Skip to main content
Original Issue

19TH HOLE: The readers take over

I've read your fine and very interesting article on the tennis-loving and-playing Kaltenborns (50 Years of Love and Tennis, SI, Sept. 1). At the end of the article Mrs. Kaltenborn issued a challenge to any married couple whose combined ages are 150 years or more.

Now, Mrs. Bernard Stenz and I have played as a mixed doubles team for at least 35 years. I have been a member of the New York Tennis Club for 46 years and playing since 1895.

We have won the New Jersey State mixed doubles championship several years, back in 1928-1930. Our combined ages are well above 150 years, and we are still playing several times weekly.

We would like to accept the challenge of the Kaltenborns. We would play at any time and place designated by them. At our age, we better play some time this fall; we do not know what ills may befall us next year.
age 78
New York City

•Challenge transmitted.—ED.

Mary Donovan's letter on behalf of the Washington Senators (19th HOLE, Sept. 1) was an eloquent one. Now, I have a small assignment for you. Miss Donovan quotes Lincoln: "To sin by silence when they should protest, makes cowards out of men." It sounds like Lincoln, but I have not been able to find it. Won't you please give it a quick check?
New York City

•A quick check, ha! Mrs. Reade's small assignment turned into a major sport. Herewith a few leaves from Researcher Gay Flood's notebook: "Should be simple to check, but New York Public Library information service can't come up with it. Called Columbia University's American history department: no trace in Lincoln books. Could it be Ralph Waldo Emerson? Called the department of English: great deal of interest on part of Professor Marjorie H. Nicolson, who looked through Lincoln and Emerson books available. Nought. Professor Nicolson suggested Professor David Donald, a Lincoln expert. Called the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and chatted with Professor Donald. Doesn't sound like Lincoln to him, but rings a bell. Professor Nicolson of Columbia called back; said in the meantime Professor Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie happened to drop in as English department staff was discussing quotation, thought it might be something Elizabethan. Shakespeare? Professor Dobbie spent lunch hour at home looking through Shakespeare, then spent afternoon at library looking through Beaumont and Fletcher. No luck, but will call if anything turns up. Have now spent a week's commuting time reading Lincoln writings and scanned an awful lot of American philosophers. No trace. Time to give up? No. Called Mary Donovan, back from vacation, sounds like a wonderful girl. Says she took quotation from masthead of local paper, the Fairfax (Va.) Standard, which credits it to Lincoln. After many calls talked with editor of Standard, Mrs. Margaret C. King of Falls Church, Va. Yes, she has used quote for eight years in ear (this means upper corner) of her paper. But could not give Lincoln passage from which quote was taken. Mrs. King called back. Said she had Library of Congress do extensive checking, that they considered it a Lincoln quote but could not pinpoint it. They were still checking and had written Carl Sandburg for help. We are not getting much further; give up? No. Am soliciting opinions from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED staff. All have feeling not Lincoln. Elizabethan poetry? Thomas Hood (born 1798, died 1845)? John Milton (born 1608, died 1674)? Hood has poem about silence, but not same concept. Thoreau? Called Newton Arvin, Professor of American Literature at Smith. The lines don't sound Emersonian to him, but the sentiment does seem early American. Called Esther Cloudman Dunn, Professor of English at Smith. What fun! says Miss Dunn, but not Elizabethan; sounds like period of independent thinking. Called Miss Page Spencer of Rutgers University Press. Says not Lincoln, more like Emerson. Help! Miss Ruth Fields of Rutgers, editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, says that these lines never appeared in his handwriting, may have been attributed to Lincoln as so much has. Left message with Thomas Shaw of the Library of Congress, who has been working tracing quote: How we coming? Got a call from Washington: Here it is, by golly! Mrs. Katherine Cima, calling for Clarence McGhee, says that Mr. McGhee has the answer. The quote is from a poem called Protest by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, who occasionally worked attributed Lincoln sayings into her poems. Who had discovered this? Kenton Kilmer, son of the poet Joyce Kilmer. Didn't know Kilmer had a son. Called Mr. Kilmer, who says that he and others at the Congressional library had spent about a year's time tracking down this same quote, which was brought to him by a Congressman. He happened to run into Mr. McGhee at the library, looking distraught, and told him." Here is the first stanza of the poem, with a vote of thanks to all:

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.