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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, October 10, 1905

Paris

Oct. 10th 1905

Dear Mildred.

The day is here once more.Anniversary. It seems to me that the last year has gone horribly fast. I shall never forget the state of depression I was in just a year ago when on the eve of departing for the wilds of Germany, which, as you know, turned out to be much better wilds than I had imagined.

Lyulph Howard is still with me. I did not take him to Mass at S. Germain des PrésThe 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. with me this morning, but I did take him to Versailles this afternoon, and he rewarded me by seeing it. We had several desperate fights, about books, pictures and people. The last and worst was over Henry VIIIHenry VIII (1491–1547), king of England from 1509 until 1547. whom I hate. He, though that monarch beheaded two of his ancestors and entreated a kinswoman shamefully,Anne Boleyn (ca. 1501/1507–1536), the second wife of Henry VIII and the first cousin of Catherine Howard (ca. 1520/1525–1542), the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Henry VIII had both beheaded for treason. The kinswoman is probably Agnes Howard (née Tilney) (ca. 1477–1545), the second wife of Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, who as Dowager Duchess was sentenced to imprisonment and forfeiture of her lands and goods. likes him. He draws not badly sometimes, and writes a good deal, but since I gave him Tristram ShandyTristram Shandy (The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman), a novel by Laurence Sterne (1713–1768), published in nine volumes beginning in 1759. to read he has imitated Sterne’s style without being aware of it, and badly. How weak we are! I wonder whose style I imitate without suspecting it for a moment.

I was so near sending you some thing of Marcel SchwobMarcel Schwob (1867–1905), a French writer. See also letters of August 1, 1905; September 1, 1905; November 1, 1905; April 11, 1906; and September 1, 1906. and behold! you know him. I confess the fault. It was nearly as bad as my asking you if you had ever heard of Omar KhayamOmar al-Khayyám (1048–1142), a Persian astronomer, philosopher, mathematician, and poet. He is best known for the rubaiyaas (quatrains) in the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which were popularized by the embellished translations of Edward FitzGerald. that day at Meissen.Royall Tyler and Mildred Barnes were likely together in Meissen, Germany, in 1902. He is exquisite—Marcel Schwob—and not many people seem to know him. One is almost led to hope that he’ll never be vulgarized.

This time of year at Paris always makes me try to reconstruct myself—of former years. Here I can’t refrain from quoting M. S.Marcel Schwob (1867–1905), a French writer. though I disobey him—“bâtis ta maison toi-même, et brûle-la toi-même.”“Build your house yourself, and burn it yourself.” Marcel Schwob, Le livre de Monelle (Paris: L. Chailley, 1894) I approve infinitely—but simply can’t do it. I began at Madrid—I couldn’t help it. When I went to the Prado,Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, a museum with holdings of European paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from the twelfth century to the early nineteenth century. I found that I didn’t feel the same about any one picture, which awakened my curiosity. What will you say when I tell you that I like TiepoloGiovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770), a Venetian painter and printmaker. See also letters of February 20, 1906, and April 11, 1906. very much? Shall we draw knives over him some day, or have you possibly also veered? Perhaps it may amuse you to hear sometime how it was that I began to like him—it is too long for this letter—and I must have the use of my hands.

But what a thing it would be if you could come to Spain next Spring! I feel it my duty to tell you that Autumn is the time to go there. The tourists are far fewer in Autumn—and the sky is more magnificent, it is more highly coloured. The chopos which grows along the rivers in Castile turn to as beautiful colours as the maples. We went to stay with the Padre de Lecanda at Alcalá de Henares, and were there three days. He is charming. He never asked Lyulph Howard whether he were Protestant or not. He has been writing in the papers a good deal conducting a fierce propaganda against the municipal architects, and when they reply in the Press he writes to them inviting them to come and have it out with him face to face. So far none have come. He told me rather a pleasant tale—when he was catechizing a little girl, one day, he asked her—And Our Lady del Pilar,Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a church and shrine in Zaragoza, Spain. Legend says that Saint James the Greater was preaching the Gospel in Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza) when he saw a vision of the Virgin Mary atop a column or pillar carried by angels. That pillar is believed to be the one in the church in Zaragoza. what relation should you say she was to Our Lady del Val?There are several religious institutions dedicated to Our Lady of the Valley (Nuestra Señora del Val), including the hermitage in Montejo in the province of Salamanca.

Oh, I think they must be cousins.

They have just discovered at Alcalá the chapel in which CervantesMiguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547–1616), a Spanish writer. was baptized,Cervantes was baptized in the Capilla del Oidor (judge's chapel) of the church of Santa María la Mayor in Alcalá de Henares, Spain, on October 9, 1547. a priceless thing in the Mudéjar style.Mudéjar, an architectural and decorative style in twelfth- to sixteenth-century Spain that was influenced by Arab (Moorish) taste and workmanship. No sooner did they see it than they sent for an architect,The Capilla del Oidor was restored in 1905 by the architect Luis María Cabello y Lapiedra (1863–1936) of Madrid. and, in spite of the protestations and finally threats of vengeance of the Padre de Lecanda, they have restored it so that it looks as spick and span as a plaster model in the Met. Mus. of New York.

People are finally waking up to the fact that El GrecoEl Greco (Doménikos Theotokópoulos) (1541–1614), a Greek-born artist of the Spanish Renaissance. Royall Tyler championed his art in Spain, a Study of Her Life and Arts, 202–3. is one of the greatest painters of time. A nice Spaniard is writing a book about him.Probably Manuel B. Cossío, El Greco (Madrid, 1907). His pictures are going up in price enormously, which is a sure sign. Do you remember his picture of San FernandoRoyall Tyler is referring to El Greco, Saint Louis, King of France, and a Pageboy (1585–1590), a portrait acquired by the Musée du Louvre in 1903. The painting was previously identified as a portrait of Saint Fernando (1199–1252), the king of Castile from 1217 and the king of León from 1230. Canonized in 1671, he is referred as Fernando el Santo, San Fernando, or San Fernando Rey. at the Louvre? I was able to gather some amusing tales about him in Spain.See also Royall Tyler, Spain, a Study of Her Life and Arts, 202. I suppose they are at least possibly apocryphical [sic], but that does them little harm. Among other things he resided for years at Toledo before he would deign to learn to speak Spanish. Also he had everlasting fights with Philip the Second,Philip II (1527–1598), king of Spain, Portugal, Naples, and Sicily. whose court painter he was for some time.El Greco painted at the court of Philip II for only a short period (ca. 1579–1582). The King thought El Greco used too much green, blue and yellow,Probably in reference to the painting Martyrdom of St. Maurice (1580–1582) in the chapter house of the Monasterio de San Lorenzo at El Escorial, Spain. whereas El Greco replied that with a handcart load of blue, and another of yellow, he would paint his Majesty such a picture as never was seen. The King dismissed him in a rage. And he lived ever afterwards with the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo,Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas (1546–1618), archbishop of Toledo, and a priest, scholar, and art patron. who appreciated him, and doubtless was glad to save him from the dangers attending upon Court painters, though he was violent enough to be fairly safe from them.

Your penciled note was very tantalizing. I was indeed relieved by that sentence. Silence is golden about Germany. It sounds as if you were coming, but do tell me where it is to be. Frankly I think you had almost as well stay at home as go to Cassel. I learnt German there but nothing else. And it is not judging Prussia fairly to go to a town where there is nothing but bureaucrats and military. They are all you can see there, except the ever present Spiesser, and at Cassel they all live in the most appalling promiscuity—Leutnant overlaps Spiesser, and Spiesser overlaps Rechtsanwalt.In essence, “the second lieutenant (Leutnant) overlaps the bourgeois (Spiesser) and the bourgeois overlap the lawyer (Rechtsanwalt).” I don’t imagine Freiburg is much better. In fact I think it is a pity if you don’t go to Berlin, and such a pity, for Berlin is a sight for Gods and if one doesn’t court foreigners there, one needn’t see any. There aren’t nearly as many relatively as at Dresden or Munich, or any of the big towns. It strikes me suddenly that I wrote that passage word for word in a former letter.See letter of September 1, 1905. I beg your pardon. Only write soon and put me out of my misery.

I intend to live for a year here—perhaps more—I don’t know yet. If I find I can go to the Sorbonne ect [sic] conferencesCollège de Sorbonne, a college of the University of Paris founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon. Its faculty is required to give public lectures (called conferences). with profit, and if I find any one to play with I shall. I only know people who, though they are charming, are not interested in the things I care for, or if they are they are “souls” from whom Heaven preserve us all. It is strange perhaps, but having started with that sort of people it is very difficult to remove into another world, and besides Bohemian and literary London, or as much as I know of it, is far more distasteful to me than Barbary.Tyler’s use of the term “Barbary” is probably a slang reference to the Wapping docklands area of East London, one of the areas where the cockney accent is found. There is nothing so powerful, so overwhelming, as a trace of Cockney accent, or of Anglo-Saxon snobbishness, and one or the other is ever lurking in Literary London. One fear is always assailing me—that if I live in Paris I may lose my grip of English. It would be an irreparable calamity if I ceased to think in it, for what would there be left? And there are compensating inconveniences attending on a readiness in picking up tongues. I am quite sure that my accent is quite different now from what it was two years ago.

The people that sat in darkness have seen a great light.An allusion to Matthew 4:18. A man has appeared in Spain—coming from Nicaragua, by the way—who has done wonders with the Castillian tongue. Unamuno, after all is only a philosopher, and they always write jargon. This man is a poet in prose and verse, and writes a sinuous living Spanish, instead of fumbling with the dry bones of notions of style of the last century. Naturally he is called a degenerate, presumably because he has created something. His name is Ruben Darío,Félix Rubén García Sarmiento, known as Rubén Darío (1867–1916), a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the literary movement modernismo that had a lasting influence on twentieth-century literature in Spain. and unfortunately he is very alcoholic and won’t last probably, but he has given a strong impulse in the right direction, to Spanish letters. I have just read an essay of his on Venice,Probably the chapter “Venecia” from Rubén Darío, Tierras solares (Madrid: Williams, 1904), 169–80. which strikes me as so juste that I must translate it for you—but it’s very like the letter I wrote you from Venice. That perhaps explains my enthusiasm for him.

I’m so glad you have read the “Reisebilder,”Heinrich Heine, Reisebilder (Hamburg: Hoffman und Campe, 1826–1830), a four-volume work combining autobiography, social criticism, and literary debate. See also letters of February 16, 1905, and June 4, 1905. they are sublime. Now try the “Florentinische Nächte”Heinrich Heine, Florentinische Nächte (1836), a fragment from a novel originally rejected by his publisher that he published as a novella. or a book about Germany, whose title I can’t remember, unless it’s merely “Deutschland.”Probably Heinrich Heine, Zur Geschichte der Religion und Philosophie in Deutschland (1832). It is an obsession with me. The prose of poets is so sympathetic to me.

I find that I want so much to go to Holland. Are you going there this time? I began a tale which opened (and has remained) at The Hague, and since that day I have not stopped longing to see the scenes I have described from a distant recollection.The manuscript, if preserved, is unknown. Also I like Dutch pictures more and more—de HooghPieter de Hooch (1629–1684) a Dutch genre painter. and Jan SteenJan Havickszoon Steen (ca. 1626–1679), a Dutch genre painter. and a certain I. Ver Meer,Johannes (or Jan) Vermeer (d. 1675), a Dutch painter. and of course the really big ones, RembrandtRembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606–1669), a Dutch painter and etcher. and Hals.Frans Hals (the Elder) (ca. 1580–1666), a Dutch painter. Also I like less and less the Florentines, and more and more the Venetians, Milanese, ect [sic]. I have always nourished a dislike for Botticelli,Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi) (ca. 1445–1510), a Florentine painter. and the gang, including Perugino,Pietro Perugino, born Pietro Vannucci (ca. 1446/1450–1523), an Italian painter of the Umbrian school. and Rafael [sic],Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino) (1483–1520), an Italian painter and architect. except some splendid portraits. Then the Ferrara people are quite unbearable to me. By their fruits shall he know them, and the Pre-Rafaelites [sic]Pre-Raphaelites (or the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), a group of English painters, poets, and critics founded in 1848 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt. The Pre-Raphaelites wanted to return to the detail and jewel-like colors of fifteenth-century Italian art before Raphael and his successors. in England have done more to produce the literary and artistic hysterical snob than anything else.

I rather think there are going to be some Spanish painters soon, from Barcelona. The Castilians, whom I love, do not seem to be able to do anything except steal my heart from me. I saw a few good Spanish pictures at Venice, among a multitude of horribly bad ones from all corners of the earth in the biannual exhibition.The Venice Biennale, an international contemporary art exhibition that began in 1895. Such English pictures as there are there! Commend me to a modern English allegory of the triumph of love or some thing “in das Ort.”“In that vicinity.”

I await your letter eagerly. I will look up Robert soon.Robert Woods Bliss was posted as second secretary of the U.S. Embassy in Saint Petersburg between 1904 and 1907. He took a three-month vacation in France in fall 1905, when it is possible that Royall Tyler would have seen him. We came straight from Madrid. I didn’t dare to stop at Burgos for fear L. H. would fall in love with it, and how should I have explained to him that the 10thAnniversary. must be spent at Paris? I send you a French view of the Peace.An unclear reference; possibly a view of the Rue de la Paix, Hôtel de la Paix, or Café de la Paix in Paris.

Yours sincerely

Royall Tyler.

 

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