Dixie tenant 
farmers who see in Huey a Messiah of the masses, a lowly 
David tossing rocks at the Goliath of Greed. 

It is a tragic truism that Huey Long could never have 
slugged his way to a position of power in Louisiana and in 
neighboring southern states if the maladjustments of the de 
pression had not shaken the faith the plain people of America 
have always had in rugged individualism. Five-cent cotton 
piled on the wharves of New Orleans and Galveston and 
Houston long ago sent heated temperatures to a new high in 
the "potlikker" precincts of the Deep South. A series of evic 
tions and a restriction of credit added fuel to the flames of the 
revolt against reason. The penalty placed upon the tenant 



[ io8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

farmer by the great minds of the AAA was the final straw. The 
boys at the forks of the creeks in Louisiana and Mississippi and 
Arkansas are now Democrats in name only. Still enduring 
miseries which the rest of the country has to some extent for 
gotten, they are ready to "kick the dog" to shake hands 
with the devil if his Satanic Majesty can contribute in any 
way to a lightening of their burdens. Since the Honorable 
Huey is considered in Louisiana the devil's own diplomatic 
representative here on earth, the "cajuns" and the crackers 
turn naturally to him for aid and comfort. 

Just how can Huey Long prove to be the bete noire of 
Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1 936? The answer is simple to those 
who recall with clarity the political election of 1924. At that 
time John W. Davis, the Democratic candidate, was ground 
between the upper millstone of Calvin Coolidge and the 
nether millstone of Robert Marion La Follette. The latter, 
without any considerable supply of sugar to sweeten the coffee 
of the politicians, yet went out into the highways and the 
byways, corralling five million votes with the aid of the 
American Federation of Labor, cutting so deeply into Demo 
cratic strength in states ordinarily loyal to the party that 
Goolidge won an overwhelming victory. Roosevelt today 
finds himself where John W. Davis was a decade ago, facing 
two ways to meet the assaults of a Republican and a radical, 
the latter the self-starting Huey Long. The menace to the 
President is obvious to all except that choice coterie of White 
House yes-men who seek to maintain the fiction that the 
Democratic party is a harmonious political entity. 

There are those who hold that the history of that Davis 
campaign can never be duplicated, that times have changed. 
It is true that the Republican party is at present drifting like a 
rudderless ship in a typhoon, yet the strength of the organiza 
tion remains unchanged, conserved by the rank and file of the 
voters. In 1934, the conservatives of the country, for lack of a 
better name, polled thirteen and a half million ballots, which 
would seem to be an irreducible minimum. That same year 
the Roosevelt vote totaled seventeen and a half million, at 



THE LONG WAT TO ATLANTIS [ 109] 

least one third of whom were leftists who still worshiped the 
President as the stanch foe of predatory privilege. Today 
that large group curse and condemn Mr. Roosevelt for not 
sponsoring the Townsend plan and the "Every-Man-a-King" 
movement of Huey, and other crackpot schemes for the better 
ment of the helot classes. 

An audacious man could stir this left wing of the Democratic 
party to a frenzy, could inspire them to turn on Roosevelt in a 
mad attempt to ruin him, and Huey Long is nothing if not 
audacious. He has everything to gain and nothing to lose 
from the attempt. Smarting under the efforts of the Farley 
postmasters to undermine his political power in Louisiana 
resenting to the utmost the intrusion of Federal agents engaged 
in the task of "getting" the Kingfish for alleged income tax 
invasions in Louisiana hating the present occupant of the 
White House for the political ingratitude he now displays in 
"persecuting" the man who stood at Armageddon and battled 
for him in the Democratic national convention of 1932 
Huey is the logical spearhead of the attack which the enthu 
siasts of the left may launch at the President in 1936. 

On the basis of the 1 934 election returns, Huey Long as the 
Poor Man's choice for President next year would have to draw 
only five million votes away from Mr. Roosevelt to elect a 
Republican, assuming that the party of Abraham Lincoln 
does not perform the politically stupid act of nominating a 
rank reactionary as its standard-bearer in 1936. A middle-of- 
the-road progressive, of the Arthur H. Vandenberg or Charles 
L. McNary type, could turn the trick, holding the entire 
strength of the Grand Old Party as mustered last year, and 
chiseling another two million voters from the Roosevelt right 
wing rugged individuals of the Alfred E. Smith type who 
felt that Herbert Hoover did too little, and who feel that his 
successor is doing too much, and in too many different ways. 
So, if the senator from Louisiana starts to bore from within; if 
this Pied Piper of Creoledom woos and wins that element 
which supported La Follette in 1924 and Roosevelt in 1932, 
Mr. Farley's complacency may receive a rude jolt long before 



[ i io ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

the election returns can be brought in and counted in 1936. 
All political realists, observing the country's present state 
of mind, will agree that the times are out of joint, that the 
electorate is in an essentially emotional mood, ripe for eco 
nomic mischief, ready to listen to any demagogue if his plea 
be plausible enough. The continuance of the depression, the 
presence of twenty million people on the relief rolls, constitute 
a trenchant challenge to the administration. If the nation's 
condition is not radically and rapidly improved between now 
and 1936, Mr. Roosevelt will be in a perilous position. 
Primitive tribes used to cut off the heads of rain-makers who 
failed to inundate the land after proper prayers had been 
offered. The President is in the position of the ancient rain 
maker, with the senator from Louisiana enacting the role of 
rival witch-doctor. 

TT IS patently impossible for the conventionally educated 
- citizens of America's upper-middle class to realize how real 
and remarkable is the appeal Huey Long makes to what Wil 
liam Allen White has so aptly labeled "the moron mind." 
Kansas is a staid and conservative state in ordinary years, yet 
in 1930 the "goat-gland" expert, Dr. John R. Brinkley, ran 
such a hectic third in the race for governor that the politicians 
along the Kaw have not yet recovered their balance. Huey 
Long is a far more potent leader than was the Kansan. In 
fact, the nation has never seen a more accomplished rabble- 
rouser in action. Compared to the Kingfish, the Populist 
prophets of a bygone day were errand boys for the House of 
Morgan. He is far more dangerous, because the popular mind 
of America is now more receptive to strange panaceas and 
cures for economic ills than it was when "Sockless Jerry" 
Simpson and Mary Ellen Lease and other trust-busting sod- 
busters were setting the prairies afire in the gay 'nineties. 

Even though Huey evades answering the question of his 
presidential candidacy in 1 936, it is fair to assume he will be 
entered in the race. The politically uninitiated will deem the 
man mad, yet there is method in his temerity. He has, as a 



THE LONG WAY TO ATLANTIS [ in ] 

candidate of a third party next year, a unique opportunity to 
punish and humiliate the present occupant of the White 
House. What are the possibilities? Mr. Roosevelt may win a 
majority of the electoral votes in a three-cornered fight. If so, 
the senator will remain on Capitol Hill, his bitter and most 
unrelenting critic. Mr. Roosevelt may be defeated by a 
Republican, the Kingfish drawing away from the President 
enough votes to beat him in doubtful states with large electoral 
votes. If that development ensues, Huey will not hesitate to 
claim credit for the Roosevelt downfall, and will be in an 
excellent position to pack the Democratic national convention 
of 1 940 with radicals, and to win a nomination. 

It is also more than possible that a three-cornered contest 
next year will end in a stalemate, no presidential candidate 
having captured a majority of the Electoral College. This 
denouement will depress Senator George W. Norris, who will 
feel that "there ought to be a law," but its immediate prac 
tical effect will be to throw the election into the House of 
Representatives. Since that body is overwhelmingly Demo 
cratic, Mr. Roosevelt will be sure of another four years in the 
White House, but at what a price ! The Democratic sons of the 
wild jackass will make him promise much in return for their 
allegiance and support. Nor will the Kingfish permit the public 
to forget that he was the deus ex machina who engineered the 
debacle. Modesty is not the senator's most charming trait. 

A Republican, elected President in 1936, would un 
doubtedly find himself deadlocked with a hostile House and 
Senate. The latter body will be indubitably Democratic, the col 
lapse of the G.O.P. campaign last year insuring its adherence 
to Rooseveltian principles until 1938 at least. The House might 
possibly be Republican, but it will more likely contain a 
variegated assortment of factional minorities, conservative, 
liberal and radical, all masquerading under improper and 
illogical names, each desperately determined to secure for its 
adherents the greatest possible subsidy out of the Federal 
treasury. Under the circumstances, it is easy to foresee a 
Republican President hopelessly handicapped as he tries to 



[ 1 12 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

formulate a social and economic program sharing the fate 
of Herbert Hoover who was so unfortunately saddled with 
a hostile House after the election of 1930. If Mr. Roosevelt is 
defeated in 1936, beaten by a G.O.P. candidate who cannot 
secure for himself the united support of Congress, the depres 
sion may deepen in intensity (unless industry, ignoring polit 
ical complications, can lift itself out of the abyss by its own 
bootstraps!). Then, with the machinery of recovery hopelessly 
clogged, Huey Long's hour will strike. 

If the Kingfish polls as many as five million votes in the 
coming campaign of 1936, he will be a power to reckon with 
in 1940. Time was when the younger La Follette, the eldest 
son of "Fighting Bob," was considered the white hope of the 
radicals. Wisconsin has always felt that its senior senator would 
ultimately reach the White House goal which eluded his 
father; but wiseacres at Washington know that Huey Long 
has overshadowed the heir to the La Follette tradition, 
bestriding the radical movement like a colossus. With all his 
leftist leanings, "Young Bob" is conventional in his approach 
to social and economic problems, whereas his Dixie rival is 
not confined to reality. He can promise the proletariat the 
moon with a fence around it, and such is the power of his 
personality that millions of addled Americans will rise up to 
call him blessed. 

Admittedly Huey must appeal to the radical element of the 
Northwest, and to the industrial workers of the urban areas, 
if he is to check and defeat Mr. Roosevelt in 1936. Will the 
Farmer-Laborites of Minnesota, the Progressives of Wisconsin, 
make common cause with a man whom honest Socialists 
distrust as a mountebank and demagogue of the lowest polit 
ical order? None can now say. If the President continues to 
"purge" the administration of its radicals, the sons of mort 
gaged soil will begin to believe that somebody has sold them 
out. In the first flush of their resentment at the man who 
promised them much at Green Bay, Wisconsin, last year, they 
will strike blindly, not stopping to decide whether Huey is a 
bona-fide radical, but using him to hurt Roosevelt. 



THE LONG WAY TO ATLANTIS [ 113] 

And what of the lunatic fringe which adheres to the Town- 
send plan? These will be in the Kingfish camp, especially if 
the social security program sponsored by the present Congress 
proves disappointing, as undoubtedly it will. Huey need not 
promise the fanatical followers of the Long Beach physician a 
single substantial thing. All he needs to do is to talk vaguely, 
but tearfully, of his "Every-Man-a-King" plan, to win the 
enthusiastic support of those pitiable aged who feel that the 
good things of life have been withheld from them through no 
fault of their own, and who have been told that America and 
some Americans are thoroughly able to provide for their 
luxurious welfare. 

Will not the fervent disciples of Father Coughlin be simi 
larly infected with the Long virus? It is reasonable to believe 
that they will, especially since Father Goughlin shows no 
inclination whatever to thrust himself as a candidate into the 
arena of American politics. With the reverend sir a spectator 
rather than a participant, Huey seems fated to win the political 
support of the priest's followers, especially since it is hard to 
discover where Father Goughlin's army leaves off and the 
Kingfish horde begins. There are undoubtedly overlapping 
boundaries which surround millions of economically infantile 
but politically formidable persons who are prepared to 
back either or both saints of the submerged, to the last ditch. 

A coalition which includes the Long and Goughlin follow- 
ings seems inevitable and, in its peculiar way, logical. It is not 
unfair to make the point that neither is flesh, fowl, nor herring. 
No one can tell if either is republican, communist or fascist; no 
one has plumbed the depths of their political philosophies; 
nor has anyone been able adequately to interpret their 
economic beliefs. There is a bond of kinship, there, which may 
be made manifest in 1936 when the unemployed automobile 
workers of Detroit will, perchance, tune in on the radio sets 
which have not yet been repossessed, and hear the Canadian- 
born spiritual confessor of the ether waves confer an eccle 
siastical blessing upon the Dixie politician who owed his 
earliest election victories in Louisiana to the massed and 



[ 1 14 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

machine-like support of the Ku Klux Klan. But those who 
think Huey cannot explain away this embarrassing highlight 
in his hectic political career cannot begin to fathom the 
mental ingenuity of the Kingfish. He has an answer for every 
question, he is as slippery as an eel, and those administration 
stalwarts who would fry him for their delectation are just 
beginning to find it out. 

Consider, if you will, the brass-bound nerve of the man. In 
his earlier days, the Kingfish roused the hot hatred of many a 
Creole foe, yet Fate must have destined him for higher things 
because no questing bullet ever found its mark in his body. He 
has the proverbial lives of a cat, and today safeguards his 
precious person with all the care of a Caesar who fears the 
lurking dagger of outraged civic virtue. Time was when Huey 
essayed to walk the streets of his native village, Winnfield, 
Louisiana, or of Shreveport or New Orleans, unescorted 
but those days are gone forever. Now, in his native state or in 
the national capital, he strides forth flanked by a shotgun 
brigade of personal attendants, who do not hesitate to thwack 
foes of the Kingfish over their hard heads at a curt word of 
command. Chief of this bodyguard, Joe Messina, is Huey's 
"Man Friday," one of the most adept "pistol- whippers" who 
ever cracked down on the unprotected skulls of those who 
dared to differ with the Creole man of destiny. 

The use of this standing army by any other public character 
in America would be considered outrageously indecent or too 
ludicrous for words. The Kingfish gets away with it because he 
has that ability to dramatize himself which is a necessary art 
for any would-be dictator. In Louisiana, or in the United 
States at large, he can point to this entourage of plug-uglies, 
and feelingly inform the plain people that they are the sole 
bulwarks between the champion of the masses and assassina 
tion. The Kingfish even manages to explain away that innate 
caution which causes him shyly to retreat when fists are 
swinging. Thus the sad affair at Sands Point, which ended in 
the Huey eye being thoroughly blacked, became, to hear the 
Kingfish tell it, a sinister attempt to end the career of one 



THE LONG WAY TO ATLANTIS [115] 

whose heart beats for the poor. The senator did not attempt 
to explain just how he happened to be consorting with the 
ungodly rich on that fatal evening he did not have to. The 
hill-billies understood; he was spying out the Promised Land, 
their Moses, their mentor, guide and friend. 

TN MAKING the inevitable comparison between Huey and 
* Hitler, one striking point of dissimilarity needs emphasizing. 
The Austrian house-painter who is today dictator of the Third 
Reich served humbly, but bravely, as a lance-corporal in a 
Bavarian infantry regiment during the World War. Huey, in 
contrast, though a most ardent advocate of the bonus, did not 
serve his native country in any capacity whatsoever when 
five million other citizens donned uniforms and went forth to 
make the world safe for the Democratic party. The Kingfish 
is refreshingly frank about this episode in his career. He has 
told senatorial critics that he did not think the late unpleasant 
ness was any of America's business anyhow. Huey did not lose 
caste with Louisiana's voters because he did not rush to the aid 
of Woodrow Wilson. On the contrary, the majority has 
whooped its ecstatic approval of his every official act since 1921 
when he first started to solicit the electorate's ballots. 

Americans inclined to jeer, rather than cheer, the antics of 
Huey would do well not to put him down for a clown. He is 
anything but that. The inelegant exterior masks a hair-trigger 
brain. As an attorney, he has been the admiration and despair 
of lesser legal lights. Some of his briefs, written in limpid and 
concise English, have found their way into the Supreme Court 
of the United States. The ridiculous postures he assumes at will 
are made to impress the mob, not the millionaire. Huey knows 
that the multitude have more votes than the Mellons and he 
plays his cards accordingly, his Louisiana legislature abolishing 
the poll-tax receipt which once kept thousands of potential 
Long supporters from exercising the God-given right of 
suffrage. Those who deride him as a buffoon would do well to 
recall that other political comedian, Adolph Hitler with the 
Charlie Chaplin mustache, who was, only a few short years 



[ 1 16 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ago, the butt of every joke which fell from the lips of official 
Germany. Today the Austrian is supreme. Heads have rolled 
since the Munich manoeuvres of 1923. 

A good quarter of America's population, it is safe to say, sees 
Huey Long as a pudgy Saint George slaying the dragons of 
privilege. When he surrounds himself with bodyguards, the 
average tenant farmer in the South considers the precaution 
reasonable, and intensifies his hatred for the landlord. When 
he engages disastrously in fisticuffs with some blueblood who 
prefers to remain incognito, the humble clerk, who shrinks 
from the menacing glance of his superior, feels curiously akin. 
There is an element of pathos in the man's make-up. The 
Uriah Keeps of the nation, the bookkeepers who would like 
to give their boss the Bronx cheer but dare not, the cotton- 
pickers who feel that about all they will get out of this life is 
cornpone and mustard greens, the pitifully impoverished cogs 
in the nation's industrial machine these are all grist for the 
Long mill. 

As a spokesman for the poor, deserving or not, Huey is in 
a class all by himself. He can quote Holy Writ with all the 
fervor of an Aimee Semple McPherson. He can gyrate around 
a political platform in a fashion to cause rural audiences to 
slap their knee with a collective hand, and vow Huey a 
"card" and a heap smarter than most men who have been 
exposed to a college education. He can invigorate the city 
toiler with a rude eloquence which makes him class-conscious 
and ready to man the barricades. 

The red thread of revolution runs through his entire dis 
course, whether it be delivered in the heart of the deep piney 
woods of Louisiana or in an urban labor temple. Oratory 
which would repel the classes sounds like sweet music in the 
ears of the masses. Like Texas' only impeached governor, 
James A. (Farmer Jim) Ferguson, Huey can express his 
thoughts in sonorous and classical English. He proved that, at 
the Democratic national convention in 1932, when he put his 
best rhetorical foot foremost in defending his state delegation's 
right to cast its votes for Roosevelt at Chicago. Like "Pa" 



THE LONG WAT TO ATLANTIS [ 117] 

Ferguson, Huey can appeal to the intellectual or to the emo 
tional at will. He weeps with the afflicted, jests with the jolly, 
storms with the vindictive, argues gravely with the mentally 
alert, and, in general, comports himself like a politician who is 
all things to all men. 

Snubbed and scorned by the Garter Glasses of the United 
States Senate, he has bounded back from the stony wall of 
their ostracism with all the resiliency of a rubber ball. He has 
been scored as an errant rabble-rouser without a spark of 
civic conscience by the sedate and more sober members of the 
body politic, yet he has managed to enslave the imaginations 
of twenty-five percent of the nation's voters. A political 
alliance which would include the tenant farmers of the South, 
the Townsend dreamers of the North, the Goughlin Union for 
Social Justice, and all the other starry-eyed addicts of Utopian 
narcotics is in the making and coming months will see its 
parts welded into a homogeneous whole by the masterful 
hand of Louisiana's Long. That is the unpleasant prospect 
facing those Americans who still believe that all voters are 
moved not by prejudice but by conviction the simple souls 
who cherish the delusion that the political leaders of today, as 
of yesterday, seek the common good and not the enrichment of 
the predatory rich or of the equally predatory poor. 

If it be possible to unite all the groups in the nation which 
repudiate the safe and sane tactics of those who are trying 
desperately to resuscitate the private profit system, Huey 
Long is undoubtedly the proper man for the job. He has 
humor and imagination and daring beyond the ken of states 
men who timidly cling to Constitutional safeguards. He is not 
overly-burdened with scruples where politics are concerned, 
is a good hater after the fashion of the fanatic, has a memory 
like an elephant, and an effective way of rewarding his friends 
and punishing his enemies. 

An actor to his finger-tips, the Kingfish possesses color 
galore, as well as a vaulting ambition which will stop at no 
obstacle in the furtherance of his desires. Under the motley 
array of the court-jester, shrewd observers may, if they will, 



[ 1 1 8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

discern the outlines of a rugged mail shirt which clothes one 
who believes implicitly that he has a rendezvous with 
Destiny. Huey Long, however much he may appear the clown, 
is firmly convinced that he is Fortune's Fool, and waits im 
patiently for the day when he can call the storm troopers of a 
newer deal into action, for a purge which will remove from 
America all vestiges of the old and established order. This man 
has faith in his star, even though some there are who call that 
star evil. 



Librar V 



T> 

roem 



BY ONE OF OUR EARLIEST CONTRIBUTORS 

Not that from life, and all its woes 
The hand of death shall set me free; 
Not that this head, shall then repose 
In the low vale most peacefully. 

Ah, when I touch time's farthest brink, 

A kinder solace must attend; 

It chills my very soul, to think 

On that dread hour when life must end. 

In vain the flatt'ring verse may breathe, 
Of ease from pain, and rest from strife, 
There is a sacred dread of death 
Inwoven with the strings of life. 

This bitter cup at first was given 
When angry justice frown'd severe, 
And 'tis th' eternal doom of heaven 
That man must view the grave with fear. 

. . . . Yet a few days, and thee, 
The all-beholding sun, shall see no more, 
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground, 
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears, 
Nor in th' embrace of ocean shall exist 
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim 

[119] 



[ 120 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Thy growth, to be resolv'd to earth again; 
And, lost each human trace, surrend'ring up 
Thine individual being, shalt thou go 
To mix forever with the elements, 
To be a brother to th' insensible rock 
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain 
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak 
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould. 
Yet not to thy eternal resting place 
Shalt thou retire alone nor couldst thou wish 
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down 
With patriarchs of the infant world with kings 
The powerful of the earth the wise, the good, 
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, 
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills, 
Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun, the vales 
Stretching in pensive quietness between; 
The venerable woods the floods that move 
In majesty, and the complaining brooks, 
That wind among the meads, and make them green, 
Are but the solemn decorations all, 
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, 
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven 
Are glowing on the sad abodes of death, 
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread 
The globe are but a handful to the tribes 
That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings 
Of morning and the Borean desert pierce 
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods 



POEM [ 121 ] 

That veil Oregon, where he hears no sound 

Save his own dashings yet the dead are there, 

And millions in those solitudes, since first 

The flight of years began, have laid them down 

In their last sleep the dead reign there alone. 

So shalt thou rest and what if thou shalt fall 

Unnoticed by the living and no friend 

Take note of thy departure? Thousands more 

Will share thy destiny. The tittering world 

Dance to the grave. The busy brood of care 

Plod on, and each one chases as before 

His favourite phantom. Yet all these shall leave 

Their mirth and their employments, and shall come 

And make their bed with thee ! 



A Pinch of Snuff 

MARY ELLEN CHASE 

THERE was a premature hint of October in the air that 
Saturday morning in late August when Judith Blair fol 
lowed the family cow from barn to pasture. The high song of 
the crickets was thin and clear, and not the most vagrant of 
breezes disturbed the smoke ascending so lazily from all the 
kitchen fires. The fog and mist of dog-days had vanished long 
before their allotted time. A quiet brooded over the fields and 
hills. Even Constancy, the cow, seemed absorbed by a peace 
and contemplation sadly at variance with the tumult which 
was assailing Judith's mind and heart. 

To the outward eye she, too, following the cow in her blue 
gingham dress, looked calm and uneventful enough. Only the 
most searching of gazes might have detected an anxious look 
about her mouth and eyes, might have noticed that she did not 
swing her berry-pail or lift her feet in just the most spritely 
fashion. Mr. Robinson, the druggist, going early to open his 
store for the trade which Monday's commencement of school 
threatened, could not possibly have known that her good- 
morning, especially to him, was fraught with misgiving. Nor 
could Mrs. Meeker, the minister's wife, hanging on the line 
the last of a washing which had dawdled all through the week, 
have possibly detected anything but friendliness in the wave 
of her hand. 

Just before leaving the parsonage and church on her left 
as she ascended the hill, she stopped for a moment to shoo back 
into the house one of the youngest Meekers, evidently escaped 
unclad from whomever was dressing him for the day. It was a 
bit of that responsibility which all the church felt for the 
minister's large and ever-increasing family; and for an instant 
Judith forgot her own anxieties in undertaking it. As she 
turned again toward Constancy, she heard from Mr. Meeker 's 
study a resounding sneeze, followed by others in quick suc 
cession. There was an odd, triumphant quality about them 

[122] 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 123 ] 

which unmistakably denied that Mr. Meeker was suffering 
from a cold. In spite of the sinking of her heart which these 
sounds occasioned, Judith forgot herself sufficiently for the 
moment to hope her mother had not heard them across the 
intervening field. Only the evening before, she knew, certain 
influential members of the parish had met to discuss the 
Reverend Mr. Meeker 's failings as a pastor, among which, to 
climax an ineffective wife and a family of nine, was the dis 
gusting habit of snuff-taking. Hard pressed by her own 
imminent problems, Judith felt suddenly sorry for the min 
ister. Life, she told herself, was at times a dark and perplexing 
experience, and one's own sufferings, whatever they were, 
engendered sympathy for others. 

She almost forgot the berry-pail in letting down the pasture 
bars for Constancy, and had to retrace her steps along the path. 
Her cheeks were crimson as she stooped for it among the bay- 
berries. She had asked permission to linger an hour or two to 
search for blackberries in a burned-over place farther up the 
hill. The tangled web of deceit was tightening fast about her 
as she resolutely turned in the other direction and, with one 
startled glance behind her, began to traverse a path which led 
downward through a rocky, brook-swept gulley and thence 
into the deep fir woods of the lower pasture. 

It would be at least half an hour before Benny could possibly 
join her at the place agreed upon in the fir thicket. And then 
only under the most propitious of circumstances. His own cow 
must first be safely pastured and his errand to the drug store 
successfully completed. Probably, however, he would not 
have to ask permission at home for his morning's absence. In 
such matters boys were more free than girls. She bit her lip 
both at the vexatious admission and at the remembrance of 
the controversy which it brought in its wake. Had it not been 
for Benny's accusation that girls could never be depended on 
to stand by in a tight place, she might at this moment be 
reading "Great Expectations" in the crotch of the old pear- 
tree instead of enduring this dreadful quaking sensation in 
the pit of her stomach. 



[ 124] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

But she had given her word and here she was ! Come what 
might she would stand firm. Discovery and punishment were 
almost certain. She would endure them! Inevitably she must 
disgrace and disappoint her family. What must be should be ! 
Visions of dauntless women Queen Zenobia before Pal 
myra, Joan of Arc at Orleans came before her eyes for an 
instant, summoned doubtless by the ring in her ears of her 
unuttered words, but all too suddenly they vanished, and the 
quaking returned. 

From the sunny hill-slope above her a crimson streak cut 
the bright air, and a scarlet tanager began to bathe in the 
amber water of the brook. At another time she had stood in 
rapturous entrancement at seeing his brilliant, fluttering 
plumage starred with crystal drops. Now she thought only 
of Benny and his strange commission. Surely, even Mr. Robin 
son, the dullest of men, would be suspicious of such a purchase. 
The tanager flew away. Two white and friendly butterflies, 
circling about each other, settled for an instant on a tall stalk 
of Joe-Pye weed by the water. She envied them their careless 
ness. What should she do if by some hateful chance the third 
and fated creature of this assignation should come first? 
How could she herself, inwardly protesting against the whole 
matter, meet such a complication? 

She was mercifully spared such a solution. By the time she had 
entered the fir woods and braced her back for strength against 
the great boulder there, a crashing through the huckleberries 
at the other end of the thicket gave immediate place to a 
hurrying boy, whose flushed and perspiring face showed signs 
of relief as he joined her by the rock. 

"If you hadn't come, Judy, I'd . . . after all you've 
promised." 

She glared back at him. "Didn't I tell you I'd come?" 

"Don't get huffy! I know girls. And anyway I've had the 
dirty work to do. I thought at first Robinson wouldn't give 
it to me." 

She bolstered herself against her own fears. "But you had 
the money, and he didn't know who 'twas for." 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 125 ] 

Something in his face lent indecision to her last clause. Her 
eyes widened with suspicion. 

"Did it cost more than ten cents?" 

He reddened to his ears and fumbled among his pockets for 
the dirtiest of handkerchiefs while she stared mercilessly at 
him. He gulped with the burden of the explanation. 

"Don't be mad. I'll tell you. Dick Reed was waiting for me 
at the pasture. I've owed him a dime since June and he threat 
ened me with telling something we did two weeks ago. What 
could I do? I didn't have a bit of a come-back with his folks 
away until Christmas. Anyone could see that. With all the 
trouble I've been in lately, what else could I do but give it 
to him?" 

She was staring now, not at him but at a bulging pocket. 
Her mouth felt dry and queer. 

"But you got it! How?" 

He brightened. Whatever the odds, he had not been beaten. 
He looked at her with sly triumph. 

"I charged it to Mr. Meeker." 

"Benny!" The enormity of what he had done was too over 
powering for more words. 

His own sense of disaster was still dulled by this master 
stroke of diplomacy. 

"Well, I had to have it, didn't I, with the plans all made and 
him coming?" His voice took on a tone of patronage. "Now 
don't worry. We've got our hands full enough without worry 
ing about that. Robinson was all right after he'd eyed me for a 
minute and I'd eyed him back. Meeker always charges it. 
Haven't I heard him say a hundred times, 'And- I'll thank you 
kindly, Mr. Robinson, to put this on my account.' If worse 
comes to worst, I'll fix it up with Mr. Meeker. I'll I'll 
even apologize." 

His magnanimity could not dull the sickening fear in 
Judith's heart. She braced herself again for support against 
the boulder. And then the distant thud of a falling log brought 
them both to the affair of the moment. 

"That's Boshy," said Benny in a high, excited whisper. 



[ 126 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

"That's him. Any other fellow' d climb the fence. Now remem 
ber, Judy, you've made a bet that you can help me. Remember 
there's half a dozen kids that would ha' been glad of the 
chance, but I chose you because he's got you in bad, too, and 
because you said you was as good as any boy. Don't lose your 
nerve! Just do as I tell you, and when. We aren't going to 
hurt him to speak of, and he deserves it all." 

As the sound of approaching footsteps on the gravel of the 
gulley grew unmistakably nearer, Judith's doubts and fears 
gave place to a terrifying and yet not entirely unpleasurable 
excitement. There was, in spite of her misgivings, a kind of 
tumultuous satisfaction in this dearly-bought vengeance upon 
one whom she heartily detested as a whiner and a tell-tale. 
There was, too, a guilty sense of admiration of Benny's 
daring, his readiness to risk cataclysmic disaster for the sake 
of revenge. The sinking feeling in her stomach gave way to a 
shivery, prickly sensation from her head to her toes. She drew 
nearer her chief. Now that the moment was coming, she knew 
she should not fail. 

"What was the warning?" she whispered, pleasantly con 
scious for the moment of her part in the conspiracy. "The 
black spot or the skull and bones?" 

"Both," said Benny, his voice sepulchral and his eyes like 
two points of light in the shadow of the trees. "I gave him the 
paper this morning. The spot above and the skull below and a 
red hand pointing to where it said we'd burn his buildings if 
he didn't come or if he dared tell. He'll be here in a minute. 
I'll speak first, Judy, and then you can, and then I'll hold him 
upside down because that'll be hardest while you give it 
to him." 

For an instant Judith pondered the relative guilt of their 
behavior, but only for an instant. There was no time for a 
possible reapportionment of responsibility. A blue blouse 
slunk through the juniper and a boy stumbled into the thicket 
and looked with pale, frightened eyes upon his summoners 
and accusers. Judith felt a sudden and confusing rush of pity. 
Hateful as he was, he seemed small and weak prey for such 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 127 ] 

initiative and courage as hers and Benny's. She wished he 
would fight for himself, but she knew him, alas, too well. He 
stood, furtive and whimpering before them like some cornered 
animal who knows that running is of no avail. 

Benny, rummaging in another pocket, drew forth a paper. 
For a moment Judith's sympathy for the captive gave way to a 
sudden fury of envy. That was like Benny not to give her an 
equal chance. She could have written her charges as well as he. 
She hated him, as, mounting hurriedly upon a shelf of the 
boulder, he began to read, and yet there was bitter admiration 
even in her hatred. No wonder that his teachers said he was 
equal to any occasion. 

"William, better known as Boshy Dobbins," he began in the 
high, masterful voice he reserved for school recitals and 
debates, "you are brought before us to speak for yourself. We 
accuse you, but we are fair judges. I will speak first and then," 
with a magnanimous wave of his hand in the direction of 
Judith, "this lady. You will not be punished unfairly. Sir, I 
accuse you of snooping on me and telling tales. In the six 
months you have lived in our midst you have three times in 
jured my reputation." (In spite of herself Judith glowed 
with pride at Benny's dignity!) "You have lied, sir, to my 
father, once about my stealing your Sunday-school money, 
which you gave me of your own free will, and once" here 
Benny looked up from his paper and eyed the prisoner with a 
black and awful glance "about the cookies you stole your 
self from your own kitchen. But yesterday you did a worse 
thing. After we had let you in on the plan to scare the new 
teacher and sworn you to solemn secrecy, you gave us all 
away." (Again that black look at the trembling Boshy, and 
again that persistent, clutching admiration in Judith's throat. 
Could this be Benny whose cries only last evening from his own 
stable had so chilled her sympathetic heart?) "What have you 
to say for yourself? Speak ! We are ready to listen." 

His first sins forgotten and overshadowed, the accused 
strove to clear himself of the enormity of the last. Plucking at a 
leg of his trousers with one dirty hand, he used the other to 



[ 128 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

wipe away his tears, leaving grimy streaks all over his face. 

"I only s-s-sneezed," he blubbered. Stuttering was one of 
the countless infirmities which made him so generally in 
tolerable. 

His written accusation at an end, Benny folded the paper 
before he proceeded to trust to oral inspiration. 

"Only!" he cried. "Was'nt that enough? You're always 
sneezing in the wrong places and at the wrong times, and it's 
got to stop!" 

He took a menacing lunge forward, but Judith, too, moved 
suddenly, determined that he should not forget her part in the 
occasion. Boshy slunk backward toward the juniper where he 
made a last stand. A hint of Benny's rhetoric crept into his 
tearful voice. 

"Can I help sneezing?" he cried. "It's an af-affliction. My 
mother says so. It's nerves, that's what it is." 

"Nonsense," said Benny, his voice frigid. Judith laid a 
detaining hand upon his arm. He greeted it with annoying 
patronage. 

"All right, you can speak now. William Dobbin, the lady 
will speak. Go on, Judy." 

Judith backed against the boulder. Evidently Benny did not 
intend to relinquish the platform to her. Still resentful of the 
march he had stolen, she chose her words with care. 

"William Dobbin, I accuse you, too. Three days ago in our 
attic when we were reading the murder story and when we'd 
all promised to whisper, you sneezed so loud that the whole 
house heard. We've told you how to stop sneezing, but you 
won't do it. We play with you because your father's dead and 
your mother's sick, and then you disgrace us!" She stopped 
suddenly and looked to Benny for commendation, but he was 
not looking at her at all. She flushed with added annoyance 
and chagrin. "It cannot longer be borne!" she cried in an 
impressive climax that echoed through the quiet thicket. 

If Benny felt approbation, he evinced none, but her dis 
appointment was for the moment dulled by his call for action. 
His pronouncement of the sentence was brief and lacked the 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 129 ] 

dignity of the carefully prepared accusation. He grimaced. 

"And now you're going to sneeze till you're tired, till you're 
all sneezed out!" 

Judith's misgivings returned, increased one hundredfold, as, 
jumping from the platform of the boulder, he seized the crimi 
nal who by this time was white with terror. How could she be 
a party to anything so terrible as this which her unwilling 
hands were even now helping to perform? Benny was holding 
the struggling offender backward so that his poor, rabbit-like 
nose formed an easy receptacle for the brown powder which 
she held. And she, loathing her every act, was stuffing it 
generously into his wet and quivering nostrils. 

Its almost immediate effectiveness staid her hand. Poor 
Boshy's strugglings gave way to splutterings and chokings. 
There ensued sneezings so alarming in their swift succession 
and in their portentous character that she herself became pale 
with awful dread. What if he could never stop? What if those 
long and horrible stranglings which seemed to come from his 
very toes should kill him there in the thicket? She looked 
imploringly at Benny. He stood like one completely satisfied 
with the working out of an incomparable strategy. Not a hint 
of remorse or fear lurked about his face as he watched the 
hurtling, stertorous boy striving to keep his feet among the 
junipers and huckleberries. She was swept again with hatred 
for him, for all boys and their cruelties. 

But after five minutes of unintermittent sneezing sneezing 
which smote the quiet air with rhythmic concussions forboding 
ominous echoes of sound even Benny was alarmed. He 
offered no objection to her frantic proposal that they lead the 
sufferer along the path to the brook. In fact, he proffered a 
hand for so doing, although his air of impatient nonchalance 
conveyed unmistakably his scorn of her more merciful fears. 
Obviously his one concern was not for Boshy, but only lest 
this unnecessary and unexpected uproar should travel farther 
than he had anticipated. Indeed, at the brook he would 
carelessly have added drowning to suffocation in the list of his 
mortal sins, had not Judith, hurling the package of snuff in the 



[ 1 30 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

grass at the water's edge, insisted upon humane treatment and 
used her own berry-pail and handkerchief in an attempt to 
extricate from Boshy's nose the few accessible grains of powder. 
To her the few minutes required for even a relative recovery 
seemed an eternity. The "nerves" which Boshy had advanced 
as the cause of his affliction in its natural state doubtless played 
their part in this, its preternatural. Judith felt sure that had 
each separate grain of snuff brought forth by itself one sneeze, 
all had long since been accounted for! But by interminable 
degrees the culprit, whose guilt to her mind seemed expiated 
forevermore, grew at last quiet and was induced by his 
accusers to ascend the hill toward a warm, bright blueberry 
patch there to dry himself and his tears. 

SITTING there in the sunshine Judith became again painfully 
aware of the contrast between the peace of the quiet pasture 
and the confusion of at least two of its inmates. Benny, she 
knew, was still obdurate, though she saw by his manner that 
he had some plan of reconciliation well in mind. She had seen 
him in too many exigencies not to be reasonably certain that 
he would arrange as skillfully as might be for his own security 
against possibly disastrous consequences. She hated the 
reluctant admiration, which she could not control, for his 
apparent coolness in the face of this superlative effectiveness 
of their carefully laid plans, and hated more her dependence 
upon him. Something deep within her, deeper even than 
hatred, made her long to comfort the weary Boshy, whose 
sneezing and sobs alike had given place to injured humility 
and acquiescence. But she dared not move or speak. One last 
surreptitious sneeze, hastily buried among the blueberries, 
gave the signal for Benny to close the final scene of an overlong 
tragedy. 

"That'll do, Boshy!" he said sternly. "That's the last. We've 
both told you how to stop them. Hold on to your mouth and 
think of something else. And now everything's over, we're 
ready to be friends with you. Aren't we, Judy?" 

"Yes," faltered Judith. Involuntarily she put out her hand 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 131 ] 

toward Boshy, but drew it back before Benny's scornful 
glance. 

"That is, we're willing on one condition. You tell one word 
of what's happened this morning and we become your ene 
mies, ready for anything. You don't know this village and 
what's happened here. Right in this pasture there was a man 
hanged to a tree. For what? For stealing and telling lies! And 
another was left out here all night tied hand and foot. And 
when they came for him in the morning, could they find him? 
I'm here to tell you NO!" 

Boshy, sitting up pale and trembling, glanced apprehen 
sively about the pasture at the hazels reddening under the 
late August sun, at the brown, rock-strewn hummocks, and at 
Constancy meandering heavily toward the brook for a drink 
in the pool. Its outward semblance suggested no such horrors. 

"William Dobbin," continued Benny, feeling for his paper 
as though the renewed force of his eloquence must be miracu 
lously inscribing words thereon, "stand up like a man. Cross 
your heart and repeat after me these words: I swear never to 
breathe by word or look what has justly happened to me this morning" 

Judith listened, still tormented, in spite of her sickening 
desire to be done with a bad business, by that irritating pride 
in Benny, while Boshy took the oath. Then she followed 
Benny's lead in grasping his limp hand. 

"Now we are friends," announced the master of ceremonies. 
"And, William Dobbin, that is no slight thing. Judy and I can 
make things easy for you in this village, or we can make them 
hard. We've got followers here who'll do as we say. We . . ." 

A strange and terrifying sound, reverberating through the 
stillness, shattered his words into bits. It was a sound, ante 
diluvian, prehistoric, a sound that might have mangled the 
atmosphere of an older world before man had begun to run 
his sad, and woman her sadder, race thereon. One knew 
instinctively that it was no human sound. Those mighty 
heavings, those horrible, deep-mouthed exhalations, those 
stertorous, ear-splitting strangles they came from the ani 
mal world and might well have pierced and ruptured its 



[ i 3 2 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ancient and awful peace before God had created Man. 

For a few frightful seconds the children on the hillside were 
frozen with fear. Brought up in an unrelenting creed that 
taught the interposition of God in the affairs of men, they 
were at first seized with the thought of a swift and heavenly 
punishment. And then Judith detected through the intricacies 
of those unfamiliar reverberations the unmistakable accents 
of a voice she knew and loved. The glimpse through a clump 
of birches by the brook of a dun-colored hide which rose and 
fell in portentous motion confirmed her worst fears. Constancy 
had discovered and subsequently consumed the generous 
remainder of the bag of snuff! 

With white lips, and legs which almost refused to carry her, 
she tore down the hill followed by the two boys, who forgot 
the past in the unexpected and awful catastrophe of the 
present. Benny, now that the first moment of fright was over, 
was irritated beyond expression by this unfortunate turn in 
affairs which portended almost inevitable discovery; Boshy 
knew no emotion except increasing terror; Judith was struck 
by a remorse so great that the worst of punishments seemed 
infinitesimal indeed. 

Constancy stood among the birches near the brook. Her 
first paroxysms had given place to those of lesser volume and 
frequency. She was calm and contemplative even in the midst 
of tribulation. Whenever her spasms permitted the indulgence, 
she chewed her cud quite as though nothing extraordinary 
had occurred. As he noted these signs of improvement in her 
condition, Benny's courage rose. But Judith saw in her mild 
gaze only disillusionment and reproach, and, her self-control 
completely at an end, burst into a torrent of tears. 

Benny, be it said to his diminishing credit, stooped (and 
on the whole not ungraciously) to the role of comforter. 

"Don't worry, Judy," he begged. "She's all right. A dime's 
worth of snuff can't hurt a great old cow like her. She got an 
extra dose where you threw it all in the grass I must say 
'twas careless of you and it probably scared her, too, like 
Boshy and made her nervous." 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 133 ] 

He spied the empty berry-pail floating unconcernedly on 
the pool and began to fill it with water, while Judith stood 
with her arm around the neck of Constancy. The cow sub 
mitted to a generous nasal irrigation and after ten minutes, 
broken only occasionally by deep-throated coughs, seemed 
wholly restored to her former placidity. 

Still suffering his tone to be gentle as he saw that Judith's 
grief was unabated, Benny prepared to lead Constancy deeper 
into the pasture. 

"We'll take her to the fir thicket," he said, "where she can't 
be heard if she starts another racket. And then if we don't 
want to be suspected of anything, we'd better get home. I've 
got the lawn to mow. You can help me, Boshy, if you like," he 
added graciously. 

Swept by a host of conflicting emotions and impulses, Judith 
followed the procession into the thicket. In spite of Constancy's 
apparent restoration to health, she knew she ought to confess 
the whole miserable affair to her father lest the injury to the 
cow should prove more than superficial. But that she could 
not do without involving Benny and reaping his neglect and 
scorn, the latter not only for herself but for the whole race of 
girls. Self-preservation, too, was strong within her. Punish 
ment in itself was bad enough, but the long days of subsequent 
embarrassment and disgrace were more than she could bear. 
And finally, not the strongest and yet the most insistent and 
painful of her griefs, was the wrong done to Constancy herself, 
for whom years of guardianship and protection had woven an 
indissoluble affection and friendship. 

Ashamed, yet governed by a miserable necessity and fear, 
she acquiesced in the tethering of the cow to a fir-stump, and 
left the pasture with the boys by a short cut through the 
huckleberries. Nor were her feelings assuaged by the recogni 
tion of a tacit understanding between them, which her recent 
tears and her sympathy for Constancy had evidently engen 
dered. More than once on their way down the hill she caught 
a sly wink from Benny and its eager reception by Boshy, now 
totally restored to favor and compliance. 



[ 134 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

At the parsonage they were halted by the sudden appear 
ance at the gate of Mr. Meeker. Boshy, in spite of real effort, 
could not check several nervous sneezes. As her own heart 
stilled, Judith saw Benny's ears crimson to their tips. The 
interview, brief and not unkindly, was fraught with uneasiness 
and suspicion. 

"It would give me pleasure," said Mr. Meeker, always 
formal in his address, "to see you three young people in my 
study this evening. Eight will be the hour." 

They did not speak as they trailed homeward. Not until 
they reached the driveway at Benny's house was a word said. 
But during that portentous silence at least one mind had been 
operative, for Benny, as Judith started on, spoke in a husky 
whisper. 

"I'm spokesman tonight, and you two follow my lead. 
Don't forget now. And, Boshy, your part is to keep quiet. 
There's only one thing you can do and that's to lend me a 
dime. And have it tonight without fail, do you hear?" 

Fifteen minutes later Judith, hearing from the crotch of the 
pear-tree the click of the lawn-mower, knew that for the 
moment all was outwardly well. She herself had been saved 
from too pertinent questioning as to her empty berry-pail by 
her mother's preparation for the church sewing-circle, meet 
ing that afternoon. The morning passed, filled with appre 
hensions and the straining of wary ears toward the distant 
pasture. Dinner brought only a passing comment on her 
flushed cheeks and lack of appetite. The afternoon found her 
again in the old tree, apparently deep in "Great Expecta 
tions" but in reality torn by the consciousness that Pip, in 
spite of grave robbers and even of Quilp, had endured no such 
torture as that which she was forced to undergo. At two, her 
mother called to her from half-way down the street. She had 
forgotten her thimble. Would Judith procure it from her 
sewing-basket and bring it at once to the church? 

In a few minutes time Judith was standing, thimble in hand, 
in the church vestry, on the outskirts of a hollow square 
bordered and bounded by the industrious ladies of the parish 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 135 ] 

with their various handiwork. Unnoticed by her mother and 
careful lest she interrupt, she stood quietly by while Mrs. 
Meeker, who as wife of the minister acted as chairman of the 
gathering, opened the preliminary business meeting. Mrs. 
Meeker, it was plain to be seen, was nervous. Something more 
serious than the knowledge that she had dressed too hastily 
after the completion of her Monday's wash, done on Saturday, 
was causing this fluttering of her hands, this unseasonal moist 
ure on her wide forehead. The ladies, busy with threading 
their needles and with distributing the tools of their trade be 
side themselves on the long settees, were less aware than Judith 
of her extreme self-consciousness. It is not surprising then 
that at her first words there came a simultaneous dropping of 
implements, of tatting and knitting and crochet, of aprons, 
undergarments, and towels, and a simultaneous lifting of 
astonished eyes to Mrs. Meeker 's flushed and perspiring face. 

"Mr. Meeker and I think it fitting at this time that I an 
nounce to to the ladies of the sewing circle that he has 
willingly given up the the one indulgence which has 
possibly stood in the way of his finest influence in the parish. 
The habit of snuff- taking was inherited; but it is now, due to 
Mr. Meeker 's sense of his responsibility a thing of the past." 
Mrs. Meeker cleared her throat impressively and wiped her 
forehead. "'If meat cause my brother to offend,' she quoted 
clearly, and with precisely the right emphasis, C I will eat no 
meat.'" 

Judith dropped the thimble into her mother's lap and 
hurriedly tiptoed from the room. What she had heard was 
enough; the consequences of what was doubtless forthcoming 
she must endure later. She ran through the field that stretched 
from the rear of the church to the fence of Constancy's pasture, 
crawled between the rails, and made her miserable way to the 
fir thicket. There was Constancy, to all appearances in ex 
cellent health, still patiently tethered to the fir stump. 

TTOW she spent the long hours of that wretched afternoon 
* Judith never quite remembered. Tears, she recalled in 



[ 136 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

later years, and long and relentless self-accusations. She recalled, 
too, the gathering of tender and succulent grasses and clover 
from the adjoining field and her feeding them to the cow 
whom she did not dare untether before the fateful milking- 
time lest a return of her malady might penetrate beyond the 
pasture. But when the church clock struck six, she knew she 
could delay no longer, and she and Constancy started on their 
homeward way. 

Without accident or incident they reached the barn, nor 
could Judith discern aught amiss in her father as he received 
them, or in her mother as she helped prepare supper. Had Mrs. 
Meeker then not explained to whom offense had been given? 

"I have news for you," said Mrs. Blair after the family was 
safely launched on beans and brown bread. Obviously she 
spoke to her husband, but the four young Blairs suspended 
eating. The eldest of them, unseen by the others, steadied 
herself against her chair. "Mr. Meeker has given up his 
snuff." 

Mr. Blair dropped his fork. 

"Well, I'll be ... !" 

"John!" warned Mrs. Blair, the dismay and protection 
alike in her voice which Judith had heard so often. 

"What's struck him?" asked Mr. Blair. One could tell from 
his tone that he looked upon Mr. Meeker as a creature from 
another planet. 

"He thinks it's a bad influence on some people, that it's 
causing them to offend, as Mrs. Meeker said. Oh, Judy, dear! 
Do be more careful!" 

Judith rose from her seat to repair the damage from her 
overturned glass, thankful for the added confusion that might 
well explain her flushed face. 

"Well, it's d all-fired offensive the way he takes it, 

I'll say that. Grandfather Blair took snuff for years I've 
seen him take it by handfuls without a single sneeze." 

Judith found her voice. 

"Is is it just the first time, father, that makes them 
sneeze? Won't it last?" 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 137 ] 

Her father laughed until he caught a glimpse of her face. 

"I don't know, my dear. Nowadays decent people smoke. 
What's wrong, Judy? You look tired. You're growing too fast." 

The kindness in his voice brought tears to her eyes and 
throat, but she choked them back. This day's business was not 
yet over for her. The time was coming, and that soon, when 
he would not be so kind. 

The dishes washed and the younger Blairs in bed, Fate cast 
a single blessing in the removal of her parents, who were in 
vited to drive by unsuspecting neighbors. She met Benny and 
Boshy at the gate outside the parsonage, in which confusion 
above-stairs betokened the bed-time of the young Meekers. 
A swift passage from Boshy 's hand to Benny's proved that the 
former had been faithful to his trust. There was a whispered 
warning from Benny as they traversed the worn planks of 
the front walk. The minister, somewhat dishevelled from 
domestic duties, ushered them into the study. 

Now Mr. Meeker with fewer children, a different wife, and 
more time for contemplation, would not, it is safe to say, have 
been a man entirely devoid of humor. A more circumspect 
gaze than any which the three before him were able to give 
at that moment would, indeed, have revealed a slight quiver 
ing about his thin lips as he motioned them to be seated. He 
himself stood, his coat awry, his thumbs in the armholes of his 
waistcoat, and studied their downcast faces. It was he who 
now held the balance of power, he who could, or would not, 
maintain the status quo! 

"I shall not keep you long," he said. "It will soon be your 
bed- time. But I need help in my work, and I am asking you to 
give it. I am constrained to do so by my friend, Mr. Robinson, 
the druggist. He told me only this morning, in fact, that you 
in particular, Benjamin, are a lad of rare initiative and leader 
ship. The Christian Endeavor Society is sadly in need of 
recuperation and new energy, and I have chosen you with 
these others to give it that new life. The pledges are on the 
table, and here is my pen." 

Benny, who in spite of his self-appointment to the position 



[ 138 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

of spokesman seemed to have nothing to say, was the first to 
sign. And yet he walked toward the table with eagerness in 
his step. Could he, thought Judith to herself, be feeling as she 
felt? Was it possible that his heart under his clean white blouse 
was beating like her own? One might have thought, as he 
seized Mr. Meeker' s pen, that he himself had written the 
pledges, that his signature was merely an added affidavit of 
his zeal for the Christian Endeavor Society! He wrote his 
name in large, round letters, gazed at it appraisingly, redotted 
the i in "Benjamin," and gave the pen with an air of conde 
scension into her trembling fingers. 

They almost forgot Boshy in the signing. People always did 
forget Boshy except when he thwarted their plans by his 
stupidity and weakness. And yet it is safe to say that the one 
name signed with any enthusiasm was that of William Dob 
bin, who was actually beginning to realize that for him out of 
adversity was springing a new life of unlocked for recognition 
and importance. 

"I think that is all," said Mr. Meeker at last, still towering 
above them, his great, ungainly shadow in the light of the 
lamp, stretching along the wall. "It's well to feel responsibility 
early, so I shall ask you, Benjamin, to lead the meeting on 
Wednesday evening next. Good-evening, young friends." 

They turned to go. Could she ever wait to get out-of-doors 
again? But Benny, his hand on the knob, hesitated. Judith 
could feel his tremendous summoning of courage from far 
down in the depths of his being. He turned toward Mr. Meeker 
without a word and held out his hand. 

Mr. Meeker bowed gravely as he took the proffered dime. 
Then a look passed between him and Benny, a look as between 
man and man. Boshy, who had supplied the capital, was 
forgotten. Again he did not count. 

Judith, reaching home, could not get too quickly to bed. 
Lying in the dark of her room next to that of her father and 
mother, she longed for kindly sleep which should blot out all 
events of that cruel day. She had tiptoed to the barn before 
coming upstairs and felt reassured by Constancy's quiet 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 139 ] 

breathing. The night air was chill and clear: there would be 
an early frost. The crickets sang in high rhythms that grew 
fainter and fainter in her tired ears. She heard vaguely through 
a warm and comforting mist her father and mother come 
upstairs. 

And then, after a black eternity had passed, she was in 
another world a world of noise and uproar, of awful rolling 
reverberations of thrice-awful sounds a world in which 
strange and wallowing animals plunged after one through 
seas of mud. Only her father's frightened voice had any 
semblance of reality. 

"It's the cow!' she heard him cry. "Something's wrong!" 
And then his hurrying footsteps on the stairs. 

Terrified, she resorted to prayer prayer that some kind 
Providence, assigned to animals, might save Constancy from 
further paroxysms, prayer that her father might remain in 
ignorance, prayer that she herself might be long spared to 
atone for her sins by zeal in the Christian Endeavor. She lay, 
clutching the sheets and listening above her petitions for 
sounds from the barn. There was some relief in the knowledge 
that Constancy's attack was far milder than that of the morn 
ing. After a dozen wheezing, spluttering coughs, she was once 
more silent. 

She heard her father moving awkwardly about in the 
kitchen and steeled herself against his return. The half hour 
seemed a day in length. 

"I've made a bran mash," she heard him say at last. "I 
can't imagine what's wrong. She didn't give down her milk 
right tonight either. 'Twas just as though she hadn't eaten 
enough all day. I don't like it. I'm afraid she's taken cold." 

"Don't worry, dear," rejoined her mother's sleepy voice. 
"It's probably nothing. She'll be all right in the morning." 

Her father was a trifle petulant. It was sympathy he wanted, 
not reassurance. 

"Well, a cold's a cold, and a pure-bred Jersey is a pure-bred 
Jersey," he said with finality. "If she's not all right in the 
morning, I'll have Robinson over, though I haven't much 



[ 140 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

faith in him. You can't be two things at once in this world, 
and he's a better druggist than veterinarian." 

Incredible that in view of such further complications Judith 
should have slept. But she did, the heavy sleep of sheer ex 
haustion. The Sunday sun was high when she started re 
luctantly toward the barn for Constancy. She could not be 
sufficiently grateful that her father was at that moment talking 
with Benny's across the garden fence. 

"Drive her slowly, Judith," he called. "She was sick last 
night." 

Judith's eyes were moist as she walked by Constancy, in 
whose own brown orbs she imagined added reproach and 
disappointment. Not content to leave the cow by the pasture 
bars, she led her to a grassy spot in the shadow of some trees. 
How tranquilly she cropped the hillside ! Could it be that she 
was blessed with no memory, that even the most painful ex 
periences left her consciousness as soon as they were over? 
The nine o'clock bells rang out their call to church. In the 
distance Judith could hear the shouts and cries of the young 
Meekers as they were prepared for Sunday-school. There was 
peace in the pasture. Might it be that the twenty-four hours so 
charged and freighted with misery were, indeed, past and 
gone? 

Two hours later she sat in church next her mother, her 
father at the head of the pew, the younger children between. 
Benny was there, clean and stiff and silent, beside his father. 
Boshy was there, pale and ineffective, between his mother and 
his; grandmother. The Meekers were there, seven in number, 
awry as to clothing and wriggling with uneasiness. The hymns 
were sung, the long prayer ended. Mr. Meeker arose to give 
his announcements. Was there an added interest in view of 
his recent sacrifice, already heralded about the parish? 

"It gives me great pleasure," said Mr. Meeker, "to an 
nounce a new interest among the young people in the Chris 
tian Endeavor Society. Three new members have joined our 
ranks with real enthusiasm Judith Blair, William Dobbin, 
and Benjamin Webster." 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 141 ] 

Her mother pressed her hand with surprise and approbation. 
Perhaps it was the seriousness of this step which had made the 
child so sober of late. Her father looked slyly at her, a look 
which being interpreted might mean anything at all. Judith 
glanced toward the Webster pew. Benny was staring straight 
ahead, refusing to recognize his father's astonishment. Boshy's 
grandmother had placed her arm across his shoulders, and 
he was actually edging away with a new impatience. Judith 
was conscious of sly and not altogether serious glances, espe 
cially in Benny's direction, from sundry other boys in the 
congregation. Mr. Meeker continued: 

"The Wednesday evening service will be led by one of these 
eager recruits, Benjamin Webster. Subject: AM I MY BROTHER'S 

KEEPER?" 

His words were echoed by violent and staccato sneezes from 
the Dobbin pew. Judith knew that Benny's hot stare was 
following her own. She saw Boshy manfully holding his 
mouth in accordance with directions and with the other hand 
as manfully throwing aside the black shoulder-cape with 
which his grandmother would have enveloped him. The 
spasm was mercifully of short duration. Did she see, as she 
looked apprehensively toward Mr. Meeker, a smile trying to 
capture his face? 

' I 1 HAT afternoon Judith asked permission to go to the pas- 
-* ture. Her mother, thinking rightly enough that she wished 
to be alone, willingly granted it. One did seek solitude in 
these turning-points of thought and new resolve. But she was 
not destined to enjoy that solitude for long. Before half an 
hour had passed in the fir thicket with Constancy chewing 
nearby, a trampling among the huckleberries announced the 
approach of Benny. As he came toward her, she knew him to 
be unrepentant and unchastened. But he was clearly relieved 
and, for the first moments, perhaps a trifle sheepish. 

"Well, it's over," he said, straightening his Sunday tie, 
"and it's all come out for the best. Boshy's got more sand than 
I gave him credit for, and he sure helped me out with the 



[ i 4 2 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

dime. I'm not forgetting," he added magnanimously, "that 
five cents is yours, Judy." 

Looking at him, she could not answer. What was this 
mysterious difference between him and her? Between boys and 
girls? 

"Of course," he continued, "I wasn't reckoning on Mr. 
Meeker's roping us in the way he did. I hadn't planned on 
joining the Christian Endeavor just now. But now I'm in, I'm 
in!" A fierceness had crept into his voice, hardly compatible 
with Christian Endeavor ideals. "And you wait, Judy! You 
watch me. That's going to be the peppiest Christian Endeavor 
in this county, yes, sir, in this state! Let those fellows who 
dared grin this morning, grin away. I'll give them two weeks 
to stay out!" 

That old, reluctant admiration for him was again seizing 
her. Was he never vanquished? 

"I'm staging a picnic this week at Noyes Pond, with races 
and everything. My father's lending me one of his trucks for 
the crowd, and no one's allowed who doesn't belong. And 
next week there's going to be a circus, and none of your tame 
affairs either. I'll show them! They'll be falling over each 
other to sign the pledge before the week's up." 

Someone had said once that Benny would be President 
someday, or at least a statesman. She believed it. 

"Did you know about Mr. Meeker's salary?" he went on. 
"It's been raised a hundred dollars on account of his interest 
in the young people. I heard my mother say so. The circle 
had a special meeting after church and decided. My father 
said you could trust the women to be sentimental!" He 
laughed a deprecating laugh but stopped suddenly before 
the look in Judith's face. An unwonted flush came into his 
own. Turning away, he began to fumble with the fir cones. 

"But I want to say, Judy, that you stood by me fine. Most 
girls wouldn't have done it, but you did. And I'll tell you 
something." His words were catching in his throat, but he 
freed them with an effort. "By and by when I'm older 
when I when I take girls out to things, you can be pretty 



A PINCH OF SNUFF [ 143 ] 

sure you'll be who I'll ask. You know it will be you, Judy!" 

Summoning his courage, not at its best in this new situation, 
he looked shyly at her, at her short brown hair curling about 
her face, her wide grey eyes and pink Sunday frock. Some 
thing strange was happening to him. For the first time in his 
life he was painfully conscious of someone invading his experi 
ence in a queer, new way. 

But a stranger thing was happening to Judith. Why did she 
suddenly feel years older than Benny? How was it that all at 
once he had become someone to be protected and understood 
and smiled at, in private? Swift visions passed through her 
mind there in the fir thicket of her mother guarding her 
father's speech, of Mrs. Meeker apologizing for her husband, 
of yes, of Constancy paying dearly for mistakes not her 
own. 

Long after Benny had crashed his self-conscious way 
through the huckleberries, she sat quietly on. The shadows of 
the firs grew longer on the brown needles. A thrush called. 
Another answered. Constancy chewed on with a rhythmic 
precision which seemed neither to begin nor end. When the 
village clock struck six, Judith led her homewards, out of the 
thicket, up the gulley, past the brook. The cow stumbled in 
stepping across the bars, and she placed a reassuring hand on 
her heavy, lumbering shoulder. Again she was stung by re 
morse, only now it had incomprehensibly widened into pity 
and a strange, new understanding. 

"There's something queer, Constancy," she whispered. 
"I don't know why, but it's not just ourselves we have to look 
after and feel bad for. It's all the men folks too!" 



One Hundred and Twenty Years 

F. L. MOTT 

1 IA7HEN that group of young professional men of Boston and Cam- 
bridge who supported the Monthly Anthology decided to give 
up their periodical, they must have done so with deep regret. True, 
it had never produced sufficient profits even to pay for the club's 
weekly suppers; and when slight profits became large deficits, the 
end was indicated. And whatever the pride in the Anthology may 
have been, those suppers of "widgeon and teal," "very good claret, 
without ice (tantpis)" "segars," and "much pleasant talk and good 
humor" were occasions which supplied a flow of wit and scholarship 
all too rare even in Boston. 

Therefore the bonds of the fellowship which the Anthology had 
created were not entirely dissolved when the magazine was sus 
pended. The group saw the founding of Andrews Norton's General 
Repository six months after the abandonment of the Anthology, and 
assisted the editor in filling its Unitarian pages; indeed some of the 
members of the old group edited the last two numbers of the Reposi 
tory. But it lasted only two years. After the Repository was given up 
in 1813, members of the old Anthology group planned a new maga 
zine to be called the New England Magazine and Review and to be 
edited by Willard Phillips then a young Harvard tutor but later a 
prominent lawyer. This project, apparently originated by President 
Kirkland and Professor Channing, of Harvard, met with opposition 
when William Tudor, another member of the old group, returned 
from abroad with his head full of plans for starting such a magazine 
himself. It was agreed to leave the field to Tudor; and accordingly 
the North-American Review and Miscellaneous Journal, a bi 
monthly, appeared in May, 1815, with Tudor as editor and Wells 
and Lilly as publishers. 

The new journal was a neat duodecimo of one hundred and forty- 
four pages, issued at four dollars a year. Its contents were far more 
varied than in later years. It swung between the English review type, 
as exemplified by the Edinburgh, and the more miscellaneous maga 
zines such as the London Gentleman's and the Philadelphia Port 
Folio. On the whole, the magazine tendency had rather the better of 
it for the first two or three years. 

The initial number began with a series of comments on old Ameri 
can books and pamphlets, written by Tudor. This "catalogue rai- 
sonee" ran serially through the numbers of the first three years of the 
magazine; two seventeenth century pamphlets on Virginia were con- 

[144] 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [ 145 ] 

sidered in the first number, and later other colonial guidebooks and 
such histories as Hubbard's "Indian Wars," Price's "New England," 
and Mather's "Magnalia" were reviewed. This was under the title 
"Books Relating to America," and it was followed, in that initial 
number, by several brief letters to the editor signed by such names as 
"Scipio Africanus," and "A Friend to Improvement." One of these 
proposed to change the second Sunday service from afternoon to eve 
ning, averring that "the middle of the day, so oppressive in summer, 
should be left to meditation and repose." 

This apparent surrender of sanctity to somnolence may have been 
one of the items that caused Robert Walsh to condemn the new 
journal in his National Gazette as "lax in its religious tone." Or per 
haps it was the letter of "G.G." objecting to the application offeree 
by officers called "tythingmen" to compel attendance at church, or 
indeed the request of another unknown to be supplied with a list of all 
the plays thus far produced in America. Certainly none could object 
to the censorious words of "Charles Surface" anent "idle gossip and 
mischievous tattling," or to the remarks of "Aristippus" against 
sitting crosslegged in company or using a soiled silk handkerchief for 
a napkin. 

"No gentleman," dogmatizes "Aristippus," "is to lean back to 
support his chair on its hind legs, except in his own room: in a parlour 
with a small circle it borders on extreme familiarity, and in a drawing 
room filled with company, it betokens a complete want of respect for 
society. Besides, it weakens the chairs, and with perseverance, in 
fallibly makes a hole in the carpet." 

Other communications in this first number are scientific and agri 
cultural in character. The letters are followed by two mediocre 
poems a satire and a descriptive piece. Then comes a thirty- two 
page notice of Baron de Grimm's "Memoirs," much of it devoted to 
anecdotes extracted from that work. Similar space is given to the 
Quarterly Review's attack on American manners and morals in its 
famous review of "Inchiquin's Letters" the article using James K. 
Paulding's contribution to the controversy, "The United States and 
England," as its basis. Thus the North American began in its very 
first number its participation in the third war with England the 
paper war. 

The other two reviews deal with the political situation in France, 
and with Lydia Huntley's poems. Nine of Miss Huntley's poems are 
printed, which, "if not sublime," are at least allowed to be "ex 
quisitely beautiful and pathetick." Miss Huntley (later Mrs. Sigour- 
ney) came to be, in the next year, a contributor of original verse to 
the North American. The reviews are followed by four or five pages 
of meteorological tables, after which the number is closed by fourteen 



[ 146 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

pages of "Miscellaneous and Literary Intelligence" and four of 
obituaries. The "Intelligence" department contains an account of 
the induction of the Reverend Edward Everett (then twenty-one years 
old) into a new Greek professorship at Harvard, as well as the an 
nouncements of Boston publishers. The obituaries are all from 
abroad, and include that of Lady Hamilton, "famous for her beauty, 
her accomplishments, and her frailty." 

Practically all of this first number, and a good three-fourths of the 
first four volumes, were written by the editor himself. "I began it 
without arrangement for aid from others," he wrote later, "and was 
in consequence obliged to write more myself than was suitable for a 
work of this description." The magazine was Bostonian, Harvardian, 
Unitarian. "My object," wrote Tudor, "was to abstract myself from 
the narrow prejudices of locality, however I might feel them. I con 
sidered the work written for the citizens of the United States, and not 
for the district of New England." 

As to how well he succeeded in giving a national scope to the re 
view, opinions may differ. Too much attention was given to Harvard, 
to Boston publishers, to New England writers, and to the proceedings 
of learned societies in Boston and Cambridge. This indeed continued 
long after Tudor had relinquished all connection with the magazine: 
the March, 1818, number carried the entire prospectus of Harvard, 
the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa addresses were frequently printed, and 
Harvard professors continued to edit the journal for more than half a 
century. This devotion to its college and city angered its critics, and 
for many years they called it "provincial and parochial." Said the 
New York Broadway Journal in 1845: "That the North American 
Review has worked religiously for New England, her sons, her insti 
tutions, her claims of every sort, there is no question." Simms's 
Southern and Western Magazine echoed the accusation: "None can 
deny the exclusive and jealous vigilance with which it insists on the 
pretensions of Massachusetts Bay." 

On the other hand, Tudor did give some attention to other parts of 
the country; and, as we shall see, Sparks later made an especial effort 
to broaden the geographical scope of the journal. From the beginning 
foreign affairs were watched with interest. Tudor even went so far as 
to clip generously from foreign periodicals because of his lack of 
correspondents abroad; fortunately for the Review, however, scissor 
ing did not become a permanent policy. And in one other respect the 
magazine did achieve a national scope: it was a spokesman for na 
tionality, not only against the attacks of the English reviews upon 
American life and character, but also in its advocacy of a national 
literature and a national art. 

At the end of his first year's editorship, Tudor transferred the 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [ 147 ] 

ownership of the North American to the old literary group which had 
descended from Anthology days. This now consisted of John Gallison, 
a lawyer and newspaper editor; Nathan Hale, editor of the Boston 
Daily Advertiser; Richard Henry Dana, a young lawyer of high 
literary promise; Edward T. Channing, another young lawyer of 
literary proclivities, Dana's cousin and a brother of William Ellery 
Ghanning; William P. Mason, a fourth lawyer; Jared Sparks, a 
Harvard tutor; and Willard Phillips, who had been a tutor at Har 
vard, but had just entered the practice of law. F. G. Gray was not a 
member, but often attended. 

"We held weekly meetings," wrote Judge Phillips many years 
later, "at Gallison's rooms, at which our own articles and those of 
friends and correspondents were read, criticized, and decided upon. 
. . . We also solicited articles upon particular subjects from literary 
friends at a distance." 

Tudor remained as managing editor without pay for another year, 
though the club took the responsibility of providing a large part of 
the reviews and of supporting the venture financially. In 1817, how 
ever, he severed his connection with the journal. It is frequently said 
that he was succeeded by Phillips; but it is certain that, though 
Phillips was the club's leader, the managing editorship devolved 
upon Sparks. Sparks wrote to his life-long friend, Miss Storrow, on 
February 21, 1817: ". . . I have engaged to take charge of the 
North American Review after the next number, when Mr. Tudor re 
signs. I was desired to do this by several gentlemen, and by the par 
ticular advice of the president. Mr. Phillips declines, as it interferes 
too much with his profession." 

Sparks remained editor for only one year, although he was later to 
return for a more extended and distinguished editorship; at this time 
he was drawn away from editorial work by his desire to devote him 
self to theology. His impress upon the North American of 1817-18 is 
seen chiefly in the emphasis on American history and on travels in 
Africa, in both of which fields he had an enthusiastic personal inter 
est. 

As we now look back upon Sparks' six bimonthly numbers, it is 
easy for us to see that the most important single piece in them was 
Bryant's "Thanatopsis." This poem, which had been written some 
six years earlier, was left at Phillips' home in the summer of 1817 by 
the poet's father, without title or author's name, one of a group of 
five submitted for publication. Two of these, "Thanatopsis" and four 
stanzas on death, were in the father's handwriting; and Phillips, who 
knew both father and son, supposed the two were by Dr. Bryant and 
the other three by Cullen. 

At any rate, the club was delighted by all of them. When Dana 



[ 148 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

heard "Thanatopsis" read, he interrupted with the exclamation, 
"That was never written on this side of the water!" They gave the 
poem its title "Thanatopsis," but they supposed the lines on death 
were intended as a prelude to the blank verse and so printed them; 
and in the same number that for September, 1817 they pub 
lished the other three. All were, of course, like everything else in the 
North American, anonymous; and not until after the poems were 
published did any member of the club know that all five poems were 
by William Gullen Bryant. "To a Waterfowl" was published in the 
North American in March, 1818; and four reviews from Bryant's pen 
appeared within the next two years. 

Channing followed Sparks as editor. The Review had been grow 
ing less and less magazinish; and in December, 1818, it discarded its 
news notes, general essays, and poetry, and adopted quarterly pub 
lication, though it retained its subtitle "and Miscellaneous Journal" 
for three years longer. The change was scarcely perceptible. Chan 
ning was elected Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Har 
vard at the end of 1819. Dana, who had been his chief assistant, 
expected to be appointed editor in his stead, but the club thought 
Dana too unpopular among probable contributors to make a success 
ful editor. He naturally resented this decision, and he and Ghanning 
left the club. Some of his friends also resented it among them 
Bryant, who said that if the North American "had remained in 
Dana's hands, he would have imparted a character of originality and 
decision to its critical articles which no other man of the country was 
at that time qualified to give it." And for many years the critics of the 
North American or at least those of them who knew about this 
episode .were wont to exclaim, "What a wonderful journal it 
might have been if only the poet Dana had been made editor back in 
1820!" 

"DUT IT was upon a brilliant young Greek professor that the choice 
fell Edward Everett.The new editor had gained remarkable pres 
tige as a scholar, orator, and writer. John Neal wrote in Blackwood's 
that Everett was "among the first young men of the age" a high- 
sounding but rather cloudy phrase. Hall, of the Port Folio, was more 
definite: he said that Everett possessed "a combination of talents 
surpassing anything that has been exhibited in the brief annals of our 
literature in the person of any individual." Of course there were mal 
contents, even aside from those displeased by the slap at Dana; the 
critic W. A. Jones, of Arcturus, called Everett, some years later, "an 
incarnation of the very spirit of elegance" which sounds well 
enough until one reads Jones' definition of "elegance" as "safe 
mediocrity, 'content to dwell in decencies forever.'" 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [ 149 ] 

Everett was the most successful of the Review's editors up to 
that time. Griswold, in his "Prose Writers," speaks of the "un 
precedented popularity" of the journal under Everett. Certainly the 
number of readers increased. Everett himself later wrote that it had 
five or six hundred circulation when he took it over; it had some 
twenty-five hundred two years later, and continued to increase 
slightly. The publishing responsibility, which the club had placed in 
the hands of Gummings and Hilliard shortly after Wells and Lilly 
gave it up in 1816, Everett transferred to his brother Oliver, who had 
a large family and was in indigent circumstances. 

Everett himself was a voluminous writer for the Review. He heads 
the Boston Journal list of contributors to the first forty-five years of 
the Review with one hundred and sixteen articles. Moreover, he 
brought into his journal some important new contributors. Before his 
editorship, the following writers, in addition to the members of the 
club already listed and the editors, had done most of the writing: 
Everett himself, who was an important contributor before he was 
made editor; his brother Alexander H., a later owner and editor; 
John G. Palfrey, who was also a later editor; ex- President John 
Adams; Judge Joseph Story; Andrews Norton, the famous Unitarian; 
Dr. Walter Channing, a brother of Edward T.; Dr. Enoch Hale, a 
brother of Nathan, one of the club members; Francis G. Gray, a Bos 
ton lawyer who had been John Quincy Adams' secretary in his mis 
sion to Russia; George Ticknor, professor of modern languages at 
Harvard; Samuel Gilman, a Harvard tutor who became the Uni 
tarian minister at Charleston, South Carolina; Sidney Willard, pro 
fessor of Hebrew at Harvard; Theophilus Parsons and Franklin 
Dexter, literary Boston lawyers; John Farrar, professor of mathe 
matics at Harvard; and John Pickering, Salem lawyer and philolo 
gist. Daniel Webster contributed a few articles, notably one on 
Bunker Hill in July, 1818. 

Everett introduced into the pages of the North American such 
writers as Caleb Gushing, then a Newburyport lawyer, who wrote on 
topics in many fields; W. H. Prescott, who wrote a great deal of 
what he himself referred to rather too contemptuously as "thin 
porridge" for the "Old North"; Nathaniel Bowditch, famous Salem 
mathematician; Professor John W. Webster, of the Harvard chair of 
chemistry and mineralogy; Joseph G. Cogswell, Harvard professor of 
geology and later master of the Round Hill School; and Charles W. 
Upham, a Salem clergyman. 

The type of contents continued much the same as under Sparks 
and Channing. The club was still active; Everett was inclined to re 
sent its overlordship, and gradually achieved an independence from 
it. "The sole editorship gradually passed into my hands," he wrote 



[ i 5 o ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

later. Of politics, the Review published comparatively little, except 
as certain social and economic discussions verged upon the political. 
Perhaps the most important ventures in that field were two discus 
sions published in 1820: Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw's article on 
"Slavery and the Missouri Question" appeared in January of that 
year, and James T. Austin's "The American Tariff" in October. 

Of science there was more, especially in the field of geology. F. C. 
Gray had an elaborate review of "Systems of Geology" in the number 
for March, 1819, which closed with the expression of a hope that "our 
University will soon be roused from its long neglect of this study." It 
was. Dr. John Ware wrote occasionally on medical and chemical 
subjects; and Gushing, who had taught natural history at Harvard, 
sometimes wrote on botany. Law was a well tilled field in the Review: 
Joseph Story, Henry Wheaton, and Theron Metcalf composed, with 
the lawyer members of the Club, a distinguished legal staff for the 
journal. Travel books received much attention. 

European literature, society, and politics occupied hundreds and 
eventually thousands, of pages of the North American. Everett came 
to his editorship fresh from European travel and with his head full of 
European ideas. A typical number that for July, 1 822 con 
tained articles on Rousseau's life and Mirabeau's speeches by Alexan 
der H. Everett, a review of Sismondi's "Julia Severa" by Edward 
Everett, a disquisition on Italian literature by James Marsh, a review 
of C. A. G. Goede's "England" by Edward Brooks, and one of 
"Europe, by a Citizen of the United States," by F. C. Gray. To show 
the attempt to balance the foreign cargo by American materials, the 
remainder of the contents of the number should be listed Edward 
Everett's review of "Bracebridge Hall," William Howard Gardiner's 
review of "The Spy," J. G. Cogswell on "Schoolcraft's Journal," 
Caleb Gushing on Webster's Plymouth oration, and Theron Met 
calf s review of Greenleaf's "Cases Overruled." 

That Everett recognized his neglect of American themes there can 
be no question; but he was Europe-minded in these years, and so 
were his associates. When Sparks wrote him from Baltimore criticiz 
ing the Review for want of Americanism, Everett arranged his de 
fence under three points: 

"First. You cannot pour anything out of a vessel but what is in it. 
I am obliged to depend on myself more than on any other person, 
and I must write that which will run fastest. 

"Second. There is really a dearth of American topics; the Ameri 
can books are too poor to praise, and to abuse them will not do. 

"Third. The people here, our most numerous and oldest friends, 
have not the raging Americanism that reigns in your quarter." 

This seems an expression of unbelievable narrowness. A dearth of 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [ 151 ] 

American topics ! It was the period of vast westward movement, of 
the Monroe doctrine, of sectional rivalry, of the Missouri Compro 
mise, of the United States Bank question and early anti-slavery agita 
tion. American books were, of course, few though it was the day of 
Irving, Cooper, and Bryant. 

But Everett did not, after all, completely forget the doctrine of the 
exploitation of nationality upon which Tudor and Sparks had 
founded the review which he now edited. He never quite made it de 
serve the title, the "North Unamerican." He ran a series of articles on 
internal improvements in the southern states. He gave attention to 
the work being done in American history and biography. He pub 
lished many articles on American science and American law. He be 
came one of the leaders in the curiously undignified controversy be 
tween English and American journalists over the question of whether 
the Quarterly Review's declaration that Americans were "in 
herently inferior" to Englishmen was sound, defending American 
ideals with vigor. 

The North American's literary criticism, if not always acute, if 
sometimes warped by the prejudices of its special culture-group, was 
generally discriminating and honest. There was no outstanding 
literary critic among the review's writers, but most of them wrote on 
belles-lettres occasionally. One modern reader of the old volumes of 
our review believes that "the work of these men is so homogeneous 
that one can almost treat them as a composite critic." This is itself 
uncritical, though it is true that prejudices and predilections alike 
were often shared. 

Bryant's few reviews, notable for their plain speaking and clear ap 
prehension of standards, and Dana's, not much more numerous, re 
quire special mention. Everett was more inclined to speak of faults 
lightly while he showed enthusiasm for features he could praise; like 
many another critic of the time he felt that he was watering a grow 
ing plant. Franklin Dexter said of Pierpont's "Airs of Palestine": 
"the applause it has received is given as much to animate as to re 
ward." Most of these writers plead, sometimes rather naively, for 
more and better American literature. 

Among English writers, Scott was upheld as the great figure, in a 
series of reviews by various pens. Toward Byron the attitude was not 
consistent: Tudor condemned him for his morals, Phillips rebuked 
his disorder and disproportion, and A. H. Everett praised him be 
yond the liking of many readers. Moore's verse, though popular, was 
said by Channing to be "little more than a mixture of musick, con 
ceit, and debauchery." One article on German literature must be 
mentioned Edward Everett's masterly review of Goethe's "Dich- 
tung und Wahrheit" in the number for January, 1817. 



[ 152 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Everett worked hard at his editorial task. After he had relinquished 
it, he wrote to his successor: "You must do what your predecessor 
did sit down with tired fingers, aching head, and sad heart, and 
write for your life." And later: "On one occasion, being desirous of 
reviewing Dean Funes 5 'History of Paraguay' . . . and having no 
knowledge of Spanish, I took lessons for three weeks . . . and at the 
end of that time the article was written." But he had his reward, not 
only in the growing power and prosperity of his journal, but in such 
praises as that of the Edinburgh Review, which declared that the 
North American was "by far the best and most promising production 
of the press of that country that has ever come to our hands. It is 
written with great spirit, learning, and ability, on a great variety of 
subjects." 

The praise of the master. 

But the ambitious Everett could not be satisfied long in the con 
finement of editorial work, and at the end of 1823 he resigned to enter 
politics. Jared Sparks, who had been in charge of a Unitarian con 
gregation at Baltimore, was thereupon invited to return to the post he 
had occupied in 181718. He accepted, on condition that he be al 
lowed to purchase the property from the Club; the purchase was 
made, at ten thousand, nine hundred dollars approximately the 
annual receipts from subscriptions. Three years later Sparks sold a 
quarter interest to F. T. Gray, his publisher, for four thousand dol 
lars. The circulation increased slightly throughout Sparks' editor 
ship: it was slightly less than three thousand in 1826, and about three 
thousand, two hundred in 1830. The last figure was destined to re 
main the high point of the Review's subscription list until after the 
Civil War. 

TN SPITE of a circulation that now seems of negligible size, the 
* North American had reached a position of acknowledged power 
and influence in the country. It was read by the leading men, and 
was available in all the important reading-rooms. Over a hundred 
copies went to England, but it was banned in France by the Bourbon 
monarchy. A. H. Everett, now minister to Spain, wrote Sparks that 
its editorship was an office honorable enough to "satisfy the ambi 
tions of any individual," and thought it better than the old Edin 
burgh. Governor Cass wrote from Detroit: "The reputation of the 
North American Review is the property of the nation." George Tick- 
nor, visiting in Philadelphia, told of the high respect for it there. 

Sparks, emphasizing American topics more than Everett had, re 
taining most of the older spheres of interest and developing new ones, 
kept quite as high a standard as his predecessor. The policy of paying 
a dollar a page to contributors, adopted in 1823 as a substitute for the 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [153] 

gentlemanly custom of unrewarded literary labor, apparently had 
little effect on the contents of the journal. The older, prized contribu 
tors continued the Everetts, Story (who refused his dollar a page), 
the Hales, Ticknor, Prescott, Gushing, Cogswell. George Bancroft, 
who had made his first contribution just before Sparks took charge, 
became a valued writer of articles and book reviews in the next few 
years. Lewis Cass wrote some influential articles on the American 
Indian policy. F. W. P. Greenwood, Sparks 5 successor as Unitarian 
minister at Baltimore, wrote for the April, 1 824, number an article on 
Wordsworth which was at the same time appreciative and discrimi 
nating; this was the first of several good essays in literary criticism by 
Greenwood, who was under contract for fifty pages a year. 

Peter Hoffman Cruse, also of Baltimore, and editor of The Ameri 
can there, was another valuable and regular contributor. Other new 
comers were Orville Dewey, Unitarian minister at New Bedford; 
Jeremiah Evarts, editor of the Missionary Herald; Samuel A. Eliot, a 
Boston merchant and politician; J. L. Kingsley, professor of ancient 
languages at Yale; Moses Stuart, professor of sacred literature at 
Andover; and Captain (later General) Henry Whiting. The Tuesday 
Evening Club, of which Prescott, his brother-in-law Franklin Dexter, 
and W. H. Gardiner were leading spirits, helped supply material. 

Sparks himself wrote much on South American countries, and on 
Mexico and Panama. He learned Spanish and kept up a correspond 
ence with several men in South America. R. C. Anderson, American 
minister to Colombia, had an article on the constitution of that coun 
try in the number for October, 1826. Sparks also wrote a number of 
articles on colonization of the blacks. He gave no little attention to 
the South; his article on Baltimore in January, 1825, won much favor. 
He advocated the hands-off policy with regard to slavery an atti 
tude maintained by the North American for many years. Samuel 
Gilman, of Charleston, was a frequent contributor. 

Travel, history and biography, political economy, science, philoso 
phy, poetry, and fiction were prominent topics in Sparks' North 
American. European affairs had less space than formerly, though 
both Everetts wrote upon them. But Edward Everett wrote also on 
American questions; his argument against the protective tariff in the 
number for July, 1824, became almost a classic. 

Sparks traveled much during his editorship, and his editorial work 
was done in his absence by Palfrey, Gray, or Folsom. During his so 
journ in Europe in 1828, Edward Everett had charge. In 1830 
Sparks sold his three-quarters interest in the Review to A. H. Everett 
for fifteen thousand dollars. Sparks had become engrossed in histori 
cal projects; Everett had just returned from Spain, where he had been 
minister from the United States. 



[ i 5 4 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Alexander Hill Everett made the years 1830 to 1836 the high point 
of the North American's first half century. He surpassed his brother's 
editorship by keeping the journal abreast of American political prob 
lems, and he excelled Sparks by his more adequate treatment of 
European topics. "In every respect," said the Knickerbocker Maga 
zine in 1835, "the North American Review is an honor to the coun 
try. In politics it is liberal and impartial. We hail it as the sole ex 
ponent, in its peculiar sphere, of our national mind, character and 
progress; and are proud to see it sent abroad ... as an evidence of 
indigenous talent, high moral worth, and republican feeling." 

In the second number under the new editor, Edward Everett, now 
a member of Congress, wrote a long article on the double subject of 
the Webster-Hayne debate and nullification; it filled eighty-four 
pages. In January, 1831, the editor discussed "The American Sys 
tem" and Bancroft wrote on "The Bank of the United States." The 
latter article was followed in April by a discussion of the same subject 
from the pen of William B. Lawrence, of New York, who was just be 
ginning a distinguished legal and political career. In January, 1833, 
the editor printed his seventy-page dissertation on nullification, and 
in July of that year a strong article on "The Union and the States." 
These had the same theme, which may be expressed in the Jacksonian 
phrase with which the former ended: "THE FEDERAL UNION: IT 

MUST BE PRESERVED." 

Two years later the Review published a discussion of Mrs. Child's 
"Appeal" by Emory Washburn, a Worcester lawyer, which con 
tained language which defines the position of the journal at this 
time: "That we must be rid of slavery someday seems to be the de 
cided conviction of almost every honest mind. If in a struggle for this 
end the Union should be dissolved, it needs not the gift of prophecy 
to foresee that our country will be plunged into that gulf which, in 
the language of another, 'is full of the fire and the blood of civil war, 
and of the thick darkness of general political disgrace, ignominy, and 
ruin.' . . . We regret to see the abolitionists of the day seizing upon 
the cruelties and abuses of power by a few slave-owners in regard to 
their slaves in order to excite odium against slave-holders as a class." 

It was an attempt, not too successful, to wed anti-slavery idealism 
with anti-abolition moderation, and its main purpose was to record 
the North American's opposition to immediate emancipation. 

The editor, who had come home with well filled notebooks, 
wrote much of European politics, personalities, and literature. In 
April, 1830, after he had bought the review but before he had wholly 
taken over its editorship, he had a general article on "The Politics of 
Europe." In the next number he published his discussion of "The 
Tone of British Criticism," which ended the truce which Sparks had 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [ 155 ] 

declared between the North American and the English reviews. 
Irving made his sole contribution to the North American in October, 
1832, when he wrote on the history of the Northmen. Longfellow 
made his debut in the journal in April, 1831, with an article on the 
history of the French language; this was followed by articles on Ital 
ian, Spanish, and Anglo-Saxon languages, and a much more inter 
esting "Defence of Poetry" in January, 1832. 

Two other literary critics who became constant contributors to the 
Review in the thirties were the twin brothers, W. B. O. and O. W. B. 
Peabody. "They were identical," wrote Palfrey later, "in handwrit 
ing, face, form, mien, voice, manner. I never knew them apart. Both 
were copious writers in poetry and prose. Their style was very 
marked . . . but it seemed absolutely the same in both." 

W. B. O. contributed an article on "The Decline of Poetry" to the 
January, 1829, number of the Review; but his brother did not ap 
pear until October, 1830, when he contributed "Studies in Poetry." 
O. W. B. was a brother-in-law of the new editor, and became his as 
sistant. Though conservative and lacking in originality, the Pea- 
body s were capable reviewers. 

Other writers of importance who matriculated in the North 
American during A. H. Everett's editorship were Charles Francis 
Adams, who wrote on history and economics; Professor C. G. Felton, 
most of whose work was in the field of literary criticism; and George 
S. Hillard, whose forte was biography. 

It was shortly before the end of Everett's editorship that his curious 
article on "Sartor Resartus" was published (October, 1835). "It was 
not at all an unfriendly review," wrote Garlyle to Emerson, "but had 
an opacity of matter-of-fact in it that filled me with amazement. 
Since the Irish bishop who said there were some things in Gulliver on 
which he for one would keep his belief suspended, nothing equal to it, 
on that side, has come athwart us. However, he has made out that 
Teufelsdrockh is, in all human probability, a fictitious character, 
which is always something, for an inquirer into Truth." 

It does seem, indeed, that the reviewer feels that he has done a 
tremendously clever piece of literary detective work in discovering 
that the character of Teufelsdrockh is fictitious. Perhaps, however, he 
is only giving a rather heavily humorous account of the mystification 
element in "Sartor." This review is the only favorable notice of 
Carlyle that appeared in the North American, which was not kind to 
transcendentalism. 

Throughout his editorship, Everett was a member of the Massa 
chusetts senate, and in 1836 he sold his holdings in the Review and 
withdrew from editorial work on it, in order to become a candidate 
for Congress. The new editor and chief proprietor was John Gorham 



[ 156 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Palfrey, a Harvard graduate, the successor of Edward Everett as 
minister of the Brattle Street Unitarian Church, Boston, and now 
professor of sacred literature at Harvard. 

Palfrey, like Sparks, was much interested in historical studies; and 
he sometimes allowed too much space to articles in this favorite field. 
In April, 1838, for a typical example, there were papers on "Histori 
cal Romance in Italy," "Periodical Essays of the Age of Anne," 
"The Last Years of Maria Louisa," "The Early History of Canada," 
"Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott," and "The Documentary History of 
the Revolution." Only two other articles appeared in this number, in 
addition to the brief "Critical Notices" one on a Hebrew lexicon, 
and the other on a geographical topic. Sparks, Prescott, C. F. Adams, 
and the editor himself were among the leading contributors of his 
torical material. 

Politics, which had occupied unusual space under his predecessor, 
Palfrey saw fit in the main to exclude. It was not that he was uninter 
ested in such matters, for when he finally withdrew from his editor 
ship it was to follow the example of the two Everetts and enter active 
politics; but he apparently thought to place the Review outside con 
troversy and partisanship. 

Next to history, literature occupied the most space in Palfrey's 
North American. Professor Felton, who seems to have been an as 
sistant editor, wrote frequent reviews of novels, poetry, and essays. 
Felton was not well equipped for the criticism of belles-lettres; he 
judged too often according to standards not at all literary. He was in 
the habit of quoting at length, which often made his articles readable, 
but gave them the appearance of magazine hack-work rather than 
the dignity of criticism. Palfrey often followed the same method. 

Longfellow's reviewing was sometimes incisive and forthright: 
note the introduction to his article on a book about London: "'Any 
amusement which is innocent,' says Palfrey, 'is better than none; as the 
writing of a book, the building of a house, the laying out of a garden, 
the digging of a fish-pond, even the raising of a cucumber.' If these 
are the pastimes which the author of 'The Great Metropolis' has 
within his reach, our opinion is, that, when he is next in want of an 
innocent amusement, he had better raise a cucumber." 

This is, at least, much cleverer than the great body of North 
American writing; most of the reviewers for that journal would have 
felt called upon to go back to the founding of London by the ancient 
Britons, and to trace its history laboriously down to the nineteenth 
century. Palfrey published one article ninety pages in length 
Gardiner's review of Prescott's "Ferdinand and Isabella." 

Palfrey established the department of shorter "Critical Notices" 
which continued for many decades to fill the "back of the book." 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [ 157 ] 

Some of the old Club members continued to write for the Review 
Tudor, Phillips, Channing, Hale, Edward Everett. But there were 
also some new recruits, of whom perhaps the most important, as 
events turned out, was Francis Bo wen, Harvard teacher of "in 
tellectual philosophy" and political economy, who wrote chiefly on 
philosophical subjects for these first contributions. Andrew P. Pea- 
body, another later editor, also became a contributor in these years; 
as did Henry T. Tuckerman, who was later to achieve a high reputa 
tion as literary and art critic. 

Henry R. Cleveland, one of the "Five of Clubs" at Cambridge 
(the other four being Longfellow, Sumner, Felton, and Hillard) was 
another newcomer to the Review, with J. H. Perkins, of Cincinnati, 
William B. Reed, of Philadelphia, and George W. Greene, consul at 
Rome. The first woman to contribute extensively to the Review was 
Mrs. Therese A. L. von J. Robinson, wife of Edward Robinson, the 
biblical scholar; she was a talented writer and had an excellent 
knowledge of both German and Russian. Some of the lectures which 
Signer L. Mariotti delivered in Boston in 1840 were printed in the 
Review. 

Emerson's lecture on Michael Angelo was published in the number 
for January, 1837, and one on Milton in that for July of the next 
year. Otherwise, there was little echo from the movement that was 
being called transcendentalism. There was a deep gulf fixed between 
the group that supported the North American Review and that 
which projected and wrote The Dial in 1840 to 1844. One looks in 
vain for the names of Margaret Fuller, Alcott, Ripley, Parker, 
Thoreau, and Cranch in Review indexes. 

Clearly, the North American lost ground while Palfrey was editor. 
It reflected great contemporary movements less adequately; it prob 
ably declined somewhat in circulation. There is some truth in Miss 
Martineau's arraignment of it, in her book on America: "The North 
American had once some reputation in England; but it has sunk at 
home and abroad, less from want of talent than of principle. If it has 
any principle whatever at present, it is to praise every book it men 
tions, and to fall in as dexterously as possible with popular preju 
dices." 

Even Parkman, a leading contributor, found the number for the 
Fall of 1837 "uncommonly weak and waterish." He thought this due 
in part to the "paltry price The North pays (all it can bear, too, I be 
lieve)" yet "for a 5 that, the Old North is the best periodical we 
have ever had." The London Monthly Review presented some refuta 
tion of such criticisms by cribbing wholesale from its American con 
temporary a proceeding which Palfrey exposes with some glee in 
the number for October, 1842. 



[ 158 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

"PRANCIS BO WEN purchased the controlling interest in the North 
* American at the end of 1842. He had returned to Cambridge in 
1841 from a two years' European residence. He was a man of broad 
learning and varied interests; but he was prejudiced, belligerent, and 
far too unmindful of his audience. He was anti-low-tariff, anti- 
transcendental, anti-British. He retained the editorship, however, 
longer than any of his predecessors a full decade, whereas the 
others had averaged less than four years. 

Bowen, supported by Felton who continued active as a staff con 
tributor, carried on against the English traducers of America, trying 
to beat them at their own game. An article by the two called "Mor 
als, Manners and Poetry of England" in July, 1844, begins: "The 
earliest notices we have of Britain represent it as fruitful in barbarians, 
tin, and lead. It has continued so ever since." This was probably 
popular enough; but when in January, 1850, Bowen published a 
long article attacking the Hungarian patriots at the very time that 
Kossuth was being hailed in America and in Boston itself as 
an apostle of human liberty, the North American suffered much 
criticism. Robert Carter, brilliant Boston journalist, published a 
series of articles in the Boston Atlas refuting Bowen's arguments. 
This came just at the moment of Bowen's election to the McLean 
chair of history at Harvard; and the overseers of the college, im 
pressed by the attack on the candidate's learning, vetoed the election. 

Bowen's literary criticism was also sometimes of the tomahawk 
variety. Cooper was his bete noire. His first article in the North Ameri 
can, in January, 1838, had been a review of Cooper's "Gleanings 
from Europe"; this was a general criticism of Cooper's work, wilfully 
oblivious to the better qualities of the novelist. This was followed by 
other reviews of Cooper in a similar spirit, and by a prejudiced arti 
cle on the "Naval History" by A. S. Mackenzie. Felton also wielded 
the tomahawk, notably upon William Gilmore Simms in October, 
1846. 

Bowen had a taste for French fiction. He reviewed George Sand, 
Paul de Kock, and Dumas with a good deal of appreciation in the 
North American, and printed a really distinguished article on Balzac 
by Motley in his number for July, 1847. Reviews of novels were com 
paratively prominent in these years. Lowell's first contribution was 
an article on Fredrika Bremer's work. E. P. Whipple made his first 
appearance in the Review of 1843, and soon became its best reviewer 
of fiction and poetry; he took criticism itself seriously, he had a his 
torical sense, and he wrote well. 

There were a number of articles in these years on charities, includ 
ing the provision for the blind and the insane. Papers on educational 
topics and on military affairs were not infrequent. Lorenzo Sabine 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [159] 

wrote occasionally on various industries. Politics were sometimes 
touched upon, though not regularly: when the Oregon question came 
up with England, Bowen demonstrated at length that the Oregon 
country was "a contemptible possession" and not worth fighting over. 
"Slavery in the United States" was reconsidered in October, 1851, in 
an article by Ephraim Peabody, and the former position re-stated. 
Edward Everett Hale, who had first written for the Review in 1840, 
at eighteen years of age, continued in its pages. George E. Ellis, the 
Unitarian leader, first appeared there in 1846. Mrs. Mary Lowell 
Putnam began a series of articles on Hungarian and Polish literature 
in 1848. 

But "the torpid and respectable North American Review," as the 
Literary World called it, was getting a bad name for dullness. An 
occasional brandishing of the tomahawk was not enough to arouse 
any general interest in the current numbers. The men who had 
grown up with it still swore by it, but the bright young men were 
more likely to swear at it. Said a satirist in the Boston Chronotype in 
1849: 

"The N.A. is a slow coach, yet it certainly goes ahead, as any man 
may satisfy himself by taking a series of observations for a few years. 
As we look in at the coach window at the present time, to be sure, the 
passengers seem to have been taking a social nap, and the driver 
probably held up, not to disturb their slumbers. Europe is on fire, 
and questions of moment are welding hot in our own country, yet 
this North American Review is either admiring the tails of tenth- 
rate comets, or sprinkling a little Attic salt without any pepper on a 
dish of cucumbers." 

Other contemporaries joined the chorus of insult: "What vener 
able cobweb is that," asked Thoreau, who had boasted that he never 
wrote for the Review, "which has hitherto escaped the broom . . . 
but the North American Review?" 

Bowen was appointed to a Harvard professorship in 1853, and this 
time unanimously confirmed by the overseers; he thereupon sold the 
North American to Crosby, Nichols and Company, Boston publish 
ers, who named as the new editor Andrew P. Peabody, Unitarian 
minister in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He too was appointed to a 
Harvard professorship, in 1860; but he filled out his decade as editor. 
Peabody was an improvement on Bowen, but he could not lift the 
pall of general dullness that had settled upon it. Perhaps it was really 
no duller than it had been from the first, if it were possible to measure 
such things by an absolute standard; but it suffered from the brighter 
magazines that sprang up and won readers away from it, while it 
continued to rely upon the old ponderous review style and the old 
ponderous academic subjects. 



[ 160 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Readers who had taxed their eyesight for forty years on the oph- 
thalmologically vile pages of the North American were encouraged, 
however, by a change to large, easily read type; and Norton's Liter 
ary Gazette observed with pleasure in 1854 that the new editorship 
had been "marked by a wider range of material." One of the most 
important of the early articles was Sidney G. Fisher's review of 
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" in October, 1853, which accepted the doc 
trine that the negro was "naturally the servant of the white man," 
found emancipation therefore impossible, and proposed legal reme 
dies for abuses of slaves. Edward Everett Hale's article on "Kansas 
and Nebraska," however, in January, 1855, encouraged the emigra 
tion of "freemen" to that battleground. Two years later Judge Timo 
thy Farrar attacked the Taney decision in the Dred Scott case with 
vigor and dignity. As late as April, 1861, another of the Review's 
labored articles on the institution of slavery re-stated the now tradi 
tional position of the journal against immediate emancipation; and a 
year later the exigencies of war had driven it only to a lukewarm as 
sent to an emancipation limited to blacks fighting in the union 
army. During the war there was a political or war article in nearly 
every number, occasionally critical of the conduct of military affairs. 

In literary criticism, Whipple continued to do the North Ameri 
can's best work. Professor C. C. Everett wrote on Ruskin, Mrs. 
Browning, and others. A Mrs. E. V. Smith wrote on Poe in 1856; it 
was a true Bostonian view of Poe, relying on Griswold for facts of per 
sonal life, shocked by some of the extreme Gothic elements in Poe's 
work, admiring "The Raven" and "Annabelle Lee." It ended with 
the tender-minded declaration: "Rather than remember all, we 
would choose to forget all that he has ever written." French literature 
was given very special attention for several years, with the Countess 
De Bury as the chief writer in this field. 

There was some science. Dr. O. W. Holmes contributed a phsyio- 
logical article or two; Bowen argued against Darwin's new "Origin 
of Species" in April, 1860; Wilson Flagg wrote some delightful essays 
on nature, landscape art, and such topics; Asa Gray wrote on 
botany. 

More and more one finds unknown and fifth-rate writers in the 
pages of the "Old North." The new Atlantic Monthly was attracting 
some of the articles that would normally have gone into the older 
periodical; yet writers like Motley, Holmes, Whipple, Norton, and 
the new Richard Henry Dana, Jr., and Thomas Wentworth Higgin- 
son, with Arthur Hugh Clough from England, did much to raise the 
average. 

But the energy and genius commonly required to give flying starts 
to as many as three new magazines will usually fail to rejuvenate a 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTT TEARS [ 161 ] 

single moribund journal. What to do with a periodical which Carl 
Benson could casually refer to as "that singular fossil, the North 
American Review?" Argument, indignation only advertised the libel. 
What the publishers did do was to secure as editors two men of very 
high literary standing. James Russell Lowell was one of the three or 
four most important literary men in America; Charles Eliot Norton 
had won a reputation as a writer on social questions and on Italian 
literature, and as an industrious editor. Their work on the North 
American began with the issue for January, 1864. 

T OWELL declared later that all he had promised Crosby and 
^ Nichols "was my name on the cover." What he actually de 
livered was a small amount of editorial work and two series of no 
table articles, the first political in nature and the second literary. His 
editorial work began with a few letters to prospective contributors of 
importance. To Motley he wrote some months after a beginning had 
been made: 

"You have heard that Norton and I have undertaken to edit the 
North American a rather Sisyphian job, you will say. It wanted 
three chief elements to be successful. It wasn't thoroughly, that is, 
thickly and thinly, loyal, it wasn't lively, and it had no particular 
opinions on any particular subject. It was an eminently safe periodi 
cal, and accordingly was in great danger of running aground. It was 
an easy matter, of course, to make it loyal, even to give it opinions 
(such as they were), but to make it alive is more difficult." 

Through the efforts of Norton and Lowell, a staff of contributors 
was built up which rivalled that of earlier years: Edwin L. Godkin, of 
The Nation, which Norton had helped to found; Emerson, who now 
followed his two earlier contributions with a second essay on "Char 
acter" and one on "Quotation and Originality"; Charles Francis 
Adams, Jr., whose articles on railroads were genuinely important; 
James Parton, writing on political and biographical topics; George 
William Curtis, editor of Harper's Weekly; Goldwin Smith, English 
publicist, who visited the United States in 1864 and many others 
of equal weight. Payment to contributors was increased from two and 
a half to five dollars a page ; other high-class magazines were paying 
ten. As the clever Theodore Tilton remarked of the Review's rate of 
payment to contributors in 1866: "In this respect it labors, like 
Rabelais' panurge 'under an incurable disease, which at that time 
they called lack of money." 5 

Lowell's own articles were of prime importance. His first was an 
estimate of Lincoln, in the first number under the new editorship; 
in the second number he assesses General McClellan; and in the 
fourth number, which appeared on the eve of the presidential elec- 



[ i6a ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

tion, he answers his question "Lincoln or McClellan?" in favor of the 
former. A noble paper on "Reconstruction" came in April, 1865; and 
in July, a rather discursive essay entitled "Scotch the Snake, or Kill 
It?" centered upon the problem of the freedmen. Two papers on 
President Johnson's troubles were published in 1866. 

"After the pressure of war-time was lifted," says Lowell's biog 
rapher, "he made the Review the vehicle for more strictly literary 
articles; and it was plainly a relief to him to spring back to subjects 
more congenial to his nature." The first of these was his review, in 
January, 1865, of the third volume of Palfrey's "History of New Eng 
land"; it is a remarkable summation of the New England creed. 
Then followed a series of essays on Lessing, Rousseau, Dante, Shake 
speare, Milton, Chaucer, Spenser, Dryden, Pope, Wordsworth, 
Carlyle, and Emerson drawn largely from his lecture notes 
which made the foundation for Lowell's reputation as a critic. 

Norton, besides doing most of the editorial work, wrote a number 
of articles himself. In January, 1864, there was a paper of his on 
"Immorality in Politics" which combated the biblical defences of 
slavery; in July, 1864, an article about the heroism of soldiers in the 
field; in January, 1865, a paper on Lincoln; and in the following 
October one entitled "American Political Ideals." 

In October, 1864, Ticknor and Fields, leading Boston publishers 
and owners of the Atlantic Monthly, purchased the Review. They 
were doubtless encouraged to make the venture by what Norton 
called the efforts "to put some life into the old dry bones of the 
quarterly." Norton had high editorial ideals; he saw before him "an 
opportunity now to make the North American one of the means of 
developing the nation, of stimulating its better sense, of holding up to 
it its own ideal. But he despaired of lightening the sheer specific 
gravity of the Review's pages. He wrote to Lowell in July, 1864: "The 
July North American seems to me good, but too heavy. How can we 
make it lighter? People will write on the heavy subjects; and all our 
authors are destitute of humor. Nobody but you knows how to say 
witty things lightly." 

In the summer of 1868, Norton resigned to go abroad on a literary 
mission, and Professor E. W. Gurney was put in his place. At once 
troubles began to accumulate. But let us allow Lowell's playful but 
vexed letter to his publisher tell the story: 

"The express has just brought your note asking for the log of the 
North American on her present voyage. The N. A. is teak-built, her 
extreme length from stem to stern-post 299 feet 6 inches, and her 
beam (I mean her breadth of beam) 286 feet 7 inches and a quarter. 
She is an A-l risk at the Antediluvian. These statements will enable 
you to reckon her possible rate of sailing. During the present trip I 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [ 163 ] 

should say that all the knots she made were Gordian, and of the 
tightest sort. I extract from log as follows: 

"'11 July. Lat. 42 1', the first officer, Mr. Norton, lost over 
board in a fog, with the compass, caboose, and studden-sails in his 
pocket, also the key of the spirit-room. 

'"25 July. Lat. 42 10', spoke the Ark, Captain Noah, and got 
the latest news. 26, 27, 28, dead calm. 29, 30, 31, and 1 August, head 
winds N.N.E. to N.E. by N. 15 August. Double reef in foretopsl, 
spoke the good ship Argo, Jason commander, from Colchis with 
wool. 

" '17 August, dead calm, Schooner Pinta, Capt. Columbus, bound 
for the New World, and a market, bearing Sou Sou West half South 
on our weather bow. Got some stores from him. 

"'20. Capt. Lowell cut his throat with the fluke of the sheet 
anchor. 5 

"So far the log. 

"Now for the comment. Toward the 1st September I received 
notice that the Review was at a standstill. Mr. Gurney was at Bev 
erly, ill and engaged to be married. I had not a line of copy, nor 
knew where to get one. I communicated with G. and got what he 
had viz : two articles, one on Herbert Spencer, and t'other on 
Leibnitz. I put the former in type, but did not dare follow with the 
latter, for I thought it would be too much even for the readers of the 
N.A. By and by, I raked together one or two more not what I 
would have but what I could. ... We want something interesting, and 
we must have some literary notices. . . ." 

A few days later he wrote to Fields again: 

"Correct estimates from log thus: '25 September. Lat. 42 10'. 
Captain Lowell committed suicide by blowing out his brains with the 
gaff-topsl halyards. There can be no doubt of the fact, as the 2d 
officer recognized the brains for his (Cap. L.'s), he being familiar 
with them. 

"'30 September. Captain L. reappeared on deck, having been 
below only to oversee the storage of ballast, whereof on this trip the 
lading mainly consists. What was thought to be his brains turns out to 
be pumpkin pie, though the second officer was unconvinced and the 
Captain himself could not make up his mind.' 

"The fact is I was cross, and did not quite like being brought up 
with such a round turn at my time of life. . . . Gurney will take 
hold of the next number, and it will all go right." Gurney did "take 
hold," and kept hold for two years, after which he surrendered his 
grasp of the tiller to young Henry Adams. 

The new editor was a grandson of President John Adams, who had 
been a contributor to the North American Review in 1817; a son of 



[ 1 64 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Charles Francis Adams the elder, who had written more than a dozen 
articles for the journal; and a brother of the second Charles Francis 
Adams, now doing papers on the railroads for it. It is no wonder that 
he regarded the "Old North as a kind of family heirloom"; he wrote 
to a friend that it was "a species of mediaeval relic, handed down as a 
sacred trust from the times of our remotest ancestors." 

Lowell and Norton had done much to restore the former public 
esteem for it; but it was still an unprofitable "relic," with a circula 
tion of three or four hundred and an annual deficit. Its articles were 
still long and heavy. Henry Adams wrote, years later, in his auto 
biography: "Not many men even in England or France could write a 
good thirty-page article, and practically no one in America read 
them." His brother accomplished it in July, 1869, with "A Chapter 
of Erie," followed by "An Erie Raid" two years later written 
"with infinite pains, sparing no labor," and later published in book 
form for a larger audience. 

In 1872 Lowell went abroad, resigning his connection with the 
North American. Adams was now left in full charge; but he, too, soon 
went off to Europe, leaving Thomas Sergeant Perry to get out three 
numbers in 187273. Returning in the summer of 1873, Adams made 
his former pupil in history, Henry Cabot Lodge, assistant editor, and 
the two edited the journal through 1876. 

Again the Review emphasized history. The editors were special 
ists in that field, and they had help from Parkman, Fiske, Charles 
Kendall Adams, and others. The first number in 1876, contained a 
remarkable series of articles on American historical topics to celebrate 
the centennial. But the Review was not devoted to history to the 
exclusion of other material. Indeed, Adams gave it more bite than it 
had had for a long time perhaps more than it had ever had before. 
Lowell remarked that Adams was making the old teakettle think it 
was a steam engine. 

There were political articles in nearly every number by the editor, 
his brother and others. Charles F. Wingate summed up the battle 
against the Tammany Ring in a series in 1874-76. Chauncy Wright 
wrote his brilliant contributions to the developing theory of evolution 
for the North American in the late 'sixties and early 'seventies. Simon 
Newcomb wrote on science and W. D. Whitney on philology. 
Among the leading writers of literary criticism were Francis A. 
Palgrave, William Dean Howells, Henry James, Karl Hillebrand, 
and H. H. Boyesen. The book notices at the end of each number 
were often distinguished: "Not seldom," said The Nation, such a 
review was "a literary product capable of standing by itself." No 
longer was the reader in doubt as to authorship, for the cloak of 
anonymity was lifted in 1868. 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [ 165 ] 

But it was all hackwork "hopeless drudgery" to Adams. He 
saw no future in it: "My terror," he once wrote to his assistant, "is 
lest it should die on my hands." The publishers, now James R. 
Osgood and Company, sometimes interfered with the editor, as 
when Adams was not kind enough to Bayard Taylor's "Faust," 
which Osgood had published. In October, 1876, Adams published a 
political article, "The Independents in the Political Canvass," which 
advocated support of Tilden by the new non-partisan group. To this 
number which was nearly all politics and history, the publishers 
attached a disclaimer, and a notice that the editors had resigned. 
The young editors had run away with the old "relic" though 
miraculously they had almost brought it to life. 

TT HAD been known in publishing circles for several years that the 
-* North American was for sale, though all it had to sell was a 
historic name and an annual deficit. It was offered to Edward Everett 
Hale when he started Old and New in 1870. Henry Holt and E. L. 
Godkin were planning to buy it and bring it to New York, when 
Osgood suddenly announced that it had been sold to Allen Thorn- 
dike Rice. Rice was a young man of twenty- three, Boston-born but a 
recent graduate of Oxford, wealthy, energetic, and lively-minded. 
Gladstone called him "the most fascinating" young man he had ever 
met. He paid three thousand dollars for the old journal, which now 
had a circulation of twelve hundred. At once he made it a bimonthly. 

Julius H. Ward, an Episcopal clergyman who had been nominated 
by Osgood to succeed Adams, was Rice's first managing editor; after 
a few months he was followed by Laurence Oliphant, English author 
and communist then residing in America. Then in 1878, Rice moved 
the magazine to New York; and L. S. Metcalf, a trained journalist, 
took charge of the editorial work. D. Apple ton and Company suc 
ceeded James R. Osgood and Company as "publishers." Finally, in 
1879 the magazine was made a monthly. 

Thus were the successive stages of the revolution accomplished. 
Boston was left sorrowing for her errant daughter, and for the first 
time in sixty years men who had never entered Harvard Square were 
in charge. But the significant feature of the change was not geo 
graphical or institutional: the really important alteration was in the 
contents of the magazine. Within a year or two the North American 
became a free forum, welcoming all important expressions of opinion. 
It was almost as close to current events as a newspaper. 

Rice's frequently expressed aim was "to make the Review an arena 
wherein any man having something valuable to say could be heard." 
If "Old North" had been for decades dignified and retiring, it was 
now plunged bodily into the very maelstrom of contemporaneity, 



[ 166 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

sucked into controversy, bobbing on the surge of the latest doctrine. 
Metcalfe, who was allowed the fullest liberty in the selection of 
material, said later: "But I knew that there was a certain preference 
for articles which tended to the sensational, and I allowed myself to 
be considerably influenced by Mr. Rice's undoubted belief in the 
practical business advantage of such contributions." 

This sounds very commercial; but it should be noted that Rice had 
a free mind himself and desired to promote free discussion. Further, 
for the word "sensational" it would be better to substitute such terms 
as "unconventional" and "intellectually exciting." Of course, it is 
obvious that Rice thought that fresh writing on lively topics would be 
profitable: his whole venture was founded upon that belief. 

So far as partisan politics were concerned, Rice kept the Review 
more or less neutral, presenting both sides of most questions. There is 
some Republican bias to be seen in the presidential campaign of 
1880, and some opposition to Blaine in 1884. The Review was stoutly 
against Cleveland's anti-protectionism, however; and in 1888 it 
printed several articles on the Republican side and only one with 
Democratic leanings. By this time Metcalfe had left to found The 
Forum; and James Redpath, journalist and lyceum organizer, had 
become, in 1886, managing editor of the Review. 

But political discussion was not limited to the presidential cam 
paigns, and every number included politics and economics. Radical 
views were presented along with conservative opinions, and con 
troversy became the settled policy of the magazine. For example, 
when Judge Jeremiah S. Black presented the Tilden side of the 
electoral question in July, 1877, E. W. Stoughton, one of the Hayes 
counsel, set forth the other side in the next number. The symposium 

a device for presenting variant attitudes and views concurrently 

made its appearance as the vehicle of a discussion of the resump 
tion of specie payments in November, 1877. 

The writers in the North American's symposia were authorities 
or at least well known. In the one on resumption, for example, there 
were Secretary of the Treasury Sherman, Former Secretary Mc- 
Gulloch, Congressmen William D. Kelley and Thomas Ewing, and 
the well known economist David A. Wells. There was no waiting 
upon voluntary contributions now; the editors chose their men and 
offered adequate remuneration and thus were able to present a 
monthly array of names known to all their readers. Among political 
matters frequently discussed were the silver question, civil service 
reform, and the third presidential term. The "Southern question" 
was reviewed by Southerners as well as by Northerners. 

Related industrial and social problems crowded the pages of the 
new North American. "A Striker" and the president of the Pennsyl- 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [ 167 ] 

vania Railroad appeared in the same number September, 1877. 
"Land and Taxation: a Conversation" was the joint production of 
two frequent contributors Henry George and David Dudley 
Field. An attack on woman suffrage by Parkman in October, 1879, 
drew forth a symposium of replies in the next number by Julia Ward 
Howe, T. W. Higginson, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and 
Wendell Phillips; a rejoinder by Parkman followed in January, 1880. 
Many articles on women and their position appeared in the 'eighties: 
their dress, health, occupations, religion were discussed. 

Religion ranked next to politics in Rice's magazine. Beginning 
with an article on "Reformed Judaism" by Felix Adler in July, 1877, 
discussion ran the gamut of belief and unbelief. A symposium on 
"The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment" in March, 1878, and another 
on "What is Inspiration?" in September of the same year enlisted 
some of the leading clerical writers of America. The question of 
evolution was linked with theology in "An Advertisement for a New 
Religion by an Evolutionist" in July, 1878, and in the symposium 
"Law and Design in Nature" in June, 1879. J. A. Froude's two-part 
article on "Romanism and the Irish Race in the United States" was 
balanced by Cardinal Manning's "The Catholic Church and 
Modern Society." Sunday observance was discussed more than once. 

Freethinkers and infidels were represented repeatedly in the late 
'seventies, and in August, 1881, Robert G. Ingersoll and Jeremiah S. 
Black, two famous lawyers, debated the Christian religion. Black, 
who had shown some temper in the debate, showed more when he 
was unable to get his rejoinder to the second part of IngersolPs argu 
ment into the same number with it; he refused to go on, but wrote an 
angry letter to the Philadelphia Press calling the North American "a 
treacherous concern." Loud were the protests, indeed, against the 
Ingersoll articles from all quarters. "The North American Review 
has sold out to Ingersoll," said the Chautauquan, and predicted a 
great loss of subscriptions. The Rev. George P. Fisher contributed a 
reply to Ingersoll which he said was not a reply, in the number of 
February, 1882. 

Hostilities were renewed five years later when Henry M. Field, 
editor of The Evangelist, addressed an open letter in the North Ameri 
can to the now famous agnostic. The debate which followed was 
climaxed by a review of the subject by William E. Gladstone. Glad 
stone was one of the greatest figures in the English-speaking world, 
and the publication of a paper on Christianity by him, as a part of 
this debate, was one of the greatest "hits" ever made by the Review. 
One other religious series excited some interest: in it various well 
known persons gave reasons for the faith that was in them. It began 
in 1886 with Edward Everett Hale's "Why I Am a Unitarian" and 



[ i68 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ran for four years. It included even "Why I Am a Heathen," by 
Wong Chin Foo; and it ended with Ingersoll's "Why I Am an 
Agnostic" in 1890, with its aftermath of replies by Canon Farrar, 
Lyman Abbott, and others. 

More literary phases were not entirely neglected. Three of Emer 
son's later lectures were published in 1877-78, Bryant's essay on 
Cowley in May, 1877, and Taylor's on Halleck in the following 
number. Whitman contributed several essays in the 'eighties. The 
Shakespeare-Bacon controversy was exploited in the latter part of the 
same decade, Ignatius Donnelly being the chief exploiter. The tradi 
tional section of brief book notices was abandoned in 1881; a later 
review department was conducted through 1887-89. 

The drama was given some attention, from Boucicault's articles, 
which began in 1878, onward. Richard Wagner contributed a two- 
part autobiographical article in 1879. There were articles on science 
(especially on the evolutionary hypothesis), on educational problems, 
on art, and on foreign affairs. The list of foreign contributors was led 
by Gladstone, whose first article, on "Kin Beyond the Sea" in Sep 
tember, 1878, was followed by perhaps a dozen more in later years; 
Froude, Trollope, Bryce, and Goldwin Smith were other English 
writers prominent in the magazine in the 'eighties. The North Amer 
ican also caught the fever, then epidemic among the magazines, of 
publishing Civil War memoirs; it printed General Beauregard's 
reminiscences, and a number of letters dealing with the struggle. 

Thus it will be seen that Rice's magazine had incalculably more 
variety than the "Old North." It even went so far, in April, 1888, as 
to publish a lively defence of prizefighting by Dufneld Osborne. A 
typical number in the early 'eighties (February, 1881) contained the 
following leading articles: "The Nicaragua Canal," by U. S. Grant; 
"The Pulpit and the Pew," by O. W. Holmes; "Aaron's Rod in 
Politics" (advocating public education in the South), by A. W. 
Tourgee; "Did Shakespeare Write Bacon's Works?" by J. F. Clarke; 
"Partisanship in the Supreme Court," by Senator John T. Morgan; 
an installment of her "Ruins of Central America" (result of an ex 
pedition partially financed by the Review), by Desire Charnay; 
"The Poetry of the Future," by Walt Whitman. 

The magazine's circulation advanced to seven thousand, five 
hundred by 1880, and to seventeen thousand by the date of Rice's 
untimely death in 1889. It was then making its owner an annual 
profit of fifty thousand dollars. Rice left a controlling interest in the 
Review to Lloyd Bryce, who had been a friend of his at Oxford ; and 
Bryce immediately purchased the remaining stock. 

Bryce was a Democrat in politics, while his predecessor had been a 
Republican; but the Review was kept nonpar tisan or rather bi- 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY TEARS [ 169 ] 

partisan, for it continued to present both sides of most controversial 
questions. The new editor was a man of wealth, a novelist, a liberal, 
and a member of Congress from New York. From Rice's regime he 
inherited the journalist, William H. Rideing, as managing editor; and 
David A. Munro, who had received his earlier training in Harper's 
publishing house, was later added to the staff. 

There was little or no change of policy in the Review under Bryce. 
The same emphasis on controversy, the same use of the symposium 
and joint debate, the same exploitation of problems from forum and 
market-place continued to characterize the magazine. There was, 
perhaps, more discussion of foreign affairs than formerly, especially 
by the middle 'nineties. In the number for January, 1895, for ex 
ample, exactly half the pages are devoted to foreign questions. One of 
the big features of Bryce's earlier editorship was the debate on free 
trade by Gladstone and Blaine, in the number for January, 1890; it 
was followed by articles on the same subject by Roger Q. Mills and 
Joseph S. Morrill. Another was the debate between the Duke of 
Argyll and Gladstone on home rule for Ireland in August and Octo 
ber, 1892. Gladstone's series on immortality in 1896 also attracted 
wide attention. Other leading English writers were Balfour, Mc 
Carthy, Sir Charles Dilke, James Bryce, Labouchere, Lang, and 
Gosse. 

Prominent American topics were the powers of the Speaker of the 
House of Representatives, discussed by Speaker Reed, a favorite 
contributor, and others; labor questions, on which T. V. Powderly, 
also a frequent writer for the Review, was an authority; free silver, in 
the discussion of which the editor seems to have given the advantage 
to the gold men; immigration, Catholicism, military and naval 
armaments, life insurance, the Columbian Exposition, and Hawaiian 
annexation. When the Venezuelan question came up, James Bryce 
and Andrew Carnegie, both frequent writers on Anglo-American 
relations, discussed it with sanity and insight. 

The Review came more and more to cultivate a clever and some 
what sophisticated type of essay on contemporary social life, man 
ners, and fads. Gail Hamilton had become a regular contributor in 
1886. Ouida came a few years later; and Max O'Rell, Jules Claretie, 
Sarah Grand, and Grant Allen wrote such pieces. The servant-girl 
problem, the man and the girl "of the period," courtship and mar 
riage, and the amusements and sports of the day furnished unlimited 
opportunities for this kind of writing. More serious was the discussion 
of divorce, which was analyzed in more than one symposium. Mark 
Twain, who had once called the Review "grandmotherly," now 
became one of its most valued contributors; most of his writing done 
for its pages was basically serious, and even bitter though com- 



[ iyo ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

rnonly winged with barbs of wit. His "In Defense of Harriet Shelley" 
and his "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offences" belong to the middle 
'nineties. The chief literary critics were Howells, Gosse, and Lang; 
but the magazine did not make a practice of reviewing new books. 

By 1891 the Review had reached its high peak of circulation, at 
seventy-six thousand with a subscription price of five dollars. In that 
year the Review of Reviews said: "It is unquestionably true that the 
North American is regarded by more people, in all parts of the 
country, as at once the highest and most impartial platform upon 
which current public issues can be discussed, than is any other 
magazine or review." It lost circulation, however, in the hard times 
of the middle 'nineties. 

In 1895 the publishing company was reorganized; and the next 
year Bryce turned the editorship over to Munro, who conducted the 
magazine for the next three years. Though still filled with valuable 
material, the North American under Munro declined in freshness 
and vitality. There were few exciting articles, and some tendency to 
get in a rut and stay there. Cuba was, of course, an absorbing topic; 
and the expansion question occupied many pages. General Miles' 
review of the Spanish War was one of the best features. Symposia 
were less frequent, and the Review's pages were no longer an arena 
for single combats and group melees. 

HPHEN in 1899, Colonel George Harvey bought a controlling 
* interest in the North American and became its editor. Harvey 
had been managing editor of Pulitzer's World in the early 'nineties 
and had later made a fortune in electric railways. The next year 
after he purchased the North American he became president of the 
reorganized Harper and Brothers, but he did not publish his maga 
zine under the aegis of that house. He did become editor of Harper's 
Weekly from 1901 to 1913, however, conducting the two periodicals 
simultaneously. 

Harvey's first number that for July, 1899 opened with a long 
poem by Swinburne. He continued to publish poems, usually rather 
long ones, throughout his editorship. He published Henley and 
Yeats in his first year; but probably the most famous poem he ever 
printed was Alan Seeger's "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" in 
October, 1916. 

For the first year or two, the topic which was featured was Eng 
land's war with the Boers, which was treated from the various inter 
national points of view by European and American writers. The 
Philippine question was also prominent; Harvey made a special 
effort to put the Filipino attitude before the American people. In 
October, 1900, there was an old-fashioned symposium on the presi- 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [ 171 ] 

dential issues; but Bryan's articles before and after the election give 
the Review of this year a definitely Democratic bias. 

In the meantime there had been much foreign material not 
only foreign politics, but European letters and art. Tolstoy, d'An- 
nunzio, and Maeterlinck became contributors. H. G. Wells' "Antici 
pations: An Adventure in Prophecy," a serial of 1901, is even more 
interesting a third of a century after its writing than it could have 
been to its first readers in the Review. A "World Politics" depart 
ment was begun in 1904, with correspondence from the leading 
European capitals. 

Three of the chief American contributors in these years were 
Howells, James, and Mark Twain. Mark wrote his famous "To the 
Person Sitting in Darkness" for the February, 1901 number. It was 
one of the bitterest excoriations of "civilization" ever printed; it 
made a great furor, and called for a second address "To My Mission 
ary Critics" in a later number. His "Chapters from My Autobiog 
raphy" appeared in 1906 and 1907. 

It was three years before that that the North American serialized 
Henry James' "The Ambassadors" its first work of fiction in 
nearly a century of existence. James was far from popular, but he 
seemed to belong to the North American: "He has come to his own," 
said Life, "and his own has taken him in." "The Ambassadors" was 
followed by Howells' "A Son of Royal Langbrith," and Conrad's 
"Under Western Eyes" appeared in 1910-11. At about this time 
Harvey became interested in the promotion of Esperanto as an 
international language, and for several years he published supple 
ments to the Review designed to forward this cause. 

The campaign of 1904 found the North American clearly sym 
pathetic to the candidacy of Theodore Roosevelt, though trying, as 
usual, to present both sides of the contest to its readers. Trusts were 
the theme of many articles in these years. A notable symposium dis 
cussed the Supreme Court decision in the Standard Oil Case in 1911. 
But in 1906, Harvey had turned against "T. R." and his high-handed 
ways. 

In that year the Review became a fortnightly, and began a 
regular editorial department called "The Editor's Diary." It was a 
very readable department; its editorial comments ranged from dis 
quisitions on constitutional questions to essays on such topics as 
"The Theory and Practice of Osculation." Thus Harvey made the 
North American, as his biographer observes, a personal organ for the 
first time in its history. A new department of book reviews was begun 
at the same time. But fortnightly publication lasted only a year, 
after which the Review once more became a monthly. The editorial 
department, however, was retained until 1909. The campaign of 



[ 172 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

1908 did not interest the Review very much; indeed there was a 
distinct decline in the enterprise and liveliness of the magazine 
beginning at about this time. The circulation appears to have been 
stationary at about twenty-five thousand. A larger type was adopted 
at the end of 1910, but the printing was sometimes inferior. 

In April, 1906, Harvey had published an article called "Whom 
Will the Democrats Next Nominate for President?" in which Mayo 
W. Hazeltine suggested the name of Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton 
University, for that office. This was more than six years before 
Wilson's actual nomination, but only a month after Harvey had 
first conspicuously pointed out his availability. The North American, 
with Harper's Weekly, continued to build up the Wilsonian can 
didacy. In the quadrennial presidential candidates' symposium in 
October, 1912, there were articles for Taft, Roosevelt, and Wilson; 
but editorially the Review was Democratic. 

A year later Harvey began the custom of making the first article in 
his magazine an editorial pronouncement, usually political. He was 
greatly disturbed by Wilson's handling of the Mexican situation, and 
by the war against Villa; and the campaign of 1916 found him 
supporting Hughes and condemning Wilson for meddlesomeness in 
Mexico, for violations of the merit system, and for what he called in 
his summing-up article in October, "a fatuous timidity in dealing 
with belligerent [European] powers." 

The Review was a fighting magazine during the war. "Our chief 
duty before God and man is to KILL HUNS," Harvey shouted. 
Impatient of monthly publication, he began the North American 
Review's War Weekly, later called Harvey's Weekly (1918-20). 
He disapproved of Wilson's "fourteen commandments," his work at 
Versailles, and the formation of the League. He supported Harding 
in 1920, and was the next year appointed ambassador to Great 
Britain. 

While he was abroad, Elizabeth B. Gutting, who had been an as 
sociate editor since 1910, edited the Review. Lawrence Gilman, who 
had been with the magazine since 1915, continued as literary and 
dramatic critic; and Willis Fletcher Johnson was an associate editor. 
David Jayne Hill, an authority on international questions, wrote 
many of the leading articles. Harvey returned to New York in time 
to take part in the presidential canvass of 1924; his leading North 
American campaign article was entitled "Coolidge or Chaos." The 
chief feature of the following year consisted of two symposia on 
"Five Years of Prohibition" ; to the one in June the drys contributed, 
and the wets were heard in September. 

When Harvey came home in 1924, he found the Review's circula 
tion down to thirteen thousand. In the Fall of that year he changed to 



ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS [ 173 ] 

quarterly publication, at four dollars; this took the magazine off the 
news-stands, which have seldom been friendly to quarterlies. 

In 1926 the Review was purchased by Walter Butler Mahony, 
lawyer and financier, who made it a monthly again in the following 
year, and much more attractive typographically. Associated with 
him in the editorship have been Miss Gutting, who remained until 
1927; W. F. Johnson, who continued as a contributing editor; Her- 
schel Brickell, who became the magazine's chief reviewer in 1927; 
and Kenneth Wilcox Payne, who came to the Review in 1928 from 
McClure's and other magazines. 

The magazine under Mahony was devoted to articles on social, 
economic, political, literary and art problems, with a few short 
stories in each number and departments of book reviews, light essays, 
and finance. It printed many well known writers, but in general it 
followed the policy of seeking new and various talent rather than 
repeating authors. In an era of social, financial and political upset, 
the Review kept an extraordinarily even keel, swinging far neither to 
the right nor to the left, interpreting situations and tendencies quietly 
and interestingly month after month. Among its political commenta 
tors were Vice-President Dawes, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and Sena 
tors Albert C. Ritchie, Atlee Pomerene, Arthur Capper, and George 
H. Moses. Such English writers as Dean W. R. Inge, V. Sackville- 
West, Gilbert K. Chesterton, and Siegfried Sassoon contributed to its 
pages; and Conrad Aiken, Amy Lowell, Lincoln Steffens, Struthers 
Burt, and John Erskine lent distinction to its tables of contents from 
time to time. 

The Review now comes under the control of John H. G. Pell, 
known for his writings on early American history, and a great-great- 
grandson of Edward T. Channing, third editor of the magazine. The 
associate editor is Richard Dana Skinner, formerly dramatic editor of 
The Commonweal and a great-grandson of that Richard Henry 
Dana who, as so many thought, should have been the Review's 
fourth editor. Quarterly publication, which has been the rule for a 
little more than half the magazine's history, is resumed. 

HP HE hundred and twenty years of the North American Review 
* were cut precisely in half by the revolution effected in its policies 
by Allen Thorndike Rice in 1876. In its first sixty years it was digni 
fied, ponderous, respected; its list of contributors contained the 
names of most New Englanders who were prominent in literature, 
scholarship, and public affairs. Though it occasionally tried to widen 
its horizons, it was definitely provincial, maintaining close relation 
ships with Harvard College and Boston. It was often really scholarly, 
though sometimes an encyclopaedic dullness masqueraded as learning 



[ 174 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

in its pages. Under Sparks and the Everetts it achieved a fair cir 
culation for the times, after which its business affairs declined in 
spite of the brilliance of Lowell, Norton, and Adams past helping 
by anything short of radical change. 

After such a change in 1876, it became a scintillating and lively 
journal, featuring many of the world's great names, and filled with 
clash of opinion on politics, economics, science, religion, and social 
problems. It reached its peak of prosperity in the 'eighties, though it 
was later distinguished through the long editorship of George Harvey 
for its political influence and its international outlook. Its total file, 
amounting now to approximately one hundred and twenty thousand 
pages, is a remarkable repository, unmatched by that of any other 
magazine, of American thought for nearly a century and a quarter. 



Book Reviews 

OF TIME AND THE RIVER. By Thomas Wolfe. ScribneSs, $3.00. 

TA7HEN Thomas Wolfe published "Look Homeward Angel" in 
" * 1929, he was hailed as the novelist of young America. Critics 
congratulated themselves on having discovered an author who was 
capable of portraying "the American Scene." Here was the long 
needed fury, gusto, tradition, and breadth of canvas. And not since 
Whitman had America been so sincerely thundered in every word of 
a long work. 

These critics were partially right. Wolfe was a sensitive young 
man who had written an autobiographical novel covering the first 
nineteen years of his life in Asheville and later at Chapel Hill. He had 
completed the first part of his education, had severed his childhood 
family ties, and was prepared to face the world and graduate work at 
Harvard. We leave him with a thorough knowledge of the struggle of 
his sensitive nature to substantiate itself in the face of his vital, garish, 
and unsensitive family. In the course of his development the whole 
town, a great number of individuals, and beyond them the whole 
South, have had a perceptible influence on his personality. There are 
a few characters who are not easy to forget his mother and father, 
his brother Ben, and a girl he momentarily loves, Laura James. But 
as for the American Scene, he has not covered it, because it cannot be 
covered. What is still better, he has not even attempted it. He has 
vividly portrayed the section of America with which he is familiar. 

One of the most unfortunate tendencies in American criticism, 
which dates back even before the Local Colorists of the 'seventies and 
'eighties, is the demand for national consciousness in creative writing. 
Pressure is put on the young artist to shout America; he is made con 
scious of his slightest use of a continent-wide theme, and unless he is 
a great artist he succumbs to geographical jingoism. Paul Engle, last 
summer's poet, was an example of a young writer who had become a 
victim of this tradition. "Of Time and the River" shows that Wolfe 
has not altogether escaped from the influence of the critics. In an 
orgiastic passage on page 155, with the aid of purple adjectives and 
italics, he covers the country from Maine to southern California and 
back again. 

"It is the place of the immense and lonely earth, the place of fat 
ears and abundance where they grow cotton, corn, and wheat, the 
wine-red apples of October, and the good tobacco." This goes on for 
pages and pages until America becomes a gigantic hoax rather than a 
real and living country. 



[ 176 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

This fragment of prose fiction which takes Thomas Wolfe, or 
Eugene Gant, from his twentieth to his twenty-fifth year, can be 
called neither prose nor fiction for the characters from Jack Cecil to 
Professor Baker have been changed very little from actual life, and 
the style often approaches rhapsodic free verse. The author shows a 
great mastery of conversation and an ability to delineate unforget 
table characters in a few vivid strokes. Then he goes on for pages and 
pages to describe them further, or they drop out of the story forever. 

The result is that the principal characters, with the exception of 
old Gant, who is a truly heroic figure, tend to become caricatures. 
Bascom Pentland, Eugene's Boston uncle, starts as a Dickensonian 
New Englander and ends a madman. Even the middle-class people 
who live in Melrose grow absurd when they defend their middle-class 
attitude. The hordes of men and women who have had a molding in 
fluence on Wolfe's life seem in a large part disturbing and irrelevant. 
During his adolescence, these influences were more perceptible, and 
these characters were indispensable. But with his first maturity, their 
importance becomes less and less. Eugene is a colossal egoist and is 
more apt to influence than to be influenced. Thus the necessity for 
them is destroyed, and he often appears in the role of a newspaper 
reporter rather than of a developing personality. 

These characters spring from all classes of society, from the Shanty- 
Irish to the very wealthy on the Hudson, or to Oxford undergradu 
ates. They are sometimes given significance by having some strange 
fascination for Eugene, but what this is cannot be discovered. In the 
case of the Coulstons, the mysteriously disgraced Oxford family, 
Eugene finds himself in sympathy with the daughter. They declare 
their affection for one another and part; there is no explanation, only 
the impression of some vague external force at work. 

Wolfe does much of his best writing of Eugene's childhood in retro 
spect. There is a fine scene of his brother Ben presenting him with his 
first watch, and another of Gant, the master-mason at work. Prob 
ably the greatest incident in the whole book is the death of Gant, but 
it is also unbearable because of its length. The scene of his helpless 
ness during a haemorrhage is probably one of the most moving in 
modern fiction, but a reader is capable of only so much strong emo 
tion. The tension is too great, and his death, when it finally does 
come, instead of being a tragedy is almost a relief. But the dignity of 
the situation is saved by a consideration of his dead hands which are 
expressive of his character both in life and death. 

Even in this scene his words carry too much impact; he has set the 
timbre too high. Instead of being vivid his words are like a confused 
roar. When he says, "Spring came that year like a triumph and like a 
prophecy ... it sang and shifted like a moth of light before the 



BOOK REVIEWS [i??] 

youth, but he was sure that it would bring him a glory and fulfill 
ment he had never known," there is not much left for him in describ 
ing a circumstance a little out of the ordinary. 

Bernard De Voto has called "Of Time and the River" an ex 
ample of manic depression, infantile regression, and a compulsion 
neurosis. This is hardly literary criticism, but there are certainly 
many symptoms of all of these. Eugene on his first coming to Harvard 
is driven to reading with a maniacal fury. Later, in Dijon, when he 
has left his weak friend Starwick, he writes with the same impetus for 
fourteen to twenty hours a day. People never talk in quiet voices, 
they shout, howl, or cackle at the slightest happening, and the steak 
at Durgin Park is described with the same finality as his dead father's 
hands. 

But Wolfe cannot be dismissed a psychological freak. In many 
isolated passages he shows his ability to be of a high order. When he 
has finished this novel of his life, for it appears from the title page that 
there are many volumes forthcoming, he may have objectified his 
experience to the extent of being able to create many inter-related 
characters, which will be the better for having been founded on so 
many sensitively absorbed personalities. 

With the widening of his experience his view of America will be 
come less self-conscious, and if he shows the same common sense that 
he used in fleeing to Europe from lionization this last March, there is 
no reason why he cannot go farther toward expressing Romantic 
America than any novelist living today. 

JOHN SLOCUM 

HE SENT FORTH A RAVEN. By Elizabeth Madox Roberts. Viking, 
$2.50. 

nPWO, at least, of the genuinely distinguished novels of our genera- 
*- tion have been written by Elizabeth Madox Roberts, one histori 
cal, the other contemporary, and both of her native Kentucky. 
These are "The Great Meadow" and "The Time of Man," the sec 
ond of which has just now made its appearance in the Modern 
Library with a fine introduction by J. Donald Adams. 

With this securely established reputation, both keen interest and 
high expectations awaited the publication of Miss Roberts' recent 
work of long fiction, "He Sent Forth a Raven." It is a book which she 
polished and repolished for five years, and in seeking a reason for its 
obscurities I thought that perhaps it lost its edge somewhere along 
the way, as the writer's subtly suggestive method became more and 
more refined in working it over. For it must be said that, in spite of 
certain obvious good qualities such as the mellifluous prose, in 



[ i 7 8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

which the brief descriptive passages have the evocative power of 
poetry Miss Roberts has drifted in this novel so far from the 
world of common things and average experiences that it will, I be 
lieve, puzzle more readers than it satisfies and edifies. 

In some of her minor fiction and in a good many of her short 
stories this tendency has been patent for a long time, and it is, per 
haps inherent in the kind of fusion of poetry and realism that is the 
core of her method. My own feeling is that the essential truth of life 
is best realized in art by this very blending which, when most success 
ful, makes for writing of profound power to move and stir both the 
intellect and the emotions. 

But if we may take it as a fair statement that an author should 
make his meaning reasonably clear, should put his intention into 
such terms as do not make severe and unreasonable demands upon 
the sensibility and understanding of the reader, I think there is no 
other verdict to be reached upon "He Sent Forth a Raven" than that 
it is an artistic failure, and that Miss Roberts runs into the serious 
danger of losing her following if she continues in her present vein. 
This would be a loss to literature of no mean proportions and one to 
be greatly deplored. For without the completion of the circle 
without, that is, appreciation and understanding from the reader 
the writer's task is not done, nor can it bring the right sort of satisfac 
tion merely because the creator himself understands his work. 

Because of my profound respect for Miss Roberts' talents I read 
the present novel twice over and with concentrated care; at the end I 
was still baffled. A glimpse of meaning here and there, some recogni 
tion of the symbolism, some suspicion that perhaps I knew what the 
author was trying to say was, to be entirely frank, the most I was able 
to get. There is always a chance that a reviewer may be insensitive to 
a certain writer's manner of speech, but after I had completed my 
second reading of "He Sent Forth a Raven," I read a number of re 
views and found that the issue was either entirely evaded or else the 
reviewer admitted that while he liked Miss Roberts' writing her aim 
was not disclosed. 

One of the features of the book that lifts it at once from the realm 
of reality is the strangeness of its characters. Stoner Drake, about 
whom the story is built, is a successful farmer, a man of strength and 
ability, who upon the death of his second wife takes an oath that he 
will never set foot upon the ground again. His peculiarity is not 
limited to this quirk. On one occasion when his daughter, Martha, 
returns from a horseback ride with her sweetheart, he abuses her 
beyond measure, and the lover withdraws like a soundly whipped 
dog, leaving the girl completely at the mercy of her psychopathic 
parent. One of Drake's companions is a carpenter who has written 



BOOK REVIEWS [179] 

a book on the universe called "The Cosmograph" and who talks such 
wild and high-flown language as would mark him at once as madder, 
perhaps, even than Drake. Still another is a queer wandering 
preacher named Johnny Briggs. 

The period covered is the early years of the century up through the 
war, and there is a running commentary on farming in its relation to 
world affairs a sort of brief history of Kentucky agriculture which 
can hardly be considered of any importance for itself. Miss Roberts 
shuttles back and forth in time in a manner that does not make her 
book any easier to understand; it is an effort to keep up with these 
flittings which do not seem to have any other sound reason except 
that the narrative is badly organized. 

Sharing the honors of the center of the stage with Drake is his 
granddaughter Jocelle, and it is the developing of this girl, charming, 
but as a character very shadowy, which gives the tale what unity 
it has. Jocelle is the raven, Drake the Noah; it is his habit to fire odd 
questions at her. At the last she wins through the old man's tyranny 
to her lover, Logan Treer, who is a conscientious objector in the war, 
and who is about to take over the farm when the book closes. 

As an example of what I mean by Miss Roberts' slantwise and 
somewhat too subtle suggestiveness, let me cite just one example 
the strange family has just been discussing the war: 

"Jocelle did not speak to them then, loving all of them in quiet. 
Logan and Walter had taken off their leather jackets and they trailed 
them under an arm. Logan's leather vest was pulled open. He would 
shake his head now, his hat off, tossing back long imaginary locks. He 
seems to be riding a cantering animal, making laughter with Martha. 
Out of his centaur mouth gracious words were flowing. He was riding 
unshod, on swift horse limbs, little feet, thin shanks, strong thighs, his 
hair thrown up in a wind. He was standing, feet drawn together, 
Chiron, the good centaur, chanting a line, outstanding before Martha 
who was slowly dying, a lovely girl, the sun bright now on her dark 
hair and his rippling mouth: 

'Give me a spark of Nature's fire, 
That's all the learning I desire; 
And tho' I drudge thro 5 dub and mire 
At plough . . . plough . . . plow. . . .' 

'What's dub?' 

'Dub's Scotch. Scotch for water hole. Drudge through a Kentucky 
water-hole, by George !' 
'What George?' 

'The Father of the Country, by Hec!' 
'What Hec?' " 



[ 180] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Miss Roberts has the right, of course, to create a world of her own 
and to people it with her own creatures; the trouble here is that she 
has written about the everyday world in such a way as to cause more 
confusion and puzzlement than pleasure. 

HERSGHEL BRIGKELL 



HEAVENS MY DESTINATION. By Thornton Wilder. Harper's, 
$2.50. 

"George Brush is my name, 
America's my nation 
Ludington's my dwelling place 
And Heaven's my destination." 

'""PHUS goes the doggerel about the hero who was dubbed by glow- 
* ing advance critics as the Don Quixote of this tale. But a second 
quotation from one of Mr. Wilder's other books furnishes the key to 
his evangelical character: "Of all forms of genius, goodness has the 
longest awkward age." The reader must judge for himself the degree 
of satirical interest in this study. Many of the moralistic ideas personi 
fied in Brush can be traced to the Oxford movement, but Brush, un 
like Buchman, thoroughly dislikes organized religion. 

Readers of Mr. Wilder's work can never forget him. They may not 
be in tune with his classical philosophy but they will be hard put to 
gainsay the grave beauty of his style. His comic interpretation of 
human beings in universal situations, his concern with man's destiny, 
provoke endless discussion. Like the ancient Greeks whom he so ob 
viously admires, Thornton Wilder cultivates art without loss of manli 
ness. He is a "lover of the beautiful and simple in his tastes," as is 
shown in "The Woman of Andros," and "The Bridge of San Luis 
Rey." 

In "Heaven's My Destination," the author returns to the manner 
of his earlier novel, "The Cabala." He is aiming the shaft of his in 
sight, not this time at a decadent group of Romans with a precious 
culture, but at goodness in raw undigested proportions, as exemplified 
in the person of a lanky midwestern American. Yet the book is satire 
which does not quite come off. The writer's heart is not really in it. 
Since he has penned more of a fantasy than satire, this portrait of a 
zealot does not add to Mr. Wilder's stature as an artist. It adds im 
measurably, however, to his reputation as a profound humorist and 
ironist. 

George Brush is a human, enigmatic and funny, yet peculiarly un 
lovable figure, who wishes desperately to be taken seriously. Spicy 
and often raucous dialogue punctuates the peregrinations of this 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 181 ] 

young reformer who sells school text-books through the corn belt 
while he tries to imitate Gandhi. His behavior disgusts the vulgar, be 
wilders the worldly and annoys the defenders of the law. He pursues 
a doggedly righteous course, defacing the blotters of second rate hotels 
with Biblical texts. He prays in the aisles of smokers. He suffers arrest 
again and again for such weird offences as practising his belief in 
Voluntary Poverty on a failing bank, by reviling the system of savings 
for depositors. He attempts to influence newspapermen and their 
rowdy companions to keep to the straight and narrow. He hands over 
money to a hold-up man for Ahimsa's sake. He treats the inmates of a 
bawdy house with the respect usually accorded the pupils of a young 
ladies' seminary. 

Nevertheless the most hard-boiled people he encounters find some 
thing in him to respect. Perhaps it is the frightening sincerity of the 
logical man with the closed mind which shakes their's and the 
reader's confidence in the conventional view of a madman, tilting 
vainly at the windmills of petty vice, graft, hypocrisy and impurity. 
Only twice is Brush himself badly shaken. Once when he tries to 
make an honest girl of a protesting young farmer's daughter whom 
he has gone so far as to seduce, and discovers that the Great Ameri 
can Home of his dreams cannot be brought about by sheer good will. 
And another time when he refuses to debate agnosticism versus faith 
with the doubting Thomas Burkin. Here is Brush, "I think I know 
what you meant by saying I was a prig I don't mean to be one. 
That is the only way I can be, and will hold on to my main ideas 
about life." He illustrates the truism that reformers and fanatics are 
seldom thinkers. They cannot afford that luxury. He plays anew the 
eternal pathetic comedy of a small personality's effort to reach the 
sublime when it is capable only of the ridiculous and irritating. 

The book is stimulating because it contains the essence and spirit 
of the vast Middle West, unlike the literature of regionalism which 
has been sweeping the country like a dust storm. The author accom 
plishes in a few bold strokes what scores of meticulous, lengthy writers 
have failed to encompass in thousands of words, a feeling of the main 
stream, if not street of the American scene. This he conveys by a style 
as functional and sheer ly communicative as can be conceived. He re 
veals the soulless characteristics of much of the United States. He 
places a finger on the hair-trigger of what fellow writers like Thomas 
Wolfe seem to be groping for in this country a sort of spiritual 
security that is lacking in our civilization. 

The picture of Camp Morgan, a summer recreational spot, run by 
a hearty politician who takes a great fancy to Brush is one of the out 
standing scenes. The burlesqued court-room vignette is no less out of 
life. Twin wonders are left in the reader's mind. They revolve around 



[ i8a ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Brush and his uncompromising, unflinching, literal Christianity, and 
around the fact that a classical scholar and individualist should have 
produced this puzzling book. 

ELEANOR L. VAN ALEN 



TIME OUT OF MIND. By Rachel Field. Macmillan, $2.50. 

r |~'HAT nostalgic mood whose influence is apparent in so much of 
* our recent American fiction dominates Rachel Field's well 
wrought but very conventional novel, "Time Out of Mind." Told 
in the first person by its heroine, Kate Fernald, and purporting to be 
the story of her youth as she remembers and writes it down in her old 
age, it is also to some extent the story of the Maine village of Little 
Prospect, and the decay of the New England shipping industry. 

In the days when Kate Fernald, a stocky, sandy-haired child of 
ten, and her widowed mother first came to Fortune's Folly the big 
house which was the home of the most important people in Little 
Prospect Major Fortune was still trying to close his eyes to the fast- 
increasing menace of steam. Through more than one generation the 
name of Fortune had stood for great clipper ships whose towering 
masts were familiar sights in every large port, and the stern, proud 
major refused to realize that such ships now belonged to the past. 
Defiantly he built the splendid clipper Rainbow, the scene of whose 
launching is one of the best in the book. She took the water by moon 
light: "Flaring torches had been lit and in the yellow, flickering light 
the shipyard looked vast and strange." Perhaps that flickering light 
had something to do with the accident that marked her for what she 
was a doomed ship, despite her "long, lovely shape," and the 
white wonder of her sails. 

The novel is principally concerned with Kate herself, and her rela 
tions to the major's children, Nat and Rissa. Different as they were, 
these two were yet bound together by "the same delicate, high pride," 
which one shrewd woman called "the Fortune in them." Nat, one of 
those musical genuises so numerous in fiction, delicate, neurotic, a 
weakling, was the very core of his sister's heart; while Kate fell in 
love with him almost immediately, though she remained unaware of 
it until years later. Rissa wanted to mold Nat in accordance with her 
own strong will she would give him his desire, but it must be in her 
way, not his; Kate would rejoice to give him anything he wanted, 
without question or qualification. Their two ways of love inevitably 
clashed, though not before Nat married the usual pretty, rich and 
shallow girl, whose demands made it impossible for him to go on with 
his music, and so thwarted the career brilliantly begun. 

As children, the three had been closely bound together; but once 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 183 ] 

they began to grow up, differences quickly appeared. It was not only 
that Kate was poor, and her mother little more than an upper servant 
at Fortune's Folly, nor that she had gone to the village school, while 
Nat and Rissa were carefully educated. It was that while the For 
tunes belonged to those who do not precisely take, but rather casu 
ally accept, Kate was altogether of those who give. Of a rare and fine 
loyalty, both to places and to persons, she gave herself without stint, 
feeling richly rewarded by the mere acceptance of her gift. Only once 
in her life did she leave Little Prospect; that was when Nat conducted 
a great orchestra through the stirring measures of his "Ship Sym 
phony," and for keeping her promise to be there she paid with the 
security, the husband, the home and children she might have had. 

Through all these years, changes came to Little Prospect the 
changes which came to many New England coast villages. What had 
been a ship-building, sea-faring community evolved into one whose 
principal business was catering to the summer sojourners, the "rusti- 
cators," as they were called at first, in retaliation for their habit of 
referring to the residents as "natives." Land prices soared, especially 
for lots along the once despised rocky shore with its view of the sea, 
and the shrewder folk profited as did that Jake Bullard whom Kate 
once promised to marry. These changes provide the background for 
unchanging Kate, who suffered when she saw the trees sacrificed, 
and the road cut like a gash in the side of the mountain. The book is 
full of exquisitely simple pen-pictures of that out-of-doors world 
wherein Kate was most at home: "A feeling of frost was in the air and 
the mingled smell of low tide and fallen apples. In a few moments the 
sun would be dropping behind Jubilee Mountain, but it struck into 
the spruce woods as I set my feet to the path, touching those brown 
trunks with peculiar light. They burned red as if each were a hollow 
shaft of fire." 

Like its heroine, the novel is thoroughly old-fashioned, romantic, 
packed with sentiment, slow-moving, much too long, altogether con 
ventional in its incidents and their development. The narrative 
method employed not merely justifies but necessitates a good deal of 
this, but it does seem a pity that the events should follow stereotyped 
patterns quite so closely. In its emotional quality, the book is often 
fine and moving; it has soundness of purpose, a sincerity and depth 
of sympathy which are something more than praise- worthy. Yet its 
very considerable power over the reader's imagination is due to less 
any of these than to its gusto for life, the sense it gives of that warm 
blooded enjoyment of living in which almost all of our modern fiction 
is so noticeably lacking. At a time when the literary spirit seems 
steeped in despair, it is not strange that there should be enthusiastic 
welcome for a very well-written novel which regards the general 



[ 184 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

worth- whileness of life as a matter of course, and not as a stupid, naive 
delusion. 

LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 

ROBERT E. LEE. By Douglas S. Freeman. Scribner's, 4 volumes, $15.00. 

seventy years, Robert E. Lee was viewed by his numerous 

biographers through the rose-tinted glasses of romance. Douglas 
S. Freeman, in his "Robert E. Lee; a Biography," has focused on 
him the pure white light of reality, revealing the man as he was 
rather than as we would like to have had him. In completeness and 
detail the four volumes of "Robert E. Lee" can be matched in Ameri 
can biography only by Beveridge's "Life of John Marshall." They 
equal that superb biography not only in quantity but in quality. 

When the first two volumes were published in the Fall of 1934, it 
was evident that the definitive life of Lee had been written; the ap 
pearance of the last two volumes in February, 1935, placed "Robert 
E. Lee" among the foremost biographies of our literature. 

In 1915 Mr. Freeman was asked by the publishers to write an 
authoritative biography of the military leader of the Confederacy. 
He accepted the invitation unaware of the enormity of the task that 
had been set for him. Upon examining the published lives of Lee, 
Freeman found that little original research had been done on the sub 
ject, that few of the public or private collections of Civil War mate 
rial in the South had been examined, that Lee's life before and after 
the Civil War had been almost entirely neglected, that Lee's earlier 
biographers were either inexperienced in the writing of military his 
tory, or had depended upon the accounts written by Lee's com 
manders after the war. Lee wrote nothing concerning the war him 
self. 

The task of collecting and arranging the material, of digesting and 
passing judgment upon the official and unofficial accounts of the bat 
tles in which Lee participated, and of writing the narrative occupied 
all the free time of Mr. Freeman between 1915 and the publication of 
the first volumes in 1934. 

The thoroughness with which the author tells the story of Lee's life 
and career is by no means its only recommendation. In the strictly 
biographical parts of the book, Freeman adopted the best methods of 
life-writing, interpretive narrative, reinforced by Lee's own letters 
and reports wherever possible. It is, however, in the narration of 
Lee's part in the Civil War that Mr. Freeman has made a definite 
contribution to the technique of military biography and history. He 
has placed his reader at Lee's side throughout the war, giving him 
the same information that Lee had regarding the size and movements 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 185 ] 

of the Federal army from 1861 to 1865. By this method, the reader 
can use his own judgment as to the success or failure of Lee as a 
general. This method is not only striking in its originality, it makes 
the reader an actual participant in each battle. 

The first two volumes carry Lee's story from his birth in 1807 to 
the loss of his principal lieutenant, Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson at 
Chancellorsville in May, 1863. In the first volume we are given a re 
markable insight into the details of his early life and the formation of 
his character. The son of "Light-Horse" Harry Lee of Revolutionary 
fame, Robert E. Lee was born a soldier and a Virginia gentleman. If 
we add to this inheritance the fact that he married a daughter of 
George Washington Parke Custis, a grandson of Martha Washington, 
we can readily understand the traditions and the standards that went 
to the formation of Lee's character. He fashioned his own life as far as 
possible on that of Washington, though his sectional point of view, his 
blind loyalty to his state would never have swerved the first President 
from his primary allegiance to his country. 

Lee received the best education available in Virginia in his youth. 
Latin, Greek and mathematics formed the basis of the curriculum, 
and in the latter Lee was particularly proficient. The straitened finan 
cial circumstances of the family would have prevented young Lee 
from securing anything more than a good secondary education had 
not West Point been available and most desirable, for did not Robert 
E. Lee come from a family of soldiers? 

Lee's career at West Point was brilliant but uneventful. He was 
second or third in his class throughout the four years, on his gradua 
tion receiving a commission in the engineers, a branch of the service 
open only to the best students. 

Before the publication of Mr. Freeman's volume, we knew com 
paratively little of Lee's life from his graduation to the opening of the 
Civil War. We can now follow him as he entered upon one tour of 
duty after another in the Engineer Corps of the United States Army. 
He repaired and built forts in Georgia and Maryland and New York; 
he built permanent dykes opposite St. Louis which were intended to 
restore the Mississippi to its original channel. He was doing the ordi 
nary routine duty of an engineering officer, getting experience of a 
kind, but not the kind of which he would stand most in need when he 
came to direct the Army of Northern Virginia. 

Even the Mexican War gave him precious little experience in ac 
tual fighting. It did, however, offer him an opportunity to exhibit his 
abilities to General Scott, the commanding general of the American 
army then as he was to be at the opening of the Civil War. Lee's 
services as engineer and intelligence officer were extremely valuable 
and thoroughly appreciated not only by Scott but by every field offi- 



[ 1 86 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

cer with whom he came in contact. Lee returned from Mexico a 
thoroughly experienced staff officer. He learned many phases of the 
science of war which would be of inestimable value to him in the 
great years to come, and he learned one thing, General Scott's theory 
of high command, which would be a contributing factor to the final 
defeat of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1865. 

General Scott believed that it was the business of the conmanding 
general to prepare an army for fighting, to provide transportation 
and supplies, to map out a campaign and to have the army at the 
proper place at the proper time. He further believed that it was then 
the duty of his commanders to fight the battles. Mr. Freeman is very 
careful to bring out this theory at this point in the narrative because 
it is to mean so much to Lee and the Confederacy later on. 

The years between the Mexican and Civil Wars were busy ones 
for Major and later Lieutenant-Colonel Lee. Among his assignments 
during this period was his super intendency of West Point. The place 
had seen many changes since Lee's day and he made several himself, 
with the purpose of improving the scholastic standards. Lee made an 
ideal superintendent: he liked to deal with young men, he was in 
tensely interested in improving the quality of the officer material in 
the army, and he was equally the soldier and the gentleman in his 
relations with the cadets and with his brother officers. 

A reorganization of the cavalry was responsible for Lee's transfer 
from West Point to active service. Promotion was very slow in the 
engineers, and when the offer of a lieutenant-colonelcy in a cavalry 
regiment came it could not be turned down, though it meant separa 
tion from his family and the hard life of a frontier post in the West. 
Actually he was in Texas during the remainder of his service in the 
United States Army, a service largely devoted to Indian fighting, the 
only active field service in which Lee was ever engaged before the 
Civil War. 

Meanwhile the "irrepressible conflict" was moving to a decision 
by arms. Lee, like almost every other soldier before or since, knew 
nothing about politics and cared less. I doubt if he had ever given the 
matter much thought. As an officer in the army he was a staunch up 
holder of the federal government, as a Lee he was a loyal son of the 
sovereign state of Virginia. When secession was first spoken of, Lee 
was unalterably opposed to it and sincerely hoped that Virginia would 
not leave the Union. When she did, Lee's decision was soon made. 
He must go with her. 

Lee did not resign from the army because the institution of slavery 
was being threatened, for he did not believe in slavery. He did not 
resign because the federal government was attempting to dictate to 
the several states, for, although he believed in the theory of states' 



BOOK REVIEWS [187] 

rights, he had not thought out the matter to any definite conclusion. 
He gave up his commission and his career because to do anything 
else was incompatible with his idea as to the manner in which a Vir 
ginia gentleman, a Lee, a connection of the great Washington, should 
act. After reading Freeman's brilliant chapter, "On a Train Enroute 
to Richmond" one is keenly aware of the simplicity and nobility of 
Robert E. Lee's character. 

With Lee's arrival in Richmond, events began to move rapidly. 
He offered his services and was placed in command of the military 
affairs of the state. Conditions were chaotic; the provisional govern 
ment of the Confederacy was at Montgomery, Alabama; the seat of 
the war was northern Virginia. Armies had to be recruited, officered, 
outfitted and provisioned before a war could be carried on. Lee was 
not only in command of Virginia's army, he was also responsible for 
the protection of her seacoast. Hastily assembling a staff, he began 
the creation of that fighting force that became known as the Army of 
Northern Virginia, that in the last desperate days of the struggle 
called itself Lee's Miserables. 

After the removal of the capital of the Confederacy to Richmond, 
and after the appointment of four full generals of the Confederate 
army, of whom Lee was second in seniority, later becoming the 
senior general, he was placed in command of the Army of Northern 
Virginia. This was the most important unit of the whole fighting 
force, for upon it depended the safety of Richmond. Relieved of the 
numerous duties that occupied him in the first weeks of the war, Lee 
began his permanent organization. He gathered about him the best 
staff and commanders that he could find, relying on defensive tactics 
and the equally unsettled condition of the Northern army to protect 
him until he could perfect his plans for offensive operations. 

The story of the first two years of the Civil War, which occupies the 
latter part of the first and the whole of the second volume of Free 
man's biography, is comparatively well known. The first year saw 
the Confederates generally successful, though they could not deci 
sively defeat the North or capture Washington. Their success was 
partly due to the inefficiency of the Northern commanders and the 
rawness of the armies they led. The Confederate army was equally 
raw but it was led by more experienced officers and the men seemed 
to put more energy into their attacks than did the rank and file in the 
North. 

It would be impossible to go into details of the principal engage 
ments at which Lee commanded. Mr. Freeman proves, in case after 
case, that Lee carefully planned his battles, doing everything in his 
power to achieve victory. He did win at times but gradually his losses 
became more frequent and more important. And he was not respon- 



[ i88 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

sible for some of them, though he always took complete responsibility. 
His first great loss occurred at Chancellor sville. Here he lost, not a 
battle he won that but the services of his greatest commander 
Lieutenant-General Jackson. Though Jackson was not the only com 
mander lost, he was the most important, for he was the greatest 
fighter the South had and one of the greatest strategists and tacticians 
produced by the Civil War. After his death, General Lee was com 
pelled to reorganize his entire army, giving divisions and corps to 
men not really capable of handling them. 

Chancellorsville was Lee's last great victory, Gettysburg his first 
great defeat. Suffice it to say that in winning the former he lost the 
man who might have made victory possible in the latter. Many rea 
sons have been advanced by others and are advanced by Mr. Free 
man for Lee's failure to win at Gettysburg, the latter's being bril 
liantly explained in the chapter titled "Why Was Gettysburg Lost?" 
in Volume III. Perhaps the greatest reason was the one which Lee 
took completely to himself, that he had expected more from his men 
than flesh and blood were capable of giving. 

Whatever the reasons may have been, Gettysburg was the high 
point of the Civil War. It brought confidence to the North and, to a 
certain extent, lowered morale to the South. Though Lincoln had not 
yet found the ideal commander he knew that he had an army that 
would fight when properly led. On the other hand, the South began 
to feel that the man-power and wealth of the North would gradually 
win the war. With the Mississippi controlled by the North, Sherman 
about to begin his terrible march through the deep South, and 
Grant winning victory after victory in the West, the South must have 
recognized the beginning of the end. 

General Lee was never able to take the offensive again after Gettys 
burg. He would win other battles but they would be relatively in 
significant. His army would show time and time again the stuff of 
which it was made, but it would be fighting a losing battle. He would 
soon have pitted against him a man who had only one plan of battle : 
to strike and strike and strike until the enemy must surrender. Fortu 
nately for his plan and for the perpetuation of the Union, General 
Grant had almost unlimited resources at his disposal. General Lee 
would have to watch his army disappearing before his eyes. Losses in 
battle were great; losses from disease, lack of equipment and deser 
tion were equally great. 

During the last year of the Civil War General Lee was confronted 
with the same problems that harassed General Washington during 
the whole of the Revolution. The winter of 1864-65 found the Con 
federate army frequently without food or clothing or supplies of any 
kind. The soldiers of Lee's army loved him as few military com- 



BOOK REVIEWS [189] 

manders have been loved by the men they led, but even that love did 
not prevent wholesale desertions as the army realized that the cause 
for which it was fighting and suffering was lost. 

Early in 1865 it became apparent that the war must soon end. The 
North had men, supplies, the determination to win and a com 
mander who counted not the cost when victory was in his grasp. The 
South had only the shadow of an army, practically no supplies and a 
courageous commander who knew that courage alone could not 
stem the tide that was set against him. The idea of surrender was 
painful to Robert E. Lee, the sight of the army starved and half 
naked was even more painful. Negotiations were opened, they failed, 
and finally on the afternoon of April 9, 1865, General Lee and 
General Grant met at the McLean house near Appomatox Court 
house where General Lee formally surrendered the Army of North 
ern Virginia. The Civil War was over. 

The last five years of Lee's life were in the nature of an anti-climax. 
He performed a valuable service as President of Washington College 
(later named Washington and Lee) at Lexington, Virginia, and by 
example helped the southern soldier to adjust himself to changed 
conditions after the war. 

In the chapter which has for its title, "The Sword of Robert E. 
Lee," Mr. Freeman has given one of the most magnificent summaries 
of a man that it has ever been my privilege to read. He shows us that 
Lee was a master of strategy as became a student of the art of war 
and an engineer, though his tactics left much to be desired until near 
the end of the war. He proves conclusively that Lee's theory of com 
mand, inherited from General Scott, proved disastrous on more than 
one occasion because his commanders sometimes lacked the self- 
confidence and the ability to carry out his plans. His third handicap 
lay in the gentleness of his nature. General Lee had learned obedience, 
submission to authority, cooperation; he could not enforce these 
necessary traits on his subordinates. The men of the South carried 
their political ideas into the army, resenting any authority but their 
own. Sullenness, jealousy, sheer obstinacy were obstacles which Lee 
hesitated to remove because he wished to treat his commanders as 
gentlemen rather than as subordinates. His patience was constantly 
strained, his failure to enforce his will lost more than one battle. 

To balance these faults General Lee had the one great virtue of 
loyalty. He was a consummate organizer and administrator; his 
work in Virginia in the first weeks of the war is ample evidence of 
these qualities. Furthermore, he was able to work in harmony with 
his superiors and to handle graciously the multitudinous civilian mat 
ters that occupied too large a portion of the time of the commanding 
general of an army in the nineteenth century. Finally and most im- 



[ igo ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

portant, he had the confidence of his own men. It was the personal 
qualities of Lee that held the Confederate forces together for almost 
a year before Appomatox. The rank and file would go anywhere if 
they were led by Lee. No commander can ask more than that. 

When we have finished Freeman's "Robert E. Lee," we know the 
whole story of the life and career of a great and simple man. We have 
followed him from birth to death, and we are no longer in doubt as to 
what manner of man and soldier he was. Mr. Freeman has combined 
the best methods of biography and history to make a study that will 
not be forgotten. Carefully avoiding the many pitfalls that line the 
path of the modern biographer, Mr. Freeman has given us Robert E. 
Lee as he lived and was. The tempo of the narrative rises and falls 
with the tides of Lee's career, and we are always conscious that we 
are reading the biography of a man who led one of the greatest 
armies the world has seen. 

There will be other books written on some or all of the phases of 
Lee's life and career, but there will be none which in power, vivid 
ness and accuracy will supersede the subject of this review. 

E. H. O'NEILL 



Contributor's Column 

Charles Magee Adams will be remembered by North American Review 
readers for his article in the February issue of this year, entitled "Exit the 
Small Town." 

Thomas Wolfe who wrote "Of Time and the River" and its predecessor in 
the series, "Look Homeward Angel," is planning to use "Polyphemus" as the 
preface to one of his forthcoming books. 

David Figart is an authority on rubber and oil. Like several other men in 
special fields, he is showing himself to be both original and convincing in his 
approach to general economic problems. 

Thomas Caldecot Chubb is the author of several books of verse and historical 
works, among them "Ships and Lovers" and "Aretino, the Scourge of 
Princes." He lives in Georgia. 

Syd Blanshard Flower is an old-time newspaperman, who was the star reporter 
of the Manitoba Free Press in the middle nineties. He is known in the 
United States as sportsman, editor and satirist. 

Richard Dana Skinner was formerly the dramatic critic of The Commonweal, 
and is now associate editor of this review. "O'Neill and the Poet's Quest" 
will form the introductory chapters to his book on Eugene O'Neill, to be 
published this Fall by Longmans Green. 

Thomas Sugrue has done everything from selling soap to "ghost-writing" for a 
yogi. He is a staff writer for American Magazine, plays the violin, and claims 
to be the only Irishman not descended from a king. 

Frances Frost is well known as a writer of poetry for current periodicals. She 
spends her summers in New Hampshire. 

Surges Johnson was formerly a newspaperman. Since 1915, however, he has 
been professor of English first at Vassar, and later at Syracuse University. 

B. M. Steigman was born in Sweden, is chairman of the English Department 
of the Seward Park High School, and is the author of "The Unconquerable 
Tristan: The Story of Richard Wagner." 

Norton McGiffin writes editorials on national politics for the Buffalo Evening 
News. Before that, he was editor of the Jefferson City Post-Tribune, and 
political reporter for the Kansas City Star. 

Mary Ellen Chase is the author of "Mary Peters." She was born and brought 
up in Maine. Since 1 929, she has been associate professor of English Litera 
ture at Smith College. 

F. L. Mott is the director of the School of Journalism at Iowa State Uni 
versity. "One Hundred and Twenty Years" will be the chapter on the 
North American Review in the second volume of his "History of American 
Magazines." 



[191] 



The Editors of the North American Review would 
welcome the comments of subscribers on the new format 
of the Review as a quarterly. 

The Editors would also welcome comment on the 
Poem by "one of our earliest contributors." It appears 
in the original form, as first published in the North 
American well over a century ago. 



[192] 



THE 

f NORTH 
AMERICAN 
REVIEW 



Founded 1815 

''\ , 
'^JJKJ-NCE, 



JOHN PELL Editor 
RICHARD DANA SKINNER Associate Editor 



VOLUME 240 SEPTEMBER 1935 NUMBER 2 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Foreword j. p. 195 

Just Why Economics? HERBERT AGAR 200 

On "Bad Boy" Criticism L. B. HESSLER 214 

Prologue PAUL ENGLE 225 

The Future of States' Rights PETER ODEGARD 238 

Wickford Gardens. Verse KILE CROOK 264 

In Behalf of States' Rights HOFFMAN NICKERSON 265 

Grant Wood, Painter in Overalls RUTH PICKERING 271 

A Letter to Walter Damrosch RICHARD DANA SKINNER 278 

Dark Days Ahead for King Cotton WILLIAM CORDELL 284 

To a Pair of Gold Earrings. Verse THOMAS SUGRUE 293 

Our Tipstaff Police HENRY MORTON ROBINSON 294 

Radio, and Our Future Lives ARTHUR VAN DYCK 307 

Miss Craigie. A Glimpse CHARLES HANSON TOWNE 314 

Emancipating the Novel LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 3 1 8 

"Good Neighbor" and Cuba PAUL VANORDEN SHAW 325 

A Little Girl's Mark Twain DOROTHY QUICK 342 

Devotional. Verse ELBRA DICKINSON 349 

Tumultuous Cloister DOROTHY GORRELL 350 

In Defense of Horsehair CATHARINE COOK SMITH 355 

History as a Major Sport HENRY FORT MILTON 359 
Book Reviews 

The Colonial Period of American History. The Settlements 

By Charles M. Andrews E. H. O'NEILL 366 

Shipmasters of Cape Cod 

By Henry C. Kittredge SAMUEL E. MORISON 368 

Black Reconstruction 

By Burghart Du Bois DOUGLAS DEBEVOISE 369 

Renascent Mexico 

Edited by Hubert Herring and Herbert Weinstock P. W. WILSON 372 

The First Century of American Literature 

By Fred Lewis Pattee HERSCHEL BRICKELL 374 

The Founding of Harvard College 

By Samuel Eliot Morison STEWART MITCHELL 377 

Deep Dark River. By Robert Rylee 

Kneel to the Rising Sun. By Erskine Galdwell LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 3 79 

Heritage. By George F. Hummel 

Second Hoeing. By Hope Williams Syke 

A Few Foolish Ones. By Gladys Hasty Carroll ELEANOR L. VAN ALEN 381 

Contributors' Column 383 

THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW: Published quarterly by the North American Review Corporation. 
Publication office, Rumford Building, Concord, N. H. Editorial and executive office, 597 Madison 

Avenue, New York, N. Y. Price $1.00 a copy; $4.00 per year; Canada, $4.25; foreign countries. $4.50. 
Entered as second-class matter Dec. 18, 1920, at the post office at Concord, N. H., under Act of Congress 
of March 3, 1879. 

Copyright, 1935, by the North American Review Corporation: Walter Butler Mahony. President: 
David M. Figart. Secretary; John Pell, Treasurer. 

Title registered U. 8. Patent Offica, 



V-, 

- - 

THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

VOLUME 240 SEPTEMBER, 1935 NUMBER 2 

Foreword 

A MERICA is the land of forgotten enthusiasms and shat- 
** tered idols. Year after year new slogans bring palpitations 
to our composite heart, soon to be replaced by even newer 
dreams. Panaceas jostle each other in the endless scramble to 
save us from the consequences of our own folly. We shall out 
last and live down all the crackpot Utopias, because our incal 
culable fickleness prevents us from suffering from any of them 
too seriously. 

In its day, each of our dreams has served its purpose. 
"Liberty" helped win the Revolution; then ten years after the 
Peace of Paris the Federalists, inspired by Hamilton, developed 
a financial system which concentrated the economic power of 
the country in a handful of urban capitalists. "Democracy" 
rescued us from the financiers; but its protagonist, Jefferson, 
was capable of an act of imperialism which made deep-dyed 
Federalists wince. Lincoln led a crusade for freedom which 
reduced half the nation to a condition of serfdom. All of our 
wars have been fought for slogans; many political campaigns 
are remembered only by their slogans; booms and panics 
have been generated as much by slogans as by economic forces 
of the most respectable hue. 

Like its predecessors, the New Deal served a purpose. In the 
winter of 1933 we were suffering from an acute attack of 
melancholia: millionaires were ashamed to be seen in yachts; 
pompous rotarians had acquired inferiority complexes; hap 
pily mated bourgeois couples stored canned food in their 
kitchens and gold earnings in their cellars, while they waited 
for the revolution to start. 



[ 196 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

People can hardly remember those dark days, even now. It 
might have been a good thing if a revolution had started - 
it would have served us right. But instead the New Deal 
started. It was not headed in any particular direction; it had 
no profound purpose; but it undoubtedly served the particular 
needs of the moment as well as anything could have. It took 
our minds off ourselves. Business men became so angry at 
Franklin Roosevelt that they forgot their troubles and began to 
make money in spite of themselves; and when the arch liberal 
went fishing on Vincent Astor's yacht, the other yachts came 
out of hiding, a little furtively at first. The prefabricated house, 
air conditioning, streamlined trains, colored movies, and 
Diesel engines dared show themselves, reminding us that we 
used to be famous for our ingenuity. Engineers and scientists, 
who never know much about economic conditions, developed 
all sorts of new contrivances during the five dark years but 
until a few months ago we were too proud of our poverty to 
market them. 

In this glorious land, the only thing you can count on is 
change. No one can foresee what will happen; but anyone can 
foresee that something will happen. We do not want a New 
Deal any longer we want a new slogan. 

Like John Adams, who forgot that he was not a king, 
Franklin Roosevelt forgot that he was not a dictator. Congress 
men who thought that they were securing their jobs by bidding 
for Administration patronage, suddenly discovered that in the 
way things were going there would soon be no jobs for them, 
because there would be no need of a Congress. Then the 
Supreme Court resurrected the Constitution as effectively as 
Mae West had restored the female form. People who have 
forgotten what state they were born in have suddenly re 
membered the States' Rights issue. The back-to-the-farms 
movement is over: now we are going back to Calhoun. 

States' Rights is a colorless, pedantic issue until it becomes 
amalgamated with individual rights. But that is just what is 
happening today. The states, moribund for generations, have 
discovered a purpose. They have been reincarnated. They are 



FOREWORD [197] 

becoming the champions of freedom, individualism, property, 
Americanism. They are going to save us from the New Deal, 
from Communism, from ourselves. They are the new slogan: 
States' Rights instead of Coue! 

Remembering our avowed purpose, to focus the attention 
of our subscribers on the important trends of thought which 
are constantly molding and refining the American scene, we 
have asked three students of the States' Rights issue to discuss it 
in our pages. Two (Peter Odegard and Hoffman Nickerson) 
appear in this issue; the third (Hon. Herbert G. Pell) will 
appear in the next. Diverse in background and totally unlike 
in points of view, each of them recognizes the value of a check 
on the aggressions of a strong Federal government, but each 
suggests a solution differing from the others. 

Since mechanical difficulties prevent the pages of a quar 
terly from paralleling the news, it becomes their pleasant task 
to anticipate events. Sometimes a new machine carries the 
portents of news. William Cordell includes the Rust brothers' 
"cotton picker" among the major forces that may bring a 
more tragic reconstruction to the South than even the aboli 
tion of slavery. Yet most of the current surface news of the 
South carries little implication of such trouble ahead. 

Future news of quite a different character may be found in 
the open letter to Walter Damrosch on the possible translation 
of Richard Wagner's music-dramas to the screen. And in still 
another direction, Louise Maunsell Field's discussion of the 
modern novel opens up large vistas. Arthur Van Dyck's fore 
cast of what radio may do, indirectly, to change our lives, and 
H. M. Robinson's strictures on out-dated police methods, 
make further and intriguing forays into the news of tomorrow. 
All this, we feel, is part of the special province of a quarterly 
that seeks to discover trends rather than to appraise yesterday's 
facts. 

Among the essays that have warmed our hearts, L. B. 
Hessler's volley at the "bad boy" critics has an engaging touch 
of sanity. The tyranny of the "bad boys" is almost over, but 
far from forgotten. As to Herbert Agar we fully expected 



[ ig8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

the author of "The People's Choice" to pick the largest flaw 
in our use of economics. He has lived up to our fondest hopes. 
We have said before that economics has drawn far too much 
attention in a depressed world. Mr. Agar puts the whole 
point as we should have liked to have put it ourselves. Some 
suspect and will know for a certainty when they have 
finished reading Mr. Agar that economics, of itself, can 
change nothing. It may explain the "why" of disasters and 
salvage, but it cannot direct the "how" of right thinking and 
good living. Ethics will come back to a place in the sun. 
The world will be happier for a rest from economics. 

Perhaps we need more poets. The fresh delight of Thomas 
Chubb's "How Spring Comes in Georgia" in the June issue 
has prompted caustic replies, in verse, from more than one 
defender of Connecticut. We wish Mr. Chubb could change 
his habitat every quarter, and so find cause for singing to 
October in Vermont, perhaps, or to July in northern Michi 
gan, or to January in Quebec. The poet's ecstasy is worth pre 
serving at* all times and in all places. 

Paul Engle, whose "Prologue" appears in this issue, uses 
poetry as his vernacular. His verses are uneven. Many of 
them are as angular as steel girders, and possibly as strong. 
Thomas Sugrue is also among our poets, in this issue to the 
relief, we imagine, of those Californians who greeted his recent 
"California in Thy Fashion" with guns spitting flame and 
acid. We like journalists who are poets under the skin. In fact, 
we like no journalist who is not at least a poet. 

In "Prologue," which is a microscopic epic, Mr. Engle 
touches on most aspects of American life except the American 
vacation. This really deserves to be acclaimed. One of these 
days we hope to run an article (or preferably a poem) which 
does justice to the vacation. Of course, there is lots of vacation 
fiction, but it is mostly unsatisfactory from our point of view 
because the vacation, in a fashion analogous to the use of 
history in the historical novel, serves only as a background: 
love can occur without vacations, without history, without 
even fiction for that matter. 



FOREWORD [199] 

What we want is an essay or an ode dedicated to Jones' 
Beach or Yellowstone Park. Our ancestors, the embattled 
farmers, may have been independent in their political think 
ing, but they were not independent in their relations with their 
cattle: cows have to be milked every day. The rugged indi 
vidualism of farm life is romantic, but a fortnight at a beach or 
beside a mountain lake is fun, too. 

Our thinking may be enslaved by slogans, but life at the 
beaches is no longer enslaved by inhibitions and conventions. 
Health and beauty, instead of being unrelated, even antago 
nistic, are becoming one and the same thing. Bathing suits are 
disappearing because they are no longer necessary to hide the 
deformities of Victorian bodies. Catharine Smith may bring 
about a renaissance of horsehair chairs, but she will not restore 
the kind of people who look as though they were wearing 
horsehair shirts dreams, even, of a modern vacation eradi 
cate too many furrows from our faces for that. 

It may soon be impossible to pass our savings on to our 
children, but there is at least some consolation in the thought 
that there are few pleasures left which cannot be enjoyed by 
almost all. A Ford is as fast and as comfortable as any car. 
No club offers better bathing than Jones' Beach. No private 
preserve excels the Glacier and other national parks. 

Perhaps when the pleasures of today become too common 
place, people will seek satisfaction in the arts. There are 
already signs of such a trend some of which Ruth Pickering 
discusses indirectly in her admirable appraisal of our American 
painter, Grant Wood. The age of cultivation which we de 
scribed in the June issue may really be close at hand. To take 
but one example, the colored movies in their infancy today 
offer possibilities for artistic expression which can scarcely 
be conceived by the boldest imagination. 

Break your shackles, America, discard your slogans, learn to 
understand the opportunities which lie within your grasp 
but never forget to enjoy your vacations ! 



Just Why Economics? 

HERBERT AGAR 

' I 'HE bookstores are full of works on economics today. 
- For the most part the professional economists turn up their 
noses, saying that this is trash. And for the most part the 
general public refuses the books which the economists think 
worthy; for such books (when they are comprehensible) seem 
inhumanly abstract, seem to be written about a world which 
might please a mathematician but which has slight resem 
blance to the disorderly home of man. 

And yet economics is neither a vain nor an unimportant 
subject. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that unless the 
plain man can acquire some economic insight, our whole 
grandiose system may soon be brought to the ground. It has 
become so desperately complicated that merely to analyze its 
workings is a task for a highly- trained mind. One result of 
this complication is that the system has begun to look easy to 
a number of minds which are not noted for their training. To 
see the system whole has become a profession; but any man 
can see a little part of it and call that part the whole. Many 
men are doing this today, and are telling us with glad cries 
that we could just as well all be rich. 

The plain man, who can find no books on economics that 
are both "sound" and readable, can hardly be blamed if he 
begins to believe these happy amateurs. He can hardly be 
blamed, but he will most certainly be punished. For if he 
believes them he will refuse consent to any government that 
seeks to act on the true facts. He will insist on a new set of 
"facts" facts in keeping with the "economy of abundance" 
which is reputed to be just around the corner. And finance- 
capitalism is so precarious a machine that we dare not handle 
it ignorantly. Handled without utmost skill it is clumsy and 
onerous enough. Handled by a group of cheerful cranks, it 
may bog down suddenly. The result would not be "abun 
dance" in any sense of the word. 

[200] 



JUST WHY ECONOMICS? [ 201 ] 

It is important, then, that there should be a literature of 
economics that the plain man can understand, and which his 
political representatives can understand. One does not need 
to be a friend of finance-capitalism to see that the worst way 
of curing it is to wreck it outright. After such a cure, even the 
most righteous of us might starve to death. But in order to cure 
it in a more agreeable way one must first understand it; so a 
true literature of economics is a genuine need. To what extent 
does such a literature exist? And to what extent could it be 
called into being if an intelligent demand were created? The 
first step toward answering these questions is to distinguish 
between economics, politics, morals, and economic history. 
The distinctions are sometimes less obvious than they sound. 

ECONOMICS is the study of wealth its production, 
distribution, and consumption with an eye to finding 
the practical consequences which follow from the nature of 
wealth itself. In certain societies, where wealth is distributed 
by means of money, economics must include the study of 
monetary theory. But the primary subject is wealth, not 
money. 

Economics helps to define what can or cannot be done, and 
to describe the probable consequences of the things which 
can be done. Economics does not help in the least to define 
what ought or ought not to be done. Among the many things 
which can be done in the economic order of any country at any 
moment in history, it is the moral problem to decide which of 
them ought to be done, and the political problem to see to it 
that they are done. But when, as in our world, the moral 
purpose of society has become unsure, when there is no one 
way of life which is felt to be "ordained" in the sense that it 
will give man the best chance to win salvation or to fulfil his 
nature, then the power of moral decision atrophies. There 
are no sure grounds on which to sort out what should be done 
from among the many courses which are economically pos 
sible. 

When the power of moral decision declines, the strength 



[ 202 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

and dignity of politics decline as well. Man is left alone with 
economics. But economics, when the burden of decision is put 
upon its shoulders, can only suggest which of the possible 
lines of conduct is likely to provide the most wealth. It cannot 
even do that accurately, for it is forced by its terms of reference 
to leave out of account the question of what man should be 
asked, or can be expected, to endure. For example, an eco 
nomic order well adapted to maximising the production of 
wealth might really prove "uneconomic" if it were found 
necessary to keep a large and highly paid standing army in 
order to prevent the mass of the population from revolt. As 
soon as economics is asked to become a substitute for politics, 
it is degraded as a social science; and it never can become an 
adequate substitute. 

Mr. Lionel Robbins of the London School of Economics 
is one of the men with the greatest insight into our perplexing 
economic order. His recent book, "The Great Depression," 
is an important contribution to the literature of economics. 
At the same time (and this is no criticism of the book) it is a 
warning of the evil that must follow from setting economics 
above politics. In a chapter on "Restrictionism and Planning," 
Mr. Robbins makes a grim attack on the idea that "order" 
can be brought into finance-capitalism by giving each industry 
the right to restrict competition. The way in which such a 
policy of curtailment leads to bigger and bigger efforts at 
governmental "planning" and the way in which such 
"planning" may lead first to tyranny and then to the destruc 
tion of capitalism in all its possible forms is presented with 
deadly clarity. 

"There is a snowball tendency about this kind of inter- 
ventionism," writes Mr. Robbins, "which has no limit but 
complete control of all trade and industry. It is clear that, 
within the restricting industries, the state will be driven to 
adopt closer and closer control if the schemes are not to break 
down from evasion of their rules. It is one thing to forbid 
farmers and others not to produce more than a certain quota. 
It is another thing to prevent their doing so. The Agricultural 



JUST WHY ECONOMICS? [ 203 ] 

Adjustment Act which pays farmers to throw land out of 
cultivation contains the pathetic proviso that such restriction 
must be unaccompanied by 'increase in commercial fertiliza 
tion. 5 How, short of the socialization of American farming, do 
the authors of this stipulation propose to put it into force?" 

I do not believe that Mr. Robbins' argument can be upset. 
Yet I can think of nothing more unfortunate than that his 
book should be taken as a political, rather than an economic, 
treatise. For its political moral would be that the thing to do 
about America is nothing at all. Mr. Robbins is presenting the 
argument for laissez-faire, "equilibrium" economics in its 
purest and most abstract form. In doing so he is performing a 
great service but only if we regard his books as economics. 
So taken, it is an admirable way of pointing out the dangers of 
interfering with the economic machine. It is vital that we 
should understand those dangers. It is also vital that we should 
not delude ourselves into thinking we can leave the economic 
machine severely alone. We cannot leave it severely alone for 
political reasons, because man will not permit us to do so. This 
is something which economics can never teach us; it lies out 
side the realm of economic thought. If, therefore, in the present 
low estate of politics we seek to take economics as our sole 
guide, we shall learn many things not to do. And this is 
profitable knowledge. But you cannot run a great nation, in a 
time of world crisis, solely by not doing things. 

Another example of the same point can be found in Mr. 
Robbins' book. Discussing the American farm problem, Mr. 
Robbins comes to the following conclusions all of which are 
"sound economics" : "The difficulties of agriculture here, as 
elsewhere in modern economic history, are to be explained, in 
the large, in terms of an increase of productivity due to tech 
nical progress which encounters a relatively inelastic demand. 
. . . Technical progress in American agriculture has been 
very rapid. The American farmer is feeling with especial force 
the pressure of those influences which in the course of history 
have tended continually to reduce the proportion of effort 
devoted to the production of agricultural staples. In the begin- 



[ 204 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ning it was one hundred percent. Since then it has been 
diminishing. In the absence of restriction, it would in all 
probability continue to diminish." 

The correct economic deduction from all this, says Mr. 
Robbins, is that "a certain proportion of the producers of the 
products whose prices have fallen must change over to an 
occupation the demand for whose product is more elastic. 
There must be a reshuffling of the labor force a contraction 
of the proportion employed on the production of products in 
relatively inelastic demand and an expansion of the proportion 
employed elsewhere." 

From the economic point of view this is complete. We must 
have fewer farmers. And if our technique of soil-culture im 
proves, we must have still fewer farmers. And if the agrobiolo 
gists in Washington live up to their promises the time may come 
when a farmer is as rare as a dirigible balloon. The ex-farmers 
will be factory-hands, making products for which the demand 
is more "elastic." Perhaps they will be making pip-squeaks 
to put on the tables of night clubs, or little celluloid dolls to 
hang in the rear windows of automobiles. 

What about this program from the political point of view? 
To a communist it would sound more than gratifying. If 
there is one thing a communist dislikes it is a farmer. If there 
is one thing he approves of it is a factory-hand. It does not 
matter what the factory-hand is making, so long as he is a 
factory-hand, a proletarian, a man who has been prepared by 
his economic lot to receive the doctrine of Marx. But the very 
reasons which recommend this program to a communist make 
it distressing to a man who is interested in preserving the 
American experiment. If we dispossess millions of small pro 
prietors, turning them into millions of proletarians, we shall 
have gone a long way toward making a self-governing nation 
of free men an impossibility within our borders. We shall have 
torn up the foundations of America, replacing them with 
foundations suitable for a Fascist or a communist state. 

All of this, however, is quite beside the point for Mr. 
Robbins. Economics is the study of wealth. It has nothing to 



JUST WHY ECONOMICS? [ 205 ] 

do with the question of whether self-government is better 
than tyranny, free men better than slaves. Mr. Robbins has 
imagined a world in which there is a really free play of 
economic forces. He is pointing out that such a world will 
produce more goods, more wealth, if the economic forces are 
left entirely free, if they are never interfered with at any point. 
In the course of his argument he sheds much light on the way 
in which the existing economic order works, or fails to work. 
It is not his business to tell us what sort of a world we want to 
live in. It is our business to decide that, on moral grounds. It 
is the function of politics to bring that desired world to life, 
after we have decided what it should be. 

It is the function of economics to tell us what we may ex 
pect, in regard to the production of wealth, from this, that, 
and the other policy. If, having no moral aim, we turn to 
economics as our sole counselor, it may very well guide us into 
a world capable of producing the maximum of goods; but we 
are duping ourselves if we expect it to guide us into a world 
where men will be content to live. A modern English historian 
has written that "the free play of economic forces will invari 
ably tend to a rich but never to a good society." An under 
standing of the nature of economics will make it clear that 
this statement is a truism. 

TN HIS book, "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism," Mr. 
* R. H. Tawney has written that the importance of the 
mediaeval view of economic problems lies in the "insistence 
that society is a spiritual organism, not an economic machine, 
and that economic activity, which is one subordinate element 
within a vast and complex unity, requires to be controlled and 
repressed by reference to the moral ends for which it supplies 
the material means." It is interesting to consider these two 
views of society "spiritual organism" and an "economic 
machine" with an eye to the vexing modern problem of 
"planning." 

If society is a spiritual organism, then economics are 
subordinate to politics and both to morals. In that case we 



C 206 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

can have the sort of "planned society" our American fore 
fathers intended: a society based on moral principles that are 
clearly understood; a society in which the major institutions 
(such as self-government and widely diffused private property) 
are chosen and maintained because they are in keeping with 
the principles; a society with the freedom that only self- 
discipline can give. Planning, in these basic politico-moral 
terms, is the purpose of statesmanship. 

If we take the view that society is an economic machine, 
then we cannot attempt political or moral planning. A ma 
chine is a fixed thing; you cannot tamper with its nature. You 
can only see that it runs as smoothly as possible. In other words 
the only planning such a society can attempt is economic 
planning. Politics comes down to a quarrel between the 
group that feels the machine will turn out more wealth if it is 
left entirely alone, and the group that feels it will turn out 
more wealth if it is tinkered with from time to time. The result 
of this quarrel is often a compromise combining the worst 
features of the two methods : the machine is left alone whenever 
a question of moral interference might arise, but it is tinkered 
with just enough to spoil its economic efficiency. 

The defeatism coloring so much of our feeling about 
politics is traceable to the widespread view that society is 
nothing but an economic machine. People feel we are caught in 
a system we cannot alter, that there is no use talking about 
the American dream, or about a society of free proprietors, or 
about any of the basic American ideas. All that is over and 
done with, because the machine will no longer permit it. And 
if it were true that economics comes first, these conclusions 
would logically follow. But it is not true though it becomes 
true for all practical purposes if people persist in acting on the 
assumption. 

Any economic system can be changed if its moral results 
are clearly understood and are felt to be displeasing but 
the displeasure has to be sincere, not merely formal. It is a 
gross delusion to feel that the economic order has an in 
dependent existence. Back of economics, lie morals. The 



JUST WHY ECONOMICS? [ 207 ] 

morals of a society may be high or low, conscious or uncon 
scious, but they cannot be non-existent. And the morals of a 
society determine what emotions will be allowed free play, 
what social conditions will be tolerated they determine, 
in other words, the limits within which the economic system 
must move. In a world like ours, where people are unaccus 
tomed to thinking in moral terms, the economic order can 
warp the morals of a society, can "determine" them to a cer 
tain extent. But even in our world there is a last resistant set of 
moral assumptions which the economic order cannot change, 
to which the economic order must adjust itself. 

For example, it has been economically desirable of late to 
close down many of the world's coal-mines. It would be equally 
desirable, economically, to close down the miners inside the 
mines, so that they might not become a charge on the com 
munity. Yet the mines are closed, while the miners are kept 
partially alive. The reason for the inconsistency is a moral 
reason. 

The more conscious a society is of its moral aims, the more 
aware it is of the relation between its aims and its actions, the 
less it will be economically "determined," the closer it will be 
to the ideal of a society as a "spiritual organism" in which the 
economic order supplies the material means for the moral ends 
of life. Conversely, the more successful a society is in forgetting 
its moral ends, the more will economic determinism operate, 
the closer will society come to being an "economic machine." 
No society can be an economic machine pure and simple, for 
there is always a moral basis somewhere. And no society can 
become a spiritual organism pure and simple, for that would be 
perfection, and there will be no perfect social system previous 
to the appearance of perfect men. But between these two 
extremes the social order can vary infinitely. In the one direc 
tion it approaches a more and more unconscious, a more and 
more mechanical and determined state. In the other direction 
it approaches a state in which there is a noticeable relation 
between what society does in the economic sphere and what 
it feels to be right. 



[ ao8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

The importance of these distinctions in the world of action 
is that only by proceeding in the latter direction, only by 
ruthlessly subordinating economics to political and moral 
aims, can a nation hope to gain inner peace and self-esteem, 
and to give its citizens a way of life in which the plain man can 
know happiness and dignity. It is an ironic fact that the one 
group in the modern world which talks the most nonsense 
about economic determinism, is the one group which makes no 
compromises when it comes to subjecting economic to moral 
considerations. I refer to the communists, whose chief strength 
is that they are politically and morally self-conscious. 

Mr. Robbins can show that the free play of economic forces 
(which can only exist under a regime of the private ownership 
of the means of production) will produce more goods and 
services, more wealth, than will any form of controlled and 
planned economy. The communists take note of the informa 
tion; they may make good use of it as they proceed with their 
plans; but it does not occur to them to submit to it, to permit 
the free play of economic forces. For their first aim is not to 
produce the greatest possible number of goods; their first aim 
is to build a world where the plain man can find justice. 
Those of us who dislike their picture of justice, who think 
their earthly paradise would be a hell, would do well to copy 
their steadfast moral purpose. For we can never combat such 
a purpose with a mere "economic machine." "History," 
writes Mr. Douglas Jerrold, "affords no instance of a nation 
which subordinates politics to economics maintaining its 
position as a great power. The battle is to the politically 
conscious, not to the economically well-organized." 

To sum up these distinctions, I have sought to establish 
first, that the basic problem of statesmanship remains the 
moral problem. No society can long flourish unless its rulers 
(in a self-governing nation, its people) are agreed on the moral 
aims which are being sought. It must be accepted that a 
certain way of life is desirable, and that the purpose of the 
social order is to maximize the chance of attaining that way of 
life. If "the maximum of production" is taken as the social aim, 



JUST WHT ECONOMICS? [ 209 ] 

instead of "a certain way of life," the society is dying at its 
roots. Nations do not survive by accident. They survive be 
cause of moral qualities which give them inner strength. And 
no man's strength is as the strength of ten merely because his 
bank-account is growing. It has been written that "there is no 
escape from the law which has made resolution, courage, 
audacity, an inspiration to sacrifice, and an exaltation in 
serving the condition of the enduring greatness of peoples." 
None of these qualities can be provided by a mere economic 
machine. The America of the igso's will serve as an abiding 
proof of that fact. 

The next problem of politics is to adapt a troublesome and 
discordant world as closely as possible to the moral pattern 
which has been accepted. In doing this the economic welfare 
of the people must never for a moment be ignored. But it 
must never for a moment be taken as the sole aim. 

The problem of economics, on the other hand, is to discover 
the effect of various political and moral environments on the 
production and distribution of wealth. The statesman sets the 
problem. We choose, he will say, for moral reasons, a nation 
with a majority of small proprietors, on the French or Danish 
model; or we choose a nation with no proprietors at all, but 
with state-directed production for use; or we choose a nation 
with a few big owners and many salaried workers, and with 
the state interfering to direct the relations between the two 
groups. We all know that each of these basic orders can work. 
We know that each of them produces its own characteristic 
moral environment, and its own political forms. The states 
man, or his constituents, must choose the moral environment; 
there must be a conscious and active will of the people directed 
toward maintaining it otherwise society will be an aimless 
flux. And great nations are not built by aimlessness. Given this 
basic choice, it is the function of economics to provide all the 
available facts as to what can be done to maximize the produc 
tion of wealth. 

And at the same time economics should keep before the 
people the knowledge of what could be done under the other 



[ 2 1 o ] THE NOR TH AMERICAN REVIEW 

basic forms of society. It may be true, for example, that a 
slave state could produce more goods in modern America than 
a state of free proprietors. If so, it is important that we should 
have enough will to reject the notion that we are doomed, 
because of this relatively unimportant fact, to a return to 
slavery. 

AT 1 THE moment, our literature offers surprisingly few 
examples of pure economics. One reason for this, I think, 
is that our aimless society is making a false demand upon the 
economists, which the economists are trying to meet. We are 
asking our economists to provide us with a substitute for a 
moral purpose. Unable, or unwilling, to give moral reasons 
for whatever social order we instinctively prefer, we are asking 
our economists to prove that the sort of world we would like 
to see is really the sort of world which would produce the most 
goods. That way madness lies for the economists as well as 
for the rest of society. 

It is significant that the men who are providing the nearest 
approach to dispassionate analyses are the economists of the 
extreme right the arch conservatives who feel in their 
bones that whatever the political future holds, it will not see 
again the world where their hearts dwell, that brief and partial 
laissez-faire world of nineteenth century British practice. There 
is a wistful charm to the picture these men are giving of that 
never-never land of "the free play of economic forces." 
And there is an unrivalled accuracy and clarity to their 
descriptions of the experiments in control that are being 
carried on today. The works of Mr. Robbins, or Dr. F. A. 
Hayek's "Prices and Production," or Mr. E. F. M. Durbin's 
"Purchasing Power and Trade Depression" books like 
these contain the best of modern economic thought on the 
capitalist side. Because these men are not hopeful of becoming 
political advisers, they are able to do their business as econo 
mists with an accuracy that puts their opponents to shame. If 
we would demand from all our economists, not morals and not 
politics, but the most dispassionate analyses that the frail 



JUST WHY ECONOMICS? [211] 

human mind can afford, the literature of economics would 
become a more impressive sight. 

What we really demand is proof that communism, or 
finance-capitalism, or a "planned" state capitalism, will 
make everybody rich. What we really get, therefore, is not 
economics but economic history. To explain what I mean by 
this phrase I must describe what I mean by history. 

History is one of the most natural forms of thought, yet it 
remains to this day one of the most obscure, one of the hardest 
to analyze. In my opinion Signer Croce's analysis is the most 
accurate that has yet been given. Croce begins by distinguish 
ing between history and chronicle. Chronicle is the dead fact, 
the unrealized concept. When it is brought to life by an 
imaginative act, when the concept is illuminated by intuition, 
we have history. History and chronicle, writes Croce, are dis 
tinguishable "as two different spiritual attitudes. History is 
living chronicle, chronicle is dead history." 

In bringing the dead chronicle back to life by means of his 
own intuitions, the historian is clearly likely to revive some 
thing very different from what existed in the first instance. It 
is a precarious balance he is seeking, between concept and in 
tuition, science and poetry. Leaving aside the question as to 
whether he ever attains this balance to perfection, it is worth 
noting that when he falls too far on the side of the concept, 
the chronicle, the result is what Signor Croce calls "philo 
logical history," which "can certainly be correct, but not true" 
And when the historian leans too far toward intuition the 
result is "poetical history," in which we find "the substitution 
of the interest of sentiment for the lack of interest of thought, 
and of aesthetic coherence of representation for the logical co 
herence here unobtainable. . . . When life finds expression 
and representation before it has been dominated by thought, 
we have poetry, not history." In other words, life and thought 
document and criticism are the two elements of the 
historical synthesis. When either is palpably overemphasized 
we have a form of pseudo-history. 

There is a third form of pseudo-history which is more com- 



[ 212 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

mon than the poetic or the philological. This third form is 
what Croce calls "rhetorical history" i.e., history written 
to prove a point. Many of man's most interesting writings be 
long to this group. In the classical world there was a tendency 
to write history in order to show that the life of man moved 
in circles, returning upon itself with a regularity that justified 
the utmost pessimism. In the Middle Ages, there was a tend 
ency to write history to show that the Christian revelation in 
troduced truth into the world, giving man his first fair chance 
to escape from classical pessimism. In the modern world there 
is a tendency to write history to show that one or another type 
of economic organization will give man a better chance to 
realize his hopes than he has ever had in the past. This is the 
sort of writing I referred to when I spoke of "economic his 
tory." It is interesting; it is illuminating; but it is not eco 
nomics. 

It is not economics because it has a moral aim. It is the 
attempt of a society which is losing its convictions, and there 
fore its basis for action, to find a new basis in a form of thought 
which does not lend itself to that use. Most of the left wing 
treatises of today belong to this category; for the Marxists, 
who have a true moral aim, are oddly ashamed of this ad 
vantage. They waste much effort in seeking to prove that they 
are merely embracing the "economically inevitable." People 
who have no moral aim, or who are ashamed of having one, 
always try to ally themselves with destiny. For destiny is im 
pressive without being embarrassingly moral. Some of the 
most powerful and interesting of our contemporary books 
belong to this group for example, Mr. John Strachey's 
"The Nature of Capitalist Crisis," and Mr. Lewis Corey's 
"The Decline of American Capitalism." It does not detract 
from their worth to suggest that they belong to the literature of 
moral exhortation rather than to the literature of economics. 

"Das Kapital" itself is a curious combination of the two 
types. It contains a great deal of pure analysis, of magnificent 
fact-finding, which belongs to economics. And it contains a 
great deal of back-handed moralizing, which consists of 



JUST WHY ECONOMICS? [213] 

asserting that Fate and all the dark powers of eternity are on 
the side of the Marxian dream. 

T HAVE tried to suggest why the plain man finds the liter a- 
-*- ture of economics confusing and unsatisfying. At the one 
extreme are the pure research problems, the statistical tables 
and abstract analyses which have nothing to do with the plain 
man. They are the necessary rock-bottom for economics, and 
they are properly written for the profession only. Then there 
is a small (far too small) group of books presenting in ordinary 
language, and with some impartiality, the main findings of 
economic science. Then there is the abundant literature of 
economic history, using the authoritative language and the 
magic catchwords to bolster up a moral thesis. It would be 
better for society if we could reach our moral conclusions on 
plain moral grounds, restricting our economic thought to the 
important field where it belongs. 



On "Bad Boy" Criticism 

L. B. HESSLER 

T AM an exasperated reader. For the last few months (it 
* seems years) I have been reading reviews of books 
novels, collections of poetry, biographies, histories, all sorts of 
books and my present impression is that most of the re 
viewing is incompetent and dishonest. Whether one consults 
the daily newspaper, the Sunday supplement, the weeklies, or 
the monthlies, one has the same feeling of frustration, and 
wonders if there is any place where the truth may be found. 
For, strange as it may seem, that is what the intelligent reader 
would like to know the truth. He would like to feel that, 
when he picks up a review, the writer will play the game with 
him, and not try to palm off on him pinchbeck stuff by way of 
rhapsody, self-exploitation, or an exercise in style. 

The following, for instance, is from a signed review of "Lust 
for Life" in a weekly of wide circulation: "Something in result 
seems to be left out, or left a little too gallantly to inference. 
The beat of passion, inevitably expected, is hardly to be caught 
by its statement however replete; the cry for utterance sounds 
faintly in the record of the search for utterance." An editorial 
note informs us that the author was at one time an art editor, 
but is now working in the field of literature. My feeling is that 
he had better have stayed where he was, for the excerpt is an 
admirable illustration of the bastard style so often affected by 
those who have to do with the criticism of art or music. They 
have simply not mastered the art of writing. 

As an example of rhapsody, take the following, from a 
review of a national best-seller: "This is not a novel, but a 
symphony. There is an orchestration of incident and de 
scription and reflection on the author's part, slow, grave, 
telling in its cumulative effect. There is a sequence of events. 
But the pith of the book is the white pith of vision. . . . There 
is rich living in this book. But it is living in principle, not in 
the economic or the social or even the emotional sense. . . . 

[214] 



ON "BAD B0r> CRITICISM [ 215 ] 

It is Puritanism made into a psalm of life. [Is he speaking of 

"Paradise Lost"?] has solid substance enough, 

to be sure, to set off the vibration of its overtones from the 
ultimate reality. . . . Those who still love life for its noble 
ness and the designs of its rhythms will thank from the 

bottom of their hearts. Her book is magnificent." This is the 
sort of writing that the late B.L.T. used to label "the en 
raptured reporter" or "the delirious critic." 

The rhapsodic and the lyric schools of criticism merge 
easily into the "home- town-boy-makes-good" type, in which 
the reviewer gives tremendous hurrahs for a book because he 
knows the author and revolves in the same coterie, and not 
because the book has any particular merit for the outsider. It 
is the old story of the Greek against the barbarian caveat 
emptor! A great deal of criticism of this kind emanates, of 
course, from New York, where the custom of back-slapping 
has developed into an art. To the dweller in the sticks it seems 
that every other reviewer has either just come from a literary 
tea or is about to go to one, where more material for personal 
propaganda will be diligently gathered. The argument for the 
practice would, presumably, be as follows: "A book has been 
written, accepted, and published; it must therefore be sold. I, 
as a good friend, will help to sell it. Authors must live." One 
remembers Doctor Johnson's comment on this argument: "I 
do not see the necessity." 

Of all the types of criticism, however, the most insidiously 
misleading, because tricked out in the accoutrements of 
authority, is that which I shall call the "bad boy" school. It 
all began with H. L. Mencken. For ten years in the American 
Mercury, with some diminuendo of volume toward the end, 
he belabored the conservatives, most of whom were college 
professors, with a robustious vigor unprecedented in American 
criticism. The heads of some must still be quite dizzy from his 
blows. It is thought that Mencken's medicine did much good, 
inasmuch as only the stifTest kind of dosage would have any 
effect on people as far gone in ignorance and indifference as 
we. Mencken's attack was a frontal one, and nothing is more 



[ 216 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

interesting than to watch a fighter who uses primitive weapons, 
sticks out his tongue, and calls names. There was nothing 
subtle about Mencken's language, as there is nothing subtle 
about his mind. If you did not agree with him, his method was 
simply to call you a damned fool or to use the "smarty" epi 
thet, such as "Major J. E. Spingarn, U. S. A.," "Prof. Dr. 
William Lyon Phelps," and "Prof. Dr. Stuart P. Sherman, of 
Iowa." (How quaint this all seems now!) His usual custom 
was to cry down, although on occasion he could indulge in 
lavish praise, as witness his oft-repeated cheers for Conrad and 
Dreiser. 

Now that he is retired from active combat, it is pertinent to 
examine his actual contribution to our intellectual and spirit 
ual advancement. There seems to be a disposition amongst 
our present commentators to fold the hands piously and give 
thanks for what he did. That he did something I should be the 
last to deny. Like Shaw he was a great entertainer; like him, 
also, often at the expense of reason and good taste. If an up 
right posture did not please, he would, like all good clowns, 
stand on his head. There was in him no finesse, no real imagi 
nation, as may be seen in his almost complete indifference to 
poetry. Like his twisted spiritual ancestor, Pope, he was moved 
more by animosity than by admiration. Mankind loves a good 
hater, but hatred has never been the cardinal quality of good 
criticism. 

However, I am not in this essay concerned primarily with 
Mr. Mencken, but with what he produced, the school of 
smaller imitators who cannot, like the giant their master, 
swing the redoubtable battle-axe but, instead, sting like gnats. 
There was a time when it was considered the badge of en 
lightenment, the certain hall-mark of advanced thinking, to 
be seen with the latest copy of the American Mercury in one's 
hand. Mencken was acclaimed by numberless students, who 
doted on him for his gibes at their professors. That time, "with 
all its dizzy raptures," has now gone; Mencken's popularity is 
in eclipse and we have with us, instead, Mr. Burton Rascoe, 
Mr. Ernest Boyd and the like. 



'{ pubUe m 

ON "BAD B0r> CRITICISM [ 217 ] 



following quotation from Mr. Rascoe's essay on Milton 
* will, I hope, explain and justify my title: "Take an aspirin 
and bromide before I utter the most frightful blasphemy that was 
ever uttered since Dr. Faustus signed his name to an infamous 
pact with the devil. I am about to say (please hold your 
breath) that 'Paradise Lost 3 and 'Paradise Regained' are 
horrible examples of what may occur when a man with a dis 
pleasing type of mind happens to be an expert versifying 
technician in what is loosely called the biblical style. Yet, 
after having done this, I look into the mirror and see that my 
face has not blackened, nor have my ears sprouted horns at 
the tip." Now this is exactly what the bad boy does; he sticks 
out his tongue at his elders, he puts a banana skin where a 
dignified man with a high silk hat will step on it. These in 
gratiating tricks, while pardonable in a small boy, are, in an 
adult, signs that he is not yet completely civilized; he is still a 
hick, a smart aleck. If one goes to Mr. Rascoe's book, "Titans 
of Literature," for bread he will, for the most part, receive a 
stone; he will, to be sure, be amused but the entertainment 
will not be great. Some of the essays are real exercises in 
criticism; others are prolonged statements of personal preju 
dice; still others are merely half-hearted biographical sketches. 
The essay on Virgil and Latin literature, for instance, con 
tains the following titbits: "The Georgics and the Eclogues 
were as popular with the Roman populace and peasants in 
Virgil's time as Edgar Guest's poems are with newspaper 
readers today." Further, "The defect of this quality [the dual 
purity of Virgil's language] which Virgil had in such perfec 
tion is that Virgil is likely to spoil a beginner's interest in Latin 
poetry altogether." A man who says such things will say any 
thing. Further on in the same essay he remarks that Horace is 
incredibly underestimated by classical scholars, and is dis 
pleased that Professor Tenney Frank "is not quite unre 
strained enough in his praise of Horace to please me." For a 
member of the American Classical Association these dicta are 
astounding. One wonders what Mr. Rascoe's classical scholar 
ship is like, and whether he is acquainted with Sellar's book on 



[ 2 1 8 ] THE NOR TH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Horace, printed in 1891, to mention no others. From the 
references to Greek and Latin literature scattered throughout 
the book, the reader is forced to the conclusion that Mr. 
Rascoe has done merely miscellaneous reading, hardly serious 
or consecutive enough to qualify him to pass opinions on 
Homer, Virgil, and Sophocles. 

The same readiness to pronounce judgment on the Titans, 
with equal incompetence to do so, marks especially his en 
counters with Dante and Milton. Here indeed the "bad boy" 
has a glorious time. I have quoted, above, the introduction to 
the essay on Milton; he goes on to say that " C L' Allegro,' like 
its dark twin C I1 Penseroso,' is a sophomoric composition," 
that "the two poems are literary refinements of adolescent 
perplexity"; and he gives a lengthy extract from Norman 
Douglas' "Old Calabria" by way of proof that Milton stole 
his "Paradise Lost" from the "Adamo Caduto" of Salandra. 
To the reader unacquainted with Milton scholarship, this 
last argument seems to settle the matter of Milton's plagiarism, 
but there is nothing new about it, as may be seen by con 
sulting the latest (1842) edition of Todd's variorum edition of 
Milton and also Masson's introduction to "Paradise Lost," 
where it is again given. The list of sources from which Milton 
may have "stolen" the idea is so large that it ought to arouse 
the suspicion in any honest mind that from a community of 
ideas there can be no theft. 

The truth is, Mr. Rascoe is so eager to condemn Milton 
that he seizes on all his worst aspects, interlards his own in 
vective with copious quotations from Milton's prose and from 
anti-Miltonic criticism, and builds up an imposing edifice of 
pseudo-scholarship. It is a specious structure, because one 
suspects that Mr. Rascoe is merely trying to satisfy a personal 
grudge. The expression of personal opinion is, of course, the 
right of everyone, but when it is done at the expense of accu 
racy and truth, the reader must enter a protest. There is a 
view today that criticism is but the expression of one's self, the 
adventures of a soul amongst masterpieces, that the critic is a 
creative artist of the same sort as a lyric poet. It is an inter- 



ON "BAD BOP* CRITICISM [ 219 ] 

esting theory, but it depends for its validity on who the lyric 
adventurer is. Moreover, the critic has a responsibility toward 
the public that is not necessarily shared by the lyric poet; he 
assumes the manner of authority and must bear with him his 
credentials. 

The "bad boy" in criticism is obsessed with the notion 
that what is traditional is wrong, that what he dislikes 
everyone ought to dislike; and so he goes around sticking pins 
in the mighty. Judging from the violence of Mr. Rascoe's 
language in the essays on Sophocles, Virgil, Dante and Milton, 
one suspects that anything like religion and morality in an 
author is, to him, a major crime. There are, no doubt, certain 
aspects of goodness that are irritating to most honest persons; 
but to dismiss all literature that is, so to speak, tainted with 
morality, is to deprive oneself of a high form of pleasure, and, 
in a critic, it is a serious limitation. The relation of morality 
and art is a tricky subject, one that has caused many a critical 
bark to founder. Whether a bad man can, or cannot, write a 
good book, it is certain, from a reference to literary history, 
that hardly any subject will prevent an author from writing 
a good book if he has it in him; nor will the absence of moral 
ity, or the presence of immorality, as some hot-heads seem to 
think, constitute the key to good writing. "Tom Jones" I 
don't believe Mr. Rascoe has pronounced on this novel has 
pleased readers of all kinds in all ages, and no one can deny 
that this story was written with a moral motive. "Vanity Fair" 
is not harmed by Thackeray's reiterated aversion to the 
naughty Becky Sharp, and Wordsworth's poems have ap 
pealed to thousands of readers who theoretically dislike poems 
with a purpose. 

As for religion, it is no argument to say, or imply, that since 
this is an irreligious age, such topics are not suitable for literary 
treatment, just as it would be foolish to assert that poems can 
be written on all subjects except A and B. The attempt to 
delimit the subjects of art in any way usually ends in disaster; 
if the dogmatic critic kicks a theme out of the front door, it is 
quite likely soon to come in at the back. Another "Hound of 



[ 220 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Heaven" may appear any day, and indeed it was only a few 
years ago that Lola Ridge wrote a memorable and touching 
poem on the crucifixion. 

It is equally uncritical to use one's disapproval of an author's 
private life as a peg on which to hang denunciations of the 
man's work, particularly when the facts are distorted as they 
are in Mr. Rascoe's essays on Milton and Dante. Even if he 
were entirely accurate, he would not be truthful; the arrange 
ment is malicious. The "bad boy" now throws mud. He has 
repeated what everybody knows and what most have over 
looked or forgiven. The private life of an author has nothing 
to do with the judgment we pass on his work. If we are to 
enjoy the writings only of those whom we admire as indi 
viduals, we are in a difficult situation, truly. Some of us will 
have to leave unread the poems of Byron and Shelley, to say 
nothing of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Surely, if this sort of 
thing is accounted criticism, we shall be reverting to the days 
of Blackwood's and the Quarterly, "so savage and Tartarly"; 
and if it be not criticism, it should not masquerade as such, 
but simply as the play of the sons of Belial having a glorious 
time. And, however inaccurate and untruthful Mr. Rascoe 
may be, he does enjoy himself. 

T^HE case is different with another "bad boy," Mr. Ernest 
-* Boyd, who wrote in 1927 a book called "Literary Blasphe 
mies," a title which gives him away completely. Unlike Mr. 
Rascoe, Mr. Boyd has no sense of humor and takes his pleas 
ures sadly, even that of fighting. He has a grudge to satisfy, 
chiefly against pedagogues, who, as usually with this school, 
are synonymous with college professors. He does not like them, 
nor what they like. In proving his points, almost any argument 
will do, for he has a complete equipment of the stock devices 
resorted to by the biassed and dishonest critic, chief among 
them the half-truth, the mean innuendo, false emphasis, and 
the magnification of unimportant facts. At times one detects 
Mr. Boyd in a misstatement. For instance, in "Literary 
Blasphemies" there is a chapter on Milton with a lengthy dis- 



ON "BAD EOT' CRITICISM [ 221 ] 

cussion of "Paradise Lost," presumably founded on first-hand 
knowledge of it; yet in the Nation for November 8, 1933, to a 
symposium of "Books I Have Never Read" he contributed his 
list of ten, among which is "Paradise Lost." That is to say, in 
1927 Mr. Boyd had read "Paradise Lost"; in 1933 he had not. 

However, I may be wrong, and Mr. Boyd may have ob 
tained his information (and misinformation) from the many 
critics whom he quotes, without having read Milton's epic at 
all. Certainly he is an adept at picking out the adverse com 
ments from the books which were consulted, and disregarding 
the favorable, as when he quotes from Mark Pattison's life of 
Milton the particularly acid morsel that he wants and 
passes by the entirely favorable bulk of Pattison's criticism. 
Mr. Boyd might, by the way, have taken a leaf from Pattison's 
book and learned how to estimate the strong and weak ele 
ments in a writer's work, and cast the balance between them; 
he might have learned the same thing from Doctor Johnson 
(whom he quotes with admiration) if he had read that great 
man's life of Milton carefully. But he is not, of course, inter 
ested in forming a just conception of any writer; he wants 
merely to parade his ego, to make sharp points at the expense 
of the dead. 

Probably the best example of Mr. Boyd's method is to be 
seen in the emphasis he places upon Dr. George Sigerson's 
article on Milton's supposed use of the "Carmen Paschale" of 
Sedulius. This is merely one more item in the extensive list 
of Milton's fancied use of sources, and hardly more creditable 
than the base forgery of Lauder, which deceived even Doctor 
Johnson for a time. Sources for "Paradise Lost" will be dis 
covered as long as human ingenuity and antipathy, Rascoes 
and Boyds exist: and will worry no sound critic, because he 
knows that it is not the material that counts but the work 
manship. Milton's epic has reduced to oblivion all his sources. 
It is the product of the reading and imaginative meditation 
of a lifetime; and, it must be remembered, was recited, not 
written. 

Mr. Boyd believes that Milton belonged to a drab age, and 



[ 222 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

that the gay comedies of the Restoration have killed Milton's 
work and the taste for it. He adds that "Restoration drama by 
its innate vital qualities will survive, and the names of its 
creators will become as familiar through experience to modern 
playgoers as the names of immortally dead classics are familiar 
to professors." If Mr. Boyd is as realistic a critic as he thinks 
he is, he will remember that the revival of Restoration comedy 
occurred after the war, and took place for no loftier reason 
than that which occasioned the revival of Aristophanes' 
"Lysistrata" a few seasons ago in New York. How great is the 
interest in these plays now? No, I think the despised pro 
fessors will have to do as much for the revival of Congreve, 
Farquhar, Vanbrugh, and Aristophanes in the future as they 
have in the past for Milton and Shakespeare. 

The final word of Mr. Boyd on Milton is worth quoting: 
"By the average man or woman of the present day he is likely 
to be remembered because of this one characteristic, which he 
had in common with all Puritans, he made the Devil irre 
sistibly attractive." As a gem of literary criticism, this is almost 
as good as the following solemn pronouncement on Shake 
speare: "Shakespeare does not open up the glorious world of 
Elizabethan literature but rather closes it by showing the best 
that the times could produce. He has no message for mankind 
and his humor is frequently so feeble that a bad burlesque 
show is brilliant in comparison. . . . If he is irresistible it is 
because he is a musician of words so lovely that the English 
tongue is forever illuminated by his use of it." That is to say, 
Shakespeare's dramatic workmanship, his creation of charac 
ter, his wisdom, and his humanity are nothing to Mr. Boyd, 
but the artful manipulation of words, in which dozens of 
second and third-rate writers excel that is the contribution 
of Shakespeare ! 

If one wished to refute this argument, he could easily do so, 
with considerable aid from Mr. Boyd himself, but I am inter 
ested not so much in defending Shakespeare as in exposing the 
type of criticism here illustrated. It is that of a man who 
cherishes a grudge against a well established literary reputa- 



ON "BAD EOT* CRITICISM [ 223 ] 

tion and those who uphold it, and who delights in tearing it 
down at the expense of logic and, at times, of honesty. That a 
real antipathy exists, I do not doubt; but I suspect that it is 
not entirely against the writer himself but against professors 
and other slaves of tradition who dare not stand up to the 
great, and express their true opinions. There is, too, in all 
this a sadistic delight in needlessly cruel remarks, such as Mr. 
Boyd's about "the Elizabethan blank verse beasts to whom 
Charles Lamb was addicted as he was addicted to gin." This 
is, of course, pure muckerism. A critic may be severe and just 
without calling names and perpetrating such an implied 
logical non sequitur as the above: because Lamb was addicted 
to gin, he praised the Elizabethan blank verse beasts. 

The author of "Literary Blasphemies" (keep the "bad 
boy's" title well in mind) who admires the early critical work 
of Gifford, Lockhart, Wilson, and Jeffrey, is ambitious to be a 
"heretic of criticism," and although he acknowledges the 
"prejudice and even bad taste" of these men, he thinks their 
work valuable. Doubtless he concludes that his own criticism 
is unstained with prejudice and bad taste. On the contrary, it 
is full of them. Moreover, there is an air of specious knowledge 
about these articles that is extremely deceptive to the unin 
formed reader, who argues that such an elaborate show of 
learning must presuppose both wide knowledge and wisdom. 
Knowledge there is, of course, but it is merely sufficient 
information to establish a thesis and a prejudice. 

No attempt is made by practitioners of this spiteful school 
of criticism to give an unbiassed and honest appraisal of the 
work under observation or to concern themselves with the 
reader at all. Since it is much easier and vastly more inter 
esting to throw brickbats, mud, and rotten (at times very 
rotten) eggs at others, the bad boy does so, not, as Mr. Boyd 
says in his epilogue, in the interests of "free criticism and 
honest thinking," or "honest critical doubt." He has at heart 
no such lofty aims; he wishes merely to enjoy himself at the 
expense of others. Even when he bestows praise, as in the 
essay on Swift, he does so chiefly by rounding on his idol's 



[ 224 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

detractors; there is no joy in the task. Here, indeed, is a dog 
who not only barks but bites, a heretic who tries to upset not 
so much the present as the past, a disgruntled misogynist so 
wrapped up in his job of idol-smashing that he leads himself 
astray as well as others. 

If such criticism has any value at all, which I doubt, it is 
purely negative. By noting its laws and procedure and re 
versing them, one may learn a great deal about the true art 
of judging a piece of literature. He will learn, for instance, 
that not only are wide reading and knowledge fundamental, 
but also sanity, balance, and a sense of responsibility to the 
public. From the "bad boy" school of critics one gets the 
impression that the chief equipment of the literary critic is 
prejudice and impudence. And in the end it is the reader who 
pays. 



Prologue 

PAUL ENGLE 

America, bastard child from all the world 

Born, yet parentless, hard scrapper beating 

Your lone wa,y out from a child into a man, 

It is not strange you were cocky, forever carried 

A chip on your shoulder, boasted the length of the earth. 

You were one tough baby, hard as nails, swaggering 

The streets with chin stuck out and a grin, shouting, 

'Take a poke at that, kid, if you're lookin' for trouble, 

I'm half mountain lion, half Texas steer, 

With a dash of rattlesnake and horned toad, taking 

Easily in one jump and a yell the land 

From the Blue Ridge to the Big Horns, and wearing 

The whole damn Mississippi for a belt. 

I'll pull my right shoe off and kick the moon 

Clean over God's left shoulder for good luck. 

I'm the world's original playboy Look me over." 

Because you thought you had a date with a dame 

Called easy money, for a thousand years, 

You took the immeasurable cloth of time 

And used it for a rag to shine your shoes 

Nation of Jacks forever with a laugh 

Climbing the cloud-lost beanstalks of your buildings, 

Your whole life a perpetual song and dance. 

And yet in Washington I've heard you crying 
Because, having been barefoot so long, your feet 
Sprawled in the dirt, their flat toes toughened, now 

[225] 



[ 226 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

You must wear leather shoes, forget your marbles 
And that bright penny of your youth, once spent 
Over and over, fallen out through a hole 
In your pants' pocket, lost in the orchard grass 
Where you hooked apples at night, throwing a stick 
Up to the heavy branches, or in the crumbled 

Swimming-hole bank, under the roots, downstream 

* 

The cattle lowing belly-deep in the water. 

You strode the earth, not with a lifted sword 

But a gleaming piston rod of power in your hand 

Till not alone the world but even yourself 

Was blinded and believed its dazzling glare 

The very flame of glory, till you found 

On a grim morning with the east wind turned 

Suddenly cold and full of rain, you bore 

A dog-uncovered bone in your hand, and beat 

Madly a tin drum with colored pictures 

Like a child's dream of going to the wars. 

Evenings in Dakota where the dust 
Fell week-long in a Pharaoh curse from the sky 
You sat on the front steps, smoking your pipe, 
And turned, for the first time, into yourself 
To trail your heart's interminable prairie 
For the shy, untrapped meaning of your life 
A day old track on a hill, a few flank hairs 
Caught on an elm, a wild-grape hidden spring 
Muddied with drinking found it fled, and nothing 
But your heart's enormous hollow, arched with sky. 

And when (Upper East Side) you bought fresh fruit, 



PROLOGUE [ 227 ] 

New potatoes, a bunch of flowers for the wife, 
In the street market of immortality 
You found they shoved your money back and said, 
"Sorry, buddy, that's no good here, it's all 
Street car tokens, slugs, lucky pieces, 
Chicken feed, nothing behind it." 

America 

You minted out your soul in alloy nickels 
Faced with an Indian, backed with a buffalo, 
And spent it in the dime store of mad dreams. 

In Florida, where the white cranes cry over 

The deep Everglades, bull alligators 

Bellow up the moon, I have seen, swell-headed youth, 

The head-hunting Amazonian women, 

The avenging Fates of over speculation, 

The logical height and end of your dead system, 

Shrink your bloated sky-piece to a fist's size 

And fight for who should wear it on a string. 

In Colorado where the columbine 

Leans its purple breasts to the prairie wheat, 

I have seen your screaming eagle with the lightning 

Arrows gripped in his claws, the broad wings bent 

From Oregon to Maine, touching two waters 

vast wing-spread of a continent, a nation 
Huddling in its shadow become a sparrow 
Pecking the gutter horse dung for old oats. 

1 pity you, tumble weed land, wind-rolled 
Over the heat cracked plain, caught in a fence, 
Having not the wisdom of uprooted grass 



[ 228 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

That, bearing the sun's cruel knife blade at its throat, 
Will yet beat down into the iron earth 
The hot, white rivets of new roots, to hold 
Till the rain come and deeply harden them. 

How pitiful now, who once so proudly ran 
Through time in seven-league boots, the blue bandana 
Of the west wind knotted at your throat, fiddling 
The whole world up to a dance, with old Dan Tucker 
Or the latest Yiddish blues from Tin Pan Alley, 
Slapping the lean butt of death and shouting 
"Gome on, baby, scrape that frown off your face. 
Kick 'em out, girlie, high, wide and handsome. 
Shake that cute what-is-it of yours till the boys 
Break out in sweat, the drummer falls in his drum." 

You Saturday night nigger, drunk on his pay, 
Whistling at midnight past graveyards to keep 
His courage up. 

You we have dreamed would climb 
The rock and glacier of an American peak, 
Rainier or Pike's, throw off your clothes and stand 
Naked in the glare of history; 
And while your body bore the sky and took 
The sun for heart until your veins ran light, 
You would sickle down the rich, full-kerneled winds 
Of heaven with the bright blade of a song: 

"Whether early or late 
Letting my eyes pale or darken 
In morning or evening light, 
At sea-level walking 



PROLOGUE [ 229 ] 

An Alabama swamp, the night 

Barked trees, or deer-like 

In the Alleghenies stalking 

The lost Boone trail, 

Or in Chicago tearing 

Roosevelt Road, cut-out wide, 

Booze in the back seat, the wail 

Of sirens around me where I cannot hide 

"I have been the gambling nation, 
Glad to sit in an alley 
With that blue-gum nigger 
Time, crooning of his gal Sally 
And Gabriel's salvation, 
His hands on the ivories slow 
But quick on the trigger. 
Spit on the dice, win or lose 
Rattle 'em high, rattle 'em low, 
Seben come eleben 
Baby needs a new pair of shoes, 
Easy come, easy go 
And singing a new kind of blues: 

"Now in these days 
Plunging the taut wood, 
The Arapaho 

Timbered mountain, I blaze 
The axe-bruised bark for a way, 
And scream when I raise 
The axe again and find 
I am the hacked trunk, the gray 
Scar is my heart, the blind 



[ 230 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Forest my eyes, the unpathed 
Mountain of earth and mind 
All one trail, wider than day. 

"From the Jim River, the Sangamon, 
Nueces, Fox, I will drink 
The rain-blooded water and swear 
In my coming, to be, to think, 
There is a truth, one that I wear 
Like a brand new pair 
Of pants in Spring - 
Movement, the will, the can 
Force of moving, to say 
I don't know where I'm going 
But I'm on my way. 

"I will make a new song of the word, 
A proud song, big in the lungs, 
A free-for-all, everything goes, 
Part barber-shop, part jazz, 
Part cowboy, all American tongues, 
A hill-billy Jew's harp itchin' the toes, 
A Georgia fiddler givin' the razz 
To three A.M., and a muted sax 
Moanin' deep till all the world's 
Swaying and swinging and making tracks 
For Joe's Quick Lunch or Harry's Place, 
Buck Tooth's Barn or a Harlem dive, 
For the first time told that it's alive 
In the new-word song of a new-world race. 

"America, long wind blowing, 



PROLOGUE [231] 

For you not moving is not being, 
Moving is being, is going 
Lightly on nerves' feet 
Where touching is seeing 
But only singing is knowing 
The thing become, fleeing 
From beginning into flowing 
Is the word become song. 

"Here where the long 
Compass needle 

Of a continent points north and south 
I will shout in the Blackfoot hills 
With an American mouth 
The song of my tangled wills 
That will be to my twisted heart 
Deep rain after drouth 
When the dry creek bed fills . . . 

"Being for me is moving, quiet 
Is not being. Here in the tall ways 
Of sun-shafted buildings, the steep 
Wind riveted and roofed till men fly it 
With vertical, square wings 
Is movement's heart, the deep 
Core of being where man sings 
Restlessness out of his head 
And walks the long curves 
Of earth, pure being, unled 
Through the dark streets of his nerves. 

"Here, walking Broadway or wide 



C 232 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Michigan Boulevard, hitch-hiking 
The Lincoln Highway, here 
Has the word moved like the tide 
Of a ploughed field in the earth, 
Moved into man and become 
Boned and blooded, and cried, 
Now by a terrible birth 
Are the word and man one. 

"I, with my feet in the corn 
Of Illinois where have run 
The hard heels of the plough, 
And my heart in the eagle-torn 
Peaks of the Rockies, will fling 
To the glaring face of the sun 
The proud defiance of man . . . 
Here is the word, I will sing, 
Become a life and a line 
And to you where we all began 
I hurl it back as a thing 
New in the world, a sign 
That the next storm wind will bring 
Of a slang and a song where ran 
In the earth the American ring 
Of a word, the American man." 

Yet we have heard nothing save the tiny cry 
From a narrow street, of a child who wept because 
Having cut his finger, seen a drop of blood, 
He thought his heart had burst. 

You have no time 
To sing, you are forever running away 



PROLOGUE [ 233 ] 

Shrieking, lest you hear or understand 
The lean, avenging fury of yourself. 

And I have seen you, O poor Job of nations, 

Now because you have had a boil on the neck, 

Having been so long clean-blooded, down on the dung heap 

Flung, to beat your breast and tear your hair 

And hurl up dung into the eyes of God. 

But you are not alone, for all the world 

Cries, Pity, with you. Every nation stares 

Into the other's face, into the sky, 

The guts of a bird, reads a deer's thigh bone, 

Looks in a mirror for a way, to find 

Only their own reflected, helpless eyes 

Begging and frightened. 

They are all diseased 

With the fever of wretched government that burns 
And wastes the tortured flesh till it cannot sleep, 
With the racking chill and ague of too much money 
In too few hands. It is only the life-patient, 
Deep, man-haunted earth that is not sick, 
Gentle in cropped fields. 

Now I hear in the night 
Rise from every corner of the world 
The life-tormented yell of starving men, 
From doorway beds or subway benches, wrapped 
In newspapers Beauty Engaged, The Hardware Joneses 
Leave For Europe, Agitator Jailed. 
The toes of children rip through old shoes and scrape 
On the hot streets or in the deep snow. Women 
Lift up their eyes, no longer filmed with patience, 



[ 234 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

In the question that is their birth-right and their curse: 

"Here are my children, thin, the bones begging for food, 

There are no more quarters for the gas meter, no 

Credit at the butcher's, the heat turned off. 

Here is a man glad for a chance to work 

Hard, long hours, overtime, and yet 

Must walk the streets and sit in a cold room. 

I am a woman. I do not understand. 

But has a man no more the right to work, 

A child to eat? A woman at evening 

To rest in her family without the fear 

Morning will find them turned into the street 

With a handful of clothes and an old chair?" 

This is not 
Your way, America. 

Yet now I see 

In Alabama cotton burned, In Iowa 
Hogs slaughtered and buried, in Montana 
Wheat ploughed under. While eight million men 
Shiver and hunger. This is not your way 
America. Remember if one man eats 
While another starves, his very food is cursed. 
The bread-line is a rope will strangle you. 

You've kidded yourself too long, America. 

It's time you looked the straight fact in the eye. 

The world's gone bust, gone haywire, and you with it, 

You, the infallible, spoiled child. Fate's got 

Your number, buddy, he's got the dope on you, 

Either you act now or he'll slip up and say 

You're through, fella, you're done, washed up, cold, 



PROLOGUE [ 235 ] 

Out on your feet and you don't know it, you're 
Dead from the ears up. Scraaam. 

Remember 

That living men do not forever crawl 
Down in the gutter and die in sight of fire 
Which burns the bread-stuff that could nourish them; 
That there is an ancient power in the world, 
Blind and cruel and terrible in act, 
And it is not in the stars or in your eyes 
That you alone of all the world's lands will 
Escape the unimaginable fury 
Of the lean-bellied, too long patient poor. 

You've panhandled your own people, you've betrayed 
The faith of a hundred million, the deep soil 
That lengthened your skeleton, the nervous wind 
That lifted your cheek bone, the dream of men 
A hundred and fifty years ago, who looked 
At a thin line of towns by the sea's edge 
Huddled, up the tidewater to the first 
Lean mountain, and said 

"Here is a new thing. 
Here is another twist of life in the world's 
Lift of men to the sunlight. We have torn 
A new son from the tired guts of Europe, 
Gut the navel string, left it here on a strange 
Shore to suckle on maple sap and milkweed, 
Grow up half wolf-boy and half god, to thumb 
His nose at a far home he has not seen. 
Here is a new people" 

America 
You have betrayed that people. This is a shame 



C 236 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

That not alone will leave a white, ridged scar 
Over your cheek, will let your name taste rotten 
On tongues that spit it out, that scorn to speak it, 
But can destroy you. 

You will wake one morning 
To hear the relentless hounds of hungry men 
Crying destruction over your doomed hills. 

O desert nation, jackaled with your dreams. 

Yet there is a way. This is not the Alamo, 
The walls taken, the Mission entered, righting 
Hand to hand with the Bowie knife, Crockett 
Fallen at last in a roomful of his dead, 
The relief held beyond the flood river. 
It is the old American way, the going 
Tough, no salt, tobacco wet, the weak 
Clamoring to turn back. It is another 
Cumberland Pass, the guide shot and scalped 
In sight sound of the camp, the narrow trail 
Dark with the forest death. 

It is a pause 

In the long war-dance of our history, a turn 
Of our life. Either we go on to shout 
The great blood-cry, or slink away to the squaws 
Taunting in the buffalo tents, the boys 
Making lewd gestures of us in the ponies. 

We live darkly in the world's great darkness 
Ringed round on the leaning hills with a fanged fire 
That, in the bird-crying hour of dawn, 
Can run through the dry grass to leap and tear us, 



PROLOGUE [ 237 ] 

Rip the lodge poles down, consume the pemmican 
Dried for winter, all the old and sick 
Left screaming on the black ground, and a few 
Escaped to the mountains with a medicine bag 
And a knife, to live on roots and bark, and die 
In the first blizzard, bones piled in the Spring 
For the friendly buzzards. Or we can ourselves 
Crawl up in the night to steal it from the gods 
And carry it in a pouch to our own valley, 
Fuel it with the dead and broken wood 
Of a society we have proved rotten 
And found the courage to destroy. 

O then 

Having built up that man-exalting land, 
The clear expression of the human thing 
In the social multitude, and in the lone 
Individual with his single way 
That is our self-created destiny, 
It will become the true American flame 
That will be deep fire in the nation's eyes, 
That will burn steel but will not burn our hearts. 



The Future of States' Rights 

PETER ODEGARD 

THE recent decision of the Supreme Court in the Schechter 
Poultry case has once again sharpened the issue of States' 
Rights. The controversy, for us, is an old one. Much of our 
political history has revolved about it. The movement cul 
minating in the Constitution was, in fact, a protest against the 
extreme localism of the post-revolutionary years. Every school 
boy knows this as the "critical period," and although the 
condition of the country at the time was by no means as bad 
as some historians would have us believe, it was indeed 
critical. 

The tiny spark of national consciousness which appeared 
during the revolution had flickered and all but died. "Among 
the first sentiments expressed in the first Congress," said 
James Wilson, "one was that 'Virginia is no more, that 
Massachusetts is no more, that Pennsylvania is no more, etc. 
We are now one nation of brethren. We must bury local 
interests and distinctions!' This language continued for some 
time. No sooner were the state governments formed than their 
jealousy and ambition began to display themselves. Each 
endeavored to cut a slice from the common loaf to add to his 
morsel, till at length the Confederation became frittered 
down to the impotent condition in which it now stands." 

To the business and commercial classes, the crisis was par 
ticularly acute and it was they who led the movement for 
a new Constitution. .Necessarily that document was a child of 
compromise. It did not go as far in establishing a centralized 
authority as some of the leaders desired. Nevertheless, by 
giving to the national government a strong executive estab 
lishment, an independent system of courts, and extensive 
powers over taxation, foreign relations, commerce and cur 
rency, it laid the foundation for a truly national state. More 
over, important restrictions were imposed upon the states. 
The Constitution, laws, and treaties of the national govern- 

[238] 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 239 ] 

ment were declared to be "the supreme law of the land; and 
the judges of every state shall be bound thereby, anything in 
the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary not 
withstanding." 

The Articles of Confederation had regarded the states as 
sovereign and equal, and the national Congress was powerless 
to act without their consent. The government established by 
the Constitution was to rest upon the broad base of popular 
consent as represented in the lower house of the national 
legislature. Concessions were made to the states in the amend 
ing clause, the suffrage provisions, and in the Senate where 
they were given equal representation regardless of size or 
population. 

It was over this latter issue that the Convention very nearly 
went on the rocks. The debate served to illuminate the atti 
tude of many of "the Fathers" toward States' Rights. "The 
state systems," wrote Henry Knox to Rufus King in the sum 
mer of 1787, "are the accursed things which will prevent our 
being a nation. . . . The vile state governments are sources 
of pollution which will contaminate the American name for 
ages machines that must produce ill, but cannot produce 
good." But John Dickinson compared the proposed na 
tional system to the solar system in which the states were the 
planets and ought to be left to move freely in their orbits. 
In other words, the new government was to represent a dual 
sovereignty. 

"Good God, Sir!" cried Gouverneur Morris, "is it possible 
that they can so delude themselves? ... It has been said 
that the new government would be partly national, partly 
federal; that it ought in the first quality to protect individuals, 
in the second the states. But in what quality was it to protect 
the aggregate interest of the whole?" Morris, like many of his 
colleagues, was not sanguine concerning such a system. He 
pointed to the failure of federalism in the Greek States, in 
Germany and the United Netherlands. "With these examples 
before our eyes, shall we form establishments which must 
necessarily produce the same effects?" 



[ 240 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

In spite of these dire predictions, the theory of dual sov 
ereignty prevailed not only in the apportionment of repre 
sentation, but also in the division of powers between the 
states and the nation. This division of powers, at least in 
theory, cannot be altered except by the difficult process of 
amendment requiring the consent of three-fourths of the 
states. Of course the Supreme Court, the final arbiter in juris- 
dictional controversies, is itself an agency of the national 
government. As a matter of fact that government Presi 
dent, Congress and Supreme Court acting together is 
supreme, and its powers when so acting are unfettered by 
Constitutional restraints. 

We speak of the national government as one of delegated 
powers, and of the states as governments of reserved powers. 
This distinction is made clear in the tenth amendment which 
reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the 
Constitution nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to 
the states respectively or to the people." 

But the language used in apportioning these powers lacks 
precision. For example, Congress is given power to "regulate 
commerce with foreign nations and among the several states." 
What is commerce and what does it mean to "regulate"? So 
likewise Congress has power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, 
imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the 
common defense and general welfare of the United States." 
What is meant by the "general welfare"? Congress may estab 
lish post-offices and build post-roads. But does this include 
power to conduct a savings bank or to engage in the express 
business? What are post-roads, anyway? Section four of 
article four says: "The United States shall guarantee to 
every state in this Union a republican form of government." 
It does not, as did the Weimar Constitution of Germany, tell 
us exactly what this means. Has Louisiana, under the rule of 
the Kingfish, such a government? 

Then there is the famous "elastic clause" which gives 
Congress power "to make all laws which shall be necessary 
and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 241 ] 

What laws are to be deemed "necessary and proper"? It is 
plain that the national government may exercise powers not 
"expressly" granted, but what are the limits to this "implied" 
authority? Are the powers granted, exclusive? May they be 
exercised by the states in the absence of national action, or 
concurrently once Congress has acted? 

So it is with the restraints imposed upon both the national 
and state governments. The fifth amendment says that "no 
person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without 
due process of law," and an identical limitation is placed 
upon the states in section one of the fourteenth amendment. 
But what is "due process of law"? 

The language of the Constitution is vague. All the fore 
going terms admit of many different interpretations. "You 
have made a good Constitution," said someone to Gouverneur 
Morris. "That," replied Morris, "depends on how it is inter 
preted." This important task falls to the Supreme Court. In 
the heavy haze which surrounds the terminology of the Con 
stitution, the "nine old men" who sit on that tribunal find 
ample room to exercise their interpretative talents. In a very 
real sense, ours is a government by judiciary, as Louis Boudin 
has so amply demonstrated. (Government by Judiciary.) It is the 
Supreme Court which ultimately sets the metes and bounds 
of national and state power. As James Beck once remarked: 
"Thus the Supreme Court is not only a court of Justice but in 
a qualified sense a continuous constitutional convention." The 
meaning and extent of States' Rights can best be discovered 
in the decisions of that august body. 

T N THE fanfare of praise and blame which has greeted recent 
-* decisions, it is important to remember that on the whole 
the Court has been friendly to the expansion of national 
power. Two distinct theories, represented at the outset by 
Hamilton and Madison respectively, have battled for su 
premacy. Professor Corwin puts it most succinctly when he 
says: "... by the year 1885 . . . American constitutional 
law had come to embrace two widely divergent traditions 



[ 242 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

regarding national power. The one tradition (Hamiltonian) 
insists on the adaptability of national power to 'an undefined 
and expanding future' and leaves the maintenance of the 
Federal system and of States' Rights largely contingent thereon. 
. . . The other tradition (Madisonian) erects dual Federalism 
into a supreme constitutional value, the preservation of 
which ought forever to control constitutional interpretation. 
. . . And having these two traditions at hand, the Court 
became enabled . . . without too great derogation from its 
judicial role, to frame responses from either when confronted 
with questions of national power." (Twilight of the Supreme 
Court.) John Marshall and the Court over which he presided 
were clearly Hamiltonian in outlook; Taney and his colleagues 
labored under the shadow of James Madison. Since the Civil 
War the Court has, with a few notable exceptions, followed 
Hamilton, although recently the pendulum seems to be 
swinging back again. 

In all, the Court has struck down some sixty acts of Con 
gress. The state statutes which have died at its hands would 
run to many times that figure. The very rapid expansion of 
national power, and the growth in state activities have in 
creased the number of issues presented. Moreover, the phi 
losophy of laissez faire, to which the judges had in general 
adhered, helps to explain the striking increase in the laws 
both national and state which have incurred the Court's dis 
pleasure. Thus up to 1900, only twenty-six acts of Congress 
had been invalidated by the Court, as against some thirty-six 
since that date. State laws were disallowed in twenty cases 
before the Civil War, and in over four hundred in the years 
following 1870. 

The theory which regards the Court as an impartial umpire 
between Washington and the state capitals needs numerous 
qualifications. It has, in a very real sense, been the guardian 
of the whole as against the parts. Indeed, after a careful study 
of the cases, Professor Field has recently suggested that in 
place of the doctrine that the national government may exer 
cise only delegated powers a new rule had, up to 1 934, been in 



THE FUTURE OF STATES'. RIGHTS [ 243 ] 

effect applied. This new rule would read somewhat as follows: 
"The national government has all those powers of govern 
ment not specifically denied it. In case of doubt the national 
government shall be deemed to have the power. In case of 
conflict between the nation and state power, the national 
government shall be deemed superior. In case of war or 
emergency these rules apply particularly, but in case of doubt 
a state of emergency shall be deemed to exist." Recent deci 
sions have played hob with this rule although the future is 
more likely to confirm than to deny it. 

No small part of the expansion of national power has taken 
place under the commerce clause, coupled with the doctrine 
of implied powers. In the first case presented to the Court 
under the commerce clause, John Marshall construed the 
meaning of the Constitutional grant to imply that in this 
area the authority of the national government was, for practi 
cal purposes, unlimited. The power to regulate commerce, he 
said, was "vested in Congress as absolutely as it would be in 
a single government having in its Constitution the same 
restrictions ... as are found in the Constitution of the 
United States." The sole restraints upon its exercise, he indi 
cated, were to be found not in the rights of the states, but in 
the limitations imposed by the people through their repre 
sentatives in Congress. "The wisdom and the discretion of 
Congress, their identity with the people, and the influence 
which their constituents possess at elections are, in this, as in 
many other instances . . . the sole restraints to secure them 
from its abuse." Moreover, Marshall defined commerce very 
broadly to include not only transportation but "intercourse." 

Furthermore, it has been held that the power of the na 
tional government over interstate commerce is, in all im 
portant respects, exclusive. The Court has time and again 
invalidated state legislation, on the ground that it was an 
unconstitutional interference with the "free and unrestricted 
flow of interstate commerce." Serious limitations have thus 
been placed upon the states in taxation, economic regulation 
and even social legislation. It follows that where the states 



[ 244 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

are powerless to act, the necessary controls must be imposed 
by the national government. 

When in 1886, for example, the Court killed an act of the 
Illinois legislature seeking to prohibit discriminatory railroad 
rates, Congress almost immediately passed the Interstate 
Commerce Act, thus definitely bringing common carriers 
under national control. This control has since been extended 
to include regulation not only of interstate but of intra-state 
rates as well. (C. B. and Q,. vs. Wise.) Interstate bus lines have 
so far escaped Federal regulation, and since the power of the 
states over them is severely limited, they remain virtually 
uncontrolled. To those who view the national government as 
avidly grasping for power everywhere and at all times, its 
reluctance to occupy this field must be puzzling. The fact, 
however, that the states may not constitutionally exercise 
a power does not imply that the national government may 
do so. 

What definition has the Court given to the term "interstate 
commerce"? Reference has already been made to Marshall's 
definition. In 1877, Chief Justice Waite said that the term was 
"not confined to the instrumentalities of commerce . . . 
known or in use when the Constitution was adopted but [keeps 
pace] with the progress of the country . . . from the horse 
with its rider to the stage coach, from the sailing vessel to the 
steamboat, from the coach and the steamboat to the railroad 
and from the railroad to the telegraph, as these new agencies 
are successively brought into use to meet the demands of 
increasing population and wealth." (Pensacola Telegraph Co. 
vs. Western Union.) 

Again Justice Harlan said: "Commerce among the states 
embraces navigation, intercourse, communication, traffic, the 
transit of persons and the transmission of messages by tele 
graph." It has been held that an individual transporting 
goods across a state line on his own person (U. S. vs. Chavez; 
U. S. vs. Hill) or in his own automobile (U. S. vs. Simpson) is 
engaged in interstate commerce. As these instrumentalities 
have extended their scope, and progressively transcended 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 245 ] 

^* *s * ^T^TT??' 

state boundaries, the power of the national government has 
increased and that of the states has just as surely declined. 

While there is now no doubt concerning the power of 
Congress to regulate the "instrumentalities" of commerce, the 
extent of its authority over agencies and activities incidental 
to this commerce is not clear. It has been held that manu 
facturing is not commerce (U. S. vs. E. C. Knight) and that 
Congress cannot, under the guise of regulating commerce, 
control the conditions of manufacturing within the states. 
(Hammer vs. Dagenhart.) Practically this distinction is becoming 
difficult to maintain. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act out 
lawing combinations in restraint of trade or commerce among 
the states was very definitely designed to regulate the 
conditions of manufacturing. 

This was followed by the Clayton Act and the Federal 
Trade Commission Act in 1914, prohibiting certain types of 
"unfair" business practices which are intimately related to the 
process of manufacture as well as sale. Yet this legislation has 
been sustained on the ground that it was intended to remove 
"obstructions" to the free flow of commerce. It was on the 
same theory that the present administration sought to justify 
the NIRA, and the Court would have violated none of the 
canons of judicial consistency had it sustained the Act. 

The line between intra-state and interstate commerce has 
become extremely thin as the Court has time and again 
admitted. In the Sugar Trust Case (U. S. vs. E. C. Knight) the 
judges were unimpressed by the fact that the defendant 
company had "nearly complete control of the manufacture 
of refined sugar in the United States," and that the over 
whelming bulk of its product was shipped outside the state 
of manufacture. But in a later case (Swift and Co. vs. United 
States) where some thirty firms agreed to refrain from bidding 
against each other for livestock in the local market, the Court 
took account of the fact that the livestock came from other 
states and, as meat products, were subsequently shipped 
outside the State of Illinois. This, it was held, rendered the 
transaction, taken as a whole, one in interstate commerce, and 



[ 246 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

hence subject to Federal law notwithstanding that the 
particular practice assailed took place within the confines 
of a single state. 

Referring to this case many years later Chief Justice Taft 
said: ". . . . It refused to permit local incidents of a great 
interstate movement which taken alone were intra-state to 
characterize the movement as such." Applying the same logic 
to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 Taft said: "The 
object to be secured by this act is the free and untrammeled 
flow of livestock from the ranges and farms of the West and 
Southwest through the great stockyards and slaughtering 
centers . . . and thence in the form of meat products to 
the consuming cities of the country. . . . The chief evil feared 
is the monopoly of the packers, enabling them unduly and 
arbitrarily to lower prices to the shipper who sells, and unduly 
and arbitrarily to increase the price to the consumer who 
buys." (Stafford vs. Wallace.) Incidentally, it is interesting to 
compare this language with that used in the Schechter 
Poultry Case where the Court said: "It is not the province of 
the Court to consider the economic advantages or disad 
vantages of such a centralized system. It is sufficient that the 
Federal Constitution does not provide for it." 

With the increasing specialization and concentration of 
industry necessitating buying and selling in a national 
market there is scarcely a major economic undertaking in 
America which cannot be described in Justice Taft's words. 
As Professor Cor win remarks: "what is said here of the meat 
business may with equal truth be said of half a hundred other 
species of traffic in California's fruit, in Minnesota's flour, 
in Texas' oil, in Pennsylvania's coal, in Kentucky's tobacco, 
in Michigan's automobiles, etc." Just why the judges in the 
N.R.A. case did not follow the line here laid down remains a 
secret locked within the conscience of the Court. To say that 
these enterprises can be effectively controlled by the states is 
both constitutionally and economically absurd. To deny power 
to the national government is therefore tantamount to saying 
that they shall be uncontrolled. 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 247 ] 

Moreover, one cannot justly speak of "Federal encroach 
ments upon the powers of the states" when the national 
government moves into an area which the states are powerless 
to occupy. For as Sidney Gulick of the National Institute of 
Public Administration says: "Nothing effective can be done in 
the regulation or stabilization of economic affairs unless the 
area of planning and control has the same boundaries as the 
economic structure." Is it too much to say that the boundaries 
of the economic structure in the United States are for the most 
part those of the nation? 



T^HE power of Congress over economic activities is not 
-*- confined to the commerce clause. It has power to "lay 
and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises," to tax incomes 
"from any source derived," and to "coin money and regulate 
the value thereof"; and the states are specifically forbidden to 
do most of these things. No state may levy taxes upon inter 
state commerce, nor may it tax the agencies or instrumental 
ities of the national government. The converse of this, how 
ever, is not clear. It is true that the Court has forbidden Federal 
taxes upon the salaries of state judges (Collector vs. Day) but 
it has upheld the power of the national government to tax 
certain other state activities. In the famous case of Veazie Bank 
vs. Fenno, a Federal tax upon the circulating notes of state 
banks, the effect of which was to drive them out of existence, 
was sustained. On the other hand, a state tax upon the cir 
culating notes of U. S. banks was held to be invalid. (McCol- 
loch vs. Maryland.) 

It is customary for the Court to distinguish in such cases 
between "governmental," and "non-governmental" or "pro 
prietary" functions. The former may not be taxed while the 
latter may. But no advocate of States' Rights would contend 
that the states could tax T.V.A., or the property of the Inland 
Waterways Corporation, or the Post Office, or Boulder Dam. 
Yet internal revenue taxes are regularly collected from state 
liquor stores and have been sustained. (South Carolina vs. 
United States.) A state university might reasonably be regarded 



C 248 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

as a state "governmental" activity. Nevertheless, books and 
supplies imported by such an institution are subject to import 
duties. (Board of Trustees of University of Illinois vs. United 
States.) But supplies purchased by agencies of the national 
government may not be taxed by the states. (Panhandle Oil Co. 
vs. Knox.) 

The conclusion seems inescapable that all activities of the 
national government are "governmental" and hence immune 
from state taxation, although similar or even identical activ 
ities carried on by the states may be regarded as non-govern 
mental and hence subject to the Federal taxing power. It is 
certain that the national government and the states do not 
any longer, if they ever did, represent equal sovereignties each 
independent in its own sphere. Should any doubt on this 
score remain one might cite the case of County of Spokane vs. 
United States. The point at issue was section 3466 of the revised 
statutes providing that "whenever any person indebted to the 
United States is insolvent, or whenever the estate of any 
deceased debtor ... is insufficient to pay all the debts of 
the deceased, the debts due to the United States shall be first 
satisfied." The deceased in this case owed taxes to Spokane 
County, an agency of the "sovereign" state of Washington. 
Could the county therefore share equally with the Federal 
government in the debtors estate? It could not. The court held 
that the claims of the national government were paramount 
even though they absorbed the entire estate, leaving nothing 
for the county. 

The influence of the tariff in determining the economic 
destiny of the nation has been the occasion for many of the 
most sweeping attacks upon Federal power by those who 
have defended States' Rights. It was the so-called "tariff of 
abominations" of 1832 that called forth South Carolina's 
famous Ordinance of Nullification. Yet from Hamilton to 
Smoot, the Federal taxing power has been used to promote and 
foster industry at the expense of agriculture and the consumer. 
The processing tax of the A.A.A. which Henry Wallace calls 
an "internal tariff," seeks to extend similar benefits to the 



THE FUTURE OF STATES* RIGHTS [ 249 ] 

farmers. Without debating its wisdom, and aside from the 
question of delegation involved in the Secretary's power to 
determine the rates, there should be no doubt of its constitu 
tionality. It involves a vast increase in the power of the na 
tional government over agriculture. 

The taxing power of the national government may be used 
not only to pay the public debt but to "promote the general 
welfare." The purposes for which the public debt may be 
incurred and what measures may constitutionally be calcu 
lated to "promote the general welfare" are not set forth in any 
great detail in the Constitution. Theoretically the national 
government, through its power of eminent domain, might 
acquire ownership of the major industries and resources of the 
country, and use the taxing power to liquidate the debt thus 
created. Since the state governments could not then tax these 
enterprises, it is conceivable that the states might be de 
stroyed by the consequent undermining of their financial 
foundations. 

This is not as fantastic as it may seem. The extension of such 
undertakings as T.V.A., Boulder Dam, the Grand Coulee, 
and the increase of Federal activities in such fields as housing 
and land purchase may, by removing property from the tax 
rolls, jeopardize the revenues of local agencies and make them 
increasingly dependent upon Federal largess. Already 
Washington has occupied the most productive fields of taxa 
tion, and some look to the time when virtually all taxes will be 
collected by the national government and thence allocated to 
the states and their subdivisions. Considerable progress has 
been made in this direction through the device known as 
Federal grants-in-aid. In return for such grants, the state 
agrees to conform to standards and policies laid down by 
national officers in carrying on the project. Frequently, to 
qualify for aid, the state must enact legislation suggested, and 
often drafted, by agents of the national government. 

"Moreover," says Charles Beard, "we have the strange 
anomaly of state officers on Federal pay-rolls, Federal officers 
on state and local pay-rolls, Federal officers enforcing state 



[ 250 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

laws and state officers enforcing Federal statutes." The nature 
and extent of these activities are bewildering to those who 
continue to think in the traditional language of "States' 
Rights." They include maternity and infancy aid, education, 
scientific research, pest eradication, public health work, 
conservation, and public works of almost infinite variety. 
Without Federal aid the elaborate highway system of the 
nation would be unthinkable. 

Critics of the present administration would have the country 
believe that this system is a child of the so-called Roosevelt 
Revolution. Yet between 1912 and 1925 Federal aid payments 
increased from $8,149,478 to $147,351,393 or nearly two 
thousand percent. This includes only money grants. Under the 
Morrill Act of 1862, Congress granted thirty thousand acres 
of land, or the equivalent in land scrip, to each state for 
each of its Senators and Representatives to establish the now 
famous land grant colleges and universities. After the war 
some two hundred million dollars of war materials were 
delivered to state highway departments. 

Since the depression literally billions of dollars have been 
poured into the states from the Federal treasury to finance 
public works and poor relief. By December 1 934 the national 
government was paying three-fourths of the cost of unemploy 
ment relief. Indeed in the South, the traditional home of 
States' Rights, between ninety-five and ninety-nine percent of 
the relief load was being borne by the national government. 
And the end is not in sight. Congress has passed the National 
Social Security Act, under which states will be "induced," by 
Federal taxes and grants, to enact unemployment insurance 
and old age pensions legislation. We have scarcely scratched 
the surface in the fields of housing, grade-crossing elimination, 
public health, child welfare and education. 

Are there any limits to the taxing and spending powers of 
the national government when used to promote the general 
welfare? In the Maternity Aid Cases the Federal subsidy policy 
was attacked on two grounds. It was denounced as an attempt 
to induce the states to surrender a portion of their sovereign 



THE FUTURE -OF STATES' RIGHTS C 251 ] 

rights. To this the Supreme Court replied simply that there 
was no binding obligation on the states to accept the money. 
The second objection was that to take money from the rich 
industrial states and distribute it to others was a taking of 
property without due process of law. But the Court pointed to 
the physical impossibility of making apportionments of 
Federal funds in exact proportion to the amount of taxes 
collected in each state. Such a system would defeat all Federal 
taxation. (Massachusetts vs. Mellon; Frothing ham vs. Mellon.) 

Alexander Hamilton, discussing the "general welfare" 
clause in 1791, said: "The phrase is as comprehensive as any 
that could have been used, because it was not fit that the con 
stitutional authority of the Union to appropriate its revenues 
should have been restricted within narrower limits than the 
'general welfare,' and because this necessarily embraces a vast 
variety of particulars which are susceptible neither of specifica 
tion nor of definition. It is therefore . . . left to the discretion 
of the national legislature to pronounce upon the objects 
which concern the general welfare. . . . And there seems to 
be no room for doubt that whatever concerns the general 
interests of learning, of agriculture, of manufactures, and of 
commerce, are within the sphere of the national councils, as 
far as regards the application of money." 

Certainly this comes close to expressing the theory upon 
which the national government has acted and will, continue 
to act. Whatever limits there may be to the national authority 
to promote the general welfare through its taxing and spend 
ing powers, they have not yet been discovered. 

T N the contest for power between the national government 
-* and the states, the latter have been in retreat since the first 
Congress assembled under the Constitution. On one sector of 
the wavering battle-line, however, they have been able to put 
up a stubborn resistance. They continue to hold the important 
area best described as the "police power." This phrase, first 
used by Marshall in the famous case of Brown vs. Maryland, 
refers to the power of the states to regulate, protect and 



[ 252 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

promote the health, morals and safety of the community. 
More broadly it has come to include such welfare legislation 
as workmen's compensation, limitations upon the hours and 
conditions of employment, minimum wage, child labor, and 
social insurance. Within these categories the states are the 
oretically supreme, providing they do not encroach upon the 
acknowledged powers of the national government, impair the 
obligation of contracts, or take property without due process 
of law. 

But even here there are signs of compromise if not surrender. 
It is generally agreed that the Federal government has no 
police powers as such. Yet under the commerce, postal and 
taxing powers it has exercised "police" functions. The most 
dramatic recent illustration is the Lindbergh Law, under 
which Federal officers may pursue, capture, try and convict 
kidnappers who transport their quarry across state lines. 
Moreover, such interstate transportation is "presumed" if the 
victim is not surrendered within seven days. The activities 
of Edgar Hoover's "G" men in this connection have already 
become the theme for fiction, song and scenario. It is reason 
able to assume that the theory underlying this law will be 
extended to include other forms of crime long regarded as 
within the exclusive jurisdiction of the states. 

Gangsters, racketeers, and bootleggers, who were to all 
appearances immune under state laws, have been trapped by 
internal revenue agents and now sit in Leavenworth or Alca- 
traz, nursing their grievances against that "monster," the 
national government. They are undoubtedly ardent believers 
in "States' Rights." Thousands of innocent investors have the 
postal department, with its fraud orders, to thank for protec 
tion against "fleecing" by confidence men and bogus stock 
brokers. The operators of the chain letter and lottery rackets 
are probably convinced that the exercise of "police powers" 
by the national government is an "unconstitutional infringe 
ment" of the inalienable rights of the states. So too are the 
manufacturers, advertisers and salesmen of sure-fire cancer 
cures, anti-fat remedies, corrosive complexion aids and 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 253 ] 

adulterated foodstuffs, who have felt the heavy hand of the 
National Food and Drug Administration or the inquisitorial 
gaze of the postal inspectors. 

How far may the national government go to accomplish 
police regulation? The theory is that the commerce, taxing 
and postal powers cannot be used directly for this purpose 
although legislation in these areas may "incidentally" accom 
plish the same result. When Congress outlawed the transporta 
tion of lottery tickets in interstate commerce, that act was 
upheld not as a police regulation, but as a legitimate exercise 
of the power to regulate commerce. Yet the plain intent and 
purpose of the law was, as the Court itself admitted, to guard 
"the people of the United States against the widespread 
pestilence of lotteries." (Champion vs. Ames.} In 1913 the Court 
sustained the Mann Act, making it a crime for any person to 
transport or aid in the transportation of a woman or girl in 
interstate commerce for immoral purposes. (Hoke vs. United 
States.) 

The validity of such legislation is determined not by the 
powers of Congress to outlaw gambling or prostitution 
directly, but by its power to deny access to the channels of 
interstate commerce to those who seek to use them for purposes 
regarded as immoral or injurious to the community. Upon the 
same ground the Court approved the Webb-Kenyon Act, 
forbidding the interstate transportation of liquor to persons in 
"dry" states. (Clark Distilling Co. vs. Maryland Railway.) But 
when Congress in 1916 forbade the interstate transportation 
of commodities produced by child labor, a divided court 
declared the law unconstitutional. (Hammer vs. Dagenhart.) 

Unable to accomplish its purpose under the commerce 
clause, Congress imposed a special tax upon the net profits of 
concerns employing children. Once again there seemed ample 
precedent for such action. John Marshall had once said that 
the power to tax was a power to destroy, and it had been so 
used against state bank-notes. Again a discriminatory and 
destructive tax upon oleomargarine, colored to look like 
butter, was upheld. (McCrqy vs. United States.) To the argument 



[ 254 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

that the tax was prohibitive, the Court said that since Con 
gress clearly had the power to tax, any restraint imposed 
upon that power by the Court would be an unconstitutional 
interference with the work of the national legislature. In 1914 
the Harrison Narcotic Act levied an excise tax of one dollar 
upon all dealers in narcotics. The law was in fact a national 
licensing act since the dealers were forced to comply with 
specified conditions laid down by the national government. 
The Supreme Court held this to be a legitimate exercise of the 
"taxing" power. (U. S. vs. Dor emus.) 

In all of these cases it is clear that the taxes were imposed 
not to produce revenue, but to enforce police regulations. 
Nevertheless, when the child labor tax law was presented to 
the Court it was set aside on the ground that it was not a 
revenue measure but a police regulation, and an unconstitu 
tional encroachment upon the recognized police powers of 
the states. (Bailey vs. Drexel Furniture Company.) By its decisions 
in the child labor cases, the Court has in effect said that only 
a Constitutional amendment can cure Congressional impotence 
in this field. The recent N.R.A. decision making it impos 
sible to outlaw r child labor by nationally imposed codes of fair 
competition increases the necessity for such an amendment. 

Of course the states may prohibit child labor. But in this, as 
in other cases involving restrictive legislation, they are con 
fronted with almost insuperable difficulties. In the absence of 
uniform national regulations, any state which adopts such 
laws runs the risk of penalizing its own manufacturers and 
business men for the benefit of their competitors in less socially- 
minded jurisdictions. Obviously a manufacturer operating in 
a state where he may not employ children, or where he must 
observe certain rules respecting hours of labor and minimum 
wages, competes at a disadvantage with manufacturers in 
states without such restraints. Moreover, the states are power 
less to protect themselves. Should they, for example, attempt 
to prohibit the importation of the products of child labor from 
other states, they would most certainly be forbidden by the 
Court from thus unconstitutionally imposing burdens upon 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 255 ] 

interstate commerce. So long as manufacturers produced for 
a local intra-state market these difficulties were not serious, 
but that day has long since passed. 

'T'HIS discussion emphasizes the fact that back of all the 
* furor over States' Rights lie powerful economic and social 
interests. So long as the exercise of national power is promo 
tional in character we hear no complaint from the groups 
whose interest is thus promoted, against Federal centralization. 
On the contrary, they clamor for more. There is little or no 
objection, for example, from business men to the activities of 
the national government in the fields of trade promotion and 
tariff protection, or to the Federal subsidies to railroads, ship 
ping interests and bankers. 

When Mr. Ford says that all business asks is to have the 
government curtail its expenditures and cease its "inter 
ference," he obviously is not thinking of Federal road building 
activities. It is only when Federal acts become regulative, 
competitive, or restrictive, that these people begin to talk 
about returning to "the government of our fathers" and "re 
storing the states to their rightful place in the Federal Union." 
The same interests which now denounce the expansion of 
national power have been foremost in invoking the "due 
process" clause of the fourteenth amendment to defeat state 
action in these same fields. It would appear that what they 
object to is not centralization, as such, but governmental 
control of any kind by whomsoever imposed. 

And so with the agrarian interests. Throughout most of 
our history it is they who have carried the torch of States' 
Rights. But they have not seriously objected to Federal 
centralization conceived in the interests of agriculture. From 
the purchase of Louisiana and the "acquisition" of Texas, 
from free seeds to Federal farm credit, from the establishment 
of a Department of Agriculture to the Farm Board and the 
A. A. A., they have looked upon the works of the national 
government and found them good. Nor have they been 
content to stop with these things; national regulation and even 



[ 256 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ownership of the railroads and the banks have been, and now 
are, among their most persistent and unremitting demands. 

Organized labor strongly supported Federal anti-trust 
legislation, but was horrified when these laws were used 
against it. On the other hand employers could find no fault 
with President Cleveland in sending Federal troops into 
Illinois to break a strike, over the protest of the governor of 
that commonwealth. But when the national government seeks 
to protect workers in their right to organize, it is interpreted 
as an unwarranted assault upon the states. 

A good deal of the criticism against Federal centralization 
is because of mounting governmental costs. Federal expendi 
tures, for example, increased one hundred and seventy per 
cent between 1915 and 1930. Although the bulk of this in 
crease was attributable to the war, it included a marked 
increase in expenditures for purely civil functions. (Wooddy: 
Growth of the Federal Government.) The rapid growth of the 
Federal government during the war tended to retard state 
expansion, and it was not until some years later that the 
balance was even partly restored. The depression has had 
similar consequences. The states have been compelled to rely 
upon Federal grants not only for capital outlays and improve 
ments but even for operating expenses. It is this that has 
aroused the fears of some of those who oppose centraliza 
tion. 

With many it is an old lament. Governor Albert G. Ritchie 
of Maryland declared in 1925 that the "system ought to be 
abolished root and branch." President Coolidge in his annual 
message the same year said: "Local self-government is one of 
our most precious possessions. ... It ought not to be in 
fringed by assault or undermined by purchase." Just what 
interests are involved here? A study made by Eugene Morgan 
of the University of Pennsylvania shows that opposition to the 
Federal aid system was largely confined to New England and 
the Middle Atlantic states. That it was not altogether a matter 
of principle with the representatives of these states, is reflected 
in their support of Federal aid legislation designed primarily to 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 257 ] 

benefit their own constituents. What they object to is the 
collection of revenue in these rich Eastern states and its dis 
bursement in other, less favored sections of the country. 

Governor Ritchie, for example, after pointing to the fact 
that several Western states actually received more in Federal 
aid than they paid into the national treasury in taxes, said 
that such a situation "must be vicious." To make matters 
worse, twenty states from which eighty-six percent of the 
Federal income taxes were collected received back less than 
ten percent in the form of grants. "Is there any possible 
rational basis," he asks, "to justify such discriminations?" 

The answer, of course, is obvious to any one who cares to 
examine the facts. Professor Austin MacDonald offers the 
following pertinent information in his study of "Federal Aid." 
"The U. S. Steel Corporation . . . pays a Federal income 
tax of several million dollars in New York State, though but 
two of its one hundred and forty-five plants and warehouses 
are in New York, and only twenty percent of its stockholders 
reside in the Empire State. . . . The Union and Southern 
Pacific Railroads, without a mile of track east of the Mississippi 
River, also pay their income taxes in New York State. So does 
the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, with its plants in 
Montana and Wyoming. To credit the taxes paid by the 
automobile industry to Michigan, or the packing industry 
to Illinois, when their earnings are derived from the entire 
nation would be manifestly unjust. 

As the Treasury Department itself has said: "there is no 
way of ascertaining, from the income tax returns, the amount 
of income earned in the respective states or the amount of tax 
paid on that basis." What is true of income taxes is true of 
other sources of Federal revenue. Should the customs duties 
collected be credited to the states where the chief ports of 
entry happen to be located? North Carolina ranks second only 
to New York as a source of Federal internal revenue, but the 
cigarettes manufactured there upon which the bulk of 
these taxes are paid are sold in almost every state, city and 
hamlet in the land. It is precisely this situation which makes 



[ 258 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

the system of Federal aid accord not only with political and 
financial expediency, but also with social justice. 

A great deal has been said about the extent to which the 
national government through this device has "encroached" 
upon the rights of the states. As a matter of fact, there are but 
few instances in which Federal expansion has resulted in a 
complete transfer of functions from states to the nation. The 
conditions attached to the grants have in general tended to 
increase the efficiency and raise the standards of state adminis 
trative activity. They have as a consequence placed severe 
restrictions upon the "rights" of local contractors to gouge the 
state governments and of state politicians to reward their 
friends and punish their enemies at public expense. But these 
are "States' Rights" of questionable value. 

TN CONSIDERING the future of the states in the Federal 
-* Union we must keep in mind the functions which they now 
fulfill. These fall into two main categories. In the first place the 
states are representative areas. As such they represent, in our 
national government, the loyalties which cluster around "the 
nucleus of neighborhood and geographic proximity." In the 
early days these were real fortified as they were by 
economic, social and geographic isolation. As modern tech 
nology has broken down barriers of space and time, these state 
loyalties have declined. Moreover, with few exceptions, 
Americans have been loyal not so much to states as to great 
sections or regions. Remember that thirty-five of the states 
owe their existence as members of the Union to acts of Con 
gress. "In the United States," says Arthur MacMahon, 
"regions have been more important than states at all periods 
in the country's development." 

The framers of the Constitution saw this. "Look to the votes 
in Congress," said Madison, "and most of them stand divided 
by the geography of the country not according to the size of the 
states . . . the great danger to our general government is 
the great Southern and Northern interests of the continent 
being opposed to each other." These sectional cleavages have 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 259 ] 

at their base common economic, ethnic and cultural factors 
with which they become identified. But loyalty to sectional 
symbols often transcends in importance these subsidiary 
interests. Southerners tend to distinguish themselves from 
Northerners, and this allegiance is buttressed by educational 
and cultural influences, as well as economic. The remem 
brance of things past common traditions and familiar 
symbols which represent them continues as a living force in 
social affairs. What is true of the South is true, to a lesser 
degree perhaps, of other sections such as New England and 
the West. 

All this suggests the possibility of recasting our representa 
tive system particularly with reference to the United 
States Senate so as to afford recognition to these sectional 
interests. (Since the House of Representatives is at present 
representative of population, and not of the states as such, the 
problems involving it need not be discussed.) 

In a sense, sectional recognition would merely give legal 
form to an existing fact, since an analysis of senatorial votes 
on thirty-five roll calls, extending over six Congresses, shows a 
high degree of sectional cohesion. The country was divided 
into ten great sections upon the basis of economic and social 
interests. Within each it was found that the Senators tended 
to vote together regardless of party affiliation. These sections 
were: i. New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, 
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut). 2. Middle 
Atlantic (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania). 3. 
Central (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois). 4. North Central 
(Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa). 5. West Central (North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas). 6. Upper 
South Atlantic (Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, 
North Carolina). 7. South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, 
Missouri, Oklahoma). 8. Lower South (South Carolina, 
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, 
Texas). 9. Mountain (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, 
Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona). 10. Pacific (Washing 
ton, Oregon, California). 



[ 2 6o ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

It is suggested that these be used as representative areas 
rather than the states as at present. Senators would be elected 
from the region upon the basis of proportional representation. 
The purpose of such a change is the modest one of making our 
representative system conform more closely than it now does to 
social reality. That it bristles with difficulties goes without 
saying. An ideal solution (assuming its possibility) would 
involve a more or less complete liquidation of present state 
boundaries rather than such a grouping as proposed. But 
under the Constitution no state may, without its own consent, 
be denied equal representation in the Senate and appar 
ently this section is not subject to amendment. Assuming this 
to be true, each state would continue to be represented by one 
or two senators with additional representatives being chosen 
from the regions suggested. 

The states also function as representative units in connection 
with the amending process. (They are important, too, in 
determining representation in the electoral college, although 
whatever valid reasons there may be for retaining this 
anachronistic institution they are unknown to this writer.) 
This amending process which requires the consent of two- 
thirds of both houses of Congress, and a majority in the 
legislatures or special conventions of three-fourths of the 
states, makes for inflexibility in our fundamental law. It has 
frequently been pointed out how thirteen states comprising 
less than five percent of the population may defeat the will of 
the other ninety-five percent. The unreality of this illustration 
is evident when one learns that these thirteen states include 
Vermont, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, 
along with New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, North and 
South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. It is highly 
unlikely that they should ever agree on any proposed amend 
ment. Nevertheless, the illustration is suggestive of the diffi 
culties involved. 

To remedy this situation, it is suggested that amendments be 
proposed by a simple majority of the House of Representatives 
and our reconstructed Senate, plus ratification by popular 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 261 ] 

majorities in a majority of the proposed regions. The simple 
majority, rather than the present two-thirds, for proposing 
amendments is suggested by the fact that in the amending 
process the chief obstacle has been to secure submission by 
Congress, rather than ratification by the states. Out of twenty- 
seven amendments proposed, only six have failed of ratifica 
tion and one of these the child labor amendment is not 
yet dead. Compare the speed with which the nineteenth, 
twentieth and twenty-first amendments were ratified, with 
the long struggle which preceded their submission. 

The states serve as representative units not only for the 
national government, but also for certain more or less arbi 
trarily determined local areas. Is there any reason why North 
Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, should each 
have a separate representative assembly? Are the interests to 
be represented so different that a single legislature would not 
serve? As a matter of fact are not the similarities greater and 
more numerous than the differences? Similarly with the other 
regions. Ten regional legislatures would afford a more ade 
quate representation of the various interests in these areas and 
the major problems which concern them than the present 
forty-eight not to mention the saving in cost, time and 
effort. 

The form which these regional assemblies might take 
would no doubt vary. The bi-cameral system indefensible 
under existing conditions would have some validity under 
the plan proposed. The upper chamber might be representa 
tive of the component states, and the lower houses of the 
regional population with its members selected according to 
proportional representation. It is assumed also that regional 
executive and judicial officers would largely replace those of 
the states. 

T^VEN slight analysis shows that for many of the most 
-^ important activities carried on by modern governments 
the states leave much to be desired as administrative areas. 
State regulation of public utilities is breaking down in the face 



[ 262 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

of interstate transmission, and new forms of corporate organ 
ization such as the holding company. T.V.A. and Boulder 
Dam are dramatic illustrations of the inadequacy of the 
states in solving the problems of power control. 

To a considerable extent the same may be said of the entire 
field of economic and social regulation. The contemporary 
criminal in a high powered motor can, without too great 
difficulty, escape the jurisdiction of the state, which must then 
resort to the clumsy process of extradition before it can bring 
him to justice. In the important matter of finance the situation 
is even more serious. Many important sources of revenue are 
beyond reach of the states, and they have resorted to all 
manner of expedients to make ends meet curtailment of 
necessary social services and nuisance taxes galore only to 
fail in the end. Without aid from the Federal treasury, many 
of them would face bankruptcy or revolution or both. 

The boundaries of administrative areas must be relatively 
elastic. They will vary with the purpose for which they are 
created. Federal judicial districts differ from those established 
for administering relief, or public works, or conservation, or 
banking, or farm credit. Similarly within the states we find 
a variety of administrative units. There are school, sanitary, 
drainage, water, conservation, welfare, and judicial districts 
which contribute their quota to the hundred and seventy-five 
thousand or more governmental units with which the country 
is blessed or plagued. 

It is not contended that the regional grouping of states here 
outlined would be ideal for all administrative purposes. But 
they would probably be superior to the states for almost all 
the activities in which these now engage. The increasing use 
of interstate compacts is evidence of the need for wider areas 
of administration. Some seventy such compacts have been 
approved by Congress covering taxation, navigation, utility 
regulation, conservation and crime and we may expect 
such agreements to increase under the State Compact Law 
passed by Congress in June, 1934. The Commissioners on 
Uniform Legislation, the Governors' Council, the American 



THE FUTURE OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 263 ] 

Legislators' Association, the Council of State Governments, 
the New England Council, etc. give further evidence of the 
same trend. So far as interstate compacts are concerned, a 
majority of those adopted would be unnecessary under the 
regional plan here proposed. The need for collaboration and 
cooperation becomes daily more urgent. Would this not be 
facilitated if instead of forty-eight separate governments, we 
had only ten? 

Local self-government is a cardinal principle of democracy. 
But it can be conserved only if the areas of local representation 
and control conform to living loyalties and substantial inter 
ests. The "sovereign states" have ceased to be even satisfactory 
administrative areas. They have become, as Stephen Leacock 
once put it, mere "astronomical units." Against the national 
government they are playing a losing hand. If we are to 
strengthen local self-government we must recast our political 
boundaries to create meaningful and puissant counter-weights 
to Washington. Only by so doing can we hope to solve what 
Justice Brandeis calls the "greatest problem before the Ameri 
can people," namely "the problem of reconciling our indus 
trial system with the political democracy in which we live." 

Centralization appears to be a law of modern life in the 
economic and social, no less than in the political realm. Rail 
roads and airplanes are no respecters of state boundaries, and 
neither are manufacturing and distributive agencies. The 
telegraph, the radio and the motion picture have made us 
a single people. Unification and centralization do involve 
perplexing problems. The dangers of bureaucratic control 
from distant centers are real. But the centripetal forces are at 
work, and we must make our peace with them. To do so we 
must once again inscribe on our banner the slogan of our 
revolutionary fathers "Unite or Die." 



Wickford Gardens 

KILE CROOK 

Old Wickford houses face the street, 
But the gardens skirt the bay 
Where honeysuckle blends its sweet 
With the salty sweet of spray. 

Old Wickford elm-trees lace their shade 

Over peony and phlox; 

The self-same traceries are laid 

On barnacled wet rocks. 

The shadow of a gull's low wing 
Darkens on columbine, 
And mummychogs dart, skimmering, 
Beyond the trumpet vine 

That trails a tendril in the spume 
And points where there must be 
The animate, unearthly bloom 
Of sea-anemone. 

Nasturtium green: sea-lettuce green 
Beyond the border bed; 
Red cockscomb: and through water sheen 
The corallin glows red, 

And lustrous kelp, purple and brown, 
With lilac trees beside . . . 
Where Wickford garden walls go down 
To boundaries of tide. 

[264] 



In Behalf of States' Rights 

HOFFMAN NIGKERSON 

r I 'HE Administration's attack on the sovereignty of the 
* states, and its temporary setback resulting from the Su 
preme Court's destruction of NIRA, compel us to answer the 
question: What is the permanent value of States' Rights? Let 
us not make the mistake of underrating the strength of our 
opponents' case. Those who believe in centralizing power in 
Washington might argue that the Founding Fathers, or at 
least the more far-sighted among them, acted not from choice 
but from necessity when they drafted the Constitution so as to 
protect the state sovereignties. A hundred and fifty years ago 
the states were so powerful, and the unionist idea so weak, 
that nothing better could be done. The Fathers therefore es 
tablished the strongest central government which could be 
made acceptable at the moment, trusting that time would 
cure the defects of their handiwork by increasing the central 
power. 

This desirable increase has indeed come about, but time 
has shown the Fathers' concessions to States' Rights to have 
been deplorable indeed. Thanks to them every step in advance 
has been bitterly fought. In the mind of Calhoun, protagonist 
of States' Rights, they begot the absurd doctrine of Nullifica 
tion under which a sovereign state could have vetoed the 
operation of any Federal law within that state's borders. 
They encouraged the tragic folly of Secession to which we 
owed the war of '6i-'65. But fortunately Appomattox broke 
the back of States' Rights. Since then nothing but their crip 
pled and continually weaker remnant has remained. 

That remnant has done much harm. It has unnecessarily 
complicated the American legal system. It hinders the pursuit 
of criminals and the regulation of industry. Here and there it 
perpetuates abuses like child labor. Sometimes the state sov 
ereignties trouble the foreign relations of the central govern 
ment. For instance, when a citizen of one nation is molested 

[265] 



[ 266 ] THE NOR TH AMERICAN REVIEW 

on the territory of another, the matter becomes serious. Any 
such incident might lead to war. Now American mobs 
molested Spanish subjects in Louisiana in 1851, Chinese 
subjects in Colorado in 1 880 and in Wyoming five years later, 
Greeks and other foreigners in Oklahoma in 1909. Italians 
were lynched in Louisiana in 1891, in Colorado in 1895, again 
in Louisiana in '96 and once more in 1919, in Mississippi in 
1901, in Florida in 1910, in Illinois in '14 and again in the 
following year. And yet the police power of the states deprives 
the Federal authority of the right to compel any state to satisfy 
foreign protests, no matter how well justified. 

Let us admit freely that if Nullification and Secession had 
prevailed, States' Rights would not have been preserved but 
destroyed; for the dis-United States would have been helpless 
before foreign invasion. The constant and bitter quarrels be 
tween the Confederate state governments and the central 
government of the Confederacy itself, show to what lengths 
separatism might have gone when the unifying influence of 
war had been removed. But leaving dead issues like Nullifica 
tion and Secession on one side, let us ask whether there is still 
force in the old formula, "an indestructible union of inde 
structible states"? 

r T n O ANSWER this question we must ask what is the object 
* of government? If it be the smoothest possible running of 
the governmental machine, then centralization is justified. Or 
if it be the greatest possible strengthening of the nation in its 
relations with foreign powers, then again centralization is 
called for. On the other hand, our ancestors would have hotly 
denied that either "efficiency" at home, or the greatest pos 
sible strength abroad, was indeed the object chiefly desired. 
Governments, they were never tired of repeating, should exist 
in order to preserve human liberties. They must, indeed, be 
strong enough to resist anarchy from within and invasion from 
without although Jefferson conspicuously dissented even 
from these modest propositions, pretending to believe that an 
occasional insurrection was a positive good, and as President, 



IN BEHALF OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 267 ] 

disastrously reducing the navy. Fortunately, however, Jeffer 
son was an exception. On the main point, that governments 
exist for the preservation of liberty, no one was more vehement 
than he. 

For this reason, the Founding Fathers were careful to es 
tablish checks and balances within their Federal government 
itself jealously defending alike the independence of the 
President, the Congress, and the Federal judges against en 
croachment by either of the other two. John Adams admirably 
expressed their idea when he wrote to Jefferson: "The fun 
damental article of my political creed is that despotism, or 
unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power is the same in a 
majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an 
oligarchical junto, or a single emperor equally arbitrary, 
cruel, bloody and in every respect diabolical." 

But the most powerful weapons for protecting the citizen 
against arbitrary government were the rights of the states. 
These are guaranteed by the tenth amendment, the last of 
those amendments which together make up the Bill of Rights: 
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Con 
stitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the 
states respectively, or to the people." The Supreme Court has 
held that this means "... the reservation of the rights of 
sovereignty which the states respectively possessed before the 
adoption of the Federal Constitution, and which they had not 
parted from by that instrument. Any legislation by Congress 
beyond the limits of the power delegated would be trespassing 
upon the rights of the states or the people and would not be 
the supreme law of the land, but null and void." 

Norton's "Constitution of the United States" says: "Thus 
if North Carolina and Rhode Island, which did not ratify the 
Constitution until after the new government had become op 
erative, had chosen not to enter the Union, they would have 
had the powers inhering in independent governments such 
as the power to declare war, to coin money, to raise armies, to 
make treaties, to regulate commerce, to impose duties on im 
ports and exports, and so on all of which were, under the 



[ 268 ] THE NOR TH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Constitution, for the general welfare, yielded up to the na 
tional government." 

For those who prefer restraints to liberties, the arguments in 
favor of States' Rights have no force. Since human weakness is 
such that any liberty will often be abused, it is always easy to 
make a case for restraint. And in practice, plenty of people so 
shrink from the responsibilities and risks incidental to freedom 
that they welcome the most drastic restraints, if only the re- 
strainer will save them the trouble of ordering and directing 
their own lives. In the words of Chesterton, "You cannot 
argue with the choice of the soul." 

But if we really prefer freedom to restraint, then we must 
value local liberties as a chief support of personal liberties. Of 
necessity, every tyrant must centralize his authority as much 
as possible, and must extend that authority over as much ter 
ritory as he can. In proportion as the area subjected to him is 
small, he will find it difficult to dragoon his unwilling subjects, 
because a short journey will take any one of them over the 
border and out of his jurisdiction altogether. Whatever one 
may think of slavery, Nullification and Secession, at least 
the history of the ill-fated Prohibition amendment shows Cal- 
houn and the early nineteenth century Southerners to have 
been a thousand times right when they called local liberties a 
chief and necessary defense for individual liberties. 

DID space permit, we might discuss a host of historical in 
stances illustrating the same truth. Let us consider only 
two, both of high importance in the experience of our race 
the promotion of the ancient slave to the half-free status of the 
mediaeval serf, and the centralization of the French govern 
ment. 

Ancient slaves were chattels whose masters were entitled to 
the full produce of their labor. When Rome ruled from North 
Britain to the cataracts of the Nile, and from the Atlantic to 
the Euphrates, except for deserts or barbarous northern 
heaths there was no place to which a runaway slave might es 
cape. But when, in the Dark Ages, centralized imperial 



IN BEHALF OF STATES' RIGHTS [ 269 ] 

government broke down, and the reality of power was taken 
over by local feudal lords, then this condition changed. The 
decline of the high ancient civilization had at least this much 
of good in it: Slaves could run away if they liked, so that the 
slaveowner had to make it worth the while of his human 
chattels to remain and till his lands. 

Consequently, by the beginning of the true Middle Ages, 
all over Central and Western Europe we find the lords of 
manors claiming only a part of what the descendants of their 
former slaves produced. This amount they took in the form of 
dues so much of the serfs' produce or so many days of labor 
on the lord's land. These dues were more like a tax paid to the 
nobles who governed and fought, than a competitive rent; 
their amount was fixed by custom, and the morals of the time 
made it a wicked thing to increase them. As long as any mem 
ber of a given servile family remained on the assigned plot of 
land and fullfilled the customary obligations, that family 
could not be dispossessed; its other members could go where 
they liked as far as the lord was concerned. They could be 
handicraftsmen in the growing towns, or mercenary soldiers 
or, more commonly, priests. 

In practice such as an arrangement made the former slave 
almost a free peasant, and over most of Western Europe a com 
pletely free peasant he finally became. Will anyone say that 
this vast social change did not help to turn the fatigue of the 
declining ancient world into the light-hot mediaeval energies 
which made the cathedrals and the crusades, the poetry of the 
troubadours, of Chaucer and of Dante, and the philosophy of 
St. Thomas? 

Again, take the French monarchy. In the early Middle 
Ages, the French were the chief people of Europe. French- 
speaking nobles, touched here and there with faint traces of 
Scandinavian blood, ruled not only France itself but England, 
the Scotch lowlands, parts of Ireland, and all Southern Italy, 
together with Sicily, Syria and Palestine. For a moment they 
even held Constantinople and half of the Balkans as well. 
Their part in the Crusades was so great that to this day the 



[ 270 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Arabic word for a European is "firenghi," a Frank. From the 
neighborhood of Paris the Gothic architecture spread every 
where. The University of Paris was the center of European 
learning. 

But all this time the King of France, in theory second only 
to the Holy Roman Emperor, and usually superior to the 
Emperor in real power, was by no means the despot of a cen 
tralized state. Instead he was more like the president of a group 
of republics. These republics were called provinces; the King 
controlled foreign affairs and the army, but the provinces, 
through their parliamentary assemblies, controlled each its 
own local affairs. After the Wars of Religion, and the pro 
longed faction fights which followed them, Louis XIV cen 
tralized the system, but the change was followed by the decline 
of the Bourbon monarchy. 

One among many good stories of the administrative im 
pudence which marked that decline, is that of a village near 
Paris which asked permission to levy a small local tax to repair 
their church steeple. After two years the central government 
finally gave permission, but by that time the steeple had fallen 
down. After the Revolution, Napoleon centralized power still 
further, setting up the machine which administers France to 
this day, with the local governors, that is the prefects, all ap 
pointed from Paris. Again, as under Louis XIV, a few years of 
glory were followed by a long national decline. 

Let us grant that neither Louis XIV nor Napoleon was en 
tirely without excuse when they concentrated power. Both 
would doubtless have called centralization "necessary"; in 
deed that is one of the stock excuses regularly brought forward 
when liberties have been lost. The other excuse is, "Somebody 
else did it." 



Grant Wood, Painter in Overalls 

RUTH PICKERING 

T A 7E ON the sunset side of the Mississippi had accepted the 
* * assumption that art wore a full-dress suit and spoke with 
a New York accent. Now we are glad to find that in the opinion 
of at least one critic, it may be at its best in overalls." So says 
an editorial in a Cedar Rapids newspaper. Out in Iowa they 
are very proud of Grant Wood. 

Wood and a handful of American painters are tasting the 
joy of being accepted in their own communities. Working in 
regions where they are at home, they are painting pictures 
their neighbors can understand. They have hoisted their over 
alls on a stick, so to speak, to scare away the city connoisseur 
and the academician. They avoid high sounding talk about 
art, and only want to be left alone with their pencils and 
paints and their friends. Their occasional embattled petulence 
only goes to show a passing remnant of the sense of inferiority 
that has heretofore afflicted both the American painter and 
his audience to the profit and satisfaction of dealers in 
foreign art. 

Until today, few painters have lived to produce on the other 
side of the great river, but west of the Mississippi self-confi 
dence is returning. Grant Wood paints and teaches in Iowa. 
John Curry is stirred by the hopes and fears of the people of 
Kansas. Thomas Benton will continue his plastic and vocal 
belligerency in Missouri. Boardman Robinson is fairly content 
in Colorado. And there are others at work, not so well known 
in the East. This new source should mean a fresh stream pour 
ing into our cultural life. Since fertility in art has always been 
highly localized and has been nurtured by a common impulse 
of participation, there is hope in what these men are trying 
to do. 

Plastic art the art with the most immediately sensuous 
appeal has always been the art most difficult to bring from 
afar to our doorsteps. Today, it is comparatively easy to hear 



[ 272 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

music at home, over the radio, and in concert halls. It is easier 
still to read novels and poetry, though somewhat harder to see 
good plays on the stage or even in the movies. But, unhappily, 
for most people to see a good painting is still a rare pleasure. 
Pictures are too expensive to own. Galleries and museums, 
though more widespread than they used to be, are few in pro 
portion to the population, and cold comfort at best. A repro 
duction, however fine, can never equal the original, and can do 
little for sculpture. 

So, because the plastic arts face their peculiar handicap of 
rarity, talking and reading about paintings has been the lot of 
most of us. But our vision of them has been clouded with the 
obscuring gabble of over-traveled, over-cultured aesthetes, 
who have lost both sensuousness and simplicity, and are the last 
people on earth either to interpret a painting or enjoy it. The 
Western painters are trying to find a way out of this dilemma 
by holding the mirror of art up to their own neighbors and 
friends. 

Wood was born a Quaker farmer's son a few miles beyond 
Cedar Rapids. It is said that in his youth his father returned a 
copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales to the giver saying, "We Quakers 
can read only true things." Grant Wood's approach to art is 
factual. His first drawings were of his favorite Plymouth Rock 
hen, each feather counted. Quaker traits are still evident in 
his painting. Mysticism, fantasy, and fairy tales are not to be 
found. 

His early education, however, was not entirely from Iowa. 
He studied art in Chicago at night, working during the day as a 
jeweler's assistant. He saved enough money to go to Paris, to 
Julien's for a short time. During the war he enlisted, was 
not sent over-seas, and sold drawings for a quarter to the 
soldiers in camp. He has been abroad four times. The last 
time, he returned so deeply impressed with the detailed work 
of the German primitives that his style showed a dramatic 
change, which however merged naturally with his early 
factual style. He steers clear of impressionism and paints the 
literal, sharpened image. 



GRANT WOOD, PAINTER IN OVERALLS [ 273 ] 

He taught drawing in the public schools of Iowa, and for a 
time headed an art colony in the abandoned village of Stone 
City. As a regional director of the Public Works of Art Project, 
he stirred up fresh enthusiasm throughout his state. He is to 
day teaching at the Iowa State University where, with his 
students, he is undertaking a series of murals for the new 
Drama Building. He will paint murals for the new capitol in 
Lincoln, Nebraska, and has been chosen as one of the nine 
painters who will decorate the new Post Office and Depart 
ment of Justice buildings in Washington. Last spring he had 
his first one-man show at the Ferargil galleries in New York. 
But none of this keeps him long away from Cedar Rapids, and 
unlike so many American painters he finds no necessity of re 
volt against his early environment. 

Wood's style is not immediately influenced by any previous 
American painter, though he was undoubtedly stirred by the 
unaffected simplicity of some of the Currier and Ives prints. 
Nevertheless, he is directly in our tradition. As with Thomas 
Eakins, Winslow Homer, Henri and Bellows, the episode, the 
subject of the painting, is of first importance. 

Our American genius apparently tends toward the illustra- 
tional. Not even that rare mystic Ryder, with canvasses so rich 
in imaginative mood, nor the romantic Arthur Davies, nor 
Marin, Zorach, Demuth, in their water colors today, can belie 
the illustrational trend. As a nation we are not attuned to 
play with abstraction. Our efforts are more flat-footed. If the 
danger of the banal, of decoration without gaiety, or story 
without plastic form is implicit in our native methods, it is 
also true, I think, that our traditional ways can move toward 
the greatest the art of color and form can produce. 

Following the typical American trail, Wood chooses for his 
subjects people as part of a composition, portraits, and large 
panoramas of the Iowa countryside contracted, with me 
ticulous interest in detail, onto medium sized canvasses. His 
color is clear, his outlines unblurred, and his surfaces polished. 
His intent is easily understood. His work is nearly always 
popular among simple people. 



[ 274 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

The first canvas to make him known outside his state was 
called "Daughters of Revolution." Paradoxically enough, it 
was not in his usual kindly vein. Three middle-aged women 
are drawn in three-quarter length before a wall-papered 
background, on which hangs a print of Leutze's "Washington 
Crossing the Delaware." The woman in the foreground holds a 
teacup, wrist and hand crooked in over genteel fashion. She 
bears a smirk on her face. The two other women are severe 
and beady-eyed. 

The painting is bitter fun at the expense of the female 
patrioteer, sexless, opinionated, self-righteous. Cartoon subject 
matter is done in permanent form; humorous judgment is 
passed by the artist on weak, smug types which he overdig- 
nifies by careful workmanship. The painting held everyone 
who saw it because the characters were familiar and unpopu 
lar, and there was no mistaking the artist's meaning. But a 
mood of teasing banter is not enough for the most distinguished 
art. The picture has been shown in Chicago and at the Whit 
ney galleries. Many reprints have been made of it, and it is 
now owned by the actor, Edward G. Robinson, at Beverly 
Hills. The Daughters of the Revolution, as a society, have 
survived the blow. This is the most obviously satirical painting 
by Grant Wood. 

A later canvas, and one now quite as well known, is called 
"American Gothic." Two people, a man and a woman, stand, 
again three-quarter length, before a background showing the 
pointed roof and Gothic window of the fancy little houses 
built throughout the country in the late nineteenth century. 
The figures are neither idealized nor criticized, though after 
his "Daughters of Revolution" Wood's audiences were in 
clined to see satire here again. 

The types are vigorously portrayed, alive, three dimen 
sional, with all Wood's effort toward factualism. His intel 
lectual passion for organization and design is there. We stand 
before the picture, amazed at its lifelikeness, gratified by the 
counterpoint in Gothic gable, long faces, and the pitchfork 
held upward by the man. But no direction is given our emo- 



GRANT WOOD, PAINTER IN OVERALLS [ 275 ] 

tions. We are bewildered as to what to think or do about this 
man and this woman she with her ric-rac braid apron and 
cameo pin, and a face that is neither gentle nor mean, neither 
hopeful nor discouraged and he, gaunt, small-town, 
unimpressive. 

Wood stopped short of satire here, but failed to lead us on 
toward pity or tenderness for his models. How does he feel 
about these neighbors of his? Are they lovable folk or not? Our 
eyes are turned upon them boldly. It would have been well if 
our hearts could understand them. The painting lacks the 
artist's comment. In the last analysis, it is not enough to show 
us people as they appear. The picture just misses greatness for 
a lack of deep appraisal. Yet its power is proved, for more 
prints of "American Gothic" were sold at the Century of 
Progress exhibition than of any other canvas. It is now owned 
by the Chicago Art Institute. 

Either on purpose or unconsciously, Wood refuses to define 
his attitude toward his subjects, to give himself away. His vigor 
seems to expend itself in organization of forms, in clarity of 
outline, in serene exactitude, in finished surfaces. He works 
slowly and patiently. Nothing is obscure, except what the man 
himself may feel. All is balanced. We stand before his cool 
canvasses and take childish delight in noting all the tiny figures 
in a vast landscape, the feathers on the poultry, the dappling 
on the farm-horse, the braid of the women's dresses, the flowers 
of the wall-paper. Temporarily we are agreeably suspended in 
contemplation. But, also, like Wood himself we are emotion 
ally uninvolved. And the difficulty with this "still pond, no 
more moving" style of Grant Wood is that we grow restless at 
last and want something deeper than likeness and form. 

By his own confession, Wood has been too much entranced 
by the prim patterns on old china. In his landscape, some 
times, he prettifies the Iowa fields, diluting their abundant 
fertility to tea-cup graciousness. It is good that he sees these 
meadows and hills beautiful and amenable to man's needs, 
but he should be careful not to tame them into household pets. 
Wood, I think, will fight out of this primrose path. He says 



C 276 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

himself, concerning some of his early landscape: "Too damned 
many pretty curves. Too many personal mannerisms, caused 
by fear that, because of close, precise style of painting, I might 
be accused of being photographic. I am having a hell of a time 
getting rid of these mannerisms." 

Two of Wood's later pictures are called "Dinner for Thresh 
ers" and "Death on Ridge Road." The first shows the unique 
beauty in his sense of order, the second how disastrously it 
sometimes fails. "Dinner for Threshers" was hung in this 
year's Carnegie exhibition at Pittsburg and has been bought 
by Stephen Clark. Here are a farmhouse and yard, cut longi 
tudinally through the middle like a stage set. At a long table 
on the left, sit a sort of frieze of farm hands, all looking alike, 
each in blue-jeans and a checked shirt. At the right is the 
kitchen. Women are bent over the stove or caught like statues 
in the act of carrying food into the dining-room. Outdoors at 
the far left, chickens cease pecking in the yard, the dappled 
horses stand still, a farmer has just finished combing his hair 
and washing his face before entering. 

All these figures men, women, and animals are sus 
pended, with their household effects transfixed in motionless 
pattern. It is restful, interesting, quaint. We are fascinated 
by what they are and by what they have been doing. But will 
they ever do it again? The action suggested, seems backward in 
time. We are not made to imagine this life going on day after 
day. It is the same wonder we experience before the un 
earthed testimony to the life in Pompeii. "Dinner for Thresh 
ers" is superbly painted, lovingly arranged. Yet wholly de 
lightful as it is, this vital contemporary farm life in Iowa is 
shown almost as if it were extinct. 

It is said that Wood decided to paint something dynamic 
rather than static in "Death on Ridge Road." But I'm afraid 
his particular genius can better cope with the static. Here he 
has chosen to record the second when a motor truck has 
reared over the top of a hill, and a touring-car is askew on the 
wrong side of the road approaching it. The truck bucks over 
the ridge and hangs there. It will never descend to crush the 



GRANT WOOD, PAINTER IN OVERALLS [ 277 ] 

smaller car, which looks like the shiny product of the automo 
bile sales booklet. Green swatches of field are quite properly 
undisturbed by an impending tragedy that will never come. 
Wood tries to paint motion at its height, only to prove that 
calmer moments are his metier. For at the pitch of excitement, 
organization of form reaches out a dead hand. There is little 
terror in the painting because there is little life. 

As a matter of fact, no trace of hysteria, no sense of excite 
ment lodges in Wood's Quaker temperament. No very unruly 
emotion, either of love or hate, if it ever swayed him, remains 
unmastered. This may be regrettable but not fatal, unless his 
remoteness, his disinterestedness lead him into emphasis on 
design alone. Wood is a young painter and his most important 
ventures are ahead. His vision is lucid and fresh, his drafts 
manship mature, his self-control, his control of his medium 
have strength. His calmness has both sweetness and humorous 
tolerance. Instead of being in turbulent revolt, he can accept 
the finest in the indigenous material around him. 

He believes in the people among whom he lives. His human 
ity extends to a desire to please them. Like most Quakers, his 
virtues, though often negative, are real. He is unprovoked and 
unprovoking. If there is no quick suggestion in his method, 
or fire in his mood, and if this leaves his work a shade unpro- 
phetic, he is at least truly charming. If he hasn't yet achieved 
the wisdom of the masters, he has a fine sanity as a beginning. 
His popularity is deserved, and I think important, when con 
sidered in relation to the undeniable merit in his work. But if 
he were sometimes less cool, and more emotionally involved 
in his subjects, he would paint more understandingly and give 
no less pleasure. 



A Letter to Walter Damrosch 

RICHARD DANA SKINNER 

DEAR MR. DAMROSCH: 

The years of your zeal in bringing Richard Wagner to the 
hearts of the people have spanned an astounding change. Al 
most single-handed, you have made this poetic and musical 
giant a by-word in many millions of homes. But what of the 
crowning task still ahead of you? When, where, and how are 
you going to bring the music-dramas of Wagner to the motion 
picture screen? 

Curiously enough, in a decade of theatre and screen re 
viewing, the notion that Wagner might find an adequate ex 
pression on the screen never occurred to me until, some years 
ago, I saw an atrocious melange called "King of Jazz." But I 
thought of you often during the cavortings of that picture. It 
did, at least, open the vistas of possible photographic effects. 
Since then, the vast improvements in sound recording and in 
color photography have only deepened my conviction that the 
screen can do more than mere justice to Wagner. It can dis 
close, for the first time, the real images that must have coursed 
through his mind as he wrote his incomparable scores. 

But it can not do this if the work is left to the gaudy minds of 
Hollywood. There is reverence demanded in the task, and a 
soaring imagination, more than a touch of Wagner's own crea 
tive genius in blending sight and sound, a passion for artistic 
integrity, and a faith in the responsiveness of an audience to the 
uncompromised best. You are the man for that task. This letter 
is a brief which is put before you, in the hope that it will lead 
you to action, and lead others to give you unstinting and 
enthusiastic cooperation. 

First of all, may I suggest the painful inadequacy of the 
familiar operatic performances of Wagner? Wagner himself 
used every known innovation of his day in scenery and lighting 
to help create the illusion of more than mortal grandeur. But he 
found himself chained to the three walls of the theatre. His 

[278] 



A LETTER TO WALTER DAMROSCH [279] 

audiences have been chained to them ever since. He had to use 
mortals men and women of all too solid flesh and amplitude 

to play the roles of immortals. A suitable larynx took prece 
dence over a suitable waistline. (With what nostalgia the per 
fect Wagnerite looks back upon the rare emergence of a Jean de 
Reske in Wagnerian splendor!) A Wotan might move with all 
the grace and grandeur of a hippopotamus, or a Brunhilde 
might break the back of any mere thoroughbred and require 
a stalwart cart-horse but if their diaphragms had the power 
of immortality, then immortals they became. Audiences might 
at least shut their eyes! But was all this the dream in which 
Wagner lived and labored? 

Did Wagner compose a Siegfried Idyll to crown the dream 
of a mighty paunch strapped in skimpy leather, and surmount 
ing legs of dyed cotton hues? Did the Valkyries, thundering 
over Valhalla, enter "lower left" on deli very- truck mares, and 
exit "upper right" in a cloud of sawdust? A kind word is due 
the Rhine maidens of Wagnerian history. They, at least, have 
floated ! And if they bulged more than a Rhine maiden should, 
a merciful gauze screen subdued the fault. But when has a Logi 
leapt from rock to rock without risking a broken ankle or the 
breaking of a scenic runway? I am not asking these questions 
maliciously. As a child, I once marveled that escaping steam 
could look so much like magic fire, and took a frantic interest 
in the internal mechanics of a stage dragon with paper teeth. 
But I know that I experienced no illusion. I was not among the 
immortals. 

The three-dimensional stage has its place in the scheme of 
illusion. When plays are written for it, the stage can vibrate 
within the limits of its own conventions. The warming presence 
on it of human beings can lend it a piercing immediacy. But it 
must have human beings who themselves shed illusion and 
glamor. The stage cannot compass transitions of time and 
place. It cannot show simultaneous action in different places 

unless by some awkward contrivance which splits our 
attention. 

In the memorable days of Ben Hur the chariot race, for one 



[ 280 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

splendid moment, achieved reality. The horses captured every 
eye, and gave us no time to think of wings and wrinkled back 
drops. It was the illusion of the conjurer who keeps our eyes 
on his right hand while his left hand pulls the bunny from his 
coat tails. But the Niebelungen Ring does not build up to one 
chariot race on a tread-mill. It builds and builds in magnifi 
cent cadences, through the sin and rebellion of mortals and the 
feuds of gods, to the consuming fires of the twilight of the im 
mortals. For that, no stage can foster the illusion. It bursts the 
bounds of tiny conventions. It demands the mountain peaks, 
the flames of retribution, and visible majesty above the clouds. 

May I pause to remind you that the name of Walter Dam- 
rosch is cherished in the memories of millions for creating 
images through words that match the music of Wagner, and 
soar with it to the perilous heights of imagination? Do you think 
that these millions who have listened to you in their homes 
have limited their dreams to the small confines and grotesque 
pictures on the Metropolitan Opera stage? Of course not. 
These people, who were afraid of great music only two decades 
ago, have taken Wagner to themselves because they have peo 
pled the stupendous phrases of his music with equally stu 
pendous images. Their greatest fortune is that they have never 
seen a Wagner music-drama on the stage. 

I have emphasized the cramped and disillusionizing effect of 
the stage upon Wagner's music-dramas for the very good rea 
son that some people will instantly cry "sacrilege" at the very 
suggestion of putting them on the screen. The real sacrilege 
has been in putting them on the stage, especially the operatic 
stage with its double limitation of stage conventions and avail 
able singing-actor material. The screen could not possibly be 
worse than the stage. It might be immeasurably better. May 
I now ask you to consider some of the alluring possibilities of 
the Wagnerian screen? 

Suppose we take first the human material the singing- 
actors. The operatic stage is limited to those artists whose vocal 
power can fill a large auditorium, even across the fine fury of 
orchestral sound. The screen artist has no such limitation. 



A LETTER TO WALTER DAMROSCH [ 281 ] 

Mechanical adjustments can produce the exact balance re 
quired between vocal and instrumental volume. The vocal 
recordings can even be made after the picture has been taken. 
Thus artists who understand melodic phrasing can replace 
those who have merely resonance and strong lungs. 

Then there is personal appearance and acting ability. The 
operatic managements do not choose fat tenors and voluminous 
sopranos from sheer contrariness. They are only too delighted 
when the phenomenon appears of a slender figure with an ade 
quate voice. But there are innumerable singers today with 
voices of moderate volume who can act, and who have the 
figures to create the needed illusion of grace and beauty. 
Thanks to the mechanics of the sound-screen, they would be 
available for the Wagnerian productions. 

This brings us back to the photographic scope of the screen 
and, if you permit, to "King of Jazz." That film centered 
around Paul Whiteman and his band. In the early scenes, the 
full-sized figure of Whiteman appeared on the screen, carrying 
a small flat hand-bag. At a given moment, he opened the bag, 
and there sat the musicians of his band, not one of them larger 
than the fingers of Whiteman's hands. He motioned to them. 
They rose, bowed and stepped out of their little platform. A 
Gulliver and his Lilliputians both in motion on the same 
screen at the same instant. What has this to do with Wagner? 
Only this: Wotan, as an immortal, need no longer have to 
wear blocks on the soles of his shoes to appear taller than the 
half-mortal Volsungs. 

I have a mental picture of the duel between Sigmund and 
Hunding men of mortal size with Wotan above them in 
the clouds, immense as the elements themselves, his spear, for 
that instant, a thing of cosmic power. When the immortals 
appear to men, then perhaps it is time for them to appear in 
mortal size, though heightened just enough to lend them super 
natural dignity. Here we would have the old gods as Wagner 
must have seen them, and as your own words have pictured 
them to enthralled radio listeners. 

But the screen can go much farther. The Hollywood that 



[ 2 8 2 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

could fashion a King Kong would have no difficulty in evoking 
a dragon very different from the papier-mache monstrosity of 
the Metropolitan Opera stage. Mime and Alberich would be 
dwarfs and no longer full grown men with padding for a 
hunched back and legs painfully crooked to bring down their 
height. The camera would make them dwarfs little men 
as legend and our imaginations would have them. 

Then what of the ride of the Valkyries? Ever since David 
Griffith gave us his clansmen riding to vengeance in "The 
Birth of a Nation," the screen has been hungry for the ride of 
Wo tan's daughters of battle. Through what miles of space they 
would dive! Their chargers would leap from cloud to cloud, 
from mountain tops to the planes of war. Then, in a single 
mighty leap, back to Valhalla! Certainly there would be no 
sacrilege in that! 

Your vivid imagination will add to this, I hope, the new 
achievements in color photography. These will not be shadow 
pictures. Siegfried will pass through flames to Brunhilde not 
merely through flickering patches of white. He will lie in a 
green forest when the red blood of Fafner has opened his ears. 
The hall of Hunding will have the red and gold and purple 
splendor of the ages of mythology. Color will be used to syn 
chronize with the music, to intensify its play upon the senses, 
and to bring a gigantic symphony of sound and sight. 

But what of the musical score itself? Am I entirely heretical 
in believing that Wagner wrote many long passages of recita 
tive which hold his actors in agonizing suspense, and obstruct 
the flow of visual action? It might not be necessary to omit these 
passages entirely. I hope not, for many of them have haunting 
beauty. But they might have to be transposed to moments just 
before or just after the visual action. A masterly rearrangement 
of the Wagnerian scores would be your final and greatest 
contribution in translating these masterpieces to the screen. 
You alone could do it in the spirit of innovation and high 
musical adventure which Wagner himself would have felt if 
the screen had been open to him in his lifetime. 

This possible transposing and rearrangement of the scores 



A LETTER TO WALTER DAMROSCH [283] 

would give the perfect Wagnerites their one defensible chance 
to cry outrage. The entire score or nothing! But I am sure 
you could easily persuade them to a more reasonable view. 
Many of them are unconscious of the "cuts" already made in 
the standard operatic performances of today. But to millions 
who have only heard passages of Wagner, the adapted continu 
ity of a screen presentation would be soul-filling and complete. 
You have an abundant right to ask me at least one more 
question. With all the eagerness in the world to undertake this 
task, how can you go about it? How can you persuade the 
Hollywood magnates and their New York bankers that there is 
a vast audience ready and eager to pay its dimes and quarters 
and half-dollars to see Wagner on the screen? The answer, I 
think, lies in your own career. When you started your labors, 
there were but a few hundred people possibly a few thou 
sand in and around New York and Boston who had already 
yielded to Wagner's magic. Today you have an admitted au 
dience of many millions. Your name is inseparably associated 
with his in the consciousness of the American people. That is 
why I am laying this letter before you. That is why I hope, 
with all my heart, that you will take up the task it suggests and 
carry it to a splendid consummation. 



Dark Days Ahead for King Cotton 

WILLIAM H. GORDELL 

r I ^HE embattled cotton farmers of the South have lost the 
* second of their great wars. They are faced with another 
period of reconstruction promising more fundamental and 
painful readjustments than those of the Reconstruction fol 
lowing the Civil War. 

This second and most recent war was purely dynastic. It 
was to keep King Cotton on the throne in Dixie Land. None 
of the fanfares of battle heralded the campaigns. They were 
carried out in the quiet, peaceful cotton-fields in many coun 
tries of the world. The death knell of cotton as King of millions 
in the South was sounded recently by a few simple figures on 
world cotton production. In 1934 the South produced nine 
and a half million bales, while the rest of the world produced 
thirteen and a half million bales. For the first time in its long 
history the South yielded its world supremacy in cotton. The 
import of these figures increases when we recall that before 
1929 the South produced sixty percent of the world's cotton. 
In 1 934 the South produced only forty-one percent, and it was 
the rest of the world that produced fifty-nine percent. 

There are several reasons for this rapid reversal. The most 
immediate, the one that looms largest to its opponents, is the 
Administration's cotton-control program. Due to the low 
prices of the year before (four to four and a half cents per 
pound in 1932) the Federal government in 1933 sponsored a 
campaign of acreage curtailment by paying the farmers who 
plowed under every third row of their cotton. The results, 
accomplished at a cost of a hundred and thirty-five million 
dollars, were the destruction of some ten million acres of 
cotton and a rise in the cotton price to nine and ten cents per 
pound. 

The Bankhead Act continued the program of curtailed 
acreage during 1934. The Agricultural Adjustment Adminis 
tration made payments to the farmers totaling a hundred and 

[284] 



DARK DATS AHEAD FOR KING COTTON [ 285 ] 

sixty million dollars for not planting five million acres of 
cotton. To make the program self-supporting, the Act pro 
vided that money for these payments should come from a 
processing tax of 4.2 cents per pound on all cotton used by the 
American mills. Further provisions created credit agencies to 
"peg" the price at a minimum of twelve cents per pound. The 
result a decrease in production from thirteen million bales 
in 1932 to nine and a half million in 1934. 

Other cotton-growing regions, such as Brazil and other 
South American countries, India, China, Egypt, and Russia, 
took immediate advantage of the higher prices thus brought 
about. They greatly increased their cotton acreage in 1934. 
Brazil produced only seven hundred thousand bales in 1933; 
in 1934 no less than a million, two hundred thousand bales. 
For the present crop year the objective is a million and six 
hundred thousand bales. 

The possibilities for an enormous increase in the Brazil 
cotton acreage derive from nearly a quarter of a billion acres 
of deep, black soil in the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Geraes. 
They are already connected with the coast by three railway 
lines. The Brazilian cotton planter has plenty of cheap labor 
among the Italian and Japanese immigrants. The disastrous 
debacle of the coffee market has released additional thousands 
of laborers from the coffee plantations. These possibilities in 
Brazil are the more serious for the Southern planter because 
cotton is indigenous in Brazil. It is a foreign importation in 
Dixie. The grade of fibres in Brazilian cotton is usually more 
desirable to the spinner than the varieties grown in this 
country. 

Other cotton-growing regions report that their production 
has been stepped up as much as thirty-five to forty-five per 
cent in the last two years. Russia plans not only to produce 
sufficient cotton for its needs during the present year, but also 
enough for a considerable export. This will be entirely possible 
with the rapid utilization of the fertile Turkestan region in 
Central Asia, recently opened up to extensive settlement by 
a new American-supervised railway. 



[ 286 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Apologists for the Administration's program insist that 
much of this alarming increase in foreign cotton production is 
due to economic nationalism dictated by the desire to be self- 
sustaining in the event of war. Undoubtedly this has been a 
contributing factor. Before 1932 England had gone to much 
expense, perhaps economically unjustifiable at the time, in the 
construction of giant irrigation projects in the Upper Nile 
region to make this section available for cotton-raising. 
England had also encouraged India to grow more cotton 
with a view to independence in case of war. Increased acreage 
in Russia may also be part of a program of defense. The 
incontrovertible fact remains, however, that the American 
Administration's policy has made it profitable for the rest of 
the world to increase its acreage and output at the expense of 
the American public, and more particularly of the future of 
the Southern planters. 

Yet the Southern planters have been gratified by the gov 
ernment's program. It has brought them not only cash pay 
ments for decreased acreage, but also an approximate increase 
of two hundred percent above 1932 in the market price of 
their cotton. No wonder that in 1934 the landowners of the 
South voted nine to one in favor of a year's continuation of the 
Bankhead Cotton Control Act! 

But there are some far-seeing planters, who, realizing that 
this subsidy cannot indefinitely be continued, are concerned 
for their future. They wonder what will happen to them 
when the government ceases its aid, and they are left alone 
and unaided to compete with the rest of the world. They see 
its increased cotton acreage, and its cheaply produced and 
higher grades of cotton fibres which are quickly capturing the 
world's market. These planters take a long view of the control 
program and believe they discern their doom written in large 
letters by the successive reports of decrease in the relative 
consumption of American-grown cotton. 

Prevailing high prices of cotton have also speeded up the 
development within recent years of various synthetic sub 
stitutes for cotton fibre. With growing uneasiness, the Southern 



DARK DAYS AHEAD FOR KING COTTON [ 287 ] 

planters read about the discoveries made by German chemists 
of vistra, a new synthetic fibre made from cellulose, a product 
of wood pulp. In strength and durability and cheapness of 
production, it is more desirable than the average low grade of 
cotton staples. Another synthetic product is woolstra, which 
possesses many advantages over cotton. Rayon and jute are 
invading the cotton textile field and gaining popularity be 
cause of their cheapness. In Milan, Italy, the spinning mills 
which once used American-grown cotton almost exclusively 
are now producing eighty percent vistra cloth and only 
twenty percent cotton. Since vistra and woolstra can be spun 
on the same spindles once used for cotton, the shift to sub 
stitutes of higher priced cotton can, and is, being made 
cheaply and quickly in many European countries. 

The only hope appearing on the Southern planters' horizon 
is the promise of a new invention, the universal pull-model 
cotton-picker, demonstrated publicly for the first time at the 
annual Cotton Carnival in Memphis early in May. This 
cotton-picker, invented by John D. and Mack D. Rust, 
gathers as much cotton in eight hours as a hand-picker gathers 
in three months. The estimated cost of operation per acre of 
cotton (including the labor) is ninety-eight cents. With the 
use of this tractor-drawn machine doing away with the 
employment of hand-pickers and permitting the use of the 
tractor the year round the cotton planter can thoroughly 
mechanize his farm and produce cotton at a profit even if the 
price per pound dropped to the 1932 low level of four cents! 

By next year this cotton-picker will be on the market in 
Memphis and California. The probable maximum price of 
$1000 is so reasonable as not to restrict its use on any except 
the smallest farms. Its widespread use will increase the size of 
plantations and hasten their complete mechanization. With 
this machine the South may be able to recapture part of its 
losses in the world markets, but it will not be able to revive 
cotton as an absolute ruler over all the people of Dixie. The 
reason is not far to seek: the cotton-picker will deal death to 
the tenantry system of the South. 



[ 288 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

' I 1 HE present tenant and share-cropper operation of planta- 
- tions in the South follows the necessities and peculiarities in 
the cultivation and harvesting of cotton. The system was 
established before the modern tractor, gang-plows and me 
chanical seeders. In the pre-tractor era a great number of 
workers were essential for the laborious spring planting 
with one and two-mule plows for breaking, bedding, and 
harrowing, and one-row seeders. During cultivation, fewer 
laborers were needed than during planting; yet there was 
plenty of work for every member of the tenant family in 
chopping or hoeing, listing and plowing the cotton. 

When the larger plantations began to use tractors, the labor 
of the tenants became of little value during the planting 
season, and of still less value during cultivation. It looked for 
a while as if the tractor, which could accomplish in one day as 
much as ten tenants with ten teams and hand plows, would 
relegate the tenant to Limbo along with the mule. But, fortu 
nately for the tenant, the tractor could not pick cotton during 
the harvesting season from September to December. Human 
fingers had to pick the locks of cotton from the dry, hard, 
five-pronged bolls. Thus, the plantation owner had to continue 
to furnish the tenants during the whole year so as to have them 
immediately available during the harvest season. The white 
fibre had to be gathered as soon as it was picked before it 
yellowed and decayed from exposure to the elements. 

The owners might have discharged nine out of ten tenants 
and used tractors during the planting and cultivation periods, 
trusting to itinerant labor to pick the cotton in the fall. This 
would seemingly have been the economical thing to do, but 
actually at the usual rate for cotton-picking (fifty cents per 
hundred pounds of seed cotton) it costs nearly half of the 
gross market returns on a bale to "hire" it picked. It takes 
fifteen hundred pounds of seed cotton to make a bale of five 
hundred pounds lint after the seeds are removed. At the rate 
of fifty cents per hundredweight of seed cotton, the planter 
would have to pay out in cash $7.50 per bale for picking. Add 
to this the cost of ginning, at least $2.50 per bale, and the total 



DARK DAYS AHEAD FOR KING COTTON [ 289 ] 

amounts to $10. Now compare this with a market price of 
four cents per pound (the price at which cotton sold no longer 
ago than three years) on the five hundred pound bale. This 
would mean on the open market about $20. Exactly half 
would be paid to pickers for harvesting the cotton. 

The only way the planter could avoid this difficulty was to 
keep his tenants on the plantation, available for the fall 
picking. The meal, molasses and meat not to mention the 
mules the planter furnished to tenants, who were obligated 
by mortgages and liens on their crops to return the whole 
amount at a considerable interest rate once their crops were 
harvested. Now, since it is a necessary part of the system that 
the tenant must pick his own cotton, the landlord by a con 
tinuation of tenant indebtedness could save the cash expended 
on cotton-picking. He was assured by his lien and mortgages 
that the supplies he sold at high prices and high interest 
charges would be returned by the tenants. What mattered it 
if the tenants and share-croppers had nothing to show for their 
part at the end of the year? 

In consequence of the peculiarities of cotton-harvesting, the 
tractor was valuable only during the three months (April to 
July) for planting and cultivation. Thus the planters did not 
proceed to immediate mechanization. It would have been too 
heavy a financial burden to support a great number of ten 
ants all through the year so as to have their free services avail 
able during the cotton-picking season. Therefore, tractors 
were purchased only on the largest plantations and these used 
only for spring and fall deep-breaking. Mules were retained 
because they could be fed on corn and hay raised by the 
tenants themselves and without cost to the planter. What is 
more to the point, all the tenants would be kept busy during 
the whole year ! 

Considering the abnormally low prices of cotton since 1 920, 
it is no wonder that tenantry is on the increase despite the 
fact that the standard of living among this class has been on a 
steady decline. The individual farmer with small acreage has 
found it progressively more difficult to compete with the large 



[ ago ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

plantations, and many of them, forced into bankruptcy by low 
prices of cotton, have had to resort to tenant farming for a 
livelihood. Despite its meagerness, it is at least an existence. 
The latest figures available show that since the World War, 
tenantry in the South has proceeded apace. In 1910 only 
fifty percent of the farms in the South were operated by ten 
ants, while by 1920 this had increased to fifty-five percent. 
By 1935 the total had jumped to sixty-five percent. These 
figures, dealing only in terms of farms, give only part of the 
picture. According to the census reports of 1 930, the total farm 
population, in the period 1920 to 1930, decreased over a 
hundred and ninety thousand, while the number of share 
croppers, or tenants working lands owned either by large 
landholders or corporations, increased nearly a hundred and 
ninety thousand. This represents an increase of more than 
thirty-five percent over the total number of croppers listed in 
1920. 

Now let us consider the certain effects, on the tenants, of the 
adoption and use of the Rust Brothers' mechanical cotton- 
picker. Drawn by a tractor, the new universal pull-model, as 
we have seen, can pick as much cotton in eight hours as an 
average picker can gather in three months. This means that 
eighty to eighty-five percent of the present tenants will no 
longer be needed on the plantation. It will now be more econom 
ical for the planter to use the tractor than man and mule 
power. He can use it not only during the planting and culti 
vating seasons, but also during the harvesting period to pull 
the cotton-picker. 

In the cotton-producing Southern states, according to the 
census report of 1930, there are some million or more tenants 
and share-croppers. Eighty percent of them, or over nine 
hundred thousand, will be dislodged by the cotton-picker. 
Taking an average of four persons to the family, we arrive at 
the startling conclusion that three million, eight hundred 
thousand men, women, and children will be forcibly emanci 
pated from their settled stations, with no available means of 
livelihood. These people can turn nowhere for relief except to 



DARK DATS AHEAD FOR KING COTTON [ 291 ] 

the government. Even under the present system, whereby 
tenants are furnished from the plantation commissary, there 
were four hundred thousand croppers on the relief rolls in 
Southern states in 1 934. In Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, 
all largely rural in population, the percentage of population 
receiving government aid last year averaged twenty-two per 
cent. This percentage promises to increase by leaps and 
bounds when the mechanical cotton-picker attains universal 
use within the next two years. 

f~\ F LATE the Department of Agriculture has shown much 
^-^ concern over the thousands of evictions from plantations 
resulting from its crop reduction program. Although pro 
visions were made in the contracts signed by the landowners 
to protect croppers from eviction, the government has found it 
necessary to investigate the flood of complaints pouring into 
Washington concerning the destitute, evicted peasantry. A 
survey is now in progress in several representative sections to 
discover the extent of the violation of the contract pledges. No 
accurate figures of the number of evictions resulting from the 
reduction program are available. But the situation is severe. 
All over the cotton belt, locals of the Southern Tenant Farmers 
Union have been formed to resist forced eviction from 
plantations. 

The Federal government has not publicly condemned the 
planters for these illegal but economically necessary evictions, 
but it has realized the necessity of providing for this class. Last 
April, Senator Bankhead, author of the Cotton Control Act, 
proposed a bill carrying a billion dollar appropriation to be 
used as a loan to rehabilitate and make independent from 
five hundred thousand to three million tenants. The bill en 
countered much opposition in the Senate, because of its 
administrative features, and was temporarily shelved to make 
way for the Patman Bonus measure. 

So far, the Washington authorities have taken no cognizance 
of the threat of the mechanical cotton-picker. They have, to 
tell the truth, had their hands full in taking care of those al- 



[ 292 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ready evicted under the present reduction program. But in the 
light of the inevitable overthrow of the tenantry system, the 
Federal government should by every possible means make 
thorough investigations and broaden the provisions of the 
Bankhead Tenant Rehabilitation Bill. Then it will be pre 
pared in time to meet the situation with a plan for permanent 
solution. Otherwise, the South will find itself faced with a 
new period of reconstruction, following the "emancipation" 
of the tenant peasantry, even more disastrous than the period 
following the emancipation of the slaves. 

Reconstruction, to be of any value, must be planned with a 
view to permanence. No half-way measures or expedients can 
save the South from a relapse into social stagnation. Only 
vigorous, well-organized planning can save the tenants from 
a condition even worse than their present degradation 
whose only virtue has been its security. Now, for the first time 
since the Civil War, even that is threatened with complete 
disruption. 



To a Pair of Gold Earrings 

THOMAS SUGRUE 

Once you were free to love, and held your face 
Against the moving earth to feel its heart. 
Once you were beaten, yielding to the grace 
Of subtle fingers, and a cunning art 
That shaped you gently, tracing on your soul 
The image of a dream. Your lines belong 
To what an old monk lettered on a scroll 
Between his matins and the vesper song. 
Now you lay hands on beauty, and your eyes 
Turn upward to the lights that loose her hair; 
Twisting to catch a shadow as it flies 
Along her lips, laying their laughter bare. 
And through her voice the tinkle of your breath 
Runs, like a whisper muttering of death. 



[293] 



Our Tipstaff Police 

HENRY MORTON ROBINSON 

NEXT to the anecdotes that a manic-depressive tells his 
keeper, the craziest and most uncoordinated thing in 
America is our police system. Under our Constitution we have 
expressly delegated all "police powers" to the several states, 
arranging matters so that each community city, town, or 
hamlet shall handle its own police affairs, brooking no 
interference from outside authority, and cooperating only to 
such degree as is politic or convenient. As a result we have 
thirty-nine thousand separate and independent police agencies 
in the United States, a floundering welter of inefficiency and 
obsolescence, a patchwork sieve through which the criminal 
easily slips to freedom. Three thousand cities, sixteen thousand 
incorporated municipalities, and twenty thousand townships 
are all making free-lance attacks on the twin problems of 
crime-repression and police protection, with a resulting con 
fusion that makes the builders of Babel seem as unanimous as a 
couple of Southern governors deciding to have another julep. 
This lack of coordinated activity in our police system is one 
of the major reasons why we are not getting further in our 
much publicized, but as yet abortive "war against crime." 
Observe, for instance, the haphazard manner in which our 
police handle the genteel crime of forgery: Our annual loss 
from forgery is nearly one hundred and fifty million dollars; 
in one eastern city, three hundred thousand dollars a week is 
paid out on bad checks. Yet the stupid disharmony of our 
police makes the forger's role one of the safest and most profit 
able in the criminal repertory. Everyone knows that a forger 
works quickly; he "lays down" his spurious paper in Con 
necticut, nets his profit, and skips on to New York. But as he 
leaves the state of Connecticut, nothing officially follows him 
but a sigh of relief. The losses are made up by insurance com 
panies, who carry on private wars against these pen-and-ink 
artists, but there is no concerted action by the police. No 

[294] 



OUR TIPSTAFF POLICE [ 295 ] 

description of the forger's modus operandi is broadcast; not even a 
warning that he is coming. "Let New York handle him," is 
Connecticut's attitude; "Leave him to New Jersey," says 
New York. 

This costly and fantastic buck-passing goes on not only 
among the states, but between neighboring cities as well. 
Sporadic and unrelated clean-ups drive crooks from Albany 
to Buffalo, or from Chicago to Cleveland, the logic being that 
of a housewife who tidies up her kitchen by sweeping the dirt 
into the dining-room. Even the highly touted Federal police 
units overlap and conflict with each other; our central govern 
ment maintains two distinct patrol forces the Customs 
Border Patrol conducted by the Treasury Department, and 
the Immigration Border Patrol of the Department of Labor. 
In addition, it has four major police organizations: the Divi 
sion of Investigation in the Department of Justice, the Secret 
Service and the Narcotic Unit in the Treasury, and the crim 
inal investigation activities of the Post Office. Here then are 
six independent outfits which inevitably clash with each other 
in numberless cases. Until these groups are consolidated, the 
criminal jurisdictions within the Federal government will 
continue to be as weirdly uncoordinated as the police depart 
ments of the several states. 

Rugged uncoordination is perhaps too deeply graven in our 
national character to be etched out by acid paragraphs. 
Indeed, I merely mention it as a prelude to the real charge 
that I would bring against our police. For it seems that police 
men, as a body, all show a noticeable passion for the archaic, a 
too, too tender devotion to the practices and instruments of 
antiquity. This touching emotion puts them a full century 
behind the times, thrusting them back into an age when the 
tipstaff and blunderbuss were the constable's sole weapons, 
and the "ordeal by weights" the favorite method of determin 
ing innocence or guilt. For the inescapable fact is this: Our 
American police agencies have not availed themselves of the 
methods developed by science for the detection and apprehen 
sion of criminals. The tipstaff still holds sway, while serviceable 



[ 296 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

batteries of scientific instruments stand unused, scorned, or 
unheard of, by those in charge of crime control. 

The application of science to criminal investigation is one of 
the outstanding social advances of the last decade; certainly it 
has brought about a revolution in the methods of detecting, 
apprehending and identifying the criminal elements of society. 
This is particularly true in Europe; the practical police results 
achieved by European criminologists outrival the wildest ex 
ploits of fictional Vidocqs. The basic premise of these investi 
gators is that every criminal, no matter how astute, always 
leaves some trace behind a hair, a scale of cuticle, an im 
palpable record in the dust. To discover and preserve these 
traces is the task of the scientific policeman. Doctor Poller of 
Vienna has devised a process known as "moulage" (literally 
"modeling") by which such minute traces as tool-marks left 
on a window-sill or door-jamb, teeth indentations on fruit, 
cheese, or other food (many criminals munch nervously during 
and after the commission of a crime) can be plastically repro 
duced for purposes of evidence. Auto tracks in snow, or in dust 
so delicate that a single breath would blow it away, are sprayed 
with a fixative until they harden; sensitive clays are then laid 
over the tire-marks, and from this negative cast, a positive 
impression is secured. 

M. Locard, the famous criminologist of Lyons, has evolved 
a new system of criminal identification known as "poroscopy," 
by which the faintest imprint of a few pores on a single papil 
lary ridge on a criminal's finger less than one five- thou 
sandth part of a complete fingerprint can be made to serve 
as infallible proof of his implication in a crime. By analyzing 
microscopic sections of thread, dirt, or blood found under 
the fingernails of a murdered man, Locard can in many cases 
provide his detectives with a complete description of the 
murderer. Once, after examining the dried saliva on a tooth 
pick, Locard told his men where to look, and whom to look 
for; he repeated the same trick by analyzing the saliva on a 
cigarette found beside a murdered man. No, Locard is not a 
character of fiction. He is the comparatively young and very 



OUR TIPSTAFF POLICE [ 297 ] 

able chief of the municipal detective laboratory of Lyons, 
France, where he accomplishes his marvels on an appropria 
tion of $900 a year ! 

Nor are American criminologists laggard in the develop 
ment of their science. Laboratory analyses of ashes enable 
technicians to say, in arson cases, whether gasoline, kerosene, 
linseed oil or other specific inflammables were used in starting 
a fire. F. B. Gompert, of California, has devised a system for 
classifying human hair; he has found nearly twenty- two 
thousand varieties, all differing in color, shape, and texture, 
and has given each hair a "type" number. Once in a murder 
case he went over a carpet with a vacuum cleaner, picked up 
four hairs all corresponding to the hair found on the head of a 
suspect who was later convicted. Calvin Goddard, the fore 
most firearms expert in the world, can furnish the name, 
calibre, condition, and date of manufacture of any gun used 
in a fatal shooting, merely by examining the bullet or shell 
found at the scene of the crime. By applying the new "paraffin 
test," Goddard can determine whether a man was killed by a 
homicidal bullet, or whether he committed suicide. Luke S. 
May has developed a technique for identifying knives, axes, 
screw-drivers and other implements, from the marks they 
leave on the victim or on materials used by the criminal. 

The list could be prolonged into a very litany of marvels, yet 
so far as the majority of our tipstaff police are concerned, these 
scientific aids to crime control apparently do not exist. Don't 
take my word for it ! Just inspect the mounting list of unsolved 
and unpunished crimes in the United States. In 1933 there 
were one million, three hundred thousand serious crimes 
committed in this country, including twelve thousand murders 
and ninety thousand felonious assaults ! Yet in three-fourths of 
these crimes, no one was ever brought to justice. In the preced 
ing year, in New York City alone, there were over twelve 
hundred cases of homicide, and only eighteen convictions for 
murder! Now while it is ridiculous to claim that scientific 
methods of crime detection would straightway clap all crim 
inals behind bars, the present writer bluntly asserts that our 



[ 298 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

police can never satisfactorily fulfill their obligation to society, 
until they lay aside their hostility to the new detective science, 
and adopt its weapons in the battle against crime. When I 
asked a Chicago police official what scientific advances had 
been made by his department last year, he replied that all 
radio cars were now equipped with new searchlights ! 

To witness police tipstavery at its worst, bend your glance 
backward to the opening chapter of the Lindbergh case. Do 
you remember [could anyone ever forget?] the foaming and 
senseless cataract of gorgeously uniformed state troopers that 
descended on the Lindbergh home on motorcycles roaring 
up and down the road, trampling every available clue into the 
March mud, systematically covering with impenetrable layers 
of stupidity every fingerprint, footprint, and dust-trace on the 
estate? Hauptmann has been convicted, and doubtless deserves 
the punishment that will be meted out to him, yet there are 
many impartial and legally-trained minds which dispute the 
value of the evidence that placed him in the Lindbergh nursery 
on the night of the kidnapping. Almost the only scientific 
evidence was the testimony of Koehler, the wood expert. 
What wouldn't Prosecutor Wilentz have given for a lone 
conclusive fingerprint on the crib, window-sill or ladder? How 
effectively he could have introduced a moulage reproduction of 
that footprint underneath the nursery window ! Or a handful 
of dust intelligently swept up and later analyzed for evidence 
connecting it with the accused. A European prosecutor would 
have had all these aids as a matter of routine; the first investi 
gator who reached the scene would have protected with his 
life (and reputation) that footprint in the mud. But our hand 
some American troopers, densely packed in motorcycle array, 
humpty-dumptied the problem so completely that no subse 
quent forensic glue, however skillful, could ever piece it to 
gether again. 

Americans spray a vast amount of sentimentality over that 
lovable fellow, the ordinary patrolman, who alternately 
barks at motorists and sells them tickets to police balls. On the 
whole, he is a fine specimen of manhood reasonably honest, 



OUR TIPSTAFF POLICE [ 299 ] 

and capable of high heroic fortitude. But it is becoming more 
and more apparent that he is badly educated for his job. Only 
in large cities does the candidate for the force attend a police 
school; small town cops are recruited from the ranks of the 
local strong boys, and offer nothing but a thick neck to deflect 
the criminal's assault on society. But even in the big cities, the 
education of the rooky is woefully sketchy; New York's 
"finest" spend a scant three months in acquiring the mysteries 
of their profession before they are put on the beat. Thousands 
of policemen have never fired their service revolvers; most cops 
would be lost if obliged to "take down" their weapon and re 
assemble it blindfolded a common stunt in the regular 
army. On the higher levels of procedure, such as securing and 
guarding scientific evidence, the average roundsman is a 
complete "bust"; he doesn't know a clue when it smacks 
him between the eyes. 

Only recently an auto filled with bandits screamed down 
the main street of a fair-sized Illinois city, pumping bullets 
from pistols and "Tommy" submachine guns. In sheer 
exuberant defiance, one of the gangsters hurled a pistol out of 
the car window. The first peace officer to pick it up was a 
sergeant of detectives; he jerked out the magazine, squeezed 
the trigger, peered down the barrel, and succeeded in oblit 
erating all fingerprints that might have been found on the 
weapon. The proper technique would have been to wrap 
the pistol carefully in a handkerchief, and permit no one to 
touch it until a fingerprint expert had systematically searched 
its surface for a tell-tale fingerprint. But this doughty sergeant 
had probably never heard of fingerprints on gun-stocks, and 
would be picturesquely profane if you suggested looking for 
them. And this despite the government's fingerprint cam 
paign! 

The right to bear arms, proudest of early American preroga 
tives, has this sad contemporary sequel: Ninety percent of our 
crimes of violence are committed with firearms. Statistics on 
the subject are plentiful and monotonous, but they can all be 
distilled into a single sweet-smelling sentence: Someone is either 



[ 300 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

killed or wounded by firearms every hour of every business day in the 
United States. It would be absurd to blame all this lethal gun 
nery on the police, for they alone are not responsible for the 
hot rash of gun-killings that spreads over our countryside. But 
they could at least emerge from their tipstaff trance, and be 
slightly more intelligent about linking up fatal bullets with the 
guns that fired them. For the remarkable thing about crimes 
involving a gun is this: Whenever a trigger-man pumps a bullet 
into the body of his victim, he releases a chunk of concrete 
evidence that binds him inseparably to his act. Science has 
discovered that every gun-barrel imprints deep on every bullet 
fired from it characteristic markings peculiar to that gun and 
that gun alone. These markings are microscopic but terribly 
vocal in announcing their origin, and are as infallible for pur 
poses of identification as the print left by the human finger. 

It is unjustifiable ignorance, then, to permit a gunman to 
escape when every bullet fired from his gun is very much like a 
visiting card bearing his latest address. But let us glance at the 
police record on the subject of firearms identification. In spite 
of the fact that courts now welcome this type of judicial proof 
whenever it is offered, there are only seventy police depart 
ments in the United States that can point to a qualified fire 
arms expert on their regular staff. Of these seventy experts, 
less than half possess complete apparatus for scientific firearms 
identification. No wonder, then, that bandits fling their guns 
contemptuously at the police, when they know that prevailing 
methods of identification will never link them to their crime. 

The personal experience of Colonel Calvin Goddard, hailed 
in Europe as one of the leading criminologists of the age, offers 
an illuminating footnote to the blunderbuss attitude of the 
American police. Between 1925 and 1929, Colonel Goddard 
was co-founder and director of the Bureau of Forensic Ballis 
tics, of New York City, the first firearms identification service 
ever established in this country. Goddard, a physician and a 
Major in the World War, had perfected instruments and 
methods by which he could positively identify bullets fired 
from any make or type of firearm; he and his colleagues were 



OUR TIPSTAFF POLICE [ 301 ] 

prepared to give a complete service in forensic ballistics, and 
quite naturally expected that the New York Police Depart 
ment would be interested in his work. During the years be 
tween 1925 and 1929, New York City had six hundred and 
fifty gun murders, of which more than four hundred are still 
unsolved. Yet in all that period, Goddard was never called 
into conference by the police ! His fees were low, his service was 
at that time unique, but the New York Police Department 
(which then had no ballistics laboratory of its own) preferred to 
let gun murders go unavenged rather than utilize Goddard' s 
scientific knowledge. 

The Bureau of Investigation in Washington proudly boasts 
that its files contain over four million fingerprints, and that 
these prints pour in from all over the world at the rate of 
twenty- two hundred a day. But on a recent tour of visitation, a 
Bureau chief found hundreds of fingerprint cards lying around 
police stations; either they contained fingerprints that had not 
been forwarded to Washington, or they were wholly neglected 
and covered with dust. The fingerprint is society's best weapon 
in the war against crime but it gets pretty mouldy from dis 
use in some of the hinterland police departments. As for the 
technique of securing "latent" fingerprints (that is, finger 
prints invisible to the naked eye) not one policeman in ten 
thousand has the knowledge or equipment necessary to lift 
this damning type of evidence from a door-knob, drinking 
glass, or ransom note. 

When the police pick up a suspect, it is their duty to check 
up on his criminal record, unearth objective evidence against 
him, and place as much material as possible in the hands of 
the prosecutor. But it requires brains, persistence, energy and 
training to gather this type of external evidence, and because 
most of these attributes are conspicuously absent in our police 
men, a vicious "third-degree" substitute has been developed. 
When lynx-eyed departmental sleuths are baffled by a paucity 
of clues (generally furnished by stool-pigeons) or when they 
are too stupid or lazy to gather material evidence against a 
prisoner, they transform their tipstaffs into divining-rods, and 



[ 302 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

work diligently on the suspect's skull until he "comes clean." 
Rubber hose, which leaves no incriminating welt on face or 
body, is a favorite weapon with the "confession snatchers"; a 
telephone book can knock a man senseless, yet leave no mark 
on his head therefore telephone books are in great demand 
at headquarters. One modern torturer in an Eastern city 
withholds drinking water from the victim while a cold water 
tap is kept running in the room. Prisoners are held incom 
municado without food or bedding and are cruelly prevented 
from sleeping until an agonized declaration of guilt is wrung 
from their lips. 

A single citation from the record will illustrate the mediaeval 
refinements of the third degree. In the case of People vs. Cope 
(Illinois, 1930) the defendant was charged with stealing an 
automobile, but the Chief of Detectives, one Grady, wanted 
him to confess to an unsolved murder. Eschewing the intel 
lectual labor involved in the analysis of external clues, Grady 
put Cope in a chair and told him either to talk or take a beat 
ing. Cope replied that he had nothing to say. Whereupon 
Grady bestrode him, bent him back by the neck, then standing 
off a few paces kicked him in the stomach, and hit him on the 
knees and shins with a club. Cope still refused to admit guilt or 
complicity. At this point he was dragged into the police 
gymnasium, his feet were chained together and he was strung 
up, head downward, while additional blows were rained on 
him by the zealous chief and his assistants. Cope finally broke 
down under this exhibition of tipstavery, and cried out that 
he would confess to anything anything at all if only 
they would stop beating him. 

Most of us recognize that criminals are a vicious, hard- 
mouthed crew, and no one expects a harassed Chief of Police 
to provide them with an eiderdown head-rest while interroga 
tion is in progress. "Gather round, fellows, while Mr. Geoffrey 
Malmaison tells us how he killed little Mary Smith," is scarcely 
the formula for prying the truth out of a murderer. But there 
are methods of securing testimony easily, painlessly, and with a 
minimum of police time and energy scientific methods of 



OUR TIPSTAFF POLICE [ 303 ] 

proved efficacy that stand ready to aid any officer of the 
law who has the imagination and courage to use them. Chief 
among these devices is the Keeler Polygraph, commonly 
known as the "lie-detector," which has been successfully used 
in thirty-five hundred cases by its co-inventor, Dr. Leonard 
Keeler of Northwestern University. This amazing instrument 
with its uncanny faculty of ferreting out truth, has never yet 
damaged the body of a guilty man or the reputation of an 
innocent one; in ninety-five percent of its trials it has exposed 
guilt in various degrees ranging from petty pilfering to 
murder. Yet when I asked an inspector of New York detectives 
what he thought of this scientific device, he shook a square- 
knuckled fist in my face and shouted belligerently, "This is 
the only lie-detector!" 

Fist and boot still serve this inspector well; trained in the 
old school of nightstick and stool-pigeonry he is not enthusi 
astic about this scientific invasion of his preserves. It is too late 
for him and thousands of his colleagues to change; their stub 
born adherence to an old routine is the chief thwart to the new 
criminology, and can be combated only by educating a fresh 
generation of policemen with a truer contemporary concept 
of their job. To accomplish this re-education, a complete 
divorce of police and politics must take place; it is futile to 
talk of lifting the general level of police intelligence when, 
under our present system, the Police Commissioner is the 
creature of the political machine that appoints him. Chicago 
has had eighteen Police Commissioners in twenty years; the 
life of a Commissioner in New York is about fifteen months, 
after which period he is forced out of office or throws up his 
hands in despairing resignation. A "shake-up" of the entire 
force follows as the new broom sweeps into office. This merry- 
go-round tenure destroys all feeling of permanency in any 
group of public servants; merit is subordinated to politics, and 
turbulent unrest is substituted for the quiet performance of 
duty. 

How different the scene in European cities! The Commis 
sioners and Chiefs of Police in England, France and Germany 



[ 304 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

are without exception university men with a doctor's degree. 
They devote their lives to the profession of police service; it is a 
career like medicine or law. They hold office and perform 
their duties independent of political interference, and cannot 
be removed unless serious charges are preferred against them. 
Intellectually alive, scientifically alert, they welcome new 
departures in criminology, and their reputations are built 
upon their successful utilization of laboratory techniques and 
discoveries. The men under them are selected for intelligence 
and adaptability to police work. A candidate for the Metro 
politan Police of London must pass an examination which 
includes mathematics, modern languages, general history, 
physics, chemistry and biology. At the satisfactory conclusion of 
this examination he attends the Metropolitan Police College 
for fifteen months, during which term he studies law, ballistics, 
accountancy and all modern methods of criminal investigation 
and detection. 

Police training in Germany is even stiff er; after passing a 
stern scholastic test, the candidates are given a police problem 
bristling with details, very long and complicated. They are 
then obliged to run a thousand yards, leap some hurdles, scale 
a wall and jump a wide ditch. As they finish this steeplechase 
they are sent into a large room where writing material and 
desk space are provided. Here they are directed to write out 
the solution of the problem previously given them, while a 
stop-watch is held on each candidate. In this way his ability to 
concentrate and function mentally under conditions of excite 
ment and fatigue are readily noted. If American policemen 
were subjected to a similar test, it is highly doubtful that more 
than ten percent of them would retain their breath, let alone 
their consciousness, until the end. 

There are, however, hopeful signs of a new day in police 
education; the horizon is pink with promise, although not a 
great deal has been yet accomplished. The most encouraging 
portent comes from the proposed "West Point" of Police, soon 
to be established at Washington, D. G., under the direction of 
the Department of Justice. At this police college, a four-year 



OUR TIPSTAFF POLICE [ 305 ] 

course will be offered to students specially selected from regu 
lar city police departments; they will be trained in scientific 
techniques of crime detection, and at the successful comple 
tion of their course will receive a degree of Bachelor of Police 
Science. No date has been set for the opening of this institute, 
but it is unofficially stated that it will be in full operation 
before the close of 1936. 

In miniature, this type of police college already exists in 
Berkeley, California, where August Vollmer has turned the 
patrolman's beat into a field-school for students eager to 
master the elements of scientific police work. Vollmer also 
holds a professorship in the University of Chicago where he 
lectures to a rapidly increasing enrollment of practical-minded 
policemen. Several state colleges give "short courses" in police 
work, and groups of Western states have established Zone 
Schools at which excellent instruction is given. The West is far 
ahead of all other sections in its adoption of police science; the 
Middle West ranks next, the South third, while the conserva 
tive Eastern states bring up a pitiable rear. One of the most 
vigorous sprouting centers of the new criminology is the 
Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory of Chicago, affiliated 
with Northwestern University. This laboratory is not only a 
police college, but it is also a successful bureau of crime detec 
tion; its experts have testified in twenty-five hundred cases 
involving forensic ballistics, legal medicine, document examina 
tion and the new moulage. A literature of police science is 
slowly developing as these experts publish their findings in the 
American Journal of Police Science and other periodicals of 
the "trade." 

Very much on the credit side of the police ledger are the 
"G-men," those invincible operatives of the Division of In 
vestigation. They set a pace that few peace-officers have ever 
equalled; a versatile lot, they can audit a bank's accounts, 
prepare a government brief in a false-securities trial, or drill a 
Public Enemy at forty paces. They are all lawyers or account 
ants with a college education, on which has been superimposed 
a special training in criminology. They can focus a compound 



[ 306 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

microscope as effectively as they can squeeze a trigger, and if 
there were fifty thousand of them instead of a scant five hun 
dred, crime in the United States would not be the sprawling, 
uncontrolled parasite it is today. The most we can hope for in 
the new campaign against crime is that the students in the 
proposed "West Point of Police" will be obliged to pass the 
same rigorous tests, and be exposed to the same laboratory 
instruction, that gives the G-men a long start on any crook they 
set out to catch. 

A fresh gale is rising in the police world; discerning ears 
know it to be the dynamo hum of science, responding to the 
challenge of modern crime. The taxpayer interprets the sound 
hopefully, for there can be no truer economy than the prompt 
and certain apprehension and conviction of the criminal. 
The gangster hears it with dismay, for it means the end of his 
fiesta of lawlessness. Most professional policemen hear it not at 
all. In their arrogant deafness they imagine that society will 
continue to tolerate and pay for a job inadequately conceived 
and wretchedly done. But the gale will soon be whistling 
among the ruins of their mediaeval policemanship; the tipstaff 
is doomed, and those who cling to it will find it a very poor 
straw indeed when the fresh winds of scientific crime detection 
really begin to blow about their ears. 



Radio, and Our Future Lives 

ARTHUR VAN DYGK 

OUR MINDS can encompass the universe instantly 
but our physical senses lag woefully behind. Scientific 
developments are fundamentally attempts to extend the scope 
of our physical senses to match more nearly our mental prow 
ess. For example, we have increased transportation speed to 
from ten to twenty times the speed of a hundred years ago, and 
we have seen the tremendous effects of this new speed upon 
our society. Radio, in all its forms, and in many of its offshoots, 
is even more important because it extends the range of our 
senses more nearly to the capacity of our minds. 

This age is one of chemistry, electricity, aircraft and radio. 
It is an era of tremendous and rapid expansion. A radio official 
recently prepared a chart, startling in significance. In it he has 
included, first, the radio devices and services actually in opera 
tion today; second, those which will be put into use as soon as 
manufacturing and operating details have been worked out; 
and, third, those known to be of eventual practicability but 
which still are in the research laboratory. The two latter list 
ings compose approximately two-thirds of the entire chart ! In 
other words, big as the radio industry is now, it is using only 
one-third of its already known potentialities. 

Much of radio's indirect usefulness lies in contributing new 
tools of value to other branches of the electrical art. Radio, for 
example, has provided new methods of generating and con 
trolling higher frequencies, so that the whole art of generation 
and distribution of electricity may be greatly modified and 
improved. Not only will we see vacuum tubes and audio am 
plifiers in small devices and apparatus, but we will see them in 
power houses and transmission lines and substations, doing 
heavy machinery work. 

Radio sound receivers have been highly developed during 
the past ten years, yet progress in this field has just begun. The 
receiver of the future will undoubtedly be tunable to desired 

[307] 



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stations merely by the pressing of buttons. In addition, re 
ceivers will be turned on automatically for desired programs, 
or turned on by signals from the transmitting station. Other 
refinements will make the receiving set respond almost auto 
matically to the wishes of the listener. Also, and in spite of the 
fact that the radio receiver is the most complicated and most 
critically adjusted device which has ever entered the home or 
been put into the hands of untrained operators to manipulate, 
the future receivers will be even more simple to operate than 
those of today. 

A development of real significance is that of sound record 
ing. The electric phonograph was the first device in this class. 
The sound motion picture was the second. The range of the 
latter has recently been extended by amateur sound motion 
picture cameras and reproducers. The next logical step is the 
use of sound recording in the home, and in business. It is quite 
practical to make simple apparatus for the general public, 
capable of recording and reproducing short messages, so that I 
visualize a gradual revolution of our present practices in writ 
ten communication, to a future condition wherein a great deal 
of our social correspondence, and at least some of our business 
correspondence, will be by sound records. This development is 
slow, because we are naturally dilatory about accepting im 
provements which merely replace an old service, although 
quick to accept those which provide a totally new one. 

Next we have the talking book. This project is now in the 
development stage, and experiments are being made to record 
full-length books on films. The chief drawback to this method, 
however, is the cost of the recording material. The recording 
of talking books on materials like cellophane is being tried, and 
it is certain that eventually some such method will enable us to 
have complete talking libraries which can be stowed away in a 
closet. Even today we know that it is technically feasible to re 
duce the size of the sound track on a film so that an hour's 
performance can be recorded on a few feet of film; and while it 
is impossible to guess, at this moment, whether the most prac 
tical form of talking books will be cellophane, film, paper, steel 



RADIO, AND OUR FUTURE LIVES [ 309 ] 

wire or some other material, we do know from similar past ex 
perience that the talking book, in a practical form, is as sure to 
come as the present day radio receiving set was sure to be 
evolved from the crude crystal sets of the early 'twenties. I 
leave it to the reader's imagination to see the appeal and use 
fulness of a book which is read to the listener by competent 
readers, accompanied with appropriate sound effects. It ought 
at least to be a marvelous field for the mystery thriller novel ! 

A quite different development is that of personal communi 
cation. Already we have portable receivers, so small and light 
that they can be carried about without burden or inconven 
ience. It is easy to visualize a system which will enable in 
dividuals at all times to keep in touch with messages from 
broadcast stations, or central communication stations. 

Going a step further, we know that it will be practicable in 
the future, to provide small, simple and light apparatus which 
will permit two-way radio telephone communication over dis 
tances of at least a few miles. This would mean that any two 
persons separated by short distances could communicate with 
each other at will. The familiar police radio-alarm system now 
in general use is an initial example of this. In time, delivery 
trucks will keep in touch with their dispatcher in a department 
store; salesmen will talk with their offices; and executives will 
keep in touch with their desks when away from their businesses 
all by means of personal radio communication. 

There is another fascinating radio off-shoot in the field of 
sound. This is the electrical musical instrument. Throughout 
the ages, musical instruments have been developed in hundreds 
of forms but all of them were wholly mechanical in opera 
tion. Today we know that anything that can be done me 
chanically can be done electrically, and usually with more 
flexibility and better control. It is only within the last few years 
that electrical musical instruments have made their appear 
ance, and their use has been retarded by the reluctance of 
music-lovers to accept them on aesthetic and artistic grounds. 
Real artistry and technique on any musical instrument re 
quires years of study and practice. It is quite natural that any 



[ 310 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

change in the mechanism which affects the accepted tech 
nique is revolutionary, and not readily welcomed. 

Nevertheless, when viewed from the scientific basis, elec 
trical musical instruments are capable not only of doing any 
thing which mechanical instruments can do, but of doing it 
much better, and furthermore, of providing new possibilities in 
each of the important musical elements of tone range, tone 
quality and volume range. It is not too much to expect that 
fifty years from now all major musical instruments will be 
electrical; that effects now undreamed of will be common 
place; and that the over-all results will be vastly increased 
possibilities of musical language, interpretation and inspira 
tion. 

So far we have considered developments which had to do 
with the sense of hearing, and with communication by speech 
or recording of sounds. But radio has also found the way to 
extend the human sense of sight, and the reproduction, at a 
distance, of sights, scenes and pictures. The technical problems 
have increased in difficulty as we have progressed to more and 
more complicated forms of intelligence conveyance. The tele 
graph is the simplest, the telephone next, the simple stationary 
picture next, and the instantaneous, moving scene the most 
difficult. 

Sending pictures electrically over a distance is called fac 
simile transmission, and is not to be confused with television. 
It is in actual commercial use on several transoceanic radio 
circuits and on some inter-city wire and radio circuits in this 
country, and has been operated experimentally between the 
shore and ships at sea. It has not yet made an appearance in 
broadcasting to the home. The commercial uses of facsimile 
are of course quite different from its possible usefulness in home 
broadcasting. In commercial work the material transmitted 
includes such items as news photographs, clothing designs, 
contract and signature matters, and weather maps. 

Future development of commercial fascimile will probably 
extend it to include the printed word, replacing the long 
familiar dot and dash code transmission of words, letter by 



RADIO, AND OUR FUTURE LIVES [ 311 ] 

letter. Obviously, the transmission of a written or printed mes 
sage as a facsimile of the original is not only more accurate, 
but is vastly more useful, since diagrams, pictures and other 
material may be included. In the home, it appears reasonable 
to expect that there are various kinds of material which will 
make valuable "program material," if we may call it that. For 
example, news flashes and photographs, recipes, cartoons, 
market and weather reports, are clearly available. In the 
purely technical aspects, there are no serious obstacles to the 
rendition of a new public service of this sort. 

The transmission and reception of instantaneous pictures, or 
television, is the most difficult of the radio applications in exist 
ence or in prospect. Sound transmission is exceedingly simple 
in comparison. One of the many aspects of the problem can be 
estimated by viewing the range of electrical frequencies which 
must be handled. In sound radio we are hearing much of the 
advances made in high fidelity reproduction, where the prob 
lem has been merely to extend the range by three or four thou 
sand cycles. In television we must start with a range of several 
million cycles! 

We must add to the purely technical problems, the physio 
logical fact that our sense of sight is much more delicate and 
critical than our sense of hearing. We can tolerate a very con 
siderable degree of interference with sounds we wish to hear, 
but we can tolerate little or no interference with our vision. As 
someone has said, "A feather shuts out the mountain view." 
Each part of a television system must be practically perfect to 
secure humanly acceptable results, and it must be noted that 
the television system includes the space medium between the 
transmitter and receiver. However, it is one of the axioms of 
scientific development, and one of the laws of infinite Nature, 
that anything which can be done at all, can be done satisfac 
torily well. The real problem is merely that of the necessary 
time and expense to find the way. 

Work remains to be done before television can be ready for 
public service. The present program of television development 
emphasizes that television bears no relation to the present sys- 



[ 312 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

tern of sound broadcasting, and that it requires the creation of 
a system and not merely the commercial development of ap 
paratus. To understand the promise as well as the present 
limitations of the art of television, let us review briefly the pres 
ent status of development. 

Research and technical progress may be judged by the fact 
that upon a laboratory basis a 343-line picture has been pro 
duced, as against the crude 3O-line television picture of several 
years ago. The picture frequency of the earlier system was 
about twelve per second. This has now been raised to the 
equivalent of sixty per second (motion pictures have a fre 
quency of forty-eight) . These advances enable the reception, 
over limited distances, of relatively clear images whose size 
has been increased without loss of definition. 

The present practical character of possible service is some 
what comparable in its limitations to what one sees of a parade 
from the window of an office building, or of a world series base 
ball game from a nearby roof, or of a championship prize-fight 
from the outermost seats of a great arena. 

In the present state of the art, the service range of television 
from any single station is limited to a radius of from fifteen to 
twenty-five miles. National coverage of the more than three 
million square miles in the United States would require a mul 
titude of stations, with huge expenditures, and presents a great 
technical problem of interconnection in order to build a net 
work system by which the same program may serve a large 
territory. Existing available wire systems are not suitable for 
interconnecting television stations. Radio relays must be fur 
ther developed, or a new wire system created, to do the job 
now being done by the wires which connect present-day broad 
casting stations. 

An outstanding accomplishment in television research, 
however, is the invention and perfection of the "iconoscope." 
This is an electric eye, which facilitates the pickup of studio 
action and permits the broadcasting of remote scenes 
thereby giving to the television transmitter the function of a 
camera lens. Through the use of the iconoscope, street scenes 



RADIO, AND OUR FUTURE LIVES [ 313 ] 

and studio performances have been experimentally trans 
mitted and received. 

There are still other radio, or high frequency electrical de 
velopments, which ought to be included in this story. For 
example, there is the application to treatment of the human 
body, the control of bacteria, and in surgery the bloodless and 
antiseptic "radio knife." But a complete list of the vast possi 
bilities is unnecessary to the proof of our main theme that 
radio will have, and is having, an enormous effect upon our 
lives and habits. At present we are seeing only the early ex 
amples of radio and electrical devices and services. Their fur 
ther technical improvement can be distinctly foreseen, and 
their ultimate effects are certain to be tremendous. 

I suggest that you will find it interesting, amusing, and prob 
ably helpful, to attempt to visualize the future of ten to twenty 
years from now. With its changed conditions in music, enter 
tainment, transportation, news dissemination, politics, and 
world understanding, it will be shaped in very large part by the 
direct and indirect contributions of radio. 



Miss Craigie 

CHARLES HANSON TOWNE 

T PASS the house now quite often, but always with an 
* averted face. But how strange it seems that long before the 
almost unbelievable thing happened, we who were Miss 
Craigie' s neighbors in the Vermont hills always went by her 
door with a smile. 

For she was an odd little wisp of a woman, Miss Charity 
Craigie. No one knew much about her, save that she seemed 
to have some means; but she took no part in village activities. 
The houses of our tiny town clustered together like gossiping 
old ladies, their red or white faces seeming to whisper of the 
passers-by, and there were moments in the dusk when they 
appeared to nod to one another. One or two, more eager than 
the rest to see all that was happening in the quiet streets, 
leaned forward so that they had clear glimpses up and down. 
Vines, like veils, partially hid some of their lined countenances. 

But Miss Craigie's house was just beyond the village limits 
an almost solitary structure of severe white, not within 
hailing distance of many of the others at a bend of a road 
which led vaguely to open country. It was perched like a 
saucy child upon a little knoll, and several apple-trees framed 
its plain fagade, giving it, in May, a brief beauty which it 
certainly, in austere seasons, lacked. 

The doors and windows, no matter what the weather, were 
always closed. We wondered, when summer came, why Miss 
Craigie did not fling them wide, as we all did; but that was 
only one of her eccentricities. Under the shingled roof 
dipping here and rising there, until it resembled an angry 
eyebrow Miss Craigie remained aloof all day and all 
evening; and she allowed the grass and the weeds to grow so 
that what may once have been a lawn was now nothing but a 
mass of coarse tumbled green. There was a side porch, screened 
in during the summer months, upon which, once in a great 
while, we caught fleeting glimpses of Miss Craigie's slender, 

[314] 



MISS CRAIGIE [315] 

bent form; but for the most part she was invisible. Of course 
the itinerant vegetable man and the butcher occasionally saw 
her and spoke with her; but even these she addressed through 
the protecting screen of her back door. 

No one knew how old she might be; but it was a matter of 
village history that she had lived alone in this house for upward 
of fifty years, and she was a grown woman when she came to 
Winthrop. She had bought the place, with its three acres, of 
Selectman Collins, and paid cash for it as she paid cash for 
everything. All that she seemed to need came in a van from 
over Dorset way. The doors were opened to receive Miss 
Craigie and her meagre belongings, and then forever closed, 
as if they were entrances to a tomb. She was literally swallowed 
up, and it is small wonder that legends grew and spread; 
that it was whispered of her that she had been jilted in Dorset 
literally at the altar, some imaginative chatterboxes said 
and that she had determined to live the life of a recluse for the 
rest of her days. 

She had grown white with the years, and we wondered 
what she did with herself during the long, slow days as long 
and slow, when one is thus alone, as the intervals which those 
in prison know. Did she read, did she sew, or did she merely 
sit and ponder on what might have been? There was no way of 
finding out; for after all, if one is civilized one does not intrude 
on a neighbor's selected privacy. If Miss Craigie preferred to 
be by herself, that was none of our concern. Only faint rumors 
came to us now and then, as when, for instance, she was taken 
ill once, and old Mrs. Taylor, her nearest neighbor and a 
widow, was called in to nurse her (she would not have a 
doctor, for doctors were men, and men were Miss Craigie' s 
abomination) . 

It was Mrs. Taylor who told us that the mysterious old lady 
had her own herbs and simples which she steeped and stirred 
in a great earthen pot, and in the benefits of which she had the 
greatest faith. She likewise spread the story of how neat was 
the interior of the tiny house; how one room had waxed 
hardwood floors, and over the mantel hung a portrait of Miss 



[ 316 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Craigie when she was a young girl. Ah, she must have been 
beautiful in those sadly distant days; and some of us let our 
imaginations run riot, and thought of her as now, in her old 
age, spending most of her time gazing at the semblance of her 
youthful self. But we had no means of knowing. It was 
merely human to conjure up the picture, and as we spoke of 
such a scene, we smiled. 

As soon as Miss Craigie recovered, she dismissed Mrs. Tay 
lor. She wished no contacts with anyone, it seemed; but we 
gathered that she spoke softly, with a cultured voice, and that 
she had one constant fear the tramps who wandered 
through the countryside in those days. 

One evening, a few years after her illness, she saw two 
rough looking fellows prowling down the road, and disappear 
into the woods that bordered her property, and when the 
milkman came the next morning, she begged him to summon 
Mrs. Taylor. She was frightened by these men, and in a 
whisper said so; and she urged Mrs. Taylor to spend the next 
night with her. Mrs. Taylor, who was herself growing old, 
laughed, and asked what sort of protection she could offer. 
She sought to explain that the tramps were probably harmless, 
and would do Miss Craigie no harm. And then it was learned 
that Miss Craigie, who never went to the village bank, yet 
who always seemed to be in funds, kept all that she possessed, 
in cash. Thus, after many years, one of her secrets was out. 

It was but human for Mrs. Taylor to reveal what she had 
discovered. She told how she had admonished her to let the 
bank take care of those greenbacks, and how almost wrathful 
Miss Craigie had become. "No, no!" she had cried out. "For 
then I should have to see a man whenever I went to draw 
some money, and that I could never bear." And there was Mrs. 
Taylor, in her own loneliness, wishing every day of her life 
that her husband had not died. Oh, the world was strangely 
balanced, when one lonesome penniless woman prayed for 
masculine protection, and another with plenty despised the 
sex, and hugged to her heart the ducats that she might so 
much better have shared. 



MISS CRAIGIE [317] 

If only Mrs. Taylor, in her innocence, had not told what 
she had so accidentally found out ! For we all know how idle 
gossip grows, expands, reaches out, gathering importance as it 
moves, having a bit added here, a grain put on there. From 
Winthrop to Dorset the tidings went that Miss Craigie was a 
miser, with thousands of dollars tucked away in that little 
house; and it was even rumored that there were priceless 
jewels in dark places, old silken gowns in secret cupboards, and 
rare china in the cellar and the attic. 

And then, one stormy night, Mrs. Taylor was awakened by 
a sound which seemed to come from the direction of Miss 
Graigie's house. At first she thought it was only a dream; but 
when she was thoroughly awake, she was sure she heard the 
sound again a shrill call that echoed down the lonely road. 
Then the rain descended in buckets, the sky was torn by 
lightning, and the thunder rolled ominously through our hills. 
Somehow Mrs. Taylor fell asleep, but at the first touch of 
dawn, still remembering what she had heard, she tore down 
to Miss Craigie's, and it was not long before the whole village 
received the dreadful news. 

For Miss Graigie had been murdered in her bed, and axes 
had been used to break the walls; the drawers of every bureau 
had been ransacked by fiendish hands, the doors and windows 
so long closed had been left wide open, the storm had poured 
in on the hardwood floor, and the pitiful furnishings had been 
drenched and ruined. And upstairs Miss Craigie lay in mute 
and awful dignity, her nightdress torn, her poor old body 
bearing evidence of the brave struggle she must have put up. 

It was Mrs. Taylor who went to the kitchen, lifted the 
board beneath the sink, and found the money, undiscovered 
by the thieves and murderers, intact in its newspaper wrap 
pings. It was all that Miss Graigie had had to see her through 
to the end of her days not, as we were soon to find out, the 
many thousands it had, in imagination, come to be, but only a 
pitiful four hundred and eighty-one dollars and fifty-seven 
cents ! 



Emancipating the Novel 

LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 

HPHAT this present period is one of broken barriers and 
-* overturned walls is a truism which applies in its fullest 
extent to the English- American novel. Yet if you talk of the 
new freedom of fiction, most people immediately conclude 
that you are referring exclusively to the liberty accorded the 
modern writer in dealing with questions of sex. The immensity 
of the change which has occurred, not only since those days 
when Thackeray prefaced "Pendennis" with an apology for his 
temerity in venturing to present a young man "resisting and 
affected by temptation," but even since the early years of the 
present century is so obvious it overshadows all others. Every 
one of us is aware that the publisher who brought out David 
Graham Phillips' story of "Susan Lennox: Her Fall and Rise" 
needed greater courage than was required of those who issued 
"Sanctuary," or "The Well of Loneliness." 

It is true that this change menaced extreme consequences. 
For a while, the novel was sex-ridden. Every author who 
wanted to be thought modern felt compelled to deprive his 
heroine of her virtue at the earliest possible moment, accepting 
the temporarily established convention that no woman could 
be both chaste and charming; as for the leading male char 
acter, he was regarded as pathetically inhibited if he indulged 
merely in promiscuity and not in perversions. For some years, 
amorality threatened to enslave fiction as completely as ever 
morality had done, but presently a quiet rebellion began, a 
rebellion not of moralists but of sophisticates. With familiarity, 
what had once been pleasantly fresh and shocking became un 
pleasantly stale and wearisome; not indignation but boredom 
freed the novel from its comparatively brief bondage to sexual 
preoccupations and aberrations, precisely as it had already 
freed it from a much longer lasting convention, one which 
faded out of existence so peacefully that its demise attracted 
scarcely any attention. 

[318] 



EMANCIPATING THE NOVEL [319] 

Yet in its heyday, that convention had been all-powerful, 
controlling even the greatest. For it was the young love interest 
which from the "Tom Jones" period onward was regarded not 
only as an essential, but as the one indispensable factor in 
every English- American novel. Many of them could be, and 
were, written about it; none were written without it. How Sir 
Walter Scott writhed under its exactions you can tell from his 
whole-hearted dislike for most of his heroes, not to mention 
several of his heroines; those young women he really cared 
about he rarely permitted to take part in that "happy ending," 
then synonymous with matrimony. Dickens obviously found 
his young lovers an almost unmitigated nuisance, while in 
"Vanity Fair" Thackeray was brave enough to repudiate them 
altogether. 

Lesser men like Trollope or William Dean Howells some 
times found the love story a useful framework for a picture of 
contemporary manners, while the incomparable Jane Austen 
used it as a central observation point for her extraordinarily 
minute and exact character study; but in general, the bigger 
the author, the greater the pest his young lovers were to him. 
Yet such a strangle-hold did those young lovers have on fic 
tion, that even Balzac wrote a preface justifying his choice of a 
"Femme de Trente Ans" for a heroine, and the almost in 
variable climax of any successful novel was the arrival at the 
altar of one or more frequently mismated couples. 

Young love, and young love only, was regarded as romantic; 
and romance was what women, always in the majority among 
fiction readers, insistently demanded so long as their own 
interests and opportunities were narrowly circumscribed. As 
these widened, their fictional requirements widened with 
them, especially those of the more intelligent, until to-day the 
"sweet story" is put in a class by itself, as special sustenance for 
the mentally infantile or mentally decrepit. These being 
numerous, it frequently sells very well. 

Moreover, the love story necessarily lost much of its im 
portance when marriage ceased to imply life sentence, and an 
unhappy love-affair the wreck of at least a greater part of its 



[ 320 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

victim's existence; while the disappearance of parental 
authority, and the more casual treatment accorded not only 
engagements but even matrimony itself, robbed it at about the 
same time of much of its adventurous quality. When to all 
this was added the cult of frankness, it became more and more 
difficult for an author to keep his young lovers apart through 
out the requisite number of chapters. Parental disapproval, 
lovers' quarrels, previous engagements, ill-advised marriages, 
no longer provided ready-made obstacles with which to pre 
vent the course of true love from running with undramatic 
smoothness. 

Economic difficulties of course remained, and others might 
occasionally be found, while the novelist of course always has 
it in his power to return to the days of family discipline and 
family feuds, so that, despite change of emphasis, neither 
romantic love nor that supposedly more realistic variety sup 
plied by the so-called sex novel has entirely disappeared, or is 
likely to disappear, from our fiction. What really matters, is 
that neither shackles it any longer. The novelist of to-day may 
ignore either or both if he chooses, and often does. Only in the 
last chapter of Thomas Wolfe's "Of Time and The River," 
that extraordinary novel which so strongly resembles a 
flood of molten lava pouring forth from a volcano, does 
romantic love appear on its hero's horizon. 

This emancipation from the once unescapable love interest 
has not merely permitted but impelled the modern novel to go 
further afield socially, historically, and especially pathologi 
cally than it has done in a very long time, if ever before. It is 
not only in sex questions that the novel has not so much 
developed as revived an old courage. The tales of ancient 
Egypt, like the dramas of ancient Greece, frankly regarded 
crime, not as a rare phenomenon wrought by persons outside 
the pale of ordinary humanity, but as a part of more or less 
everyday life. The novelist of to-day accepts and portrays the 
fact that horrible things are sometimes done to, and by, 
people whom if we met them we would regard as fairly aver 
age. William Faulkner's "Light In August," Louis Bromfield's 



EMANCIPA TING THE NO VEL [321] 

"24 Hours," Sarah Gertrude Millen's "Three Men Die" and 
many others have brought into the domain of serious fiction 
matters once relegated to the dime novel. 

And why not? Is there any one of us who has not at one time 
or another come into contact with attempted, if not with 
achieved, murder precisely as we have come into contact with 
nymphomaniacs, dipsomaniacs and other pathological types? 
With the new interest in abnormal psychology now so evident, 
all these have been recognized as provinces into which the 
novelist may journey if he will, his freedom to do so being 
partly a result of the new honesty in facing the abnormal and 
repellent, and partly due to the keener curiosity regarding our 
fellow mortals which sprang out of the World War. 

Length, form and style claim the same liberty as subject. 
There was a time when somehow, someway, every novel must 
be padded to the required three volume length; readers of 
Gissing's "New Grub Street" will realize what hardships this 
implied for many an author. Later came the demand for the 
single volume of from seventy-five to a hundred thousand 
words; more or less almost destroyed a novel's selling quality. 
Today, we have successful novels as short as "Good-Bye, Mr. 
Chips," and as long as "Anthony Adverse." Not only may the 
present-day writer choose what subject he pleases; he can 
write about it at what length he pleases, and in the way he 
pleases. 

For a while, the stream-of-consciousness method was 
proclaimed the only one possible for the really modern writer; 
Anglo-Saxon literature had but one true prophet, and his 
name was James Joyce. Now the excitement has died away, 
the stream-of-consciousness remaining as one method among 
many. 

The twenty-four hours convention, confining the action of a 
novel within that period, was another once threatening restric 
tion. It too has now subsided into its proper place as one of a 
group, and with it has gone that Ernest Hemingway style of 
short, sharp sentences which for a while held injurious sway. 
All these and many others have had their brief day of dictator- 



[ 322 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ship and subsided into the ranks, leaving the observer to 
realize the truth of Kipling's dictum: 

"There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays, 
"And every single one of them is right." 

Right, that is, so long as it is the way which accords, not with 
some literary fashion of the moment, but with the require 
ments of the particular novel and its characters as their creator 
sees them. 

The much denounced World War accomplished at least 
one good thing: it gave us a new, if at times painful interest in 
nations other than our own. One result of this has been a flood 
of translations, while that quickened interest in our national 
beginnings, which is largely the result of a half-conscious ef 
fort to escape from the uncertain present, and which has re 
sulted in the appearance of so much biography and so many 
historical novels, speedily and almost inevitably broadened to 
include those of other countries. We have reluctantly learned 
that nations, like individuals, do not and cannot exist of and 
by themselves alone, that to read only our American records is 
like listening to one character in a play while ignoring all the 
others. 

This interest has resulted in a new liberty for the once de 
spised historical novel. Degraded into a twin sister of the cloak 
and sword melodrama, it had become simply an adventure 
story, heavily sweetened with young love; the period was 
merely a background whose accuracy of presentation mat 
tered little. The new interest in the past has set it free to study 
seriously the ideas and manners of another and an earlier day. 
It is the truthfulness and vividness with which these are por 
trayed that is the matter of primary importance in such 
modern historical novels as "Kristin Lavransdotter," "Mary 
Peters," or "So Red The Rose." The change is both valuable 
and notable one intensified and to some degree brought 
about by the situation wherein we now find ourselves. 

For we who are living to-day are living in a period not un 
like that of Tudor England. The conditions are in many ways 



EMANCIPA TING THE NO VEL [ 323 ] 

the same in kind, though on an infinitely larger scale. Then the 
Renaissance had awakened men to the splendor, and also to 
the long duration, of a past all but forgotten; the archaeolo 
gists are doing the self-same service for us. But the time dura 
tion has enormously increased, so that that very past which 
seemed so ancient to them, has to us become a thing of yester 
day. Their old world was the world of Greece and Rome; 
ours is that of Egypt and Sumeria, hoary with age before ever 
Rome was born. The new world of Christopher Columbus' dis 
covering quickened the imagination of the fifteenth and six 
teenth centuries; ours is stirred by the conquest of a new realm, 
the air, while radio and wireless have annihilated distance, 
and the physicists have transformed our conceptions of the 
universe. To them, the flat earth had become round; to us, the 
eternal hills have ceased to seem eternal, the solid earth is no 
longer solid. New thoughts, new ideas, besiege us on every 
side. Old conceptions are being destroyed, or so transformed 
as to be almost unrecognizable. Even so, although to a much 
lesser degree, was it in the days of the Eighth Henry. 

These changes have come too quickly for us to grasp, as yet, 
even a fraction of their implications. Physically, we have 
adapted ourselves to a changed world with amazing rapidity 
and ease; mentally, we are still bewildered and disorganized. 
Our imaginations are still recoiling from the new conditions, 
or else clutching at them avidly; we have as yet scarcely at 
tempted to arrange and coordinate and assimilate them into 
our being. And until that assimilation has been accomplished 
the creative imagination can not have full and easy play. We 
are not yet at home in this new world which has so suddenly 
come into being. 

Fiction has so far shown no adequate response to the gigantic 
changes which are taking place before our astonished eyes; 
and for this our modern novelists have been much blamed, I 
think unjustly. They might almost as well be expected to 
model molten lava, and it is a sure instinct which has turned 
so many of them back to that past whose substance has taken 
on shape and solidity, so that it may be analyzed and ap- 



[ 324 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

praised. Apart from all other reasons, it is to a very great 
extent because it does reflect in its very nebulousness, its 
lack of cohesion and restraint, its sense of an immense power 
unleashed and running wild so much of the very spirit of 
our modern time, that Thomas Wolfe's novel has met with such 
swift acclaim. 

For all its deficiencies, much of the work recently done is of 
the utmost importance, not so much on its own account as in 
the preparation it has made, and is making, for that which is 
to come. Not Shakespeare, but his predecessors freed the stage 
from its hampering connection with the Church, sweeping 
aside any number of restrictions and conventions. And it may 
be that those writers who have won, for the novel, freedom 
such as it never had before, are preparing the way for a new 
and glorious literature. If our period resembles that of Henry 
Eighth, so may the one to come bring splendors like those of the 
Elizabethan Age. Present-day authors are perhaps important 
principally as forerunners openers of roads for those whose 
sun has not yet risen. 

Old-time restrictions on subject and method, length and 
period and treatment, have lost their authority; while new 
ones, which attempted to assume it, have been quietly rele 
gated to their proper places. Every phase of life, every period 
of history, every type of mentality yields itself as material for 
the fictionist. The emancipation of the novel is complete. We 
await those writers of greater power and finer skill, more vivid 
imagination, deeper sympathy, keener intelligence and larger, 
clearer vision, who in days to come will make full use of all 
that the new universe and the new liberty have to offer. 



"Good Neighbor" and Cuba 

PAUL VANORDEN SHAW 

T TANGING in the balance are important American inter- 
-*--! ests in the Latin American world. Competition from 
Europe and Asia, symbolized in races against time by zeppe- 
lins, airplanes, and steamships from all the industrial nations 
of the world, has led the statesmen and the business men of the 
United States to eliminate one point of advantage which our 
competitors enjoyed or sought to capitalize our real or 
alleged imperialism in the Caribbean. Republican and Demo 
cratic administrations alike have recognized the need for 
braking the course of empire. Notable success has attended 
their efforts. But in Cuba, the commonly accepted testing 
ground in Latin America of the United States' sincerity, the 
"good neighbor" policy has failed. This failure jeopardizes 
the rest of our program and may annul the substantial gains 
already achieved. 

Cuba is more to the United States than a sugar-bowl. As a 
source of sweetness for the American's coffee cup, for his candy 
and cakes, for his ice-cream and desserts, Cuba is of sufficient 
importance to claim his peculiar interest, because the "Pearl 
of the Antilles" supplies by far the greatest proportion of this 
energy and flavor-giving commodity which is consumed in 
the United States. Even for purely military reasons it would 
be disastrous to be cut off from this island and its indispensable 
product. Those who recall the rationing of sugar in war times 
will remember the importance of this foodstuff in American 
war-time economy. 

But when Cuba is prosperous, her demand for American 
products puts her well at the top of the foreign purchasers of 
American agricultural and manufactured goods. In spite of 
her small size and her relatively limited population of four 
million souls, less than the total population of the city of New 
York, Cuba bought more farm implements after the World 
War than did France, then in the midst of her reconstruction 

[325] 



[ 326 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

activities, and ranked fourth or fifth in the list of foreign im 
porters buying in one year more than $200,000,000 worth 
of American farm and factory products. These facts alone make 
the fate of Cuba of tremendous significance to every American. 
Each of them uses some portion of Cuba's sugar, and each 
profits in some small measure when American trade to her 
ports is swollen. 

Though Cuba has ceased to be the prohibition-time Mecca 
of thirst-driven American tourists, her tropical climate and 
proximity still serve as a magnet to travelers interested in 
foreign nations not too expensively away, and which still 
provide many of those elements of amusement, which, for lack 
of a better name, can be called "continental" in character and 
flavor. Her racing tracks, her gambling resorts, her houses of 
gaiety and centers of night life still exert a lure which will last 
as long as they retain their peculiar or lurid nature. Sloppy 
Joe's cocktail emporium has become an institution with con 
tinental and international fame. And as long as one can buy in 
Havana articles for twice or three times their value, even 
though made in Hoboken, American travelers will seek Cuba's 
multi-colored markets and her Latin attractions. 

Cuba is the guardian of the approaches to one of our most 
expensive and most cherished possessions in the Caribbean - 
the Panama Canal around which much of our diplomacy 
has centered for more than four decades, and, in anticipation, 
for many more decades prior to its actual projection and execu 
tion. This strategic importance of Cuba to the United States, 
real or alleged, has figured greatly in naval conferences on our 
national defenses, and has led to the establishment of naval 
bases on the island. Many episodes in our diplomatic history 
have veered around Cuba. Slavery, strategy and plain political 
advantage have caused the island to become a storm center of 
intrigue. Fear that other nations might obtain her and thus 
jeopardize our own safety has led to fantastic schemes of an 
nexation which fortunately have failed to materialize. 

Nevertheless Cuba was the innocent spark which set us off 
into the imperialist game. The Spanish- American War (which 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 327 ] 

Wisan has proved conclusively was brought on as much to 
increase the lagging circulation of a chain of newspapers, as to 
defend American interests and to promote the welfare of 
Cuba) gave rise to a whole series of events which have had 
repercussions in other parts of the Caribbean world, and 
which today are ghosts rising up to smite our commercial and , 
diplomatic interests in all Latin America. 

For one thing, a process already begun took on renewed 
vigor under the Platt Amendment. Americans poured them 
selves and their gold in a veritable torrent into the sugar 
plantations of Cuba. Then Cuba became the tender object of 
banking and diplomatic interest. Interventions and marines, 
interference and advice flowed freely from Washington to 
Havana, until a generation of Cubans discovered that all was 
lost and that their land had been sold to foreigners. 

Once definitely in the Caribbean, however, the course of 
empire swept in a circle. Panama, Haiti, Santo Domingo, 
Puerto Rico, Honduras, Nicaragua received the solicitous 
ministrations of the American State and the harder and less 
tender touch of khaki-clad leathernecks. Cuba itself received 
repeated evidences of our solicitude. On three occasions we 
took over her government and showed her by actual demon 
stration how to do it. Both Republican and Democratic ad 
ministrations pursued strikingly similar policies in the Carib 
bean world. This proves nothing more than that the whole 
enterprise was perhaps a fair indication of the prevailing spirit 
in the American nation as a whole. Both parties espoused this 
form of cultural, commercial and financial expansion. 

But this procedure had its costs as well as its advantages. The 
cry of imperialism rose round the Latin American world. 
Learned essays and emotional volumes from Latin American 
pens described in no uncertain terms the "colossus of the 
north" as the "Yankee peril." Unions against the United 
States were preached by Latin Americans; and our European 
competitors denounced us while proclaiming their own virtues. 
To some extent the latter were justified. Great Britain, whose 
economic investments in Latin America date back to the 



[ 328 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

iSso's, never made political control one of the conditions of 
her loans. She may have exercised political influence but she 
never used marines, Platt Amendments, nor annexation to 
doit. 

Distance from Latin America and the prestige of the United 
States in the New World are perhaps just as much responsible 
for these European qualities as any nobility of purpose in the 
Europeans themselves. For needs of propaganda, however, 
these of-necessity virtues stood our competitors in good stead. 
Whatever the Latin Americans might say, they could never 
accuse the British or any other of our competitors of having 
landed marines to teach "backward" Latin Americans the 
arts and sciences of self-government. 

The word "backward" recalls a factor which has proved 
influential in forming the torrential stream of protest which 
flowed through Latin America. Whether they deserved it or 
not, the Latin Americans were incensed at the excuse which 
we offered for strafing them. We called them "backward," 
"lapsers into barbarism," "comic opera rebels," "unstable 
mestizos" and "undisciplined peoples" to whom common sense 
was unknown. We pointed to their revolutions, to their dic 
tatorships and to their frequent constitutional changes, as 
evidence that they needed something, and something which 
we could give them better than anyone else. And if we could 
turn a pretty penny while we did it, why not? 

There seemed to be no good answer, so we pitched in to 
deliver those lessons in self-government. Naively we thought 
that no one perceived that what we meant by self-government 
was the maintenance of governments friendly to American 
investments and commerce, and strong enough to preserve 
those orderly conditions so necessary to the kind of economic 
activity to which we were accustomed, and which was being 
carried on by those whom we had gone there to protect. 

Obsessed by our own history and by certain preconceptions 
as to its course, no one vouchsafed any study of the causes of 
those political disturbances to see whether there were valid 
underlying conditions to justify them. Nor did we notice how 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 329 ] 

our activity was swelling the discontent, the suspicion and the 
hatred of us in other parts of the Latin American world where 
our economic and commercial interests had vastly increased 
after the World War. Nor did we stop to study whether the in 
stitutions implanted by our marines were suited to its new 
soil. All that we noted was the ungracious ingratitude of those 
whom we were "sacrificing" ourselves to befriend. 

But finally it dawned upon someone somewhere, somehow, 
that the thing didn't work. We began to lose trade or were 
threatened with its loss. We found ourselves competing unsuc 
cessfully with Germans, Britishers, Italians, French and 
Japanese. We found our salesmen not too well received. Finally 
complaints were voiced, embarrassingly enough, in those fests 
of brotherly Pan-American love, the Pan-American confer 
ences. It became so apparent that Pan- Americanism was be 
coming more and more a farce that wise ones in Washington 
and Wall Street decided to probe deeper than ever before for 
causes. They found that our real or alleged imperialism was 
the true cause of our commercial and financial troubles, and 
that something drastic must be done to eliminate even its 
memory. Washington reversed the machinery of empire and 
the American business man resorted to "culture-teering." 

The latter who had called attention to palpable gaps in 
Latin American culture as a means of advertising the devices 
he had to offset those faults, as well as to justify U. S. mari- 
nocracy, now began to praise the spiritual and intellectual 
culture of Latin America, though he still thought that eco 
nomically and industrially we could be of service to the Latin 
American world. The business man prevailed on the State 
Department to hasten the withdrawal of marines, and to 
end all those practices which spoke louder than our preach 
ments or our honeyed words of Pan- Americanism. 

In 1928, President-elect Hoover made a pre-inaugural tour 
of Latin America. This was preceded by good-will tours to 
Mexico and Central America by our "Princes of Wales," Lind 
bergh and Will Rogers, much of this to offset events such as 
the very disagreeable occurrences at Havana where, at the 



[ 330 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Sixth Pan-American Conference, President Coolidge and 
Secretary Hughes and the other American delegates were 
rather embarrassed by the withdrawal of the Argentine dele 
gation which seemed to believe that the marching feet of 
marines in Nicaragua spoke more loudly as to our true Pan- 
American feeling than the honeyed phrases which they listened 
to at the conference. This action of the Argentine delega 
tion, though looked upon at the time as an emotional display, 
may have been the turning point in American Caribbean 
policy. 

Though President Hoover made haste slowly, he had the 
honor of seeing the last marine withdrawn from Nicaragua 
before he finished his otherwise disastrous term. On his heels 
came President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull with their 
policies and practices. The former provided the ideology which 
presumably was to characterize his foreign policy; the latter 
illustrated it in Montevideo at the Seventh Pan-American 
Conference. The contrast between this and the former at 
Havana could not have been more marked. By it all the Latin 
Americans were impressed. But their conversion was slow. 
Often disappointed because our gestures did not fit our words, 
they waited until the Pan-American Conference to see if this 
acid test could be passed. Our nation had always dominated 
the Pan-American Conferences while at the same time breath 
ing sentiments of equality and brotherhood. Mr. Hull did not 
fail at Montevideo. 

One by one the sore spots in the Caribbean were cleaned up. 
The marines were removed from Haiti ahead of the time pro 
vided. Treaty revisions were projected and made. Trade 
agreements were signed. Mr. Roosevelt visited Caribbean 
nations on his way to Hawaii, and pronounced in Cartagena, 
Colombia, his policy of "live and let live." All seemed well and 
an all-American system loomed closer than ever before, a sys 
tem in which all parties would profit by the partnerships 
promised in it. 

Parallelling all these movements of the Roosevelt adminis 
tration was a Cuban policy intended to arrive at the same goal. 



'GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 331 ] 

As a termination to this long introduction on our policy in 
Cuba must be set down the last reason why Cuba is of more 
importance to the United States than being its sugarbowl. 
Cuba is the acid test of the genuineness of American policy 
towards Latin America. If we fail in Cuba, we fail in the whole 
Latin American world. The work of President Hoover and 
that of Secretary Hull will go for naught. Thus far we have 
failed. 

Cuba is the acid test of American change of heart towards 
Latin America for reasons that are obvious, and for many 
more which are known only to those who follow Latin Ameri 
can opinion of the United States. Among the reasons most 
patent are those associated with Cuba's size, proximity and 
importance to the United States. It is more or less logically 
assumed that any change from an imperialist temper must be 
immediately registered in the nearest "sovereign" nation which 
has suffered our interposition. Because Cuba is weak, as com 
pared with the United States, she offers the fullest opportunity 
for the expression of any true philanthropic or selfishly en 
lightened motives we may have come to possess. 

Principally, however, Cuba occupies this important role in 
the eyes of the Latin Americans. They believe that we be 
trayed Cuba when we fought for her freedom and then bound 
her hand and foot by the Platt Amendment. This constituted 
in the Latin American world a signal that our imperialism was 
now frank and open. We really had fought, so they asserted, 
not to free Cuba from Spain, but to free her from her European 
bonds so as to ensnare her in our own. "Abolish the Platt 
Amendment" became the war cry of the anti-imperialists in 
Latin America. 

The amendment, in short, enjoyed the same ill-favor 
as our marines in Haiti and Nicaragua, our "stealing" of the 
Panama Canal, and other evidences of an attitude and tech 
nique which the sensitive Latin Americans came to despise. 
Even in the remote parts of South America our Cuban policy 
had Uts effect in swelling the stream of anti-Americanism and 
augmenting the trade of others. 



[ 332 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

TA7HEN Gerardo Machado caused himself to be reflected 
* * in 1928, thus breaking his promises not to seek reelection, 
and then set about to govern Cuba with a hand of iron 
supported, it is alleged in Cuba, with American funds and 
sympathy there began to grow in Cuba a feeling that a new 
deal in that nation was absolutely necessary. 

A canvas of the means to dispossess the "beast," as he was 
called, resulted in bringing to light a situation which many 
Cubans, mainly the younger ones, had not been fully aware of. 
Stated starkly and frankly it was this: The aliens in Cuba were 
not the Spaniards, Orientals and Americans, but had come 
to be the Cubans themselves. That is, the Cubans for many 
reasons which need not be recapitulated here, had signed 
away their birthright to foreigners who, under the protection 
offered by the Platt Amendment, found it extremely conven 
ient to buy, sometimes at exorbitant prices, Cuban sugar 
plantations and real estate, and to make other investments. 

The Cuban himself became a secondary parasite on pri 
mary parasites who waxed fat on land which once belonged 
to him. He either lived off the scraps which fell his way when 
the dance of the millions that golden era of high sugar prices 
was on, or off the stocks and bonds he had received when 
he sold out, or upon his salary as agent, lawyer, superintend 
ent, or representative of some foreign entrepreneur. In any 
case he had no control over, contact with, or commerce arising 
out of the economic wealth of his own land. Among other re 
sults, this state of affairs precluded the formation of strong 
Cuban groups bound together by economic ties. Cuba became 
a nation of individualists, each with a foreign interest to serve 
and upon which he had to rely. 

Taking advantage of this situation, Machado, who had few 
scruples and knew that politics was an industry one of the 
few left in the island in which Cubans could find outlets for 
their energies sought by every means fair or foul to keep 
himself and his coterie in power. He used the army, the porra 
(gangsters who had a price), foreign loans, and other devices 
to eliminate his opponents and to keep his pockets lined with 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 333 ] 

loyalty-producing gold. His technique was barbarous. Men 
and boys were killed, exiled, jailed, castrated and mutilated. 
Schools and labor unions were closed or dissolved. 

Much of the hatred heaped on Machado's head was caused 
by the alleged support which he received from the American 
State Department, for his backing by American banks and for 
the Platt Amendment which, theoretically, precluded a suc 
cessful revolution against him. In this way he became a symbol 
not only of his own villainy but of an immoral imperialism 
which backed him. 

Finally unable to stand the gaff any longer, a group of 
students and young professional men organized a secret so 
ciety, the ABC, which has become well known in the course of 
time. In 1931, these embattled, enthusiastic and idealistic 
youths of Cuba, who had drawn up a most complete program 
for the "renovation" of the island, staged a revolt which was 
put down by the most uncivilized means at the disposal of 
Machado and his large well-trained and well-equipped army. 
Though defeated, the assassination and cruel treatment 
of many well-born youths of the island crystallized the 
opposition. 

President Hoover decided to keep hands off, though he was 
opportuned by two groups in which were found both Cubans 
and Americans. Those who favored Machado wanted the 
policy of hands-off. The others wanted a last intervention to 
end intervention. They felt that if the State Department ex 
pressed its disapproval of Machado's methods, this might 
serve as a signal to the Cubans that they were free to do as they 
pleased with their president. Mr. Hoover, perhaps wisely, 
decided on the course of non-intervention. His Ambassador, 
Mr. Harry Guggenheim, was bitterly criticized by liberals in 
the United States, and by the anti-Americans in Cuba and 
elsewhere, for his policy of dolce Jar niente, and for permitting 
under his very nose activity which the Platt Amendment then 
gave this country the right to recognize and end. We had 
pledged ourselves to maintain in Cuba a government which 
should provide peace, order and happiness. 



[ 334 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

When the Roosevelt administration came into power in 
March 1933 it inherited, among other grave problems, the 
Cuban question. The state of affairs at that moment must be 
briefly described. Machado, ever increasing his dictatorial 
power, was harassing his opponents in every conceivable way, 
while at the same time spending prodigally of American funds 
on some public works which today are objective reminders 
that he did not pocket all of the graft himself. Beneath the 
surface, the Cuban volcano was seething, and as soon as 
the policy of the "good neighbor" was announced the Cubans 
saw a ray of hope. Conditions as they were could not long 
exist under the promises made by Mr. Roosevelt. 

In the State Department were two gentlemen who were to 
play a fateful role in the tragedy which ensued. Mr. Sumner 
Welles, suave, aristocratic gentleman from Maryland, an 
authority on Caribbean affairs, an experienced diplomat of 
the old school and the author of a two volume work on Santo 
Domingo, was made Assistant Secretary of State in charge of 
Latin American affairs. He had served in Caribbean countries 
and in the State Department, and, though in 1924 he had 
written an article in the Atlantic Monthly which denied that 
the United States ever had been imperialistic, almost from the 
outset he promised a new deal to Latin America, and de 
nounced in no uncertain terms the Platt Amendment as an 
"iniquitous treaty" which should be abrogated. 

Also a diplomat of the old school was Mr. Jefferson Caffery, 
who is now American Ambassador in Cuba. He stayed in the 
State Department when Mr. Welles went to Cuba as Ambas 
sador in April 1933. Both subsequently changed places. When 
Mr. Welles returned to Washington, Mr. Caffery went to 
Havana. Mr. Caffery had been American Minister in Colom 
bia and had risen as a career diplomat in the service. 

In any event the Roosevelt administration decided to assist 
the Cubans in ousting Machado, and Mr. Welles was chosen 
for the ticklish job of intervening without intervention to end 
intervention in Cuban affairs. It appears, however, that he 
went to Cuba with preconceived notions of the underlying 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 335 ] 

causes of the Cuban trouble and with preconceived ideas as to 
the proper solution. 

Both Mr. Welles and Mr. Caffery have apparently acted on 
the assumption that underlying all else in the Cuban situation 
is the economic bankruptcy of the nation, and that once the 
price and demand for Cuban sugar and other products of that 
nation could be admitted under better conditions into the 
United States, and that once the improvement was registered 
in better living conditions among the masses, that the surface 
turmoil would subside especially if certain treaty revisions 
improving the diplomatic relationships between Cuba and the 
United States accompanied the economic measures to be 
taken. Both admitted that there were social and political 
problems but neither would admit that these were so serious 
as not to yield to economic forces. 

Mr. Welles, in spite of the overwhelming evidence in its 
favor, refused then and has resolutely refused since to admit the 
existence of a social revolution in the island. Mr. Caffery has 
admitted its existence, though he has not been willing to fol 
low its implications to their logical conclusion. This is one of 
the main reasons for the failure of Mr. Welles's policies, for the 
disastrous results of Mr. CafTery's practice, and for the un 
happy condition of Cuba today. Succinctly put, their idea 
was to oust Machado, improve the sugar market and abolish 
the Platt Amendment; and presto! the Cuban problem would 
be solved. 

With this underlying idea in mind, Mr. Welles went to 
Cuba in April 1933. He took with him plans for easing the 
inevitable transition period between Machado slavery and 
Plattless independence. He announced then that his funda 
mental purpose was to create a situation where the Cubans 
could "use the muscles of self-reliance," in other words, a 
situation in which they could at last govern themselves in a 
Cuba Libre. 

His plans, though ideal from an academic point of view, 
were inappropriate for a people in revolution, and for a people 
with Latin ideas, customs and psychology. It was his plan to 



[ 336 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

use mediation, conciliation, and constitutional procedures. 
He first would get Machado and his opponents together to 
plan ways for Machado's leaving the island and the presidency. 
A prospect undoubtedly pleasing to the then president! 
Once Machado was out of the way by an ingenious use of 
certain constitutional articles, a provisional government 
should come into power and this should represent all shades of 
Cuban opinion. This was the sort of thing that might have 
been proposed by a conciliatory and friendly diplomat in the 
course of the French Revolution. Mr. Welles's plea was fea 
sible if Mirabeau, Louis XVI, Napoleon, Danton, Robes 
pierre, Louis XVIII, and Talleyrand could have been found 
together in a coalition in the fateful years from 1 789 to 1 81 5 in 
France. 

Then having established this orderly conciliation or concen 
tration government, the administration should not only govern 
the country but should prepare the nation for the election of a 
permanent administration. In the meantime Mr. Welles was 
to hurry back to Washington and from there to do his part in 
regard to sugar and the Platt Amendment. 

But events ran away with him. The Cubans, once they real 
ized that the Roosevelt administration did not treasure 
Machado, began a general strike against him. The army 
finally whispered to him that he had better depart to greener 
pastures. He flew to Nassau on August twelfth, and shortly 
afterwards Carlos Manuel de Cespedes became provisional 
president, with a coalition cabinet and with the promise of 
elections. He was promptly recognized. Mr. Welles became 
the hero of the day. Machado was out. Cuba was free from the 
tyrant and the good neighbor policy was in fine working order. 

But on September 4, through a mutiny in the army, the 
irrepressible and inevitable eruption of the underlying revolu 
tion took place. President de Cespedes was overthrown and 
the left-wing students of the university and others who had not 
fallen in with Mr. Welles's plans for an "American made 
solution," took over the government with the popular pro 
fessor of anatomy, Dr. Ramon Grau San Martin, at their head. 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 337 ] 

He was not recognized. A cordon of twenty-nine American 
battleships soon encircled Cuba, and this man who had had no 
following became a popular hero. He had bucked the Ameri 
can State Department, he had defied its authority and had 
overthrown a government alleged to have been "made in the 
American embassy." . 

Prolonged lack of American recognition, however, ruined 
Grau. Yet his administration, according to Hudson Strode, to 
the eleven American scholars who wrote the Foreign Policy 
Association Report on Cuba, to Carleton Beals, to Ernest 
Gruening, to Hubert Herring and to a host of others, was the 
first "truly Cuban government in Cuban history," the "only 
one which struck at Communism at its roots" not by shoot 
ing at the symptoms of the disease, as have done his successors, 
but by passing decrees which were aimed to improve the lot of 
the masses in Cuba. Whether Grau was forced to do this or not 
is beside the point. He has left a legacy and a memory which 
will never fade. 

Had there been no social revolution before, Grau must 
have created one. The negroes and mulattos of the island, its 
poor and downtrodden families, its students and many others 
caught a vision while he was in power. Many there are who 
claim that, had we supported Grau, the cause of the extreme 
left in Cuba must have withered. Instead, our balking him has 
pushed almost all Cuban groups, save the conservatives and 
other sycophants of foreign capitalistic enterprise, several 
notches to the left and those on the left to become radicali- 
simos. 

Thus the first use of the "muscles of self-reliance" was met 
by a stern and overwhelming rebuff by the American State 
Department. Matters went from bad to worse and when the 
cane-cutting season appeared it was evident that something 
must be done. It is alleged that Mr. Caffery, then Mr. Roose 
velt's personal representative in the island, intimated to 
Colonel Batista, the sergeant who had engineered the uprising 
of September 4, and who was now head of the Cuban army, 
that Grau would never be recognized even though in the 



[ 338 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

meantime he had demonstrated his ability to repress revolution 
by two victories over counter-revolutionaries. But rather than 
buck the steamroller, and perhaps because he had lost the 
support of Batista, he resigned and left the government to 
Carlos Hevia who ruled forty hours and then also resigned. 

January 18, 1934 was an auspicious day for Assistant 
Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, for on that day Colonel 
Carlos Mendieta became the provisional president of Cuba. 
Colonel Mendieta was popular, honest, a liberal-conservative 
of the old school who had fought in the war for freedom and 
who belonged therefore to the "men of '95." He formed a 
coalition cabinet with all parties save the followers of Grau or 
"Autenticos," as they came to call themselves. Carlos Mendieta 
promised to hold elections in December, and stated that he 
would resign if they were not held. And furthermore he 
agreed, apparently, to play ball with the American interests 
in the island. He also promised certain revolutionary reforms 
which were demanded by the ABC as a condition for their 
participation in his administration. 

For his part Mr. Welles, evidently extremely pleased that 
all the conditions which he considered essential for the peace 
ful solution of the Cuban problem were at hand, hastened to 
bolster up Mendieta in every conceivable way. In what many 
have considered unseemly haste, he recognized the Mendieta 
regime after withholding recognition from Grau for four 
months. Then the American government showered boon after 
boon upon Mendieta. The Costigan-Jones bill granted Cuba 
a liberal sugar quota and an increased preferential. Liquors 
from Cuba were admitted under favorable conditions. And on 
May 29 the Platt Amendment was abrogated. Thus one of the 
greatest obstacles to Cuban-American and to inter-American 
friendship was razed at a stroke. 

Exactly one month after we had severed the gordian knot 
which bound Cuba to us, and abolished the amendment 
which gave us the right to intervene in Cuban affairs, we 
showed our partiality to the Mendieta regime by placing an 
embargo on arms to all parties save to the Cuban government. 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 339 ] 

Though this was done in accordance with a previous treaty, 
the time and the occasion for its declaration were significant. 
Then as a last boon to Cuba we signed with her the Trade 
Agreement of August 24. This at first benefited American 
exporters, but has now produced beneficial effects in Cuba 
itself. By these treaty revisions, and with this trade agreement, 
Mr. Welles had done all within his power to provide smooth 
sailing for President Mendieta. 

'VT'ET the history of the Mendieta regime has proven the 
^ fallacy of the reasoning of the State Department. In spite 
of improvement in the economic conditions of Cuba, the 
political and social situation of the island has steadily decayed. 
Today the Cubans find themselves more frustrated and balked 
than under Machado. Directly and indirectly our policy is 
responsible. 

After a brief honeymoon, trouble began; it is unnecessary to 
recite in detail all that has taken place under Mendieta. The 
record can be found in any American newspaper which 
carries Cuban news. More than five hundred people have 
been consulted in preparing this statement of the history 
of the Mendieta regime. Bombings and terrorism increased. 
Constitutional guarantees were suspended, first in Havana 
then in the island as a whole. The coalition cabinet slowly 
disintegrated until Mendieta had no support save that of his 
own party, the army and the American Ambassador. Leaders 
of many parties fled to this country and to Mexico. The elec 
tions have been postponed several times and Mendieta has not 
kept his promise of resigning if they were not held. 

For the first time in Cuban history a military dictatorship, 
though thinly veiled behind a civilian government, slowly but 
surely has come to dominate the island. At Camp Columbia, 
the very astute and able former sergeant and present-day 
Colonel, Fulgencio Batista, holds the destiny of his country in 
his hands. The army has been increased. Its quarters have 
been improved. It receives a third of the national budget for 
its maintenance, more than $20,000,000, while the schools 



[ 340 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

have received less and less support until there are neither 
pencils to write with nor benches for the students to sit on. 

As far as the Mendieta regime is concerned, a peak was 
reached in March 1935. Just after the American State Depart 
ment had unofficially announced that certain critics of its 
policy were wrong in stating that there was almost universal 
opposition to the Mendieta regime, and that actually only 
ten percent of the Cubans disfavored Mendieta and that 
these opponents were disgruntled outs or "social revolution 
aries" practically every student and teacher in the island 
walked out in a strike against conditions in the schools, public 
employees left their jobs, and many labor unions did the same. 
The whole island was tied up and Mendieta began to totter. 

The strike was put down, according to the Havana corre 
spondent of the New York Times, by the use of the most re 
pressive measures ever employed in the history of Cuba. 
Twenty were killed, seven hundred or more were imprisoned, 
and as many more had to flee for their lives. All but the pri 
mary schools were closed; many if not most of the labor unions 
were dissolved; the opposition press was suspended. Innocent 
men were subjected to capital punishment or imprisonment. 

And as the clock went back to times worse than those in the 
days of Machado, expressions of satisfaction and contentment 
emanated both from Washington and the legation in Havana. 
Mr. Welles said, over the radio, that at last the Cubans had 
demonstrated that they could govern themselves, and Mr. 
Caffery, rubbing his hands in seeming pleasure, announced 
that now all was well in Cuba. It thus seems clear that the de 
nouement in Cuba has pleased Colonel Mendieta, who re 
mains in the palace, Colonel Batista, who is now the poorly 
disguised dictator, and the American diplomats directly 
responsible for our Cuban policy. 

Thus the social revolution in Cuba has been frustrated. 
The moral support of the American State Department is in no 
small part responsible. This can have only one result as far as 
the United States is concerned. An ti- Americanism must grow 
in Cuba. How this will affect more than a billion dollars of 



"GOOD NEIGHBOR" AND CUBA [ 341 ] 

American money invested in the island, only time will tell. 
And as the true state of affairs becomes known in the other 
nations of Latin America, there may re-appear another wave of 
an ti- Americanism there; and this, judging from past experience, 
must affect our trade adversely. The finely spun schemes for an 
American system which might allow the nations of the New 
World to ignore war in Europe and the Far East are threatened 
with disruption. For, as Mr. Sumner Welles himself has said, 
the ultimate security of the United States depends on the loyal 
friendship of her neighbors in the New World. 



A Little Girl's Mark Twain 

DOROTHY QUICK 

A LITTLE girl walked round and round the deck of an 
**- ocean liner. On the starboard side she fairly flew along, 
but when she turned the corner and came to the port side of 
the vessel, she walked slowly and her feet dragged, her eyes lost 
in admiration of a man who stood at the rail, talking to another 
man. Both of them were staring out towards the far horizon 
line, and didn't see the little girl, whose gaze was riveted on 
the older of the two, the one with a great shock of snowy white 
hair and a keen, kindly observant face. He was Mark Twain. 

I can still remember the thrill I had when, after walking 
past him five or six times, he suddenly turned, held out his 
hand and said in a slow, drawly voice, "Aren't you going to 
speak to me, Little Girl?" His companion faded away into 
space, as far as I was concerned, when I took his place. In a 
few seconds I was at the rail, standing beside the Mark Twain 
whom only yesterday I had seen walking down the platform 
of a London station surrounded by literally hundreds of ad 
mirers. He hadn't seen me hanging half out of the compart 
ment window to catch a glimpse of him, nor had I at that 
moment dreamed that the next morning I should be standing 
beside him on the deck of a steamer bound for New York 
standing beside him and actually talking to him. 

It was too wonderful; and I shall never forget how proud 
and happy I was. It wasn't very long before he asked me if I 
knew who he was. I replied, "Of course, you're Mark Twain, 
and I've read all your books." This, of course, was, as he said 
about the report of his own death, slightly exaggerated, but in 
the main it was true enough. My grandfather had recited 
Shakespeare and Tom Sawyer to me in my cradle, and had 
read me not only "Tom Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn," but 
"Innocents Abroad" and "A Tramp Abroad," as a preparation 
for the^trip from which I was now returning. 

I don't think Mark Twain, or Mr. Clemens, as I later pre- 

[342] 



A LITTLE GIRL'S MARK TWAIN [ 343 ] 

ferred to call him, quite believed my elaborate statement, 
because he began asking me questions. If I hadn't actually 
read the books, this would soon have proved the fact; however 
as I had not only read them, but they had been read to me, he 
soon found (as he laughingly said) that I knew more about his 
books than he did himself. 

We got along famously and the time slipped by completely 
unnoticed. It wasn't until the luncheon gong sounded that I 
remembered my family with a guilty start. Mr. Clemens said 
he wanted to meet my mother very much. So hand in hand 
we walked along the decks of the S. S. Minnetonka until we 
finally got to the lower deck, where my mother and grand 
parents had ensconced themselves in a sunlit corner. I began 
to explain my long absence, but Mr. Clemens said it would be 
better if I did some introducing instead, so the explanations 
dropped. As I found out later, they weren't necessary. Mother 
had been worried about me and had gone on a searching tour. 
When she had seen how utterly absorbed I was, and in what 
good hands, she had gone contentedly back to the steamer 
chairs to wait until I came. 

Almost before I knew it, Mr. Clemens had arranged to have 
his steamer chair by ours, and I discovered that without 
doubt I had made a new friend. That night, as usual, I wore a 
white sailor suit to dinner. Being only nine, I had my dinner 
very early, so I didn't see Mr. Clemens; but just as I was get 
ting into bed there was a knock on the door and it was my new 
friend clad in one of his famous white suits, come to see me in 
mine ! Someone had told him about my costume. 

Unfortunately, I was attired in pajamas so I could only 
promise, as he especially requested, to wear the white sailor 
suit the next day. Fortunately, I had a large supply of them, 
for he insisted I wear them throughout the rest of the voyage. 
So we both appeared each day in white. Mark Twain's were 
made of white flannel and mine of serge, but everyone assured 
us that we looked very well together. 

The second night out we had an accident. About five o'clock 
in the morning, in a dense fog, a fishing schooner ran into us 



[ 344 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

knocking a huge hole in the side of the boat. The Captain 
ordered all life boats down, and for a few moments there was 
wild confusion. Then it was discovered that the hole was above 
the water line and, as the sea was calm, there was practically 
no danger. The news was circulated about, and the people 
who had rushed up on deck began to return to their cabins. 

Then for a moment the fog lifted and showed the schooner 
which had rammed us, with her bow completely gone. There 
was only time for a glimpse when the fog closed in again. Our 
Captain sent down lifeboats to see if they could pick up any 
one, or be of any assistance to the schooner; but though we 
waited there for several hours there was never another sign of 
the boat or its crew. 

Later, when we returned to New York, all the papers made 
much of the accident, and said Mark Twain put on his Oxford 
gown (he had just had a degree conferred upon him by Oxford 
University) and rushed down to my stateroom and carried me 
up on deck. As a matter of fact, Mr. Clemens and I had both 
slept serenely through the whole affair even the crash. I 
think we were about the only two people on the entire ship 
who had. Mr. Clemens's secretary had reported the incident 
to him after the suspense was over, and Mr. Clemens sent the 
steward down to my cabin to see if I was all right, and to tell me 
not to worry. 

The report went back to him that I was still asleep. The 
next morning he told my mother that my sleeping through the 
affair was a sure sign that I was a genius. As he was one, and 
he'd slept, it naturally followed that I was going to be one as 
I'd done the same thing. 

Mother was afraid the idea of an accident might make me 
nervous (there were people who slept in their clothes the rest 
of the voyage) so I was told nothing about it. But Mother 
neglected to warn Mr. Clemens to keep the secret, so the 
next day, as I took a morning promenade with him, I saw the 
men on pulleys over the side, mending the hole, and in answer 
to my questions Mr. Clemens told me all about the mishap. 
Instead of being frightened, I was rather pleased at the im- 



A LITTLE GIRLS MARK TWAIN [ 345 ] 

portance of having been in an accident; but Mr. Clemens 
laughed and said, "It didn't do you much good to be in it as 
you slept all through it." 

Mr. Clemens became interested in getting up a statement to 
the directors of the Line, completely exonerating the Captain 
of all blame for the accident, and was not only one of the first 
to sign the document but personally saw that everyone else 
did also. 

We were inseparable for the rest of the voyage; he literally 
wouldn't let me out of his sight. If I was late in appearing, he 
would come down to the stateroom to "fetch" me; and when 
ever I played shuffleboard he would have his chair moved 
where he could superintend, and put my coat around my 
shoulders between plays. He was much interested in my skill 
at shuffleboard or "Horse Billiards" as he called it. And even 
though I was eliminated from the Junior Tournament quite 
early in the games, he gave me his book, "Eve's Diary," with 
this inscription: "To Dorothy with the affectionate regards of 
the Author. Prize for good play in Horse Billiards Tournament, 
July 19, 1907." At the same time he called me to his cabin and 
told me to pick out whichever photograph of him I liked best 
from a selection of twenty or so, and when I had made the 
choice he autographed it for me. 

The only time during the day when we were separated was 
at meals, Mr. Clemens, of course, being at the Captain's 
table. But quite often he would leave his table and come 
over to sit with us. Then the Captain would send him over a 
plate of baked potatoes, done in a way of which Mr. Clemens 
was especially fond, declaring that they were better at his own 
table than at any other. And Mr. Clemens, who had already 
ordered a portion at our table, would eat both platefuls and 
swear they tasted exactly alike, which he considered a good 
joke on the Captain. 

Mr. Clemens laughingly called me his business manager; so 
when they were getting up the concert program and a group of 
men approached him to see if he would speak, he said that 
they would have to ask me. "I never do anything unless my 



[ 346 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

business manager says I may. So you'll have to ask her." I, of 
course, was only too delighted to give the required permission 
as I wanted above everything to hear him speak myself, and 
had already received permission to sit up for the occasion. 
Imagine my pride and delight when I saw printed on the con 
cert program, which is to this day one of my most prized pos 
sessions: "S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain) by courtesy of Miss 
Dorothy Quick" 

As he talked about the improvement of the condition of the 
adult blind and repeated the story told in "A Tramp 
Abroad" of having been caught with a companion in Berlin 
in the dark for an hour or more, and of his horror at not being 
able to see for even so short a time my head literally swam 
with the joy that this great man, who was holding all the 
people that were crowded into the ship's lounge literally 
breathless with the magic of his words, was my friend, and 
that he was saying them through the "courtesy of Dorothy 
Quick." He said that he would devote much of his life to the 
subject of aiding the blind, and the passengers promised their 
aid in anything he undertook. I remember his telling me that 
shortly before this trip he had met Helen Keller, and had been 
particularly impressed with the wonderful things her teacher 
had done to improve her condition. 

It was like Mr. Clemens to take every opportunity of helping 
a cause in which he was interested. I recollect that I was stay 
ing with Mr. Clemens, at 2 1 Fifth Avenue, on a night when the 
Pleiades Club was giving a dinner in his honor. He had for 
some reason refused to go. It was a bitter disappointment to 
me, because my mother was going to be there, and as I had 
been visiting Mr. Clemens I hadn't seen her for several days. 
The dinner was at the Hotel Brevoort, very near Mr. Clemens 5 
house. As the time for the dinner drew nearer I became more 
and more downcast. Finally Mr. Clemens asked what was the 
matter. I stammered out something about the dinner. "Did 
you want to go?" he questioned. I nodded. "Then we'll go!" 
He began roaring up the stairs for his secretary to telephone 
the Master of Ceremonies we were coming, and when the sec- 



A LITTLE GIRL'S MARK TWAIN [ 347 ] 

retary said, "I thought you'd decided not to go," he replied 
simply, "Dorothy wants to go and I've just remembered there's 
something I wanted to talk about." 

I wish I could remember what it was, but the excitement of 
the evening sitting next to Mark Twain at the Speakers' 
table, in a chair he had brought specially for me was too 
much for my youthful memory. I know everyone said it was 
one of the best speeches he'd ever made; but the two things 
that stand out in my mind, apart from actually getting to the 
dinner, was my mother waiting at the door for us, as we came 
into the hotel, and whisking me off to fix my long braids 
a small detail which Mr. Clemens and I had completely over 
looked, and which kept the whole dinner waiting at least 
twenty minutes and then being taken home by Mr. Clemens 
just as a sweet lady who had made a great fuss over me all 
evening was about to play the piano. I would much rather 
have remembered what Mr. Clemens spoke of, but I think it 
was something about making a collection of compliments in 
stead of autographs, or cats and dogs. Anyway I've taken the 
idea to heart and collected them ever since, just because Mark 
Twain said, "The paying of compliments is an art by itself." 

But I have strayed away from the ocean voyage. When, after 
the most thrilling and eventful nine days of my life, we arrived 
in New York, a swarm of reporters surrounded Mr. Clemens, 
who refused to be photographed unless I would be taken with 
him. He sent to ask Mother's permission, and once it was 
granted we went to the sun-deck and let the cameramen have 
full sway. Both Mr. Clemens and I had on our white suits, and 
the next day there wasn't a paper in New York that didn't 
have one of the pictures in. As it was rather unusual for Mr. 
Clemens to pose for the newspapers, they made the most of it; 
and even now they always bring forth the pictures we had 
taken that day whenever there is a call for pictures of Mark 
Twain. 

Later, The American did a special article called, "Me and 
Mark Twain," in which there was a sketch of Mr. Clemens 
and myself seated on the bow of an ocean liner, I very com- 



[ 348 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

fortably ensconced in his lap. Mr. Clemens liked this the best 
of all the things that appeared, and said it had given him a 
new idea. He'd never traveled on the bow of a ship, but he 
thought he would like to try it sometime, if Pd go along. 

All the papers made much of our friendship. "Mark Twain 
Home Captive of Little Girl" was one of the headlines. And 
they carried long paragraphs about me. I have them all and 
with them another souvenir of the trip, a drawing of Buster 
Brown with sprouting wings looking at the following: "RE 
SOLVED, that Mark Twain has deserted the entire ship's com 
pany for Dorothy Quick. I wish my name was Twain. Buster." 
This is pasted in my scrap book, next to the concert program. 

On the dock, my new friend and I parted. But this was the 
beginning of a treasured friendship, which was for me a great 
privilege and joy. 



Devotional 

ELBRA DICKINSON 

Through your wide emerald fields I walk, 

Beloved Lord; 

Bearing an earthen bowl of royal blue 

To catch the day's last golden spillings . . . 

With the slow, measured tread 
Of ancient worshippers I walk; 
My arms in tenderness encircling 
This sacred vessel . . . 

The tall, plumed trees in adoration bow, 

Their sensate leaves quivering in rapt emotion . 

They know! 

As do their feathered guests, 

Singing and swaying on their outstretched arms, 

For whom, beloved Lord, for whom 

I walk these fields of emerald, alone at dusk, 

Upon so dear an errand ! 



[349] 



Tumultuous Cloister 

DOROTHY V. GORRELL 

"IV /TANY a bubble of popular misapprehension has been 
** pricked in the devastating days since 1929, but countless 
shimmering bubbles continue to hover softly over the idea of 
college investing it with the glamor of football heroes, 
campus queens, and gay young things dancing, singing, loving, 
tooting off to heaven in streamer-decked cars. A short time 
ago I, too, was a party to such fantastic beliefs; but three years 
through the mill have effectively smashed all such nonsensical 
notions. If there is any fact behind the fiction propagated by 
present-day movies and stories, I must confess it has altogether 
escaped me. 

If there ever was an era of dashing collegiates and giddy 
co-eds, it is relegated to the dim past preceding 1929. The 
social whirl, as I have seen it at fraternity functions, Yale 
proms, Harvard football dances, and gala Dartmouth Carni 
vals is in the nature of interludes snatched guiltily from the 
essential business of life studying. That such affairs are gay 
no one doubts; that they are loud and wet everyone admits; 
that they are full of thrills and excitement for everyone of their 
bright-eyed guests is also true; but that they are all of college 
life or even of primary importance in college life, I emphati 
cally deny. 

As I return to college this fall, I realize that I am again 
subjecting myself to a life of the most exacting slavery, yet I 
have no hesitation in returning; I realize that I am again 
joining the ranks of the most harried and overworked class of 
people in society, but I am eager to plunge again into the fray. 
Talk of unemployment is mockery to the college student; the 
idea of an eight hour day is a fantastic dream to those of us 
who labor from twelve to twenty-four hours with little time 
out for meals; carefree week-ends are unknown to undergradu 
ates whose assignments go on willy-nilly as life becomes a 
nightmare of papers and quizzes. 

[350] 



TUMULTUOUS CLOISTER [ 351 ] 

For the three years of my college experience, breakfast at 
7:15 has assembled its customary depressing group, bleary- 
eyed, uncommunicative, sleep-drugged. Breakfast- table con 
versation has limited itself to resentful remarks if anyone ap 
pears cheerful. The explanation of these touchy temperaments 
is to be found in the night-life of their possessors a night 
life composed not of dancing girls and hilarious laughter, but 
of scratching pens and tragic, scholarly sighs. Studying until 
one o'clock night after night is a common experience. All- 
night grinds are more rare but certainly not unknown. 

Often, to beat the sandman at his game, two students beset 
with work will burn the midnight oil together, with time out 
now for black coffee and again for a cold shower. I, myself, 
have gone forty-six hours without sleep and found time for a 
snooze of only two and a half hours in a total of sixty-six. 
Such dissipation, of course, cannot continue indefinitely, and 
after a particularly bad siege, we are obliged to cut classes and 
catch up, protected by signs posted on the door, which threaten 
dire things if anyone trespasses the command: "Sleeping! 
Please do not disturb." 

It sometimes occurs to us to wonder if college is worth the 
cost to health and nerves, not to mention the price in dollars 
and cents. Yet we invariably conclude those of us who stay 
that the answer is yes. We are the depression generation of 
college students. Throughout our college careers we have had 
to count the pennies more assiduously than our predecessors; 
we have had friends drop college for financial reasons; we have 
watched the numbers of self-help students and those supported 
by scholarships increase. Because the depression ceased to be 
an objective tragedy which we regretted but largely ignored, 
and became instead an actuality in our lives and the lives of 
our friends, we opened our eyes to see what was happening, 
and began to ask questions. 

Our appreciation of college grew because there we had 
access to good current literature, there we came in contact 
with people who could interpret it intelligently, there we could 
expound our ideas and listen to the theories of others in an 



[ 352 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

atmosphere of tolerance. The universality of this new, vivid 
interest in current affairs is evidenced by the growth in the 
numbers enrolled in courses dealing with economics, political 
science and government; the starting of new campus clubs, and 
the revival of old ones interested in contemporary problems; 
the widespread response to the Literary Digest college peace 
poll which brought in more ballots than any previous poll. 

I can testify from personal experience to the change in the 
nature of "bull-sessions," sacred to college students, which has 
occurred in the past couple of years. Formerly clothes and men 
monopolized the parties, and I've no doubt that football and 
women held the center of the stage at the talk-fests in our 
brother colleges. Now our discussions might best be described 
as "bulling the world aright." Ideals are rampant in these long 
controversies, but they are ideals with considerable thought 
behind them, and intelligent suggestions for application. 
"Roosevelt," "New Deal," "economic planning," "interna 
tional situation," "Hitler," punctuate these discussions with 
surprising regularity. 

The Supreme Court decision in the gold cases last spring was 
the subject of many controversial forecasts. Those of us with 
some knowledge of the money-credit situation were hounded 
with questions by students of Latin and English literature, 
who, in spite of their excursion into fields far removed from the 
Supreme Court chamber, demanded an explanation of things 
happening here and now. The N.R.A. decision was a bomb 
shell when it came in late May, and the furor it aroused di 
minished only as we turned to meet the impending threat of 
exams. Panic-stricken students of economics searched the 
newspapers for details and made dire forecasts as to the future. 
Conservatives there are a few welcomed the declaration 
as so much riddance of bad rubbish; but one girl expressed 
the attitude of many when she exclaimed indignantly, "What 
ever is to become of this country if we can't initiate social 
change within the law?" 

The internationalism which was so characteristic of the 
latter 'twenties has retained a strong foothold in the colleges. 



TUMUL TUO US CLOISTER [ 353 ] 

In that respect more than in any other, we can be charged 
with being idealists. The college peace movement which 
has been considerably in the limelight for the past two 
years results, I think, from a sincere belief, on the part of 
students who have studied the facts, in the futility and inanity 
of war. The movement seems to have gained most headway in 
women's colleges, but there is no disputing the fact that colleges 
are full of pacifist tendencies. 

A rough estimate of pacifist strength among college students 
is furnished by the results of the Literary Digest peace poll in 
which 16.48 percent, or 17,951 students, indicated that they 
would not fight if the United States were invaded. The fact 
that 82.18 percent entered a flat "no" in answer to the ques 
tion, "Would you bear arms for the United States in the in 
vasion of the borders of another country?" surely indicates 
that college youth dislike war and are not willing to become 
martyrs on the capricious say-so of their government. 

The peace movement, in so far as I have contacted it, has 
been entirely student-sponsored and has had no tinge of com 
munism connected with it. It is essential to emphasize this fact 
because of the careless habit which many persons have of asso 
ciating communism and pacifism indiscriminately. So often 
one hears the colleges charged with being hotbeds of radical 
ism, nests of communists and pacifists, that outsiders are likely 
to become convinced that we are a helpless lot of children 
when we enter college and emerge, as the result of four years' 
indoctrination, a mob of howling reds. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. Naturally, courses 
in communism and socialism are taught for the benefit of those 
who want a knowledge of contemporary social movements, 
just as courses in Shakespeare are offered for students of litera 
ture, and courses in other religions are open to Bible students. 
But there is no attempt at conversion to this or that social 
philosophy. The approach is that of the scholar searching for 
facts, and if the instructor offers an opinion, he usually offers 
it purely as an opinion, leaving the student free to decide on 
the merits of the question. The result is calculated to make 



[ 354 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

us emerge, not radicals, but liberals with an open mind on 
most questions. 

It is because college has given us this training in examina 
tion of the facts, in consideration of the pros and cons of every 
question; because college has attempted to show us that there 
is no such thing as unchallenged right or wrong; and has 
taught us tolerance in listening to others, while allowing us 
freedom to our own beliefs that we, though often weary 
and disillusioned, overworked and heart-sore, maintain with 
fervor: "College is worth the price!" 



In Defense of Horsehair 

CATHARINE COOK SMITH 

A ? TER the hunt breakfast I went up the curving staircase 
of the Georgian house. In the wide rooms on either side 
of the broad center hall were fine chintzes, good pieces of fur 
niture, Chippendale, Sheraton and Hepplewhite. I looked 
from the central Palladian window across the fields that 
sloped to the Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge. As I turned to 
go downstairs my eye fell on a chair, its high rounded back 
shrouded in a cretonne slip cover. It was then that my mania 
seized me. I looked around, I was alone. With a cool impu 
dence that now seems almost incredible to me (but my hostess 
is famed for her amiable disposition) I took off that slip cover. 
Triumph! I was right in my guess. It was an old Victorian 
chair in the original horsehair. As I gazed fondly at its curved 
back, carved with a rose and leaves, the head of its owner 
appeared above the stair rail. "What are you doing to that 
horrid old chair?" Her shriek of astonishment had no trace of 
annoyance, and in my guilty confusion I felt that Southern 
hospitality had stood the test nobly. 

Any American family that has been able to hold on to the 
belongings of one or two past generations is sure to have some 
pieces of Victorian horsehair. Many people do not appreciate 
them. Around 1929 there was a flurry of little magazine arti 
cles announcing an approaching Victorian revival. Philadel 
phia had a Victorian show. The Metropolitan Museum 
arranged a Victorian room, but in rather an unkindly spirit. 
Several decorators with taste used a few Victorian pieces. 
But in many houses the horsehair chairs and sofas are relegated 
to the store closet and the back hall. 

Yet this furniture always has character, is often comfortable 
and charming, and above all, it has never, so far as I know, 
been reproduced by the wholesale furniture houses whose 
excellent replicas of Spanish, Italian, Tudor, Georgian and 
Colonial furniture adorn every apartment hall, every hotel 

C355] 



[ 356 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

lobby. Bring home, if you can afford it, your Norman peasant 
buffet, search Vienna and Lexington Avenue for Biedermeir, 
fill your penthouse with Spanish iron and leather, above all 
cherish your grandfather's Chippendale desk, but don't neg 
lect these delightful pieces, so easy to come by. The storage 
warehouses must be full of such homely treasures com 
fortable and abounding in pleasant associations. 

One knowing decorator covers his Victorian chairs with 
white leather or velvet, but I am in favor of horsehair. The 
black usually found is good with other colors. If it is too badly 
worn it can be replaced with modern horsehair. This can be 
had in various colors, and is woven with a small stripe or 
check, which seems to prevent the occurrence of the breaks 
that sometimes appear in the smooth old horsehair. The com 
mon prejudice of the elderly against this upholstery is prob 
ably due to the memory of short legs in socks being pricked by 
horsehair bristles! For the most part, however, it is a clean, 
durable, cool, handsome and altogether satisfactory material. 

The Victorian pieces of which I speak were made in rose 
wood or black walnut, and upholstered in horsehair, called 
haircloth in contemporary catalogues. There are sofas, large 
and small, easy chairs, with or without arms, and side chairs. 
They were made in this country and in England by cabinet 
makers who probably had French design books, and are 
really adaptations for thrifty folk, of the style of Louis XV. 
They were made, so far as the records show, from about 1830, 
when the Empire influence was on the wane, to 1870, when 
William Morris and his fellow primitives became the fashion. 
Morris disliked the overfilled and fussy drawing rooms of the 
period. He included the horsehair furniture in the same con 
demnation with the whatnot and the antimacassar and so 
threw out the child with the bath. He showed such sincerity 
of feeling in his decorative reforms, that it seems perhaps un 
kind to recall the two abominations that come to mind in 
connection with his movement the Morris Chair and the 
Peacock Room. 

Our furniture is contemporaneous with the marble-topped 



IN DEFENSE OF HORSEHAIR [ 357 ] 

table (for which a defense might be made) but I believe is 
usually earlier than the huge black walnut double bed and 
bureau which have brought so much disrepute to the Victo 
rian period. The armchair is of two or three different styles, 
with or without arms, the back entirely upholstered, or with 
an upholstered panel surrounded by a wooden frame, held 
by wooden supports to the seat. The backs are always rounded, 
and usually carry a carved center ornament. The legs are 
curved. The side chairs come in a variety of charming shapes, 
with upholstered seats; the backs are a curved band with cross 
slat, carved like the easy chairs. Roses and grapes are favorite 
ornaments. These side chairs are light and pleasing, but strong 
enough to be used as dining chairs with the now popular small 
dining-table. 

The sofas vary in size from the "love-seat" for only two 
affectionate sitters, to long pieces where one can lie at length 
on the cool horsehair during a hot afternoon. The sofa backs 
are curved and carved like the chairs, often tufted, and some 
times divided into three panels with wooden frames. The 
Belter chairs and sofas, with their very high carved backs and 
the solid wooden support to the upholstered panels, are a 
pretentious and not always agreeable form of Victorian 
furniture. Both Belter and Duncan Phyfe worked in this 
period. Their furniture is of the best workmanship, and is 
highly esteemed, especially that of Duncan Phyfe, which is 
perhaps more Empire than Victorian. So far as I know they 
never worked in horsehair. 

The horsehair group was less well made and must have been 
less expensive. In looking through some dozens of the design 
books of furniture makers of the early igth century, I find 
these pieces only occasionally listed. Thomas King who pub 
lished his "Original Designs for Chairs, Sofas, etc." at 2 14 
High Holborn about 1 840, gives the sidechairs. A character 
istic suite, sofa, easy chair and armchair is shown in the illus 
trated catalogue of Palmer and Embury Co. New York City, 
for 1875. They were "agents for Pawtucket haircloth and 
English imitation haircloth ... all goods in black walnut 



[ 358 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

unless otherwise ordered." Other designs are to be found in 
"The Cabinet Maker's Assistant," Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lon 
don and New York 1853. The Victorian chair shown in some 
of Morris Kantor's painting is of a particularly angular, naive 
rigid shape. It has its own quality, suggestive of Puritan New 
England, witches and Hawthorne. George Bellows has used 
one of the loveliest of horsehair sofas several times in his pic 
tures of Mrs. Bellows and his little daughters. 

But to return to the defense of my mania. Must one be alone 
and unwatched to indulge so simple an enthusiasm? Horsehair 
evokes a mood that was once an intimate part of American 
life. It cannot, perhaps, be restored but we can at least find 
suitable times and places to recall it. A corner in horsehair 
can become a cherished corner in our memories. 



History as a Major Sport 

GEORGE FORT MILTON 

PROBABLY it is because history is the most vital branch of 
*- human knowledge that the writing of it is so satisfying an 
intellectual adventure. At least it has been my own experience 
that the quest for the truth as to men, events and epochs, can 
prove a major sport surpassed in zest and sense of achievement 
by none I know. Nor is this strange, for in its record of human 
experience history illumines man's struggle with nature, re 
cords his attempts at social cooperation, and dramatizes his 
development against handicaps. The study is broad enough to 
portray the growth of ideas and cultures, and yet its exacti 
tudes are such that research can be focussed on the splendors 
of a prince or the battle tragedy of an afternoon. 

The historian's task is to capture the ghosts of yesterday, and 
breathe into them the breath of life a task requiring skill 
as well as understanding, and calling for the marriage of schol 
arship and art. It is a role made peculiarly difficult because the 
historian is denied the creative craftsman's liberty to follow 
the free range of his imagination. Confronted with a fixed mass 
of material, the historian must cast it into moving and persua 
sive literary form. The tapestry of life that he weaves must be 
in as brilliant colors, and portray as moving scenes, as those 
presented by the novelist but the historian must use the old 
thread of fact. Should the reading interest flag, he cannot in 
vent some new and striking scene to rejuvenate attention: as 
the bond-servant of his material, he must build his mosaic out 
of the truth. 

Let me illustrate the phases of historical composition out of 
my own experience. While engaged in preparing a history of 
the consequences of the American Civil War, I came to feel the 
need for reappraising the causes of that struggle. The part that 
chance played in Reconstruction, the role of unpredictables 
and imponderables in the impeachment outcome, raised serious 
doubts as to the analagous claim that the Civil War was inevi- 

[359] 



[ 360 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

table. After I began to burrow into the genetics of the War, it 
became plain that rival absolutes held sway in the period of the 
War's gestation: the Aristotelian mean between Abolition and 
Secession had been given but slight heed. 

Soon two challenging questions presented themselves: To 
begin with, were the Absolutists right about the inevitability of 
the conflict? And again, if not, why had the present generation 
of historical scholars been able to do little more than hint at the 
truth, without persuasive documentation? These intriguing 
questions led me into a historical job that took four years. Now 
in the common run of things, few mortals have so many mort 
gages upon their time as does the provincial newspaper pub 
lisher who must be at once editor, business man and factory 
executive a job requiring just about twenty-four hours a 
day. Such a life has many satisfactions, but leisure for scholarly 
research is not among them. My historical work had to be 
performed from eight in the evening until midnight. The 
fatigues of the process, however, had their eventual reward. 

My first difficulty was the inadequacy of the data. Different 
kinds of historical evidence have varying usefulness. The im 
mediate, intimate record a participant in an event makes, by 
diary-entry or private letter, is the most useful of all sources. 
Next in value is the account given in some contemporary news 
paper, magazine, speech or debate; its worth, however, is often 
diminished because it is a formal and purposeful public pres 
entation. Even less dependable is an individual's recollections 
years after the event, for usually these have grown dim from 
time, or have suffered distortion because of subsequent events. 
Least useful of all is the mythology with which later generations 
often seek to justify inherited political prejudices. 

Looking over the records of the 'fifties, I found more than 
enough intimate material about the great extremists. Many 
were the recollections of private papers of the vanguard of 
Secession, for the embattled Southerners had preserved each 
vatic syllable and faded anecdote of Davis and Calhoun. Sim 
ilarly, the vast band of Lincolnian idolators had winnowed the 
Emancipator's memorabilia; Sumner's letters were preserved 



HISTORT AS A MAJOR SPORT [ 361 ] 

in due pomposity, along with those of Garrison, Phillips, 
Trumbull, Washburne and Chase. Even "Beast" Butler's 
multitudinous correspondence had been edited and put into 
libraries the nation over. But of the statesmen who had cried, 
"A plague on both your houses!" the intimate record was 
slight indeed. The most important sources available were the 
papers of John J. Crittenden, a stalwart Kentucky conserva 
tive. But of the main group of Northern Democrats, the men 
who had almost won their effort to postpone the war, the yield 
was practically nil. 

Thereupon I commenced a search; most of all it was desir 
able to discover the papers of Stephen A. Douglas, the great 
man of the epoch. Truly a human lodestone, Douglas attracted 
to himself a personal political party reaching every section of the 
nation, and became the focus of the effort to persuade peace 
able adjustment. His papers, if extant, would almost certainly 
reveal the breadth and depth of the conservative appeal. 

Initial inquiries were disappointing; there had been a fire in 
Washington after the Little Giant's death, and the report was 
that all his private papers had been burned up. However, two 
Douglas grandsons lived in Greensboro, N. G. A visit there 
yielded the lively satisfaction of their friendship. One of them 
made available a rare parcel of letters Douglas had written 
home when, as a beardless boy, he went West to make his own 
way in the world. Soon the other, poking around in a rickety 
outhouse, came across an old packing-box. When it was hauled 
out one Saturday afternoon in March 1931, and opened, my 
eyes feasted on hundreds of bundles of letters, each packet 
neatly tied in tape. I can remember to this day the tremendous 
thrill of that discovery it was a major part of the Little 
Giant's papers ! This was the key to the magic door of the 'fif 
ties, and that key was in my hands. 

Discovery was the first step; the next was to make use of it. 
There were fully twenty-five thousand letters in the box; each 
one must be deciphered and read, its matter of consequence 
discerned and put into adequate note. Then, too, time was im 
portant. It did not take long to secure an office, rent two type- 



[ 362 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

writers and hire a stenographic staff. Then for six eye-dimming 
weeks it was my task to decipher letters, mark passages to be 
copied and do all other things needful in extracting the heart 
and essence of a great correspondence. Of course, the papers of 
statesmen of that day, before typewriters or duplicating de 
vices, consisted almost entirely of letters received. Indeed, this 
was a great merit, for one read that stream of incoming reports, 
appeals and suggestions, with the uncanny feeling of having 
one's finger on the pulse of an epoch and a cause. 

When the task was finally done, I came home with my note 
books bulging with a new record of the 'fifties one so ex 
plosive in the character of its evidence that I had no hesitation 
in terming the struggle which followed Sumter as a "needless 
war." For the Douglas papers filled the great gap theretofore 
existing in the evidence; they threw new light on the motives 
and techniques by which the ultra minorities in both sections 
manipulated official machinery, and showed that the masses 
of the people, South and North alike, did not want this politi 
cians' war. 

But it was not enough to have found these letters. The very 
fact of their discovery called for checking of evidence, testing 
of statements, examination of opposing viewpoints to say 
nothing of the actual writing itself. It was important to find 
Douglas' responses to his chief correspondents. To do this, 
I classified the letters by the states of the writers' residence, 
sending these lists to the appropriate State Historical Societies, 
prominent newspapers, etc., asking their aid in finding living 
descendants of those who had worked with the Little Giant. 
Over a thousand such letters went out, and these I backed by 
personal tours of investigation. 

Some of the resultant discoveries were most valuable. For 
example, in Springfield, Illinois, I found Douglas' correspond 
ence with General John A. McClernand at first his rival 
and then one of his stanchest Congressional aides. There, too, 
grandsons of William H. Lanphier, the Little Giant's ablest 
editor, made the whole rich Lanphier correspondence avail 
able. In the middle 'fifties Douglas had established the Chicago 



HISTORY AS A MAJOR SPORT [ 363 ] 

Times, putting James W. Sheahan at the editorial helm, and 
in 1860 Sheahan prepared the Little Giant's campaign biog 
raphy. In Chicago, I had the good fortune to find Sheahan' s 
son; he turned over to me another treasure trove of Douglas' 
letters. 

Quests of this type call for the detective as much as the his 
torian. Careful running down of random leads is essential, and 
often rewarded, but sometimes success is just sheer luck. There 
was the case of the Sanders letters. George N. Sanders was a 
Kentucky editor-politician who wanted Douglas to lead a 
political revolution to throw the Old Fogies out. But Sanders 
acted like a bull in a china shop, a cause which allied all other 
candidates against Douglas, whose denials and disavowals 
were received with scorn. I became convinced that, but for 
Sanders, the Little Giant would have been elected President in 
1852. The common view was that the Senator was directing 
every move of the mischief, but I did not believe it such a 
course was altogether out of character with Douglas' own tech 
nique, and I felt sure that the latter must have made frantic 
efforts to halt his friend's mad course. Of this there was infer 
ential evidence in Sanders' letters to Douglas. But to prove the 
point I had to have the Little Giant's answers. 

Soon I found that a batch of Douglas' letters to Sanders had 
been sold in New York in 1915. The auction gallery exhumed 
its ledger record of purchasers, by means of which I traced and 
secured copies of half of the original collection. But apparently 
the rest had vanished in thin air. It happened that the indexer 
extraordinary, Mr. Joseph Greenbaum of New York, recalled 
that, years before, a bookbinder friend had found a scrapbook 
of Lincoln items. On the chance it might have some needful 
data, Mr. Greenbaum set to work to trace it. After months of 
search, it came to light that the scrapbook had been presented 
to the public library at Water town, Conn., and that not only 
was it a scrapbook of old clippings, but that also it contained 
eight letters from Douglas to George Sanders. These enabled 
me to reconstruct the whole story of the tragedy of that cam 
paign. Had it not been for this Kentucky marplot, Douglas 



[ 364 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

might well have been President in 1 852 ; perhaps the Missouri 
Compromise would not have been repealed and there would 
have been no Civil War! 

After collecting material comes the task of judgment, about 
as difficult as the discovery of fact. Here the historian must be 
an expert on the reliability of handwriting, have some knowl 
edge of the credibility of witnesses, and be a shrewd inquirer 
into the motives of men. He must also become thoroughly 
imbued with the problems and personalities of the age of 
which he writes. Through thus recapturing the sense of his 
torical participation, he re-creates the reality of the problems 
of the past generations, and makes them once more living 
things. 

It would be wrong to give the impression that each of the 
three processes of material-gathering, analysis and composi 
tion, is separate in point of time. At least, so far as the present 
writer is concerned, the three went on simultaneously; and 
with each particular episode there was an intense effort to do 
all three at once. One proceeds steadily through the ocean of 
myth and hypothesis, carefully trying to build a causeway of 
tested truth. In doing so, the subconscious mind classifies the 
facts; and when the whole work is done one has an almost in 
tuitive sense of appropriate proportions by which to guide 
final recasting. 

Once the material is mastered, the need for integration 
leads to months of revision and rearrangement. Then it is that 
the spirit groans most mournfully. After one has read and 
edited a single chapter a dozen times or so, it requires con 
siderable courage to sit down to it with a battery of sharpened 
pencils, to cut from it a space saving of a hundred words a 
page. And yet, when publishers din in your ears the words of 
Michelangelo, "The More the Marble Wastes, the More the 
Statue Grows," one comes almost to believe it. Even so, there 
is a real pang when one forces one's own pencil to strike out a 
paragraph which represents the fruits of two months' careful 
investigation; or when a purple passage is doomed to slaughter 
as unnecessary surplusage. 



HISTORY AS A MAJOR SPORT [ 365 ] 

Let us say no more of these spiritual travails of the final 
stages of historical composition. Likewise let us draw the veil 
of silence over the agonies of proof-reading, and then of finding 
in the printed volume typographical errors which stick out like 
a sore thumb. Eventually the work is done and Leviathan is 
born. It must be admitted that when the historian finishes such 
a work, he asks: "Why did I ever undertake such toil?" But 
this feeling is not long-lived. Soon it is overcome by the feeling 
of mastery, the feeling that he has really plumbed to the depths 
of an epoch. The historian persuades himself that, through 
finding out how and why men acted as they did a century ago, 
he suspects a little better what are the mainsprings of our con 
temporary society. At any rate, permit me to nominate the 
writing of history as a major sport for all who are interested 
in what makes the wheels go round in the whirligig of Life. 



Book Reviews 

THE COLONIAL PERIOD OF AMERICAN HISTORY. THE 
SETTLEMENTS. By Charles M. Andrews. Tale University Press, 
$4.00. 

TN THE past, American history, with a few exceptions, has been 
*~ written from a partisan, a political, or a popular point of view. 
Furthermore, little of an authoritative nature has been written on 
our colonial background. We have been so much concerned with 
our "manifest destiny" that we have given little or no thought to our 
origins and origins are always important. 

In this first volume of what will be a detailed history of the Amer 
ican colonies, Professor Andrews deals exclusively with the origins 
of the earliest of these. Beginning with a brilliant narrative of the Age 
of Discovery in Europe and the part that Elizabethan England played 
in that discovery, the author goes on to describe the expansion of 
England's commercial activities and the resulting factors that influ 
enced colonization in the East and in North America. A spirit of 
restlessness was in the air. England was becoming an industrial and 
commercial nation. The great landlords were turning their lands into 
sheep farms, thus depriving the tenant farmer of an opportunity to 
get a living from the soil. The early seventeenth century found many 
men on the roads of England without money and without a home. 
Some were dispossessed peasants, though the majority were dis 
charged soldiers and sailors, for now England was at peace. 

The increase in commerce and industry, the increase in popula 
tion, the increase in the number of the unemployed, made coloniza 
tion a necessity. The dispossessed and the unemployed had to be 
settled on land somewhere that they might live, and also create new 
markets for English business. Added to these reasons was the desire 
on the part of the impoverished gentleman adventurers of England, 
principally younger sons of the landed gentry and the nobility, to 
acquire wealth quickly. Despite the fact that very little gold had been 
found in North America, these men insisted that it was there for the 
simple reason that it had been found in such abundance in Central 
and South America. 

With the principal reasons for colonization firmly established, 
Professor Andrews then proceeds to take up in detail the establishing 
of the colonies in Virginia, Bermuda, Newfoundland and Nova 
Scotia, and at Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay. It is in the narration 
of the founding of these colonies, and of their activities to the end of 
the seventeenth century, that Professor Andrews makes an original 

[366] 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 367 ] 

contribution to the method of writing early American history. 
Previous historians have considered the problem of settlement only 
from the American point of view, and wrote only of those colonies 
that later became states. Professor Andrews has placed himself and 
his readers in England, thus permitting a survey of the entire prob 
lem as it affected the colonies and the mother country. This method 
also enabled the author to take up the subject of those North Amer 
ican colonies which are still under English dominion. Thus we have, 
for the first time, a complete record of English colonization in North 
America. 

The second advantage that this volume has over any other ac 
count of American colonial history that I have read, is that it treats 
the colonies as colonies and not as potential units of the United 
States. An opportunity is thus given for a fair and leisurely examina 
tion of the problems of settlement and government which the Amer 
ican colonies had to face, long before there was any idea of rebellion 
against the mother country. Every other historian of this period has 
hurried over these phases, or has considered them in the light of 
future events. Of course, no other historian had at his command the 
knowledge of this period that has made Professor Andrews the great 
est authority on our colonial history. It is not merely as a narrative 
that "The Colonial Period of American History" supersedes all 
earlier books on the subject; it contains the mature judgments of a 
scholar who has made the period his own. 

On more than one occasion in this volume, Professor Andrews 
takes issue with other investigators in early American history regard 
ing their conclusions. To cite only one instance: The author does not 
agree with the findings of Professor Wertenbaker regarding the im 
portance of the indentured servant after he had obtained his freedom. 
He holds to the older view that Virginia was ruled by "men of rank 
and influence and good social standing." 

In one respect this volume will prove a disappointment to the 
cultivated general reader who is not an historical specialist. Professor 
Andrews has given very little space to the social and intellectual 
movements of the early colonies. We should like to know more of the 
social structure in Virginia and Massachusetts before 1800. Charters 
and governments are necessary, and a knowledge of them is valuable, 
but they were made for the benefit of men and women. It is in these 
men and women that we are primarily interested. The only non- 
political figure who receives any consideration in this volume is 
Thomas Morton, an English royalist who tried to make life in the 
Plymouth colony a little brighter. His only reward was banishment, 
though future generations have blessed him for giving us, in his "New 
England Canaan," one of the few good things in early American 



[ 368 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

literature. Perhaps the later volumes of this history will deal more 
extensively with the human element in our early history. 

There is no question that this first volume is one of the most im 
portant contributions to American history in modern times. Having 
been planned and written in the best tradition of modern historical 
scholarship, it is free from the many vices of popularization, though 
it has a style and a movement that are ideally adapted to the material 
and the plan of presentation. Its choice by the Pulitzer Prize Com 
mittee was obvious. 

E. H. O'NEILL 



SHIPMASTERS OF CAPE COD. By Henry C. Kittredge. Houghton 
Mifflin, $3.50. 



is a brave and hearty book. It does not pretend to be a 
maritime history of the Cape, but a chronicle of the master 
mariners who were born and raised along the Bay shore from 
Barnstable to Provincetown, and down the "backside" to Falmouth. 
We have all heard vague stories of the fifty sea captains of Chatham, 
and the Cape jury that contained seven men qualified to testify as 
experts on minor features of Honolulu harbor; but here are the facts. 
Mr. Kittredge has followed his Cape Codders down East and down 
South, in the Western Ocean packet service, to the West Indies for 
rum and to Smyrna for figs, to the "Coast" and the "Islands," up 
the Hoogly and Canton Rivers, and around the world. 

It is a fine meaty book, full of long extracts from ships' logs and 
from the masters' correspondence with wives and ship-owners, brim 
ming over with storms and shipwrecks and the ordinary incidents of 
seafaring. You can read it straight through with increasing delight 
(though with some confusion among the numerous Crowells, Crock- 
ers, Eldridges, Snows and Mayos) or you can dip in anywhere and 
pull up something like this, from Captain Rodney Baxter's log of his 
voyage to Ireland with corn for the famine sufferers of 1847, m tne 
schooner American Belle (p. 1 45) : 

The sea was occasionally running a little on our port quarter. I 
caught hold of the wheel to assist the man at the helm to swing the 
vessel off, so that the sea would strike us square in the stern, and when 
it did so, it lifted her stern so that she almost pitch-poled, with the end 
of the jib boom under water some distance. . . . The man at the wheel 
and myself would have been washed overboard if we had not been well 
lashed. We were not less than ten feet under water, and when we re 
gained our places on our feet, the vessel's stern was down under water 
and we were up to our arms in it, with tons of water in the after part, 
and the weight caused her to present an angle of 45 degrees, bow out. 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 369 ] 

The pressure of the water burst off the bulwarks and she recovered, 
after apparently struggling to live. We kept on all night, and the gale 
abated. . . . 

One of the many features in the book that provokes reflection is 
the fact that Cape Cod shipmasters in those days of sail had to con 
sider and decide, in ports such as Shanghai and Singapore, whether 
to accept a freight at the going rate, or load a certain cargo on the 
owner's account, or charter the vessel to a local merchant, or pro 
ceed to another port in ballast, or even sell the ship. Until the i85o's 
no data on prices or markets were cabled around the world; and in 
the Napoleonic wars, shipmasters had to contend with government 
regulations, even more fluctuating and elaborate than those of 
today. Consequently, business judgment was required of a ship 
master as well as ability to manage a ship. Yet some of these Cape 
Codders had already risen to a command at an age when their 
descendants have just graduated from high school and are seeking a 
job at a filling station. 

The "Old South" was not the only social system that vanished 
with "progress." Maritime New England and Nova Scotia once had 
a way of life that afforded a good living, variety, adventure, a dash of 
romance to the great majority of the men-folk; and the satisfaction 
of power and distinction to the most able. The women, too, I venture 
to declare, had more satisfaction out of life than the pampered belles 
and hand-kissed matrons of the Southland. New England has no 
war, treaty, or hated outlander to blame for doing her out of it; she 
helped undo herself with industrial development and protective 
tariffs, and so can look back on it dispassionately with affection, 
to be sure, but without mawkish sentiment or false glamor. 

Half a dozen of our best novelists have simultaneously discovered 
this field, especially the Maine corner of it; but if you like facts rather 
than fiction, let Mr. Kittredge take you across the seven seas on a 
wooden sailing vessel commanded by a Cape Cod shipmaster. 

SAMUEL E. MORISON 

BLACK RECONSTRUCTION. By Burghart Du Bois. Harcourt Brace, 

$4-5- 

HPO the many readers of the Beards, Muzzey, Rhodes and other 
-* recognized American historians, this book will come as a distinct 
shock. Written frankly from the negro point of view by a distin 
guished negro scholar, not one of these notable authors escapes 
castigation, be it because of inaccuracy or bias or plain ignorance. 
The author acknowledges that he has an axe to grind, and asserts 
that "the mass of American writers have started out so to distort the 



[ 370 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

facts of the greatest critical period of American history as to prove 
right wrong and wrong right." The axe has been sharpened through 
many years of research and study. With this view it will be impossible 
for most readers to escape either complete agreement or complete 
disagreement. 

The book is based on two main themes: First, negroes as a race are 
not backward. Time and again the author refers to the Constitution 
with its "all men are born free and equal." No one will question the 
hideous wrong of slavery, but many are inclined to doubt the equal 
ity of all men. We have been led to regard the excesses, corruption 
and chaos of the Reconstruction period in the South as an example 
of what the negro, aided and led on by the unscrupulous carpet 
bagger from the North, did with his equality. One has a full compre 
hension of Mr. Du Bois' bitterness when he refers to this era as "the 
finest effort to achieve democracy for the working millions which 
this world had ever seen." After careful reading of the chapters on 
the negro legislatures in the South after the war, one is forced to con 
sider the author's claims as to the social responsibilities of negro 
lawmakers rather tedious and certainly exaggerated. The activities 
of these negro legislators do not seem to support the author's conten 
tion that the negro should have been enfranchised as soon as he was 
freed. Andrew Johnson, Seward and others who felt that the negro 
should be educated before he was given the vote, come in for a fear 
ful pen-lashing. Even when some of Johnson's ablest state papers are 
referred to, Mr. Du Bois sneeringly observes that the President could 
not have written them by himself. As the book progresses, this bitter 
ness becomes almost fanatical. Johnson knew nothing of finance, was 
drunk a large part of the time, was "God's own fool." The argument 
is weakened by these intemperate and often strikingly inaccurate 
accusations. 

The second premise is the statement that the South "turned the 
most beautiful section of the nation into a center of poverty and suf 
fering, gambling and brawling, an abode of ignorance among black 
and white more abysmal than in any modern land." The chapter on 
"The Planter" is filled with hatred towards this class, a hatred un 
derstandable in a member of this long suffering race. At this point it 
is only proper to call attention to the fact that Mr. Du Bois seems to 
have found his ideal in the social program of the New Deal. Capital 
ists are referred to as "exploiters," labor must fight ever onwards 
against tyrannical capitalists. To those who believe that it is foolish 
completely to exterminate the "goose that lays the golden egg," the 
employer, and who believe that the employer, within reason, should 
have power to employ only those who satisfy him, the excoriation of 
the planter will sound not unlike the broadsides of President Roose- 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 371 ] 

velt regarding the class of Tories who interfere with his policies. 

This is not to say that the planters as a group were admirable: 
many were self satisfied wastrels completely lacking that sense of 
responsibility which should accompany wealth and position. But to 
criticize them for their adherence to the belief and custom of England 
and the Continent is unfair. The planters, South Carolinians in 
particular, had always been closer to the old world than the new, 
and with reason. Even today there is no strong bond between the 
South, New England or the middle states. The chapter as a whole 
seems to degenerate into a tirade which will largely cost the author 
the sympathy of the discerning reader. Southerners may disagree 
with but cannot ignore the closing sentences: "The disaster of the 
war decimated the planters; the bitter disappointment and frustra 
tion led to a tremendous mortality after the war, and from 1870 on, 
the planter class merged their blood so completely with the rising 
poor whites that they disappeared as a separate aristocracy. It is this 
that explains so many characteristics of the post-war South; its 
lynchings and mob law, its murders and cruelty, its insensibility to 
the finer things of civilization." 

In the effort to keep the negro and his problem in the center of the 
stage, Mr. Du Bois (and factually this is probably the weakest section 
of the book) claims that the Civil War was due almost entirely to the 
problem of slavery. Without entering upon the ramifications of this 
question, it may be said that nearly all previous students have con 
sidered that no single factor could account for the Rebellion. Lincoln 
and other Northern leaders had no wish to disturb the "peculiar in 
stitution" of the South except by legal methods. What they were 
determined, at all costs, to preserve was the Union. So one at least 
has always been taught, and when Mr. Du Bois dismisses this as mere 
sentiment one is still not convinced. Such questions as the tariff, the 
transference of the balance of power from the agricultural interests to 
the industrial, the inability of the South to see its political domina 
tion of the country disappear these and more must be considered 
as contributing causes to the struggle. True, these questions are dis 
cussed, but are all too lightly dismissed. 

The author assigns the winning role in the war to the negro. He 
asserts, in the chapter entitled "The General Strike," that "the black 
worker won the war by a general strike which transferred his labor 
from the Confederate planter to the Northern invader, in whose army 
lines workers began to be organized as a new labor force." In this 
chapter the activities in New Orleans of General Benjamin Butler, 
elsewhere cited as "glorious Ben Butler," are commented on in com 
mendatory fashion. Suffice it to say that the student of American 
history will find it difficult to discover any public figure who exer- 



[ 372 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

cised as sinister an influence for evil so consistently as did this man. 
Many readers will undoubtedly disagree with the statement, "It is 
astonishing how this army of striking labor furnished in time 200,000 
Federal soldiers whose evident ability to fight decided the war." 

If the book has a hero, it is Charles Sumner, Senator from Mas 
sachusetts, who, with the Abolitionists Garrison and Phillips, was the 
great advocate of immediate negro enfranchisement. One can under 
stand, but not concur with, the author's enthusiasm for this man. 
Cold, pompous, arrogant an intellectual snob, he appears in these 
pages "full of sound and fury." If one considers how he would have 
voted, in spite of his high flown sentiments, if a negro had been 
nominated for governor of Massachusetts, one must add "signifying 
nothing." Sharing the author's admiration, is Thaddeus Stevens. In 
his endorsement of Stevens' stand in support of negro enfranchise 
ment, Mr. Du Bois appears to have overlooked the controlling inter 
est in this extraordinary man's life when he observes that "never a 
mere politician, he cared nothing for constitutional subtleties nor 
even for political power." The great passion in Stevens' life was the 
Republican Party; it had saved the country, it must rule it. To rule, 
it was necessary to bring the negro votes into the fold, and at the same 
time to keep the embittered Southern white vote down. This deter 
mination led the Radicals to pass the infamous Reconstruction Act, 
placing the South under military law, and to attempt the impeach 
ment of Andrew Jonnson, both of which actions are passed over as 
quickly and quietly as possible by Mr. Du Bois. On the shoulders of 
this group of men may be placed the responsibility for the ruin of the 
South and eventually of the negro himself. To claim for the Radicals 
broad vision and statesmanship, as a whole is absurd. They were 
G.A.R. politicians and played the same role as the protagonists of 
the American Legion today. 

"Black Reconstruction" is an ambitious work, and one cannot but 
admire the immense industry involved in developing new sources of 
information. Though possibly not in agreement with the author's 
interpretations of his material, one is never disinterested. It is a 
dynamic book and will undoubtedly provoke new arguments on an 
old controversy. 

DOUGLAS DEBEVOISE 



RENASCENT MEXICO. Edited by Hubert Herring and Herbert Weinstock. 
Covici Friede, $2.50. 



events in Mexico, there has been of late years an embitter- 
ing controversy. It is economic. Also, it is religious. And reli 
gion, added to economy, affects politics and diplomacy. This book 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 373 ] 

contains a symposium on Mexico which is intended to spread light, 
not heat. Men who know the subject write clearly and pleasantly 
about the revolution that is sweeping over the country, the plans for 
reconstruction and the cultural background of the people. We see 
the landscape as a whole. We see that landscape as it is seen by these 
men. But there arises a question. Admitting that the vision is com 
prehensive, can we also say that it is unobstructed? Do we see what 
we are looking at, as it really is? These writers survey Mexico 
north, south, east and west but always through a window. The 
glass is transparent; but all glass intercepts rays of light. We gaze 
upon the scene beyond. But the scene as it reaches us, has been 
robbed in a measure of actuality. The facts are there, but they are 
surrounded by an atmosphere which is not quite the atmosphere that 
people breathe. 

There is no difficulty in putting a name to the transparency that 
permits the vision which it affects. In Germany, it is known as Neo- 
paganism. It spreads over Russia, over Turkey and in a decorous 
dilution over the English speaking world. We live in an era of 
Humanism, and Humanism is the medium of visibility that is spread 
over these pages. 

The Humanists are engaged upon a fascinating experiment. Ex 
pressed in crude terms, this experiment is an endeavor to satisfy the 
being of man without assuming that God also is a Being. It is not a 
new experiment nor, hitherto, has it ever succeeded. Of this experi 
ment, Mexico is among the most interesting laboratories. In describ 
ing the experiment, the Humanists adopt a subtle and a seductive 
diplomacy. They tell the truth. They tell nothing that is contrary 
to the truth. But do they tell the whole truth? 

We are reminded that the Mexicans were Americans before there 
were Americans in the Mayflower, that they established a civilization, 
that they carved a Calendar Stone. It is not made so plain that they 
also carved the Stone of Sacrifice on which the blood of human 
victims never ceased to flow victims to be numbered by scores of 
thousands. The world today is not entirely altruistic. But nowhere is 
there to be found a worship so sanguinary and so hideous as the 
awful atrocities that passed for legitimate ritual among the pre- 
Christian Mexicans. 

Few will suggest that there were no abuses within the Roman 
Catholic Church which transformed Mexico. The fact remains that 
this Church embraces the main body of the people and that there is 
no alternative to it suggested in these pages. Yet what is the account 
of the Church here presented? Merely a passing reference. And what 
kind of reference? That the Church perpetuated the superstitions of 
the Middle Ages. Were those superstitions all that the Church per- 



[ 374 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

petuated? It is to the Church, with all her faults and failures, that 
Mexico owes a majestic architecture, her education, and the heritage 
of a Christendom which produced a Galileo and a Dante, a Velas 
quez, a Michael Angelo and a St. Francis of Assisi. 

It is, we submit, a confusion of the issue to suggest that Neo-pagan- 
ism, whether in Russia or in Mexico, has adopted the principles of 
religious equality and cultural freedom. A Mexican priest, writing 
these words in his parish magazine if indeed priests and parishes 
can be found associated with a magazine would immediately get 
into trouble. These words, if printed in Russia, supposing that such 
printing could be arranged, would render the writer liable to a ban 
ishment worse than death. All that English-speaking peoples mean 
by freedom of the mind is denied under the Neo-pagan autocracies. 

p. w. WILSON 



THE FIRST CENTURY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1770- 
1870. By Fred Lewis Pattee. Appleton-Century, $3.50. 

HP HE beginning-point for histories of American literature moves 
* steadily forward, as more and more rigid standards of criticism 
are applied to the writings of native pioneers. Wendell and Green- 
ough's incredibly dull textbook on the subject, written considerably 
more than a quarter-century ago, devotes about two-thirds of its 
space to early New England worthies of the stripe of Cotton Mather 
and Jonathan Edwards. A recent study of fiction, Harlan Hatcher's 
"The Making of the Modern American Novel," takes the dawn of 
this century as its point of departure, Mr. Hatcher's contention being 
that with the exception of "The Scarlet Letter" and "Moby Dick" 
there was no novel written in this country of any real consequence 
before 1900. He adds that "Moby Dick" really belongs to us, since it 
was our generation that discovered it. 

Fred Lewis Pattee, a conservative professor whose judgments are 
quite academic, completes his long history of our literature parts 
of which have been appearing at intervals for several years with 
a large volume entitled "The First Century of American Literature," 
taking as his dates 1770 to 1870. Two great wars are his pivotal 
points. Thus he omits altogether the production of the early colonial 
period. Even so, he includes a large number of names and titles that 
have only historic interest, and deserve no space on the basis of 
intrinsic artistic merit. There would have been far less excuse for a 
quarrel on this ground if the book had been called simply "A First 
Century of American Writing," since obviously much of the material 
discussed is not literature at all. In fact, the earlier pages of the book 
show the result of a great deal of careful and laborious scholarship, 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 375 ] 

but they are devoted to a discussion of the works of people who, while 
often exceedingly interesting as personalities, were not able to write 
anything worth preserving except for its possible social significance. 

Lest I fall into an error similar to the one I have just accused Dr. 
Pattee of making, let me explain that his volume is intended prima 
rily for use as a textbook, and makes only a general pretense of ap 
pealing to people who read for entertainment and edification, rather 
than to be able to answer questions on examination. The possessor 
of a keener and clearer mind, Vernon Lee Parrington, even though 
somewhat hampered by a pre-conceived theory, did make excellent 
social material out of his examination of early American literature. 
Of this, Dr. Pattee is patently not capable; he generalizes loosely, and 
his sweeping observations upon the shifting American scene are not 
at all the sort to make the observant reader sit up, with a feeling of 
delight and surprise, at the discovery of crystallized insight. 

Since I am neither forced to teach nor to study Dr. Pattee's book, 
there would be no point in my trying to pass upon its merits as a 
textbook. But I cannot overlook the opportunity to say that a text 
book on literature should be written in at least moderately good 
English. And Dr. Pattee is guilty of some of the most astonishingly 
bad writing in the present volume that I have come upon in many a 
day. It is, in my sober judgment, little short of criminal to put before 
students whose style, if they are ever to have any, is unformed, a book 
in which page after page is filled with inverted sentences. I say noth 
ing of the free use of sentences without verbs, to which we are by now 
perhaps accustomed; but what possible excuse can there be for such 
contortions of words as these, to cite only a few that made my flesh 
creep? 

Written not at all was it for profit. 

Noteworthy indeed much of this practical wisdom. 

A document is it that later critics cannot neglect. 

The classic spirit perfection of form imposed upon strength of feeling 

was by these lyrics brought to the American bourgeoisie. 

The youngest member of the group was James Russell Lowell, born in 

1819. Fourteen .years was he younger than Emerson, thirteen years 

younger than Hawthorne. 

There are hundreds of sentences beginning with an adverb, and in 
no instance is anything gained by such wretched arrangements; on 
the contrary, as may be seen from some of the horrible examples 
cited just above, the usual order of words would be a distinct 
improvement. 

When, however, I have said that Dr. Pattee's writing strikes me as 
shockingly bad, and that much of his subject matter could interest 
only the student out to make good grades, or the chauvinistic Amer- 



[ 376 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

lean whose patriotism causes him to value the native product as far 
beyond its merit (as the latter was esteemed in most instances by 
contemporary reviewers), it remains true that there is a great deal of 
information to be had from Dr. Pattee's book. His emphasis upon 
the early development of the literary magazine, for example, and its 
effect upon the typical American short story; his discussion of the 
growth of our own kind of humor; his chapter on "The Annuals and 
Gift Books" in which I believe he has broken new ground; his really 
excellent chapter on Cooper, and various scattered comments put 
those of us who love American literature in his debt. One must ad 
mire his industry in wading through so much hopeless stuff; a meas 
ure of his mettle in this respect may be had from his earlier editing 
of Freneau, whose poetry he still likes although Freneau was never 
better than a third-rate versemaker. 

As for Dr. Pattee's critical judgments, they are what might be 
expected. In general, he is inclined to blame the times rather than 
the man himself for failure, and to harp steadily upon the evils of the 
feminine influence on American letters from the very beginning 
a subject about which there is still considerable feeling, and with 
more reason at present because the women novelists are so much 
more numerous and more distinguished than their male competitors. 
Of Poe, for example, whom he neither likes nor understands, he 
writes: "Poe was a genius thrown into the muck-heap of an unliter- 
ary generation, the feminine 'thirties and 'forties of democratic 
America." This is too simple an explanation. Does Dr. Pattee mean 
to suggest that Poe would have achieved real greatness if he had 
lived in the 'twenties and 'thirties of plutocratic America? Why 
blame the women for Poe's own weaknesses? 

In his last chapter he summarizes the hundred years, and his 
winnowings show only Irving and Cooper of the early period. Later 
he names Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Mrs. 
Stowe, Thoreau and Lowell as the classic eight of the New England 
resurgence and adds, "Critics of two generations later, however, have 
made sad havoc with these valuations. Three non-New Englanders 
they have placed above the eight Whitman, Melville, Poe; and 
they have reduced the eight to three Emerson, Hawthorne, and 
Thoreau." It is quite impossible to escape the conclusion that the 
critics of two generations later are eminently sound in their severe 
judgments. 

Naturally, since Dr. Pattee writes extensively of American mag 
azines, the name of the North American Review appears repeatedly 
in his later pages, and his final tribute is in these words after he 
has spoken of the invaluable place the magazines occupy in the work 
of our literary historians "From such a list one might trace the 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 377 ] 

entire literary development of a century. . . . One might do the 
same thing for the period after 1815 had one only a file of the North 
American Review. Most important of all was it of all the critical 
forces that shaped our literature in half a century. It reviewed every 
significant American book from the standpoint of literary dictator; 
it made and unmade poets and novelists; it laid down literary laws 
for the nation. It brought fame to dozens of writers, the list begin 
ning perhaps with Mrs. Child, Cooper, and Hawthorne." 

Two odd mistakes escaped the vigilant eye of James A. Anderson, 
who checked the manuscript, according to the introductory note. 
One is a misspelling of the name of McGufTey, of McGuffey's 
Readers, and the other is a reference to Maupassant's famous ghost 
story as "La Hula," giving it a slightly Hawaiian flavor to which it 
is not at all entitled. 

HERSGHEL BRICKELL 



THE FOUNDING OF HARVARD COLLEGE. By Samuel Eliot 
Morison. Harvard University Press, $5.00. 



T^HIS is the first volume, in order, of "The Tercentennial History 
- of Harvard College and University, 1636-1936." The author has 
already edited a cooperative work, "The Development of Harvard 
University, 1869-1929," which was published five years ago. Even 
tually, "The Tercentennial History" will comprise five stout vol 
umes. Judging by the contents of the two which have already ap 
peared, this important task will never have to be done again. 

Like Thomas Prince, who began his "History of New England " 
with the flood according to Scripture, Mr. Morison begins at the 
beginning. He gets only as far as the year before the first charter of 
1650, by virtue of which Harvard is today the oldest corporation 
in the country. Almost a third of this volume is devoted to the origin 
and development of the various universities of Europe, with special 
emphasis on Cambridge, and in particular Emmanuel College, 
where John Harvard took his degree. The fact that most of the col 
lege graduates among the early settlers of New England came from 
Cambridge was decisive but the influence of Edinburgh, as well 
as Trinity, in Dublin, where John Winthrop, Jr., studied, was by no 
means without importance. Leyden and Franeker are featured, also, 
as the nursery and refuge of Puritan dissent in England. 

Harvard College was founded by an act of the colonial legislature 
of Massachusetts, at the end of a "heavy day's business" on October 
28, 1636, the future regicide, Henry Vane, being then governor. 
John Harvard was not, as is commonly believed, the founder, but the 
first individual benefactor of a college already two years old. The 



[ 378 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

first class (of nine students) was graduated in 1642. For the "sus 
pended animation" of one entire academic year (1639-1640) no in 
formation is available. From that August of 1 640, when the excellent 
Henry Dunster was wisely chosen "president," the existence of 
Harvard College, in spite of almost constant squabbles and occa 
sional misfortunes, has been reasonably secure. If another future 
regicide, Hugh Peter, could have had his way, the college would 
probably be at Marblehead today. In November, 1637, the present 
site was fixed upon, and in the following September John Harvard 
died at Charlestown, leaving half his estate of seventeen hundred 
pounds and all his books to the college, which was given his name 
by the legislature, in March 1639. 

It is amusing to remember that the first head of Harvard (never 
officially recognized as such) was a rogue who died in a London jail 
in 1674. Nathaniel Eaton took only one year to make himself odious 
by beating one of his staff, after his mercenary wife had starved the 
students. Mr. Morison's story of this unhappy beginning is as lively 
as his style. Even Henry Dunster, it might be added, had to be put 
out of the office he adorned for many years because he became a 
Baptist or what our law-and-order men would call a communist 
and would not keep quiet about it. The lucky election of Dunster, 
however, saved the college by the skin of its teeth. 

The pains and patience taken in the making of this book were as 
enormous as the plan of it. For one thing, the author had the imagin 
ation to establish a most plausible reconstruction of the first college 
building. Readers can learn where the students lived, what they ate, 
how they played, and what they studied. The illustrations are many 
and various, and a great deal of time and trouble went into five im 
portant, but innocent looking, appendices. Two maps of the college 
part of Cambridge, in 1638 and today, are convenient and absorb 
ing. Harvard men ought to look into this book, if for no other reason 
than to discover that no likeness of John Harvard has ever been 
found or ever existed, so far as is known. 

They would do well to consult it for another reason, also. Gradu 
ates of the university have often been learned but not frequently 
have they acquired the art of wearing their learning so lightly as 
Professor Morison. In this book they can discover the difference 
between hod-carriers of facts and architects of ideas or, better 
still, how one and the same man can excel at both the trade and the 
profession. As a rare combination of research and assimilation, this 
work is notable. Its faults are trifling, and the scholarship and vision 
of its author have shown how much ignorance is needed to call such 
a subject as this one narrow. 

STEWART MITCHELL 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 379 ] 

DEEP DARK RIVER. By Robert Rylee. Farrar & Rinehart, $2.50. 
KNEEL TO THE RISING SUN. By Erskine Caldwell. The Viking 
Press, $2.50. 

T^AKEN together, these two books constitute a serious, and often 
-*- very bitter, indictment of the South and the Southern civiliza 
tion. Mr. Caldwell and his work are already well known, while Mr. 
Rylee's book is a first novel, faulty, sometimes disappointing, but 
with much that is impressive, and much that is beautiful. The one 
deals largely with the poor whites, the unemployed laborers and the 
worse than unemployed share-croppers, as well as with the negroes 
whose position is still more miserable; while the other is largely con 
cerned with the relations between the two races. 

"Niggers have been the curse of this state, and of the South. It was 
too easy to live off them. But living off somebody else's strength 
makes you weak," declares old Mr. Rutherford, himself one of those 
white men who, once strong and energetic, have sunk into an apathy 
and decay which symbolizes the condition of that part of Mississippi 
to which Mose Southwick, negro laborer and farmhand, came after 
he lost his job in a Louisiana gravel-pit, and where he was presently 
tried for murder. It is the portrait of Mose which makes the novel 
memorable as a thing of dignity and fineness. For Mose, religious 
and ambitious to be ordained, is no plaster saint, but a very real 
human being who does wrong sometimes, and on at least one occa 
sion produces tragic results by sheer negligence. Yet for him the 
author can claim, and one feels justly, that his is a "great soul." 

His character is far from static; it develops through suffering and 
injustice and even more through an interest in and love for the land 
he cultivates, which gives him a certain pride of possession in those 
fields which are not his, though they owe so much to his labor. He is 
seen clearly, drawn firmly and lovingly, but without any marring 
touch of sentimentality. There is much of pathos, nothing of bathos 
in the picture of Mose and his helplessness in a world run by and for 
white people, a world wherein, according to Mr. Rylee, he has no 
rights, nor any claim to justice. Yet by sheer force and fineness of 
character he rises above circumstances until he no longer seems 
pitiable to the reader; while the woman lawyer who has jeopardized 
her career in his defense, feels that: "Mose is beyond her now," in a 
peace she could not achieve. 

In Mose, the sufferings as well as the best qualities of the negro are 
nobly drawn; and if the rest of the novel matched up with the portrait 
of its central character, the book would be a remarkable one. Un 
fortunately, the rest of the novel has many flaws. Old Mr. Ruther 
ford is excellently done, but Mary Winston, the white woman lawyer 



i,o : - 






[ 380 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

whose keen sense of justice compels her to undertake an almost hope 
less task, never becomes real. Her character was evidently intended 
to balance that of Mose, but she remains a lifeless figure, occasion 
ally serving as a mouthpiece for the author. The courtroom scenes, 
which should be moving and dramatic, fall flat partly because of 
Mary, partly because Mr. Rylee has not worked them up to the 
degree of tension which would make them memorable; while the 
figures of Mr. Rutherford's two worthless sons are as unreal as their 
behavior is melodramatic. At present, Mr. Rylee is far better at 
contemplative analysis of character than he is at handling dramatic 
moments; the first part of his book and its concluding chapters are 
much the best, though the descriptions of the life of which he is tell 
ing have ease and sureness from first to last. His deep compassion, 
his rebellion against injustice, result in an outlook far from hopeless. 
Mose has been defeated; his cause is lost; yet with him remains the 
victory. 

It is the wide difference in their outlook which most sharply dis 
tinguishes Robert Rylee's work from that of Erskine Caldwell. Mr. 
Caldwell has a keener sense of drama, a more incisive touch; but 
there is no lift, no possibility of triumph wrung from defeat in the 
negroes and poor whites of his brief, vivid stories. The longest tale 
in the book, which gives its title to the volume, is an utterly horrible 
one of physical and psychical degradation. It is not the central, 
hideous episode of the devouring of the old man by the ravenous hogs 
which is the ugliest thing in the story, but the complete debasement 
of the son, Lonnie a cringing, trembling wretch who cannot even 
be loyal to the one man who has helped and trusted him. From the 
cutting off of the dog's tail to that dreadful moment when the body 
of the betrayed negro falls crumpled upon the ground, horror follows 
horror until one's nerves can endure no more. 

And the other tales are almost if not quite as hopeless. The mother 
who sells her little daughter to buy food for her other children; the 
unemployed laborer who dies on the sidewalk while the owner of the 
big automobile which has struck and killed him declares that he is 
only faking; the huge negro, Candy-Man, shot down by a policeman 
as he comes swinging along the road on the way to visit his girl 
these and all the rest are part of a record of the merciless exploitation 
of the weak, of cruelty, treachery, of the lowest depths to which 
human nature can fall. 

Both books in their depiction of concrete instances are an arraign 
ment of the society which makes such instances possible. Mary 
Winston dares not defend Mose by using the truths she would have 
used had he been a white man, because she knows that to do so would 
alienate public opinion, and deprive him of any chance of escape he 



BOOK REVIEWS [ 381 ] 

might have. No one voices a protest when Candy- Man is shot down, 
and the men of the community all join in pumping bullets into the 
body of the negro who had dared stand up against a white man, even 
though they knew that white man to be unutterably vile. But where 
Erskine Caldwell merely presents the case as he sees it, Robert Rylee 
goes further and deeper, maintaining his belief in the power of char 
acter to surmount even the worst kind of circumstance. Mr. Cald 
well apparently sees degradation as finality; but it is quite evident 
that neither the story of Mose nor that of Mary is finished when 
"Deep Dark River" comes to an end. 

LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 

HERITAGE. By George F. Hummel. Stokes, $2.50. 

SECOND HOEING. By Hope Williams Syke. Putnam, $2.50. 

A FEW FOOLISH ONES. By Gladys Hasty Carroll. Macmillan, $2.50. 

HP HERE is a swelling procession of regional novels. Authors have 
suddenly become consciously regional; publishers are delighted 
to fill their lists with this sure-fire, old-home-town stuff in modern 
garb. At least the trend is producing novels worth reading as Baedek 
ers, if not as literature. No author writes of stars falling on Alabama 
without some fair idea of what sort of territory they are grazing. 
These books are popular because their sectionalism satisfies the curi 
osity of many readers concerning the lives of people living in the 
wheat belt, or the scrub country of the South (witness Miss Ferber's 
"So Big," Bromfield's "The Farm," or Marjorie Rinnan Rawling's 
"South Moon Under") and also nourishes the urban dweller's 
nostalgic hankerings after the land. 

In "Heritage," whose scene is cast on Long Island, Mr. Hummel 
claims what few casual residents realize today, that "in spite of the 
powerful influx of men-masses and social concepts from the giant 
metropolis which has absorbed the entire western end of Long Is 
land, whatever is fundamental and lasting in the character of present 
day Long Islanders is component of that slow insistent seepage of the 
New England tradition through the North American continent and 
North American life." For those who are interested in tracking down 
such a study, this sociological novel (which by Mr. Hummel's own 
statement is a labor of love) will prove gratifying. Others will un 
doubtedly consider it dull and prosaic. The book is set solidly, some 
times stolidly, in its wide, old-fashioned frame of loving memory. 

The inheritance woven into the tale is the Germany of the 'forties. 
While the Puritan settlers made and tried to keep Norwold (South- 
hold?), multiplying through intermarriage and prospering in their 
little self-contained community, the immigrants joined it to the 



[ 382 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

outside world. The author gives us the parallel, and later widely 
diverging, lives of twin brothers of German extraction and their en 
tanglements with American Puritan stock. He mingles, fuses, and 
muddles the life histories of three generations. He opens with John 
Beebe's hiring of Gottlob Weller, sturdy immigrant farm-hand and 
his gallant Frau Barbara, and ends the fifty year span with the 
marriage of Beebe's granddaughter and Weller's illegitimate grand 
child into one of Southold's oldest families. Physchologically speak 
ing, we are confronted with the wormwood and gall of defeat in love 
and material success, as it crystallized in the souls of twin brothers, 
aliens to a new world, and never wholly of it. 

Miss Syke's "Second Hoeing" emphasizes that same gulf between 
foreigner and American, even for the citizen with foreign-born 
parents. That bridge of nationality is never really crossed in her 
book. Yet one would have expected the adjustment to come in the 
last generation, the "Second Hoeing" following America's most 
crowded moments of expansion and lightning "progress." 

That familiar longing for the past, and for farming as a "way of 
life," that echoed through Pound's "Once a Wilderness" permeates 
"Second Hoeing," and is present once more in Mrs. Carroll's "A 
Few Foolish Ones." The latter is a finely turned novel, sentimental 
but authentic and alive, and somehow consoling in its philosophy. 
"Second Hoeing" has for its locale a setting heretofore foreign to 
fiction, the Colorado sugar-beet country. The writer furnishes a de 
piction less impersonal than is usual in European novels of soil, 
though equally naturalistic in detail. Hannah Schreissmiller is made 
of the same heroic stuff as Kate Bragdon in "A Few Foolish Ones," 
but she does not accept as easily a backwater fate, nor arrive at the 
same serenity as Mrs. Carroll's New Englander. 

The similarity obtains likewise between Gus Bragdon, hard 
Maine farmer, loving trees better than fellow humans because they 
were less "whiffle-minded" and the German Russian Fritz, harsh 
taskmaster, caring only about his beet crop and renter's prestige. It 
seems almost as though the three authors employed a set pattern; 
each has a self-sacrificing mother and stanch daughter, and the 
same existence barren of all but a few crude pleasures. 

In other words, a regional convention has come into existence; for 
years to come the presses will be flooded with regional novels, as care 
fully patterned from the original prototype as the movie stars of the 
Gar bo era. 

ELEANOR L. VAN ALEN 



Contributors 5 Column 

Herbert Agar ("Just Why Economics?") is the author of "The People's 
Choice," that entertaining account of the Presidents of the United 
States which won the Pulitzer prize for history in 1 934. This article 
will appear as a chapter on the Literature of Economics in "What Is 
a Book? Thoughts about Writing" an anthology which Dale 
Warren is editing for publication by Houghton Mifflin in November. 

L. B. Hessler ("On 'Bad Boy' Criticism") is Assistant Professor of 
English at the University of Minnesota. This article seems to be the 
result of a long, smoldering rebellion on the part of one who has made 
the love of books his vocation as well as his recreation. 

Paul Engle ("Prologue"), the author of "American Song" and 
"Worn Earth," is now a Rhodes Scholar from the State of Iowa, at 
Merton College, Oxford. Curiously enough, for a poet, he is con 
centrating in economics and modern history. However, he is also 
working on a new book, to which "Prologue" will be the introduc 
tion. 

Peter Odegard ("The Future of States' Rights") is the author of 
"Pressure Politics," and "The American Public Mind." He is Pro 
fessor of Political Science at Ohio State University. The whole 
problem of States' Rights has been one of his hobbies for many years. 

Kile Crook ("Wickford Gardens") is a Connecticut poet, and one of 
those "back-to-the-landers" that one hears so much about. 

Hoffman Nicker son ("In Behalf of States' Rights") is best known for his 
history of the Spanish Inquisition. However, he is also a student of 
American affairs. This paper springs from a profound conviction, the 
result of his European and American studies on the importance of 
local governments. 

Ruth Pickering ("Grant Wood, Painter in Overalls") is Associate 
Editor of Arts and Decoration. She is enthusiasic about the growing 
interest in art throughout this country. 

Richard Dana Skinner ("A Letter to Walter Damrosch") was formerly 
the dramatic critic of The Commonweal, and is now Associate Editor 
of the North American Review. 

William Cor dell ("Dark Days Ahead for King Cotton") was formerly 
an assistant to the head of the Department of Political Science at the 
University of Arkansas. He edits a yearly anthology of the best maga 
zine articles, entitled "Molders of American Thought." 

[383] 



[ 384 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Thomas Sugrue ("To a Pair of Gold Earrings") will be remembered by 
North American Review readers for his pungent article, "California 
in Thy Fashion," which appeared in our June issue. His versatile 
temperament is in no way phased by the task of running off a sonnet. 

Henry Morton Robinson ("Our Tipstaff Police") is the author of 
"Stout Cortez," as well as of several volumes of poetry. This study of 
our police system is a hobby with him. 

Arthur Van Dyck ("Radio, and Our Future Lives") is the Engineer-in- 
Charge of the RCA License Division Laboratories. There are few 
people in a better position to judge the accomplishments and future 
possibilities of radio. 

Charles Hanson Towne ("Miss Craigie") is well-known as former editor 
of Harper's Bazaar, and as a columnist. He wrote the English lyrics 
for Offenbach's opera, "La Belle Helene." 

Louise Maunsell Field ("Emancipating the Novel") writes here about 
some trends in the modern novel. Readers will remember a similar 
article in our December issue on the subject of modern biography, 
entitled "Biographical New Dealing." 

Paul Vanorden Shaw ("'Good Neighbor' and Cuba") is an estab 
lished authority on Latin America. He has taught history at Colum 
bia University for many years, and is now teaching and doing re 
search work in Panama. 

Dorothy Quick ("A Little Girl's Mark Twain") writes short stories for 
current periodicals. 

Elbra Dickinson ("Devotional") is a Massachusetts poet, and a distant 
relative of Emily Dickinson. 

Dorothy Gorrell ("Tumultuous Cloister") is the Managing Editor of 
the Wellesley College News. 

Catharine Cook Smith ("In Defense of Horsehair") believes that even 
Victorian furniture has its moments. She has many other interests, 
among them the sponsoring of children's dramatics. 

Henry Fort Milton ("History as a Major Sport"), the author of "The 
Age of Hate" and "The Eve of Conflict," is the President and Editor 
of the Chattanooga News. This article, as well as Mr. Agar's, will 
appear in Dale Warren's "What Is a Book?" 






THE 

NORTH 

AMERICAN 

REVIEW 



Founded 1815 




JOHN PELL Editor 
RICHARD DANA SKINNER Associate Editor 



VOLUME 240 DECEMBER 1935 NUMBER 3 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Foreword j. p. 387 

Songs of a Mountain Plowman JESSE STUART 391 

Recovery of What? CHARLES MAGEE ADAMS 396 

An Essay on Essays KATHARINE FULLERTON GEROULD 409 

Going after the Cows in a Fog. Verse R. p. TRISTRAM COFFIN 419 

New Deal Catharsis FRANK KENT 42 1 

Profit Sharing GEORGE HULL, JR. 425 

Mexico, My Beloved. Verse JOSEPHINE NIGGLI 433 

Mexican Small Town PHILIP STEVENSON 434 

Martinez, and Mexico's Renaissance BROOKE WARING 445 

Name Five Venezuelan Ventriloquists! Verse M. p. BURDEN 458 

Reorganizing these United States HERBERT c. PELL 460 

Old Calamity JOSEPH FULLING FISHMAN 470 

Where Ignorant Armies. Verse WINFIELD TOWNLEY SCOTT 487 

Modern American Biography E. H. O'NEILL 488 

Unions among the Unemployed WM. AND KATHRYN CORDELL 498 

The Plum Tree. Verse FRANCES FROST 511 

Mahaley Mullens. Story ROBERT TURNEY 512 
Book Reviews 

It Can't Happen Here HERSCHEL BRICKELL 543 

By Sinclair Lewis 

Vein of Iron LOUISE MAUNSELL FIELD 546 

By Ellen Glasgow 

Lucy Gayheart JOHN SLOCUM 549 

By Willa Gather 

The Voice of Bugle Ann THOMAS CALDECOT CHUBB 550 

By MacKinlay Kantor 

Feliciana RICHARD DANA SKINNER 553 

By Stark Young 

The Best Short Stories of 1935 WM. AND KATHRYN CORDELL 554 

Edited by Edward J. O'Brien 

Ulysses S. Grant, Politician E. H. O'NEILL 559 

By William B. Hesseltine 

Lucius Q, C. Lamar PHILIP BURNHAM 564 

By Wirt Armistead Gate 

Eugene O'Neill: A Poet's Quest RICHARD BURTON 568 

By Richard Dana Skinner 

Notes of Death and Life MILDRED BOIE 571 

By Theodore Morrison 

Contributors' Column 575 

THE NORTH_AMERICAN REVIEW: Published quarterly by the North American Review Corporation. 

3, 597 Ms 



Publication office, Rumford Building, Concord, N. H. Editorial and executive office, 597 Madison 
Avenue, New York, N. Y. Price $1.00 a copy; $4.00 per year; Canada, $4.25; foreign countries. $4.50. 
Entered as second-class matter Dec. 18, 1920, at the post office at Concord, N. H. , under Act of Congress 
of March 3, 1879. 

Copyright. 1935, by the North American Review Corporation: Walter Butler Mahony, President; 
David M. Figart, Secretary, John Pell, Treasurer. 

Title registered U. S. Patent Office. 



THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

VOLUME 240 DECEMBER 1935 NUMBER 3 



Foreword 

A* INTERVIEWER asked Henry Ford, the other 
day, what he thought were the best features and the 
worst features of the New Deal. "I think probably it's all 
good" was Mr. Ford's prompt reply. "I think it's 
probably all good because it gives people experience. We 
learn only by experience." 

There is a school of thought labeled the Old Guard 
which believes that a lot of the experience to which we 
are being subjected is unnecessary, but the Old Guard is 
notoriously intolerant. There was no practical and 
thorough way to explode the dreams of our contemporary 
Utopians except by giving them a chance to see what they 
could do. Upton Sinclair was a plausible and dangerous 
fanatic until he secured the nomination for the governor 
ship of California; now he is just another has-been. 
Father Coughlin attained the front page and political 
notoriety via the radio; but this very notoriety put him 
out of favor in the church, instead of lifting him into real 
political prominence. Professor Warren cut his own 
throat when he cut the gold content of the dollar, but 
failed to produce a millennium. Huey Long was a martyr 
to his own precepts: if he had not corrupted even the 
medical department of his state, it is alleged his life might 
have been saved. Rexford Tugwell, Felix Frankfurter and 
their colleagues have erected a superb object lesson in the 
honors of bureaucracy. 

[387] 



[ 388 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Of course, this Utopian business does not exactly form 
a new chapter in our history. Few people who read 
newspaper accounts of the TVA, the Alaska homestead 
project, and the other collectivist schemes which infest 
the New Deal, seem to realize that the history of white 
men on the American continent is almost a parade of such 
dreams-come-true (or almost true). Jamestown, the 
earliest settlement on our shores, was one of these; and 
later Plymouth followed, or tried to follow its pattern. 
The colonies of Georgia and Pennsylvania, as well as 
many others, were founded as miniature Utopias designed 
to carry out somebody's ideal. Thomas Hooker and his 
followers carried their ideals, as well as their women, 
children, cattle, pots and pans, into the wilderness to 
found Connecticut; while Roger Williams, animated by 
identical motives, found his way to Rhode Island. 
Immediately after the Revolution, the Vicomte de 
Noailles established, and soon abandoned, a settlement 
on the north branch of the Susquehanna appropriately 
called Asylum. Of all the Utopian projects the Mormon 
hejira was the most remarkable, if Thoreau's vigil at 
Walden was the most solitary. All of these, and many 
others, were searching for perfection. None found it, to be 
sure, but out of their idealism they carved our nation. 
Is it any wonder that this curious quality of mind, in 
digenous to our climate, persists? We shall always go on 
dreaming about the perfect community and its many 
manifestations: rural electrification, urban hygiene, 
privileges for the underprivileged, full dinner pails for the 
shiftless, and automobiles for everybody. 

The failure to recognize this deep-seated American 
quality accounts for a good deal of the confusion and 
bewilderment which infests our thinking today. Political 
writers refer to conservatives and liberals (borrowing the 



FOREWORD [ 389 ] 

names from English journals of opinion) without recog 
nizing that these are not and never have been American 
categories. Our true division is into idealists and prag- 
matists. The conflict between the two points of view is 
easily traceable, because at the outset of the Republic 
it was dramatized by two of its greatest figures, Jefferson 
and Hamilton. Our history is the conflict between the 
two, a succession of transcendent dreams and devastating 
disillusionment. We take to Stock Market gambling as 
naturally as ducks to water, because it is a sport which 
conforms to our temperament: fanciful prophecies, exag 
gerated enthusiasms, occasionally punctured by disillu 
sionment. When economic theories fail to rescue us from 
a depression, some new dream does the trick. Leave it to 
the automobile manufacturers to discover streamlining 
and the Warner Brothers, Shakespeare. 

Incidentally, their current production "A Midsummer 
Night's Dream" really deserves some comment. The 
Warner Brothers are not soft-headed, and they do not 
produce art for art's sake. They recognized that some 
thing had to be done the movies were losing their grip 
on the people. Glamorous girls, gunmen, trained animals, 
dancers, comedians, G-men, sophisticates, Irish mothers, 
nude chorines, little boys, little girls, all the pragmatic 
devices had lost their old appeal. So the Warner Brothers 
sent for Reinhardt and Shakespeare (they probably did 
not know he was dead). 

The movies afford the finest medium for artistic 
expression which has as yet been evolved, and they may 
be on the threshold of a period comparable to the 
Elizabethan age in the drama. Some directors are begin 
ning to perceive the true relationships between photog 
raphy, music and the human mind, and to develop the 
technique of suggestion. If, in the last analysis, art as well 



[ 390 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

as natural beauty are recognized by a sensation of ecstasy, 
a synthesis of color, form and music affords an unparal 
leled opportunity for producing it. 

Of course, ecstasy can be produced without mechanical 
contrivances. The value of poetry is undiminished by the 
evolution of photography and, fortunately, there are 
poets in America, as well as motion picture directors. 
Some of them, like Jesse Stuart, live in the country, far 
from New York, Chicago, and even Hollywood. Although 
he has occasionally wandered from the Kentucky Moun 
tains, he has never left them for long. In the winters he 
teaches in the neighborhood school, summers he farms his 
102 acre farm (it has two acres of bottom land). He un 
derstands and loves his native hills as he understands and 
loves the power of words. With the spirit of independence 
which once typified the American farmer, he accepts no 
government bounties and allows no one to interfere with 
his freedom. Being a student, he may be familiar with 
Jefferson's warning: "Were we directed from Washington 
when to sow and when to reap we should soon want 
bread." 



Songs of a Mountain Plowman 

JESSE STUART 

Here are the songs I give you: a wisp of leaves; 

Green pines white evening skies a bowl of blue; 

A world of dirt a wind among the trees 

These things to leave or take them as you please. 

But these are things I freely give to you. 

Such are the things I love: a clover lane. 

And bees aworking on the clover tops 

The blackberry blossoms drinking fresh spring rain. 

And soft winds gently swaying green beech tops. 

These are the things I love I say, I love 

These little things that I'm a singing of. 

And reader, I would love to walk with you; 

On our dirt earth: upon this bowl of blue; 

I'd love to walk with you and talk with you. 



We stand here idle, half afraid to stir. 

We cannot even find the path to take. 

Too many roads are leading everywhere, 

Through pasturefields, cornfields and brushy brakes. 

Here are the skies: the good clean wind to breathe, 

The deep rich loamy earth beneath our feet, 

And here are many roads to take or leave; 

Earth for the bed: the clean wind for the sheet. 

I guess it does not matter much the way we go, 

Or where we go, or when, or how, or why. 

For we must keep our feet upon the earth 

And we must live in wind beneath the sky. 

The road lies here before me, if I lose 

It is my fault: no certain road I choose. 

[390 



[ 392 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Now listen Plowman, listen ! Don't you hear 

The music in the pasture streams this year? 

And don't you hear caroling of birds, 

Songs sweeter than the songs of human words 

Songs lighter than the wind among the leaves. 

I think the birds stole music from the leaves 

When winds were blowing through the tops of trees. 

That is the reason that the birds can sing 

Much sweeter songs than I can sing this spring. 

Now Plowman, let your tired mules rest a spell 

And lean against the handles of your bull-tongue plow. 

I know you cannot see the oak buds swell, 

But you can listen to the song-birds now. 

And don't you think the songs of corn-field birds 

Are sweeter than the songs of human words? 



The crickets sing and all around the heat 
Glimmers like heat above a brush-pile fire; 
And thousand-legs crawl out on a thousand feet, 
And birds sing from a rusty barb-fence wire 
This is the day life is so lazy here 
Among the wilted weeds and wilted leaves 
That sag earthward from arms of the oak trees. 
This is the day that writhing, hungry snakes 
Crawl by the creek to get the lean bull-frogs. 
This is the day the lizards lie on logs 
And blink and blink their little beady eyes 
And with lips tight look to the floating skies - 
For soon they have their bellies filled with flies 
And copperhead lies in the weeds in wait 
Where soon a just- weaned rabbit meets its fate. 



SONGS OF A MOUNTAIN PLOWMAN [ 393 ] 

I'm hungry Life for woods and rocks and skies 

And for the fern-crowned cliffs and sky-blue streams; 

I'm hungry Life for the old paradise 

Of moss-soft woods where summer sunlight gleams. 

I'm hungry Life I want to walk alone 

Where there are sounds of wind and wild bird calls 

I want to saunter out and touch the stone 

Where over sandstones shirt-blue water falls. 

I'm hungry Life for scent of leaf and bloom; 

I'm hungry Life for a sweet breath of wind; 

For in this peopled land there's little room 

For mighty oaks for one to ramble in 

No room, O Life, amid this noise and gloom 

For songs of birds and wind-grass tambourine. 



We are the young today: the power is ours 
To clear the hills of brush and plow the ground. 
And all the hours we live are silver hours. 
Fresh nourishment from earth is in our veins. 
The life that's in young trees is in our veins. 
We are the young, and beauty of the flowers 
Makes strong impressive channels on our brains. 
Look to the east and west: the purpling sky 
Over the earth is lazily floating by 
We are the young and we can reach the sky; 
Put out our hands: the sky will come to us; 
The sky will come, a great white bird to us. 
And for our loves green leaves will sing to us; 
The green leaves and white lilting flowers 
That hang out in the wind and love the hours. 
We are the young today: the power is ours. 



[ 394 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

America: the blood of you is in me! 

America: the dirt of you is in me! 

Root and blossom I belong to you ! 

And every leave that grows on this oak tree 

Is made America, of dust of you ! 

America: it is your hills in me; 

I never saw one of your western plains 

It is your ruggedness of hills in me 

And toughness of fiber of the oak tree. 

The toughness of the oak was in my sires; 

The blood of mountain earth was in their veins. 

Today, I must go marching, marching on 

Carrying blood of my fathers mountain-born; 

Men color of buff-colored autumn corn . 



I hear the wind a-blowing across the land. 

I love the music of the wind's wide sweep 

As it blows through the brush across the land. 

The music of the wind lulls me to sleep. 

And long before the autumn has gone by 

And multi-colored leaves cling to the boughs, 

I love to hear this wind asweeping by 

And watch the leaves go windward from the boughs. 

For what is life without some music in it, 

And what is sweeter music than the wind. 

My friend our life span is a golden minute 

And we had better find some music in it 

The wind is both a flute and violin. 

I love to walk under night trees and listen 

When moonlight, starlight on the dead earth glisten. 



SONGS OF A MOUNTAIN PLOWMAN [ 395 ] 

I'm mad with this leaf-strewn November mood. 

I'm mad for in this life is too much life 

A windy autumn mood is now my mood 

Something of autumn has crept into my blood. 

Winds sigh through barren trees with lonely sound. 

Wet autumn leaves stick closely to the ground 

I'm mad with autumn for no reason why 

Not even for the windy autumn sky 

That floats almost the level of the trees 

Above the earth that's plastered with dead leaves. 

I'm mad with autumn for I hear her gods 

In winds above awhispering to the night; 

Like the ghosts of dead leaves in an autumn flight. 



Roll over clouds like ledges of thick stones ! 
Roll over me dark clouds roll over fast ! 
Roll over me tonight ... I am alone; 
Far in these windy woods I am alone. 
Roll over me you night clouds flying fast ! 
Lightning streak the valleys with quick light. 
Flash deep into the heart of this black night ! 
Come on you rain and wet the parching night! 
Roll over me you clouds in this clean January 
And fall white tons of rain down on the timber. 
Something there is about this night I love; 
This night dark as a grave so gray above. 
A whip of lightning and a crack of thunder. 
Come on rain, sleet and snow and feed the timber! 
Make this a night I always shall remember! 



Recovery of What? 

CHARLES MAGEE ADAMS 

T LAST the sun of recovery seems to be breaking 
through the fog of depression. After the false dawns 
of the past several years, that statement may suggest rash 
optimism. If so, it should not be charged to the writer 
alone. Eminent economists and industrialists have pub 
licly pointed to multiplying signs that the ebb of the busi 
ness tide has given place to a resurgent flood. Indeed, 
some declare that recovery is already here. 

Whether these economic mariners are calculating the 
drift correctly is irrelevant to this discussion. Not that 
there is any intent to dismiss business recovery as incon 
sequential. That would be futile, for recovery is impera 
tive. Nevertheless, trying to discern a significant pattern 
in the kaleidoscope of events as every sentient being 
must now and then it seems to the writer that there is 
something else that may be of equal, if not greater long- 
run importance than recovery itself: namely, our con 
notation, concept, philosophy, of recovery. 

For most of us the word has come to possess compelling 
magic. It stands out enticingly in newspaper headlines, 
makes heartening music in the ear. But precisely what 
do we mean by recovery? No doubt that seems a stupid 
question. Anyone can describe, if not define, recovery. 
Its distinguishing characteristics are healthy profits, gen 
eral employment at good pay, buoyant commodity and 
security markets, other manifestations of brisk commercial 
and industrial activity. In short, it represents everything 
people can buy and do with increased income. 

This, however, is only the contemporary husk of the 
word. At heart it means to regain, recapture, repossess; 

[396] 



RECOVERY OF WHAT? [ 397 ] 

which in turn implies a goal, an objective. Essentially, 
then, the question is: Just what are we hoping to attain 
once more; what are we expecting to lay hold of again? 

Of course the answers vary as widely as the answerers. 
It is noteworthy, however, that virtually all of them can 
be expressed in terms of business charts and indices. The 
generally accepted goal of recovery is economic improve 
ment. What we seem to be on the verge of repossessing 
are greater means of living, our industrial and commer 
cial health though not merely the spotty vigor of 1929. 
We are hoping some of us are even resolved that 
when it comes, recovery shall assure everyone the oppor 
tunity of having more of the things money can buy and 
do, than before the fateful dawn of "black Thursday." 

This is both natural and legitimate. For six years, 
millions have been in varying degrees of want. Their need 
for what recovery can make possible, is no erudite ab 
straction. Moreover, in view of the grotesque inequalities 
of the boom years, no fair-minded person will deny the 
justice not to mention the economic soundness of 
broadening the purchasing-power base. Yet it is signifi 
cant that the commonly held concept of recovery limits 
its objectives so sharply to economic improvement. That 
should become clear if one examines the situation more 
closely. 

The 1929 depression was different from its predeces 
sors: not so much in cause, intensity and duration, as in 
the efforts made to emerge from it. For the first time in our 
history the Federal government undertook the role of 
full-fledged economic physician. Using a thick sheaf of 
prescriptions too familiar to be listed here, it sought not 
only to relieve the symptoms but to stop the infection at 
its supposed source. Many of the medicines have been 
drastic and costly. Also, the great Washington specialist 



[ 398 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

has employed plastic surgery and skin grafting. However, 
even more striking than this governmental therapy are 
its mentors and inspirers. 

To an extent incomparably greater than any similar 
crisis, the 1929 depression enlisted the efforts of what are 
popularly known as the "theorists." These are not merely 
economists and sociologists, with a professional interest in 
such problems. They also include lawyers, clergymen, 
teachers, writers, engineers, scholars, humanitarians. 
Forsaking their briefs, charts and theses, they have set 
out on an intellectual crusade to in their own phrase 
end the sardonic spectacle of want in the midst of 
plenty. Considering the high-minded enthusiasm of 
most, it seems proper to call them idealists rather than 
theorists. Some have joined the Roosevelt Administra 
tion in official capacities. But the majority have continued 
their private pursuits, devotedly championing the "more 
abundant life." Probably no economic emergency has 
ever marshalled such an impressive array of brains and so 
much zeal for improving the common lot. 

Either because or in spite of this government-idealist 
coalition (the point is still at issue) recovery is now within 
sight. Yet an ironic anomaly persists. It is the widespread 
disposition to believe that economic recovery automati 
cally assures a solution of our basic difficulties. 

If this view were limited to the "man in the street" 
and the "practical" politicians it would be quite under 
standable. The M. I. T. S. (using the Washington desig 
nation) is pretty certain to believe that virtually any 
difficulty can be resolved, given enough money. And of 
course the mill-run politician would never disillusion 
him if he could. But the view is not so limited. 

It is also shared by most of the idealists who general- 
staff the crusade for human betterment. Here are no 



RECO VERT OF WHA T? [ 399 ] 

mediocre minds, no kowtowing to the multitude. As a 
group they represent much of the nation's first-rate abil 
ity, perhaps the bulk of its social vision. Yet most of them 
subscribe to the complacent belief that economic recovery 
automatically assures an end to our major difficulties. 

To be sure, they rarely state the proposition in so many 
words. Nevertheless, the implication is plain. After read 
ing their articles, or listening to their speeches, one can 
summarize their position thus: We need only clear up 
this economic mess, give everybody a good job, step up 
consumption to production then "happy days" will be 
here again. 

It would be pleasant indeed to concur in this comfort 
able view, the more when it has such eminent support. 
But, unfortunately, the facts do not permit it. At most, 
economic recovery can dispose of just one set of human 
problems, those arising from depressed business condi 
tions. It not only fails to solve, but aggravates, a second 
set of problems, humanly far more serious than the first. 
For economic recovery merely assures more abundant 
means of living. It provides no clearer notion of the ends 
for which these means should be used. 

There, it seems to this bystander, is the glaring anom 
aly of our recovery concept. Now that it is within 
sight, it turns out that what we have been struggling so 
desperately to regain these past six years is not an objec 
tive but merely better transportation. Where we propose 
to go in our swifter stream-lined vehicle remains as 
uncertain as ever. 

The irony of the situation becomes the more pointed 
when one remembers that the idealists, rather than hard- 
headed business men, have supplied most of the inspira 
tion and direction for our organized recovery effort. Yet 
they have committed the error least expected of them: 



[ 400 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

glorifying the material and ignoring the intangible. 

Theoretically, their recovery philosophy is that we 
must raise mass purchasing-power to an all-time high in 
order to assure richer, fuller living. That would be air 
tight were it not for a wrong relation of the two factors. 
Instead of means and end, they have become coupled as 
cause and effect. Now the recovery thesis is warped into 
the contention that once mass pruchasing-power is 
stepped up sufficiently, richer, fuller living will follow. 

To be fair, it must be said that this distortion is at 
tributable more to emphasis than to direct statement. 
Analyzing the utterances of representative recovery zeal 
ots, it will be found that reams are devoted to the me 
chanics of the "more abundant life": shorter hours, 
higher pay, unemployment insurance, old age pensions, 
stabilized agriculture, conservation of resources, low-cost 
housing, cheaper electricity, and so on. Only brief vague 
paragraphs are devoted to what is to be done with these 
Utopian blessings. Apparently that is taken for granted. 
Once such a wealth of facilities is provided, it is cheer 
fully assumed that the beneficiaries will make intelligent, 
constructive use of them, as inevitably as day follows 
night. 

The best that can be said of such a feeling (scarcely 
reasoning) is that it betrays an almost ludicrous naivete. 
To contend that more abundant means per se assure more 
abundant living, is as absurd as to expect skilled crafts 
manship from a workman merely because he is equipped 
with precision tools. Which is to say, it ignores the vital 
element of the problem, the human factor. 

That is not cynicism. Neither does it represent the 
sneer of a patrician, viewing the plight of the rabble 
from the remote heights of wealth. (The writer's back 
ground can scarcely be called aristocratic. And certainly 



RECOVERY OF WHAT? [401 ] 

he has had sufficient first-hand experience with dollar- 
stretching to leave no illusions about the "blessings" of 
poverty.) It is simply a candid statement of facts that 
should be obvious. 

Notwithstanding all the real suffering incident to the 
depression and the galling inequities of boom times, the 
bitter tragedy or grim comedy of our civilization is that 
so many millions already live in a state that can be termed 
prosperous poverty. Let me clarify that perhaps contra 
dictory phrase by citing examples. 

The "Joneses" are an "average" family: parents, two 
sons, two daughters; the children past their majority. 
Despite the depression, all save the mother are employed 
at good jobs; the father and the boys in industrial plants, 
the girls in offices. And their "standard of living" be 
speaks an ample income. 

Their commodious house, which they own debt-free, 
is well-kept, comfortably if not tastefully furnished, and 
equipped with the modern conveniences. In the garage 
are three cars, all recent models. The family dresses well, 
the girls even conspicuously. Their table is spread with 
bountiful, though unimaginative meals. They take part 
in various social activities which entail expense. On vaca 
tion trips they have covered most of the country. Super 
ficially, the Joneses are a case demonstration of what 
purchasing power can do to improve the status of the 
nation's backbone. But a glimpse beneath the surface 
discloses things not so heartening. 

Most of the Joneses' reading is limited to the "fun 
nies," the sports page and gossip columns. As regards 
music provided by the radio their tastes divide 
along the line of the generations, between hill-billy tunes 
and Tin Pan Alley. To them, the theatre means the 
movies almost any movie. The bulk of Mr. Jones' 



[ 402 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

conversation is shop-talk and ward politics. Mrs. Jones 
is a walking file of recipes and warm neighborhood 
gossip. Under a slick veneer of wisecracks, the boys are 
loutish. Women and cars are their obsessions; work a 
necessary evil. Despite makeup which changes with their 
worship of screen stars, the girls wear a look of blank 
animation. They chatter about clothes and men in slurred 
hoarse voices. 

But wry as is their commentary on progress, the full 
significance of the Joneses can be seen only in historical 
perspective. Two generations ago a man of Jones' native 
ability would have been restricted to a career as tenant 
farmer or humble artisan. His sons would have been 
limited to pursuits only little better; his daughters to 
domestic service, if they found gainful employment at all. 
The family's standard of living would have been on a 
scale implicit in these conditions. It is the many times 
greater purchasing power put within reach of millions, 
by our modern economy, that has raised the Joneses to 
a status that would have been considered opulence fifty 
years ago. Yet, judged by the exacting criteria of intangi 
ble values, the contemporary Joneses lead lives little if any 
richer, fuller, happier than their grandparents. 

This personalizes the stubborn fact that the physical 
equipment which determines what we carelessly call the 
standard of living, is merely the machinery of living. Its 
human value is measured solely and directly by the use to 
which it is put. Of course that should be self-evident. But, 
bewilderingly, it is overlooked by a high proportion of the 
very group which should be most sensitive to imponder 
ables. 

The tactical objectives of the social prophets are such 
things as a higher minimum income, better housing, ade 
quate medical care. In themselves, these are beyond 



RECO VERT OF WHA T? [ 403 ] 

reproach. However, the current over-emphasis of them 
has the lamentable effect of putting the cart before the 
horse, obscuring the intangible factors that are para 
mount. Thousands of families are living richly on far less 
than the $1800 to $2200 income variously set up as 
necessary for decency. There are slums on Park avenue 
while countless dingy flats are true mansions. And the 
most significant fact of modern health is the decisive 
influence of emotional states. 

By implication at least, the idealists disregard all this, 
minimize the fundamental that the best things of life are 
cheapest, in terms of money. Paradoxically, they line up 
with the "desire-creating" forces of commercialism that 
make us covet most of the things money can buy, not so 
much for their intrinsic beauty or utility as for their 
attainment aura. 

The grandiose vision which beckons the social philos 
ophers is an economy under which group purchasing 
power shall be spread, and raised to the point where 
everyone may have relatively everything he wants. Cer 
tainly, if such a scheme could be put into effect, America 
would become an earthly paradise save, that is, for an 
important question which remains unanswered. To what 
humanly constructive use will the recipients put the 
bounty poured out from the bigger and better horn of 
plenty? 

Of course that will be branded as the rankest sort of 
"Tory" treason. According to our political philosophy, 
the use one makes of one's private means (provided, of 
course, that these means do not constitute the crime per 
se of "great wealth") is a strictly personal matter. It is 
for the individual, not society, to determine how they 
shall be employed. 

Unfortunately, however, it is not an individual prob- 



[ 404 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

lem. Our modern economy is so tightly articulated that 
the individual can do virtually nothing which does not 
affect others, and more than ever under the scheme of 
things envisioned by the recovery zealots. 

Long before the depression typhoon struck, commerce 
and industry sought to make us voracious consumption 
machines. We were persuaded and adjured to eat, wear, 
use, more of this and that; not because we wanted to, but 
because it was our duty to devour the output of produc 
tion. 

The depression tightened this same obligation. We 
were repeatedly bally hooed into buying "till it hurts" to 
stimulate employment. And since the Roosevelt adminis 
tration came into power, our socio-economic responsibil 
ity has been extended in a score of ways, by legislation. 
The processing taxes force all of us to contribute to the 
increased income of the agricultural community. The 
NRA required all to provide greater earnings for another 
class of workers. Payroll taxes, shouldered by the con 
sumer, are to finance the social security program. The 
TVA seeks to improve one section at the expense of the 
whole nation. And the current taxation set-up makes it 
expedient to spend any income in excess of comfort 
requirements. 

In short, the tendency of our modern economy is to 
force each of us to earn more in order to provide a higher 
income for all the rest. That being the case, the question 
of the use to which this increased purchasing power is 
put, becomes a legitimate matter of general concern. 

Is the opportunity for higher earnings to result in the 
deepening and enrichment of living? Or does it mean 
simply the addition of more millions to those who already 
exist in a condition of prosperous poverty? There, it seems 
to me, is the real hub of our recovery problem. 



RECO VERT OF WHA T? [ 405 ] 

Unless all indications are misleading, the innumerable 
counterparts of the "Joneses" will embark, as soon as 
possible, on a "more abundant life" distinguished by 
these striking advancements: an even faster car, still 
more fattening foods (alternated, of course, with spas 
modic dieting, at least by the women), a louder radio, 
more silk and fur and cosmetics, four or five movies a 
week instead of the present two or three, more contract 
bridge at higher stakes, better cigarettes, more labor- 
saving appliances that create more leisure time to be 
"killed," bigger and better vacations measured in terms 
of hot-dog stands and new daily mileage records; the sort 
of existence climaxed by the futile pathos of retirement 
in Florida or California. 

To be sure, education is supposed to be the infallible 
panacea. "College for everybody" was part of the late 
Huey Long's Utopia. And the oracles of public enlight 
enment are rumbling with convenient vagueness 
about the necessity of more training for living. But the 
help to be expected from formal education is slight in 
deed. The showing made by purely factual instruction 
is dismal enough as witness slovenly speech despite 
years of classroom English, and the thriving business 
done by medical quacks notwithstanding courses in 
hygiene and physiology. When cultural training is con 
sidered, the indistinguishable tastes of most college grad 
uates afford an ironic commentary on its effectiveness. 

No, the problem of how to attain a truly abundant life 
cannot be solved merely by more paternalistic super 
vision, creating an FALA (Federal Abundant Living 
Administration), heavily bankrolled and staffed with 
bureaucratic brass-hats. If it is to be solved at all by 
deliberate effort, that effort will have to come primarily 
from the idealists of the country. 



[ 406 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

It is they who inspired and captained the crusade for 
more bountiful means of living. Accordingly, now that 
their material goal is within sight, it is only reasonable to 
expect them to devote their major energies to achieving 
next the intangible ends for which these practical means 
were sought. In other words, the moment seems at hand 
for the idealists to go back to ideals; shift their emphasis 
from "standards of living" to living itself. Assuming a 
willingness to do so (unfortunately by no means evident 
as yet), an effective line of attack is clear enough. 

The charge repeatedly made against the wealthy by the 
champions of the "underprivileged" is that they are 
lacking in sober responsibility, vulgarly indifferent to the 
cultural opportunities opened up by the power of money. 
Often that charge is valid. Many of the very rich do lead 
lives of gilded stupidity. But it is also true that wealth is 
a relative quantity. Compared with conditions that pre 
vailed as recently as two or three generations ago, mil 
lions of Americans (I should say a substantial majority) 
now enjoy a standard of living whose comfort, even 
luxury, was surpassed only by the top-income minority 
in previous eras. It is, then, not illogical or unreasonable 
to expect these newcomers to affluence to meet the same 
requirements imposed on the wealthy of today. 

The nearer we approach the idealists' goal of material 
recovery, the more imperative it becomes for the preachers, 
teachers, social prophets and humanitarians to implant 
the philosophy of cultural noblesse oblige in the popu 
lar consciousness; the sobering recognition that the oppor 
tunity for greater earnings carries an implicit and com 
plementary obligation to make constructive, respectful, 
human use of the more abundant means put within reach 
of the many. 

For this vastly increased earning power has not been 



RECO VERT OF WHA T? [ 407 ] 

conjured out of thin air by the magic of a Washington 
decree. It represents the cumulative effort of many gener 
ations in part groping but more and more purposeful 
to achieve something better for humanity. Naturally, 
the competent few have contributed most to that effort. 
But, significantly, they stand to receive less than before 
in return. 

Under the growing doctrine of social responsibility, 
we ask that business executives, technicians, financiers, 
and investors shall adopt something of the same philos 
ophy that motivates artists, thinkers and scientists; ac 
cept a smaller share of the values they create than would 
be theirs under the hard every-man-for-himself creed, 
in order that there may be more to distribute among the 
sub-competent. From the standpoint of human justice, 
there is much to be said for the application of this doc 
trine. But the balances held by the classic representation 
of Justice are more than a decorative detail. When the 
competent are expected to forego what they might right 
fully claim, for the sake of the sub-competent, it is only 
fair to demand that the beneficiaries shall be guided by 
a sense of social responsibility in the use of what is pro 
vided for them. If they are not, the competent can 
scarcely be blamed for feeling that the doctrine of social 
responsibility is a glittering pretext for exploiting them. 
And in the last analysis, progress depends on the com 
petent few not the inept many. 

All this, let me make clear, is not being set down in a 
spirit of bitterness or contempt. Rather, it is prompted 
by a deep concern, tinged with both impatience and pity. 
No intelligent person can, I think, view the contemporary 
spectacle without some such mixed feelings. At a tre 
mendous cost, not only in public funds but, more impor 
tant, in the effort of our best minds, we are on the verge 



[ 4 o8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

of attaining that condition popularly called recovery. 
But is what we are actually regaining worth the terrific 
price? In human essentials, are we going to be a great deal 
better off? Can economic well being per se bring most of 
us appreciably nearer the avowed goal of richer living, 
fulfilled possibilities, true civilization? 

At the risk of seeming to wield a wet blanket, I must 
confess that my dominant reaction to these questions is a 
regretful doubt. It looks very much as if we have been 
devoting ourselves chiefly to restoring the health of an 
adult body housing an adolescent mind. Until we have 
brought the mind up to the stature of the body, we can 
scarcely call recovery significant or complete. 



An Essay on Essays 

KATHARINE FULLERTON GEROULD 

SOME of the rhetoric books my generation used in col 
lege went back to Aristotle for many of their defini 
tions. "Rhetoric," he says, "may be defined as a faculty 
of discovering all the possible means of persuasion in any 
subject." Persuasion, indeed, is more starkly and simply 
the purpose of the essay than of fiction or poetry, since 
the essay deals always with an idea. No true essay, how 
ever desultory or informal, but states a proposition 
which the writer hopes, temporarily at least, to make the 
reader accept. Though it be only the defense of a mood, 
subject and predicate are the bare bones of any essay. It 
may be of a complex nature (like many of Emerson's) 
stating several propositions; but unless it states at least 
one, it is not an essay. It may be a dream or a dithyramb; 
I repeat, it is not an essay. 

Let us neglect the old rhetorical distinctions between 
exposition and argument. To sort all essays into those 
two types of writing would be more troublesome a task 
than the wicked stepmother ever set her stepdaughter in 
a fairy-tale. We can no more do it without the help of 
magic than could the poor princess. When is an essay 
argument, and when is it exposition? That way lie aridity 
and the carving of cummin. In so far as the essay at 
tempts to persuade, it partakes of the nature of argument. 
Yet who would call Lamb's "Dream Children" an argu 
ment? Or who shall say it is not an essay? It contains a 
proposition, if you will only look for it; yet to associate 
Lamb's persuading process with the forum would be 
preposterous. All writing presupposes an audience 
(which some of our younger writers seem to forget) but 

[409] 



[ 410 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

formal argument presupposes opponents, and I cannot 
find the faintest scent of an enemy at hand in " Dream 
Children." 

I am sorry to kick the dust of the Schools about, even 
in this half-hearted way, yet some salutation had to be 
made to rhetoric, which is a noble science, too much neg 
lected. Let us now forget the rhetoricians, and use our 
own terminology (our common sense too, if we have any). 
Let us say, first, that the object of the essay is, explicitly, 
persuasion; and that the essay states a proposition. In 
deed, we need to be as rigorously simple as that, if we are 
going to consider briefly a type that is supposed to in 
clude Bacon's "Of Truth," De Quincey's "Murder as 
a Fine Art," Lamb's "In Praise of Chimney Sweeps," 
Hazlitt's "On Going a Journey," Irving's "Bachelors," 
Hunt's "Getting up on Cold Mornings," Poe's "The 
Poetic Principle," Emerson's "Self-Reliance," Arnold's 
"Function of Criticism," Stevenson's "Penny Plain and 
Twopence Coloured," Paul Elmer More's "The Demon 
of the Absolute," Chesterton's "On Leisure," Max Beer- 
bohm's "No. 2. The Pines," Stephen Leacock's "People 
we Know," and James Truslow Adams' "The Mucker 
Pose." 

The foregoing list, in itself, confesses our main diffi 
culty in delimiting the essay. The most popular kind of 
essay, perhaps, is that known as "familiar." When people 
deplore the passing of the essay from the pages of our 
magazines, it is usually this that they are regretting. 
They are thinking wistfully of pieces of prose like Lamb's 
"Sarah Battle on Whist," Leigh Hunt's "The Old Gen 
tleman," Stevenson's "El Dorado," Max Beerbohm's 
"Mobled King." They mean the essay that is largely de 
scriptive, more or less sentimental or humorous, in which 
it is sometimes difficult to find a stated proposition. This 



AN ESSAY ON ESSAYS [ 41 1 ] 

kind of prose has not been very popular since the war, 
and I, for one, am not regretting it. It will come back 
as long as the ghost of Montaigne is permitted to revisit 
the glimpses of the moon. But the familiar-essay- which- 
is-hardly-an-essay can be spared for a few years if neces 
sary, since it demands literary gifts of a very high order, 
and the authors mentioned have at present no com 
petitors in this field. If the bones of the essay are to be 
weak, the flesh must be exceeding fair and firm. 

Are we to admit, at all, that "Sarah Battle" and "The 
Old Gentleman," and "El Dorado" and "Mobled 
King" are essays? Do they state a proposition to which 
they attempt to persuade us? Well, we can twist them to 
a proposition, if we are very keen on our definition 
though I think most of us would admit that they are 
chiefly descriptive and that they are only gently directed 
to the creation of opinion. Must we then deny that they 
are essays? No, I think they are essays, though it is obvi 
ous that the familiar essayist goes about his business far 
otherwise than Arnold or Emerson or Macaulay. He at 
tempts rather to sharpen our perceptions than to con 
vince us of a statement; to win our sympathy rather than 
our suffrage. His proposition is less important to him 
than his mood. If put to it, we can sift a proposition out 
of each one of these and they were especially chosen 
because they put our definition on its defense. Lamb 
states, if you like, that to abide by the rigor of the game is 
in its way an admirable thing; Leigh Hunt states, if you 
like, that growing old is a melancholy business; Steven 
son states that it is better to travel hopefully than to ar 
rive; Max Beerbohm states that no man is worthy to be 
reproduced as a statue. But the author's proposition, in 
such essays, is not our main interest. This brings us to an 
other consideration which may clarify the matter. 



[ 4 i2 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Though an essay must state a proposition, there are 
other requirements to be fulfilled. The bones of subject 
and predicate must be clothed in a certain way. The 
basis of the essay is meditation, and it must in a measure 
admit the reader to the meditative process. (This proce 
dure is frankly hinted in all those titles that used to begin 
with "Of" or "On": "Of Truth," "Of Riches," "On the 
Graces and Anxieties of Pig-Driving," "On the Knocking 
at the Gate in 'Macbeth'," "On the Enjoyment of Un 
pleasant Places"). An essay, to some extent, thinks aloud; 
though not in the loose and pointless way to which the 
"stream of consciousness" addicts have accustomed us. 
The author must have made up his mind otherwise, 
where is his proposition? But the essay, I think, should 
show how and why he made up his mind as he did; 
should engagingly rehearse the steps by which he came 
to his conclusions. ("Francis of Verulam reasoned thus 
with himself".) Meditation; but an oriented and fruitful 
meditation. 

This is the most intimate of forms, because it permits 
you to see a mind at work. On the quality and temper of 
that mind depends the goodness of the production. Now, 
if the essay is essentially meditative, it cannot be polemi 
cal. No one, I think, would call Cicero's first oration 
against Catiline an essay; or Burke' s Speech on the Con 
ciliation of America; hardly more could we call Swift's 
"Modest Proposal" a true essay. The author must have 
made up his mind, but when he has made it up with a 
vengeance, he will not produce an essay. Because the 
process is meditative, the manner should be courteous; he 
should always, by implication, admit that there are good 
people who may not agree with him; his irony should 
never turn to the sardonic. Reasonableness, urbanity (as 
Matthew Arnold would have said) are prerequisites for a 



AN ESSAY ON ESSAYS [ 413 ] 

form whose temper is meditative rather than polemical. 
We have said that this is the most intimate of forms. 
Not only for technical reasons, though obviously the 
essayist is less sharply controlled by his structure than the 
dramatist or the sonneteer or even the novelist. It is the 
most intimate because it is the most subjective. When 
people talk of "creative" and "critical" writing divid 
ing all literature thus they always call the essay criti 
cal. In spite of Oscar Wilde, to call it critical is probably 
correct; for creation implies objectivity. The created 
thing, though the author have torn its raw substance 
from his very vitals, ends by being separate from its 
creator. The essay, however, is incurably subjective; 
even "Wuthering Heights" or "Manfred" is less subjec 
tive strange though it sound than "The Function 
of Criticism" or "The Poetic Principle." What Oscar 
Wilde really meant in "The Critic as Artist" if, that 
is, you hold him back from his own perversities is not 
that Pater's essay on Leonardo da Vinci was more crea 
tive than many a novel, but that it was more subjective 
than any novel; that Pater, by virtue of his style and his 
mentality, made of his conception of the Mona Lisa 
something that we could be interested in, regardless of 
our opinion of the painting. I do not remember that 
Pater saw himself as doing more than explain to us what 
he thought Leonardo had done Pater, I think, would 
never have regarded his purple page as other than criti 
cism. I, myself because I like the fall of Pater's words, 
and do not much care for Mona Lisa's feline face 
prefer Pater's page to Leonardo's portrait; but I am 
quite aware that I am merely preferring criticism, in this 
instance, to the thing criticized. I am, if you like, pre 
ferring Mr. Pecksniff's drunken dream "Mrs. Tod- 
gers's idea of a wooden leg" to the wooden leg itself. 



[ 414 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Anything (I say to myself) rather than a wooden leg! 

A lot of nineteenth century "impressionistic" criticism 
Jules Lemaitre, Anatole France, etc. is more de 
lightful than the prose or verse that is being criticized. It 
is none the less criticism. The famous definition of "the 
adventures of a soul among the masterpieces" does not 
put those adventures into the "creative" category; it 
merely stresses their subjectivity. Wilde is to some extent 
right when he says that criticism is the only civilized form 
of autobiography; but he is not so right when he says that 
the highest criticism is more creative than creation. No 
one would deny that the purple page Wilde quotes tells 
us more about Pater than it does about Leonardo, or 
even about Mona Lisa as Macaulay's Essay on Milton 
conceivably tells us more about Macaulay than about 
the author of "Paradise Lost." All Bacon's essays to 
gether but build up a portrait of Bacon Francis of 
Verulam reasoning with himself; and what is the sub 
stance of the Essays of Elia, but Elia? "Subjective" is the 
word, however, rather than "creative." 

It is this subjectivity Montaigne's first of all, per 
haps that has confused many minds. It is subjectivity 
run wild that has tempted many people to believe that 
the familiar essay alone is the essay; which would make 
some people contend that an essay does not necessarily 
state a proposition. But we are talking of the essay itself; 
not of those bits of whimsical prose which are to the true 
essay what expanded anecdote is to the short story. 

The essay, then, having persuasion for its object, states 
a proposition; its method is meditation; it is subjective 
rather than objective, critical rather than creative. It can 
never be a mere marshaling of facts; for it struggles, in 
one way or another, for truth; and truth is something one 
arrives at by the help of facts, not the facts themselves. 



AN ESSAY ON ESSATS [ 415 ] 

Meditating on facts may bring one to truth; facts alone 
will not. Nor can there be an essay without a point of 
view and a personality. A geometrical proposition cannot 
be an essay, since, though it arranges facts in a certain 
pattern, there is involved no personal meditative process, 
conditioned by the individuality of the author. A geo 
metrical proposition is not subjective. One is even 
tempted to say that its tone is not urbane ! 

Perhaps with the essay thus defined we shall 
understand without effort why it is being so little written 
at present. Dorothy Thompson said the other day that 
Germany is living in a state of war. The whole world is 
living more or less in a state of war; and a state of war 
produces any literary form more easily than the essay. 
It is not hard to see why. People in a state of war, whether 
the war be military or economic, express themselves 
polemically. A wise man said to me, many years ago, 
that, in his opinion, the worst by-product of the World 
War was propaganda. Many times, in the course of the 
years, I have had occasion to recall that statement. There 
are perhaps times and places where propaganda is justi 
fied it is not for me to say. But I think we should all 
agree that the increasing habit of using the technique of 
propaganda is corrupting the human mind in its most 
secret and delicate processes. Propaganda has, in com 
mon with all other expression, the object of persuasion; 
but it pursues that legitimate object by illegitimate means 
by suggestio Jalsi and suppressio veri; by the argumentum 
ad hominem and hitting below the belt; by demagogic ap 
peal and the disregard of right reason. The victim of 
propaganda is not intellectually persuaded, but intel 
lectually if not emotionally coerced. The essayist, 
whatever the limitations of his intelligence, is bound over 
to be honest; the propagandist is always dishonest. 



[ 416 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

To qualify a large number of the articles and pseudo- 
essays that appear at present in our serious periodicals, 
British and American, as "dishonest" calls for a little ex 
plaining. When one says that the propagandist is always 
dishonest, one means this: He is a man so convinced of 
the truth of a certain proposition that he dissembles the 
facts that tell against it. Occasionally, he is dishonest 
through ignorance he is verily unaware of any facts 
save those that argue for him. Sometimes, having ap 
proached his subject with his decision already made, 
he is unable to appreciate the value of hostile facts, even 
though he is aware of them. In the latter case, instead of 
presenting those hostile facts fairly, he tends to suppress 
or distort them because he is afraid that his audience, 
readers or listeners, will not react to them precisely as he 
has done. The propagandist believes (when he is not a 
paid prostitute) that his conclusions are right; but, no 
more than any other demagogue, does he like to give 
other men and women a fair chance to decide for them 
selves. The last thing he will show them is Francis of 
Verulam reasoning with himself. He cannot encourage 
the meditative process. He is, at best, the special pleader. 

It can have escaped no reader of British and American 
periodicals that there is very little urbane meditation go 
ing on in print. Half the articles published are propa 
ganda political, economic, social; the other half are 
purely informational, mere catalogues of fact. The essay 
is nowhere. Either there is no proposition, or evidence is 
suppressed. Above all, there is no meditation no ur 
banity. All this is characteristic of the state of war in 
which we are unfortunately living; that state of war 
which, alas ! permits us few unprejudiced hours. 

Yet I think many people would agree that we need 
those unprejudiced hours rather particularly, just now. 



AN ESSAY ON ESSAYS [ 41 7 ] 

We need the essay rather particularly, just now, since 
fiction and poetry have suffered even more cruelly than 
critical prose from the corruption of propaganda on the 
one hand and the rage for "fact-finding" on the other. 
We need to get away from polemics; we even need to get 
away from statistics. Granted that we are in a state of 
war: are we positively so badly off that we must permit 
every sense save the economic to be atrophied; that we 
cannot afford to think about life in any terms except 
those of bread? The desperate determination to guaran 
tee bread to every one which seems to be the basis of 
all our political and economic quarreling is perhaps 
our major duty. And after? as the French say. Is it not 
worth our while to keep ourselves complex and civilized, 
so that, when bread for every one is guaranteed, we shall 
be capable of entertaining other interests? 

The preoccupation with bread alone is a savage's pre 
occupation; even when it concerns itself altruistically 
with other people's bread, it is still a savage's preoccupa 
tion. The preoccupation with facts to the exclusion of 
what can be done with them, and the incapacity for 
logical thinking, are both savage. Until a man begins to 
think not merely to lose his temper or to learn by 
heart he is, mentally, clothed in the skins of beasts. 
We are, I fear, under economic stress, de-civilizing our 
selves. Between propaganda and "dope" there is little 
room for the meditative process and the subtler proposi 
tions. 

I am not urging that we play the flute while Rome 
burns. I recall the sad entry in Dorothy Wordsworth's 
journal: "William wasted his mind all day in the maga 
zines." I am not asking the magazines to waste the minds 
of our Williams. . . . The fact that the familiar essay of 
the whimsical type is not at the moment popular that 



[ 4 i 8 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

when people wish to be diverted, they prefer Wodehouse 
to Leacock, let us say does not disturb me. But it 
seems a pity that meditative prose should suffer a total 
eclipse, if only because meditation is highly contagious. 
A good essay inevitably sets the reader to thinking. Just 
because it expresses a point of view, is limited by one per 
sonality, and cannot be exhaustive or wholly authorita 
tive, it invites the reader to collaboration. A good essay is 
neither intoxicant nor purge nor anodyne; it is a mental 
stimulant. 

Poetry may be, indeed, as Arnold said, "a criticism of 
life." But most of us need a different training in critical 
thinking than that which is offered to us by the poets. A 
vast amount of the detail of life, detail which preoccupies 
and concerns us all, is left out of great poetry. We do not 
spend all our time on the heights, or in the depths, and if 
we are to live we must reflect on many matters rather 
temporal than eternal. The essayist says, "Come, let us 
reason together." That is an invitation whether given 
by word of mouth or on the printed page that civilized 
people must encourage and, as often as possible in their 
burdened lives, accept. 




Going after the Cows in a Fog 

ROBERT P. TRISTRAM COFFIN 

The day was over, but there was no night 
To take its place yet. All the trees were gone 
Except the few that loomed beside the way, 
And they were larger than beech trees should be; 
They towered topless by the boy, as he 
Went up the path the many tracks of cows, 
Hoof to hoof's end, and forty years of them, 
Had cut ten inches wide through pennyroyal 
And hardhack with its silver, hugged-up leaves. 
The path went where the huckleberry bushes 
And bayberry were, to brush off stinging flies, 
It did not go the way a man would go. 
It was not wide enough for even a boy 
Ten-years-wide to keep his trousers dry. 
The cobwebs were as solid as bead bags 
Until the boy had passed, and then they were 
Thin thread and dry and all their bright beads gone. 
Although he could not see the woods, the boy 
Could hear woods dripping busily each side. 

"Coo-boss ! coo-boss !" His voice came back on him 
And did not get past trees or up the hill. 
It was lonesome, shut in with his voice, 
Whistling did not help. The night was nigh. 
It might be miles to go. The boy stopped still. 

There was a muffled tonkling of a bronze 
Bell somewhere or other, every side. 



[ 420 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

And then a wide white face built up itself 
Out of the fog and stopped with startled eyes, 
Warm in the mist, less than ten feet away. 
"Soo-boss! so-boss!" The small boy stepped aside, 
The eyes grew friendly, the curled horns shook once, 
The mild head lowered, and the cow went by. 
The boy stayed still, head after head came on, 
Swinging, friendly, and sleek bodies after 
Lurched by in peace. The boy turned his bare toes 
And followed the swinging line off into night. 



New Deal Catharsis 

FRANK R. KENT 

IT IS easily possible that history will record the para 
doxical verdict that Franklin D. Roosevelt has done 
more than any other President to preserve our institu 
tions and stem the tide of both socialism and fascism. 
From the conservative point of view, he is likely to be 
recognized in years to come as one of the great bene 
factors of the nation. 

For more than a generation the messiahs of politics, in 
groups and as individuals, had been preaching the 
sugary doctrines which the engaging Mr. Roosevelt 
eagerly seized and dealt out to a dazed people in large, 
undiluted doses. Not one was new; not one originated 
with the President nor, in fact, anywhere near the presi 
dential circle. For years they had been mouthed by men, 
mostly from the West, who had gotten into Congress 
calling themselves Progressives or Insurgents. Some of 
them were sincere, believing their own stuff; others were 
calculating demagogues who knew a lot better. Every 
policy or proposal was soaked in the sorry idea of a 
paternalistic government which would own, run and 
regiment everything. Invariably the appeal was to the 
disgruntled and discontented; the effort always to array 
those who have not against those who have, on the mis 
taken theory that the former are in the majority. I say 
it is a mistaken theory because at bottom, and under 
normal conditions, the country is overwhelmingly con 
servative, highly averse to experiments except when 
alarmed and misled. It is so big that not nearly enough 
people can get mad about the same thing at the same 
time. What sets Texas ablaze leaves Massachusetts as 

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[ 422 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

cold as a banker's heart; things that threaten turmoil 
and generate heat in Minnesota and Montana create not 
a ripple of interest in Maryland and Virginia. Despite 
Mr. Sinclair Lewis, this isn't a revoluting country. 

It was, of course, utterly impossible for anyone to 
conceive the variety, the character or the scope of the 
New Deal experimentation, or estimate its cost. The 
whole business has been upon a gigantic and bewildering 
scale. In the end, it will prove the most expensive ex 
ample of confusion and futility ever provided by any 
government in the history of the world. There will be a 
terrific bill to pay. Yet in the long run it may be worth 
it. Its failures, tragic and costly as they are sure to be, 
may prove easily the most valuable object lessons a 
people ever had. Already there are indications of this in 
the reaction of the voters against the foolish excesses into 
which we have been plunged. There is no room to doubt 
that Mr. Roosevelt's extravagances have converted a 
great many people to the conservative point of view. It 
is logical to believe that as one after the other of his 
schemes crumble and flop, the power of the demagogues 
in the land will be diminished, the disposition of the 
people to run after false gods decreased, and a public 
impatience will develop with those who preach the 
doctrine of discontent, and try to delude the voters with 
Utopian dreams of a nation in which no one need work 
for a living. A swing back to fundamentals is inevitable. 

Certainly the President's famous press conference, 
which General Johnson asserts was part of the Frank 
furter strategy to put the Constitution "on the spot," did 
more to repopularize that instrument than a hundred 
years of political and educational oratory. Instead of 
responding to the Roosevelt "horse and buggy" phrase 
as expected by his professorial advisers, the public gen- 



NEW DEAL CA THARSIS [ 423 ] 

erally reacted quite violently in the other direction. The 
net result was the creation of a vibrant sentiment for 
both Court and Constitution of such strength that the 
Administration promptly backed away from the issue, 
though not before the suspicion had pretty generally 
permeated the people that behind the President is a 
group of men who regard the Constitution again to 
quote General Johnson as an "antediluvian joke" to 
be tossed aside as interfering with their plans for the 
More Abundant Life. 

The almost incredible clumsiness, waste and stupidity 
of the alphabetical bureaucracy has given the country a 
fairly convincing object lesson in the joys of socialism, 
and demonstrated the absurdity of the general regi 
mentation which the national planners of the Tugwell 
type thought they could achieve, and toward which goal 
they had Mr. Roosevelt running with the ball. The 
NRA, which had begun to crumble and disintegrate 
long before the Supreme Court killed it, taught business 
men that no magic could save them from themselves. 
Whether or not the Supreme Court, as expected, knocks 
out the processing tax as unconstitutional, in the long 
run the AAA experiment is doomed to failure. Its per 
manent effect will be a demonstration of the futility of 
all such legislation, in such a way as to make it more 
difficult, in the future, for the demagogues who specialize 
in the farmer vote to delude him again. It is true, too, I 
think, that the collapse of the Warren plan has shown 
the fallacy of the so-called managed currency; that the 
Administration's domination of the radio has aroused 
public opinion to the necessity of freeing broadcasting 
from political control; and that the 1935 tax law has 
proven to millions of people that the deficit cannot be 
met or the nation supported by soaking the rich that 



[ 424 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

there is no soundness in the pleasing idea that the Fat 
Cats with the Fancy Fortunes can be squeezed while the 
masses of the people continue to revel in the pouring 
out of the Federal billions. 

Summing up, there seems sound ground for believing 
that the terrific confusion and cost of the New Deal 
experiments, coupled with their recorded failures and 
demonstrated futility, will sicken the nation equally with 
the political philosophy for which they stand, and with 
the breed of men they have brought into high office. 
Whether the popular reaction now rapidly gathering 
force is strong enough to put an end to this wild regime 
next year, or whether it will take another four before it 
is swept out, is not possible to say. What is clear, how 
ever, is this: In the end the revulsion against the Roose- 
veltian course will be very great indeed. It will be strong 
enough to end this sort of experimentation for many 
years to come. It will swing us back to sanity and sol 
vency, restore confidence in the fundamentals, and make 
us extremely wary of the political medicine men with 
their patent panaceas for every national ache and pain, 
and their insincere twaddle about the "Forgotten Man." 
Viewed in this way, it is possible not now, perhaps, 
and probably not soon, but at some time in the future - 
to regard Mr. Roosevelt as a great national benefactor. 



Profit Sharing and Prosperity 

GEORGE HULL, JR. 

PEOPLE are constantly discussing capitalism and 
socialism, but they very seldom stop to consider just 
where the difference between the two systems lies. Their 
fundamental cleavage, it seems to me, is a question of 
fluidity. In a wholly socialistic state all relationships are 
fixed or static; in a truly capitalistic order, on the other 
hand, nothing is fixed, everything fluid. Rhythm, waves, 
fluctuations, seasons, change are inherent components 
of nature. The great strength of capitalism lies in the fact 
that it conforms to nature. Relationships which can easily 
be altered, which give and take, are in little danger of 
being destroyed. 

Lincoln pointed out that a nation cannot exist half 
slave and half free, but it remains for some latter day 
statesman to declaim the equally true proposition that 
we cannot exist half capitalistic and half socialistic. If my 
definition of these terms is accurate, we have been at 
tempting this straddling game for a long time, and therein 
lies the source of many of our troubles. If true capitalism 
demands that nothing shall be rigid, fixed wage rates 
and fixed debt structures have no place in it are, in 
fact, antagonistic to it. But people must be compensated 
for their work and for their risks, or the wheels won't go 
round won't exist at all, for that matter. How can they 
be compensated without wages or interest? 

The answer is very simple: The product of all capital 
istic enterprise is profits, and the only compensation 
which is sufficiently elastic to withstand the exigencies 
of nature is a share in profits. Industries, such as the 
chemical industry, which have done their major financing 

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[ 426 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

through stock issues offer a sharp contrast to the railroads, 
ridden with debts (but not by passengers). It will not be 
long before the same principle is applied by far-sighted 
entrepreneurs to the problem of wages. There is no other 
fundamental solution to the dilemma which has resulted 
from the present condition of rigidity: during periods of 
rising profits, labor agitators create dissatisfaction among 
workers, engender strikes and disturb the economic pic 
ture; during periods of depression, on the other hand, 
rigid wage rates impede the deflation of costs and produce 
bankruptcies and unemployment. 

Let us assume that every enterprise in the nation has 
adopted \h& principle of profit sharing as its revised method 
of distributing wages and salaries and dividends. Since 
the individual corporation is left free to apply the prin 
ciple in its own way, we will assume that it divides its 
beneficiaries into four classes or four profit-sharing groups 
and calls them (1) "the worker group"; (2) "the 
clerical group"; (3) "the stockholder group"; (4) "the 
manager-executive group." Within each of these groups 
the individuals are graduated according to their varying 
qualifications just as they are today under the flat wage 
system. The "stockholder group" is of course graduated 
and remunerated on the basis of individual holdings, or 
ownership of stock. The individuals in the other groups 
are graduated according to their relative value to the 
company, and are remunerated accordingly. 

Now let us remember that each group as a unit, and 
each individual in each group has acquired a vital, per 
sonal interest in the common purpose of the corporation, 
which is the making of the largest possible net corporate 
profit. In applying the principle of profit sharing, a meet 
ing takes place between the representatives of the four 
groups. There has been no disturbance of the wage rates, 



PROFIT SHARING AND PROSPERITY [ 427 ] 

or salary rates, or dividend rates up to this point. It is 
recognized, however, that a wage rate or salary rate is no 
longer to be thought of as the total compensation of the 
recipient. It is no longer a "flat rate," but something like 
a "drawing account." It carries the recipient over a cer 
tain period, at the end of which the net profits of the cor 
poration are determined and each group receives its 
group share, and each individual in each group receives 
his pre-arranged percentage of the total received by the 
group to which he belongs. 

If it so happens that the Smith Shoe Company is mak 
ing a good profit at the time this new system is adopted, 
all parties might decide to let the "drawing- account 
wage" remain just what the flat rate had previously been. 
If its cost structure were such that the company was 
making a good net profit, it might seem best to leave 
undisturbed that part of its cost structure which was 
made up of its wage-roll and salary-roll. The portion of 
the net profit received by each individual would be 
something extra. Presumably no one would object to the 
inauguration of profit sharing under those favorable 
conditions. 

But suppose the company were making not profits, but 
losses at the time the profit-sharing arrangement went 
into effect. How would that situation be handled? Un 
doubtedly the facts would be laid before all four groups in 
conference, and a percentage reduction in the remunera 
tion of all four groups and of the individuals in each group 
would be recommended. In this case, if all agreed, the old 
flat wage rate would be transformed into a drawing- 
account wage, but on a lower basis. The sting of this re 
duction all along the line would be mitigated by two 
things, namely first, the fact that it was a "share-and- 
share-alike" proposition, second that it gave promise 



[ 428 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

of putting the corporation in a position to show a net 
profit, in which case each and every individual would get 
some of it. There is a mutuality of interest here which 
does not and cannot exist under the straight flat wage 
system. It puts all the individuals in a frame of mind to 
cooperate with each other for the common benefit of 
the corporation, because their fate is definitely linked 
with the fate of the corporation the moment profit sharing 
is substituted for flat wages. The corporation is thus en 
abled to extricate itself from a position in which it is 
losing money, and to get its costs and selling prices down 
to where it can make a profit by putting over a large sales 
volume at reduced prices. 

This release from the rigidity of rates does not mean 
that a uniformly blanketed wage rate, or working-hours 
rate, or price rate has been changed from one blanket 
level to another blanket level by "collective bargaining" 
between the management of the Smith Shoe Company, 
and a labor union leader, as it does today. It means that 
without any interference from a union or a Code, the 
four groups of profit-sharing partners, constituting all 
the human, individual beneficiaries of this particular 
enterprise, the Smith Shoe Company, have regained their 
individual liberty to make their own rates to fit their own 
conditions. But distribution is no longer done by flat 
rates. The change from flat rates to shares is the thing 
which has made possible the regaining of this corporate 
and individual liberty. This in turn enables the corpora 
tion and the individuals composing it, to do the things 
which will allow the corporation and the individuals to 
survive and presumably also to prosper. Today we are 
bound hand and foot by unionized wage rates and work 
rates, which together make a rigidly unionized cost rate. 
Lately we have been further bound by codified price 



PROFIT SHARING AND PROSPERITY [ 429 ] 

rates, thus making the rate structure rigid from bottom to 
top. 

I believe that, in time, even the drawing-account por 
tion of the profit-sharing wage system would fade out of 
the economic picture. Thus profit sharing would remove 
even that aspect of a fixed-cost factor in Industry. Any 
fixity at the bottom of our system tends to crystallize the 
structure all the way to the top. When it comes to the 
rigidifying of selling prices at the top of the rate structure, 
the most important law of economics is thwarted, namely 
the law which indicates that when volume declines, a 
lowering of price is the correct economic lever to be 
moved in order to recover volume. We cannot success 
fully operate an economic system with price as the main 
objective, as we are trying to do. We must put ourselves 
in a position wherein we are enabled to operate with 
volume as the chief objective. Particularly is this true un 
der the mass-production system. Our production system 
is a full grown, powerful adult; whereas our distribution 
system is pitifully infantile, by comparison. 

The most fundamental fallacy in the whole Roosevelt 
program is its aim to achieve price at the sacrifice of 
volume. Price is not wealth. It is only a rate at which one 
kind of wealth, in some physical form, is traded for an 
other. The placing of too great an emphasis on price tends 
to give us a beautiful but theoretical rate of doing busi 
ness, but little business being done. If we cannot change 
the rate when it proves to be a rate which kills volume, 
then we are frozen in a position from which revival is 
impossible. Revival is a matter of volume, not a raising of 
rates. 

The Code system of running the economic show made 
cost rates more rigid, more widely and arbitrarily and 
uniformly blanketed over broad segments of our economic 



[ 430 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

system. It put us in strait-jackets which were far more 
tight and ill-fitting to the individual corporations operat 
ing under them, than were the rates imposed by the la 
bor unions. It is this tightening of rate rigidity and the 
widening of its uniform, blanketing processes which make 
it impossible to recover any considerable degree of eco 
nomic prosperity except the paternalistic spurts that come 
from artificial borrowing and spending by government. 
This government intrusion gives us an economic direction 
straight toward the complete socialization of our entire 
system. 

I have tried to show briefly that this direction grows 
inevitably out of the conflict relation between employer 
and employees which is inherent in the flat wage system. 
Unless we shift to universal profit sharing, we are certain 
to go all the way to the terminus of this socialistic direc 
tion. There is no permanent stopping-place halfway be 
tween individualism and socialism. The type of corporate 
individualism which will begin to revive when we adopt 
profit sharing, is depicted in the illustration of the Smith 
Shoe Company. A profitable company does one thing to 
meet the individual conditions confronting it. An un 
profitable company does a different thing to meet its 
different conditions. They cannot do this under blan 
keted rates; and they cannot get rid of blanketed rates 
except by abolishing labor unions through the adop 
tion of universal profit sharing. 

In addition to giving us individual corporate freedom 
and flexibility in the matter of rate-making, the introduc 
tion of profit sharing will give us a wider distribution of 
buying power in the interest of making a wider and more 
continuous mass market for the sale of our mass-produc 
tion output. Let us suppose that the Smith Shoe Com 
pany puts in some improved machinery which enables it 



PROFIT SHARING AND PROSPERITT [431 ] 

to double its production per man per hour, and that it is 
able to sell the increased output without reducing its 
previous selling prices. If the drawing- account wages and 
salaries remain the same, the result is a greatly increased 
net profit for the corporation. When the question of 
allotting this increased profit among the four groups of 
partners comes up for consideration, the point should be, 
and undoubtedly would be brought up, that the groups 
embracing the largest number of individuals should begin 
to receive an increasing percentage of the total profit of 
the corporation because this would diffuse buying 
power more widely among the smaller income classes 
who spend all they receive currently, and thus put the 
buying power back into circulation in the current con 
sumption of shoes and of all other kinds of standard con 
sumer goods. 

This is a correct principle of distribution. If the Smith 
Shoe Company has three stockholders, three executives, 
ten department managers, one hundred clerks and one 
thousand "workers," the percentage of the total profit 
of the corporation paid out to the "clerk group" and the 
"worker group" should rise as the corporate net profits 
rise. The observance of this principle of mass-distribution 
would tend to become a universal distribution habit un 
der the adoption of universal profit sharing, as the revised 
method of distributing buying power. If every individual 
enterprise observed this principle of diffusing a rising 
dollar volume of net profits more and more widely, by 
giving its numerically larger groups a rising percentage 
of the total of the rising corporate profits, each corpora 
tion which was making a rising profit would thus be 
fertilizing its own future market and that of every other 
producer. The composite result would be an indirect 
"gearing" of consumption with production, allowing pro- 



[ 432 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

duction to set the economic pace, and causing consump 
tion to follow any pace that production might choose 
to set. 

This indirect gearing of the total consumption with 
the total production of the country will be the result of 
establishing a direct connection between the inflowing 
dollar volume of net profit, with the outflowing dollar 
volume of buying power which is diffused among the 
masses of smaller income receivers in each and every 
individual enterprise. Thus profit sharing from the view 
point of the employers or proprietors of our economic 
system is not a matter of altruism, but a matter of enlight 
ened self-interest. It tends to keep the consumer market 
continually absorbing the entire output of our whole 
economic system. It is obvious that this diffusion of rising 
profits which is essential to the maintenance of the mass- 
consumer market cannot take place under the flat-wage 
system. That is why our mass market collapses in the pe 
riods of rising-profits bringing "prosperity" to an 
abrupt end. 



Mexico, My Beloved 

JOSEPHINE NIGGLI 

Mexico, my beloved, 

is not the clashing of cymbals 

nor the curving 

of vermilion sails 

over the heart 

of the wind; 

it is not 

a vivid slash 

across the mouth 

of the world. 

But when the moon touches the silken waves 

of the Lerma, 

and the carnations 

breathe their scents 

into the souls of a thousand birds 

and force them to sing 

of something 

they but dimly understand 

this, 

my beloved, 

is Mexico. 



[433] 



Mexican Small Town 

PHILIP STEVENSON 

IN HIS last campaign for the presidency, Mr. Hoover 
intimated that if his opponent were elected, grass 
would grow in the streets of our cities. He did not need to 
explain that to Americans such a thing would indicate a 
calamitous state of affairs. His audience took that for 
granted. Yet when I tell you that grass grows in the 
streets of Mexican small towns, I mean to suggest no 
calamity. On the contrary, it is only one of the delightful 
differences between Mexican towns and our own. 

For the streets of provincial Mexico are cobbled. Yet 
they do not in the least resemble the cobbled streets of a 
bygone day in America. The stones are flat-topped, with 
grass growing between not at all a bad surface for 
driving. And instead of being all one shape and size, they 
are of all shapes and sizes, patiently, cunningly, fitted 
together into patterns. 

This is an example of the most important difference 
between us and the Mexicans. With us, utility and 
efficiency are paramount, whereas everything they do is 
influenced by their prehistoric Indian heritage of beauti 
ful design and patient craftsmanship. 

When we make things, when we buy and sell things, 
the quickest way is always the best way. In Mexico, the 
best way is the pleasantest. That is why the Mexican is so 
often dismayed by our slap-dash, rough-and-ready way 
of walking into a store, buying what we want, and im 
mediately walking out again. And that is why we call it 
"a waste of time" to take odd-sized stones and patiently 
fit them together just to make a street, or to spend a 
sociable half hour just to buy a little fruit. Why not make 

[434] 



MEXICAN SMALL TO WN [ 435 ] 

the stones in standard size and save the trouble? Why not 
buy your fruit and have done? 

The answer is that in the Mexican's view, time could 
not possibly be better spent than in the enhancement, the 
dramatization, the humanization of routine. It isn't that 
he's slow or lazy at all. But he insists that the things we 
have to do everyday might just as well be enjoyable, and 
that things we have to look at everyday might better be 
beautiful. As a result, the Mexican Indian (four-fifths 
of the population of Mexico) is almost never bored. 

This Mexican quality of infusing drama into the most 
ordinary matters is well illustrated by the design of Mexi 
can houses. From the street their appearance is quite 
ordinary though, to be sure, different from ours, with 
their tinted plaster, their moss-stained tile roofs, their 
hinged "French" windows in place of sashes. But in no 
case does the exterior suggest the gaiety, the flowery 
Eden-beauty of their patios or interior courts. 

The Mexican's patio is his hearth, the bosom of his 
home. (Indeed, he has no hearth, since the Mexican 
climate obviates the need of fireplaces.) The patio is the 
center, the most important thing about the house, and the 
tile-floored rooms, relatively unimportant necessities, are 
ranged round it on two or more sides. Often it will con 
tain a well (not always to be trusted for purity) with its 
stone coping, its pulley and bucket suspended from a 
handsome frame of wrought- ironwork; while the high 
walls dividing the patio from its neighbors are invariably 
banked with ferns and a thousand bright flowers the year 
round. In many homes the patio supports a few banana 
trees or papayas or guavas that contribute to a good liv 
ing; in others will be found a royal palm for shade, or a 
lovely dripping pepper tree with its streaks of bright red 
pods for decoration. Shut your eyes, imagine this private 



[ 436 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Eden in moonlight, silver with violet shadows, hushed 
with slow song to a guitar, and you will feel something 
of the theatrical magic of the Mexican house. 

But it is a magic, let us admit at once, that Americans 
as a whole would never put up with. It is a magic real 
ized at the price of efficiency, of practical comfort. The 
beds are springless more often than not, the furniture in 
general scanty. At evening, unless all doors are tightly 
shut, bats fly in and roost in the rafters. Fleas are a uni 
versal pest as widespread a nuisance as the common 
winter nose and chest cold in America and to keep 
them out is a never-ending struggle, however humor 
ously dramatized. Privies, tin washbowls and pitchers, 
are penalties accompanying an almost total lack of 
running water. 

Even though you have a private well, water for drink 
ing and bathing is brought to you daily by an aguador 
(water-carrier), dozens of whom trot all day from the 
municipal water faucet through the streets of provincial 
Mexico, laden with two five-gallon cans hung by ropes 
from either end of a pole across the shoulders. In their 
thonged sandals, their light cotton pants and coats, their 
low-crowned broad-brimmed sombreros with an unused 
chin-strap hanging down the back like a cue, their sparse 
black moustaches and their Mongolian trot, these 
aguadores give an extraordinarily Chinese touch to the 
streets. For homemakers who cannot afford this service 
(about \]/2 cents a day) there is no alternative but to don 
one's blue rebozo (a narrow shawl, the standard head 
dress of the Mexican woman), hoist one's tawny water- 
jar to the right shoulder, and carry one's water-supply 
oneself. 

Which is an excellent point at which to remark that, 
contrary to his reputation in America, the Mexican is 



MEXICAN SMALL TOWN [437] 

scrupulously clean. When one considers the widespread 
lack of water, it is amazing how much scrubbing and 
washing goes on. The sweep-sweep shush-shush of brooms 
is as characteristic a sound in Mexico as the incessant 
sunrise-to-sunset pat-pat-patting of tortillas (thin corn- 
meal pancakes, staple food of rich and poor) ; and in any 
town boasting a river or a lake, the banks will be gay with 
people all day long scrubbing their clothes, themselves, 
and their children. Throughout the country, sidewalks 
and even the cobbled streets are watered and swept re 
ligiously at dawn. If the Mexicans are not up to our stand 
ards of cleanliness, let us blame not the people but their 
rulers, those who control the capital that might, but 
does not, provide them with the necessary means. Given 
American facilities, I daresay Mexico would be spotless 
and bugless ! 

The American housewife would scarcely recognize a 
Mexican kitchen as such. It is invariably a dark window- 
less cubbyhole, without cupboard or dish-closet, without 
a refrigerator, without a chimney or anything resembling 
a stove! For centuries Mexico has been short of wood, 
and the use of coal is confined largely to industry. For 
cooking, charcoal is the commonest fuel. Instead of a 
range in the kitchen, you see a sort of tile bench with two 
or three grilled excavations in it. These are the braziers 
in which a few fragments of charcoal are kindled with 
shavings. Round-bottomed clay pots propped straight 
by stones (or occasionally modern flat pans) are set 
directly on the fire, and the charcoal is fanned to the 
desired heat by vigorous agitation of a straw fan at the 
draught hole! Yet Mexican food, though occasionally 
exotic to our taste, is delicious. They do extraordinary 
things with the means at their disposal. Indeed, their 
bread, baked in tiny roll-like loaves, is far superior to ours. 



[ 438 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Although charcoal gives off comparatively little smoke 
or gas, the lack of a chimney would drive an American 
housewife to distraction, and the lack of utensils might 
cause a domestic revolution. For mashing potatoes or 
other vegetables she would use a stone pestle and mortar. 
Her egg-beater would be a sharply incised wooden instru 
ment, like a carved potato-masher, twirled to and fro be 
tween the palms. Her containers would be almost ex 
clusively Indian clay pots, covered (if covered at all!) 
with a clay plate. A double-boiler would be simply a 
small pot set inside a larger one containing water. Ovens 
are manufactured tin boxes set over the charcoal brazier. 
The sink is of stone, and in the average house it is emptied 
simply by removing the wooden plug from the drain and 
catching the flood in a bucket! 

With this equipment it can be seen that housekeeping 
is a major full-time job in Mexico. For the average house 
has no phone from which orders to be "sent right up" 
may be given. For your supplies you go to the market 
or send your cook and for certain staples such as coffee 
and refined sugar, to a store. And since there is no re 
frigeration, and little if any cupboard room, you buy 
in tiny quantities just enough for the day. But this is 
no drawback. Even if none of these reasons existed, a 
housewife in Mexico would still insist on the daily trip to 
market. Our Indian cook, indeed, made several trips 
a day, and exhibited the utmost dismay when we sug 
gested it would save her a good deal of effort if she bought 
the whole day's needs at once. She ran her legs off and 
haunted the market out of preference. Nor did we blame her 
once we understood the reason. 

For the open-air market is the center and spirit of old, 
Indian Mexico. It is the last virile remnant of a gracious, 
ancient, communal way of life Indian life before 



MEXICAN SMALL TO WN [ 439 ] 

the Spanish conqueror brought his white man's efficiency 
to America, and smashed to bits the patient, quietly 
lovely social patterns of its peoples. For centuries before 
Cortez, Mexico had had her open-air markets large 
enough, it is said, to accommodate tens of thousands of 
people, and offering for sale many things superior to 
any then known in Europe and Mexico has her mar 
kets still. Although the character of its products has 
greatly changed in four hundred years, the market still 
represents the spirit of an ancient day when the struggle 
for existence was softened and concealed by ritual, when 
necessary tasks were communized and sociable, when 
nothing was standardized, matter-of-fact, or routine, 
when business and pleasure were one. 

All Mexican markets are one delightful jumble, a mad 
confusion of colors, smells, sounds, and forms; of light and 
shadow; of occupation and idleness; riches and poverty. 
Situated generally not far from the plaza invariably 
the center of town they cover spaces varying from 
an ordinary vacant lot to tens of acres, depending on the 
size of the town. Coming on a market unexpectedly, the 
eye is at first literally stunned, as by a constantly shifting 
kaleidoscope. 

The Mexicans, like all dark-skinned people, are fond 
of bright color in the rawest shrieking combinations 
and they are right! it suits them. So first, perhaps, you 
distinguish the people: seas of shifting hats, low-crowned 
and broad, gaily embroidered, tilted to the sun by a 
quick expert shake of the head those are the men; and 
proudly moving, living madonnas in dark-blue rebozos 
whose folds, it seems, can never hang ungracefully 
the women; and between their legs, staggering along, 
pushing their bare rounded bellies ahead of them, the 
littlest children. Older children, the boys in big hats and 



[ 440 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

the little girls in shawls, are for the most part miniature 
replicas of their parents. Most of the men wear white 
cotton pants and blinding white they are in the sun - 
and white coats over a colored shirt, with a folded scrape 
on the shoulder. The women are more addicted to bright 
hues magenta and lemon and cerise, orange, scarlet 
and purple. 

The sea of hats and rebozos flows slowly, with Indian 
gravity, between the booths and stalls filled with wares 
and shaded from the sun by cotton awnings stretched 
across alleys, or tipped toward the light by props shifted 
as the day waxes or wanes. There is absolutely no system 
about anything. Beside the booths, between the booths, 
standing or squatting on straw mats, are other vendors, 
their wares spread neatly on the ground. And what 
mouth-watering wares. Flowers in profusion: raw ma 
genta bougainvillea, yellow or scarlet poinsettia, white 
jasmine, roses, and colorful mixtures of wild-flowers - 
a few cents for an armful! Vegetables galore: great 
livery white radishes, prickly chayote, tomatoes, huge 
yellow papayas, glistening onions, heaps of orange 
carrots, crimson chile, green squashes, cool blades of 
romaine, pale spears of sugar-cane. And fruit! Mexico 
is the paradise of fruit: gigantic oranges (the most tasty 
are green!), limes and sweet lemons, avocado pears (at 
about a cent apiece), guavas, tejocotes and a dozen less- 
known tropical fruits ! 

Broad fans of hats, piles of hand-made guar aches (semi- 
sandals, the most comfortable footgear in the world), 
shoals of Indian pottery in browns and polychrome de 
signs, groups of highlighted tawny water-jars, peanuts 
arranged in neat little squares, stacks of folded serapes 
(hand-woven wool blankets with a slit in the middle for 
the head to pass through, worn exclusively by men), 



MEXICAN SMALL TOWN [ 441 ] 

fresh fish netted an hour ago, live chickens and suckling 
pigs are all found in profusion! And in the booths all 
these and more shelves piled helter-skelter with grocer 
ies, candles, hand-made tin lanterns and sconces, straw 
mats and fans, bolts of bright cloth, white sheeting and 
duck, blue rebozos, black veils for church, glassware and 
cheap dishes, buttons and five-and-ten knicknacks 
almost anything, in fact, almost any service, can be 
bought in a Mexican market. 

A boy wanders about with his box of brushes and paste 
offering a shine to anyone wearing shoes (to be dis 
tinguished from the common sandal-like guaraches). 
Over there a barber has set up his chair under an awning. 
Here a gambler is calling out the names and numbers of 
playing-cards. Yonder a group of musicians, in exchange 
for a meal, are fiddling fiddles, plinking guitars, thumb 
ing their home-made harps, and singing a long ballad 
to attract the hungry to a booth where cooked food is 
served. 

For the market is also an open-air restaurant. Besides 
the counters at booths, there are countless rough-plank 
tables in the open air, their benches crowded with people 
munching beans and chile and tortillas. They don't use 
spoons, but fold their tortillas into scoops to convey the 
food to their mouths and the spoon is consumed with 
the mouthful! 

In and out among the booths, between the vendors 
squatting on their mats, moves the bright quiet crowd, 
cracking peanuts as they go, sucking pink dulces, or 
gnawing on a centavo's worth of sugar-cane and spitting 
out the pulp. Their talk is very subdued; like Indians 
everywhere, they are very gentle and quiet even in their 
keenest enjoyments they even laugh quietly, and they 
seldom shout, but move with dignity, with a stately 



[ 442 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

carriage learned from balancing burdens on their heads. 
The men are Chinesey with their thin moustaches and 
broad low hats with the cue-like chin-strap hanging 
down behind, and their wide dirty feet in sandals. And 
the women are like dark madonnas with their fine 
grained skin and dark quiet eyes, framed gracefully 
within the eternal blue rebozo, often with their straight 
black hair flying loose, and usually a black-eyed, button- 
mouthed baby cradled in one arm. The children who can 
walk, walk; and those who can run, run or else, like 
their parents, they are quiet, as only Indian children can 
be quiet, with large-eyed thoughtful gravity. 

Beggars abound, too, in the market that is one mod 
ern touch added to the ancient thing, the belief that it is 
all right for some people to have everything and others 
nothing. Another unpleasant feature is butchered meat 
crawling with flies. The market is not all good, not all 
beautiful, not all beer and skittles; it has its shortcomings 
aplenty, but by and large it is the finest manifestation 
of Mexican life. See it at night, too, if you can, lit by little 
kerosene flares of home-made tinwork, when the men 
have donned their serapes and shadows leap and flicker 
over dark faces and reddish flames flare and glitter in 
sombre eyes. But above all, hear the market ! Listen to the 
quiet rumbling stream of talk, the gentle rustling flow of 
Mexican life itself. 

A few of the vendors cry their wares. But very few. Not 
many have much to sell just a few little piles of this 
and that, in neat tiny pyramids or squares or circles, a 
few peanuts or sweets, eggs or limes brought from the 
ranchito this morning, a couple of passive chickens with 
their legs tied together, a few little fish trapped in a net 
at dawn. True, the gambler is a modern; he is loud 
enough, shouting his winners and losers, but then, he is 



MEXICAN SMALL TO WN [ 443 ] 

not an Indian, he is quite out of key with the prevalent 
sound of the market a low, grave rumble of quiet talk, 
quiet laughter, occasionally presided over by guitar- 
tinkles and a long mournful song. 

No, the sellers squat passive before their neat modest 
piles of produce, and wait for a buyer. And when the 
buyer comes, the transaction develops into a long and 
complicated social relationship. The price asked is high, 
the price offered is low, and the problem is to bring them 
together. No hurry, though; there's no fun in solving 
problems quickly. So, slowly, patiently, one price comes 
down, the other goes up, and meanwhile there is oppor 
tunity for a thousand comments on the weather, the 
scarcity of this or that, the abundance of the other thing, 
politics, anecdotes, and items of local scandal. And every 
where, all round you, the same thing is going on, very 
quietly. The barber snips and talks, the butcher slices and 
talks, the food tables are a low babble of eating and talk, 
the sugar-cane vendor hacks off superfluous leaves from 
his stalks and talks. 

That is the thing that finally strikes the American most 
vividly about the Mexican market: that it is preeminently 
an Indian social gathering. You feel it has almost noth 
ing to do with buying and selling in our sense with 
business, with commercialism. It is all so innocent, on 
such a pathetically tiny scale of profit and loss, that it 
seems not primarily a commercial venture at all, the buy 
ing and selling. Exchanging goods happens to be neces 
sary just to satisfy dire needs for the next few minutes or 
hours; it is a minimum requirement for keeping life alive, 
one's own and others', buyers' and sellers'. Salesmanship 
is not a career. It is never a bid for power or riches, not 
prompted by greed for gain alone, by envy, or by a crav 
ing for ascendancy over one's fellows. No, you sell today 



[ 444 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

merely in order that you may be able to live tomorrow. 

Oiga! If you sell today enough to keep you till day 
after tomorrow, you won't have anything to do tomorrow, 
you won't have any reason to come to the market - 
you won't be able to squat here all day, tilting your hat 
against the warm sun and chatting about prices and the 
weather and watching the fun. No, the market is society; 
it is warm human give-and-take; it is life. What is the use 
of making a big profit and retiring from the market in 
your old age? If you do that, you'll cut yourself off from 
life. Your old age will be lonely. It won't be any fun. No, 
it is better to sell only a little at a time just enough to 
last from day to day. So, it is good to live. 

Contrast the market with the average store in Mexico. 
The store is neither one thing nor the other neither de 
lightful nor really businesslike. You don't bargain in a 
store; but you probably pay much higher prices for 
service no better. And ten to one the thing you want is out 
of stock, and the stock itself in much more flagrant con 
fusion. If you point out something on a shelf, the chances 
are the storekeeper will have to move three ploughshares, 
several cans of kerosene, a coil or two of rope, a dozen 
bars of soap, six oil lanterns and a sack of flour, before he 
can even reach the shelf! In short, the store will exhibit 
the untidy inefficiency of the earliest days of pioneering 
commerce in America. Capitalism is still young in Mex 
ico, and correspondingly raw and graceless. It has lost 
the attractive non-commercial quality of folk-exchange 
without having yet acquired capitalistic efficiency. 

So, in Mexico, go to the market. It is commerce in its 
pristine simplicity, an unavoidably necessary means of 
circulation and exchange, not only of goods, but of hu 
man understanding making for pleasure, for health, 
and for abundant life. 



Martinez, and Mexico's Renaissance 

BROOKE WARING 

THE most obscure, the most retiring, the most self- 
effacing, and yet the most important man in the 
Mexican Renaissance is Alfredo Ramos Martinez, the 
innovator. Although one hears continual eulogy of his 
talented friends Rivera and Orozco, and of his pupils 
Siqueros and Jean Chariot, the personality and brilliant 
accomplishment of Mexico's first and strongest artistic 
revolutionist still remain an enigma to the world outside 
of the West. 

Martinez's success in California is astonishing. While 
other artists of international reputation are starving, this 
energetic Mexican is overwhelmed with commissions. 
His ascendancy is more surprising when one reflects that 
Martinez is one of the few painters who have not been 
made by publicity. There have been no press wars raging 
around his head. Neither is he in league with any of the 
organized groups which dominate the vicious intrigues of 
artistic politics. He has always remained an independent. 

The fresco for the patio of the Swerling home in Bev 
erly Hills is one of his most formidable works. His draw 
ing is sculptural, his rich brilliant color and his powerful 
rhythmic form are a complete unit, the balance and 
symmetry of his composition is original and varied, his 
spatial relationships give the illusion of solid depth when 
he desires. The dynamic work of this Mexican possesses 
more than values, beautiful painting-quality, architec 
tural modeling. His frescos are illuminated by the 
psychology of the people he paints. They are blistering 
with his own vibrant emotion they walk, they speak, 
they are alive. 

[445] 



[ 446 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Unlike the other Mexican painters, Martinez regards 
the revolution as only an incident. To him the everyday 
life of the people at work is paramount. In the first panel 
of the Swerling fresco Martinez portrays the brutality 
and hatred of the insurrection. In the last panel appear 
the same peons returned to their travail; there is amity, 
reserve, almost a religious expression. These two groups 
are separated by a large area in which Martinez vividly 
describes the agrarian life of the Indian. Sculptural 
mestizo girls carrying baskets of multicolored fruit, emer 
ald green, vermilion red, luminous yellow, on their 
ivory-black heads. In the background Martinez has 
chiseled in paint the savage ultramarine-blue Sierra 
Madre mountains. 

At present Martinez is completing his fresco, Resurrec 
tion, in the Santa Barbara Chapel for Mrs. George 
Washington Smith and Henry Eicheim. This painting is 
as primitive as it is modern in its simplicity. The cube, 
the sphere, the cylinder are as apparent in this work as in 
any of Picasso's abstract canvasses, only the Mexican 
combines a forceful life-spark with volume. Martinez 
has used a very limited palette: only two earth colors, 
ultramarine blue and a little black. Unlike Rivera he 
does not mix his water color with lime. He likes to have 
the sensuous beauty of the wall show through the trans 
lucent paint. His work is transparent and at the same 
time very solid. 

Martinez has also painted a Madonna in fresco for the 
Collins home in Hollywood, and several large murals 
at Ensenada. His next commissions are for a fresco in the 
First National Bank of Santa Barbara and another for 
La Quinta at Palm Springs. 

When young Alfredo Martinez was nine he was sent 
to the Academy of Bellas Artes at Mexico City. The 



MARTINE& AND MEXICO'S RENAISSANCE [ 447 ] 

boy was stimulated and enchanted by the phenomenal 
contrast and color of the city. He was bewitched by 
multitudinous Indians: Mayans, Aztecs, Farascos, Mix- 
tecas, Las Bateas, Guerros. In Monterey he had seen only 
Europeans, a few natives, and the mestizos which are the 
product of reciprocal breeding, the Indian with the 
continental. Here he stared at the bronze men wearing 
red scrapes and yellow sombreros. The women with their 
prolific petticoats, their plaited lustrous hair, were com 
parable to the Egyptian statues in the museum. The 
children with their circular faces and their oblique eyes 
were like Japanese dolls. 

Alfredo saw Indian women pounding tortillas, he 
watched the cock-fights, he was delighted with the native 
Mexicans meandering through street after street, singing 
the names of their wares; he studied the picturesque 
males as they sauntered in and out of the doors of the 
cantinas. Everything cried to him to be painted, to be 
perpetuated by plastic means, in line, color, space. 

He was in a metamorphosed universe from that of his 
grandfather's hacienda in Nueva Leon. Alfredo was 
young; he possessed a mentality vital as electricity, and 
the emotional nature of his Mayan progenitors. He was 
alone in a fascinating metropolis. Living was an exciting 
experience. Mexico City, the historical habitat of Cortez 
and Montezuma, was to embrace not only adventure and 
revelation for the boy, but was also to be the place of his 
two great artistic deceptions the first when he was 
nine years old and the second when he was thirty-three. 

Forty-five years ago the schools in Mexico were com 
parable to the unintelligent mausoleums of art in the rest 
of the civilized world, castrating the young talent that 
came within their walls by frigid academicism and 
scholastic rules. Originality was decapitated; and in its 



[ 448 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

stead leered the senile mask of the classic imitator. It was 
before Havelock Ellis had written that the ugly may be 
beautiful, but the pretty is never beautiful. It was before 
the inquisitive Picasso had made his experiments with 
cubism, with monochrome, with line and with space. 

The prospective artist was drilled in all things Grecian, 
Roman, French and Spanish; but never was his vision 
directed on his own stimulating, exotic Mexico. Before 
Rivera and Orozco, at a time when all Mexico was 
painting the artificial, Alfredo saw how beautiful were 
the simple lines of commonplace forms; the workman's 
back as he dug in the road, the calm dignity of the 
statuesque Indian girls. 

This formal atmosphere of the school of 1889 presented 
a horrible chimera to the small boy. Even at this early 
age he possessed the intelligence and the sensitivity to 
realize that art was not something dead and far-away, 
but something very close and to be lived with. It was 
psychologically impossible for Alfredo to stay in the 
Bellas Artes. Instead he wandered into the streets and 
sketched the everyday life of the people. How much more 
absorbing to draw the Mexican market-day with its 
vitality and color than to copy over-ornamented plaster 
casts. 

The director became incensed at the independence of 
his young pupil and wrote to the elder Martinez. "Your 
son refuses to remain in school, instead he profligates his 
time in the country sketching the native workman." The 
report was forwarded to the student with a note of 
remonstration from the parent. 

The boy answered: "My dear Father, I have always 
been an obedient son but in the matter of my artistic 
development I must beseech you to be lenient; this is a 
condition I naturally understand better than you do. The 



MARTINE& AND MEXICO'S RENAISSANCE [449] 

method of teaching in this school is not for me. I cannot 
remain in the classroom. Believe that I work hard and 
permit me to solve my own problems." 

Jacobo Martinez responded sagaciously to the director 
of the academy. "My son is a serious boy, and I have 
confidence in his judgment. I know he is very industrious 
and if he prefers to glean his knowledge from the people 
instead of in the classroom, let him do so. Let him develop 
naturally." 

This letter from the small boy to his father was the 
first shot in Mexico's artistic revolution. 

IN OBSERVING the lives of artists one often finds a 
vigorous parental protest, as in the background of Van 
Gogh, Gauguin, Michael Angelo a driving force that 
is attributed by psychoanalysts to a constant subconscious 
antagonism with a member or members of the family. 

These artists work out their unsolved infantile prob 
lems in paint. An illustration is the Surrealist school of 
which Miro is the foremost exponent. This group at 
tempts to draw nothing but the subconscious mind. How 
vacuous are their formless blocks and febrile arrange 
ments compared to the architectural draftsmanship and 
dynamic composition of a Martinez who paints life 
from a sympathetic and humanitarian point of view 
rather than from the antagonistic and inverted vision of 
the maladjusted psychotic. Martinez has made his ad 
justments, his ego is free to solve the problems of beauty 
and plasticity. His driving force seems to be a true crea 
tive urge and not a neurosis seeking an outlet for early 
sublimated aggressions. 

When Alfredo was nineteen, Phoebe Hearst visited the 
Mexican capital. As a patroness of the arts, Mrs. Hearst 
became interested in Alfredo and sent him to Paris as 



[ 450 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

her protege. Martinez studied by himself, taking his in 
spiration from the life around Luxembourg Park or near 
the Seine. Alone in Mexico, he had anticipated nights of 
excited controversy, but when he was a part of the group 
in Paris he realized that actual work was the thing that 
mattered, and not talking about what one intended to do. 

When one separates the man, Martinez, from the artist 
one finds the intellectual part of his nature enjoying 
fruition in the rich cultural existence of pre-war Paris. 
Through his life marched his great contemporaries: 
Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Remy de Gourmont, 
Claude Monet, Rodin, Duse, Rubin Dario, Pavlowa, 
Isadora Duncan. Outstanding men and women of their 
generation congregated in the most liberal city of the 
world to animate and encourage each other, and to 
achieve opportunity and appreciation for their genius. 

One night an artist asked Alfredo if he would like to 
meet Remy de Gourmont, who at that time was the idol 
of the young French intellectuals. Martinez was delighted 
and accompanied his friend to a boulevard cafe where 
sat Remy de Gourmont sipping a Cointreau and con 
versing with a group of deferential young men. No one 
spoke but De Gourmont, and he was only answered by a 
reverent, "Yes, master, no master." When the author 
put his glass to his lips the students did likewise, when he 
put his glass down the young men followed his example. 
The extravagant homage took on the atmosphere of a 
dignified religious service. 

The independent Mexican could endure it no longer, 
he stood up, took his hat in his hand and in his most 
courteous manner said, "I am happy to have made your 
acquaintance, Monsieur de Gourmont, but I have work 
to do. I must go." The young men were confused, they 
looked bewildered. 



MARTINEZ, AND MEXICO'S RENAISSANCE [ 451 ] 

That night the friend who had introduced Martinez 
to De Gourmont called at his atelier and he was surprised 
to find Alfredo reading "Philosophic Nights in Paris." 
"I can't understand you, Ramos," he exclaimed. "You 
walk out while the most distinguished man in France is 
speaking and then you go home and devour his book. 
What is the matter with you?" 

"The finest reflections of the intellect of a great author 
lie in his book, and are only to be completely understood 
in solitude." 

One autumn Alfredo wearied of Paris and longed for 
the Netherlands. In a short time he was established in a 
small hotel facing the Amsterdam Canal. Everything he 
saw was paintable. Alfredo constructed a huge canvas 
and commenced to transfer to it the sensation he received 
whenever he looked out of the window. As line and mass 
became ships and water, Martinez' curiosity was aroused 
concerning the men who piloted the boats. He wanted 
to know their psychology, what they thought, how they 
lived. Alfredo was delighted with these simple Nether- 
landers. Somehow their humble dwellings, the poignant 
odor of food coming from the rural kitchens, reminded 
him of his own native Mexico. 

Alfredo painted from sunrise to sunset hardly stopping 
for food. In his subconscious mind he saw English red 
where vermilion should have been. The canals, the ships, 
the boatmen cavorted in his imagination, they gave him 
no rest. Alfredo rose at night and from memory repainted 
all the work of the previous day. The same process was 
repeated the next night, and the next, until Martinez had 
had no sleep for a feverish week. He studied the canvas, 
the result of five months of fervid work. "It is dead," he 
said sorrowfully. "If my paintings are failures, my life is 
only a burlesque. My efforts have been sincere but the 



[ 452 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

painting shows only superficial aptitude, and to me life 
without art is impossible." 

As one deranged he went out in the street, he wished 
for a tree to fall upon him, he prayed for a cyclone, a 
tornado. He returned to his room, his irritation became 
rage. On his table he saw a knife, he grabbed it, and 
aimed at the picture. Alfredo dug the knife into the 
painting and slashed in every direction. The canvas re 
sembled confetti. Then he threw the knife on the floor, 
the paint-box followed, then the palette, the easel. The 
landlord dashed into the room to find his gentle guest a 
turbulent maniac. "Pack up my things," shouted Al 
fredo. The innkeeper complied hurriedly while some of 
the room still remained intact. 

Alfredo boarded the first train for Paris. He sat with 
his head bent down, his arms folded; he could under 
stand the melancholy sorrow of a refugee leaving behind 
a burning farm. As the train approached Brussels, he 
thought of a painting of the Amsterdam Canal by 
Bertzon. "Why not get off," he said to himself, "and see 
how a strong artist handled the same subject?" The idea 
was some small consolation. Soon he was in the museum 
contemplating the picture he had visioned in his mind. 
"My God, this is macabre, academic. Mine had virility, 
it was alive !" 

On returning to the Latin Quarter Alfredo wrote to 
his friend, the innkeeper of Amsterdam, to send him the 
fragments of his own canvas. When the strips arrived he 
put them together as a child reconstructs a puzzle. On 
beholding the result he boarded the next train for the 
Netherlands and in the same room on the banks of the 
Canal, Alfredo repainted the canvas. The picture re 
ceived immediate acclaim in Paris. 

After saturating himself for fourteen years in the life of 



MARTINE^ AND MEXICO'S RENAISSANCE [ 453 ] 

Europe, Alfredo returned radiant with honors to Mexico 
and to the home of his family. Sara, his maternal sister, 
ecstatically embraced him, "I am so proud of you; the 
newspaper clippings have been wonderful." 

He sat down to relax but his eye was arrested by large 
water colors on the wall. "Sara, whose paintings are 
these?" 

"Why yours, just some things you did in Nueva Leon 
when you were a boy." 

"Santa Maria!" He jumped up and walked closer to 
a painting of an Indian workman. Martinez folded his 
arms and seriously contemplated the picture from a dis 
tance, then closely. He whispered, "I could never have 
painted anything so beautiful. Are these really mine?" 

"Why of course." 

"What a tragedy," he groaned, "I have mutilated 
fourteen years," and then he added pointing at his 
picture, "this is what I went to Paris to learn!" 

"But I don't understand. You were so successful, your 
commissions, your Le Printemps that won the prize in the 
1906 Automne Salon in Paris." 

"Come here," he said taking her by the arm. "Look 
at the honest sincerity of this simple picture. It is spon 
taneous and it has all the psychology of the people. See 
how the form functions with the color. It is a complete 
unit and such sensitive original drawing. My God ! Why 
did I go to Paris? Could I only be so unsophisticated 
again. Art must be pure. Yes, I have learned technique, 
anatomy; I have absorbed a little Giotto, a little El 
Greco, a little Cezanne, but I have submerged my own 
individualism. My subconscious is a walking Louvre. I 
have died of too many advantages. My sympathy is here, 
where I belong, among my own people." 

"But Alfredo, your prizes, your fine criticisms. These 



[ 454 ] TH E NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

paintings on the wall are only the works of a child." 
"That child was a great artist," he answered with 
misery in his voice. "In admiring the waves I have be 
come lost in the ocean." 

For two disconsolate years Alfredo could not paint. 

ALFREDO RAMOS MARTINEZ believes that ev- 
JT\. eryone possesses talent some for painting, some 
for business, some for music, but that most of the natural 
aptitude of the world is destroyed by repressive and un 
intelligent education. 

In 1913 he was offered the directorship of the Academy 
of Santa Anita. He refused. "No, not I I am the 
enemy of all academies." Crowds of pupils swarmed the 
garden of his home. They wrote seranades and sang to 
him, they pleaded with him. "We know we are not 
taught the real art. Life is taken out of our work." Their 
words were reminiscent of the intense grief Martinez 
himself had suffered as a boy of nine in the Bellas Artes 
Academy. He understood the directorship would mean 
the sacrifice of his own work, but he felt their need so 
profoundly that he accepted and for twelve years he 
seldom had time to paint. 

This self-abnegation is indicative of the man's char 
acter. It is very difficult for the creative artist to put 
himself in the role of an interpreter, although Martinez' 
teaching is creative as well as recreative. The experiment 
was selfless, but in giving of himself he grew. No one can 
truly teach without learning at the same time. As George 
Moore put it: "The instinct of teaching is but the fruition 
of a man's belief in the truth of his ideas." 

The first School of Outdoor Painting was started with 
only ten boys. In 1914 Martinez opened a second school 
in the gardens of his old Spanish Colonial home in 



MARTINEZ, AND MEXICO'S RENAISSANCE [455] 

Coyoacan. In 1925 he assumed directorship of four other 
schools and placed former students of his in charge. 
Eleven thousand children have come under his jurisdic 
tion. 

Instruction in the new school was based on an emo 
tional approach instead of on an intellectual appeal. 
Martinez believes the born creator is primarily an intui 
tive person, and should be guided by the teacher but 
never taught. He thinks enthusiasm and sympathy are 
essential for the embryonic artist that his sensitivities 
should be developed by making him aware of the world 
in which he lives, by opening his eyes wider. Martinez 
is a natural psychologist, his first instinct is to destroy 
fear. He builds up the self-confidence of the student, 
making him cognizant of his own faculties. 

"Stay away from the museum," he told his pupils, 
"but observe nature." 

The students were given absolute freedom; permitted 
to choose their own subject, their own medium, and their 
individual technique. The director and his assistants 
acted only in an advisory capacity. All material was 
furnished by the government. 

In 1926 Martinez went to Vasconcelos, who was then 
Minister of Art and pleaded, "Let me take an exhibit of 
my students' work abroad. France has her museums, her 
gay life, her fine merchandise. The United States has her 
industrialism, her sky-scrapers, her factories; Mexico is 
not a commercial country, she has only her art. I want 
to show the world what we have been doing. Some day 
tourists will flock to Mexico to see the work of our artists." 

Vasconcelos gave his consent. 

Martinez took a traveling exhibit of his school to 
Paris, Berlin and Madrid. In the throes of various Euro 
pean "isms" and specious fads, the cogent honesty and 



[ 45 6 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

naive talent of these young primitives caused bewilder 
ment. "How does he do it?" "His teaching is uncanny." 
There seems to be no explanation other than the person 
ality and the belief of the man himself. His gift for teach 
ing is almost psychic. 

Maurice de Waleffe wrote in the Paris Midi, "Go see 
the exposition of the pictures painted by little Mexican 
Indian students, from eight to twelve years of age. They 
stupefy our artists. They will someday stupefy our 
sociologists." 

"The most celebrated painters, such as Picasso and 
Foujita have been tremendously enthusiastic about these 
works of the children and have shown great interest in 
these happy efforts of Monsieur Martinez," quoted the 
New York Herald of Paris. 

Paris critics awaited Paul Rosenberg's opinion of the 
exhibit, but he only shook his head and walked around 
the gallery refusing to comment. Finally the room 
cleared. Martinez and the famous dealer remained alone. 
"Ramos," said Rosenberg tragically, "it is frightful. 
These pictures of your little Mexican children are so 
beautiful that they destroy all our theories, all we know." 

It is unfair that writers of the Mexican Renaissance 
do not give Alfredo Martinez credit for founding and 
inspiring the celebrated outdoor school of painting. 
Even Anita Brenner in "Idols Behind Altars" claims 
"Best-Mougard the first pedagogical-artistic experi 
menter." The establishment of these revolutionary 
schools is thus far the outstanding accomplishment of 
Martinez' life, and has been the most significant influence 
in the artistic development of Mexico. 

In 1928 Alfredo Ramos married the pretty Maria de 
Sodi. A year later a crippled child was born to them. 
Martinez resigned as director of the Academy and with 



MARTINEZ, AND MEXICO'S RENAISSANCE [ 457 ] 

his family he traveled to New York, to Rochester, to 
Chicago, to Los Angeles; everywhere he searched for a 
doctor who could make his baby strong and healthy. 

He saw his child's pain, his wife's misery, his finances 
vanishing, and the infant at first no better. His spirit was 
rushing water imprisoned under frozen ice. In his 
wretchedness he could no longer paint in the conven 
tional tradition. He turned for comfort once again to the 
subjects which interested him in his childhood; the 
humble Indian, the savage mountains of Mexico. In re 
turning to his own roots, he entered the finest period of 
his art. 

The combination of his intense suffering, his child's 
happy recovery, his casting off of the foreign influences, 
his experiments with his students which helped him to 
formulate his own conceptions, caused Martinez to reach 
an emotional maturity which culminated in his artistic 
rebirth. 

Why are important walls given to inferior muralists 
when we have working quietly, unobtrusively, artists of 
great genius, capable of interpreting in plastic forms 
peculiar to us, the rhythm of our life, its tempo, its char 
acter, and its stirring beauty? It is an indictment of 
American art that commissions are given to men with 
political influence who transform our modern edifices 
into pages from commercial magazines, instead of to 
sincere artists who would metamorphose our walls with 
simplicity and their own vibrancy into murals of intense 
emotion. 

In a day when the artistic world is infested by so many 
braggarts and charlatans, men who have no knowledge 
of construction, of form, of composition, of the real tech 
nique, no sensibilities, it is invigorating to find a consum 
mate artist gentle, honest and capable. 



Name Five Venezuelan Ventriloquists! 

MARGARET PARTRIDGE BURDEN 

Relations between host and guests 
Are warped by information tests. 

Some evenings when the men come back 
With long cigars and Armagnac, 
A hitherto attractive host 
Suggests the games I hate the most 
(Those games in which he takes delight 
In proving I am not quite bright) 
In vain, alternatives I seek 
Like Contract, or six-pack bezique; 
Though I protest until Pm croupy, 
He still insists on mental whoopee. 

While heretofore I thought him cordial 

My feelings change to hatred Borgial 

My brain goes blank, my thoughts are harried, 

(Would that my parents had not married !) 

As rats leave sinking keels behind 

All inspirations flee my mind. 

I never can recall the dates 

Of European potentates , 

Remember Nelson's last manceuver, 

Or list the paintings in the Louvre; 

My cranium I cannot vex 

With twenty glands that end in X, 

Or seven Swedish appetizers 

[458] 



FIVE VENEZUELAN VENTRILOQUISTS! [ 459 ] 

Or thirty heroines of Dreiser's 
Why have I not some vague memento 
Of artists in the cinquecento? 

I know my mental age is three 
But why display it publicly? 
Why turn a most congenial soiree 
Into a night of toil and worry? 
The joys of dining home I pore on 
While being classified a moron. 
The sadist who arranged the dinner 
Appears to be the only winner; 
He solves at once each baffling poser 
Because he learnt them all sub rosa. 

Oh, who will grant my anguished prayers 
To do away with questionnaires? 



Reorganizing these United States 

HERBERT C. PELL 

WE MUST separate basic principles from the acci 
dents of mechanism. I propose that we should set 
up new governments over the various groups of the coun 
try, which we may call provinces. I suggest: (1) New 
England; (2) New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, 
Delaware, and Maryland; (3) the southern Atlantic 
states; (4) the Gulf states, Oklahoma and Arkansas; (5) 
Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and 
Illinois; (6) the prairie states; (7) the mountain states, 
and (8) the Pacific coast. 

I make no attempt to argue for these particular divi 
sions, but it seems to me that each has a genuine local in 
terest. Most of their products are consumed locally; their 
social and financial structures are self contained. There is 
such a thing as a New England attitude; the Pacific 
coast has its own ideas; there is a genuine distinction be 
tween the Iowa point of view and that of Ohio or of Ala 
bama. 

These provinces, like the states in 1789, would have in 
dividual social structure and standards. Things done in 
one would not be tolerated in another, and vice versa. 
However great their business intercourse might be with 
other parts of the country, a very large part of their 
manufactures and agricultural products would be con 
sumed within the provincial boundaries. In other words, 
they represent actualities real social, business, and po 
litical units. 

It is absurd that the Federal government should be 
bound to respect privacies which are no longer private, 
and that the states should preserve powers which they 

[460] 



REORGANISING THESE UNITED STATES [461 ] 

originally retained because their exercise could affect 
only themselves, long after these powers reach far be 
yond their own boundaries. 

If a man, in 1789, owned a stretch of land three miles 
across, he would have had the unquestionable right to 
buy the biggest cannon he could find and blaze away to 
his heart's content. It does not, however, follow that his 
descendant, who may have inherited every inch of the 
ancestral acres, can safely be allowed to set up a sixteen- 
inch gun and bombard the country-side for twenty miles 
around. 

Except for the natural objection to novelty which lays 
such a heavy burden of proof on every proposal, there is 
no administrative reason why a regrouping and reorgani 
zation of the United States government along the 
original lines, should present any extraordinary difficul 
ties. It would be opposed by selfish politicians who object 
to any change for the same reason that rotten apples ob 
ject to a windstorm. At the first motion, off they go, and 
come falling to the ground for the pigs to eat. There 
would also be objection from business interests, which 
have been able to do, in the twilight zone between au 
thorities, what they would not have been allowed to ac 
complish if subject to a clear jurisdiction. 

There should be taken from the Federal power, and 
given to the new provincial governments all those exten 
sions which have accrued to the United States since 1789, 
leaving to Washington only the direction of foreign af 
fairs, the army and navy, money, the post-office, and 
interprovincial commerce. This would make the Federal 
government genuinely national. 

As a member of Congress, I was impressed by the fact 
that most members regarded themselves as ambassadors 
of localities, and not as members of the national legisla- 



[ 462 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

ture. Most of our time was occupied in discussing local 
proposals, none of which were of any interest to a tenth of 
the members. For this we should not blame the character 
of the individual congressman, but the conditions which 
have forced the Federal government to intervene so often 
in matters, which, though they transcend the power of 
the present states, have no real national significance. 

The new provincial governments would receive from 
the states the rule over many things which in practice are 
interstate, but not interregional higher education, 
bankruptcy, business procedure generally, marriage, 
divorce, interstate but intraprovincial highways, auto 
mobile licenses, liquor regulation, building standards, 
criminal law, and suffrage. There would be every facility 
provided for the provincial governments to make agree 
ments between themselves on any subject not affecting 
the nation as a whole. 

The subjects which the proposed provincial govern 
ments would control would be those which actually 
transcend the powers of state authorities, and which affect 
the interests of the province, but not those of the nation. 
The standard of higher education varies throughout the 
country, but does not change very much from state to 
state. The standards of culture and respect for learning 
are pretty much the same throughout the Northeast. 
Degrees from northeastern colleges have approximately 
equal value, and mean something very different from the 
sheepskins issued by football colleges or monkey law uni 
versities. A Federal Department of Education which had 
to consider the fundamentalist folly of Tennessee, or the 
recent passionate hatred of intellect of Louisiana, would 
be useless to the literate sections of the nation. 

Business customs and standards of financial honesty do 
not vary according to state lines, although they are very 



REORGANISING THESE UNITED STATES [463] 

different in different parts of the country. For this reason 
bankruptcy and business procedure should be left as 
much as possible to provincial control. The honest would 
be better able to enforce the accepted standard, and the 
dishonest would have fewer imaginary lines across which 
to jump. The low business standards which are a menace 
to this country would be substantially improved by pro 
vincial control. We can count on legislative hypocrisy to 
set a standard quite high enough for practical purposes, 
but this standard can be enforced only by public opinion. 

The experiment of prohibition cost the nation much in 
health, in moral strength, and in courage, but it taught a 
great deal to the intelligent observer. Among the facts 
which it emphasized, is the impossibility of enforcing a 
moral code unless it be supported by the vast majority of 
the people. For the first time, it was impressed on us that 
there are certain classes of legislation which require 
more popular support for their enforcement than do 
others. If the barest majority decided to go on the red 
and stop on the green, or adopted daylight saving, or the 
metric system, the minority would unquestionably 
acquiesce. Prohibition taught us to measure opposition 
not only by numbers but by intensity. 

Federal laws to regulate business over the whole na 
tion are almost certainly dangerous, because they must 
be too lax for one part of the country, or too strict for an 
other. The result is that however specific their physical 
commands may have been, their moral sanction has been 
vague. Business men treat them as unpleasant rules, ra 
ther than as enunciations of principles by which they are 
morally bound. If the control of banking and of business 
generally were left to the provincial governments, there 
would very rapidly develop an accepted standard for the 
conduct of business. 



[ 464 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Marriage and divorce should also be settled by the 
provinces. A Federal law covering these subjects would be 
almost as fruitful of misfortune as was the Volstead Act. 
A general average of our divorce laws applied through 
out the country would offend most standards. It would be 
impossible to draw a statute which would satisfy the 
people of the South, where divorce is practically unheard 
of and unquestionably frowned on by public opinion, and 
at the same time be consonant with the extremely easy 
ideas on this subject which exist in some parts of the West 
where divorces need little more than registration. A na 
tional divorce law would result either in free love or in the 
widespread collusion and fraud which exist in the state of 
New York. 

The New York statute permits divorce only for adul 
tery. The result is that people go to other states for the 
purpose of achieving divorce, or else obtain it in New 
York by collusion, with the whole affair arranged by 
attorneys. I do not believe that a quarter of New York 
divorces certainly not a quarter of divorces obtained 
by New Yorkers are the result of genuine indignation 
at actual physical infidelity perpetrated in partnership 
with the person named as corespondent. Sexual morals in 
California affect the lives of Carolinians less than does the 
weather in Milwaukee, and it seems absurd to burden 
Carolinian representatives with the guardianship of 
Pacific virtue. 

The rights of the Federal government, of the provincial 
governments, and of the state and local governments, to 
various forms of taxation should be very much more 
clearly defined than they are today. No one can have 
motored much in the United States without having 
frequently noticed just before crossing a state line, signs 
telling him that it is his last chance to buy gasoline in a 



REORGANISING THESE UNITED STATES [465] 

state where it is taxed less than in the sovereignty he is 
approaching. 

Certain states, in their efforts to allure rich residents, 
have bound themselves by their constitution to exact no 
inheritance or income taxes. The states which have in 
come taxes are daily losing the citizenship of rich individ 
uals who are moving to other states which bid for their 
residence. 

We may conclude, therefore, that among the resources 
of the Federal government should be all income and in 
heritance taxes, and that no other tax on income or 
inheritance should be levied by any provincial, state, or 
local government. These taxes should be the main sup 
port of the Federal government, supplemented by import 
duties, postal receipts, and to a certain extent by patent 
fees, and services of that nature. 

The provinces should derive their revenue from ex 
clusive sources which could be tapped neither by the na 
tional, state, nor local governments. These should include 
excises, corporation taxes, fees for licenses to practice 
professions. The state and local governments would main 
tain themselves exclusively on real estate taxes and li 
censes charged to carry on local businesses. 

We must recognize the facts. I have tried to work out a 
plan by which to preserve the original principles of the 
American government, without sacrificing the fullest 
efficiency of modern civilization. There is nothing sacred 
about tools. Our government was planned to give to 
local government all the power which it could properly 
exercise, and the control over all matters of merely local 
interest. The state government controlled those matters 
which were beyond the power of local administration, 
and did not affect other states. The Federal government 
was designed to be purely an interstate affair. 



[ 466 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

The ideal which inspired those who planned this gov 
ernmental mechanism was the desire to give to every in 
dividual the utmost liberty in the conduct of his private 
life, in the management of his property, and in the ex 
pression of his opinion, consistent with the maintenance 
of justice, and of public order. The ingenious and clever 
organization which was devised at the constitutional con 
vention, was planned primarily to protect the individual 
from undue restraint and the public from unjust ex 
ploitation. 

The justification of the machine set up in 1789 by 
Washington and his associates, was that it achieved its 
object, and continued with great efficiency to give to the 
people the liberty and protection which they wanted, un 
til the material conditions of the country changed to 
such an enormous extent as to unbalance the political 
structure. 

Our local governments are the scandal of the world. 
County governments are corrupt and useless, as out of 
date and full of danger as the vermiform appendix. These 
governments direct what are no more than administra 
tive units often unwieldy, and almost always mori 
bund. They are able to call on no real loyalty; they rep 
resent no real interest. States, as a rule, take about the 
place that was filled in 1789 by the counties. Intra-state 
buiness is today about what intra-county business was 
then. State life and state loyalty are taken as seriously as 
county life and county loyalty in the time of Washington. 

There is, however, nothing to take the place, midway 
between the locality and the nation, that was originally 
occupied by the states. We have New Englanders, south 
erners, middle westerners; we have the Pacific coast, 
but we do not have any New England government, or 
southern government, or government of the Pacific coast, 



REORGANISING THESE UNITED STATES [467] 

to provide them with a political unity, and the means of 
giving official expression to their opinion. 

If any measure is desired by more than one state, it 
must be granted from Washington. A question which can 
only affect the Pacific coast cannot be decided by the 
coast representatives, but must be put to the votes of 
Congressmen from all over the country, who have neither 
knowledge of nor interest in the matter. The result is the 
system of log-rolling by which the desires of any section 
of the country can be fulfilled only if its representatives 
mollify those of other districts. Most members of Congress 
vote on these measures with an ignorant partisan bias. 

When improvements in New England are needed, 
they must be paid for out of the national treasury, and the 
representatives of New England must make agreements 
with leaders of the majority party, and support measures 
in other parts of the country of which they know nothing. 
If we had provincial governments, we would have local 
responsibility, real local administration and probably less 
expenditure. A member who "brings home the bacon" at 
the expense of the Federal government, gets much more 
political profit out of his accomplishment, than would the 
man who had achieved expenditure at the expense of 
local taxation. 

The erection of such provincial governments must be a 
necessary preliminary if we are to maintain the principles 
on which our government is founded. It is impossible that 
forty-eight states should remain politically separate, 
when they are neither economically nor socially inde 
pendent. It would be a very unfortunate thing if the 
states were to become administrative districts of the Fed 
eral government. If the governor of a state is to differ 
from a satrap or prefect, he must be the head of a real 
organization. The states are no longer real sections of 



[ 468 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

the country, and there is no use trying to galvanize their 
corpses into occasional convulsions. At the same time, 
it is almost impossible to govern a nation as a unit, if 
that nation be as genuinely divided as the United States 
is today. 

Sooner or later, there must be some recognition of the 
real divisions of the country laws made for the Pacific 
coast must differ from those made for New England. A 
system suitable for the Northeast must be provided even 
though it shall not suit the far South. The South must be 
treated as the real entity that it is. This must happen. 
Facts must be recognized. In twenty years we will either 
see a unification of each section, and the setting up of 
sectional governments such as I suggest, or we will find 
the Federal government dividing the administration of 
many of its laws through districts governed by Federal 
proconsuls. 

The Federal Reserve Bill divided the country into 
financial districts. Unless there is set up in each section an 
administration able to provide the tools for the control of 
power and of public utilities, different regulations will 
have to be made by divisions of the I.C.C. and by other 
Federal regulatory boards. 

The mania of the New Era and the prostration that 
followed it were not isolated phenomena unpredictable 
and without visible cause. We were not hit by a shooting 
star. They were the inevitable consequence of the system 
of society in which they were produced. The New Era 
boom rose higher than that which preceded the panic 
of the early 'nineties, and the collapse brought us lower. 
Every crisis has been worse than its predecessor because 
the economic structure of the country diverged more and 
more from the social and political organizations which 
were unable to control it. 



REORGANISING THESE UNITED STATES 5 A -. ^469 ] 

V & 

If we are to preserve the principle of a government 

responsible to the people over which it rules, rather than 
to outsiders, it will be necessary to set up a system of 
provincial governments. Either the Federal government 
will extend its power to compress the states and take 
from them all dignity and all power, or we will have the 
states forming unions among themselves, which will be 
strong enough actually and effectively to control all 
matters of sectional interest. That No Man's Land, in 
which astute lawyers have erected hideouts for powerful 
knaves must be cleared. 

The Federal government will either extend its power 
to the inmost bounds of the states, or we will have new 
states arising to assume the dignity and reality of the old. 
There is no third alternative. Is government to be sent up, 
or to be sent down? 

We cannot hope to see our problem solved by political 
passion or by a balance of class selfishness. The question 
concerns the future of our country, and the future of every 
individual in it. Unless an adequate answer is found, the 
nation will be weak and feeble, and every one of us will 
be very, very uncomfortable. Human happiness is im 
possible without security; our ideal is liberty under fixed 
conditions. Contentment requires certainty, and certainty 
is of all things in the world the least likely to result from 
our present system. 



Old Calamity 

JOSEPH FULLING FISHMAN 

THE most capable executives in the United States 
never receive one line of publicity. No magazine ever 
"writes them up." No newspaper columnist, in search of 
"personality" material, ever gives them a thought. It 
would not occur to writers to look for them in the places 
where their work is so unobtrusively performed. Yet in 
the course of their daily duties they are called upon to 
display more diversified abilities, more courage, more 
understanding, and more force and stamina than ninety- 
nine out of a hundred big business executives who are 
paid from ten to thirty or forty times as much. 

"Old Calamity," as deputy wardens are known in 
prison the country over, is the heart, lungs and liver of the 
penitentiary system. Around him revolves the entire in 
stitution, and upon him, and often upon him alone, de 
pends the success or failure of the warden's administra 
tion. For in the larger prisons the warden is so occupied 
with the financial affairs of the institution (they often cost 
several million dollars a year to run) that all the actual 
contacts between prisoners and officers must be left to the 
deputy. Let's see now what the deputy warden of an in 
stitution of, say, three thousand prisoners and about two 
hundred and fifty guards and employes, does to keep him 
self from being bored. 

His first duty is to interview every new arrival. In a big 
prison there will be times when as many as forty or fifty 
convicts will arrive in a single day a heterogeneous 
collection from every social stratum and of every con 
ceivable "anti-social" background. Each one of them has 
to be mugged and fingerprinted, and has to give to the 

[470] 



OLD CALAMITY [ 471 ] 

Record Clerk as much of his history as he's willing to 
give, which is just about as much as he thinks the officials 
know anyhow. With this meagre information before him, 
Old Calamity interviews each new arrival with bewilder 
ing rapidity. With the data gleaned from a quick survey 
of the man in front of him, and a dozen or so questions 
which is all he has time to ask if he wants to get his other 
work done, the deputy must decide on how the man is to 
be "celled" that is, in which part of the institution 
he is to live and who is to be his cell partner and in 
which shop he is to be assigned to work. 

One man asks that he be celled with prisoner Hendrick- 
son. "Cousin o' yours?" the deputy inquires casually. 
The prisoner nods. Somehow or other, they're always 
cousins. "Well, we'll see what Hendrickson has to say 
about it," says Old Calamity, in the meantime indicating 
that the new arrival is to be placed in a different cell- 
house than that occupied by Hendrickson, and also as 
signed to a different shop. A few minutes later the inquiry 
which the deputy has set in motion proves what he sus 
pected all along. Hendrickson has "stooled" on the new 
arrival, who is itching to "get even." The deputy's 
quick, and apparently casual decision has prevented a 
serious fight and possibly a murder. 

Another prisoner also asks for a particular cell-mate. 
"No," says the deputy shortly, "cell you alone." A glance 
has shown him the feminine mannerisms of the typical 
pervert. Another of the men is a banker who speculated 
with the bank's money and lost. His trembling lip and 
quavering replies to the deputy's questions indicate the 
mental and emotional struggle which he is undergoing. 
The deputy cells him with one of his own kind, rather 
than with some illiterate "roughneck" with whom he 
would have nothing in common, and whose very presence 



[ 472 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

would "rub in" his degradation and, perhaps, break 
him down completely. 

Another is assigned to the end cell nearest the guard's 
desk. His papers show that he has broken jail twice. So he 
is put where the guard can keep an eye on him at all times. 
Still another receives a nod from the deputy. "Back 
again, Hargrave?" Hargrave nods amiably. "Yes, sir, 
and I'd like to get in B. cell house, if you please, sir." 
Old Calamity smiles grimly. "No use," he replies, just as 
amiably, "Ostricher's gone." Ostricher is the guard who 
was caught smuggling in narcotics to prisoners just after 
Hargrave completed his last term. The face of Hargrave, 
a drug addict who has taken at least five "cures," shows 
his disappointment as he suddenly loses interest in B. cell 
house. 

In half an hour, or even less, all the prisoners are 
"celled." Each must then be assigned to work. Half of 
the prisoners know exactly what they want to do. During 
the long days awaiting trial in the county jail, they have 
made careful inquiries of their fellows who have been in 
this particular "stir" concerning the jobs which are 
easiest. The tailor shop, let us say, has the call. So the first 
man promptly replies "Tailor" when the deputy asks him 
what he did on the outside. "Ever do any busheling?" 
the deputy inquires casually. The prisoner looks blank. 
"Put him in the stone shed," Old Calamity directs his 
aid, and the balance of the men standing in line suddenly 
decide that they were something else besides tailors. 

If the prisoner's crime shows him to be of a quarrelsome 
and belligerent disposition, he cannot be placed in a 
shop where hammers, knives or other articles which can 
be used as weapons are handled. If he's delicate-looking 
he must be kept out of the rope shop, as the flying lint 
may bring on lung trouble. If he's clumsy, he can't be 



OLD CALAMITY [ 473 ] 

put in the tailor shop, as he may spoil several hundred 
dollars' worth of work while learning. If he's well edu 
cated and clever (but not too clever) he's placed in an 
office job. And Old Calamity must make his decisions 
with lightning-like rapidity. 

But he must be as careful as he is quick, since a slight 
mistake can very easily be followed by serious conse 
quences. More than one prison murder has been due to a 
deputy's mistake in assigning a convict to a shop where 
he worked with something which could be used as a weap 
on. Even an assignment to a clerk's job in one of the 
offices may have serious results. I have known several in 
stances in which such prisoners changed the commit 
ments of their fellows, and "doctored" the other records 
to conform, so that some of the convicts were released a 
year or two before their time expired. There are dozens 
of other ways in which prisoner-clerks can do serious 
damage, if they are placed in positions where they can 
learn too much about the inner workings of the institu 
tion. It is Old Calamity's business to see to it that those 
placed in such positions are men who can be trusted. 

Despite the general belief to the contrary, there are 
many such in the penitentiaries: men who, through sheer 
unfortunate circumstances, were led to commit a crime, 
but who are not in any sense criminals in the ordinary 
acceptance of that term. But if the deputy should be 
guilty of an error of judgment, and not pick such a man, 
almost anything can happen. Warden Moyer, the warden 
of Sing Sing a few years ago, was forced to make good a 
loss of eight thousand dollars caused by a prisoner's 
forging his name to a check. At another institution several 
prisoners were released, following a fake telegram taken 
over the telephone by one of the prisoner-clerks in the 
office. There is also, of course, an untold amount of petty 



[ 474 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

graft on the part of such prisoner-clerks in a position to do 
little favors for their fellows. 

After Old Calamity has celled and assigned to work 
thirty or forty prisoners, he has the balance of the day to 
devote to making two or three rounds of the institution 
listening to the complaints of various prisoners who have 
asked for an audience with him; acting on their requests 
for special favors or privileges; hearing the stories of 
prisoners charged with infractions of the rules, and decid 
ing on what punishments to mete out to them; taking 
charge of the mess hall at meal times; directing the search 
for a prisoner who escaped the day before; reassigning his 
guard force to take care of the vacancies caused by sick 
ness, resignations or other reasons; seeing what is causing 
that milk shortage on the prison farm; finding out what 
became of those fifty missing fingerprint records; and 
generally being in three or four places at one time and 
carrying on five or six conversations at once. 

During his leisure time between those and his eighty or 
ninety other duties, Old Calamity makes a contact with 
his "stool pigeons" (every deputy has them, no matter 
what he may say about it publicly) so that he can keep his 
finger on the pulse of the institution and thwart the 
dozens of plots, counterplots, intrigues and "framings" 
constantly being hatched in every penal institution the 
world over. 

By the time Old Calamity has attended to these few 
duties, making allowances for a hundred or more inter 
ruptions, the whistle blows for lunch. So the deputy goes 
to the mess hall and takes charge, sitting at a little raised 
desk in the front of the room. There are, say, about two 
thousand prisoners in the room, a large percentage of 
them highly emotional and "spoiling" for some kind of 
trouble. One prisoner curses a waiter because he thinks 



OLD CALAMITY [ 475 ] 

he intentionally put a piece of bone on his plate instead 
of meat. There is a slight ripple, a craning of necks, a 
flash of the deputy and two or three "screws" hurrying 
to the scene and the disturbance dies a-borning. 

But not always. Sometimes the cursing one follows his 
oaths with something more substantial in the way of a 
blow and in an instant a fight, the most welcome 
diversion in the monotony of prison life, is in full swing. 
No two gladiators ever received a more enthusiastic re 
ception. Two thousand men are on their feet, screaming, 
cursing, looking uncertainly round for some leader who 
will show them how they can use the situation to their 
own advantage. 

To know the calibre of man it takes to be a deputy 
warden, one must be present at an occurrence like this. 
I once witnessed such a scene at the Federal Prison at 
Leavenworth. Several plates had been thrown by the 
more enthusiastic prisoners, who took this means of show 
ing their appreciation of the fighters' efforts, and the situ 
ation was beginning to look decidedly serious. And then, 
just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. Old Calamity was 
standing by the two pugilists, calmly interrogating them 
concerning their trouble. "Come on out," he said softly, 
leading one of the prisoners out of the room and turning 
him over to a guard at the threshold. The prisoners 
looked at one another in bewilderment. What had prom 
ised to be a thrilling diversion had miraculously come to 
an end. With a sigh of disappointment they resumed 
their meal. 

It was all done so calmly, so casually, that one would 
think the deputy didn't realize his danger. But one 
should not make that mistake. There isn't a day in the 
year when he isn't in similar danger, and he knows it. 
But a deputy warden is as nearly fearless as it's possible 



[ 476 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

for a human to be. It takes more than mere fearlessness 
to make a deputy warden, but no deputy warden ever re 
mained one for long who didn't possess that quality in 
superabundant measure. At the most unexpected times, 
emergencies arise which can only be met by the most 
unflinching courage. 

Every deputy warden of every large penitentiary han 
dles such emergencies as a matter of course many times 
during the course of a year. I remember upon one occa 
sion, in the yard of the Federal Prison at Atlanta, a 
prisoner in one of the lines marching in to lunch suddenly 
attacked the deputy, yelling at the same time, "Come on, 
boys, we'll take the place." But Old Calamity shook him 
off, struck him with the cane he always carries while in 
the yard, and then, walking calmly up and down in front 
of the line of several hundred men, three quarters of 
whom could have "licked" him in a fight, he inquired if 
there were any more who wished to attack him, and 
threatened, to use his own words, to "spatter them against 
the wall." I have known this same deputy, on several 
occasions, to go unarmed into the barricaded cell of a 
prisoner who, table-leg in hand and half-crazy with rage, 
threatened to kill the first person who approached. 

Every deputy warden is occasionally called upon to do 
this, as it is a common practice for disgruntled or crazy 
prisoners to barricade themselves in their cells and refuse 
to come out. Occasionally, in such cases, an ammonia 
gun is used to stupefy the prisoner; but more often depu 
ties are so afraid of hurting the prisoner, and thus causing 
criticism, that they would rather take chances of them 
selves being hurt or killed. 

At times, in order to support his authority and his repu 
tation for fearlessness, it is even necessary for Old Calam 
ity to grandstand a little, even though he is in reality the 



OLD CALAMITY [ 477 ] 

most modest of men. I was once present in an institution 
when a deputy warden gave such a theatrical display. 
He told me that he had heard through his stool pigeons 
that one of the prisoners had boasted he intended to kill 
him if he ever laid hands on him this remark following 
a fight in the mess hall during which the deputy grabbed 
a prisoner by the arm and took him out. "Want to see 
something yellow?" he inquired. I indicated that I did, 
although I was at a loss to know what he meant. "Come 
down to the mess hall at noon and I'll show you some 
thing," he remarked. So I went down. 

After the men had all been seated, and before he gave 
the signal to begin eating, Old Calamity arose and, amid 
intense silence, walked slowly down the aisle. He stopped 
about halfway. "Marchant," he said, addressing a tough- 
looking prisoner, "I understand you said you'd kill me 
if I ever took hold of you. Come here," he went on, his 
manner suddenly changing, as he grabbed the prisoner 
by the coat collar. Stupefied and silly-looking, the pris 
oner arose and, in a silence which could be cut with a 
knife, allowed the deputy to lead him out of the room. 
Immediately he left, there was an excited buzz among the 
prisoners. In spite of the efforts of the guards, it soon 
broke out into open conversation, in violation of the rules. 
Then, just as suddenly, it was stilled. I could tell what 
had happened without looking up. The deputy had re 
turned, and the men recognized their master. 

Sometimes Old Calamity will use similar grandstand 
ing methods to break the power of a leader among the 
prisoners, particularly when that leadership has become 
a menace to the safety of the institution. The almost fool 
hardy courage which a deputy warden will show on such 
an occasion smacks strongly of comic opera. One such 
prisoner, who had a large following among the most dis- 



[ 478 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

orderly element in the institution, boasted openly that he 
would someday kill the. deputy warden. Thereupon Old 
Calamity, learning that this man had been a barber, 
sent for him and said, "I'm going to see just how much 
nerve you have. You say you're going to kill me. All 
right, I'm going to give you the chance. Come over to the 
barber shop with me." 

When they arrived, Old Calamity climbed into one of 
the chairs and, without even looking around, said curtly, 
"Shave me." The prisoner hesitated, while the deputy 
settled back comfortably in his chair and the other 
prison-barbers wet their suddenly-dry lips and looked 
at each other in nervous alarm. But Old Calamity got 
his shave without mishap while his barber, suddenly 
made ridiculous and craven, immediately lost his leader 
ship among the prisoners, as there is nothing, outside of a 
stool pigeon, that the average convict hates more than a 
"four-flusher." 

To get still another angle on just what it means to be a 
deputy warden, one must see the mass of complaints and 
requests which come to his desk every day: complaints 
about the food, the medical service, ill treatment by a 
guard, bulldozing by another prisoner, refusal by the 
clothing officer to issue a new suit of underwear, request 
for change of work because of cold contracted while 
scrubbing the corridors, alleged theft of completed work 
by another convict (a common complaint where a daily 
task is assigned) and so on, and on. 

The requests are for extra letters or visits, for the resto 
ration of "good time" previously taken away, for a posi 
tion as trusty, for permission to spend some time in the 
yard each day because of bad health, for the restoration 
of baseball or tobacco privilege, for permission to put on 
some kind of holiday performance, for authority to organ- 



OLD CALAMITY [ 479 ] 

ize a football league, for permission to wear the shoes 
which the inmate brought with him, and for a thousand 
and one other things of every kind and description. A 
definite decision must be made in each case. Prisoners are 
quick to recognize evasions or "trimming," while a dep 
uty warden who promises he'll look "into it," and doesn't, 
quickly loses the supreme authority so necessary to his 
position. 

I have watched a deputy warden during these requests 
for interviews give forth a steady stream of "No. Yes. 
Yes. No," in a way which seemed to indicate that it was 
merely a matter of chance whether a prisoner's request 
was granted or not. But the deputy was able to give a 
good reason for each decision. A prisoner was refused an 
extra letter because he had already had an extra letter 
that month. Another was denied a change of work be 
cause a stool pigeon had reported to the deputy that this 
particular man had a plan for escaping which necessi 
tated possession of a chisel, and the transfer which he 
wanted was to the carpenter shop. 

Another was granted a change of job because he was 
the brains of a plot to escape, and Old Calamity knew 
he could be more carefully watched in the second place 
than in the first although the prisoner himself didn't 
know it. Another had his good time restored, even 
though his record had not been of the best, because the 
deputy wanted to get his friendship to use him as a stool 
pigeon not a particularly honorable procedure, per 
haps, but then after one has dealt with thousands of 
criminals who are past masters in the art of trickery and 
deceit, he finds he must meet guile with guile if he wishes 
to survive in the struggle. And so it goes, until Old Calam 
ity has disposed of possibly a hundred, or a hundred and 
fifty requests at one sitting. 



[ 480 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

After lunch comes "court call," when the prisoners 
who have been "shot" (reported) during the previous 
twenty-four hours are brought before the deputy for an 
accounting of their conduct. One will be charged with 
talking while at work, another with insolence to an officer, 
a third with striking a guard, another with malingering 
in order to avoid work, still another with wilfully de 
stroying property or wasting food, six or eight with right 
ing and any number of them with lagging behind in line. 
The latter may not seem serious offense to an outsider, 
but "on the inside" many prisoners lag behind for no 
other purpose than suddenly to drop out of line alto 
gether, so that they can "hide out" somewhere in the 
institution awaiting an opportunity to escape. 

Every one of these prisoners is innocent, to hear him 
tell it. All those accused of righting were attending in 
dustriously to their work when, without the slightest 
warning, the other men suddenly attacked them. Those 
accused of cursing an officer earnestly explain that it 
was all a mistake, that the cursing was done by the man 
back of them in the line whose name they do not know. 
The man who threw the brick was merely testing his 
strength when the brick suddenly slipped out of his hand 
and nearly struck the officer. The four or five charged 
with wasting food suddenly developed a terrific stomach 
ache so that they couldn't eat another mouthful, while 
the mere suggestion that they had attempted to avoid 
work is met by the alleged malingerers with an expression 
of anguish that anyone should think they would be so 
depraved. 

Faced with this conflicting and contradictory evidence, 
Old Calamity dispenses his frontier justice. One man gets 
five days in the "cooler" (the solitary cell), another has 
his tobacco privilege taken away, the malingerers are 



OLD CALAMITY [ 481 ] 

denied the Saturday afternoon privilege of the yard for a 
month, the fighters are not permitted to attend the weekly 
movie show for two or three weeks, the man who at 
tempted to strike the guard has thirty days' "copper" 
(good time) taken away from him and is warned that a 
repetition of this offense means the "pickling room" 
(an isolated part of the institution where chronic as 
saulters of guards are kept), while those who talked in 
line either lose letter privileges for a week, or are dis 
missed with a reprimand. 

Besides endeavoring to mete out justice to the prison 
ers, on which his reputation as a "square shooter" 
largely depends (and the value of this reputation is not to 
be sneezed at inside the penitentiary as well as out), Old 
Calamity must give the guards who made the reports the 
impression that he is backing them up, whether he really 
is or not. For that reason, he will often give a reprimand 
to the prisoner in front of the guard, when he knows well 
enough that the fault lies with the latter rather than with 
the convict. The next time he sees the prisoner while 
making his rounds he will stop and chat with him a little 
and, without directly saying so, give him to understand 
that he knows the rebuke he gave him was undeserved. 

Anyone who does not think this is necessary does not 
know prison guards. They are as temperamental as opera 
singers. The most heinous offense which a deputy ward 
en can commit is a failure to "back them up" when they 
make a report against a prisoner. Upon one occasion, 
while I was Inspector of Prisons for the Federal govern 
ment, I made an investigation of the guard force at one 
of the United States prisons. I found that one guard 
had not made a report against a prisoner for more than 
two years. When I questioned him concerning this, he 
virtuously declared that when he made his last report, 



[ 482 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

the deputy warden, instead of putting the man in the 
"cooler" as he should have done, had let him off with a 
reprimand. Then and there, the guard made up his mind 
never to report another prisoner. 

With this kind of temperament to contend with, Old 
Calamity's difficulties in assigning the guards to work 
in order to keep them all satisfied can easily be imagined. 
In most institutions the guards "rotate" at regular inter 
vals, so that, in a three-shift institution, a guard will work 
three months on day duty and six months on the first 
and second night shifts. They will also rotate in jobs, a 
guard who is in a tower on the wall for three months be 
ing placed in charge of a work gang for the next three. 
For some reason guards seem to like tower duty, although 
standing for eight hours in one spot doing nothing but 
holding a loaded rifle in the arms would seem to almost 
anyone else to be the hardest kind of work. 

Many guards who are excellent on the walls are utterly 
worthless when placed in charge of a gang, as they cannot 
get the work out of the prisoners; and their near prox 
imity to a large number of men seems to irritate them and 
cause them to note the trivial things and overlook the 
important ones. So, when the deputy finds a good gang- 
guard he tries with all the arts at his command to keep 
him from feeling that he is "getting the worst of it." If, 
however, the guard becomes disgruntled at not getting 
his turn of duty in the towers, Old Calamity must let him 
have it thus weakening his force just that much and 
rendering it necessary to brace the weak spot by making 
some other kind of a shift. 

To shift a hundred and fifty, or two hundred men of all 
degrees of individuality and temperament, and at the 
same time keep them all feeling that they are getting a 
square deal, is a job which would tax the patience of a 



OLD CALAMITY [ 483 ] 

Job and the wisdom of a Solomon. But the deputy warden 
who isn't able to do it doesn't remain a deputy very long. 
I have seen dozens of them come and go, watched the 
prison slowly become disorganized, the prisoners bitter 
and disgruntled, the guards angry and discontented, 
all working slowly and surely toward the inevitable "bust- 
up" of a bloody riot which one may read about at almost 
regular intervals in the newspapers. 

If by any chance Old Calamity should run out of work 
during the day, he can begin an investigation of the 
matters reported to him in fifteen or twenty anonymous 
notes which have come to his desk during the week: 

Deputy: One of the men in C. dormitory has got a gun. 

Deputy: Watch McCreery on farm. He is getting ready 
for a break. 

Deppity: There is 6 deks of junk in taler shop. 

Deputy: Guard Morrison is stealing steaks and cooking 

them for his dinner every night, 

and many others of a similar tenor. Many of the notes 
come from practical jokers among the prisoners who, 
either for the fun of it or to rid their souls of a grievance 
against the officials, want to give the deputy "a run 
around the block." But, although fully aware of this, 
Old Calamity cannot afford to disregard any of them. 

The one about the gun in C. dormitory may be a 
practical joke. Or it may be that one of the prisoners 
there has a gun and is awaiting a favorable opportunity 
to make a break for freedom. Or it may even be that the 
prisoner who wrote the note has the gun and wants to 
frame an enemy by "planting" it in the other's mattress, 
the note being written merely to insure a quick "frisk" 
of the dormitory. Similar reasons may exist for all the 
others. McCreery's job on the farm may be coveted by 
another prisoner, who is taking this means of having the 



[ 484 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

former brought in inside the walls. Or it may actually be 
that he is getting ready for a break. Old Calamity must 
have a talk with him and decide, from that brief inter 
view, whether McCreery is or isn't. 

Guard Morrison may be stealing steaks, or the note 
may be merely an effort on the part of a prisoner he 
reported to "get even." So each matter is thoroughly in 
vestigated, and enough of them prove to be true to cause 
Old Calamity to feel exceedingly thankful for his invisible 
friends who take this measure of showing their apprecia 
tion of his square treatment. 

This atmosphere, of anything being likely to happen at 
any moment, which surrounds Old Calamity at all times, 
day and night, year in and year out, would make a nerv 
ous wreck out of almost any man in the world except a 
born deputy warden. Add to it the innumerable things 
which do happen, and you will get some slight idea of the 
kind of stamina it takes to hold a position of this kind. 
During the year there may be two or three fires in the 
various shops, almost invariably started by prisoners. 
There will be several occasions when the lights will sud 
denly be short-circuited by some prisoner's sticking a 
screw-driver or other piece of metal in a socket. These 
are usually designed to cover an attempted escape. No 
one knows where the blow is going to strike, and there 
are a few moments of feverish activity until the "break 
down" electric service gets to work and the officers can 
check up to see if anyone is missing. There will be a 
dozen or more sudden knife-fights between prisoners, 
any one of which may result in a death. And there will 
be the anxious times possibly a half dozen during the 
course of a year when the "count" is short! 

One must see Old Calamity at such a time to get a 
lesson in what smooth, noiseless efficiency really is. Let's 



^W*| 

Putlic Library 

OLD CALAMITY ^ [,485 ] 

assume that the evening count shows three prisoners 
missing. Three things may have happened. There may 
have been a mistake in "taking the count." Or the count 
may be correct and the three prisoners "hiding out" in 
some part of the institution awaiting an opportunity to 
escape. Or they may actually have escaped already. Old 
Calamity takes no chances. Immediately the report 
reaches him, he phones the boiler room. In a few seconds 
the escape siren is being sounded warning the country 
folk for four or five miles around, and causing many a 
farmer to take his old rifle from the wall and go out for 
the reward. 

A few moments later the prison printing shop is run 
ning off thousands of wanted circulars, giving the names 
of the prisoners, their aliases, descriptions, peculiar mark 
ings and fingerprint classifications. As fast as they come 
off the press they are placed in already addressed enve 
lopes, and sent to chiefs of police and peace officers 
through the entire country. While this is being done Old 
Calamity has sent for the correspondence record of the 
three prisoners giving the names of the people to 
whom they have sent letters and from whom they have 
received them while in the institution. 

As fast as he can get wires and long distance calls off, 
the police in the towns where these correspondents live 
are watching their homes to see if the escaped men come 
there for shelter or hiding. While his clerks, under his 
direction, are putting these wires and calls through, Old 
Calamity is interviewing the three cell-mates of the miss 
ing prisoners to see what he can find out from them, 
interrupting himself every few moments to listen to re 
ports from the various squads of guards sent out in auto 
mobiles after the getaway, and to tell them where to go 
next in their hunt for the runaways. 



[ 486 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

Not a half hour has elapsed. Old Calamity has not left 
his desk, nor raised his voice, nor betrayed the slightest 
sign that he is in the least bit worried or rattled. It is 
simply a part of his day's work. The chances are that in 
an hour or two a guard will come in with three sheepish- 
looking prisoners and inform the deputy that he found 
them "hiding out" in the carpenter shop. Old Calamity 
takes all their good time away, locks them up in the 
"cooler," and then, the incident forgotten, again turns 
to his thousand or so other duties. 

Not one prison guard in five hundred is capable of 
being a deputy warden. And not one deputy warden out 
of a hundred, no matter how capable he is, ever becomes 
a warden. He's usually lacking in education and in 
fluence. All he has is an extraordinary ability in guiding, 
by the sheer force of his own personality, the lives of three 
thousand men of every degree of criminality and vicious- 
ness, and of every shade of abnormality and sub-normal 
ity, so that they can dwell together under the most un 
natural conditions with an absolute minimum of friction 
and chafing. For this, if he's an exceptionally good 
deputy warden, he may receive as much as three thousand 
dollars a year. 



Where Ignorant Armies 

WINFIELD TOWNLEY SCOTT 

The child plays on the sands 

Alone, and takes in her hands 

Shells, dried stars, sea-grass, 

Stones hot with the sun; 

And sometimes studies the gulls 

Or carefully questions a wave 

Or, squat at a troubled pool, 

Peers to learn what there was. 

Yet turning, will shout and run 

While foam purrs at her heels: 

Then turning will chase it back. 

Secure upon beach or rock, 

She is shrill with delight and daring 

Or quiet and staring, 

Pleased at the bright confusion 

Above her innocent hair 

Of birds wild over the sea. 

But now she broods by a crab 

Busy, as one assured 

That afternoon at her back 

Is filled with her victory. 



[487] 



Modern American Biography 

E. H. O'NEILL 

\ MERICAN biography has come of age. After nearly 
YlL a generation of experimentation, life-writing in 
America has developed into a form of art as distinctive 
as the novel or the essay. We are no longer satisfied with 
the family memorial of the politician or the man of 
letters; we are no longer willing to wade through the 
"monumental" lives of statesmen; we want reality in 
our biography. We are tired of the " debunking" and re 
write schools of biography which flourished between 
1920 and 1930. We no longer believe that the psychologi 
cal or the psychoanalytical is the only approach to bio 
graphical interpretation. We want biography that is 
truthful, not sensational. 

Though the rewrite and tabloid schools of biography 
are still in evidence, they have been superseded by that 
type of modern biography which, using the methods that 
have been in vogue for fifteen years, presents a complete, 
fair, and dignified treatment of the subject. We are no 
longer primarily interested in watching our prominent 
men being hauled from the pedestals which they may or 
may not have adorned. We want the truth, but we want it 
interestingly and fairly presented. We want to see both 
sides of the picture to see the man as he really was. 

The World War, which has been held responsible for 
much that is good and bad in our modern civilization, 
has had some effect on modern biography. Since the war 
most of us have looked at life and at men from a point 
of view very different from that of previous generations. 
We have questioned everything from God to government, 
and we have tried to see men and things as they are and 

[ 4 88] 



MODERN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY [ 489 ] 

were, not as we should like to have them. Our skepticism 
has not been irreverent; we have not been iconoclasts; 
we have been and are trying to seek the truth about the 
world and the people in it. It is no longer the fashion 
to accept authority; we must investigate for ourselves. 
Our fiction has gone beyond realism into naturalism and 
plain reporting; our poetry has taken on new and 
strange forms, some good and some bad; our drama has 
become the medium for examining, and generally satiriz 
ing, our social customs and habits; our biography has 
become creative and re-creative and sometimes, un 
fortunately, imaginative. 

If we are to understand the development of modern 
biography, particularly in America, we must go back to 
1918, for it was in that year that Lytton Strachey pub 
lished "Eminent Victorians." It is to this book, along 
with "Queen Victoria," that we owe not only much of the 
best, but also much of the worst in modern life-writing. 
Mr. Strachey brought to biography, and to English prose, 
a marvelous knowledge of literature and life, a masterful 
command of irony, and an almost faultless style. These 
qualities, not always obvious, led many of his disciples 
and imitators into fields which they were not able to ex 
plore. They were deceived, by the apparent simplicity of 
the manner and style of these two books, into thinking 
that they could do likewise. Their knowledge was fre 
quently superficial, their irony mere invective, and their 
style second-rate journalism. The result was an endless 
stream of books, many of which were forgotten within the 
season of their publication. 

Andre Maurois and Emil Ludwig also affected the 
writing of biography in America for several years follow 
ing the publication of "Ariel, the Life of Shelley" (1923) 
and "Napoleon" (1926). We know now that Maurois 



[ 490 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

was using biography as a means of self-expression when 
he wrote "Ariel." Its effect in America was very un 
fortunate for it encouraged the use of fiction in biography, 
a use that cannot be defended even in the case of such an 
artist as M. Maurois. Ludwig introduced the dramatic 
element into modern biography. Herr Ludwig was a 
dramatist before he turned to biography, and it was quite 
natural that he should build his biographies on dramatic 
principles. His American followers lacked this experience, 
with the result that their presentations were theatrical 
rather than dramatic. 

I am not inferring that these three men had only a bad 
effect on modern American biography. We profited by 
their influence, in that our better modern biographers 
adapted the best of the European methods to their mate 
rial and to their points of view. A survey of their work 
from 1920 to the present time, will clearly show the 
steady development of life- writing as an art. 

It took some time for the influences I have indicated 
to become apparent in American biography. As interest 
in this form of writing grew, the number of practitioners 
increased. Some turned to it because they saw an oppor 
tunity to explain the great and the notorious in history, 
literature and public life as they really were in a style 
and language that would appeal to the modern reader. 
Others became fabricators of books called biographies 
because such work had become profitable. A third group 
turned to the form for both reasons, perhaps, but with a 
sincere intention, seldom realized, of making "heavy 
reading" light. 

It is, I think, significant that our first genuine psycho 
logical biography appeared in 1920, when Katharine 
Anthony published "Margaret Fuller." This is one of the 
most important books in modern American life-writing, 



MODERN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY [ 491 ] 

for it exhibits the advantages and the disadvantages of 
the purely psychological method. In this instance the 
method is perfectly suited and adapted to the subject. 
Because Margaret Fuller is what may be called a "case," 
it was not necessary for her biographer to approach the 
subject in any but a scientific spirit. The disadvantage of 
this method is that it naturally fits very few subjects. Used 
in conjunction with plain narrative or simple exposition 
as a means of developing the whole character of a man or 
woman, it is excellent; used alone it places insurmount 
able limitations on a biographer because the unusual, 
the abnormal is only part of the story. We may under 
stand the subject of a psychological analysis, but we can 
not truly know him or imagine how he looked or acted 
under normal conditions. The picture of a disembodied 
soul is hardly the stuff of good biography. 

The psychoanalytical method is no more successful as 
a sole means of biographical interpretation than is the 
psychological. The fault here is that in almost every in 
stance the psychoanalytical biographer approaches his 
subject with a preconceived point of view, and so uses his 
material that every move, every thought is made to 
prove the biographer's thesis. One of the most striking 
examples of this method is Joseph Wood Krutch's "Edgar 
Allan Poe: a Study in Genius" (1926). Mr. Krutch based 
his book on the fact that Poe was a neurotic, and that all 
of his work was affected by his neuroses. It would be 
foolish to deny that Poe was a neurotic; it seems to me 
equally foolish to maintain that his work can be explained 
entirely or only on the basis of his neuroses. Mr. Krutch's 
book is interesting, and a valuable contribution to the 
body of Poe literature, but it is not good biography. 

Like the pseudo-scientific biographies, the journalistic 
type of life-writing has run its course. It served a purpose 



[ 492 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

for a time, giving the average reader a racy and so-called 
intimate account of the great and the near-great. Gen 
erally based on secondary sources, its only virtues were 
timeliness and a kind of smart iconoclasm that appealed 
to the undiscerning reader. 

Akin to the journalistic biography was the type that 
set out deliberately to " debunk" its subject, to strip him 
bare of every ability and every virtue. The late Paxton 
Hibben was a master of this biographical invective, and 
he chose his subjects with care. In Henry Ward Beecher 
and William Jennings Bryan he found two men whose 
careers were ideally suited to his peculiar methods. Both 
had been popular idols in their respective fields, and both 
had had flaws in their characters. Mr. Hibben chose to 
use those weaknesses of character as the bases of his 
studies, giving us in "Henry Ward Beecher" and "The 
Peerless Leader" two classics in scandal-mongering and 
destructive criticism, without permitting a single ray of 
light to illuminate the canvases. There is no doubt that 
these books were popular for a time; that they are value 
less as studies in personality is equally clear. 

There were innumerable books of this kind published in 
the period of which I am writing, though I doubt that 
any of them will be read a decade after their publica 
tion. Their passing will be no loss, for they have served 
at least one purpose: to prove that biography must be 
more than amusing, more even than interesting, that it 
must be honest and truthful. 

There is another class of life-writing to be mentioned 
the fictional biography. This is not to be confused 
with biographical fiction. The latter is a perfectly legiti 
mate form of the novel, in which the artist uses facts as a 
basis for the superstructure of his imagination; while the 
former, purporting to be true, is really a product of the 



MODERN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY [ 493 ] 

author's imagination. The novelist can indulge in the 
"might have been"; the biographer cannot unless he 
gives fair warning to his reader. I am inclined to think 
that the average fictional biography is not deliberately 
misleading, but that it is the result of unsuccessful ex 
cursions into the fields of psychological or psychoanalyti 
cal biography, or just plain attempts to accelerate the 
tempo of a subject which the author may have considered 
a little dull. 

Of the host of these fictional biographies of the last 
decade, I might mention "Margaret Fuller" by Mar 
garet Bell, and Johnston D. Kirkhoff's "Aaron Burr; a 
Romantic Biography." Trying to imitate Katharine 
Anthony's treatment of the same subject, Miss Bell suc 
ceeded only in producing a book close to the borderline 
of the novel, while Mr. Johnston paid far more attention 
to the romance of Burr's life than to its reality. 

Critical biography has always been a difficult form be 
cause there is the constant tendency to place more em 
phasis on the criticism than on the life-writing. The ideal 
critical biography develops both phases at the same time, 
as an instance of which I mention Professor George E. 
Woodberry's "Life of Edgar Allan Poe," an earlier 
American biography. 

One of the most brilliant contributions to critical biog 
raphy was Amy Lowell's "John Keats." A distinguished 
poet and critic in her own right, and an ardent admirer 
of Keats, Miss Lowell brought to the writing of this book 
a robust enthusiasm, a profound knowledge of the tech 
nique of poetry, and superb critical judgment. The read 
ing of "John Keats" is an intellectual adventure, and it is 
just because of this that the book fails to be a great 
biography. Keats is continually lost in the maze of Miss 
Lowell's scholarship, in her excursions into the realm of 



[ 494 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

pure poetry, in her interest in the creation of the literature 
which has made Keats one of the great English poets. 
Regardless of the critical biographer's knowledge of, and 
interest in the work of his subject, that work must be 
subordinated to the major theme of the biography, the 
re-creation of the personality. This criticism holds good 
for the historical and the legal biographer, as well as for 
the critical biographer. 

Despite the journalistic, pseudo-scientific fads and 
fashions of this period, biography has made more definite 
progress in the last fifteen years than has any other form 
of literature. Every branch of literature has been the sub 
ject of experiment; some of the experiments have suc 
ceeded, more have failed. Modern fiction, modern poetry, 
and modern drama are in various experimental stages, 
but biography has emerged and has taken on, not a new 
form, but a form that is the logical development of the 
various methods that have been tried in the last fifteen 
years. We have seen the rise of the psychological, psycho 
pathic and pathological methods in life-writing. We have 
seen the two or three volumes of life and letters reduced to 
a sketch, an analysis, or a psychograph. We have seen the 
biography of an earlier day rewritten in modern slang 
and scientific jargon. We have seen facts sacrificed to 
effect, biography made into fiction or plain falsehood. 
We have seen the "debunking" school pull figures from 
pedestals and then break the pedestals. Some of the ex 
hibitions were painful to many of us, but the operations 
eventually saved the patient. 

The journalist who imbibed enough psychology to use 
some of the terms showed us that biography cannot be 
written that way; the psychologist or psychiatrist who 
tried to intensify his subject with the method of the 
journalist, showed that biography cannot be written that 



MODERN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY [ 495 ] 

way. The more serious writer who started with a precon 
ceived idea of his subject, and used only that source 
material which would prove his case, showed us that biog 
raphy cannot be written that way. The critic, turned 
biographer and always judging the individual in terms 
of his art, showed us that biography cannot be written 
like that. 

This is one side of the picture; the other view is much 
more encouraging. Since 1925, America's contribution 
to the best in the art of biography has been truly remark 
able. The best biographers in this country, keenly aware 
of the developments in life- writing, have taken advantage 
of every innovation, adapting it to their subjects and 
their own methods. They have used psychology and psy 
choanalysis, imagination and drama as contributing 
factors in the re-creation of the personality of the individ 
ual. A glance at some of the outstanding lives of the dec 
ade will indicate the extent of our contribution to the art 
of biography. The biographies of Lincoln by Carl Sand 
burg and Albert J. Beveridge mark the high point of 
Lincoln life- writing. Neither is a complete biography, for 
Sandburg confined his book to the "prairie years," and 
Senator Beveridge died before his task was completed; 
but both are masterpieces of their kind, one in interpre 
tive biography, the other in plain narrative. What these 
men have done for the earlier years of Lincoln's life, 
Rupert Hughes is doing for the whole of Washington's. 
When Mr. Hughes completes the three volumes already 
published which bring Washington's career to 1781, this 
biography will be the most complete and the best inter 
pretation of Washington that we have. 

In the field of authentic dramatic biography, "The 
Raven; a Biography of Sam Houston" by Marquis 
James, is a masterpiece. One of the most romantic and 



[ 496 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

dramatic figures in American history, Sam Houston 
comes completely alive in this book. More than that, no 
biographer can be expected to do. In much the same 
manner, and with even more gusto, Herbert Gorman has 
re-created the author of "The Three Musketeers" in 
"Dumas, the Incredible Marquis." These books are not 
only great biographies; they are literature. 

In the political field, we have Claude Fuess' "Daniel 
Webster," Henry F. Pringle's "Theodore Roosevelt," 
and Allan Nevins' "Grover Cleveland." It would be diffi 
cult to decide which is the best of the three, for each 
represents the best in personal and political biography. 
In other fields we have "President Eliot of Harvard" by 
Henry James, "The Life of Emerson" by Van Wyck 
Brooks, and "Sherman, Fighting Prophet" by Lloyd 
Lewis. Each of these books is done in an entirely different 
manner; each author has made such use of modern bio 
graphical methods as best suited his purpose; each life is 
a close approximation to the ideal of true biography: 
the re-creation of the man as he really was. 

It would seem that the high point of interest in modern 
biography came in 1932. The financial depression may 
have had some influence on the biographical flood; 
though I am inclined to think that public taste, and more 
careful consideration of manuscripts by publishers, were 
responsible for the decrease in the quantity of biography 
published during the last three years. The decrease in the 
quantity of biographical literature has not affected its 
quality. The stream is running clearer with the passage 
of each year, and America is developing a literature of 
biography second to none. 

One of the best signs of our progress is the fact that biog 
raphers are turning to new subjects or to those who have 
been neglected for generations. They are finding vast 



MODERN AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY [ 497 ] 

collections of new material, and bringing to the consider 
ation of that material a modern point of view. Many a 
"forgotten man" has received tardy recognition in the 
last five years, and every phase of our history is being 
written in good biography. The most important recent 
biography is Douglas Freeman's "Robert E. Lee." We 
had to wait a long time for a complete and honest inter 
pretation of the great military leader of the Confeder 
acy, but our patience has been rewarded with a piece of 
life-writing that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that 
American biography has come of age. 



Unions among the Unemployed 

WILLIAM H. AND KATHRYN COE CORDELL 

THE depression, like all phenomena of misery, has 
made strange bedfellows. The economic upheaval 
has accustomed us to accept many associations we would 
have disdained, had we even thought of them, during 
the Era of Prosperity but not of Good Will which was 
ushered out by the debacle of 1929. This democratizing 
power of human misery is nowhere better illustrated 
than in the unions of the unemployed for the protection 
of their inalienable right not to starve in the midst of 
abundance. The movement toward the formation of 
"pauper unions" has made significant strides within the 
past two years, especially among that class of the unem 
ployed which has benefited from the government's 
emergency relief program. 

The public, or rather, that section of it more fortu 
nately placed in the economic scale, has been surprised 
and in many cases shocked by headlines in the press to 
the effect that "FERA Workers Strike for More Relief." 
The newspapers have regularly carried stories from vari 
ous states of protests, mass demonstrations and rioting by 
persons on relief. That these outbreaks, peaceful or vio 
lent, are often the result of careful, deliberate manoeuvering 
by the officials and members of unions of the unemployed 
is known to few people outside of the relief set-ups. The 
public in general has regarded this agitation as spon 
taneous and sporadic in its manifestations in most 
cases as further evidence of the ungratefulness, the bite- 
the-hand-that-feeds-you attitude of people on the dole. 
Some critics have caustically remarked the anomaly of 
persons on relief striking for more pay. The very absurd- 

[498] 



UNIONS AMONG THE UNEMPLOYED [ 499 ] 

ity of a relief strike causes the man in the office chair to 
snort in derision, and dismiss the whole thing with: 
"They ought to kick that whole bunch of ingrates and 
reds off the relief rolls, and make them work for their 
living like I have to do for mine." 

The public's conception of the spontaneous nature of 
this agitation, as well as its estimation of the radical or 
"red" make-up of the relief victims, are belied by the 
facts and figures in the case. While it is true that in the 
first years of the depression (1929-32) the majority of the 
riots resulted from impulsive actions among crowds and 
mobs impelled by the immediate call of hunger, the spirit 
of agitation today manifests itself through various organ 
izations of the unemployed called unions, councils, 
leagues or brotherhoods. 

There are some 200,000 members of three national 
organizations of the unemployed, and an inestimable 
number who hold membership in the multitude of 
"locals" and regional organizations without connection 
with the three nationals. That these unions are affiliates 
of the Third Internationale in Moscow, or are directed 
by the Communist Comintern, is an untenable thesis. 
It is true that some have been organized by Communist 
agitators; but even in such organizations the cosmopoli 
tan nature of the membership, including men and women 
of all creeds, colors, races, professions and political affilia 
tions, prevents the Communists from securing control. 
If there is a "united front," to borrow a term from the 
Marxian strategists, it is not based on any political doc 
trine, but upon the democracy of misery. To regard this 
movement as a part of the "red menace" because of the 
few Communists who are associated with it, would be an 
absurd and dangerous thing. 

As a matter of fact, many of the leaders of these 



[ 5 oo ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

pauper unions are young men and women who are radi 
cal only in the most approved sense of that word, that is, 
in a desire to get to the root of the matter. These youth 
ful leaders profess no desire to reform the world by up 
rooting the present order of things. Undernourished, 
lacking the basic necessities of life, and seeing no outlet 
for their energies and ambitions in the future, they have 
turned to this work to secure first of all sufficient food for 
themselves and their fellow victims, and secondly as an 
avenue to adventure and social usefulness. They have 
no more love of violence than does the most wizened arm 
chair philosopher, remote in his ivory tower. Their radi 
cal plans are concerned only with securing the means to 
exist, and not with the organization of the whole of 
existence. 

These same young men and women, when asked if 
they regard themselves as "radical" or "red" (terms that 
are synonymous to the average American), insist that 
they are not interested in politics as far as their organiza 
tions are concerned. The majority of them feel that they 
are as American (a term synonymous with anti-radicalism 
of all shades and varieties) as the fellow with a job. They 
feel that they have as much right, and actual need, to 
organize into unions as do their more fortunate fellow 
citizens who still hold good jobs. They justify their posi 
tion by precedents in our recent history and not with 
out plausibility, as a review of events in this country 
during the past fifty years, and more especially since ihe 
depression, amply demonstrates. 

The first significant attempt to organize the unem 
ployed in this country was undertaken in 1894 by General 
Jacob Sechler Coxey. Some forty-one years ago, he led 
his famous expeditionary force of three hundred and 
fifty-six unemployed men to Washington to demand the 



UNIONS AMONG THE UNEMPLOYED [ 501 ] 

issuance of $500,000,000 greenbacks, and the institution 
of a public works program to cure the depression and 
relieve the unemployed. While General Coxey failed in 
his mission (he was arrested for trespassing on the grass), 
Coxey 's army succeeded in establishing a precedent for 
organizations among the unemployed, and for appeal to 
Washington in time of need. 

Thirty-eight years later the ex-soldiers, borrowing a 
page from history, organized an army and marched on 
Washington to urge Congress to enact a bonus measure. 
This so-called Bonus Expeditionary Force reinforced the 
precedent set by Coxey 's army, with the result that the 
authorities at Washington have been besieged more or 
less continuously by special groups of employed and un 
employed, of rich and poor during the past three years. 

When, in response to the call of public need, the RFC 
was organized in 1932, the unemployed, variously esti 
mated at from ten to fifteen million people, began to de 
mand assistance. Rioting broke out in the large Metro 
politan centers. By midsummer of that year, no part of 
the country could claim immunity from social unrest. 
Even in the traditionally conservative agrarian South, 
mobs fearlessly demanded food. At England, Arkansas, 
sharecroppers and tenants armed with shotguns moved 
against the town to secure food and clothing in the mem 
orable bread riot. By September of 1932 the money made 
available to the state governments through RFC loans 
was being distributed among the most destitute, so that 
spontaneous rioting soon ceased to occupy the headlines. 

With the advent of the present administration, Presi 
dent Roosevelt promised a New Deal for the "forgotten 
man." Later when the FERA and in turn the CWA were 
set up, the President encouraged the unemployed to hope 
and confidence by his statement that no one would be 



[ 502 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

permitted to starve. To make the beneficiaries feel that 
they were getting a square deal, he urged them to address 
their letters and petitions of complaint to him. The un 
employed took him at his word, deluging the White 
House with thousands of letters every day. For a while 
these epistolary activities served as an outlet for the wrath 
of the unemployed, and agitation was at a comparative 
standstill. 

Meanwhile, as early as 1931, sections of the Unem 
ployed Council, the most influential of the pauper unions, 
were being organized in Chicago. By September of that 
year there were forty-five branches of this organization 
in that city alone, with a total membership of around 
twenty thousand people. The primary purpose of this 
Chicago group was to resist evictions for non-payment of 
rent. Mass assistance against threatened and attempted 
evictions was so effective in calling the attention of the 
public to the condition of the unemployed, that the 
Mayor decreed a sort of moratorium on rent debts and 
forced removals. 

Later the Unemployed Council directed its efforts 
toward raising the standards of living for the twenty 
thousand men who lived in Chicago's flop-houses. In a 
mass demonstration five thousand of the unionists 
marched to the general headquarters of the flop-houses 
located on Monroe and Green Streets, where they de 
manded, and later received, three meals per day instead 
of two, two feet of air space between the beds, free medi 
cal attention, tobacco twice each week, no discrimination 
against members of the Unemployed Council, and the 
right to hold assemblies in the flop-houses. Later the 
Chicago headquarters of the Unemployed Council 
claimed the major share of credit for bringing about, 
through mass pressure, the enactment by the Illinois 



UNIONS AMONG THE UNEMPLOYED [ 503 ] 

legislature of a twenty million dollar public relief bill. 

In states farther west, the pauper unions became still 
more powerful. In most cases these early western unions 
were formed from the numerous associations for barter and 
exchange of commodities and services that had had such 
a phenomenal growth in that section of the country. Al 
ready such self-help organizations as the Mormon's 
Natural Help Association had accustomed the unem 
ployed members to the necessity, value and method of 
group action for relieving their destitute situation. As the 
depression deepened, however, such labor and goods 
exchanges, with local scrip as a medium, became appar 
ent for what they were in a highly organized industrial 
economy mere makeshifts to ward off distress and 
starvation. The members began to reorganize their asso 
ciations into unions under the leadership of three parties, 
the American Worker's, the Socialistic and the Commu 
nistic. The pitiful and petty efforts at self-help were aban 
doned as the government relief program got under way 
in September, 1932. 

In Seattle, Washington, the Unemployed Citizen's 
League was organized in the latter part of 1931 as a sort of 
self-help and employment bureau. As the true extent 
of the economic situation became better known, this or 
ganization was forced to interest itself in relief for its 
members. The League grew by leaps and bounds in size 
and strength, until by the fall of 1932 it was powerful 
enough to sweep its entire slate of candidates into the 
city government. Among these were the mayor, three 
councilmen, two school directors and a member of the 
Port Commission. Subsequently these officials influenced 
the City Council to distribute seeds, tools and other 
emergency aids among the unemployed. 

Social unrest first made itself felt in the eastern indus- 



[ 504 ] THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW 

trial centers; but outside of Pittsburgh this agitation was 
less rapidly organized than in the West, taking the form 
of vociferous protests and mob violence. In Pittsburgh by 
1933 the Unemployed League and the American Work 
er's Party had organized the majority of that city's un 
employed into unions. As in Chicago, the immediate 
incentive of the Pittsburgh unions was active resistance 
against evictions. In one case this Pittsburgh group or 
ganized a mass demonstration to prevent the eviction 
of one of its members. Meeting on the day of the threat 
ened removal, they forced the constable who had come to 
serve the papers to withdraw. Then to celebrate its vic 
tory, the group held an auction at which they sold the 
constable for a high mock bid of eight cents. 

Ironically enough the Federal Emergency Relief pro 
gram resulted in reducing the number of spontaneous 
demonstrations and riots, while it gave an added impetus 
to the formation of the pauper unions which, while less 
vocal and violent, are much stronger and more effective 
than the previous methods of manifesting discontent. 
This state of affairs is attributable not so much to the lack 
of sufficient relief for the bounty of the government 
in most cases is beyond criticism but to the inefficient 
administration of the relief funds. Owing more to the 
necessity for haste than to any political corruption, the 
administration