The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 6, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "No Immunity for Labor" refers back to an earlier pair of editorials of February 28, "A Riot, Not a Strike" and "Contracts Are Contracts".

"Stones and a Mystery" references the Lost Colony stones which were "discovered" in several locations from Georgia to North Carolina, purporting to resolve the mystery of the lost settlers of 1587, but in the end turned up only a hoax. (See also "Lost Colony Stones", June 26, 1939) Lesson probably being: One that rolls garners no... Well, let us instead defer to the master bard who in 1588, while the ship which didn't timely return was stuck in England aiding against the Spanish Armada, sat down at the Boar's Head or some other place of conviviality or not and wrote the following lines for Titus Andronicus, some say, for its rapacious violence, his first great hit and the one which most endeared him to the masses; (we, of course, having made and taken many deals we could not refuse, have ventured here to these shores in search of far more civilized entertainment, but more on that some other day, paisano):

Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?
These two have 'ticed me hither to this place:
A barren detested vale, you see it is;
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
O'ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe:
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:
And when they show'd me this abhorred pit,
They told me, here, at dead time of the night,
A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes,
Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,
Would make such fearful and confused cries
As any mortal body hearing it
Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.
No sooner had they told this hellish tale,
But straight they told me they would bind me here
Unto the body of a dismal yew,
And leave me to this miserable death:
And then they call'd me foul adulteress,
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms
That ever ear did hear to such effect:
And, had you not by wondrous fortune come,
This vengeance on me had they executed.
Revenge it, as you love your mother's life,
Or be ye not henceforth call'd my children.

Maybe, 'twas instead the wilde, rummin' pirates that got 'em by the moonlight and the wild-sailin' breeze through the trees. Got 'em and slit 'eir throats right down to the dagger's breadth...

That Name Is Familiar

Lor' bless us, we had almost forgotten that such a fellow as Harry Hopkins, Secretary of Commerce, ever existed. Only the announcement that he is going to establish his legal residence in Iowa, out West thar, so that his seven-year-old daughter may have a "permanent home" (he explains), recalls to mind the great things he was going to do for commerce and the significant speech he made hardly a month ago at Des Moines.

You remember that speech, of course. If you don't, its peroration will bring back at least the tone of it:

"I've tried to indicate tonight that the Government is desirous of doing everything it can to create an environment in which private investment is encouraged. I have tried to state as forcefully as I can that it is our determination to make every move we know how to promote recovery and get people back to work on private jobs."

That was a month ago, and what has happened since? One thing of practical value: Secretary Morgenthau suggested the wisdom of deferring a scheduled increase in the old age insurance taxes. But to all other proposals of tax revision, economy, stimulated private investment and appeasement in general, the Administration has been totally deaf.

In fact, about the only good result of Messer Hopkins' overture to business has been the quietus it seemed to place on the Cabinet's business-baiter, the Hon. Harold Ickes. The Hon. Harold hasn't cheeped for an unusually long time.

Question of Strategy

That Albania cannot really want to be absorbed by Italy is manifest on the face of it. Maybe the comic opera king, Zog, does--in order to make his "throne" secure. But even that is doubtful. And as for the people, of course not. A mixed folk themselves, they are still of quite different stocks, in considerable measure Asiatic and, from the highly mixed Italians. Their language and customs are different. They are mainly a wild, free mountain folk who will hate the Italian goose-step. And above all, their religion is different--the majority being Mohammedans and Eastern Catholics.

Nevertheless, the hypocrisy of the British government in attempting to pretend that Albania does want to be absorbed has some justification here. The case is far different from that of Czecho-Slovakia and Poland. Neither Britain nor France has entered into any promise to Albania. And moreover, that country long ago came within the Italian orbit. Therefore, the British may wash their hands of it with a perfectly clear conscience. The single consideration to be taken into account is that of strategy. Is Albania important enough from the military standpoint to justify action to prevent Mussolini getting it?

It might be. For its possession will enable Mussolini and Hitler together to dominate Yugoslavia, Greece, and perhaps Bulgaria, and so, if war comes, to prevent an overland Balkan campaign such as the Allies waged in the last war, eventually with success. But that campaign was undertaken only after the failure of the Gallipoli campaign--the campaign which had as its object the forcing of the Dardanelles and the gaining of entry into the Black Sea, with the object of moving up the Danube, a far more feasible way of striking Germany in the rear than the route over the Balkan Peninsula. And this time, if Turkey and Rumania can be held in line, that way will be wide open: provided the British navy can force a way past Mussolini's fleet, a consideration which would hold in any case.

No Immunity for Labor

In process of definition by the courts is the rule that neither criminal nor civil rough stuff goes any more during a strike than in ordinary times. The Supreme Court started it with the pronouncement that the stay-in was a high-handed proceeding without shadow of legal right, as obviously it was to almost everybody but Madam Perkins and the National Labor Relations Board. To that the Supreme Court added the further definition that a contract was a contract whose violation was not excused by the agitated state of labor.

A day or so ago a Federal court in Philadelphia held that destruction of property was destruction of property even when it occurred during a strike, and it assessed damages ($711,932) against the offending union and its officers. Whereupon the company turned around and popped another suit for damages against the City of Philadelphia itself, charging that it had stood supinely by while mobs took charge of the company's premises and played vandals to their hearts' content.

If this keeps on, who knows but that some day a court will muster the nerve and common sense to declare that picketing is illegal except when it is peaceable, as nine times out of ten it plainly isn't and can't be, from the very coercive nature of the procedure.

Stones And A Mystery

The Lost Colony stones keep on multiplying. Last month another was added to those already discovered by a Emory University professor. And then came Thomas B. Shallington, of Columbia, this state, with the news that he has in his house still another which he believes to be a marker from the grave of Virginia Dare. The characters thereon are nearly illegible but he makes them out to read: Virginia Dare, B. Aug. 17. D. 1597.

Well, maybe so. Maybe it did stand over the grave of the first white child born in the American land. And maybe she died at the age of ten. Maybe the rest of the settlers were killed by Indians as the other stones are said to indicate. That remains to be proved, however. For the stones have not had the critical investigation the case calls for before going down as recorded history.

But if they are authentic and do solve the story of the Lost Colony, we shall be almost sorry for it. For that story as we have known it has been one of the most fascinating in the world. There they were, safe and sound in their settlement on Roanoke on the morning John White lifted anchor for England. But two years afterward they were gone, leaving nothing to explain their fate save the cryptic word "Croatan" carved on a tree. Beyond that, from that day to this, all has been mystery and the world was free to speculate endlessly on what happened to them. To discover that they suffered any such (in those days) commonplace fate as being murdered by Indians would seem almost anti-climax.

Site Ed. Note: We hear from The History Channel that these illegal distillers, still in evidence at times up thar, provide, according to the quoted revenue agents who busted the stills, a sour mash concoction which may derive that elan or zip from such delectable ingredients as rats and cow dung. Hmmm. Drink up, mateys! Probably, too, an eye of newt. Ay, and how about a lead chaser while you're 'bout the business of fryin' your chitlins.

Thar's Frenjies In Them Mountains

We Wonder What They And The Denizens Of The Sapphire Country Are Going To Think Of Each Other

That topsy-turvy thing, modern commercialism, which sets Americans and Europeans down all over the face of the earth, is about to perform one of the strangest exploits--the transfer of a crew of Frenchmen into the Sapphire Country above Brevard. They will be the technical experts and supervisors for the great new cigarette paper factory now building on the banks of the Davidson.

Maybe there are still some old mountain boys in those parts who got over to France twenty-odd years ago. But otherwise, the case, we imagine, is going to be one of mutual astonishment. The Frenjies quite possibly think they know English. But unless they went in for Shakespearean philology in their school days--which does not seem altogether likely--they are going to be as incomprehensible and uncomprehending as if they had been set down among the Thsi speakers of West Africa. And we suspect that they may as well make up their minds to having their gestures and dapper dress stared at open-mouthed and then commented upon by sudden explosions of knee-whacking laughter. And if the boys back in the coves ever start a-feudin' with shot-guns, well, the letters back to France are probably going to make strange reading.

But we have no intention of discouraging the Gauls. They'll probably make out famously with the Tar Heel highlanders once the first bewilderment is past, just as the Italians have made out famously with the hillsmen lower down at Valdese. The mountains in the Brevard country are much like those of the Vosges and Jura ranges. And if the newcomers have perhaps encountered the Basque of the Pyrenees, they will be prepared to understand the essential character of the highlanders; for beneath surface differences the two have much in common: as taciturnity, an enormous pride and sense of personal dignity, and the capacity for swift and terrible anger when either is offended. Indeed acquaintance with the French peasants of almost any district of France will serve them very well, for these, too, are generally vastly independent and taciturn souls. Moreover, and for all that laughter we have mentioned, both the Frenjie and the hillsmen are, in their ways, polite people.

They will have to do without their precious cafes and bistros, these Frenchmen. There will be no Bordeaux and Burgundies. And no escargot (snails: just snails) or bouillabaisse or truffels. But cote de veau can be managed. And the frogs along the Davidson are larger and just as good as those that croak in the marshes of the Seine and the Loire. (The mountaineers, being polite people, will not have to be cautioned not to call the Frenchmen themselves "frogs," which is something nearly as dreadful as being called a blue pig.) And as for drink, there is corn juice brewed under the moon. Indeed, if the Frenchies stay around a while, they'll probably be able to go out and drink it at the still, with the blue smoke curling up against the shadows of the mountains in the pale light.

A wonderful picture that, messieurs and mesdames. A Frenchman with a jug of mule poised at his lips in that scene. And yet we confidently hazard the guess that they'll like it. For one thing they like vodka--which it resembles most remarkably. For another, we have just heard of a Frenchman who, recently penetrating into the American wilderness as far as the frontier post of High Point, drank some corn and reported that it was the very best drink ever concocted by man. It has, so much, the--what you say?--the elan, the lift, and zip, hé!


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