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Elisina Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, February 15, 1933 [2]

Finanz Ministerium
February 15th 1933Wednesday.

Dear Robert,

I have just finished a long letter to Mildred, in which I have been telling her and you of my travels in Greece.See letter of February 15, 1933 [1]. I cannot tell you how often I put by tid-bits in my mind, which are intended as an offering for you and her. If they are not offered up more frequently, it is because I am continually pressed by the need of meeting immediate calls in my correspondence, and also partly because I trust Royall to keep you both informed of the major events in our family life.

We have left the Quai Bourbon in the hands of a rather picturesque character, a white haired Swiss servant, who enjoys the distinction, rare for a Swiss, who live on juice and milk, of being excessively gourmet. This has led him to acquire the arts of cookery, and Royall and Bill find, when they have occasion to go through Paris, that they are carefully served and carefully fed.

Our dear Antigny has drawn its shutters until next summer, as far as I can forsee. We are both here under the hospitable roof of the Legation. Nicholas RooseveltNicholas Roosevelt (1893–1982), an American diplomat and journalist and friend of the Blisses. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Affairs, a writer for its journal Foreign Affairs, and a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and New York Herald Tribune between 1921 and 1946. is a bachelor as you know. His house is large, and Royall’s frequent and protracted visits, during my absence have developed into an ideal interpretation of squatter’s rights, including “his bag and his baggage” as some one said unkindly of a man who travelled with his wife, and travelled lightly.

Dear Bill and I had a very good time in Italy at Christmas. Poor Royall was tied down here by his duties. If things turn out as we hope, I shall meet Bill again in Rome for a fortnight, at Easter and then we will go to Vienna, to spend a fortnight at the National Bank there, and have the whole mechanism explained to him by our friend Mr FrereMaurice Frère (1890–1970), a Belgian civil servant and economist. He became a director in the Belgian Ministry of Economic Affairs at the end of the First World War and then served as a director in the Reparation Commission, as economic counselor in the Berlin Transfer Committee under the Dawes Plan, as financial counselor in the Belgian Legation in Berlin, and, from 1932 to 1937, as League of Nations counselor at the Austrian National Bank in Vienna. Later, in 1944, he became the governor of the National Bank of Belgium, where he remained until 1957. (a Belgian) who is Advisor to the Bank. It is strange indeed to think of Bill ripping his arse into the National Bank of Austria. He is going in for his degree this summer. I shall send him Walter Lippman’s [sic] accounts of Technocracy,Possibly Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion of 1922, a critical assessment of functional democratic governance which takes the position that technology and the scientists who manage it are the people best suited to running society. Lippmann (1889–1974) was an American intellectual, writer, and political commentator. to show him how too much book-theory may set one’s notions out of gear—

I have just been reading Franklin’s Autobiography an[d] letters, edited by Bigelow.Either Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1868) or The Life of Benjamin Franklin (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1879). Benjamin Franklin’s unfinished autobiography was written between 1771 and 1790 and was titled Memoirs by Franklin. What a fine book. What a noble character, and what infinite good sense heightened all the great qualities of that great man. One cannot help wondering what would have happened to him if he had been thrust into the machinery of modern politics. I expect he would have been strong enough to resist the impact. Such a character as his gains by attrition.

Another book that has interested me greatly Mowrer’s “Germany sets the clock back.”Edgar Mowrer, Germany Sets the Clock Back (New York: W. Morrow, 1933). He says, I think very truthfully, that Germany’s ‘formlessness’ prevents her being able to do any good to herself through the democratic ideal of government. After all it isn’t so long ago since Germany was ruled throughout by local petty men, and the good burghers don’t want to presume, even now. Then perhaps, Clemenceau’sGeorges Benjamin Clemenceau (1841–1929), a French statesman, physician, and journalist who served as prime minister in 19061909 and 19171920. boast: “Nous leur f—ons la république!”Nous leur foutons la république! “We ram the republic down their throats!” has made the idea of a republic distasteful.

Dear Robert, here is the final composition for the proposed bookplate for the Oaks. It is very hard to combine two very dissimilar elements in a single design, and it is hard to get a balanced composition out of the two motives, and the various inscriptions. If this pleases you, please let me know the colours of your coat of arms, in heraldry, as the lines in the ground, and even the fasce, or band, must be put in right to indicate the right colours. I had four designs made, and I have had real trouble about the lettering.Elisina Tyler’s proposals for the Dumbarton Oaks ex-libris bookplate, if still extant, have not been located. For other proposed bookplate designs, see James Carder, “Ex Libris, Dumbarton Oaks—The First Bookplate,” Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, June 2013.

How do you like L’Art Byzantin?—We are puffed up with pride by the reviews. FalkeOtto von Falke (1862–1942), a German art historian who specialized in the decorative arts and who succeeded Wilhelm von Bode as general director of the Berlin State Museums in 1920. has written to say that he has been “often surprised, but always convinced.”

My best love. I must hope that Royall will get his heart’s wish, and see you both in America, but I hope this won’t mean that you renounce Europe this year.

Yours affectely ever,

Associated Things: L'art byzantin