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Elisina Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss and Robert Woods Bliss, December 15, 1947

8 Rue Quentin Bauchart8 rue Quentin-Bauchart, an elegant seven-story apartment building built in 1926–1927.

VIII art


Dec. 15th 1947

Dearest Mildred

Dearest Robert.

Happy happy Christmas to you both, and a happy New Year. And my deep excuses and regret for what must have seemed negligence—to put it mildly—and I now wish to repair. I did not ask you when I saw you here, if Gioia had had the pleasure of seeing you, because I know how many people in England as elsewhere have claims on your attention, and I knew besides that your recent illness must make it necessary for you to spare your strength. So I forbore from discretion to put a question that might infer an unrealised hope. Now, after several months of silence, my chère writes me 10 solid pages, a great part of which is devoted to the blessings you have showered upon her and Tommy—the providential food parcels; and the touching kindness of warm clothing, and your kindness and graciousness generally.

Let me say to you now what I wish I could have said before—how deeply moved I am, and how warmly grateful. I haven’t been to England since February 1945. But the accounts I get are not very reassuring, and I picture vividly the effect that your affectionate forethought must have produced. Gioia’s letter expresses it fully. I wish she had made me share it sooner!

We are settling into this temporary home (8 Rue Quentin Bauchart,8 rue Quentin-Bauchart, an elegant seven-story apartment building built in 1926–1927. Paris VIII) with help from Antigny,—firewood, a weekly parcel—and we are lucky to have found a roof to shelter us, and the amenities besides. I hope France is heading towards stability; at any rate the group at the head of affairs now wears an appearance nearer than what went before to the true visage of the French people three years after liberation. My experience of course is not formed in Paris, but in the province I know best. I am reading a solid book, solid, but a little heavy by Jean de Pange: Allemagne—1789 to 1945.Jean, comte de Pagne, L’Allemagne depuis la Révolution française, 1789–1945 (Paris: A. Fayard, 1947). It is a book of reference—so painstakingly has he collected all the material required for framing balanced judgments as events moved along.

I am distressed by Percy Lubbock’sPercy Lubbock (1879–1965), an English essayist, critic, and biographer. book—Portrait of Edith WhartonPercy Lubbock, Portrait of Edith Wharton (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts Inc., 1947).—more distressed for him than for her, because it will inevitably be superseded by something more complete and more real. If he couldn’t get the basic material, he should have said so, and renounced the attempt to write it. John Hugh SmithJohn Hugh Smith, an English banker and art collector. He was a friend of the writers Edith Wharton and Henry James (1843–1916) and was part of those male friends of James who became known as Wharton’s “inner circle” or, sometimes, “the happy few.” who was her friend for forty years—since he was 21—feels as I do, and I am not surprised.

Next time you come, I will show you a byzantine crossThis Byzantine cross has not been identified. I have, found at Djerash,Jerash (ancient Gerasa or Gerasha), a city in the north of Jordan. A strong earthquake in 749 CE destroyed large parts of Jerash.—a city destroyed by an earthquake in 705—and which (the iron) you will be inclined to call probably Venetian 16th? It was dug up by the mission at Djerash of the American Colony at Jerusalem.

We remember with delight and warm affection the time we spent with you recently, dearest Milrob. May we enjoy soon the same blessing again.

With our very best love,

Yours affectionately ever