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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, January 17, 1904

Villa Aritzari In Biarritz, France.

Jan. 17th

Dear Mildred.

I don’t know whether you have head of my Mother’s death,Ellen Frances Krebs Tyler died on January 16, 1904, in Biarritz, France. but I thought I must write to you. It was yesterday—I can hardly realize it yet, it comes up in all sorts of different ways every minute. My stepfather has been wonderful about it, which makes it very much easier for me, and it is a comfort to think that he has the child. I don’t feel very much like writing, but I want to tell you a few things. Before she died she approved of a plan which had been suggested by a friend at the Foreign Offices for my leaving Oxford, devoting myself to languages and trying to get into the Diplomatic Service earlier. In his Autobiography (3:9), Royall Tyler recalled this differently, writing that, after his mother’s death, he obtained permission to leave Oxford from his stepfather (and guardian) Josiah Huntington Quincy. I am glad that I am not going back to Oxford, and that my future was settled by her.

She often spoke of you up to the very last. And I know she loved you very dearly. My Mother had decided that the Diplomatic was the best thing for me—and if I can get into it I shall certainly do so. I had no idea that she would not recover until the last few days, for she kept her spirits and never despaired. My stepfather is going to America almost immediately. And I shall go to the University of Salamanca and devote myself to Spanish for three months. When I leave Spain I shall go to Germany.Mildred Barnes most likely disapproved of Royall Tyler’s decision to leave Oxford. But the only evidence of her thoughts on the matter comes from a letter that Robert Woods Bliss wrote to her on February 14, 1904; this letter (a response to a letter from Mildred Barnes dated January 31, 1904) also demonstrates Robert Woods Bliss’s xenophobic feelings of the time and perhaps those of his stepsister. He wrote: “About Royal [sic]:—your point of sticking to one university is well taken for I believe that going from one place to another for short stays might be fraught with results less beneficial than a steadily pursued course at one place would give. He is young enough to afford to finish his course at Oxford, or if he prefers take a degree from a German university. Then his languages will come easily enough afterwards; and besides languages are only a means of intercourse, per se, in diplomacy and can be cultivated quickly; study of them can come in each country as one is accredited to different capitals. . . . [A]nd I should be sorry to have Royal [sic], from your interests in him, not get the best start possible. Then I think whenever the opportunity offers he should go to America, see his country & learn of her greatness, her position, see her men how fine they are compared with other nations, how superior America is!” Robert Woods Bliss to Mildred Barnes, February 14, 1904, Bliss Papers, HUGFP 76.8, box 1.

Yours sincerely

Royall Tyler.

Associated Things: Autobiography