FEBRUARY 25, 1939
NEW YORK, Friday—At least for part of my time on this holiday visit, I am disciplining myself. Every morning I go to the dentist and every morning I have a voice lesson. Yesterday I submitted to innumerable photographs being taken during my lesson, partly because Mrs. von Hesse thought it would be interesting, and partly because I realized that I would probably make more effort really to do as I was told if I knew everything I did was being recorded. Funny how hard it is to do even such a simple thing as to stand hum if you are learning to do it in a new way.
Miss Thompson and I had a delightful lunch with two kind gentlemen yesterday, and I saw a number of friends. I am adding a little to my travelling wardrobe, for these clothes proved so useful on last autumn's speaking trip.
In the evenings I am having a real orgy of theatres. I went again to see "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" and took two of my friends who had not seen it before. It gave me more of a thrill than the first time I saw it in Washington, and I think Mr. Raymond Massey is giving an even more remarkable performance, fine as I thought it was when I saw the play the first time. I feel now as though he really was Lincoln, and all my sympathy went out to the man who did not want responsibility and yet carried so much. I was reminded of a sentence in a letter the other day—quite a remarkable description of the Spanish Premier, Mr. Negrin. My correspondent said: "What a strange world it is, when a man who certainly never wanted to be premier of anything, who was gay and carefree and loved the cheerful things in life, had this responsibility forced upon him and has had to carry through so magnificently."
It takes us back to the old argument of whether responsibility develops the necessary person to carry it, or the man is there ready for the circumstances. Most of us want to be happy and carefree. Few of us go out to seek difficult situations to conquer.
The other outstanding play which I have seen is: "The White Steed," by Paul Vincent Carroll. I loved "Shadow and Substance" by the same author, last year, and I enjoyed this play just as much. Canon Matt Lavelle typifies the real wisdom which gives some people a hold over other men. There is little use in trying to legislate virtue in Ireland or anywhere else. The humor throughout the play and the spirit of the girl who would not have a man unless he could stand on his own legs, provides one with entertainment while one absorbs a deeper and more subtle lesson.
I should be doing a little work the rest of this day, but I may weaken and go out again after entertainment. The one thing I have not done is to see an exhibition of paintings since I have been here and there are so many which I should like to visit.