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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, June 4, 1905

Venice

June 4th

Dear Mildred.

Since I wrote the tome which you must have received by now, the first part of yours has reached me, and of course I must begin again. When you write to Sister Laura,Sister Laura, an Anglican sister of the Convent of Saint Gabriel in Peekskill, New York, and an acquaintance of Mildred Barnes. An undated note from Sister Laura mentions her visit to Mildred Barnes in Sharon and references Katherine Haight, Mildred Barnes’s housekeeper in Sharon. It is possible that Royall Tyler met Sister Laura and Katherine Haight at the time of his visit to Sharon in August 1904. Sister Laura to Mildred Barnes, Bliss Papers, HUGFP 76.8, box 27. greet her for me—and Miss Haight.Katherine Haight, Mildred Barnes’s housekeeper in Sharon, Connecticut. I was moved almost to tears by the fair Giulia’s misfortune. And you may imagine how unexpecting [sic] and harrowing it was for me to learn that Tynan was a Scoundrel.Royall Tyler's references to Giulia and Tynan are unclear, but it is possible that he is referring to Katherine Tynan, Julia, A Story of Irish Life (1905), a novel in which the heroine endured a cruel childhood. It is unclear, however, why Katherine Tynan would be considered a scoundrel. Tyler also refers to his “Tynan performances” in his letter of April 11, 1906. I must now relate to you a tale about the other Scoundrel

The Sultan of ZanzibarSayyid Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid (1884–1918), the eighth sultan of Zanzibar who ruled between 1902 and 1911. was lately in England, and one day the Mayor of CambridgeAlgernon Campkin, a mayor of Cambridge. received a telegram from him, announcing the arrival of his party to see the town of Cambridge at four that afternoon. The Mayor sent his coach to the Station, and hurried to make his preparations. Soon after four the coach arrived at the Guild hall, and three dusky Princes in white robes and turbans stepped out, accompanied by an Englishman in frock coat ect [sic], who acted as interpreter. The Mayor received them, offered them a collation at which they refused all intoxicants, and afterwards, took them over all the colleges, explaining the beauties and history of each to Mr. Henry Lucas (the gentleman in the frock coat) who interpreted it to the Princes in fluent Arabic. Finally the Sultan told the interpreter to express his warmest thanks to the Mayor, and the party returned to London. The Mayor, in high satisfaction, was superintending the account of the visit to be printed in the Cambridge papers, when a London evening paper fell under his glance, containing a description of the Sultan and his suite’s visit to Windsor that afternoon . . . .See Martyn Downer, The Sultan of Zanzibar: The Bizarre World and Spectacular Hoaxes of Horace de Vere Cole (London: Black Spring, 2010).

This mystery may be explained when I tell you that the Scoundrel was the Sultan, two Trinity undergraduates the other princes,There were, in fact, three other “princes,” all from Trinity College, Cambridge: Adrian Stephen (1883–1948), the brother of Virginia Woolf; Robert Macgregor (“Robbie”) Bowen-Colthurst (1883–1915); and Leland Buxton. Both Bowen-Colthurst and Buxton had been at Harrow School with the authentic prince of Zanzibar. and little Lyulph Howard, whom I brought to see you at Claridge’s,Claridge's, a luxury hotel in Mayfair, central London. Mr. Henry Lucas the interpreter. The Mayor is a particularly revolting Spiesser,“Bourgeois.” whose great joy in life it is to slobber over distinguished visitors.

In rereading your letter, I find that I have neither told you what you want to know, nor what I intended to write about. My poor majorityRoyall Tyler turned twenty-one on May 2, 1905. meant nothing to me but the trouble and annoyance of refusing my stepfather’s request to take the money out of Mr. William’s [sic]The identity of Mr. Williams is unknown. hands, and put it into those of a friend of his! but as it brought me your letter I am not cross with it. Farther I have not tied it up, but intend to do so when I can see Mr. Williams himself and hear his views on how the thing should be done.

I dare say you will glean much of what you want to know from these many pages—and would whether I wrote to you of German politics or of the ethics of Spanish guapos.“Dandies.” I hope you will write again soon and tell me if there is any chance of your coming to this side. I would like to talk things over with you, as I have said some dozen times before.

Unamuno has published his book, “La Vida de Don Quijote y de Sancho, por Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, esplicada y commentada por Miguel de Unamuno.”Miguel de Unamuno, Vida de d. Quijote y Sancho (Madrid: Fernando Fe, 1905). I confess I felt uneasy when I saw the title, but I love the book. It has made a great stir in Spain, and as I expected would be the case, was more attacked for heresy by the scientific people than by the Catholics. The Padre de Lecanda has been writing about Pontius Pilate,This book, if written, has not been identified. and in a tone which would get him into trouble in a less bigoted country. I am convinced that the Spaniards posess [sic] an unequalled power for placing their beliefs. I mean by this a genius for scepticism and doubt in all but the mysteries of their Faith, which would always prevent them from taking a stuffed club seriously, and would make real Hypocrisy—the sort that persuades itself—impossible for them. I love them more than I did before, and I am enjoying their literature enormously, above all things for that priceless quality, a power to laugh at themselves.

I loved the parable about America. I will tell you one about a Spaniard and an Italian. There was an Italian, and he tried to sell the Preacher a basket of figs, proclaiming them to be of the best. The Preacher pulled out a fig from the bottom of the basket, then another, and they were decayed. The Preacher laughed and turned away. The Italian looked cross-eyeder than ever and cursed the Preacher. There was a Spaniard, and he tried to sell the Preacher a horse, also proclaiming the beast to be sound. The Preacher looked, and found the horse had the spavin.Bone spavinis, a bony growth within the lower hock joint of horses or cattle. The Spaniard was delighted at the Preacher’s perspicacity, and insisted on drinking a glass of wine with him. They were friends for life. There is hardly anything the Spaniard esteems so low in others, or cares less for himself, as success in material things. I believe de Unamuno when he says that what unfits the Spaniard for success under present conditions, will give him the victory when these conditions have changed for the better.

Yrs. sincerely

Royall Tyler.

P. S. I now remember that I have really missed out so many things that I must begin another sheet. Well, BogwanRoyall Tyler’s references to “Bog Wan” (sometimes “Bogwan”) are unclear, but it would appear to be an object—possibly an Asian sculpture—that he displayed hanging against a piece of brocade, that received a “house” from Mildred Barnes, and that was given eventually to the Blisses by Royall Tyler as a wedding gift. See also the correspondence of February 16, 1905; April 11, 1906; May 19, 1908; and October 26, 1908. has a lovely piece of brocade, from the Wolff [sic] collection,Alfred Wolf (1888–1954), a collector of modern art in Stuttgart, Germany. He and his family fled Europe when the Nazis came to power; they resettled in South America, first in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and later in São Paulo, Brazil. See Catalogue of the Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings: The Property of the Late Alfred Wolf of Stuttgart and South (London: Sotheby, 1963). but when the mate for him by you arrives,The “mate” referred to in this letter has not been identified. he shall discard the brocade.

I was pleased to hear of the Scandinavian picture. Evidently Carl Johansen [sic?]Possibly Carl August Johansson (1863–1944), a Swedish painter. is “un nom à retenir.”“A name to remember.” How splendid that he has no effete aristocratic blood. I wish I were there to see and find a new adjective for the picture. I don’t know what Germans sent pictures to Saint LouisProbably the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the Saint Louis World’s Fair, an international exposition held in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1904. The fair ran from April 30 to December 1, 1904.—but at the Berlin SecessionBerlin Secession (Berliner Secession), an art association founded by Berlin artists in 1898 as an alternative to the conservative state-run Association of Berlin Artists, held two exhibitions each year. See letters of June 3, 1905; September 1, 1905; and April 12, 1910. they have a few pictures—better than the English. Liebermann, Liebl, Truebner, and in a few pictures Feuerbach.Royall Tyler is referring to German artists Max Liebermann (1847–1935), Fritz Liebel (1889–1954), Wilhelm Trübner (1851–1917), and Anselm Feuerbach (1829–1880). Beginning in the 1890s, Germany saw the formation of various secessionist art movements that were often characterized by the purposeful distortion of natural forms and the employment of anti-academic styles. Among these (often independent) exhibiting societies was the Berlin Secession headed by Max Liebermann.

You know that several Germans have bought nearly all the Japanese woodcuts ect [sic] in existence? There was an exhibition of several hundred thousand there in April, and a lot of Chinese paintings of the 8th and 9th centuries. Such amazing things. It is bitter that they are in Germany. I bought a KoriusaiIsoda Koryusai (or Koriusai) (1735–1790), a Japanese printmaker and painter. See also letters of February 16, 1905, and July 14, 1905. at a sale, which I love. The new Kaiser Friedrich Museum at BerlinKaiser Friedrich Museum, Berlin, a museum designed by architect Ernst von Ihne and completed in 1904. Originally named after Emperor Frederick III, the museum was renamed in honor of its first curator, Wilhelm von Bode, in 1956. is such an atrocious thing. My dislike for Museums, and my belief in their utility increase daily. As for German criticism and historical methods, and philosophy, there is not time now to begin on them. But Heaven grant that before much time be gone we may be able to pick them to pieces together.

If you can, do read Heine’s History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany—or some such title, and his journey to Italy.Heinrich Heine’s Zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Religion in Deutschland (On the History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany) was written in 1832. His Reise nach Italien (Journey to Italy) was written for the journal Morgenblatt and first published in December 1828. It became part of his Reisebilder (Hamburg: Hoffman und Campe, 1826–1830), a four-volume work combining autobiography, social criticism, and literary debate. He is an unending delight, and so disgusting in places. But his description of an English tourist coming into the Hof Kirche at Innsbruck “mit einem roten Baedeker in seinem viereckigen Maule”“With a red Baedaker in his four-cornered mouth.” is nice, don’t you think? No one seems to read Nietzsche in Germany but hysterical young men and women, who end by killing themselves.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900), a German philosopher and classical philologist. Royall Tyler may be referring generally to Nietzsche's belief in the right to suicide and his various affirming statements, such as “When one does away with oneself one does the most estimable thing possible: one thereby almost deserves to live.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung (Leipzig: C. G. Naumann, 1889). See also letter of February 16, 1905. I heard good music at Berlin. Do you know Godowski?Leopold Godowsky (also Godowski) (1870–1938), a Polish-American pianist, composer, and teacher sometimes called the "Pianist of Pianists." I would like to see Weingartner Paul Felix Weingartner (1863–1942), an Austrian conductor, composer, and pianist. conduct. And I wish I had kept to show you a caricature from “Simplicissimus”Simplicissimus, a satirical German magazine (published between 1896 and 1967) that took its name from the protagonist of Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen's novel Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch (1668). of Weingartner, Ternina,Milka Ternina (1863–1941), a Croatian dramatic soprano. and numberless artists of various kinds going to America, and hinting why they go. RT

I continued at the studio,Royall Tyler was taking painting lessons. See also letters of November 1, 1904; November 26, 1904; and February 16, 1905. but I don’t think I’m likely to do much good at it. I intend however to do it again, as I like heads—and hands.

 

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