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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, August 15, 1932

Par Arnay-le-Duc
(Côte d’Or)

The Hungarians call today (Feast of the Assumption) Big Happy Lady and the Immaculate Conception: “Little Happy Lady”, dearest Mildred, and I celebrate it by writing to you. Your letter of the 28th JulyActually of July 26, 1932. from N.Y. came a couple of days ago, and I was very glad to get it. As you may imagine, I am looking forward with some excitement to the letter that will “probably capsize” me.If preserved, the whereabouts of this letter is unknown. Royall Tyler acknowledges receiving the letter, written on the Eastern Prince, in his letter of October 1, 1932, but that letter does not explain Mildred Barnes Bliss’s statement: “the reason of which will probably capsize you.” The topic may be the Blisses’ intention to give Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University, a proposal that was first made to President Lowell on March 10, 1932. See Paul Sachs to Mildred Barnes Bliss and Robert Woods Bliss, March 10, 1932, and Robert Woods Bliss to Paul Sachs, March 28, 1932, Dumbarton Oaks History files, Paul Sachs folder, Dumbarton Oaks Archives. How I hope the contents may be in the general direction I have in mind!

I’m glad you and Robert are sympathetic to the idea of a Byz. Library.See letter of May 15, 1932. I didn’t say anything to Hayford (who is here) about it until your letter of the other day came, but I did then, and, as I thought, he’d be glad to do anything he could to help. As he knows the N.Y. libraries from the Byz. point of view, his views on the matter will be valuable, and we must all talk it over when you have an opportunity.

Our Vol. I,L’art byzantin. which I trust you find at BA“Buenos Aires.” on arrival there, was very tardy—it appears that the plates were very long in drying in the damp weather we had in May and June. As the book wasn’t ready till July, the publishers aren’t bringing it out or sending out the copies for review until the Autumn, as books that appear during the holiday season are apt to pass unnoticed. So far, I’ve only sent copies to a few friends (and to the Crown Prince of Sweden)Crown Prince Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf (1882–1973) later reigned as Gustaf VI Adolf, king of Sweden, from 1950 until his death. He was a devoted archaeologist and participated in archaeological expeditions in China, Greece, and Italy, and founded the Swedish Institute in Rome. and people to whom we are obliged for photographs etc.

Please write me when you’ve seen it, and be unsparing of criticism. I’ll admit that I’m very much pleased with it, and I think the Lib. de France have done a good job with the plates and the printing. I trust you like the head of Regimental Sergeant-Major Mulrooney on the cover. Valentinian IFlavius Valentinianus (321–375), commonly known as Valentinian I, Roman emperor from 364 to 375. was a Danubian Celt, probably. The coquilles“Misprints.” I’ve spotted so far are surprisingly few.

Hayford and I are at work on Vol. II,Hayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, L’art byzantin, vol. 2 (Paris: Librarie de France, 1934). which is going to be confined to the VI cent., so great is the abundance of matter for that century. This won’t put out our 5 vol. plan: Vol. III will comprise the VIIe, VIIIe and IXe centuries: I don’t think there’s any danger of so much important stuff turning up that we’ll find it at all difficult to fit them into one vol.

At the end of this month I’m going back to Budapest, where ça tient par la peinture.“It holds together by the paint.” We’ve had abominable luck with the wheat harvest, which was promising up to the very moment reaping began, when there came a ferocious heat-wave which burnt the grain, causing a loss of 20–25%, which just about wipes out our exportable surplus.See Mark B. Tauger, “The 1932 Harvest and the Famine of 1933,” Slavic Review 50, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 70–89.

Our foreign trade has shrunk to a mere shadow, and the price disparity, between our internal market and the outer world is getting so bad (our prices, if one reckons the Pengö at the official rates, being far too high) that even if we had anything to sell, we couldn’t sell it at a profit. The truth is, of course, that we’ve got a bad attack of price-inflation, which is closely allied with currency inflation, and that we’re busted to the world. It’s a question of holding the internal frame work together somehow until certain things happen—those certain things including the realisation by the outer world that the money lent to the Danubian countries in order to make each one of them self-sufficient economically (thus fulfilling the promises implied in the peace-treaties) is lost: and also the realization of the fact that, in some form or other, the customs frontiers put up in the former territory of the Habsburg Monarchy have got to go. But what will be left when these things have been understood? Something, certainly, and one’s business is to see that it’s as much as can possibly be preserved.

Elisina and Bill are well, and send you both their most devoted love. Bill spent a month with the DigbysThe family of Simon Wingfield Digby (1910–1998) and George Frederick Wingfield Digby (1911–1989), who were classmates of William Royall Tyler at Harrow. Simon Wingfield Digby later became a British Conservative politician. George Wingfield Digby was later keeper of the department of textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1947 and 1972. The Wingfield Digbys lived at Sherborne Castle, a sixteenth-century Tudor mansion southeast of Sherborne in Dorset, England. in the Isle of Lewis, and had some superb fishing and shooting (deer).

Bless you, most precious Mildred.

R. T.

For the moment, I have no clear ideas about Germany, but I expect she’ll squeak through, as you say.

Associated Things: L'art byzantin