Henrietta Octavia Rowland Barnett to Jane Addams, November 21, 1920

The "Baltic"
Novr 21st 1920

Dear dear DEAR.

I had a little "[illegible]" when I had the news that I should not see you. I was so deeply disappointed, for I had treasured a thousand things which I had seen & heard, to ask you about -- & I am really [page 2] puzzled over the large non-local matters such as emigrants & their treatment; the one remunerative importance given to the party government system; the habit of flattering their visitors; the continual harping on the "revolution", & all the petty details of long ago fights; the dull [page 3] acceptance of religion & the absence of enthusiasm about it as a reforming force; the pride in their charities whether they be individual, or by great Trusts; the positive worship of wealth, & the undercurrent of -- ? What can be said? a mixture of envy, pride, contempt & approval of the millionaire -- Dear -- I am puzzled & both hopeful & unhappy -- then the Jew! Still more strongly for America than for England am I a "passionate Zionist." -- A talk with you would have straightened out lots of my difficulties, & I am returning a poorer woman because I did not get it.

As to your Irish Commission I do not think England will care [page 4] much for what ever it says, & really to "take evidence" from various parties is not much use! [It] is the atmosphere, made up by many [illegible] influences, wh. it is not possible to convey to outsiders -- also it may seem impertinent to those who are resenting that America refused to shoulder the responsibilities involved in the League, & now takes on herself the position of advisor on a [page 5] matter of home politics on wh she cannot really judge. I won't dear, & there are others, who like me, welcome criticism, however severe, but they are rare, & I fear that the proposed Commission will alienate some kind policy now given, & ready to be given, to U.S.A.

Also can we not all remember that England does enter into right relations [page 6] with the countries that are connected with her, India, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand -- proved by their tumbling over each other to offer their help in the war: so may it not be reasonably supposed that the same relations have been & are being offered to the Irish? But in most families there is a "difficult" child & Ireland is ours. We are so unwise with her, spoiling her in a hundred ways, & always afraid of what she will do next, ↑(& so not firm with her -- vide the conscription).↓ Now all this is intended to help you to see why you shd give your time to leading in the solution of the American housing problem, & not spend it on Ireland. I have much I shd like to have told you about that. I have seen the Russell Sage place & its people, & talked much, but though they say that they are going to "do something" they don't begin & their standard is not high enough to inspire [page 7] initiation. I have never yet got any body ↑to admire or to want anything↓ beyond the standard of [Yorkship]. Now if you, you, Jane Addams would set a standard of a real beautiful suburb, it wld go all over USA & be copied & copied -- what you call "standardized" -- Dear -- This is a great opportunity -- & wld be good for the Settlement Movement as well as for the people. If you wanted to know our best English experts, it wld make me proud & happy [page 8] to help you to them.

I have not told you that at one town a real estate firm offered to pay me my "own figure" if I wld come again & show them how to do it -- Shall I? & help yours on too? I wld do so for you.

Now as to the poor Institute -- I did as you advised & laid the whole thing before Mr Vincent. He was most kind and sympathetic, but told me the only section of the Rockefeller Trust wh. cld do it was the Laura [page 9] Spelman Trust. He invited us to spend Sunday with them at Greenwich, & I liked it very much -- I met Mr John D Rockefeller Jun'r at a dinner party at Mr Cleveland Dodge's, & two days after he came to see me, & then sent Mr Richardson the Secretary to get full information. My hopes ran high but a tenderly worded refusal was the sailing greeting that I received. Alas!! It is very disappointing & I feel quite crushed, for it means that the whole idea must be abandoned; & that means not only the surrender of the place where all classes shld meet or study, but also the surrender of the ideal [illegible] for a [center] of education to be built in every suburb wh has copied our housing scheme.

What can be done? You will recall that I wrote fully to Mr. Rosenwald, & put the whole scheme before him, & sent the letter to that wise Mr. Graves, in case it got lost among the 80,000 other letters. He replied most kindly, & said he wld bring it before Mr Rosenwald, but I have had no further reply. Dear Lady you can imagine how miserable I feel [page 10] & you will I know sympathize with me. To [wreck] hopes which have been shared by the Canon, & wh one knows are holy selfless hopes, & which are needed now to bring what is best into thousands of lives -- to see such hopes wrecked gives a very bad pain -- & I dread going home.

But I will not worry you further. If you would see Mr. Rosenwald, & ask him why he did not reply, & if he means to do so, it would be [page 11] very kind. If he gave a part, say £20,000 for the big Hall, it wld be very very encouraging.

Marion sends her love to you & I send more than that -- as this long letter shows dear.

I shall often & often think of you & pray God bless you, & I am

Ever yours with faith & hope,

Henrietta O Barnett