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A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE

THE materialism and cynicism of our age increase with the apparent shrinkage of the Unknown. Were we more ignorant of physical facts, we should be men of faith; if we knew more, we should be enlightened; but we have grown puffed up with half-knowledge. We are like a party of tourists walking unconcernedly through a vast caveunconcernedly because the cave has been strung with electric lights, and although we may observe hastily we may explore no longer. We note the formations which the guide points out to us, smiling indulgently at a stalagmite resembling a buffalo's head or a crucifix, but the awful thrill of the first pioneer who with smoky and uncertain torch penetrated these chambers is not vouchsafed to us. We are merely interested in our cave in our world.

Interest has no emotional and very little intellectual value. We are interested in many things which in no wise touch our lives or move us to action, in a dog that talks, the League of Nations, or a bicycle race. We are interested in politics, but we do not vote; we are interested in keeping the peace, yet the world will be in flames again for no sufficient cause. Either positively or negatively this prevailing mood means very little, and, meaning little, becomes a stagnancy of mind wherein cynicism may breed most abundantly.

We receive too much information and suffer too many disillusionments. Sometimes it seems that the Egyptian priests were right in limiting their knowledge of facts to the small class able to appreciate their insignificance. To reach the mass of people knowledge must be imparted superficially to those unready for its complete exposition. And, treated so, it becomes false, and dangerously false. For example, there can be no doubt that popular articles

on the new psychology have marred more normal minds than the abnormal minds cured by the specialists.

When travelers in a new country behold the sunset over western hills, they are rapt away by the beauty of the lights and shadows. Exploring the hills on the morrow, they find them cluttered with mean houses and factories, and never again can they view them, even from a distance, without feeling that the squalor is there, though they do not see it. Henceforth when they approach hills they pay no heed to the distant beauty. They gaze at the sunset with candid eyes, murmuring to themselves, 'Very interesting effect of light, but to-morrow we'll see things as they are.' The tragedy is that somewhere in the world these travelers will come to hills planted with cool groves and watered by clear streams, but they will not go up into them, too wise, as they think, to be deceived a second time. They have eaten too much, and yet too little, of the tree of knowledge.

So many of us are victims to this false wisdom. I remember the flamboyant complaisance of a mechanistic philosopher when he was demolishing a supernatural First Cause. 'First Cause! Why, gentlemen!' His tone was reproachful. Turning to the board, he swiftly drew a tadpole-like creature endowed with two eyes. 'When a ray of light strikes it from the left, it must turn, willy-nilly, to the left; when from the right, it turns to the right. If the light comes with equal intensity from both sides, it will remain perfectly still. If from in front, it will be drawn directly forward. There is no volition in all that, gentlemen! Nothing but automatic nervous reaction! And by multiplying the complexities of the nervous systems and stimuli applied to them we can trace the cause and effect in any form of life-granted,

of course, that we have complete information.' Complete information! Oh, granted of course! Is the amoeba, then, less the residence of the Unknown than the divided leaf, the rock, the earth itself? For this philosopher it must be said, however, that he was far more than interested in his theory, and that he evoked from one indignant undergraduate a marginal response: 'He has merely reduced in size the dwelling place of the Mystery.' Others considered he had proved his case. They were equipped with one more fact to face a materialistic universe the only sad part being that the fact happened not to be true.

Without 'complete knowledge' any fact is apt to be false. A trained scientist may be able to reconstruct a dinosaur from its third vertebra; an archæologist may plot out Zenobia's palace from a single tile; but the average man daily builds horrific monsters from the smallest splinter of evidence, or from one brick of information constructs pinnacles of misinformation compared to which the Leaning Tower is a model of verticality. Nothing is unknown to him. He has the facts!

Even the artists, who, except for the priests, are supposed to be the chief instigators of spiritual exploit, are victims of 'facts.' They have become, as a young musician proudly told me, wholly cerebral. The occasion of this remark was the performance of a very advanced piece of work, scored for heaven knows what ungodly instruments, which purported to express in music the rhythms, sounds, and moods of modern city life. It did! And I shut my ears, having heard that sort of thing just outside the concert hall. 'But don't you see how clever it is! He's a perfect technician even his enemies admit that.' A perfect technician, this composer had indeed the facts of the matter, lacking only the

fundamental truth that music must in some way please the human ear. And so, too, with the modernist poets and painters. They are clever, they know what they are doing, but they have left out of account such unavoidable elements as the human ear, eye, and heart.

Under this deluge of facts and halffacts, we are interested in everything and understand nothing. Priests of a mystical religion deny the sacraments and turn to sociology; men crammed with a knowledge of obscure dialects, but unable to speak their own language with elegance, teach literature at universities; and everywhere who is most efficient is adjudged most valuable.

Those who continue to believe what they are told become materialists. They are in the large majority. Life being, as is reported, hardly more than a chemical reaction, they might as well devote themselves to physical indulgence. Those who cease to believe become the cynics. Having accepted facts and found them wanting, they find nothing left for them but an airy indifference. They are the disillusioned.

I wish that westward of us there were still an undiscovered or conjectural continent, a blue dream in the mist where anything might happen. An occasional traveler might return thence to fire our imagination with his tales. It would do us no harm to fall again under the spell of Wonder. Indeed, even the old superstitions, the gnomes, ogres, hobgoblins, were mild and truthful as compared with the daily threats we receive from advertisements of disease, social gaucherie, uninsured death.

Let some man with a loud voice proclaim to all the peoples one piece of information without which all the rest is pestilential rubbish: that although we have mapped all the continents, sung 'Yes, We Have No Bananas' by radio from New York to London, invented the Edipus complex and the

submarine, we still know practically nothing; that the vision of the mystic is quite probably as true as the figures in the scientist's laboratory; that for one America exploited and destroyed there are incalculable Americas of the spirit, where no factory can be built and no information gleaned!

CHINESE PROVERBS

PATIENT waiting may solve a problem when feverish activity fails; simple tolerance may move a sinner to repent when harsh discipline is useless.

To the heart that is free from worldliness, the most vulgar place is as interesting as the capital of the fairies; to the heart that is enchained by passions, the happiest land becomes a desert of bitterness.

The excitable mind mistakes a rock for a tiger and the shadow of the bow for a snake; the serene mind regards the sea gulls as companions and the croaking frogs as music.

There is calm in the very rush of brooks; there is serenity in the very falling of flowers.

The man of leisure is the owner of frolicking wind, beckoning flowers, white moon, and blue sky in a word, of all nature.

The lover of solitude avoids men to seek quietness; but his seeking it shows that all he tries to shun lies in his very heart.

Secret plots, strange habits, unnatural actions, and exceptional talents are often embryos of disaster and weapons of suicide.

they are good for character; medicines are bitter in the mouth, but they cure sickness.

Subdue your own heart before you try to subdue the Devil; rule your own temper before you try to rule the unruly.

Noble character is built in solitude; great ability is made by overcoming little difficulties.

It is better to offend by straightforwardness than to please by flattery; better be blamed than praised, when both are undeserved.

It is fun to know the quirks of people's minds without seeming to recognize them.

Tall peaks are without trees, but low valleys abound with plants; the superior man warns himself against loftiness.

Success based on virtue is like a flower growing in the forest; success due to ability is like a flower planted in a pot; success gained by trickery and force is like a rootless flower in a vase: it can be seen to wither even as it is watched.

Other people's circumstances are never uniformly good; how can you expect your own to be? You are not always reasonable; how can you expect others to be?

It is other people's faults that you should forgive, not your own; it is your own suffering that you should bear, not that of others.

No merit is so big that it can stand boasting.

Only humility can keep the great from falling.

When people show you kindness, remember it; but when they hurt you, forget. When you do good, forget; but when you do evil, remember.

The flowers make beautiful carpets in the spring and the birds give fine concerts; the man that does nothing is not born, though he lives a hundred years. Freedom is not obtained by running full-blown flowers must fade; therefore away from it.

The full moon must wane and the

the wise man does not expect to attain

Faithful words offend the ears, but enduring perfection.

THE CONTRIBUTORS' COLUMN

A YOUNG American, Robert Dean Frisbie has for the past four years been conducting a South Sea trading station. We have it on the word of James Norman Hall that PukaPuka, or Danger Island, the scene of Mr. Frisbie's commercial venture, is 'one of the few really primitive atolls left in this part of the Pacific,' or in other phrase, 'one of the loneliest islands in all the Pacific galaxy.' When Mr. Frisbie first took up his enviable abode in the lands where professors sleep unashamed with their classes, Captain Hall urged him to keep a record of his life as a trader. George E. Putnam is economist to the great packing firm of Swift and Company. His paper, as he writes us, 'is intended to offer, among other things, an economic explanation of the growing gulf between the United States and foreign countries. It is the explanation which has been given me repeatedly in the course of almost continuous European travel during the past six years.' In this light Mr. Putnam's conclusions may be profitably compared with the social explanation of the same phenomenon presented by M. André Siegfried in the Atlantic for March 1928. A The pellucid lens which William Beebe trains upon a varied world discovers endless curiosities and unnumbered delights. D. M. Armstrong, as his signature reveals, was the United States Consul in Rome at the time of the capture of the city by the Italian troops in 1870-an event of decisive importance to the Temporal Power and to the modern Italian State.

The history of European revolutionary movements has proved an engrossing study to Lucy Wilcox Adams and her husband, a teacher of history at Yale. Charles Johnston, experienced long ago in the British Civil Service in India, releases pent-up imagination and invites us to inhabit a kingdom broader than the four winds. Two years ago Madame G. A.

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We made the journey because I was confronted with invalidism, hospital observation, and insulin. Why not die with my boots on? A century ago my great-grandfather and some of his friends went from New York City to live in these mountains. And on this journey, when the natives asked us why we wandered in their mountains, I would answer that I was seeking my great-grandfather's tomb. They seemed to consider this a natural and laudable ambition. Incidentally, I found the tomb.

We took the train at Mobile across the black lands, and then sauntered toward the mountains of northern Alabama. The first day I could only walk three miles. We avoided highways, and followed any dim old road. Once at Grassy Cove we penetrated a fertile valley where only one of the inhabitants had ever seen a motor car. I grew stronger, swinging along all day, sometimes walking warm moonlight nights, sleeping sweetly with pebbles under my spine.

The mountain people are austere, hostile to 'furriners,' and sullenly on the watch for revenue officers. We knew we were in constant danger. Often men with guns would turn us from our way, and quite politely tell us not to look back. Once I slept in a room where there were three other beds. Before I went to sleep six gaunt mountaineers filed in, laid down their guns before the beds, and presumably slept. So did I. The next morning back of us near the river rose the smoke of a still. The armed guard, quite civilly, accompanied us to the next 'sittlemint.' We grew to love the face of danger. Curiously enough, danger proved a tonic and I thrived on it.

I doubt if we could have succeeded in winning the friendship of these people without the violin. We lived off the land. The people paid me in fruit, vegetables, and eggs for playing at torndown schoolhouses. Once I attended a musicale where all were lawbreakers. Frequently on Sundays I read to an assembly gathered quickly by grapevine telegraph. Once these reserved people accepted you, there was difficulty in getting away to continue the journey.

A college instructor, Daniel Sargent gathers rhymes while the dew is still on them. A The author of "The Sensible Man's Religion' is an experienced man of affairs. He is not unaware of the claims of mysticism, but writes: 'I do not think that anyone can safely fly in that aeroplane until he has studied the ground beneath for "take-offs" and "landings." A Preeminent among military critics of his generation, the late Colonel Charles à Court Repington must be accorded high place also among diarists. His two volumes, The First World War, are indispensable to history and absorbing to the general reader. The events and conversations of a 'goodwill' visit to the Allied capitals in 1924 are recorded in the notes which we print herewith. William L. W. Field is headmaster of Milton Academy. ▲ A veteran both in tournament play and in writing of lawn tennis for the London Times, A. Wallis Myers comments on a new national supremacy. Charles D. Stewart novelist, journalist, grammarian, critic, and follower of curious quests — knows the ins and outs of bees, and informs his knowledge with wise sympathy.

Al Smith has given the sad young men something to be at least moderately glad

about, thinks Parker Lloyd-Smith, a recent graduate of Princeton now engaged in newspaper work. A The frequent hostility of English opinion to Fascist rule will give special interest to the broad and considered judgment of Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, the able successor to Colonel Repington as military critic of the London Daily Telegraph. A recent visit to Italy, with the particular purpose of viewing the Italian military forces, gave the occasion for the conclusions which Captain Hart has reached. ▲ For several years Chief of Information Service, United States Bureau of Mines, Thomas T. Read will be remembered as the author of 'The American Secret,' in the Atlantic for March 1927. Gerald Gould, an English critic of note, is wary of fishing in the 'stream of consciousness.'

It was not to be thought that the challenge presented by Theodore F. MacManus's vigorous expression of the Catholic position would go unanswered, and the Atlantic has enjoyed a wide and animated correspondence in reply. From this correspondence we now quote:

FIRST REFORMED CHURCH
RIDGEWOOD, N. J.

When a Catholic writes about Protestants 'in this particularly significant political year,' and assures us that he has determined to be unusually amiable, and will use only the best English (even Oxfordian) manners, we begin to fear 'thou dost protest too much.' Here are some of the words which Mr. MacManus applies to his opponents which do not sound quite Oxfordian, — not to say English, though they may be IrishEnglish: "Topsy-turvy, irrational, idiotic, insane, gayly starched surplice, convulsive, epileptic, silly, soppy songs, soppy sermons, morons, without reason, mummery, ludicrous, convulsive gestures, parrotlike, raucous parrot shriek, blinking and bewildered, malinterpretations, vulgarity, banality, travesties, cowardly, devilish, animalistic, platitudinous parrot, mediocre, aberration, insanity, inanity (these three in the same line), mob spirit, pursuit of passion.' There are others, but these are picked out in a casual reading. And the only redemption for this awful country, 'in this particularly significant political year,' is to go over to Rome, en masse.'

Sorry, old friend MacManus, we are not ready. We have studied history. Please recall the results in many nations in which your church has

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