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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, October 13, 1941


Hôtel Richemond, Geneva

I’ve been hugging myself all these days with the thought that Robert was being released from hospital.Robert Woods Bliss had a gall bladder infection and underwent an operation in Santa Barbara, California, on August 2, 1941. See “Robert W. Bliss in Hospital,” New York Times (August 2, 1941). Bless you for that cable giving me the news, precious Mildred.See telegram of October 5, 1941.

As for me, I’m in rude health again, and greatly enjoying some work I’ve got on hand, which is quite in line with much of what I’ve been doing these last ten years and interests me immensely.

It’s not much use trying to make plans for long in advance, these days. I don’t attempt it. I’m trying to make arrangements to pay a visit to my hunkies,“Hungarians.” who are so kind as to want to see me, but I rather doubt whether it comes off. As you may imagine, it’s complicated at present.

I was in France yesterday, seeing some friends just arrived from Paris. I’m more and more confirmed in the views about that problem which I expressed to you when we last met.Tyler’s reference is unknown.

Elisina writes that she has heard from Mlle. MalyeThérèse Malye (1866–1951), Mildred Barnes Bliss’s Parisian secretary. that you have sent her a gift for those children from Dunkerque and other places that are being bombed. She is immensely grateful—and deeply touched by your generosity. She is down at Hyères for the moment, struggling with Ste Claire. Taxation on straight luxury places like that has gone up by leaps and bounds, and will increase further, no doubt. The upkeep and everlasting repairs are also a heavy burden. I’m glad to say Elisina has made up her mind to get rid of the place, just keeping the smaller houseThe Villa Pierre Lisse (now better known as the Castel Pierre Lisse), a 1920s house adjacent to Sainte-Claire du Château, both of which Edith Wharton had acquired in 1927 and which Elisina Tyler inherited upon Wharton’s death, in 1937. Wharton’s butler, Alfred White, lived in the Villa Pierre Lisse until his death. and a tiny bit of garden. At least, there is some demand for real estate down there, and some nibbles are forthcoming. Whether or not she succeeds in selling the place at once, she is emptying it of the furniture and selling most of the furniture at auction on 6 Nov. The house thus emptied, and a For Sale sign up, the taxation is reduced to a fraction of what it is with the furniture still in the house.

The Harold TittmannsHarold H. Tittmann Jr. (1893–1980), an American diplomat and author who at the time was U.S. consul-general in Geneva. He married Eleanor Dulaney Barclay in 1928. were here the other day, and were happy to hear the good news of Robert, as was also Russell Greeley.Russell Greeley (1878–1956), a portrait painter who had been a director of Mildred Barnes Bliss’s American Distributing Service (Service de Distribution Américaine) during the First World War. Russell has been living in a hotel here ever since the war started. I see him once in a blue moon. He looks an old, old man.

I long to hear that that Abraham and Isaac panelBZ.1941.7. has been acquired for D.O. How could those good Kunstgelehrte“Art scholars.” have turned it down? I’m glad to hear from Jack Thacher that EttinghausenRichard Ettinghausen (1906–1979), a historian of Islamic art and chief curator of the Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C. realised what it was.

A little tale from Rome: there was a row in a bus. A fascist in uniform was struck by a civilian, and then by another civilian. At the police station, civilian A explained that the Fascist had stepped on his foot and hurt him. Civilian b said that when he saw the other man hit the Fascist, he thought the hour had come.

Bless you, dearest Mildred, fondest love to you both


Associated People: John Seymour Thacher
Associated Artworks: BZ.1941.7