AUGUST 15, 1936
HYDE PARK—In the August "Atlantic" there is an enchanting essay by Agnes Repplier. I never see her name on the cover of a magazine that I do not turn at once and read her article for everything she writes has for me both wit and charm.
In this case she tells the story of Theodore Hook who rejoiced in absurd practical jokes equalled only today by the escapades of college boys, and who kept the fashionable world in the England of his day constantly amused. Jests were expected of him and laughter must follow in his wake but his diary was neither amusing nor light. His personal life must have been filled with anxieties and regrets. The gay laugh and ready quip frequently hide a bitter and warped personality. Even in England where people in society may live on credit longer than in any other country in the world, his creditors dogged his steps. I wonder if this same thing is not true of many of our professional humorists. The habit of thinking that the money which is borrowed today will never have to be repaid or that some more convenient time will come in which to economize, is such a common failing that it warrents our consideration.
I have before me now a letter from a young person who earning the munificent salary of fifteen dollars a week has run up bills for two hundred dollars. Somehow everyone is always sure that the illness or accident which brought about this catastrophe will never occur again, when of course experience should teach us that it is always the unexpected that does occur! The best made budget is the one which used at most only seventy-five percent of a person's income, leaving a quarter to accumulate we hope, but in any case to be on hand to meet those very emergencies which are never expected but which always arise. Of course, there are a great many people who not only can make no budget but can barely manage to exist with their families on what they earn from day to day. But wherever the earnings are sufficient to allow any margin for the unexpected it is well to keep it in mind.
I had a letter from a gentleman today taking me bitterly to task for recording such frequent meals in this diary when so many people are hungry. I can quite see his point and I often think of the minister who on a Sunday walked into his family and told them of a case of destitution he had found and walked out bearing the Sunday dinner, leaving his family to rejoice in their good deed. It probably would be good for all of us if some one in our households did this more often!