JULY 28, 1937
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—On the way home yesterday afternoon, I drove into the most threatening sky I have ever seen, and for just a little while the lightning played all about me in a way I do not remember since I used to watch thunder storms come across the Hudson River from the Catskill Mountains when I was a child. There is something very awe-inspiring about these demonstrations of nature. It is as though she were trying to say to us: "See how little and unimportant you are. If I really wanted to, I could wash you away with my rain, or strike you down with my lightning!" One understands why it has always been necessary for human beings to have a God to whom to pray when this menacing side of nature shows itself.
A pile of mail on my desk, but before I could get through it, I had to go out and see the work that had been done on the trees around the house in my absence. Such cleaning up I have never seen, it is perfectly remarkable, and I begin to think that someday we may be tidy. I know that one could live forever in the country and always have an occupation but I have a passion for getting things neat and in order, and that begins to look possible.
I finished a book called "Precious Bane," by Mary Webb the other night. There is much vigor in the writing and the author is so close to nature in her own feeling for it, that in her writing she sometimes give you the sensation that her characters are almost a part of the surrounding countryside, at least the influence of the country on the characters is very evident. The story is a mixture of tragedy and happiness, just as life always is, and the girl who felt herself cursed by her physical deformity, evolves a philosophy which brought her the good fortune which eventually was hers. I think many will read this book and enjoy it, others will find it too gloomy and perhaps object to the fact that it moves slowly, much as life in that environment always moves.
One of the readers of my column wrote to thank me for mentioning William J. Locke's "The Town of Tamborel," because she had known him and liked his books, but had not read that one before. In return she told me of a book which she thought I would enjoy called "The City of Bells" by an Englishwoman, Elizabeth Goudge. I am most grateful to her, for I am enjoying it very much. In the beginning there is a description of a grandmother meeting her grandson, back from the Boer War at the age of twenty-six. He has made a good reputation as a soldier but will never again walk without a limp, and this is what she says: "I am sorry about your leg, but as I said to your grandfather, it is a mercy it wasn't your stomach or your brain. Given belief in God, a good digestion and a mind in working order, life's still a thing to be grateful for." She must have been a delightful old lady, she has that quality that makes you wish your book characters could be alive and that you could go and talk to them.