will find a home shortly where they andntheir enchanting little boy can grow upnwithout feeling the evils of the segregationnpattern.”nAnticipating Martin Sheen and RobertnRedford, her favorite entry in then1958 Worid Day of Prayer was theninvocation of Chief Yellow Lark beginningn”O, Great Spirit.” In a 1955ncolumn she beats the drums for thenThai “wai” form of greeting (palmsnpressed together in front of the body)nover the Western customs involvingnphysical contact: “I am not sure thatnthey are not far better than our habit ofnshaking hands or the European habit ofna gentleman kissing a lady’s hand. Thenlatter may be a charming and pleasingncustom to the ladies but may not be sonsanitary.”nMrs. Roosevelt wrote about whatevernpopped into her head, and there wasnvery little that did not pop. Wisely, herneditor has not even tried to arrange thencolumns in anything but chronologicalnorder, that being the only order theynever had. From Israeli kabbutzim tonCat On a Hot Tin Roof to “gerontomatriarchy”n(her word for the controlnof American wealth by aging women)nto lunch with Tito is par for the course.nThere are also pit stops at self-destructivenromanticism, as when she plugsnno-strings-attached foreign aid — “Infeel somehow that agricultural surplusesnare gifts from the Lord and it is notnup to us to decide what shall be thenpolitical ideology of hungry people” —nas well as an abundance of sheer drivel:n”I do not know that Gandhi’s plans fornliving could be applied to modern life,nbut there is no doubt in my mind thatnthe more we simplify our materialnneeds the more we are free to think ofnother things. Perhaps what we all neednto do is to sit down and think throughnhow this could be accomplished withoutnthe loss of gracious living.” OnenWorldism meets the Junior League.nAlthough she was a member of thenAmei-ican aristocracy, she shrank fromnthe aristocratic birthright of plainnspeech. The tone of her writing pulsesnwith a cloying genteelness that makesnher sound more like a socially insecurenparvenu guided by the middle-classndictum, “If you can’t say somethingnnice, don’t say anything at all.” Attendingna performance of John Brown’snBody starring Raymond Massey andnTyrone Power, she explains laborious­n44/CHRONICLESnly: “I am frank to confess that I had notnexpected Mr. Power to give a performancenwhich would satisfy me as thisndid.” Having said, in effect, that shenconsidered Tyrone Power a mere movienstar, she reverts to sweet nothingness:n”I saw many of my friends, so thatnit was a pleasant social evening as wellnas one of great artistic satisfaction.”nThe columns are full of thesenempty-calorie niceties, a few of whichnare unintentionally funny, such as: “Inbegan to worry about getting to Pasadenanin time for dinner and the eveningnmeeting, remembering that thenfreeway between Los Angeles and Pasadenanbetween five and six o’clock cannbe very crowded and very slow.” Thatnwas the night she met Sophie Tucker,nwho dropped what may or may notnhave been a bombshell into ER’s lap.nWe can’t tell, because ER either chosento ignore it or else she did not realizenthe significance of what Tucker said:n”She came to meet me at the end ofnher performance, saying it was highntime we should meet since she hadnknown my boys for a very long time.nShe is full of life, and I could not helpnthinking what an extraordinarily vividnpersonality she has.” Very nice, butnwhen somebody nicknamed the Red-nHot Mama says she knows all four ofnyour sons, it is time to sit up and takennotice.nSometimes she knows perfectly wellnwhat she is saying, as when she adoptsna mother’s hurt feelings to inculcatenguilt in her son James when his 1959nbook. Affectionately, F.D.R., showednher up as a bad nurturer. In his booknJames criticizes White House housekeepernMrs. Nesbitt, “and in doing so,nof course, in an indirect manner hencriticizes me,” ER wrote tremulously,n”for he does not seem to realize thatnwhatever Mrs. Nesbitt did she didnunder my direction.” Such as usingnFDR arid her sons as guinea pigs fornDepartment of Agriculture menus devisednfor the poor. It was at one ofnthese Lucullan feasts that James askednher if he paid an extra nickel, could henhave a glass of milk? His book, ERnconcluded nobly, expressed “the feelingsnof a very young man, perhaps atnthe time not quite capable of understandingncertain things and who, therefore,nwas impatient.” James was 51 atnthe writing.nHer mask drops only once, revealingnnnso thoroughly what she wishes to denynthat one is almost embarrassed for her.nThe play Advise and Consent, basednon Allen Drury’s novel, filled her withn”complete depression and disgust.” Itndepicted “all the worst things that cannbe found in political situations that arenbrought about by the weakness of humannnature.” She was especially upsetnby the portrait of “the man who isnwilling to lie because he thinks thenultimate good will be a justification.n… It was a shock to see the office ofnthe President included in the generalndowngrading of human beings who goninto politics with legitimate ambitionsnbut who are still weak, small, vindictive,ndetermined to gain their own endsnwhether good or bad, and ruthlessnwhere anyone except themselves isnconcerned.”nShe comes close to advocating censorship:n”If this were wartime I thinknone would cry treason at this play.”nAfter voicing conventional fears aboutnwhat the play will do to “young people,”nshe calls for a positive, upbeatnstory about American politics to counteractnthe harm Drury’s will cause, andnconcludes, “I think perhaps the factnthat the play is so well done is somethingnto be deplored.”nThe volume is not helped by editornEmblidge’s lavish adoration of EleanornRoosevelt, which makes many of hisnintroductions to the columns almost asncloying as the columns themselves. Henis right, however, in his belief that therenhas never been a woman quite like her.nShe has many clones in the feministnmovements past and present, but in thenhistory of wives of heads of state, shencan be compared to only two.nIn her officious energy she recallsnPhilippa of Hainault, who took advantagenof her position as consort ofnEdward III to become a career woman,nimporting her native Flemish weaversnand starting England’s woolen industrynbetween countless good deeds. And innher puritanical self-righteousness shenrecalls Mme. de Maintenon, morganaticnwife of Louis XIV, who punishednher pleasure-loving husband with hernbans on overeating and sex.nFlorence King’s eighth book. WithnCharity Toward None: A Fond Looknat Misanthropy, will benpublished by St. Martin’s Pressnin January.n