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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, June 10, 1910

CauteretsCauterets, a town in southwestern France in the Hautes-Pryénées department near the Spanish border. It was famous for its thermal springs.

June 10th 1910.Friday.

Dear Mildred.

I have just got your registered letter,See letter of May 13, 1910. and have sent the enclosure to Elisina. It gave me the greatest pleasure to know how you feel about what we have done, and I therefore took the liberty of sending on your letter to me as well, knowing that Elisina would be glad to see it. You may be surprised to hear that we are not together, but though we loathe being apart, there is a good reason. Elisina has a cottage of her own—legally—in Cornwall, near the Lizard, 10 miles from a station. There she has been in the habit of spending half the year with the children.Gioia Grant Richards Owtram, Gerard Franklin Grant Richards, Charles (“Carlos”) Geoffrey Grant Richards (1902–1959), and Geoffrey Herbert Grant Richards (1906–1983). Through a third person, Richards consented to let the children go there with her for 4 or 5 weeks now, and, of course, not to come there himself. Whether he did it in the hope that Elisina would weaken in her resolve when the time for parting came again or not, I don’t know. What really matters is that she is being able to keep in touch with them, as the house is hers; and as he is not to come there, this can’t possibly stand in the way of a divorce. We are to meet in Paris in a fortnight, spend the summer quietly somewhere in France, and settle down in Paris, living openly in the autumn. We hope that Richards will see that we are in earnest and divorce—but whether he does or not, we are not going to make any bones about living together.

I am very glad that I wrote to you quite frankly, you have understood more than I hoped to make you understand in a letter. I feel perfectly tranquil about our future. I know Elisina through and through, and she has such a good well-balanced head that the hardest of things are possible with her.

I hope you have received my book. I wrote to a friend of mine in London to send it to you, but it has been delayed because he was away in Greece! When are you going to make the long journey to Europe?

Yours sincerely

Royall Tyler.

I never answered your letter asking about the hoax on Admiral May.Admiral Sir William May, the commander and chief of the Home Fleet, received in Portland on the flagship Dreadnought five men and one woman masquerading as royalty from Abyssinia and their interpreter and foreign office attaché. See “Sham Abyssinians Hoax Admiral May; Jokers Made Up as Princes and Party Receive Royal Honors on Flagship Dreadnought; Met by Official Barge; Guard of Honor Turned Out and Band Plays Anthem; One of the Masqueraders a Woman,” New York Times, February 27, 1910. Tell Robert I don’t know anything at all about it. I was far away at the time and the people who bring off such exploits are of another generation. The Sultans of ZanzibarA reference to an earlier hoax. See letter of June 4, 1905. are earning precarious livings as secretaries to M.P.s, hack journalists and architects.In fact, four of those involved in the Dreadnought hoax had taken part in the “Sultan of Zanzibar” hoax of 1904: Horace Cole, Adrian Stephen (1883–1948) and his sister Virginia Stephen (later Virginia Woolf), and Leland Buxton. See Martyn Downer, The Sultan of Zanzibar: The Bizarre World and Spectacular Hoaxes of Horace de Vere Cole (London: Black Spring Press, 2010), 94–121. Tempora mutantur.“The times are changing.”