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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, October 10, 1904

Paris

Hotel NormandyHotel Normandy, Paris, a palatial hotel that opened on the corner of the rue Saint-Honoré near the Musée du Louvre in 1877; the hotel catered mostly to an English-speaking clientele.

Oct. 10th 1904

Dear Mildred.

I arrived here day before yesterday. The last few days in town, your GrowlerA nickname Mildred Barnes must have given to Royall Tyler. See also letter of September 1, 1905. deserved his name. My temper was something the like of which has not been seen in years. Being unable to slap my nurse’s face or pull pussy’s tail, I sat down and wrote a letter to my stepfather, telling him approximately what my opinion of the portrait businessSee letter of September 27 (?), 1904. was—which I have no doubt I shall live to regret. Heaven be praised Mr. Carter did not send me the letter of introduction, so all ended most satisfactorily. I went into some other matters in the letter to my stepfather, which had recently struck my fevered brain, and the epistle was a very pretty one. Matters with the temper reached a climax when on my arrival here I discovered that the man who valeted me in London had packed someone else’s very dirty linen in my box, and left mine behind. Upon this I kicked the offending articles of attire round the room for ten minutes, using the most blood-curdling Spanish oaths I could think of, and when weary, sat down and have been feeling much better ever since.

The wicked have continued to trouble me, trying to induce me to go to many pleasant places while I should be in Germany. I have sternly refused them, much to their surprise. If they had known Spanish, I might have explained in a little copla—

Esclavo soy, pero cúyo

esto no lo diré yo

pero cúyo soy me mandó

no dijese que era suyo. “I am a slave, but whose / I shall not tell you; / but she whose slave I am ordered me / not to say that I was hers.” Attributed to Sevillan poet Baltasar de Alcazár (1530–1606). See José María Alín, ed., Cancionero tradicional (Madrid: Editorial Castalia, 1991), 294, no. 452. Royall Tyler later stated that Mildred Barnes was the instrument of his going to Germany to learn German; see letters of June 3, 1905, and February 20, 1906.

Cúyo is “whose,” dijese is the imperfect subjunctive of the verb decir “say.” Spanish is a good language for epigrams. I took your ticket to the British Museum,The British Museum, London, a museum of human history and culture that was established in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759. The British Museum was unique because it housed both a national museum of antiquities and a national library in the same building. (The national library moved to a new site in 1997.) Mildred Barnes had a reader’s card for the national library. and applied for one myself. When they asked my age, I very stupidly said I was under 21, and they would not let me in at all. I will go as soon as I am in London again, and try to find your book. I wish you had been at Mass at Farm StreetChurch of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, a Jesuit church in the Mayfair district of London. See also letters of August 19, 1903, and September 16, 1904. on the Sunday after you left town. They sang Gounod’s SolennelleCharles-François Gounod (1818–1893), a French composer who wrote the Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile (1855) in tribute of the patron saint of musicians. at the Sanctus, and though I am all with the Gregorian chant in theory, it is a lovely thing. The last Sunday I went to Notre Dame,Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, a Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris. where the music was very bad indeed. In the afternoon I went to Chantilly.Château de Chantilly (rebuilt in 1875–1881), a château located in the town of Chantilly, outside of Paris. The château houses several collections, including a museum of paintings, as well as a large park with formal gardens designed by André Le Nôtre in 1662–1664. The property was bequeathed to the Institut de France in 1897. The day was perfect, and after seeing the nice pictures, I walked for hours and hours through the avenues, covered with dead leaves, until it was quite dark. There was hardly anyone there, as it was the day of a great race meeting at Auteuil.Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil, a hurdle race for horses five years or older held yearly at Auteuil. TodayAnniversary. needless to relate, I went to Saint Germain des Prés,The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, on the Left Bank in Paris, was built between 990 and 1014. This church was the site of the Anniversary. and after communing with myself there for some time, went to Versailles,Versailles, a city outside of Paris best known for its royal château, the Palace of Versailles. still unbaptized.Royall Tyler was raised as a Christian Scientist, a religion that did not practice the sacrament of baptism. He periodically entertained the idea of converting to Catholicism, but never did so. It was a perfect day again, and I had a nice time. It is so much better than on a Sunday. There was no one there, with the exception of one or two delightful rheumatic old gentlemen in black clothes and top hats, whom I was pleased to see. More dead leaves. I commiserate with you, that you have none at Venice.Mildred Barnes visited Robert Woods Bliss in Venice, where he was U.S. consul in 1903–1904. She departed for the United States in early November 1904. For more on this visit in Venice, see The Early Letters (1902–1908).

I sent you from London the book of Hume’s on Spain.Martin Andrew Sharp Hume, The Spanish People: Their Origin, Growth, And Influence (London: W. Heinemann, 1901). See also letters of June 14, 1904, and July 14, 1905. In excuse I can only say that I was having a nerve killed by the dentist at the time and you will be glad to hear that ordering it afforded me some relief. Did you get the pearls, for my stepfather from Streeter’s?Edwin William Streeter (1824–1923), a London jeweler who owned a shop on Bond Street. Look at them. The one on the pin was one of a pair of earrings. Was it not a pity to separate them? The other is adorning my person at the present moment. That reminds me of a pious wish I formed at Versailles this afternoon, that next autumn I may see the fox-lined cloak there. It would be so nice. I have been reading the Song of SolomonSong of Solomon, a book of 117 verses in the Old Testament. The poem narrates the courtship and consummation of a man and a woman. of late. Parts of it are the most purely beautiful passages in English I know. I saw at the British Museum the writing of Melanchthon.Philipp Melanchthon (born Philipp Schwartzerd) (1497–1560), a German professor, theologian, and principal leader of the Lutheran Reformation. I am anxious to know about him. Only I don’t write with a blunt pen as he does.

How I should like to stay here and live on the other side of the river and really learn to speak and write French. It may come after all sometime. I saw SyngeRobert Follett Synge (1835–1920). in London. He says I have practically no chance of having my nomination accepted by the Government, whoever it comes from. I think if it were not for the occasional pleasure the thought that I am purely an adventurer gives me, I would throw away all thought of continuing with it. Anyone can be an adventurer at Paris, but it is a much more difficult and attractive pastime in the neighbourhood of Downing Street (where the Foreign Office is). Hoping that this great anniversary has found things well with you.

Yrs. sincerely

Royall Tyler.

 

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