Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, February 16, 1905
I was pleased to get your letter—and look forward to the tome eagerly. But when you send it, do write the address distinctly, and put the 181 after the Wahlershausen, for the German, with all his depth, cannot fathom the mystery of an envelope that is not addressed as he has always seen them addressed, and I have had to wait days for letters time after time for some slight irregularity of the sort.
At various times, I have imagined that I was bored, but I have discovered in the last four months that no one has any right to talk about being bored unless he has undergone the experience in Germany. It is not boredom alone. It is the impotent rage that the sight of so many Germans produces, and the everlasting effort to explain to one’s self how the creatures came to write music or poetry. But I must not allow myself to speak of the Germans in general—only will I venture to say that if one had to be a German, there are two careers open in the land, either of which I think one might follow with pleasure and profit. One should either be an officer in a Guards Cavalry regiment,Guard Cavalry Regiments, the elite troops charged with guarding the kaiser and handling the toughest battle situations. The 14th Hussars of the Guard “Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Homburg” comprised the cavalry regiment of Kassel. or the editor of such a periodical as Zukunft,Die Zukunft (“The Future”), a German social-democratic weekly newspaper founded and edited by Maximilian Harden, the pen name of Felix Ernst Witkowski (1861–1927), a Jew. The paper was published between 1892 and 1923. which, by the way, is extraordinarily good. In the latter case one would of course be a Jew, and spend one’s summer Holydays in prison.In the summer of 1899, Maximilian Harden, the Jewish editor and publisher of Die Zukunft, served six months in prison, having been convicted of lèse majesté in comparing the kaiser to a poodle prince. See “Charged with Lese Majeste; Six Months in Jail for Comparing the Kaiser to a Poodle Prince,” New York Times, May 16, 1899. You see what I mean. One should be either all for it or all against it. I think of the two the lot of the Jewish editor would be preferable. He tastes joys such as only the great toreros“Bullfighters.” can hope to share.
Before I came to Germany I disliked Jews. Now I adore them. The way they are treated here, and the reading of HeineChristian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), a German writer. He was born into a Jewish family but converted to Christianity in 1825. has brought this about. One very rarely hears of anyone doing anything in Germany that would suggest the possession of a Sense of Humour, but when one does, the man is a Jew. On the whole I think the way they take their treatment is admirable. They say very little about it, and revenge themselves quietly when occasion offers by showing the German up for what he is. I believe the greatest danger which menaces Germany, and the reason why the country will never be predominant in Europe is that same lack of Sense of Humour, and its companion, a tendency to taking themselves seriously that one cannot realize until one has heard a room full of fabulous frumpy bourgeois throwing such titles at each other’s heads as “Herr Forst-und-Regierung’s Rat”“Mr. Forest-and-Government Counsel” or “Frau Predigt-Amts-Kandidat.”“Mrs. Ministry Candidate” I have heard of countless Germans who, having money and nothing to do, have passed some ridiculous examination merely to have the privilege of calling themselves “Herr Doctor” or “Herr Musik-Director.”
A curious phenomenon here is the enormous number of intelligent people who kill themselves. I find it perfectly natural—nay more—it seems to me logical. But then I am prejudiced. I believe the reading of NietzscheFriedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900), a German philosopher and classical philologist. Royall Tyler may be referring generally to his nihilistic statements, such as “God is dead,” or more specifically to his 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 June 4, 1905. has something to do with it—but I suspect that Nietzsche is more of an explanation than a cause.
I have read such an amazing amount in different tongues since I last wrote to you, that I hardly know where to begin. First I would direct your attention to two marriage hymns by Catullus, Nos. LXI and LXII.Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84–ca. 54 BCE), a Roman poet. He wrote two marriage hymns to his love (whom he called Lesbia), in which he espoused the deepening of profound friendship into the commitment of a marriage of “love which will grow and endure as ivy clings to the trees.” The unanswerable question arises whether Royall Tyler’s recommendation of these poems on marriage to Mildred Barnes is strictly intellectual or deliberately calculated. They are far from easy to read, but I advise you to worry them till you find the sense. I think they are the two most exquisite lyrics I have ever seen. If you do succeed in reading Catullus, I fear HoraceHorace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65–8 BCE), a Roman poet. will lose much of his charm for you. It seems to me that there is little in those of his OdesThe Odes (or Carmina), a collection in four books of the lyric poems of Horace. which I like most that one cannot trace directly to Catullus. Of course the EpistlesThe Letters (or Epistles) of Horace were published in two books (Epistularum liber primus and Epistularum liber secundus) in 20 BCE and 14 BCE, respectively. and SatiresThe Satires (or Satirae/Sermones), a collection of satirical poems written by Horace circa 35–30 BCE; the poems deal with human happiness and literary perfection. remain, and the triumphal things to AugustusCarmen Saeculare, a hymn written by Horace under the commission of the Emperor Augustus in 17 BCE. Written in the form of a prayer addressed to Apollo and Diana, the Carmen Saeculare also commemorates the achievements of the Emperor Augustus.—these last are not for me (I mean the triumphal things. I love the Ep. and Sat.).
Then I must tell you of the “Poema del Cid.”El cantar del mio Cid, the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem. Per Abbad signed the only existing manuscript copy and dated it 1207. Because it is not a cantar but a poem made up of three cantares, the work is also known as El poema del Cid. The poem narrates the exploits of an eleventh-century Spanish hero, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, known by his Moorish name El Cid (“the leader”). Here words fail. It is Spanish of the 12th or 13th century, but quite easy to read, and it recounts the faits et gestes“Doings.” of the Cid “Myo Cid—el de Bivar, que en Buena hora nacío”“My Cid, of Bivar, who was born in a good hour.” as the man puts it. There is only one manuscript in existence, and 3 pages out of 70 are missing. Unhappily the famous scene where the Cid makes the King sware [sic] that he had no hand in his brother’s death is lost. This is a pity, for one knows that the Cid was the only man in Spain who dared to give the oath, and that he gave it three times in very strong terms. The metre is thus,
“Fabla, Pero Mudo, varon de tanto callas.
“Pero Bermuez compeço de fablar
“Detienes le la lengua, non sabe delibrar,
“Mas cuando compreza,Most editions transcribe “quando enpieça” instead of “cuando compreza.” sabet, nol da vagar.”“Speak, mute Pedro, you completely silent man. / But Bermúdez starts to speak / but his tongue stops him, he cannot begin. / But once he has begun, know, he does not hesitate.” It is not clear what edition or manuscript is being quoted for this stanza, as the lines are, in fact, here combined from two separate stanzas in El Cid. See Ramón Menéndez Pidal and W. S. Merwin, Poema del Cid (New York: New American Library, 1962), 272.
As it stands, there are nearly 4000 lines, and such lines. I hope the time is not distant when we shall be able to read it—it is a priceless thing. I have read a good many books, “Lazarillo de Tormes”La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades, a Spanish novella published anonymously in 1554 in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. among them, but I can’t speak of him. It is the most famous of the “Novelas picarescas”—“picaro” means rogue, and was written by D. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza,Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503–1575), a Spanish novelist, poet, diplomat, and historian. The attribution of La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades to him is now rejected by most scholars. grande de España, who held many high offices of State in the middle of the 16th century—a brother of the Marquis de los Velez,This is incorrect. Diego Hurtado was the brother of Luis Hurtado de Mendoza y Pacheco (1489–1556), 2nd Marqués de Mondéjar. Luis Yáñez Fajardo y La Cueva, 2nd Marqués de los Vélez (d. 1575), was a Spanish nobleman and military officer who, as captain-general of the Kingdom of Granada, attacked the Moors at Alpujarrosin in early January 1569. the General in the War of the Alpujarros,The Morisco Revolt occurred in 1568–1571 in the Alpujarra area in what is now Andalusia. It was a rebellion of the remnants of the Muslim community against the Crown of Castile. the last Moorish war in Spain. Lazarillo was a picaro, and he recounts his adventures as servant of many masters.
De Unamuno has been having an exciting year. The King came and visited him for three days,In 1905, King Alfonso XIII honored Miguel de Unamuno with the Cross of the Order of Alfonso XII, an award for excellence in education, culture, teaching, or research. Upon receiving the medal, Unamuno reportedly said: “La merezco” (I deserve it). The king, taken aback, remarked that most recipients said that they did not deserve it. Unamuno is said to have replied: “¡Y tenían razón!” (And they’re right!). See Miguel de Unamuno, San Manuel Bueno, mártir, ed. Tom and Connie Lathrop (Newark, Del.: Cervantes, 2009), 9. which, considering the fact that he is excommunicated, gives him much legitimate joy. He is now publishing his great work—a commentary upon the Quijote.Miguel de Unamuno, Vida de d. Quijote y Sancho (Madrid: Fernando Fe, 1905). Although the Vida de d. Quijote y Sancho serves as a companion to Don Quixote by Cervantes (as it follows almost page-by-page the thread of adventures described by Cervantes’s Don Quixote), Unamuno’s Don Quixote is treated as a Christ-like figure on a divine mission who comes to represent the spirituality of the Spanish people. He tells me that one of the principal themes in it may be summed up “The tyranny of science is worse than the tyranny of the Church.” I’m glad he sees it, but I told him so myself for the first time just a year ago, and he fought violently with me about it for a week. I am delighted, as you may imagine. He has written me a good many very delightful letters, which you must see.None of these letters has been preserved. Royall Tyler’s letters to Unamuno, written in Spanish, are preserved in the Unamuno archives at the Universidad de Salamanca, T-34-36. See M. Thomas Inge, "Unamuno's Correspondence with North Americans: A Checklist," Hispania 53, no. 2 (May 1970): 285. I have read for the first time a book of his called “En Torno al Casticismo”Miguel de Unamuno’s En torno al casticismo (1895) began as a series of essays that attempted to define Spain's character and its collective psychology; they appeared sequentially in the Madrid journal La España moderna (February–June 1895) and were collected in En torno al casticismo (Madrid: Francisco Fe, 1902), the first published book by Miguel de Unamuno. which I like very much, and had the temerity to tell him so; he is about as much pleased with it now as WagnerRichard Wagner (1813–1883), a German composer and conductor primarily known for his operas. was with “Tannhäuser”Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg, an early opera completed by Richard Wagner in 1845. after he had produced the “Ring.”Der Ring des Nibelungen, a cycle of four operas composed by Richard Wagner between 1848 and 1874. He has also sent me his essay on Walton,Miguel de Unamuno, “El perfecto pescador de caña (después de leer a Walton),” La lectura, revista de ciencias y de artes 4, no. 2 (1904): 447–58. For Miguel de Unamuno’s friendship with Royall Tyler, see Manuel García Blanco, “Unamuno and the United States,” Unamuno Centennial Studies, ed. Ramón Martínez-López (Austin: Department of Romance Languages, University of Texas, 1966), 75–77. which is pleasant. I found however, to my dismay, that he had put in a paragraph about me,Unamuno wrote: “Con el correr de las horas, los días y los años fuí olvidando á Walton, y habríase quedado allá, perdido su nombre entre los muchos que figuran en las cuartillas donde asiento lo que me propongo leer ó comprar, si la providencia divina no me hubiese deparado á un joven estudiante inglés, Mr. Royall Tyler, que parece vino de su patria á esta dorada Salamanca en que vivo y donde corre el Tormes, á traerme no pocas nuevas y obsequios del espíritu, y entre ellos al conocimiento de El perfecto-pescador de caña de Isaac [sic] Walton. Por éste mi nuevo amigo, el estudiante inglés, pude enterarme de que es la obra de Walton estimada como clásica en Inglaterra, y que, como sucede con lo más de lo clásico, se habla de ella mucho más que se la lee. Mi amigo la ha leído y releído y vuelto á leer, y se la sabe poco menos que de memoria. Le atrae á ella, entre otras cosas, la especialísima pureza y dulzura del lenguaje en que está escrita. Me presto el librito—de una edición muy linda, por cierto,—y pude, al fin, leerlo.” ("With the flow of the hours, days and years I had forgotten Walton, and would have remained there, his name lost among the many that appear in the pages where I settle what I intend to read or buy, if divine providence did not offer me a young English student, Mr. Royall Tyler, who came from his homeland to this golden Salamanca in which I live and where the Tormes flows, to bring me much news and gifts of the spirit, and among them the knowledge of The Compleat Angler by Isaac [sic] Walton. From this my new friend, the English student, I was able to learn that Walton's work is considered as a classic in England, and that, as with most classics, it is talked about more than it is read. My friend has read it, re-read it, returning to read it, and he knows it more or less from memory. He is attracted to it, among other things, for the purity and sweetness of the very special language in which it is written. He lent me the book—a very nice edition, by the way—and I could finally read it.") For Royall Tyler's introduction of Walton's book to Miguel de Unamuno, see letter of March 6, 1904. For Walton's book, see also letters of August 19, 1903, and November 1, 1904. with my name correctly spelt ect ect [sic] which reads like a funeral oration.
In German I have read “Hermann and Dorothea,”Hermann and Dorothea, an epic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe written between 1796 and 1797. It is set around 1792 at the beginning of the French Revolutionary War, when French forces under General Custine invaded and briefly occupied parts of the Palitinate. “Werther”Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther), an epistolary and loosely autobiographical novel by Johann Wolfgang con Goethe, first published in 1774 with a revised edition published in 1787. and many short things by Goethe.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), a German writer and polymath. “Natan der Weise”Nathan the Wise, a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing published in 1779; the play is a fervent plea for religious tolerance. by Lessing,Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, and art critic. a translation in German of Ibsen’s “Stützen der Gesellschaft.”Henrik Johan Ibsen (1828–1906), a Norwegian playwright. Samfundets støtter (the original title of Stützen der Gesellschaft or The Pillars of Society) was written in 1877. A good deal of Shack [sic]Adolf Friedrich von Schack (1815–1894), a German poet and literary and art historian. Of particular interest to Royall Tyler would have been his Geschichte der dramatischen Literatur und Kunst in Spanien, 3 vols. (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1845–1846) (with a second edition published in 1854) and Poesie und Kunst der Araber in Spanien und Sicilien (Berlin: W. Hertz, 1865) (with a second edition published in 1877). upon art and poetry—and quantities of Heine,Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797–1856), a German writer. He was born into a Jewish family but converted to Christianity in 1825. prose and verse. I adore Heine. Do read his “Reise nach Italien”Heinrich Heine’s 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. even if you have to spell out every word in a dictionary.
I shall have to devote another tome to people. There are not many that I would care to see again. I go to dances occasionally. There is a sort of Slav woman here whom I like. Her father is a judge who has made himself much disliked by not taking the Germans at their own valuation. And she has one brother who makes researches at archives, another a lieutenant, and had a third, also lieutenant who killed himself. Her father lost an eye in a duel early in his legal career. She is regarded with mingled hatred and fear by the other women here because though unmarried she isn’t frumpy and wears a yellow fur-lined cloak, and has a sharp tongue. It is nearly three A.M. so this must cease. I have said hardly a quarter of what I meant to and haven’t told you how Bog WanRoyall 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 letters of June 4, 1905; April 11, 1906; May 19, 1908; and October 26, 1908. got a piece of brocade of how I got a beautiful original woodcut by KoriusaiIsoda Koryusai (or Koriusai) (1735–1790), a Japanese printmaker and painter. See also letters of June 4, 1905, and July 14, 1905. or about Herr Wolf’s collectionAlfred 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).—it must all wait.
The 20th of February is dedicated to Saint Mildred.February 20 is the feast day of Saint Mildred of Thanet, abbess of Minster. I shall try to go to early Mass, though I have a dance that lasts rather late. StudioTyler was taking painting lessons. See also letters of November 1, 1904; November 26, 1904; and June 4, 1905. still goes, though slowly. RT