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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, March 13, 1928

Ministry of Finance,
Budapest
13.III.28Tuesday.

Dearest Mildred,

I ached when I got your letter of Jan. 31 and saw how you felt about the dish. But such accidents will happen. Elisina is now in Paris and will be seeing Isbirian’sThe Parisian dealer Isbirian has not been identified. In the letter of November 3, 1928, his address is given as 31, rue Saint-Lazare, Paris, and his telephone number as Trudaine 71.01. object. We’ll see what she thinks of it, and I hope to get a look at it myself in April.

I’ve had to come back at once from Geneva for several reasons, the best of them being that I’ve a meeting in Rome on April 2nd, and must put in a fortnight here before that. After Rome I shall go to Antigny, and Paris.

I shall doubtless hear from you whether you want the carpet.This carpet is no longer in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection. In the ex-collection files, it is described as Rhodian or Caucasian with a tomato ground, styled foliage, and a geometric border, 7’4” x 4’3”. The Blisses acquired the carpet from Kalebdjian on April 29, 1928. The carpet was sold to Karekin Beshir in December 1952; it was subsequently acquired by John J. Emery Jr. and given to the Cincinnati Art Museum. See letters of January 5, 1928; February 1, 1928 [1]; February 1, 1928 [2]; April 9, 1928; and April 29, 1928. As for the ewer,This ewer has not been identified. It was acquired by Hayford Peirce. See also letters of January 5, 1928; January 31, 1928; February 1, 1928 [1]; February 1, 1928 [2]; April 9, 1928; and April 29, 1928. when I got your wire saying you were concentrating on the dish, Hayford Peirce began to consider getting the ewer. He is now in the USA, and for all I know he may have already bought the ewer. If you want it, and it is still disengaged, I’ll get it for you. Kalebdjian is holding the carpet pending your answer, so please let me know as soon as possible.

This last meeting at Geneva was the most interesting I’ve ever attended there, and the excitements were really too many to allow one to get the maximum out of any single one of them.The March 9, 1928, meeting of the League of Nations Security Council at Geneva was reported as “one of its stormiest sessions on record.” Nicolae Titulesco, Romanian minister of foreign affairs, threatened to resign his political position and membership on the council over the Optants questions—the protracted dispute between Hungary and Romania over the expropriation of property from Hungarians in Transylvania who had opted to retain their Hungarian citizenship after the First World War. In order to insure peace and stability in the Balkans, the English and French delegations demanded that Romania settle the dispute with Hungary. The New York Times reported: “Strangely enough Hungary, which on account of the machine-gun scandal, has been cast in the rôle of villain throughout the present session, suddenly found herself in quite good standing. The venerable Count Apponyi, who represented Hungary’s case and who also took the precaution of gracefully accepting the Council’s suggestions—without reservations—listened in gratified amazement to words of appreciation falling from the lips of M. Briand and Sir Austen. His expression then was such that one could almost visualize a halo rising above his silver hair.” In a secret session, the Security Council passed a resolution in favor of Hungary despite Romanian protests. But they then postponed further consideration of the Romanian-Hungarian dispute until June. Wythe Williams, “League Council in Stormy Session; Rumanian Delegate Threatens to Resign When Overruled on Magyar Land Claims,” New York Times, March 10, 1928.

The Hungarian successes (though not definitive successes) in the Optants questionThe Optants question, the protracted dispute between Hungary and Romania over the expropriation of property from Hungarians in Transylvania who had opted to retain their Hungarian citizenship after the First World War. Beginning in 1923, the Hungarian government appealed to the League of Nations stating that the expropriation of the lands of Hungarian Optants in Transylvania “constitutes a flagrant violation of the Treaties.” See John O. Crane, The Little Entente (New York: Macmillan, 1931), 27–30. and the Skt. [sic] Gothard affairThe “Skt. Gothard affair” was the seizure on January 1, 1928, of 2,000 machine guns at the Saint Gotthard railroad station on the Austro-Hungarian frontier. The weapons had been sent to Hungary by an Italian firm in violation of the Trianon treaty concerning armament. The countries of the Little Entente—Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia—demanded intervention by the League of Nations Security Council at the March meeting. After the seizure, Hungary claimed that the weapons had not been consigned to the state and would be auctioned if the owner did not come forward. Wythe Williams, “Ask League Action on Hungarian Arms; Little Entente Powers Urge Direct Intervention by Council at March Session; Firmer than Expected; Italian Anger is Expected—Geneva Official Says Unanimous Vote is not Necessary,” New York Times, February 2, 1928. were due far more to the general conjunction of planets than to the exertions of the lone little Magyar star. Titulesco’sNicolae (Nicholas) Titulesco (1882–1941), a Romanian diplomat, became Romania’s permanent representative to the League of Nations in 1921 and was, at the time, the Romanian minister of foreign affairs. visit to Rome and his kind offer to the French to mediate for them and settle their little difficulties with Italy had so much indisposed the French that they weren’t feeling like stirring a finger to support any cause in which Titulesco was interested.The purpose of Nicolae Titulesco’s visit to Italy in January 1928 was ostensibly to convince Italy to collaborate with France and Great Britain in fostering better relations with the countries of the Little Entente—Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. To the French, however, the visit suggested that Romania wished to make a treaty with Mussolini in order to offset the influence of French treaties with Yugoslavia, Poland, and Czechoslovakia and to counter French influence in the Balkans. “Titulesco in Rome; Rumania’s Foreign Minister May Talk Treaties with Mussolini,” New York Times, January 24, 1928. Also, there have been signs and portents lately that the Czechos have been preparing a rapprochement with Germany, and the French attitude at Geneva may have been influenced by that perspective also. Altogether, I was much reminded of Guicciardini’sFrancesco Guicciardini (1483–1540), an Italian historian and stateman. saying that success in affairs usually comes undeserved, and goes through no fault of the person whom fortune is abandoning. Looked at purely from the point of view of the interested parties, both the Hungarian questions before the Council this time seemed threatening enough to Hungary, and certainly no one at Geneva ever dreamed, just before they came up, that they’d go as they did.

The question for my pets here to consider now is: whether the present tension between France and Titulesco is likely to lead to a regrouping of influences where Hungary is concerned, or whether it is merely a tiff that will be ended by a long embrace. To play safe would be to behave as if the long embrace were likely to ensue.

However, Titulesco was so far from liking the way things went at the council that he withdrew himself from mortal eyes for two days and, when he emerged, proceeded straight to call on Stresemann,Gustav Stresemann (1878–1929), a German politician and statesman who served as chancellor and foreign minister during the Weimar Republic. In 1926, Germany was admitted to the League of Nations as a permanent member of the Security Council, and Stresemann was the colaureate (with French prime minister Aristide Briand [1862–1932]) of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926 for this achievement. with whom he remained closeted for 3 hours. On emerging he told the newspaper men that he was going to Berlin to continue the conversation. So there’s plenty of matter for speculation.

Even more interesting than the above affairs, to my mind, was a question which didn’t appear at all on the Council’s agenda, but was on everybody’s mind: the Kellogg note to France.Frank Billings Kellogg (1856–1937), an American lawyer, politician, and statesman who, at the time, was the U.S. secretary of state. In response to negotiations with French prime minister Aristide Briand, he submitted a plan for the renunciation of war as a national instrument of foreign policy. This note became the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in 1928, for which Kellogg was awarded the 1929 Nobel Peace Prize. The note was released just at the right time, a couple of days before the Council met. It was received with unanimous reprobation by the entire French press, which fell to the temptation of scoring over Kellogg for being in contradiction with himself re the Havana resolutions. In England the reception by the Gov’t-friendly papers was guarded. In the Secretariat at Geneva all the important permanent officials (except the Italian assistant Sec.-Gen.) was red hot keen about it from the very first, and the Council hadn’t been meeting two days before the views of the LeagueThe League of Nations, an international organization in Geneva whose principal missions were to maintain world peace, settle international disputes through negotiation and arbitration, and create stability within financial markets. people on the subject had begun to tell on the visiting delegates, and even on the press in France. When I left Geneva 3 days ago, it seemed there was a good chance that France and the other big league powers wouldn’t make the terrible blunder of underrating the sincerity of the Kellogg note and of failing to see what immense hopes for peace it holds out. If there were a different spirit, a stronger determination not to drift where disarmament is concerned, in the present Brit. Govt., the chances for getting together rapidly would perhaps be better than they are now, but I think there’s room for hope that this tremendous opportunity may not be lost, even so.

This is a pretty indiscreet letter, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to tell you something of what made this last meeting so madly interesting. There were plenty of other things as well, but really the Kellogg note over-shadowed everything else.

I see a good deal of the Butler WrightsJoshua Butler Wright (1877–1939), an American diplomat who served as the U.S. envoy to Hungary between 1927 and 1930. here. They are enjoying Hungary, and the Hungarians like them.

Much love to you and Robert, dearest Mildred; do let me hear again from you soon.

Yours always
R. T.

 
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères
Associated Concepts: League of Nations