You are here:Home/Resources/ Bliss-Tyler Correspondence/ Search the Letters/ Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, September 1, 1905
Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, September 1, 1905


Sept. 1st 1905

Dear Mildred.

This is not the sort of thing that makes your GrowlerA nickname Mildred Barnes must have given to Royall Tyler. See also letter of October 10, 1904. growl. He is not in the least hurt that you should have told the tale.A reference to the Anniversary. And in fact the time to do it was when one was talking and it was an acute pleasure, and not after writing to the other to get leave. The worst of it is that you put it Oct. 12th when the real date is Oct. 10th. That is serious. But the thing brings me your letter, so I bless it, like my 21st birthday.May 2, 1905. If I ever meet anyone who is worthy to hear the version that I now firmly believe myself, I shall relate it too. As yet the person is not forthcoming.

When I opened your letter the first thing that met my eye was Mr. Prince’sProbably John Dyneley Prince (1868–1945), an American linguist, diplomat, and politician; or possibly his son, John Dyneley Prince Jr. (b. 1889). The Prince family is known to have summered with the Bliss family at the resort of Grindstone, Maine. See “Grindstone Filling Up,” New York Times, July 26, 1903. handwriting. I read that first, and for a hideous twenty minutes I supposed that you agreed. But I think he is so wrong, it strikes me as a real blasphemy to try to work oneself into what he terms the necessary extasy [sic] and then to experiment with it upon the good faith of a priest. It seems to me that it escapes him that the thingAnniversary. had to remain an experiment, and to work up an extasy [sic] would merely have been making matters worse by being dishonest twice, whereas we were hardly dishonest at all. In fact, the more I think of it the more it strikes me that we were not dishonest at all. Far from the thing having passed through my head as an experiment, it struck deeper than I ever intended to allow it. The amount of moralization one may start upon from this is unlimited. With me it was a case of the biter bit. I never prayed except the prayers I was taught as a child until after that 10th of October. Since then I have prayed to the Virgin prayers of my own making. Do relate anything you like about me. If the man understands, all can be but well. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t matter either way. He sounds charming, and I hope ever so much that I shall meet him.

So you are bound for Germany.Although Mildred Barnes may have been in Great Britain in early autumn 1905, there is no evidence that she went to Germany then or in 1906. In a letter dated August 24, 1905, her friend Grace Henop Tytus wished Mildred Barnes “god speed,” saying that her family was “going to Bettws too” and that Mildred Barnes should look up her mother-in-law in London. Grace Henop Tytus to Mildred Barnes, August 24, 1905, Blissiana files, McLennan correspondence. Here I take a very bold step. I don’t know that I would have had the courage to do it if your letter hadn’t inspired me. But don’t go to Cassel or Freiburg, go to Berlin or no where, unless Munich which I don’t know anything of, but Cassel or Freiburg—no. You will see nothing but the mean side of German life there. And at Berlin you will see a marvellous town, with such [illegible German] individuals and such Jews. And then the theatre, and, the SecessionThe Berlin Secession (Berliner Secession), an art association founded by Berlin artists in 1898 as an alternative to the conservative state-run Association of Berlin Artists. See letters of June 3, 1905; June 4, 1905; and April 12, 1910. and Cassierer’s [sic]Paul Cassirer (1871–1926), a German art dealer and editor who promoted the work of the Berlin Secessionists as well as the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists (especially Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne). With his cousin Bruno Cassirer, he opened a gallery in his home in Berlin in 1898. and the Puppen Allee.The Victory Avenue (Siegesallee) was conceived by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1895 as thirty-two commemorative displays of sculptures and portrait busts of Prussian rulers placed in bays along the avenue that terminated at the Victory Column in the Thiergarten in Berlin. The sculptural program was under the direction of Reinhold Begas (1831–1911) and the ensemble was completed in 1901. The design concept was widely derided by art critics and was soon dubbed the “Puppenallee” (Avenue of the Puppets). The sculptures were relocated in 1938 under the order of Adolph Hitler. No, it makes me weep to think of you spending two months in Germany and missing a thing like Berlin. But do go to Berlin and I will come there too if it takes a leg. I shall lose sleep until I hear whether you are going there or to Cassel or Freiburg. You won’t even learn German which is spoken by amusing people there. The society is all bureaucracy and unliterary, and they are as dull as dull can be except in Berlin where the Jews and the Secession prick them into most edifying capers.

My plans are these. To take an apartmentThe apartment was located at 55, rue de Verneuil, on the Left Bank in the seventh arrondissement of Paris. of sorts at Paris and have that as a base. If you could realize how much I need one. For 18 months have I lived in hotels or other peoples’ houses, and not a board of my own, or a room which I could order as it pleased me. Then I expect to spend most of my time there for the present, study at the Collège de FranceCollège de France, a higher education and research institution in Paris, across the street from the campus of the University of Paris. The non-degree-granting college mainly supports research, and its professors are required to offer lectures that are free and open to the public. and the University,University of Paris, a university founded in Paris in the mid-twelfth century. The university is often referred to as the Sorbonne or La Sorbonne after the collegiate institution, Collège de Sorbonne, founded by Robert de Sorbon circa 1257. and hear Lafenestre’s lectures,Georges Lafenestre (1837–1919), a conservator of paintings at the Musée du Louvre and a professor at the École du Louvre and the Collège de France, Paris. and try to learn to write French. If you go to Berlin, and I can’t tell you how much I hope you will, I shall come for a time too if I am allowed to do so. Anyway will you let me write to my friend von KardorffKonrad von Kardorff (1877–1945), a painter and member of the Berlin Secession. See letters of June 3, 1905; January 12, 1908; and April 12, 1910. and ask him to show you the Secession? It is worth seeing, and I think he is a person to be trusted as much as any man I know. If I can tear myself and L. H. away from Spain I shall look for the apartment early in October. Of course, the 10th of OctoberAnniversary. shall be celebrated with the wonted solemnity.

It seems that you did not receive my letter from Cangas de Tineo.See letter of August 1, 1905. Did it ever arrive? I must assume that it did, and that you know how we set forth on the journey. From Cangas de Tineo we made our way, mostly on foot, to Tineo, Salas, Grado, Oviedo, Gijón, Avilés and back to Gijón. There we embarked as steerage upon a coal steam tramp for La Coruña.La Coruña (or A Coruña), a port city in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain. It was only two days, but they were of the best. We had to sleep on the bare boards of the deck in two inches of coal dust. We had bread and water for diet, and we had to help the crew haul ropes. There were only two other steerage passengers. One was a peddlar [sic], who had lived 20 years in Morocco, and whose beard was dyed with ochre. Why, I did not dare to ask him. His adventures I think will compare well with those of Mr. Perdican’s,Perdican, a character in the play On ne badine pas avec l’amour (“No Trifling with Love”) (1834) by Alfred de Musset. true or false. The other was a youth of 25 just out of the prison at Gijón. We huddled together at night (it was bitter cold) and smoked cigarettes, and cursed the officers and the monied classes generally.

From La Coruña we went to Santiago de Compostela,Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain. where St. James Major rests,Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, the reputed burial-place of Saint James the Greater, one of the apostles of Jesus. The cathedral is the destination of the Way of Saint James, a historical pilgrimage route since the Middle Ages. and also my patron saint Athanasius.Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (ca. 298–373), the bishop and the twentieth pope of Alexandria. Legend says that next to the tomb of Saint James at the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela are the bodies of his two disciples, Athanasius and Theodore. Athanasius died on May 2, 373; his feast day (May 2) is the birthday of Royall Tyler. Santiago is a paradise. It is not as beautiful as Salamanca because of the colour of the stone, but there are compensations. Though we were dressed like the worst sort of tramps, one of the Cathedral clergy, having seen us much occupied with the Portal de la GloriaPórtico de la Gloria (Pórtico da Gloria), a sculpted portico located in the narthex of the western portal of the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. The portico was sculpted between 1168 and 1188 by Master Mateo at the request of King Ferdinand II of León. “the greatest iconographic monument of Christian Art” (Street),George Edmund Street, Some Account of Gothic Architecture in Spain (London: J. Murray, 1865). took us under his wing, and showed us all the vestments, and all the tapestries,The vestment and tapestry collection is now in the Museo de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, which was opened in 1930. which are only brought out on two days of the year, and are never shown to strangers. Was that man a Pharisee? The vestments, especially a series worked by the Empress-Saint Isabel of PortugalQueen Isabel of Portugal (1271–1336) was said to have embroidered six copes with figures of the Apostles that were kept in the sacristy of the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela at the time Royall Tyler visited. See Catherine Gasquoine Hartley, The Story of Santiago de Compostela (London: J. M. Dent, 1912), 172. and her ladies are of the finest I ever saw, and the tapestries with no exception, the finest. These are, first a series of huge silk tapestries of the 13th century. Then two long series of Gobelins, one of the Iliad, the other the Punic Wars. Then a long series of Flemish tapestries after cartoons by Teniers—village dances, ect [sic]. And last, any number of Spanish tapestries after designs and cartoons by Goya, among them one of the Duque de Alba, muffled to the eyes in an enormous cloak, spying upon his wife in a tender scene with the painter himself! There are numbers of odd pieces—these are merely the series.

At Santiago we bought a large barrel, and filled it with the local peasant’s pottery, and sent it home by sea. Whether it will arrive whole or not is a matter of some concern to me. The pottery is nice. We came back to Astorga and my beloved Zamora. At Astorga I bought some peasant’s jewelry which will amuse you. Here we are then. We were away 5 (five) weeks, with nothing but what we carried in sacks on our backs, and we lived among corresponding people most of the time. They are nicer than we are, and we are not worthy to speak to them on equal terms. We were arrested four times and once searched and disarmed.

We are now to stay here till the 13th, then to Madrid, and back to Paris in the first week in October. The Scoundrel is in Turkey. I rather think you are wrong about Lyulph Howard. I thought so myself before he went to Oxford, but I don’t feel alarmed about him now, for he made a lot of friends of widely different sorts, and did not neglect his mind. In fact, with all his obvious lack of poise, he succeeded where I failed miserably. It is depressing to him that his family insist on his studying architecture for three years in London. He wants to learn French and German, and above all to live abroad in just these years. As soon as he is independent he will go to Paris. He is learning Spanish fairly quickly considering the fact that he has never spoken any foreign language. We have found a charming early 16th century palace here, which is not inhabited, and we are planning to buy it when we can and live in it when he have time to come.This plan never became a reality. It would be rather amusing to furnish it. It has a patio. Will you come and visit us?

I wrote to HatchardHatchards (J. Hatchard and Son), a publishing house and the oldest bookshop in London. Hatchards was founded by John Hatchard in 1797 on Piccadilly, where it continues to be in existence today. from Cangas and told him to send you the Saturday. Has it come? I hope you like it if it has. When are you sailing, just send him a post card and give him your address in Germany. It is nearly the only English newspaper that I care to read. The dailies are not worth the trouble—not one of them.

I am much moved by the thought of your interpreting Atalanta.Atalanta, the Greek heroine of renowned hunting skills who joined the hunters of the Calydonian boar hunt. Atalanta, uninterested in marriage, agreed to marry only if her suitor could beat her in a footrace; if a suitor could not, she was allowed to behead him. Only Melanion was able to beat her. But why say it was too Verlainish! Don’t you think the prevailing idea of VerlainePaul Verlaine (1844–1896), a French poet associated with the Symbolists. is as cowardly and despicable as anything one has ever met with? I adore Verlaine, and I don’t believe there is another man of the past century who knew as well what truth and sincerity really are, or who, knowing what hypocrisy can be, was more ready to forgive. Do you know “Mes Prisons?”Paul Verlaine recounted his incarcerations in Mes prisons (Paris: Léon Vanier, 1893). Read it.

If you don’t know Marcel Schwob’sMarcel Schwob (1867–1905), a French writer. See also letters of August 1, 1905; October 10, 1905; November 1, 1905; April 11, 1906; and September 1, 1906. books, get them at once. They are delightful. Get “Spicilège”Marcel Schwob, Spicilège (Paris: Société du Mercure de France, 1896). and “La Lampe de Psyche”Marcel Schwob, La lampe de Psyché (Paris: Mercure de France, 1903).—such exquisite French and such a good head. There is a dialogue in “Spicilège” between Dante,Dante (Durante degli Alighieri) (ca. 1265–1321), an Italian poet. Cimabue,Cimabue (ca. 1240–1302), also known as Bencivieni di Pepo (Benvenuto di Giuseppe), a Florentine painter. Guido Cavalcanti,Guido Cavalcanti (ca. 1250/1259–1300), a Florentine poet and friend of Dante. Cino da Pistoja [sic],Cino da Pistoia (1270–1336/1337), an Italian jurist and poet. Cecco Angiolini,Cecco Angiolieri (ca. 1260–ca. 1313), an Italian writer and poet. Andrea Orcagna,Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo (ca. 1308–1368), known as Orcagna, an Italian painter, sculptor, and architect active in Florence. Fra Filippo Lippi,Fra’ Filippo Lippi (ca.1406–1469), an Italian painter. Boticelli [sic],Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi) (ca. 1445–1510), a Florentine painter. Ucello,Paolo Uccello (1397–1475), born Paolo di Dono, an Italian painter and mathematician. DonatelloDonatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) (ca. 1386–1466), a Florentine artist. and . . . Jan van Scorel,Jan van Scorel (1495–1562), a Dutch painter. which is a delight. When I first read the thing I nearly wept when I laid it down, merely because it was so perfect.

Your GrowlerA nickname Mildred Barnes must have given to Royall Tyler. See also letter of October 10, 1904. is writing hard. Not a word of this. It is a tale, and it keeps him awake at night trying to keep things from happening in it, and to disguise the autobiography in as decent a manner as possible.This manuscript, if preserved, has not been located.

Yours sincerely

Royall Tyler.

Associated People: Horace Cole; Lyulph Howard
Associated Things: Anniversary; Saturday Review