APRIL 19, 1948
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Sunday—There was an amusing comment in a Zurich paper about Russia's refusal, a few days before the elections in Italy, to consider the Allied proposals of returning Trieste to the Italians. The comment stated that the Communists in Italy were pained and that their paper carried a little note: "We will comment on the Soviet note tomorrow"—which meant, of course, they had not yet been told what their comments were to be.
It is just possible the Soviets are beginning to experience some difficulties, having extended their power so much. Within their range of control, they now have peoples with conflicting interests. In this case, though the Italian Communists want Trieste, the Yugoslavs would not look with favor on the return of Trieste to Italy unless they were sure of something very satisfactory as compensation. And Russia apparently does not want to alienate the Yugoslavs at this time.
The way for leaders of great empires is never smooth. Problems multiply as the diversity of peoples and their interests in many parts of a far-flung empire multiply. The Russians are apt to call governments in other parts of the world imperialist, but, having become an imperialist government themselves, they are now struggling with some of the same difficulties as others have had in the past.
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I was much interested in Harold Stassen's victory in the Nebraska and Wisconsin primaries. It would look as though the swing to the conservative side, which was so evident two years ago in the Congressional elections, has reversed itself, and perhaps even the conservative Republican leaders will have to take into account the fact that, within their own party, strength is going to be on the liberal side.
I wonder what effect that will have on the Democrats. It would certainly not seem to add to the chances of the Southern conservatives or even the conservatives in the North. It will be interesting to watch the Republican primaries as they go on, for I doubt whether people expected Mr. Stassen to show as much strength as he has shown in Nebraska.
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I want to tell you about two dinners I attended on my last two nights in London—both at the Mansion House. The first was given by the Lord Mayor in my honor, and the second was for the benefit of a national association of girls' clubs.
On both occasions, certain customs were observed and toasts were announced in the same traditional way, even though the Lord Mayor just lent the Mansion House for the second evening. However, on that evening we were not preceded into the dining room with quite the same formality as before, and husbands and wives were not seated side by side—which is the custom at a dinner given by the Lord Mayor himself.
On the whole, I think formal dinners in England are run more expeditiously than ours are, and the speeches are not so long. Also, as each speaker proposes a toast and everybody rises, the guests have a little more chance to move and do not get quite so tired sitting at the table.
It is the custom not to smoke until after the King's health has been proposed, but nobody grumbles at not being able to light a cigarette until the end of dinner. The Lord Mayor also proposes the health of the Queen, Queen Mary, Princess Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and the whole royal family, but when the guests rise they simply say, "The Queen."
Because of my presence and that of the American ambassador at most of the gatherings I attended, they were courteous enough to drink to the health of President Truman after the toast to the King. As this is rarely done at home, I surmise the President's health has been drunk more often in London in the last few weeks than it has been in the United States!