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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, January 12, 1908

55 rue de Verneuil.

Jan. 12th 1908.

Dear Mildred.

Since your telegram reached me I have been on the point of writing, but have not done so because I had hardly anything to tell you that you did not know already. Also I hoped to hear from you, with an explanation or amplification of the telegram.Although the subject of this telegram is unknown, it may have involved Mildred Barnes’s deepening relationship with Robert Woods Bliss, with whom she spent the Christmas holiday in Washington, D.C. However, I thank you for sending it. I appreciated it.

It is Sunday morning, and I am sitting in a dressing gown, just having finished my breakfast. The clock points 11.25. This, I would have you observe, is far from my general rule, which is 7.45, and ice-cold bath. It would be worth it if only for the joy of wallowing on the seventh day. You will recognize the Christian conception of Heaven. We are all wretched creatures, capable of nothing but plagiarisms.

I am working hard. Harder than I did last spring. I have undertaken several jobsThe nature of these jobs is unidentified. beside the School, which may be foolish, it is too soon to tell yet. At any rate it is a magnificent way of passing the time, and of making it an imperative necessity to take the three weeks holyday I intend if you come to Spain in the Spring—at Easter.

I think I told you that I passed the examinations I went in for last June. This June I intend to try for the rest—the Diploma. I don’t feel at all sure of doing it, but after all the School is the main thing at present and I mean to stick to it until I get the Diploma, though the very thought of examinations is loathsome. What the other matters I have in hand are I will explain to you when we meet.

At New Year I used my ten days holyday for a quiet little journey to Barcelona—2 days—Madrid—3 days—and S. Jean de Luz—3 days—with four nights in the train, third class the whole way. It was glorious. The two days at Barcelona like the best of May in Paris, and the réveillonRéveillon, a long dinner and possibly a party held on the evenings preceding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. with all the dagoA usually derogatory term that Royall Tyler is using for “Spaniard.” patriots, and a bomb thrown in gratis! Even Madrid was warm. I must try to give you a description of the three weeks I passed there in the Autumn, it was very amusing. By the way, will you please give my compliments to your sister,See letter of September 24, 1907. and beg her to excuse me for not having come to bid her farewell in the evening of her departure, as I had promised? I went out of town that day to see a picture and could not get back until late at night.

If you come at Easter—and will you please let me know by cable as soon as it is settled?—I will come down to meet you at Gibraltar, Algeciras, or where you will. Also I beg of you to explain to your companions the following: Holy Week at Seville is no better than a side show at Earl’s Court.Earl's Court, an inner-city district in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. The town is bursting with tourists, for whose numbers the accommodations are wholly insufficient; the processions are looked upon as a huge jest, all the roman soldiers are drunk, and when a simple-hearted soul sings his lament to the Virgin, the wailing is drowned by whoops of vinous mirth. As a spectacle of human degradation, with African fanaticism and all the swinish bawdery of an European city as pretty well-matched rivals, the thing is complete. Not even the approving cultured audience with Barrès’ “du Sang, de la Volupté et de la Mort” under its arm,Maurice Barrès (1862–1923), a French novelist, journalist, and politician. Du sang, de la volupté, et de la mort (Paris: Bibliothèque-Charpentier, 1894) was an account of his travels. is wanting. But I don’t see you looking at it with them. It is interesting, no doubt; but some things are too much. I am not squeamish, and it put a bad taste in my mouth which lasted some time and I dare say dirtied me a good deal as well. I doubt if you would enjoy Andalucía much for a week or two after it. I would suggest going to see the Holy Week at Jaén. It is far more violent and sincere there, with all the fierceness of Andalucía and a good deal of what seems to other people blasphemy as well, but at least the approving cultured audience is wanting, as also the dregs of a great modern city. To come down to practical considerations, we would probably be the only Non-Spaniards there, and have the hotel to ourselves. Now don’t you agree with me?

If you do, we might plan the thing thus. Supposing you arrive at Gibraltar on April 1st or soon after. Ronda, Granada, Jaén for the latter part of holy week and Easter Sunday (April 19th), then back to Cordova, Sevilla, and so up to Madrid. This might easily be done in several other ways, it all depends or when you arrive. A lot of travelling back and forth has to be done in Andalucía anyway. It can’t be avoided. If you come just a tiny bit earlier, even if you arrived by April 1st one might do it thus. Ronda (1 day), Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, arriving at Jaén in time for the celebrations. Of course some of these places one might well stay much longer, but I am inclined to think it is as well to see them rapidly on a first visit, to get a general impression of the whole. Also I have only 3 weeks to spend with you, and I cannot bear the idea of wasting it all on Andalucía, which as you know, is not the serious part of Spain. I must be with you for a little in Castile—Toledo for instance and Ávila if possible.

If we are to be a party in any case, may I bring Miguel Utrillo?Miguel Utrillo (1862–1934), a Spanish painter and art critic. He is the most tactful man I know, wholly delightful, speaks all languages and knows Spain inch by inch (which would save us much time and trouble). Also it is most important for the execution of a plan we have up our sleevesPossibly a reference to Spain, a Study of Her Life and Arts. Tyler writes in the preface: “I have to express my warmest thanks to my friend Miguel Utrillo, editor of Forma, for the ground plans and the great majority of the photographs reproduced, and for his encouragement and help, without which I should have hardly undertaken this book. I must also thank T. R. Castle for much valuable assistance.” that we should be able to do some exploring together in the big towns of Andalucía. And I am anxious that you should know him for the remembrance of him is a pure joy. Though I don’t know the people whom you are bringing, I dare assure you that Utrillo will fit in. All those places in Spain are so small and so full of people at that time that one is absolutely certain to run into people one knows. I expect several other friends of mine to be there at the same time. If the thing could have been arranged for the autumn, we would have had the country to ourselves. However, that shall happen another time.

When I was in Madrid in the Autumn, I divided my days equally between pictures and the Sessions of the Spanish Parliament, which is extremely amusing. My nights I spent beating the low quarters of Madrid in company of one Soriano, Rodrigo Soriano,Rodrigo Soriano (1868–1944), a Spanish politician and journalist. In 1904, he founded and published España Nueva, a Republican newspaper See also letter of October 26, 1908. who leads the revolutionary party in the Cortes.Cortes Generales, the legislature of Spain. He is a Marques in his own right but doesn’t use the title; very rich and spends it all on politics and his newspaper “España Nueva,” a sort of Cataline-Hearst.William Randolph Hearst (1863–1951), a wealthy American newspaper magnate and publisher. His days he spends in harassing the ministry and his nights in prowling the Tenderloin of Madrid in company of a motley gang of bullfighters, guitar players and assassins. Every few years he goes to Morocco, which land he dearly loves. His descriptions of it and of the Moors are curious and instructive. Alas for Cunningham [sic] Graham’sRobert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852–1936) traveled in Morocco in 1897 and coauthored the 1904 book The Truth about Morocco with Moussa Aflalo. version of the noble Moorish chieftain, astride of his fiery barb, scouring the desert, and spurning civilization and its degradations! It appears that the Moor doesn’t indulge in these latter because he can’t get at them. Soriano was at Rabat last summer when the Sultan’s army arrived and found a store of rum. Sheikhs, KadisMuslim judges. and, as far as they could, private soldiers were roaring drunk for four days—till the rum ran dry. All Hell let loose in the town, not a woman escaped. It is quite clear why Soriano is so fond of Morocco.

I have many stories of Madrid to tell you, but you will appreciate them more when you know the place. The more [sic] it the better I like it, it is so genuinely national, smacks so strong of Spain, except for the froth at the top which having been French, is now English. Even this froth doesn’t cover all the top, there are plenty of the old grandees left, Spanish through and through, who eat the ollaOlla, a ceramic jar used for cooking stews and soups (which themselves are sometimes called olla). and rice of their fathers on ancestral gold plate, who keep their retinue of bullfighters and murderers, and sit and clap their hands to the sound of a guitar on festive occasions. There is one such in particular—the Duke of TamamesJosé Mexía del Barco y Gayoso de los Cobos, 4th Duke of Tamames (1853–1917).—who keeps open house for all his friends in a huge XVIIth cent. palace, in which nothing has been changed, from the tapestries to the servants’ livery, in a couple of centuries. The Duke himself is a rather motheaten-looking little man, with spectacles and the appearance of a mild village apothecary. All this enhances the surprise when he speaks. He has a voice like a foghorn, and after simmering for some time in silence, he bursts forth into a tirade which takes one’s breath away when one is unprepared. Add to this a proverbially goatish disposition and a wifeMaría de la Asuncion Fitz-James-Stuart y Palafox, 3rd Duchess of Galisteo (1851–1927). who wears a hair shirt and is a sort of amateur nun. He is kindly withal, very good to the stranger, and a keen patron of art (especially dramatic). At midday the huge tapestried hall of his palace fills with the strangest crowd. Actors, priests, poets, painters, writers and brother grandees. The doors are always open. Suddenly the great man makes his appearance with a body of stout serving men at his back, who separate the sheep from the goats at a glance from their Lord’s bead-like eye. If one has the luck to be of the sheep, one stays to lunch and seldom escapes before nightfall—sometimes not before the following day.

I am alone here at present. Fortunately, for I am able to do my work and to read a little as well and find myself abominably self sufficient. Lyulph Howard is with his family, he does not return till February. Castle is at Berlin. I shall be alone until the end of the month, when I expect Konrad v. KardorffKonrad von Kardorff (1877–1945), a painter and member of the Berlin Secession. See letters of June 3, 1905; September 1, 1905; and April 12, 1910. for a few days. I wrote to you about him when I left Germany, do you remember? His father,Wilhelm von Kardorff (1828–1907), a German parliamentarian in the time of Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm II. See letters of June 3, 1905, and April 12, 1910. magnificent old man, died last autumn, after leading the Conservative party in the ReichstagReichstag, the parliament of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945. for years, and K. v K.Konrad von Kardorff (1877–1945), a painter and member of the Berlin Secession. See letters of June 3, 1905; September 1, 1905; and April 12, 1910. who is a painter, is coming to spend some time in Paris, which he has not seen for nearly 10 years, when he spent two years here. He is a very thorough person, a workmanlike painter, and extremely sharp and delicate in his mental apparatus, though he keeps this for himself and a few friends—not priggishly—but he is so sick of the aestheticizing atmosphere of Berlin. His elder brotherSiegfried von Kardorff (1873–1945), a German politician. See letter of April 12, 1910. is in The Diplomatic, I rather imagine at Washington, though I am not sure.

I beg for a letter, and news of the possibilities of Spain, but would give all for a cablegram with date of your landing at Gibraltar.

Yours sincerely

Royall Tyler

 

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