JULY 22, 1939
HYDE PARK, Friday—I read a book last night until 2:30 a.m. That doesn't happen very often to me nowadays. I start to read, sleep overcomes me and I put the book aside with very little effort, but this book is different. I was reading galley proof, for the book isn't out yet. If I were the publisher, I think I would be very proud of having acquired it. It is real literature, timeless, telling a story that is just an ordinary tale of living, but describing real people—and they are fascinating people. The title is "Again The River" by Stella E. Morgan. Originally I think she called it "River A'Rising." I liked that title better because the river is a person to these people who live close to it.
The river gives their lands its worth inspite of periodic devastation, for it probably enriched the soil. But it claimed a heavy toll from the people who would not leave their land. Each time the river rose some member of the family was taken by it, and yet the remaining ones kept on and returned to their home. In character they are somewhat like the river they loved and feared. With all their character traits emphasized by their struggle with the river, these proud, reserved, quiet, strong people are unlike their neighbors who live out of reach of the river.
Jasper, the father of the family, is most interesting. At 42 he had already lived as much as many a man lives in three score years and ten. Deeply religious, he met the blows of fate with uncomplaining strength. He never told his wife that he loved her, he never imparted to anyone how much he missed her, but his whole life displayed his love and the unspoken ache of loneliness was all the greater because it was never expressed.
So many of us come to think that words matter so much. We want people to say things, forgetting that it is what lies back of the words and not the words themselves that count. This is one of the most stirring books I have read in a long time. It introduces us to a group of our citizens it is well for us to understand and know.
I congratulate Mrs. Morgan. I don't know what the public's verdict will be, but she has given me something which makes me feel richer. I hope that many of my readers will watch for the book, for I am sure that to some of them it will mean as much as it has meant to me.
I finished the mail just in time last night to get over to the big house and be on the doorstep when my husband arrived from the station. My mother-in-law is always there to greet any of the family who come, so when she is away I should feel very guilty not to be on hand.
We had lunch today at my cottage and were joined by Dr. John Elliott of the Ethical Culture Society and Mr. Bart Andress, who came to talk about the Good Neighbor Committee on the emigre and the community. I have accepted the honorary presidency, because I feel their approach is the one best suited to give us a better understanding of what we owe to the immigrant of the past and, therefore, a better understanding of what our attitude should be today.