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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, January 5, 1904

Villa Aritzari


Jan. 5th

Dear Mildred.

I almost repent having asked you to read de Tocqueville, Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (1805–1859), a French political writer and historian. See also letters of May 6, 1903, and August 19, 1903. he is so long, but more than that I wish we could bury the hatchet and return to a status quo ante.

I tried to trust myself to paper, but I had to burn it, and think after all it’s a bad habit. Also in this case it is not fair to other people. I am sorry. I ought not to have written that letter from London, but you will admit it’s a pretty compliment, that whenever anything interesting occurs, it is my first impulse to sit-down and write it to you. It seems likely that Royall Tyler is not referring to the last preserved London letter (dated November 8, 1903). In that letter, he wrote: “I wonder what you thought of my last letter, and whether I would write it under like circumstances in 9 months.” This letter, no longer preserved, may have related events that offended Mildred Barnes and resulted in the hiatus in her letter writing to Royall Tyler between Easter and August 18, 1903.

Unless the waiter at my hotel at Salamanca is a knave you will have had my adventures as far as that. I went afterwards to Avila and Madrid, where my money gave out and I returned, very unwillingly to Biarritz. Salamanca is captivating and I have resolved to go to the University there for a course, when my Spanish is a little better. I will trust myself to this extent. I don’t like Oxford nearly as much as I did Harrow, and wish I had never gone there. It’s all my fault. I can’t get on with boys of my age. I have four or five friends and then a lot of acquaintances who are friendly and a crowd of bitter enemies and I kick myself daily that I can’t imagine why they are my enemies. However, having started I am going to go on for my degree unless I find I can’t live in the climate, which is abominable.

To return, Avila is as nice as Salamanca, but I would do it an injustice if I tried to describe it under a ream of paper so that must wait. Madrid is built like a town, but its atmosphere is utterly different and I liked it. The PradoMuseo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, a museum with holdings of European paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from the twelfth century to the early nineteenth century. you know about. It has one room full of VelasquezDiego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660), a Spanish painter and the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. which gave me more pleasure than all the other paintings I can remember put together, that is, I prefer the least among those Velazquez to any other individual picture of any other painter.

I think the pleasure I found in Spain was due in great part to the people. They have a self respect, tolerance (!) and courtesy that I have never seen elsewhere. It must have been civilized out of other peoples. All the bad I found in Spain came from other lands, mostly from France. But happily progress goes slowly there. I came back treasuring this mot of Ruskin’s, John Ruskin (1819–1900), an English art critic, social critic, author, and poet. which is too good for paper, but which is so à propos here that I can’t restrain myself from giving it to you.

Ruskin said he disbelieved in progress, and they answered him asking how he could say such a thing in a century which had seen the invention of the telephone and submarine cable. Ruskin replied that it was all very fine to have submarine cables and telephones, but suppose you had nothing to say?

I can’t begin to answer your questions. I do love etchings Since at least the 1890s, Mildred Barnes had collected etchings—especially those by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Charles Meryon, Hans Sebald Beham, Seymour Haden, and Anders Leonard Zorn—often through her friend FitzRoy Carrington and the various dealers he worked for. and I have heard every shade of opinion on Stephens Probably Alfred Émile Léopold Stevens (1823–1906), a Belgian painter. Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss later collected several of his canvases. [sic] and I have not seen Chesterton’s Browning. G. K. Chesterton, Robert Browning (London: Macmillan, 1903). I had a morning in the library of the Monastery at Roncevaux, Roncesvalles monastery, in the Basque area of northeastern Spain. The eleventh-century monastery was an important stopping point on the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. which would have rejoiced you. The blessed town is separated from railways by miles of forest and mountain and how I wish you could have been there with me. The room has two walls lined with shelves and the floor is littered with books and all bound in fine vellum or parchment—white. There are early editions of Lope de Vega Lope de Vega (1562–1635), a Spanish playwright and poet. & Calderón Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681), a Spanish dramatist.—and such geographies and no catalogue—such a place. I am busy with Spanish and—repress a smirk—the guitar. I hope to hear from my friend in Macedonia. I couldn’t afford it. He is the youth whose handwriting you particularly disliked and I expect that events will show you to have been right.

Yrs. sincerely

Royall Tyler.

The Forster E. M. (Edward Morgan) Forster (1879–1970), an English writer. books must be at Oxford. I am sure I shall like them. Do tell me what you thought of my brochure—I rather tremble in anticipation.

Associated People: FitzRoy Carrington; Leland Buxton