Emily Greene Balch to Helena Lucy Maria Sickert Swanwick, March 31, 1920




19 Bd Georges-Favon

Geneva, March 31st, 1920.

Dears Mrs. Swanwick,

Many thanks for your letter of March 23rd. It is hard, isn't it to get a real meeting of minds by correspondence, to say nothing of making arrangements? We have the desire, and heartily wish to cooperate and yet -----

You say in your last letter that you had thought that you had made it perfectly clear that it was too late to arrange a Summer School for this year, but in your last previous letter of March 14, you said "whether it is worth while trying for one on a small scale elsewhere in September I do not know." Then you said you were consulting Mr. Leonard and you would let me hear again. (In your March 23rd letter you report his conclusion that it is too late for this year). This is why I thought the question was still open, until I received your letter of March 23rd.

You said further that you had said you could undertake such a piece of work only if formally requested to do so by the International Committee. I either did not understand or forget the [exact] form of this statement for I thought that in formally asking you to carry through the enterprise I had [met] your wish and that my request was adequate [authorization], especially if backed up by replies from our Sections approving in principle the holding of such a Summer School. (I felt that I ought not to wait longer in asking for this approval though I was sorry to have no more definite proposals to lay before our Sections.)

When Frau Hertzka was here she told me that you and she and others of our board felt that I took too little responsibility and was too timid in taking decisions and acting by myself. I therefore hoped that, in asking the British Section to act for us all in this case, I was in the spirit of the thing and that my [authorization] was sufficient. If it was not, I wish that I had understood this difficulty sooner; I would at once have written [you] to the Executive Committee to secure their request for the British Section to take the initiative. [page 2]

I feel that I was too vague and didn't make you fully understand how definitely I thought the British Section had been commissioned to act and how fully I supposed they were doing so or ready to do so.

In this last letter you say further that you thought you had made it clear as to forming a committee in England to put through the plan you could do no such thing. I see now for the first time where another part of the misconception on my part arose. When Miss Royds said some time ago that the Sub-Committee would discuss the plan. I thought it was an ad hoc Committee, but I now judge that it was your international Sub-Committee that she referred to. I supposed too that you would be corresponding directly with Dr. Augspurg and others as I had asked. I think you hardly realize how much in the dark I really have been.

You will remember that I said from the beginning that while I liked the plan I could not engineer it as I was already continually behind hand with my work. Nevertheless it has come on me and I have as a matter of fact been trying to make the practical arrangements, have authorized the spending of money for making such arrangements and have done as it seemed to me all that I could to have a scheme far enough advanced to have something definite to lay before the Sections although as I said above I finally felt that I must not wait longer to send out a letter consulting them.

In sending out this circular letter I thought that I was acting according to your wish though I afterwards learned with great regret how bad a mistake you felt the circular to have been.

Now all this milk is already split and I will not cry over it but try to be sure to act in harmony now with your ideas. Do you think, as I do, that in view of the decisions it is too late to arrange anything this year a second circular should now be sent out on the subject explaining the situation? Will you not tell me how it ought to be put? I suspect that what you would like to say would be something like this: "Miss Balch having been dilatory and vague and having either neglected or failed to understand what we wrote, our proposal for a Summer School cannot be realized this year, though we hope this is only a postponement." And it might be that my unedited draft would read: "The British Sub-Committee to whom the Geneva Office had referred the organization of the Summer School proposed by the British Section, has decided that, in view of the many difficulties which still complicate international arrangements it is now too late to arrange such a Summer School this year." But I am not suggesting that this is really the way that it ought to be put! Won't you help me by wording the statement as you think it should be?

Dear Mrs. Swanwick, I do regret more than you will easily realize my share in the delays that have finally killed this promising plan, and I want your help to see just how the things happened. As soon as I can get time I will try to go through the whole correspondence as an aid on future occasions.

Meanwhile and always I am yours very faithfully and so happy in the prospect of getting you here face to face.