AUGUST 7, 1939
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Last night I took two young couples to dinner at the inn in Norrie State Park. It certainly is a lovely spot and the orchestra is so good everybody enjoyed dancing. I enjoyed the young man who sang, for he has a very nice voice. I saw two of my neighbors and one, our Quaker Democratic county chairman, came up to me to announce with rather un-Quakerish joy, that he had bet all the members of his party that I would be dining there because it was such a nice evening, so they all had to pay up. This is the third time I have been there this summer, so I think he should thank Lady Luck.
I wonder whether you happened to notice a rather amusing little item in the newspapers the other day. It hailed from London, but it is a criticism which might well be aimed at some of our own statesmen and not kept only for Members of Parliament. Mr. A. P. Herbert, M.P., remarked that if Lord Nelson were alive now he would never say: "England expects every man to do his duty." Instead, the phrase would run: "England anticipates that, as regards the current emergency, personnel will face up to the issues and exercise appropriately the function allocated to their respective occupation groups."
As I read Congressman Bruce Barton's remarks on the housing bill, I was reminded of these two statements. What he really meant to say was: "It's hot weather and we want to go home. We know there ought to be money for housing and we will give it to you some other time." As he phrased it, however, one wondered when and how the perfect bill would over be written and, in addition, you surmised that he would have to make a special appeal to the Almighty to provide him with the perfect human beings who would then administer the perfect housing bill.
Mr. Barrett H. Clark has written me of a most interesting undertaking. Under his general editorship, the Princeton University Press, has joined with the Authors League of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America, in publishing America's lost plays. So many plays which were popular and well known during the last twenty years of the 19th century have disappeared from print. The American drama, which had been dominated by the English tradition, began at this time to develop a personality of its own. Since plays are written primarily for the audiences of their day, they frequently reflect more clearly than books, what the authors felt would appeal to the thought and feeling of the people. In reading over the list of publications, there are many authors and plays that I never heard of, but there are a few, such as Julia Ward Howe's, "Hippolytus", that I remember hearing discussed years ago. Everyone who is interested in the history of this country, will want to have these plays.