Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, July 17, 1927
Ministry of Finance,
I wonder where you are at this moment, dearest Mildred, at sea or still in Washington, or in California?Between postings in Sweden and Argentina, the Blisses were in the United States between June and August, having arrived in the United States in June on the Cunard liner Aquitania. In July 1927, the Blisses were at El Mirasol in Santa Barbara, California. On July 22, Mildred Barnes Bliss wrote her friend Blanche Herkomer: “We finally got off for France the end of March . . . interrupted by several business trips to London, which was delightful as we spent all our time with museum and collector friends. . . . After reaching America, we went straight to Washington . . . for me trying to plan the work on the grounds and for the new room we are building to our house, so that it could carry on for a year and a half, as we are unlikely to return to North America until the winter of ’28. . . . We leave here [California], alas, Tuesday morning for Washington and will be at the Mayflower Hotel for ten days and sail August 13th for Buenos Aires.” When the Blisses arrived in California, the Los Angeles Times published an article: “Prefers California to Many Countries; Argentina Envoy Here on Vacation,” Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1927.
I am just about to depart for Greece, having giddily accepted an invitation to replace Sir John Hope SimpsonJohn Hope Simpson (1868–1961), a politician and the vice-chairman of the League of Nations Refugee Settlement Commission in Greece from 1925 to 1930, in the League Commission there during H.S.’s absence this summer. This means that I shall have to forego the 3 weeks I had expected to spend with Elisina and Bill at Antigny from late this month to the middle of August. I shall be in Greece until it is time to go to the September meetings in Geneva. After that, I hope to get ten days with Elisina and Bill at Antigny before Bill goes back to Harrow.
It will be warm in Greece, I understand. However, I couldn’t resist the temptation of taking on this new job, about which I know nothing, for a time, and of having a look at Greece, however unfavourable the circumstances—and though I shall be too busy to take full advantage of my opportunities. The job itself will be very interesting—not so much the ostensible work as some activities just slightly outside, but which I have been asked to give my attention to.Royall Tyler’s work in Greece involved the League of Nations Refugee Settlement Commission. The commission was concerned with the settlement of refugees from Turkey, Russia, and Bulgaria who had arrived in Greece from Smyrna in September 1922 as a consequence of the provisions of the Treaty of Neuilly of 1919 and the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. See Charles P. Howland, “Greece and Her Refugees,” Foreign Affairs 4, no. 4 (July 1926): 613–23; John Hope Simpson, “The Work of the Greek Refugee Settlement Commission,” Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs 8, no. 6 (November 1929): 583–604; and Charles B. Eddy, Greece and the Greek Refugees (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1931).
I have been gadding about ever since I saw you. I had three weeks here, then motored to Geneva with friends via N. Italy and Lyons. Then, after the June meetings, I went to London, then a few days in Paris, a week at Antigny and back here. I shall of course return here after Geneva in September, and I have a plan for seeing what there is for us in Bulgaria after that, and perhaps dropping down to Constantinople.
In London I had an amusing time with the museum people. I love twisting their tails at the British Museum, and rubbing their noses in the more and more disgusting arrangements which they perpetrate there. I took particular pleasure in pointing out to them that their best hard-stone vases had five serial and separate numbers written on them large, in ink—except for one incredibly beautiful one, almost as thin as egg-shell, which I found lying about on the floor in one of their lumber rooms, waiting for someone to step on it.
Speaking of egg-shell, I saw in a little shop at Harrow an object, which had not the shop been shut, I’d have bought and presented to the B.M. with the request that they expose it in the case that contains the Lothair crystal,The Lothair Crystal is an exceptionally large Carolingian engraved rock crystal that has scenes of the story of Susannah as recorded in the Apocrypha. British Museum, London, M&ME 1855.12-1.5. some XVIII cent. Russian teapots, & indiscriminate junk. The object is an emu’s egg (black) treated as a cameo, the cutting showing, on a field representing a map of Australia, an Australian savage in the act of hurling a boomerang at an emu. The egg is mounted on a dud-silver base, on which there stand figures, in the round, of more savages, an emu, and a kangaroo. Period about 1893, the very best period.