Elisina Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, December 3, 1914
December 3rd 1914Thursday.
Your wire was the greatest comfort we could have, short of your presence. Of course you couldn’t leave, and we shouldered our share of the sacrifice with a loving heart. I think Royall has already described the simple function to you.See letter of November 30, 1914. It was not without solemnity, and it was pleasant, friendly and cheerful.
It was dear of you to think of having William near you. I haven’t heard if you actually managed it, as one or two of Mané’sMadeleine Lavie. See letter of December 8, 1914. letters seem to have gone astray.
We have taken a small house near the S. Kensington Museum, belonging to a cousin of Eric Maclagan’s who was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria (1819–1901) ruled the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death. It is bright and pleasant, and we move in on Monday next the 7th, when we expect William to arrive also. Poor pet, he’ll be a little “misery-me” I expect after a four hours’ crossing, but he’ll soon recover no doubt, and we’ll try to get him to talk English fluently by the time he sees Fairy Godmother again.
I met Henry JamesHenry James (1843–1916), an American novelist living in England and a good friend of Edith Wharton. the other day and liked him very much. We’ve been reading that irresistible book “The customs of the country”Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country (New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1913).—and I have marvelled again at the firm wrist and the easy mastery of its author. The craftsmanship is on a very high level. It’s a novel of ways and means
[the transcription of the following page was reported lost on December 20, 1990]
You will laugh: I told Eric Maclagan what B.B. had said of me, and he replied: “Oh he always says that of the women who won’t flirt with him.” There are ways and ways of getting a good character: but the preposterousness of the idea that I ever could flirt with him!
Tell Robert that we couldn’t find his gloves at the Army and Navy, and we’ll try Harrods. But the shops are full of khaki and nothing else.
Henry James could talk of nothing, by the way, except Mr. Berry’s experiences in Belgium and Berlin.See Leon Edel, “Walter Berry and the Novelists: Proust, James, and Edith Wharton,” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 38, no. 4 (March 1984): 514–28. On Berry’s trips to Brussels and Berlin in late 1914, see James’s letter to Wharton of December 1, 1914, in Percy Lubbock, ed., The Letters of Henry James (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920), 2:425–26.