Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, March 2, 1908
55 r. de Verneuil
Your letter has just arrived and I hasten to tell you how delighted I am that you like the idea of Jaén for Holy Week.See letter of January 12, 1908. I take it that, as your telegram said, your ship arrives at Gibraltar on April 7th, is not that it? If you have time you might send me a line before you sail mentioning the name of the ship, otherwise I shall have to buy the New York Herald.
The state of mind in which you approach Spain is satisfactory. Please—this is very important and neglect may spoil much—bring no gaudy apparel, or at least do not array yourself in it in Spain. Bring extremely sober attire, and make Mrs. Aldis do the same, have at least one plain black dress, preferably more. If you don’t do this I refuse to take you into the low quarters of any town, or to any low cafés. You must remember that Spanish ladies simply never go to such places, and if they do they are regarded as fair game. If you dress in black—rather shabbily if possible, you may easily pass unnoticed as a Spanish woman of the lower class. (!!!) though the Lord knows your hairMildred Barnes had auburn hair. doesn’t improve the chances. If you wish for peace then, dress in sub-fusc hues.
I have written to UtrilloMiguel Utrillo (1862–1934), a Spanish painter and art critic. asking him to be at Gibraltar on April 7th. I hope fervently he will be able to do so, for he is a man in ten thousand. He looks like Louis XI of FranceLouis XI (1423–1483), king of France from 1461 to 1483. and he and I understand each other so well that we carry on most intricate conversations in a sort of shorthand of monosyllables and gestures which is quite incomprehensible to anyone else, and which leaves the typewriter leagues behind as a time-saving invention. He is unfortunately rather busy at present with an 80 vol. EncyclopaediaEnciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana (also called Enciclopedia espasa or Enciclopedia espasa-calpe after its publisher), a encyclopedia with seventy-two volumes that was published in Madrid between 1908 and 1930. The encyclopedia has a ten-volume appendix that was published from 1930 to 1933. which he is editing and which embraces the whole range of human knowledge.
The anniversary Tome! I never received it! I am glad to hear that it existed, for I naturally feared that it had been ommitted [sic] (I have been reading German all day and really don’t know how to spell one word out of three—so be lenient). It would have given me the greatest joy to try my hand at the psychological knot.The meaning of this reference is unknown. It is long since I have had a real letter from you. I have a good deal of stuff on hand which I will keep for Spain—I have no time to write it, or you to read it. Of course I will teach you Spanish and I think I can promise you that I’ll be in a good humour. It is now just a month before I shall start. Of course I shall come to meet you at Gibraltar. I am glad of the opportunity to seeing that rock which I have been quite near, but never viewed. I hope you won’t want to go to Tangiers, not that I am not anxious to see it, but there is so very little time, and surely many cities of Spain are more worth while, also if UtrilloMiguel Utrillo (1862–1934), a Spanish painter and art critic. comes we would never persuade him to come with us to Africa. I have a sort of idea also, which what I have heard from people who have been there bears out, that the streets of Cairo, at any large Exhibition, are very nearly as good.
I quite agree with you that America is an amazing country, but you put your finger on the real point in the next line when you say that you suppose any country or city is also amazing. It is so indeed, and my quarrel with America is that unless I am very much mistaken, it is amazing in so few ways. The high degree of its amazingness in the others partly compensates, but not enough to make me want to spend my life there. Europe is still amazinger along most lines (that interest me). I have a vast deal to talk to you about in this connection, in particular about the vast insolence of the American point of view, which despises history and the experience of nations, imagining itself to have some inherent virtue which makes this inapplicable to itself, rather despising the peoples of the old world for having such childish ailments. And all because the territory of the U.S. is the most extraordinary overflowing treasure-house a pack of tatterdemalions“ragamuffins.” from the four corners of the globe have ever been let into: and now they lord it because they have had the superhuman strength and genius to put out their hands and help themselves.