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The popular amusement of eavesdropping on rural telephone lines may be seriously interfered with if a device described in "Popular Mechanics" for September becomes generally available. This attachment immediately heralds the fact that a third person is listening to a conversation, and also informs the person using the line whose instrument has "plugged in."
A syndicate with a chain of a hundred stores issues a manual of instructions to its employees which says: "The first thing for a representa- . tive of our stores to get firmly fixed in his mind.. is that every transaction must be completely satisfactory to a customer. There will be no compromise, no quibbling-right or wrong, the customer is right. . . . Each customer served must be thanked; the words must be said with sincerity and to the customer, not at him. . . . When a customer brings back a package and says the contents are not satisfactory, hand out the purchase price promptly and as willingly and graciously as you do when you sell it." These golden words might well be borrowed by some great department stores in which courtesy and attention to patrons are not invariable.
New York City's post-office, which for many years has occupied the Federal Building in City Hall Park, has been removed to the new building adjacent to the Pennsylvania Railroad Station at Eighth Avenue and Thirty-third Street. The old building now becomes only a branch post-office.
Everybody's Magazine" offered a prize of $500 for the best article on the liquor evil. It received 9,000 letters, and in the September number prints the winning article, by Isaac Fisher, of Vicksburg, Mississippi. As the "Best Remedies for the Liquor Traffic" Mr. Fisher suggests: "(1) Stop denouncing anybody about the liquor traffic. (2) Get the truth about the liquor question in all of its aspects. (3) Get the truth about the whole liquor question to the people."
Savings bank life insurance has now been established in Massachusetts for seven years. Four savings banks have established insurance departments, many other savings banks and trust companies have become public agencies, and more than two hundred manufacturers have established agencies for their employees. This, says an official circular, has had a constantly stimulating effect upon the great industrial insurance companies because of the high standards set.
The Delicious apple, the Eclipse grape, and the Hale peach, says a writer in the "House Beautiful," seem to be marking a new phase of progress in fruit-growing to-day. The Hale peach was a "find." The introducer of the
variety had made many experiments to produce a fine "freestone" peach, but failed. Chance led him to a perfect freestone tree. "Here at last," he says, "after years of search, breeding, and propagation, was a chance seedling so far superior to all other known peaches as to make me almost dizzy with joy at its discovery."
In some early letters from George William Curtis published in the September "Atlantic" it is interesting to find that Curtis includes Swedenborg among the supreme geniuses of the eighteenth century. He writes: "I think we have no right to complain that the breath of God is stayed, in a century which has borne Napoleon, Washington, Swedenborg, Goethe, and Beethoven."
A railway embankment 185 feet high, the highest ever constructed, it is thought, in this country, is being built between Culmerville, Pennsylvania, and Cunningham, a distance of one and a half miles. The fill is being made with slag and other refuse material from the steel mills of the Pittsburgh district. This waste material has the great advantage that it does not slide, however great the weight placed upon it.
Studies made at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, as to the number of stars indicate that they aggregate some 1,600,000,000, though of these only 3,000 or 4,000 are visible to the average eye. The total number is greatly in excess of former estimates.
A certain well-known critic, according to Professor Brander Matthews as quoted in the "Dramatic Mirror," was asked by a friend for his opinion as to a much-exploited vaudeville performance. "The most stupid thing I have ever seen," was the reply. The critic's newspaper the next day, however, praised the play enthusiastically. The friend telephoned to the critic for an explanation. Why," was the answer, "I gave you my personal opinion last night; but my review to-day is the opinion of the hundreds of people who like that sort of thing." The critic's view was that the opinion of the audience, not his own, was what the average newspaper reader wanted.
"The Horrors of Peace" is the striking title of an article in the "North American Review" which seeks to show that the fatalities of great battles are far outdone by the aggregated miseries involved in accidents and social ills in time of peace. The "horrors of railroading," the "horrors of aquatic pleasures," the "horrors of picnic and church-structure disasters," the "horrors of flood disasters," the "horrors of white slavery," and the "horrors of the divorce courts "make up a striking catalogue of the blots on civilization at its best.
SEPTEMBER 23, 1914
HAMILTON W. MABIE, Associate Editor
LYMAN ABBOTT, Editor-in-Chief
R. D. TOWNSEND, Managing Editor
HROUGHOUT the sixth week of the war-September 9 to 16-the center of interest has been the campaign in France.
Dame Fortune has begun to smile on the Allies in a way which General Joffre, who certainly has not shown undue optimism in his earlier despatches, pronounces "undeniable." In the map which The Outlook published last week the extreme Right of the German army was due west of Verdun. Within the week it has been swung back forty-five degrees. Amiens, which the Germans occupied on the 28th of August and evacuated on September 15, is almost exactly northwest of Verdun. So the rapid German advance, which last week I said showed signs of being checked, has been definitely repulsed.
More important, however, is the news that the French Center has not only held its own, but has advanced. A week ago its two wings were folded back in an acute angle, with Verdun as its apex. There has been little change at Verdun, but the two wings have straightened out; the Left has advanced to Rheims; the Right, which last week rested on Nancy, has pushed on to the border near Metz.
The German Crown Prince has been forced to withdraw his headquarters from St. Menehould.
The great battle of the Marne, from Paris to Nancy, has been most thrilling and has eclipsed the work of the French Army of the Right. But it also has advanced steadily all this week. The War Office announces that the eastern frontier has been cleared of the Germans and several points in Alsace have been retaken.
Another week has passed, and no French
army has been destroyed at a new Sedan. No French army has been bottled up in a fortress as was Bazaine at Metz. The great flanking movement of the German Right through Belgium and northern France was marvelous, but it seems to have come to naught: For five weeks the Germans have advanced. They have added many great victories to their proud record of 1870Mons, Charleroi, Givet, at St. Quentin and Compiègne, at Dinant and Neufchâteau and Rethel, in Lorraine and in Alsace. They reduced the great forts at Liège, Namur, Maubeuge, La Fère, and Rheims. But for all this stupendous effort and appalling loss they have very little to show. They rose like a rocket-it is too soon to say they have fallen like its stick. They may yet- -on new. lines-win victories in France. And if they are driven farther back, they will surely find new strength, when, like the French, they reach their own defense lines. Germany is not defeated—but her "dashing attack" has failed.
THE BELGIANS STRIKE AGAIN
The British War Office categorically announces that no Russian troops have passed through England and that none are fighting with the Allies in France or Belgium. so this rumor is officially quashed. A surprising number of people who ordinarily tell the truth asserted that they saw the Russians in England with their own eyes.
But without this phantom to help, the Belgian army took the field again. We have no direct evidence, but it is almost certain that the brave blows they struck in their sortie from Antwerp had a large influence in the victories of their allies to the south.
Contempt for the military power of the
Belgians has been perhaps the greatest error of the German General Staff. It seems to be its theory that, once you have driven an army back for a while, you no longer need to worry about it. Sir John French in his report, which was published by the British War Office on the 14th, uses a significant phrase. The Germans, he says, were "prepared to ignore the British, as being driven out of the fight." Apparently they also "ignored" the Belgians on the same grounds. At all events, they left a weak curtain of "second-line " troops to hold them in Antwerp and rushed their main force south to France.
King Albert waited his opportunity and suddenly struck hard. How far the raid of his little army of veterans extended we do not know. But they went far enough. If they did not actually cut General von Kluk's lines of communication, they certainly threatened them. And so they added greatly to the debt the Allies already owed them.
VON KLUK'S FATAL MOVE
General von Kluk's portrait will probably never be hung in the rooms of the German General Staff.
Up till the first days of September his army-the extreme Right of the Germanshad covered itself with glory. His long flanking swing through Belgium, his successive victories over the English, promised to hold a high place in history.
"On Friday, September 4," Sir John French reports, "it became apparent that there was an alteration in the advance of almost the whole of the first German army. ... It was observed that the German forces opposite the British were beginning to move in a southeasterly direction."
The British at once took the offensive, attacking the flank of von Kluk's army. The Army of Paris, all fresh men, fell on the German rear-guard along the river Ourcq. For a day or two von Kluk's tired men tried to hold the Allies back. But for the first time in the campaign the Germans were outnumbered. The retreat began; daily it increased in haste and disorganization.
The change of front was fatal—more fatal than the disastrous results to this one army under von Kluk. It was the psychological turning-point in the campaign. It is hardly possible that the Allies could have kept their nerve through many more days of retreat. Victory-even if in itself unimportant-re
doubled their courage and immensely increased their striking power. The myth that the Germans were invincible was exploded.
A dozen explanations of this change in direction have been offered. None of them can be proved till more details are at hand. The military expert of one London paper says it was deep-laid strategy to entice the Allies into a trap, which somehow did not close at the right moment. Another theory— and it is as good as the others, for none are proved-is that the German Crown Prince became jealous because all the glory was going to von Kluk, and that he ordered the disastrous move. Many reports say that the Germans ran out of ammunition and that the prisoners were exceedingly hungry. Apparently the commissariat had broken down. But the Germans were especially proud of their commissary arrangements. It certainly looks as if the Belgians had cut the lines of communication.
One thing is certain: General von Kluk will bear the blame of the disastrous move, although he is probably not at all to blame. If the German Armies of the Center and Left had defeated the French according to schedule, as their fathers did in 1870, General von Kluk would have been before Paris ready for the siege.
THE CASE FOR BELGIUM
A commission representing all the political parties of Belgium has come to America to lay the case of their country before President Wilson and the Nation.
I asked them what they hoped we would do for them, and one of them quoted the old French phrase, "Je ne propose rien, je ne suppose rien, j'expose" ("I do not propose anything nor suppose anything, I expose"). Their mission is one of exposition. Their object will be achieved if they make us understand their situation.
Practically every able-bodied man in Belgium has taken up arms-all who have not been killed are still fighting. But none of them had any more desire to fight than have you or I. Their King had a neutrality proclamation all ready to issue-it would have been worded in almost the same official phrases which Mr. Wilson used-when the news came to him that the frontier had already been violated, that the quiet villages of his peace-loving people had been invaded.
The President has asked us to preserve
the spirit, as well as the letter, of neutrality. Such was also the desire of the Belgians. Theirs is a case apart in this great European war. The war was not of their seeking. Belgium has nothing to gain. She is not fighting to add to her domains; she is not fighting for the French colonies of North Africa nor for the German colonies of Central Africa; she is not fighting to annex Poland, nor to open the Dardanelles. No matter who is defeated, it will not mean for her the prosperity which comes from the ruin of a dangerous commercial rival. She is not even fighting to defend her own property. She has already lost almost everything but her honor. Ninetenths of her territory has been overrun, her capital has been occupied, her prosperous cities have been laid waste, her villages burned, her crops ruined, her industry disorganized, and very many of her youth have fallen.
She could have avoided most of this if she had been willing to sell her honor. She is fighting with a force no one dreamed she had --and is doubtless surprising herself with her valor for an ideal of civilization.
Every statesman of both sides has tried to convince us that his government is fighting for civilization. But Belgium's right to that boast is indisputable.
Law and respect for the pledged word form the very essence of civilization. And, in a way, international law is the most sacred of all. Jean Jacques Rousseau found the sanction for law in the "Social Contract." It was his theory that government is a voluntary organization into which we enter of our own free will and forswear certain of our individual rights in order that the state may give us protection. Modern students dispute Rousseau's theory. But it holds true of international law. Prussia voluntarily entered into the contract of Belgian neutrality. And if the nations are not to keep their solemn pledges, there is no international civilization.
In every material way Belgium would have been better off if she had sold herself to the
highest bidder. Is the German Chancellor right in calling an international treaty a scrap of paper"? That is the point the Belgians are fighting over.
published a report on the "Louvain incident." The full text of it has not yet reached this side. But from the reports it seems that they insist that they have not violated the laws of war. If a civilian shoots a soldier, he is to be summarily executed. If a village resists the army, it is to be burned. If a group of citizens in Lou-* vain shot some German soldiers, the destruction of the city was justified.
This is the German thesis. It is their assumption that their troops had a perfect right to march through Louvain. Any attempt to justify their acts by the laws of war seems to me to beg the question, which is, Had they a right to make war in Belgium?
The Belgian peasants certainly had not signed any contract not to shoot strange trespassers who trampled down their crops and "requisitioned " their horses and cows. The Germans had signed a contract to keep out of Belgium. It is rather as if a burglar should break into your house and claim that the laws of burglary justified him in shooting you if you resisted.
As far as the Belgians are concerned, it is no answer for the Germans to say that if they had not violated the treaty the French and English would have done so. Whoever crossed the Belgians' frontier unasked is in a very bad position to insist that they should observe any law.
The French President and the Kaiser have given each other the lie direct in regard to the use by their armies of the dumdum bullet. There is a sort of ghastly ludicrousness about this controversy. The official spokesmen of two nations which are straining every nerve in the business of killing find time to accuse each other of doing the slaughtering in an *"'inhuman manner. A dumdum bullet expands when it hits something soft-as, for example, a human stomach. Instead of making a modest, humane little hole, it spreads out into barbed points and tears its way through. It is perhaps ten per cent more painful to be killed by a dumdum than by a steel bullet. But it was not for humane reasons that the steel bullet was adopted. Its advantages are discussed in military journals of all languages. It is not so likely to kill a man at once. And it is better business to wound a man than to kill him. Some one will have to carry him back to the ambulance, and that means two men