NOVEMBER 4, 1949
NEW YORK, Thursday—On Tuesday night I went to see "Montserrat," which was given as a benefit performance for Wiltwyck School. I do not recommend this play as an evening of relaxation. But if you are feeling strong and want to see a tense drama, where suspense is marvelously sustained and which is well acted and well produced, I can recommend it most highly.
Lillian Hellman's women never seem real unless the qualities they portray are rather disagreeable ones. Therefore, the women in this play make very little impression. But the men, as they go out to die, are a wonderful group of characters.
The commanding officer leaves perhaps the most vivid impression. Montserrat, himself, is very good, but does not give one the feeling of inner strength, which one thinks he must have had.
It always makes me sad to have the fallible representative of the church—who down through the ages in every church have preached strange doctrines and have accepted them and have been cruel and indifferent to humanity—depicted without the opposite side of the picture being shown as well. Undoubtedly, for every cruel, indifferent and weaseling man of the cloth in any church, there is a counterpart—a devoted, spiritual leader of courage who truly portrays and lives the best side of whatever religion he may adhere to.
In "Montserrat," however, one sees only one side of that particular picture. The theme is tied up with the cruelty that reigned in the political and military field of the day.
The only encouraging thought one carries away is that the revolts that are based, as Bolivar's was, on real concern for human beings, real respect for their rights and which preserve and respect a religious attitude that upholds those ideals, on the whole have been successful throughout history. Other situations, whether they represented a status quo or a change that brought new rulers but no real concern for the people's freedom and happiness, have not been any more enduring than the great empires that have faded into the past.
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Yesterday morning I went to Mr. Stettinius' funeral. One could not help but feel that this man has left behind enduring memories to bear witness to his goodwill toward mankind. The service was somehow triumphant. He had many friends among the great and the simple of the earth, and they came in great numbers to pay him this last tribute of affectionate respect.
In the afternoon I went with a number of other women devoted to the welfare of children in New York City to visit Mayor O'Dwyer and to hand him a report covering his administration's achievements in this field. The report also covered the many things that remain to be done. These women assured him of their support in order that he might finish the work he has begun. I am sure they will keep in touch with him and see to it that he does not forget the obligations which they feel must be fulfilled where the children of New York City are concerned.