Elisina Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, November 16, 1914
Burlington Hotel. W.Burlington Hotel, 30 Old Burlington Street, Westminster, London.
November 16th 1914Monday.
We wired to you yesterday to say that the ceremony is fixed for November 26th, Thursday. It is the earliest moment at which it can legally be performed. If Heaven wills it that you be present, our hearts will keep an added gladness all our lives long. In any event, your wish to be with us is a very sweet memory.
We had a bad crossing, in a cockle-shell of a boat, and though we neither of us suffered technically, we had a thoroughly bad time. We were delayed an hour in landing, as the British authorities now demand that you shall be British and healthy too. I was asked how I was, and replied that I was quite well when I left Dieppe, and felt as well as could be expected still. This satisfied the doctor who felt the buttons of my glove and did not insist on taking my hat off as he had to other women present.
My dear sister met us with a large bunch of carnations. Our luggage was not with us the first evening, and I spent the next day between hope and fear. The officials at Victoria were sympathetic and reassuring, but they had to admit that the Folkestone staff could not cope with the traffic suddenly centred there from Dieppe, Boulogne, Calais and Ostend. (OstendOstend formally surrendered to the Germans on October 10, 1914. must be a diplomatic fiction still.) However, our trunks turned up next evening. When the van was opened the first thing I saw was my hat-box. Imagine my relief.
London is very calm, and I can see little change in the surface of things. “Business as usual” is not a fiction for commerce of commodities where the steady relation of cost to price is maintained. Fancy goods, or rather fancy values are in abeyance, and no wonder. The streets are darkish at night, and though people call it silly, I am not so sure. If a Zeppelin did come, the only effect on British human nature would be a sudden flow of recruits; and for that reason many people long for one. The streets are full of khaki-clad figures, all our friends are in khaki, but no vibrations are allowed to disturb the social atmosphere. No one hates the Germans with the hate that corrodes the hater,—la rage inutile“Useless rage.” which Stendhal warns one against,Possibly a reference to Henri Beyle de Stendahl’s discussion of savage rage as a countermeasure to civilization in De l’Amour (Paris: Michel Lévy frères, 1856), 166.—but with the definite workable hate that will certainly succeed in pushing him back to his proper place and riveting him there. I have talked with several people, who, through their own position or their connections, could have given me inside information or views. But far less indiscretions are committed in this country than across the channel. The few who know do not speak of what they know, that is evident. We saw Mrs. CarterAlice Morgan Carter (1865–1933), wife of John Ridgely Carter. and Mildred Acheson,Mildred Acheson was John Ridgely Carter’s and Alice Morgan Carter’s daughter and was married to Viscount Archibald Acheson (1877–1954), later the 5th Earl of Gosford. and the dear little John.John Acheson (1911–1966), the Acheson’s son and later the 6th Earl of Gosford. They are all three well.
I have also seen Eric and Helen MaclaganHelen Elizabeth Maclagan (née Lascelles) (1879–1942), wife of Eric Maclagan and granddaughter of the 4th Earl of Harewood. who gave us an excellent dinner. The Rodin Exhibition at the S. Kensington is a great success, very crowded every day, and all ’s triumph.Rodin had exhibited sculptures at Grosvenor House, London, in July 1914 as part of an exhibition of contemporary French Art (Art français: Exposition d’art décoratif contemporain 1800–1855). The outbreak of the war in August 1914 precluded the return of Rodin’s sculptures to Paris. John Tweed, a British sculptor and admirer of Rodin, negotiated a six-month loan exhibition of the sculptures at the Victoria and Albert Museum with Eric Maclagan, keeper of sculpture and architecture, despite considerable objections to having contemporary art at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Rodin stated that he made the loan to honor the solidarity of British and French soldiers, and Maclagan suggested that a notice recording this fact should be placed in the hall, along with a collection box for the French Red Cross. On November 12, 1914, Rodin gave the sculptures to the Museum. See Victoria and Albert Musum, "Rodin at the V&A." Howard arrived dressed in his khaki uniform, and the training has done him endless good. He is very well in health, and has actually become talkative. Next time he is in Paris he will probably be bold enough to leave a card on you all by himself.
My sister begs to be remembered very kindly to you both.
Bless you, dearest Mildred. We are still uncertain as to how long we shall stay. The Italian “princely owners” of the documentsSee letter of September 30, 1914. are afraid the war makes a difference; whereupon Royall replied that the only difference it made was that he must know definitely if they wished the work done, and if they did not wish it done now, they would have to get somebody else as he would not come back later on.
My very best love to you both.