Elisina Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, December 26, 1914
December 26th 1914Saturday.
We were gladdened on Christmas morning by your kind thought of us. We tried to send you our love, but found no telegraph offices open at all, not even the Victoria Station one. To-day is no better, so I must trust my love and best wishes to the more prosaic channel of the ordinary mail-bag.
William had a happy Christmas, and Father Christmas was very generous. He had a Tree in the afternoon, as my sister considered it an essential part of a proper English Christmas. To-day he is bordering on an anticlimax, but we hope to steer him over the weak points with calm and Tapioca.
You have no doubt been excessively busy at BombonBombon is a village in the department of Seine-et-Marne. After the outbreak of war in 1914, Mildred Barnes Bliss and Robert Woods Bliss became founders of the American Distributing Service (Service de distribution américaine), the first American organization for hospital aid in France that supplied hospitals throughout France, including one at Bombon. See also Ida Clyde Clarke, American Women and the World War (New York and London: D. Appleton and Company, 1918), 144, 454, 473, and 484; and the letter of September 30, 1914. and in Paris. I hope I may prove useful in tangible ways. The meanest way of all is to depute others to take trouble, which is all I can do at present. The documentsSee letter of September 30, 1914. are proving very interesting, and quite as important as we expected. Work is made as pleasant as possible, and the firm of Christie’sThe auction house Christie’s, London, was founded in 1766 by James Christie (1730–1803). invites us every day to a good plain English luncheon on the premises, which it appears it has always served to its heads and the experts connected with it, since the eighteenth century. We meet people we should not otherwise know and meet them on peculiar terms, which it would be difficult otherwise to achieve. It is very interesting and very instructive. There was a good review of the last number of the “Calendar” in the Times Literary SupplementsCalendar of Letters, Dispatches, and State Papers, Relating to the Negotiations Between England and Spain Preserved in the Archives in Vienna, Brussels, Simancas, and Elsewhere, vol X, 1550–1552, was reviewed by A. F. Pollard in the Times Literary Supplement, December 17, 1914. and I am sending it to you. I think it may interest you.
My dear sister spent Christmas with us. She is going today for a fortnight to Durham—a bleak journey to a bleak place. William has settled down to English life, and I hope he will soon learn to talk English. His ManéMadeleine Lavie. See letter of December 8, 1914. is devoured with anxiety to speak it, and the emulation should be profitable to both!
The raid on ScarboroughThe Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool, and Whitby, which took place on December 16, 1914, was an attack by the German Navy on British seaport towns. The attack resulted in public outrage against the Germans for an attack against civilians. hasn’t depressed any one, and it appears that the authorities were warned, and had it not been for the fog, the Germans would have paid the price of their daring.
There is no outward show of depression, but an under-current of new purposes is plainly felt. The situation is serious enough for many, for some tragical. I have a terrible burden of apprehension weighing on my heart. But how is one to stay the wheels of God?
One’s eyes are anxiously fixed on the East. Hilaire Belloc,Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (1870–1953), a French-born writer and historian who became a naturalized British subject in 1902. who has acquired a reputation here as the only expert on the conduct of the war, seems to emphasize the point that the fate of Germany will be decided on her Eastern borders, and that the length of the war will depend on the success or failure of Russia. I hear that the Russian people are fully conscious of this epic hour in the history of their country, and they have risen to meet it fitly. England exhibits both courage and dignity. France, I think, has been admirable. It is all hideously heart-rending, but so fine. I think, when all is said and done, we shall be thankful in time to come that we lived to see it.