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- The Letters of Franklin K. Lane - 70/86 -


President Eliot, classing you both as Democrats, which probably neither of you call yourselves now, tho' both voted for Cox. ...

If I get to California I must see you. But I shall play my string out here before trying the Western land. My best regards to the Lady. Yours always, LANE

To Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Bethel, Maine, [November, 1920]

To THE DEAR ROOSEVELTS,--... You realized what was coming, but I fear Cox did not; could not believe that his star would not pull through. I wish Georgia and Alabama had gone, too. The American born did not like Wilson because he was not frank, was too selfish and opinionated. The foreign born did not like his foreign settlements. So they voted "no confidence" in his party. What we will do in this land of mixed peoples is a problem. Our policies now are to be determined by Fiume and Ireland--not by real home concerns. This is dangerous in the extreme. Demagogues can win to power by playing to the prejudices of those not yet fully American. ... As always,

F. K. L.

To Lathrop Brown

Bethel, [November] 20, [1920]

MY DEAR LATHROP,--You are wrong, dead wrong, viciously, wilfully wrong. I do like this exact science business. I worked at it and in it on the railroad problems for seven years. There is only one thing that beats it, puts it on the blink, and that is inexact human nature which does wicked things to figures and facts and theories and plans and hopes. Prove, if you will, that there is no margin at all over wages, and a nominal return on capital, and you do not kill the desire of someone to run the shop. ... Talking of business men, what about the Shipping Board? O, my boy, they have something to explain--these Hurleys and Schwabs! ... How does this sound to you? They let their own tanks lie idle, commandeered those of Doheny and rented them to the Standard Oil--so that they could bid when Doheny couldn't--eh, what? ...

F. K. L.

To Timothy Spellacy

Bethel, [November] 22, [1920]

MY DEAR TIM,--I hear from Mike that you are not in New York, and so I am writing you out of "love and affection," as I hope to see Mike but won't see you when I go to New York for Thanksgiving. It was my hope that we three could have a good talk over Mike's Colombia plans, but do not trouble yourself with these business concerns. Get well--that's the job for both you and me. We have been too extravagant of ourselves, and especially you, you big- hearted, energetic, unselfish son of Erin! Eighteen years I have known you and never a word or an act have I heard of or seen that did not make me feel that the campaign for Governor was worth while, because it gave me your acquaintance, friendship, affection. And Ned and George love you as I do. When I get mad, as I do sometimes, over something that the Irish do, I always am tempted to a hard generalization that I am compelled to modify, because of you and Mike and Dan O'Neill, in San Francisco--and a few more of the Great Irish--. ...

Well, my dear fellow, drop me a line when you feel like it and be sustained in your weakness by the unfaltering affection of thousands who know you, among them--

FRANKLIN K. LANE

To Frank I, Cobb New York World

New York, December 6, [1920]

DEAR FRANK,--You are right, but too far ahead. We must come to Cabinet responsibility, and I am with you as an agitator. Twenty years may see it.

This morning you chide the Republicans for not having a program. Good God, man, why so partisan? What program have we? Will we just oppose; vote "Nay," to all they propose? That way insures twenty years as "outs"--and we won't deserve to be in. What we lack is just plain brains. We have a slushy, sentimental Democracy, but don't have men who can concrete-ize feeling into policy, if you know what that means. A program--a practicable, constructive program--quietly drawn, agreeable to the leaders in both Houses, pushed for, advocated loudly! That's our one hope--Agree? Yours cordially,

FRANKLIN K. LANE

To John G. Gehring

New York, December 9, [1920]

Well, my dear Doctor, here I am at another cross-roads. ... I leave ... in a day or two with a new dietary and some good advice. The latter in tabloid form being:--"Drop business for a time, go into it again slowly, and gradually creep into your job." All of which is wise, and commends itself greatly to my erstwhile mind, but is much like saying, "Jump off the Brooklyn bridge, "slowly." ... I am not resigned, of course. Because I cannot see the end. Definiteness is so imperative to some natures. However, I think that I have done all that an exacting Deity would demand, and cannot be accused of suicide, if things go badly.

Our plan is to go to Washington to see some old friends thence south and so to California, for a couple of months. Delightful program if one had health, but in exchange I would gladly take a sentence to three months in a chain-gang on the roads.

One of my friends has suggestively sent me Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. To offset it I went out at once and bought a new suit of bright homespun clothes and a red overcoat--pretty red. In addition I have a New Thought doctor giving me absent treatment. I am experimenting with Hindu deep breathing, rhythmical breathing, in which the lady who runs this hospital is an adept. And what with an osteopath and a regular and a nurse and predigested food, I am not shirking. If melancholy gets the better of me now-- Kismet!

Tell your dear Lady that it was infinitely good of her to write, (and she has, I may say, quite as brilliant a pen-style as speech.) And one day I shall write her when the world looks better. My best reading has been William James' Letters; and that which amused me most a new novel, entitled Potterism, by Rose Macauley, which cuts into the cant and humbug of the world right cruelly. I see your beautiful serene landscape and envy you. And I envy those who hear your hearty chuckle each morning in the Inn. As always,

F. K. L.

To John W. Hallowell

New York, December 9, [1920]

DEAR JACK,--I have tried out New York again and find it lacking as before. No help! They do not know. ... So I am going to Californi...A. I wish I were to be near you--you really have a special old corner in all that is left of my heart. And one of these days well indulge ourselves in a good time--a long pull together again.

I have been reading William James' Letters--and real literature they are--far better than all your novels. What a great Man--a mind, plus a man. Not to have known James in the last generation is to have missed its greatest intellect; Roosevelt and James and Henry George were the three greatest forces of the last thirty years. Sometime when you come across a good photo or engraving or wood-cut, or something, of James, will you buy it and send it to me? I want a human one--not a professional one. I guess he couldn't be the pedantic kind anyway.

Billy Phillips has a new baby-boy born Monday.

My plan is to leave here in a week, go to Washington and see Nancy, and get a glimpse of some of my old people in the Department, thence to South Carolina and then probably California for two or three months. Ah me--most people would think this luxury--I think it hell! But it may be for my great spiritual good. Certainly if I could have you to walk with for these months, and more of William James to read, I could take a step or two forward.

Have also been reading a bit of Buddhism lately. It is too negative--that is almost its chief if not its only defect, as an attitude toward life. It won't make things move but it will make souls content. And I can't get away from the thought that we are here as conquerors, not as pacifists. I can't be the latter, save in the desire.

Peabody dropped in yesterday from Chicago. (I have forgotten whether you knew him well or not.) Able chap, fond of me, as I of him. My boy works for him. He sent me a gorgeous edition of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy which I have always wanted, largely because it is one of the curiosities of the world. ...

Write me as often as your Quaker spirit moves you to utterance. Your dinner got quite a send-off in these papers, which is something, for New York to recognize Boston! Terribly tough job though. Poor babies! Hard to believe in a good God and a kind God, isn't it?

I hear talk of shoving Hoover outside the breastworks. Fools! Fools! Best for him but worse for the country. Whole question of Republican success turns on the largeness of Harding. I don't ask a Lincoln--much less will do. If he is only a smooth-footed politician he will fail. So far he has been the gentleman. ...


The Letters of Franklin K. Lane - 70/86

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