S. N. Behrman
The New Yorker
 June 8, 1940: 23-36

The Emmet family from which Robert Emmet Sherwood is descended on his mother's side was Protestant but infected fiercely by the cause of Irish freedom, an infection which has obsessed a long line of fervent English Protestants. The first Emmet in America, Thomas Addis Emmet, was an older brother of the Irish martyr Robert Emmet, who managed to utter, before he was executed by the English, the declamatory sentence "When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not until then let my epitaph be written."

Thomas Addis Emmet was a considerable personage in his own right. He was exiled to America in 1803, and once here he made a great reputation for himself as a lawyer, in one instance fighting a case against the great Daniel Webster, who said of him after the trial, "The erudition, talents, and eloquence of the Irish bar have made their appearance in America in the person of Thomas Addis Emmet." The intertwinings of the Emmets are baffling to an outsider; members of the family themselves, when asked about the relationships within the clan, get a bewildered and terrified look in their eyes. It is an immensely exfoliated family, studded with celebrated names in medicine, in law, in art, and in science. The playwright's uncle, William LeRoy Emmet, is one of the great engineers of the world. He is an Edison medallist and the successor of Steinmetz in the General Electric Company. At seventy, he was retired on a pension but got restless and is now back in Schenectady, working on a mercury boiler which he thinks will completely outmode the conventional steam boiler. He spends part of his time in Schenectady and the rest with his sister, Robert Sherwood's mother, in her apartment on East Seventy-second Street. In Mrs. Sherwood's dining room are portraits of the original Emmets, one painted by Allan Ramsay, who was a court painter to George III. The resemblance between Robert Sherwood and these Emmets is striking. They were very tall and had prominent, dark eyebrows. The Emmet girls run to painting and sculpture; for five generations there has been at least one artist among them, down to one of the playwright's nieces, who is a sculptor.

The passion which in the nineteenth century the Emmets felt against England Sherwood now feels against dictatorship and injustice anywhere. He is a fiercely militant liberal. He hates murder, persecution, and censorship, not only when they are committed by Nazis but also when they are committed by Utopians. He is an impassioned New Dealer and a fanatical devotee of Franklin D. Roosevelt, enthusiasms not shared by all the other Sherwoods and Emmets. Recently the film version of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" was shown at the White House. Arthur Murray Sherwood, Robert's brother, who is a determined Republican, unpleasantly asked Robert to bring him back a souvenir from the White House when he went there to dine. "What would you like?" asked Robert. "His scalp?" At lunch one day in town, Sherwood was approached by a close relative of a former occupant of the White House, a distinguished Republican. The man greeted Sherwood very cordially but got a frigid reception. He hung about for a moment or two, making a few stabs at conversation. There is nothing so lonely as a Sherwood silence. The Republican tried to dent it, to win from Sherwood some ray of human warmth. He failed, and made a lame exit. When he was finally gone it was pointed out to Sherwood that he had not overwhelmed the poor man with cordiality. Sherwood said, with his usual thoughtful deliberation, "I was at a dinner party with him the other night and I didn't like the way he talked about Franklin Roosevelt." Republican candidates for President will have to be very careful what they say in front of Sherwood.

The author of the atlas of plays called "The Road to Rome," "Waterloo Bridge," "Reunion in Vienna," "Idiot's Delight," "Abe Lincoln in Illinois," and "There Shall Be No Night" was born in New Rochelle on April 4, 1896. His mother, the former Rosina Emmet, is a distinguished painter whom Who's Who lists as a medal-winner in Paris, Chicago, Buffalo, and St. Louis. The Neysa McMein of her day, she was the most popular illustrator in Harper's Bazaar and other magazines of the time. When, in 1922, Robert Sherwood married his first wife, Mary Brandon, who came from Indiana, the bride's grandmother was in ecstasy; she said she was so happy that her granddaughter was going to marry the son of the woman who drew all the romantic illustrations in her own youth.

Robert's father, Arthur Murray Sherwood, was a successful investment broker with a craze for the theatre. Though he belonged to the Brook, Century, and Knickerbocker Clubs, his great desire was to get into the Lambs, and he finally made it. He never missed a Gambol and George M. Cohan was his god. Not long ago, after the Yankee-Doodle Boy had been engaged by the Playwrights' Company to star in the late Sidney Howard's last play (a production which was subsequently postponed until next fall), Sherwood ran into Cohan and one of Cohan's friends at the Plaza. Cohan introduced his companion to Sherwood with the remark "This is Robert Emmet Sherwood, my new boss." Sherwood then told Cohan of his father's adoration of him and said, "How happy he would have been if he could have lived to see the day when you referred to me as your boss!"

The elder Sherwood had played leading roles in the Hasty Pudding Club shows at Harvard and had founded the Harvard Lampoon. In the Lampoon's offices today is a gold plaque on which is inscribed, "Presented by Arthur Murray Sherwood, first President." Mr. Sherwood wanted to go on the stage when he left Harvard but was advised not to on account of his height. He was almost as tall as his son is now, which is six feet seven inches.

Sherwood's paternal grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Wilson Sherwood, was a well-known writer. She was the Emily Post of her day. One of her books, called "Here & There & Everywhere: Reminiscences," a kind of guide to polite society, introduces you to Victor Emmanuel of Italy and Empress Eugénic of France, and tells you about the palaces that kings have built in Bavaria, feudal châteaux on the Loire, and the salons of Bernhardt, Coquelin, Lord Houghton, and the Duc d'Aumale.

As an infant, Sherwood seems to have been a chore. He was secretive and shy, and he had a mind and a code of his own. Once he was discovered in a room in which his bedridden grandmother was ensconced in a wheelchair. The child was manipulating a fishing pole, to the end of which was attached a piece of string neatly tied around a live beetle. With this beetle he was gently caressing his grandmother's face at long range. She was doing her best to dodge and was calling out feebly from time to time, half in laughter and half in fear. To a horrified inquiry about what he was doing, he replied calmly, "I'm tickling up Grandma." He had a strong color sense, inherited supposedly from his painter mother. This color sense sometimes came into sharp conflict with his mother's. One time he painted bright yellow every white object in his mother's dressing room, including her shoes. Once Bobby was sent to stay with his grandfather while his mother and his sister Cynthia went to Germany. His grandfather's house boasted one flush toilet, of which the grandfather was extremely proud. Bobby, sensing this pride and wishing to humble it, dropped the entire contents of his Noah's ark into the bowl. The unhappy grandfather sent for the plumber who had made the installation and raged against him for his inefficiency. The plumber worked for a time and then faced the irate houseowner defiantly. "This is perfectly all right, Mr. Emmet," he said. "It's a good closet, but it won't pass elephants." For months the apoplectic grandfather kept fishing up assorted yaks and rhinoceroses. His days on earth were appreciably shortened by this visit of his grandson. It was also hard on the boy, who remarked, when he got back to his parents, "I'm thoroughly sick of Grandpa."

There is even a record in the playwright's very early days of a fling at arson. To get a rest from him, his mother sent him to Milton Academy. Study didn't interest Bobby very much. He preferred his own interests and on several occasions he was warned that his marks were not too flattering. One day the school building containing these marks burst into flames and Bobby and his elder brother, Phil, worked like heroes to extinguish the fire. They did their work well. When he was congratulated on his exertions by his brother, Bob said casually, "By the way, I started it." No motive could he forced from the secretive child beyond the fact that he wanted a little diversion.

The Sherwoods spent their summers at Lake Champlain. Bobby was a passionate showman and wrote plays for the children around the village to put on. His sister Rosamond complained that after she learned her part in the script, Bobby would take all her good lines and put them in his own part before the performance. He was always enormously optimistic about the attendance at his plays, an optimism which was not justified until very much later. He would have dozens of campstools put up for his entertainments, which were usually attended by his mother and one or two other people from the house.

Like his father, Robert Sherwood went to Harvard. Like him, he also became president of the Lampoon and prominent in the Hasty Pudding Club shows. For the Hasty Pudding Club, Sherwood wrote his first play, "Barnum Was Right," and it was through his editorship of the Lampoon that he got his first job in New York. Every year the Lampoon put out a burlesque number of some popular magazine, and while Sherwood was editor he produced a parody issue of Vanity Fair. This later got him a job on the original. In the meantime, however, America entered the World War and Sherwood quit college, a year before he would have graduated, to go to war. Unable to get into the American Army or Navy because of his height, he went to Montreal and enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He joined a Highland regiment, but didn't know what it was until the kilts were flung at him. It was the Canadian Black Watch Regiment, an affiliate of the famous Scottish organization. In one of his first letters home he wrote to his mother, "By no stress of the imagination can I be called an attractive fellow in kilts, but at least I can say that I am imposing." Mrs. Sherwood has a photograph of him in kilts, taken when he was in New York on furlough. The head is clear, but the legs are shadowy. Mrs. Sherwood complained about this to the photographer, who said, "Yes, it's kind of muddy below, but we found it difficult to focus the whole of him."

Sherwood was gassed in the action at Vimy Ridge and sent to an emergency hospital. On his return to the front, he was shot in both legs. He wrote to his mother that when he looked down and found his hose dyed with New Rochelle's bluest blood, he flung away his gun and ran as fast as his legs could carry him in a direction directly opposite to that prescribed by Marshal Foch. Actually, he was carried off the field unconscious and woke up in a hospital bed in Amiens. His heart was found to be affected and he was in a hospital in England until January, 1919. He kept writing facetious letters home, and the first his parents knew of his true condition was when they got a routine letter from an association which visited hospitals and wrote to parents letting them know how their children were. Sherwood hated the war, the physical discomfort, the filth and the rats. He was a thoroughly incompetent soldier, and when he found himself in the hospital he prayed that the war might end before he got out.

When he came home, Sherwood's doctors told him that he couldn't live very long, or at least that he couldn't do very much, on account of his heart. He has never had any trouble with it since and pays no attention to it. Faced for the first time in his life with the problem of making a living, Sherwood got a job on Vanity Fair. He was general handyman around the office. When Ina Claire had to be photographed by Baron de Meyer, Sherwood arranged the appointment. When there was some muddiness in a piece by G. K. Chesterton or an inactive passage in a piece by Grantland Rice on golf, Sherwood fixed it up. During one summer when the regular man was on vacation, he wrote "What the Best-Dressed Man Will Wear." He filled the column with extraordinary sartorial speculations: "On dit that peg-topped pants and cloth-top shoes are coming back; also that the best-dressed man's next year's waistcoats will glitter darkly with cut jade." For the unsuspecting male subscribers he devised costumes that would have startled Vincente Minnelli—all to test his theory that no one ever read the column. No matter how far he went, no one ever protested the fantasies of Sherwood's daydreams until the editor of the column came back from his vacation, fuming. Finally, Dorothy Parker, a member of the staff, was fired for writing unfavorable theatrical reviews and Sherwood and Robert Benchley, another editorial worker, quit in sympathy. They were perhaps the earliest fellow-travellers and wore red discharge chevrons afterward for a while.

Sherwood was now absolutely broke, and could expect little help from his family. His father's business and health had failed a couple of years earlier, and his mother was helping to support the rest of the family by professional portrait painting. While Sherwood was wondering what to do next, he was summoned by the Hasty Pudding Club to Boston to supervise the production of his play, "Barnum Was Right," which had been called off on account of the war. Every member of the cast had enlisted and many had been killed or wounded. Sherwood lived in Cambridge because he had credit at the clubs. He would eat in one club till he was posted and then go to another till the same thing happened. At this time, Neal O'Hara of the Boston Post got him a job as feature writer on that paper. Some educator had tossed off a statement in an interview that in his opinion marriage was more likely to be successful when the participants had had previous sexual experience. The editor thought a feminine point of view on this might be interesting, and Sherwood was sent to probe the Dean of Women at Boston University on this delicate subject. The Dean of Women was curt and noncommittal. What she said was colorless. Sherwood managed, however, to pep it up. Magnanimously he gave the Dean credit for his own views, which were expansive and forward-looking. A Ben Hechtian jazzing up of a serious interview with a well-known female pundit was the last thing the editor expected from the austere Sherwood, and he rushed the heterodox opinion into type. However, before the paper went to press, he was seized by some skeptical intuition and, to make sure, he sent the galleys to the Dean. The Dean was definitely ungrateful for the liberality of outlook imputed to her by the visionary Sherwood and he again found himself suddenly without a job. His journalistic career had lasted two days.

Sherwood came back to New York and got a job on the old Life through one of its editors, the late E. S. Martin, who had been a classmate of Sherwood's father at Harvard. Life was actually an outgrowth of the Lampoon. Robert Benchley joined Life and Dorothy Parker became a regular contributor the same week. For ten years, Sherwood, Dorothy Parker, and Robert Benchley worked first for Vanity Fair and then on Life, arriving and leaving both publications within a few days of each other.

At a dinner a few years ago, George S. Kaufman asked a cryptic question. "Do you realize," he asked, "that there sits at this table the founder of a form of journalism?" He was not referring to Arthur Brisbane but to Sherwood, who in 1920 had started a column of movie criticism in Life. He began this job when he was twenty-four years old. By the time he was twenty-seven, he was called the dean of motion-picture critics. He was not only among the first to write critical reviews of pictures; he actually applied to Cecil B. De Mille the term "bore." Sometimes he reviewed one picture five times. He was the regular critic of Life, he wrote for a newspaper syndicate, for the New York Herald, for Photoplay, and for McCall's. McCall's paid him as much as $250 to $300 for a motion-picture review and the other publications paid fairly well. It was in 1924 that he was made editor of Life and he kept writing pieces when he could, yet by 1926 he was $14,000 in debt. It occurred to him to write a play. He wrote "The Road to Rome" in odd moments between editorial and critical duties. He offered it to Gilbert Miller, who rejected it with the remark "I don't even like first-rate Shaw." It was produced by Brady & Wiman. One of the reviewers said, "This play is filled with all the humor which the author has evidently been holding out on the magazines." Starring Jane Cowl and Philip Merivale, it was an enormous success. Not long ago, when Sherwood made a slighting remark about "The Road to Rome," someone asked him why he was so hard on his first hit. "Because," he answered, "it employs the cheapest sort of device—making historical characters use modern slang."

In spite of the success of this play, Sherwood kept on working on Life until he was fired, which came about in 1928 because he refused to treat prohibition or Herbert Hoover with respect in the pages of the magazine. He confesses to an acute antipathy to quitting jobs. This conservatism is in marked contrast to the reaction of success on other people and is somehow curiously characteristic of Sherwood. After "What Price Glory?" Maxwell Anderson went berserk, bought a cane, and walked down Forty-second Street twirling it. Elmer Rice, after his first success, got married. Marc Connelly bought an Inverness cape. Moss Hart went to Cartier's, where he surfeited himself with ingenious gadgets made of gold. But not Sherwood. He bought no canes. He went along monotonously, holding every movie critic's job he possibly could, and besides that taking on the literary editorship of Scribner's. His next theatrical effort was the dramatization of Ring Lardner's story "The Love Nest." He made a mess of it and the play failed. Then he wrote "The Queen's Husband" almost immediately. This was not particularly successful on Broadway but it has proved one of the most popular plays on record for little theatres and amateurs. A play may be an immense success on Broadway but have small appeal for amateurs. They have special demands: enough people in the cast to provide everybody in the group a chance, and yet not too many; parts that can give everybody involved the illusion that he is doing pretty well. In fact, the play must be something like the game of golf. "The Queen's Husband" somehow meets these requirements.

Through his friendship with the late Sidney Howard, Sherwood became interested in the theatre in its relation to the community as an element of civic and national culture. Sherwood and Howard met first in the Life office. Howard had worked on Life and Sherwood got his desk when Howard quit. The friendship between the two men was instantaneous. They were in close contact from the day they met until Howard's death last August. Both men had fought in the World War—Howard as an aviator—and both had their first great public success within a few years of each other. Sherwood always envied Howard his physical courage, because he himself was contemptuous of his own lack of it.

The trend toward active unionism was beginning to infect dramatists and screen writers as early as the middle nineteen-twenties. In New York, the playwrights had banded themselves together and in the nineteen-thirties they began to fight grimly for their grievances against the managers. In 1935, Sidney Howard became the president of the Dramatists' Guild; Sherwood, the secretary. This organization is always engaged in immense and complicated negotiations, which the average member cannot follow and doesn't know much about. One concrete thing which the Dramatists' Guild has accomplished is a more favorable division of money from the sale of plays to the movies. Formerly the playwrights and the managers divided the proceeds equally. Now the playwright gets sixty per cent, the manager forty per cent. This is something that a non-legalistic participant in the Dramatists' Guild meetings can understand, but the Guild is involved constantly in the formation of various "plans," which are sometimes completely worked out in every detail but are never employed. These activities occupy the playwrights when they are not working on plays and exercise their suppressed desires for statesmanship. For instance, there is a plan called the Wharton-Wilk Plan. Mr. Wharton is a well-known lawyer and Mr. Wilk is the representative of Warner Brothers. The Wharton-Wilk Plan is like the Schleswig-Holstein Question, of which it was said that only three people had ever understood it; that one was dead, another insane, and the third had forgotten it. The Wharton-Wilk Plan was fought over bitterly for a long time in the Dramatists' Guild meetings. It has something to do with allowing film companies to finance plays without getting complete control over the film rights. After several years of bitter controversy, the plan was finally adopted by the Guild in its entirety. Having been adopted, it has never been used and no one seems to like it.

Sherwood succeeded Sidney Howard to the privilege of presiding over the Guild's debates. He calls himself the Coolidge among the Dramatists' Guild presidents because he never said anything and never did anything about anything, leaving a Hooverlike heritage for his successor, Elmer Rice. It was on November 23, 1937, that Sherwood presided for the first time at a Dramatists' Guild meeting. There were present George S. Kaufman, Maxwell Anderson, Rachel Crothers, Sidney Howard, Albert Maltz, George Sklar, Leopold Atlas, Melvin Levy, Moss Hart, Elmer Rice, Jules Eckert Goodman, Arthur Richman, George Middleton, Philip Dunning, Owen Davis, and Lillian Hellman. It was a terrible ordeal for Sherwood. Discussion at a Dramatists' Guild meeting never burbles, it rages. At this particular meeting there wasn't much in the way of results. The Wharton-Wilk Plan was momentarily stymied. It had to wait for a long time yet before it could be perfected so that it would fail to function. After the meeting was over, Sherwood rode down in the elevator with Elmer Rice and Maxwell Anderson. They repaired to a bar for a glass of sherry. It was pure accident that Sherwood happened to ride with these two instead of any of the others. Over their drinks that day the idea of a playwrights' producing company was worked out. Sherwood had tried it once before with Sidney Howard, Maxwell Anderson, Elmer Rice, Philip Barry, and Laurence Stallings, but the idea had foundered at the last moment because just as they were about to make plans for the coming season, Stallings said he was going to Africa and therefore couldn't come to the next meeting. Sherwood now told Anderson and Rice that he had just delivered to his typist the text of a new play and that he was willing to throw in this play as the nucleus of a kitty to which all three men would eventually contribute. That play was "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" and it began the Playwrights' Company's season for 1938-1939.

The formation of the Playwrights' Company Mr. Sherwood considers to be the most important event of his professional life. He had cherished the idea for years. The animus which inspired his great ancestor, Robert Emmet, against the English has, in the case of his descendant, been sublimated into a resentment against the managers. The plan of a playwrights' producing company, so often projected and so universally called chimerical, for the moment seems to be practical. The group has just finished its second season, has produced eight plays by five playwrights, and has in its treasury, with all debts paid, over a quarter of a million dollars. So far the prima-donna differences and the temperamental clashes which it was confidently predicted would wreck any such association between writing men have failed to materialize. Once, in fact, a play which was doing very little business and which the author himself suggested be closed was kept running by his colleagues at great cost on the chance that things might improve. This was not businesslike. The morning after a play by one of its members opens, the playwrights gather, sum up the notices, plan an advertising campaign, and console or congratulate the author, as the case may require. To comfort a colleague for a captious press one morning after an opening, Sherwood quoted by heart a prominent critic who had written of "Reunion in Vienna" that "it is a trifling, inconsequential bit of fluff but far and away the best play Mr. Sherwood has ever written."

Sherwood is also interested in a scheme for bringing the American theatre to the American people whether the American people insist on it or not. The idea is to start a series of companies to do good plays from the contemporary and the classical repertory, to play two weeks in New York and then to tour a circuit all over the United States. This would make possible a run of a hundred weeks. There would have to be enough companies in existence to keep the New York theatre going for a full season. Sherwood is now engaged in the task of raising $300,000 to put the plan into effect.

One night at a dinner party at the George S. Kaufmans', there was a discussion about the failure of the theatre to reflect important and pressing problems of contemporary life. Mrs. George Backer, wife of the publisher of the New York Post, remarked that there were vital experiments going on in the life of the city to which no writers paid any attention. Someone said "For instance?" and Mrs. Backer spoke of B. Charney Vladeck and his municipal housing project, then under way, on Madison and Jackson Streets. Sherwood expressed a desire to meet Vladeck. A day or so later Mrs. Backer took him to a meeting of the City Council, of which Vladeck was a member, and the three went to see the Vladeck project. Sherwood was greatly impressed by Vladeck and his work, and the two men became friends and corresponded. Sherwood was just about to answer an appreciative letter from Vladeck on the first performance of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" when he read in the newspapers of his death.

It is characteristic and significant that at the end of his notes in the published version of "Abe Lincoln in Illinois," after having quoted from the classical authorities, Sherwood chose as his climactic quotation a few lines from an article by B. Charney Vladeck published in the Locomotive Engineers' Journal. It says in part:

One of my first and most memorable lessons in Americanization was Lincoln's Gettysburg address. When I read it and reread it and learned it by heart, struck by its noble clearness and sweeping faith in America, I felt as if the whole past of this country had been lit up by a row of warm and beautiful lights; as if some unknown friend had taken me by the, hand on a dark and uncertain road, saying gently: "Don't doubt and don't despair. This country has a soul and a purpose and, if you so wish, you may love it without regrets."

Sherwood's comment on this follows:

This was written by the late B. Charney Vladeck shortly after he first came to this country, a Jewish refugee from oppression in Tsarist Russia. Vladeck had been a member of the Bolshevist Party, had voted at the meeting which had elected Lenin their leader and had served in prison for his revolutionary activities. He then emigrated to America, a man whose heart was filled with bitterness—and he learned here that those illusive words, liberty and equality, may have profound meaning. . . . Here, in these glowing words from one who had been a deeply skeptical alien, is the essence of what we like to call "Americanization" but which is actually just what Lincoln meant it to be: liberation.

Sherwood feels a burning indignation against those he considers callous and insensitive to the struggle in Europe, against those who seem to him indifferent to its outcome and unaware of its immense importance for us. He does not make a habit of writing letters to the papers, but after Colonel Lindbergh's first radio speech, in which the Colonel said, "We must be as impersonal as a surgeon with his knife," Sherwood wrote a letter to Time in which he said that the Colonel's simile was an insult to the medical profession. He went on:

If surgeons were truly impersonal (or, one might say, truly neutral) they would not heed the calls of distress from suffering humanity when they themselves were otherwise engaged in watching the ticker, or playing bridge, or writing thoughtful treatises on the insanity of their fellowmen. They would not go to the considerable trouble and risk of using their knives to remove the malignant growths in the body of civilization. They would always find comfortable refuge behind that ancient question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" What Colonel Lindbergh should have said is, "We must be as impersonal as the professional mourner, who doesn't lament the seriousness of the plague, or the number of fatalities, as long as it helps his own business."

For writing "There Shall Be No Night," Sherwood has been on one side attacked as a warmonger, on the other hailed as a great patriot. Sherwood does not believe in democracy passively, nor does he hate Fascism passively. It is as inconceivable that he would say "I hate Hitler, but—" as that he would say "I love democracy, but—." The "but" in either case, he believes, is a conduit admitting all sorts of poisons. He believes that permanent world peace can be achieved by a union of democracies, some such union as is described by Clarence Streit in "Union Now." Last September, when Hitler (who, unfortunately, had never seen "Idiot's Delight") gave the order for the bombers to take off, Sherwood felt certain that everything he believed in, the faith in the Bill of Rights and in the ideal of world citizenship that he had got from his study of Abraham Lincoln, was violently threatened. What should he do to defend his beliefs? Again and again he had the impulse to go to Montreal and enlist as he had done in 1917, but he was stopped by the thought that he would probably be put in a censorship job in the Intelligence, and that wearing a uniform in some office would be only a form of escapism. He came to believe that his obligation lay here in his own country and that the best way he could fulfill it would be to write a play which would express what he felt. He didn't know what the play would be about, or where it would be laid, until the invasion of Finland, which seemed to offer a sharp definition of the issue.

Sherwood feels that the present war began when the combination of Woodrow Wilson's tactlessness and the blindness of Henry Cabot Lodge, William E. Borah, and other isolationists forced us to declare the policy that our World War dead had died in vain and that we would take no further interest in the international task of keeping the peace. We handed Europe over to the bankrupt statesmanship of such men as Baldwin and Chamberlain and Laval, who in the last analysis, Sherwood thinks, gave Hitler his power. In spite of all that, Sherwood remains an incorrigible optimist. He has a faith in the ultimate triumph of the democratic principle, a faith which he expresses in "There Shall Be No Night," and which has been described by at least one critic as "whistling in the dark."

In his valedictory address to the Dramatists' Guild, made when he retired from its presidency in 1939, Sherwood had this to say:

One of the greatest virtues of the American Theatre is that it has never been strictly national. Upholding the best principles of the people whom it represents, it is unlimited by the fetishes of chauvinism, sectionalism, racism. . . . We are writers, and we are living in an age when powers of communication have achieved fabulous importance. . . . There is a new and decisive force in the human race, more powerful than all the tyrants. It is the force of massed thought—thought which has been provoked by words, strongly spoken. Words which may originate in the mind of someone in this room may be brought to people of all kinds and kindreds who are hungry for them, who may be stimulated by them to a new faith in the brotherhood of life, who may, for all any of us can tell, be saved by them.

So far, words have not kept pace with the guns. Words have not stopped invasion or organized murder, but they may still, and as a counter-attack Sherwood's words in "There Shall Be No Night" seem to be doing their part.

(This is the second of two articles on Mr. Sherwood.)

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