You are here:Home/Resources/ Bliss-Tyler Correspondence/ Search the Letters/ Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, July 17, 1939
Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, July 17, 1939

R.M.S. StatendamRMS Statendam, Holland America Line.


Your second wireCable of July 13, 1939. telling me that the Sotheby bookBZ.1939.12. had been acquired for 252 (pounds, I suppose) reached me after we had sailed, dearest Mildred, so I didn’t refer to it in mine to you. But I’m nonetheless enchanted, and am very much looking forward to seeing what it is like. Please, as soon as possible, send me a couple of photos of the illuminated pages. If it is anything like J.P.M.’s,J. Pierpont Morgan. Tyler is probably referring to the Morgan Library’s late eleventh-century Gospel Lectionary, MS M.639, that J. P. Morgan, Jr., acquired in 1919. you got it very cheap indeed.

Well, I crashed Bangor, and, I trust, broke the ice with Polly.Polly Brown Peirce, Hayford Peirce’s wife. She was nice, welcoming, indeed, without effusion. She has a low, quiet voice and a restful manner. Not a bad accent. Eats tidily. She is no beauty, but is neat in appearance. No rouge, tho’ a pasty complexion, no dyed nails. Altogether a studied neutrality of Erscheinung.“Appearance.” Mouse-coloured hair. ECTIA,“Hestia.” rather than AΠOΛAYCIC.“Apolausis.” This reference and the previous reference to Hestia refer to two objects in the Bliss collection: BZ.1929.1, a tapestry wall hanging with a representation of Hestia Polyolbus, “giver of blessings,” and BZ.1938.72, a floor mosaic with a representation of Apolausis, a personification of pleasure or enjoyment. Pronounce APÒLAUSIS, accent on the o. By the way, it delights me to think of Aπόλαυσις, represented as a lady smelling a flower, welcoming visitors to D.O.The Apolausis mosaic (BZ.1938.72) was to be laid in the foyer of Dumbarton Oaks, which was under construction in 1939. For what but DELECTATION is the object of art? It would have been bitter indeed to have AΠÓΛAYCIC go to the people who had not grasped that truth. And who has but the Milrobs? I had the impression that shePolly Brown Peirce, Hayford Peirce’s wife. has a will of her own, very much so, and that she has Hayford by the short hairs. I don’t imagine one will often see him without her, in Europe (or am I being catty?)

Anyway, she seems to run the house well, They’ve modernized it and made it comfortable—nothing could make it attractive. Built in 2 or 3 campaigns, between the 50’s and 80’s, I should say. Ugly coloured brick, and dud-Swiss timber.

Hayford seems happy. I’ve very glad I went. I was amused by the number of coins he has bought since he has taken up residence in Bangor—among them 10 or 12 magnificent big IVe century gold and silver medallions, and a lot of exceedingly rare coins. And—the way things happen—he has recently mopped up, from a Beyrout dealer (not BoustrosElias (Elie) Bustros, an antiquities dealer in Beirut, Lebanon.) a Xe cent. bronze crossThis bronze cross has not been identified. with several intaglio figures on it, or rather cut in it, and an inscription, in just exactly the grand Romanus II style of which we can now demonstrate the existence. An unicum, all right, that cross, and for nothing. I only wish I had had a chance of bagging it for D. O.

My stay at Duxbury was delightful. My grandsonRoyall Tyler (b. 1936), the first child of Bettine Tyler and William Royall Tyler. was born in London. He has a B.A. in Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Japanese literature from Columbia University and became a scholar and translator of Japanese literature. He presently lives in Australia in New South Wales. conquered me at once. I treated him with proper restraint, and we got on well together. You’d have laughed to see him: again and again, when Bill. and I were working, he’d come in, pick up either Vol. I or Vol. II of L’Art Byz., gravely carry it to me and ask to be shown the pictures. We’d then identify Daddy, Mummy, Nanny, Daphne (the black cook-general)—and of course Pluto, the latter in the shape of a Coptic lion.

Duxbury suits them all perfectly, and will do them much good. Betsy does much of the house-work, makes her own clothes and the brat’s, and tiny garments for the awaited one, and seems to enjoy it all. Bill cooked several superb meals for me—he is the rôtisseur né.“Roaster born.” And we gorged on the most delectable clams. Betsy is skillful at digging for them.

News, quickly, please. Tell me you’ve both taking it lazily after those terrifying last weeks, what I saw and what was no doubt even worse, the finish in Washington.

Fondest love to you both.

R. T.



It may amuse you to hear that our Hayford was also invited to go on the US Delegation to the Algiers Congress. I regret to say that, in reply, he had the bad taste to tell the State Dept. that when Uncle Sam had finished badgering him about the settlement of his father’sMellen Chamberlain Peirce (1847–1936), who was born in Bangor, Maine and lived there almost all of his life. He was in the wholesale hardware and grocery business. In 1882 he married Anna Hayford, the daughter of William B. and Laura Hayford. After Hayford’s death in 1887, he managed the timberlands and business property of the Hayford estate. He was also a director and officer of the Dirigo Ice Company of Bangor. Mellen and Anna Peirce had three children: Ada Peirce McCormick, Hayford, and Waldo Peirce. estate, changing the rules of the game every five minutes, so that an estate took longer to wind up in the USA than in any country in the world, Tibet included, he, Hayford, would be glad to consider representing Uncle Sam in Algiers, and even taking a few days rest himself, after etc, etc, etc. These backwoodsmen. . . .

I must say a word of commendation about this boat.RMS Statendam, Holland America Line. When I boarded her, she struck me as rather small and old fashioned, compared with the Nieuw Amsterdam. But I soon came to appreciate her. I have a splendid big room, outside of course, with bath, all very comfortable, in which I’ve been able to work, undisturbed. Spotless cleanliness. It has been quite rough, one day, and she’s an excellent sea-boat. I haven’t been bothered by anyone—haven’t spoken to a soul, except my steward, the whole trip. Not made to dine at the Captain’s table. Not introduced to the cuties. Had a marvelous time.

The food is no worse, really, than it is on any other boat – one subsists. And I like the stolid Dutch pans [sic] of the officers and crew, as a background. And the boat is sufficiently small for one to feel in touch with the sea. Of course it has hugely added to the agreement of the trip that the cabin class is only about 1/3 full.

Well – we’re due to land early tomorrow morning. My blessings on you, dearest Mildred.

R. T.

The Dutch line for AΠOΛAYCIC,“Apolausis.” This reference refers to BZ.1938.72, a floor mosaic with a representation of Apolausis, a personification of pleasure or enjoyment. every time.

Associated People: Hayford Peirce; William Royall Tyler
Associated Things: L'art byzantin
Associated Artworks: BZ.1929.1; BZ.1938.72; BZ.1939.12