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Hurston, Z.N. signed typewritten letter to Mary Holland, Eau Gallie. (5p. 8 1/2 x 11). Feels sorry for MKR's death. Spea...
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00009755/00066
Finding Guide: A Guide to the Zora Neale Hurston Papers
 Material Information
Title: Hurston, Z.N. signed typewritten letter to Mary Holland, Eau Gallie. (5p. 8 1/2 x 11). Feels sorry for MKR's death. Speaks about Mary Bethune and her feelings toward her - she is working on the life of Herod the Great and explains the work to Mary Holland.
Series Title: Correspondence
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Publication Date: 1955, June 13
Physical Location:
Box: 2
Folder: 89
Subjects / Keywords: Hurston, Zora Neale
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: AA00009755:00066

Full Text

__~_~__ ~__ _~C_____

Zora Neale Hureton
177d Sch 01 Court
Fort Pierce, Floride


Mrs. Speerard L. HTC11and
Bertow~, TFTlorida

Y .i '
a: OCT 23



Zor a HIeale Hur ston
Box 75, Route #2
Merritt Island, Florida

I2 ~M I


Mra.~s Spea sar d L. Holland
306-K Sheraton Park Hotel
Yashingjton 8, D. G.,


~d j


Yi I :..ulI^L~

7.nTrra lieale H~urston

i~ 41

I : 1

Irs3. Snessard L. fioll~and
Box 42 Senate Office Building
Wlashington. I).O.

Ea~ru Gallie, Florida
June 13, 1955i.

Dear, dear, dear Hiss Macry:-?

You will never know how horry the arrival of your delayed let-
ter ma2de me'. My soul wrsff reaching out to you, I was so depressed
by the death of Mtzrjorie 7inv.an Rawling~s, first because I am de-
prived of the warmth of the association, and secondly because I
feel that I failed her in her last extremity. She wrote me, and
Burrough~s M~itchell, who was editor to uE both at Scribners, wrote
me that she was ill, I wrote her that I would be there as soon as
I could, but everyTthing5 went bad for me at that time. Myj car.
like the old one-horse shay, just fell to pieces, and there I was
with no transportation, and no means to replace it, and could not
bear to admit it to her lest she feel sorry for me, Next thing I
knew was the announcement of her death.

You kinow that recently I:Pr~y Bethune died, and though I was
never as close to her as I was to MI, ( which in all honesty, I
feel to be her Fault in that she suffered f rom mea~lo rnia, and
could not bear Exrxx success in anyone but herself and wanted only
inferior neoD7~e close to her so as not to di-iinish her own shine )
we were "rienps of a sort, and she too had written urging me to
come to Day3tona Beach ( vihF-) no distinguished ~guests would! be
around wrho niylht admire me also, thouCght she did not say it in
those words, but she never wanted me present wihen anything big was
aoinr on ) but I was too busy w~ith my own work to go there. I
do not feel the same way about not going as I did about Cross Creek
for I knew Bet~hune too well. Whenever she got urgent about seeing
me it was so-ethingf I could not do like taking a wipe in print at
somebody -Iho aroused her jealously, or submitting a list of wealthy~
White people shP could solicit for noney, or soliciting them for
her. As I do not trouble my friends like that for my own sake,I
have no intention of doing it for others, Especially when I klnew
that her son, Bert, was elwaysi u~p to his elbows in the school treas-
ury,, W er well known, Tiy people," meant her son and grandson,
both heavy spenders, more than it did the Negro race.

However, her death brought home to nye the sad fact that while
we once were four, we are now onlyT two, The thought made me feel
desolate sort of. I was unspeakably happy to receive a word from

I came here to Eau Gallie, a quiet little spot to sit down
and do a work that I had had in contemplation for some.years, a
LIFEOF EHO TH GRAT.I know that you will be startled at m~y
choice of subject, for being bred and born to Sunda~y School as I
was, you think of hi*\ inne iatel~y as the fiend who slaughtered the
babies coround Bethlehem in an attempt to do away with the Infant
Jesus. I first became interested in Herod when casually looking
ulp another matter, and came across his na?-e in it, and thC6 state-
r~ent, "' However, scholars state that there is no historical basis
for the legend of the slaughter of the innocents by Herod." Then
it went on to point out that the dates of Herod the Great were
definitely established historically, 72-4 B.C. while no one can say
when Christ was born, since He had no biographer, and there was no
interest in the matter until generations later w~hen Christianity

was an established religiion. The synoptic Goevels, M/atthew, Mlark
and Liuke were all written so long after His death that legend
crept in, so that even they differ on events of the life of Christ.
NPobody can be sure of even their aruthorship. Then fron Titus
Livius, frappments extant of Herod' s authorized biographer, Nicolaus
of Damascus, Plutarc~h, Strabo Flavius Josenhus ( who follows
Nicolsau closely except for his adied opinions ) presented this
m~an I had always thought of as nothing but a mean little butcher,as
a highlyv cultivated, Hellenized non-Jew, the handsomest man of his
time, the greatest siolc'ier of Southwest Asi&, and ablest aciminis-
trator, -enerous both of spirit and -aterially, Herod the
Over-bold," H-erod of thp sun-like splendor" and other such epithets,
and my interest and curiosity was aroused. And as I read, I per-
ceivec; why the nriestly scribes detested himn. You kcnow how bound
the Jewish priesthood was by tradition. On returning from the Bab-
vlonian captivity, they had shut Jurdea in. The stranger, Gentile
was absolutely taboo. For the same reason as Russia of to-da~y. The
onlyT was that Ezra and "ehemiahn could maintain the absolute priest-
ly rule that they set up, was to keenc out knowledge. The 70 years
in the hir~hly civilized Persian country had shown them that. So
they put up a curtain of their own,

~hen they accuse Herod of having brouirht in the customs of
the Glentiles and caused thee nation to sin," they are blaming
the wrongi man, Greek culture in Asia was given it'sa tremendous
im7etus by Alexander the Great wIhen he c~os' ed the Hellespont with
his rreeat army a.nd his scholars in 326 P.C. I will not bore you
vithh a tail, but Greek culture had been working like ayeast in
Palestine as well as~ all Asia ever since. Herod' s family was of
ducal status in Idumea, ( northern Arab, really) hi. ch-lyv educated
'or nany generations, and the wealthies of all in Celesyria
( 'lhrich el'brreced Sy~ria, Palestine and Arabia) ex cept for one
SyJrian, Sarama~lla. The~y w~ere cosmopolitan, international bankers,
and even Herod' s grandfrt~her was known from 5albylon to Alexandria
as the friend of kings." Herod' s father wa~s a close friend to
Julius Caesar, Pomrpey and ILarc Anton~y. Now place this over against
a Drie thood bent on naintainint their ancient rule over the nation,
a~nd yTou see the con~lict. You can imagine the reaction of the
Pharisees and p7riests'f;a kinr: 14ho was not only not dQ scended from
Aaron, but not even a Jew, The Jewsi had: de relop~ed no arts except
religious music, not even a style of architecture, and here comes
this He~rod bring~iinB in the orts of Greece, sculpture, paintings,
drama architecture, universal education, and even athletics and
built em~phither~tres for th Olym~pic games. And the nation took to
these things like ducks to w~ater. Thqy loved Herod, threw garlands
at him Trhen he aptoee~red in the streets. Contrary to w\hat I had
been leci to believe a.ll along, he was beloved by the nation. Even
-anyf Phrrisees and p~riects went over to him. You can see the feel-
ines o' th3e trnditiona~list minority, who harened, however to be
setting down records. They Cour~ht a senseless and losing battle
" Geograpnhy wIarringr wt~ith timre rndt history." After 37 years on the?
throne, Herod died peacefully in his bed. FlavIius Josephus, the
Jewish historian, a. traditionalist, w~ho boasted that he belonged
to the -First of the 22 courses of the priesthood, a Pharisee, and
cdistantl~y relatedd to the Jewish royal house which H-erod succeeded,
the Fgh he rerSarded Herdo as a sort o-" sacrilege, admits of Herod' s
rllorious deeds, but you can see that he hates like the devil to ad-
mit of Herod' s popularity with the people, He says at one place,
" The people loved Herod, but it wa~s only because of his splendid
crpr~earance," and then even more reluctantly, and because he took

such Good care of them." As to Herod's8 reputed harshness, he says,
a Herod was the first man of the world in excusing offenses against
himself. Then seditious men were brought before him, he gave then a
talk and dismissed them. Yet he was the first man in the world to
punish unfaithfulness in his own family."

That is not hard for me to understand for I think that all of
us expect greater fidelity out of our own than others. If a stranger
made public attacks on Senator Spessard, he would take it as no
more to be expected in political life, but if one of his sons was
found plotting with his political enemies, not only to drive him from
of ice but to take his life, he would react vastly different. Herodb
two sons by the Jewish Tvrincess~and naturally da~ughter of the high-
triest who raecentedlyr pIlotted Pgainst him, he had strangled, a very
hard thing "or a father to do, but as the Encyclopedia Brittinnaci
observes, '' Herod but, outdid those w~ho sought to do the same thing
to him." Josep~hus, traditionalist and bent on the restoration of
absolute power to the priesthood, see~m to take it very hard that
Herod d.id not alloww the family of his wife to put him to death. It
is not di "icult to unCderstand when w~e remember the tenacity of the
Bourbons of mod rn times. The divine right to rule whether thqy had
the ability "or it or not, a~nd whbet~her it benefitted the nation.

Though IHernd was an ex>~traordiinartly handsome "igure of a man,
celebrrted~ lover ( though very fazithcul in caree)brilliant and
very c' rine Poli'ier, so azble on administrator that Augustus Cae sar
wJhen his Roman governors had trouble in Asia giot into the habit
of writing them. turn that -province over to Herod," so that he came
to rule fron th Lielta of the Nile to the JEuohrates and Caesar still
ev~id that the territory Herod ruled was too small. for his abilities,
hac' wtidrr nand. more excitingS experiences than any man wcho has yet alp-
perered in history, his chief interest for me is that Herod holds
the unioue distinction of being THE: transition figure between the
old Judaism and Christianityy, and his influence on the trend by his
attitude, Bein~ a non-Jew in Palestir~ne at this crucial time, a man
of vTaSt culture and favoring the culture aLnd outlook of the 1/est,
he was inaluable in that tense renewal of the strug :le for Asia
S~hich "egan wi!th the siege of Troy, and is goinG on ( srain with
bitter intensity i in our own time. In Herod's da~y, Parcthia was the
leader of the Asia- or-the- Asiatics, and a touch custormer, as
both Crasfius and a;rre AintoRY found out, and Herod threw his weight
to the WTest, H-is counterpart today is Romulo of the Phillipines or
Chiang Kai-Shek, There is another intereting parallel, for as far
as it can be determined, the Parthians originally migrated into
Persia, ( and later over helnzed it) from the Steplres of Rue ia.
They are the progenitors of our modern Turks. These Parthians, from
all accounts were a batrbarous, unwashed gang wLho lived in tents and
having; killed of" the arts of Persia, developed none of their own.
Surerstitious and Driest-rid rn ( the Mragi, which corresponded very
closely to the Jewish sanhedrin) I could understand Herod's choice.
If I had to choose between t-he UTSA and any of those Asiatic nations,
with the possible exception of Japan, do you suppose that I would
want those unwashed, ignorant, lice-bitten barbarous Parthians
mesising over me? Celesyria was in the position whers it had to be
Rome or Parthia over them. I too would have chosen Rome, It is in-
teresting to observe howc~ those Parthians loved to glain their ends by
lies and treac .ery just like modern Rusc~ia.

Asi to the nhilosonhical side, Herod lent his aid to the move-
ment out of which Christianity evolved. Thus it is ironical that
he should be be the boogernan of our religion, ':hen you review the
tenets of the Essenes, that third ahilo ophical sect in Palestine,
you will cind that everything Christ did or said, according to the
Fouk~Gos~pels was straight from it. Other things tend to confirm
that both Jesus Christ end John Ihe Bagtist were Essenes. Of
Herod's attitude towards 'he Essenes, Josephus complains, Herod
raid the Essenes a reverence greater than their mortal nature
required." They were scattered all over Palestine, but their
stronghold wras Galilee, and that was Herod' s fa~ orite province,though
as you know, both Essienes and Galileans were held in low esteem by
the powers in Jerusalem. The Frinees," ( Pharisees), EScribes
and priests in general could not lay a finger on Herod' s pets while
he was alive. So the doctrine of brothirly love, God the father
of all -cnklind equally, rnd not just the Jews, gained ground in
his reign, Not only would Christ never have been put to death under
Herod, but "he sanhledrin would nrt havTe dared to even start the com-
motion. As 1e Negroes say, Herod would ha -e been all over them
just like rrraws over rice. It is possible that our American leftists
bar owed that habit of get'inr up a rabble and demon treating" from
the Jewish priesthood, "nr it was a favorite rmaneuiver of theirs,
Only one occurred during H-erod' s reign, and that was when he was on
his death-bed, and they therefore thought it was safe. But the old
boy ( A8) c'brunr out of bed, nolis;hed them of" and went on back
to bed with his ulcers.

These are myy reasons Cor choosing Herod the Grreat as a subject.
I havce event fi-e years on it, three years of research alone. It is
a hard, touch, assi,-nnent, but I think that it should be done. No-
body has hrownr -u'"icient liebt on that TTirst century B.C. with it' s
all-i:yortaiht implications "or present-day Western iiviization.
Hu nitarigan Greek civilization sweeping the then known world; new
concepts seeping into Juzdea and being transmuted into a new religion
for thourrh Greece had Fallen be ore Romre, the sweep of Greek culture
was rather accelerated than destroyed., Triumphant Rome had merely
w~on the riFght~ to. dissen~inate it. Logos, The Wdord, ( see prologue
to St. John) had comle into Pa.lestine from India and knxxxx taken hold
of Jew~ish thought, A new a~nd Rreater concept of God. Then there
waR the dynamic personality of Herod the soldier, the statesman,
seeing "rienl~bip as a religion, and far front being the m re stooge
of Rome as pictured by his d~etractog~a, Allow me to be a realist
r nd a rr tionalist: it is history and history alone, which without
involving us in actual danger, will nature our judgment and prepare
us to take the right viewrs, whatever may be the criSis or the pos-
ture of affairs, Rome will be the center of history and the world
for th next thousand y~ears." So the handsome six-footer on his
Pal~nina stallion ( One authority insists that his family was
Aryan from Pheonicia) became ~Kinr; of the Jews and so stamped his
personality upon Asia that the cirst three-quarters of the First
century of Christianit~y cannot be disassociated from him or his
descendants. H~is boyhnod was touched by Pompey, Julius Caesar,
and his early manhood by Ca~ssius, rHare Antony, Cleoratra,( she fell
in love with hin but was rebuffed) Augustus Caesar, Agrip a ( the
Roman Comr~ani7 r-in-chief uznder, Au.-ustus)) aInd all the' famous men
of his agee ancd was on intima,-te terms wcith tham.n Caesar offered to
take Herod two sons as his houseguests during their years of tudy
at Rone, but Poll~io, the Consul -robb7ed them. Such a tragic waste
of time money and opvortunnity on conceited Stupidityt

I am nort than two-thirds Zone. 'ith the "inal writing, and hope
and pray that Scrib~ners wcill_ be Dle;-?ed with it. Please do not
lauerh at me. but I think that 'he sub1~ject is so impo-~rtant that I
broached Sir Wincston Chulrrhill to do a run -ingi comment on ~he pol-
itical imrplications of ench chapter". He wrote graciously that he~
would do, it iC it were not for he fact that he had~ refused several
of ler writers cho a kedC hir? to cola crate, andi woulc. th s Give of-
F~ense if he cdic it Cor me, Besides, his health was not too Good now.
Plnybe he we~~L only Frivingr me a rquicck brush-off, b t he was very nice
'about it. I wcish s-omYe scholar like Senator Sp~essard would d~o it,
but br ins escapec Twith my li e Cromz bra hing Sir ~inst~on, rraybe
I on rt, to be thanlc"ul end keepf my bir; mouth shut, Senaztor Spes-
'Rrd is; plenty spry a~nd does not ha-e to cross a~ny ocean te get
to me,

The withholding Oc yournZ let er -or "ive ye,-rs burns me up.
TIhrt adfc~res" is TFred. Irvine a~t ;iami. I w~rs on his boat with the
~idea of re Urrninr~ to Honduran: to write go:-e articles. Irvine said
he w~oulci hring back lobsters. He kept me wr~itinig for over tfive
months errecting~ to sail any 2ay, It w;. his other fRho revealed to
me that he ne-cer had~( any intention of goinl3 nt all, that he had~ lured
m to Miami for the us~e of ny name on his boat. It se me that he
h~ad. a ery poor chorec ter wc~ith Oolks a~longn the waterfront, and I
had~ a aoad one and he wass usinr* me for a cover to hide some rhady
dealsf, He actually beat his mother for exposinng him to me, Eand I
left the beat apd Spent; several months hosting a book for Judge
Smrethera, father of the Senator, I had wasted so much money while
I was vainly excertinq to Ro to Central America. I suppose when he
round your letter in the box, he was scared to forward it, lest I
rlick boun and hi. Therat He is now an American citizen, but En-
Plis bon, nd jst ikeCharlie Chaprlin. Always messing around
wtith rome gou2nrr oRirl, He has had cive wives aind none over 16
ahen he -rt hold oC them, to say~ nothinir of sone of his other ac-
tinitiies, His mother said, a-nr! he Sa.id! the sarme thing himself, thapt
he var eter'J~J mq more thoen enys indivildza~l he had: ever met, and that
is -'y. he wees so 'u2rious8 wheT~tn his noCther let, me ktnow a.boult certain
of his deals." "or examnle, rickcine up boys i~n their late teens
CElleme~fly to trorlk rn his boat, then Rendine them out to cteal things
of-'~ o other boats hRich Irvine thzen sold, N;otice his cun-ning in
Sritini- on your envelove, :--t at this address." He knew only too
ell bert I wasp at the Dreothers, So vcery sorry that I missed the
scarf. I'll_7 bet you it wasL pretty and. red. H-avingS vegetated here so
longc on this book, I'd3 love to dress up for a chr;nne~. Having spent
so mulch on research, Tou know tha~t I cannot afford to buy new
clothes, but please consic"r that this is a statement of fact and
not a tuclh."

C0-d love and hles yloul and all your house, and 1 amn certainly
co?-i~ne to 9iartowr~ Tben "0ou Cnne3 home.
I know that yrou do not mess with politics, but I'm wondering
out loudC to Senntor Snessard if the UJSA is not getting a H~inister
of Tr~~y~arrnda. on the rcnie.jFt. I an a, Repubhlican, but I can-ot avoid
notingr how D~r. GallonT by tin~iny;, by selection of subject, and. by
the way it is rut, manr-es to -For ver ~ak~e E~isenhowzer sound invin-
cible so RP- to dil couirere other aspirants of both parties. Then I
read some.here that he holdc~s 1 position under E~isenhower on the
Voice of Anerica or onethin~ like that. If so, he cannot but be
nrejurdiced. ie-t thing we know we wdilll ha-ce a dictatorship on our
hands, further, I note IF-e' s fondness for publishers. If he hires
C ove- R)

th7em ;?ll ura, v41ere :ill be6 pubhliC opinion in th]e USA? H-e' s cot
thre majority of' the big ones ~on his Dayroll r Ire-ady.~ It h/as been
noted that it is all~npst im~pos~ible to Clet in? a. word edgfeways z.bout
this seg-reypation nlese~ ric-ht now, IOLO H BG1a.LL. Iua4
.ik I 1. AILAGAiblIT.I ha- e tried. In fear of my freedom,
I a-m yot~ine Dmocrcatic nert time.

Tsith In7- iiTs finc faithful f *-olinas,