OCTOBER 23, 1940
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Miss Thompson and I went to lunch yesterday with a group of newspaper women to celebrate the publication of Ruby Black's book, "Eleanor Roosevelt: A Biography." I read it through the night before and even I found it interesting, perhaps because after the first part—which of course, I recognize—I began to feel I was being introduced to someone I really did not know. The Eleanor Roosevelt whom I thought I knew; to me never seems to have any of the attributes that so many kind people must have told Miss Black she has. I hope their estimate is correct, for in this biography, she sounds essentially like a nice person, though at times I think she is very trying.
In the late afternoon a number of young people came in for tea. One young Boy Scout leader has been in charge of some Scout camps in Washington. He said that for short periods of time he tried to be both father and mother to 300 boys at a time, and he found it very stimulating. He made an observation many off us, as fathers and mothers, should note—the best discipline from his point of view is administered by the boys themselves to each other and not by their elders.
The President was busy on his speech for tomorrow night, both in the late afternoon and all evening. Someone suggested at dinner that he might do something which had been asked of him and I was amused at the firmness with which he answered: "I have a government to run and you people seem to think I have nothing to do."
I cannot help feeling grateful that I have never had to make speeches with the sense of responsibility which weighs on conscientious officials when they go out to talk to the people who have elected them. Yet I think it is a very good thing that this responsibility exists in public officials, for people who have only the responsibility of private citizens can allow themselves to say things which have no foundation in fact and to believe things which they do not bother to verify. That does make articles and speeches much easier to turn out, and besides, it is so much more entertaining!
We flew up to New York City this morning and had a very smooth trip. I have been trying to catch up and am still not caught up on some of the work which accumulated during the week in which I was away. Now I must go to lunch before attending the first session of the Herald Tribune Forum. We are all particularly happy this year that Mrs. William Brown Meloney, who has always been the real inspiration for this Forum, is well enough to be on the platform.