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Elisina Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, August 18, 1934


August 18th 1934

Dearest Mildred,

Your notes to Royall, to Bill and to me, arrived on the morning of the wedding! It was a great comfort to feel your hand in mine on that eventful day, and I thank you with all my heart for the comfort you gave me, and for the thought of bringing me such comfort.

The wedding was quite charming, and a very happy event. The church was full, and not uncomfortably crowded. The chancel steps were decorated with massed hydrangeas (blue) and lilies, and the altar was decorated with lilies. The music was perfect. The day began by being cloudy and uncertain but the sun came out at 12 and it was under blue skies and brilliant sunshine that the ceremony took place at 2.30.

George Wingfield Digby,George Frederick Wingfield Digby (1911–1989) had been a classmate of William Tyler at Harrow. He was later keeper of the Department of Textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum between 1947 and 1972. whose fatherColonel Frederick James Bosworth Wingfield Digby (1885–1952). was at Harrow with Royall, and who is a great friend of Bill’s, was best man. He and Bill looked very attractive and not too much perturbed during the necessary waiting before the bride arrived. Her Uncle, Cl Wingfield DigbyColonel Frederick James Bosworth Wingfield Digby (1885–1952). (M.F.H.“Master of Foxhounds.” for the Blackmore Vale pack!)The Blackmore Vale is part of the Stour valley in north Dorset, south Somerset, and southwest Wiltshire in southern England; the Blackmore Vale Hunt dates from 1826. walked up the aisle very exactly, so that at the end of the hymn, she was standing by Bill at the altar steps. Two charming little page boys in long white satin trousers and frilled muslin shirts held up her train. She wore white satin and paillettes, and she had a lovely old Honiton laceHoniton, a market town in East Devon known for its production of lace. wedding veil, that belonged to her Mother’s family.

When Betsy signed in the Vestry, she turned to me and kissed me first. It was very sweet of her to do this. The reception was held at Rutland House,Possibly the Rutland House on Aldersgate Street in the city of London, formerly owned by the earls and dukes of Rutland. lent by a friend of Mrs. Fisher-Rowe’sEveleen Fisher-Rowe (1890–1968). for the occasion, because it is a large place with several drawing-rooms and an open terrace. There was no crowding, everything went very well. At five o’clock the bride and bridegroom changed and came downstairs, and were driven off to Croydon aerodrome,Croydon Airport, an airport in South London between what are now the London boroughs of Croydon and Sutton. Croydon was at the time the main airport for London. where they caught the 6.30 aeroplane to Paris. Our car met them at Le Bourget,Le Bourget Airport began commercial operations in 1919 and was Paris’s only airport until the construction of Orly Airport in 1932. and they spent the first few days of their married life at the Quai Bourbon,The Tylers’ apartment in Paris at 21 Quai Bourbon. which had been spruced up and made ready for them by me before crossing to London.

Directly after the wedding, that is to say, next day, Royall and I crossed to France and spent 3 days with Edith at Saint-Brice, while Bill and Betsy were at the Quai Bourbon. But we did not write or telephone, and left them undisturbed in their own world. Royall then went back to Budapest, as he felt he could not stay away so soon after the disturbing events in Austria and in Germany.On July 25, 1934, the Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss (1892–1934) was assassinated by Austrian Nazis in a failed coup and civil war that lasted until August 1934. Afterward, many leading Austrian Nazis fled to Germany and continued to coordinate their actions from there. He is coming here now, and arrives tomorrow morning. Bill and I will go in to meet him at Dijon.

I left Edith to come here, while Bill and Betsy went by car to the Abbaye de Talloires,The Abbaye de Talloires, on Lanke Annecy and near Annecy, a luxury class hotel in an abbey built by Benedictine monks in the seventeenth century. on the Lake of Annecy, which is a very beautiful place, and very comfortably arranged as a Hotel. Yesterday evening they arrived here, looking very well and very happy. Please tell Robert that they are in the blue room on the ground floor.

The evening before the wedding, we had a dinner of all the children, Gioia and her husband,Thomas Cary Owtram. Charlie,Charles Geoffrey Grant Richards (1902–1959). GeoffreyGeoffrey Herbert Grant Richards (1906–1983). and Bill. It was such a happy occasion, and a very happy memory.

It is going to be very hard to say goodbye to William for an indefinite absence. But I find great comfort in the idea that he will have a pretty home and Betsy to keep it for him, and that the friends he has made in America will make Betsy welcome. I am so happy to think that they are going to be with you and dear Robert for a little while before starting in on their New York life. I am sure you will like Betsy, dearest Mildred. She is so young, and gay, and gallant and affectionate, and I know that it would have gone hard with Bill if this marriage had been given up.

He and I spent a happy ten days here at Antigny together, in July. He enjoyed the food, the wine, the atmosphere, and seemed to extract enjoyment from every little thing, more than ever before. Everyone has been most kind to them, including our friends in Italy and in Hungary. It is very touching to see so much affection bestowed on our dear Bill.

When are you coming to Europe? It is a very long time since I saw you last, and seems even longer.

Edith and I drove back from Florence to Antigny at the end of May, over the Simplon pass. She has been here lately again. She is well, and full of energy. I shall probably spend three or four days with her when Bill and Betsy leave us, on the 28th of August. Have you read her last book, Looking Backward [sic]?Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance (New York and London: D. Appleton-Century Co., 1934). I had expected something more vivid; but it presents her background as she wishes it to be fixed in the eyes of people who may want to know, and such as it is, it is a deliberate statement.

I have had Saint-AndréAlfred de Saint-André. R. W. B. Lewis (in Edith Wharton: A Biography [New York: Harper and Row, 1975], 196–97) mentions Alfred de Saint-André as a frequent guest of Wharton’s and describes him as “a man of no visible achievements” but “a great gourmet and a connoisseur of out-of-the-way restaurants.” See also Anne Foata, “Edith Wharton and the Faubourg Saint-Germain: The Diary of the Abbé Mugnier,” Twentieth Century Literature 43, no. 4 (Winter 1997): 399. Saint-André was also a correspondent of the Blisses. See Bliss Papers, HUGFP 76.8, box 36. here for ten days. He limps badly, but he is no longer in pain when he moves and walks. He was very entertaining and very good company.

De Lorey has been here too. He wrote to me from Berlin two days ago, but I have forwarded your post-card, which arrived this morning, to the Rue Saint-Guillaume No. 14, Paris (VIIem),14, rue Saint-Guillaume, Paris, was the former address of Walter Berry. It is unclear why Elisina Tyler forwarded the postcard to this address. as this is a safe address. De Lorey was here for a few days with John Masefield’s sonLewis Crommelin Masefield (1910–1942), an English novelist. (J. M. the Poet Laureate)John Edward Masefield (1878–1967), an English poet and writer, was the poet laureate of the United Kingdom between 1930 and 1967. a very silent young man, who sometimes broke out into very elaborate and circumstantial French. He delighted de Lorey by giving him a searching account of the Buchmanite Oxford Movement.The Oxford Group was a Christian evangelical movement of the 1920s and 1930s begun by the American Lutheran pastor Frank Buchman. He initiated a movement called A First Century Christian Fellowship in 1921, which had attracted thousands of followers and was known as the Oxford Group by 1931.

We lunched with the MetmansLouis Metman’s wife was Marie Thérèse (née Martin) Metman (1866–1946). in Paris. Both very well and mellow and charming. We also saw Marie de VogueMarie Adèle Herménégilde (née de Contades) de Vogüé (1861–1953) had been the wife of Laurent Charles Arthur, Comte de Vogüé (1858–1924). They resided in Paris in a hôtelparticulier at 18, rue de Martignac and at the Château de Commarin in the Côte-d’Or, Burgundy, near the Tylers, who lived at Antigny. They had two sons, Georges (1898–1987) and Charles (1882–1914), who married Diane (née Pastré) (1888–1971). Marie de Vogüé had a son Charles-Louis (1914–1940) who married Anne (née Lefèvre d’Ormesson) (born 1915). See also letter of August 26, 1940. and Mme. de Montboissier,Madame de Montboissier has not been identified. Mme. de Cosse BrissacProbably the Countess Charlotte (née de Biencourt) de Cossé-Brissac (1865–1957), who had been the companion and presumed mistress of the Byzantinist Gustave Schlumberger (1844–1929) and a good friend of Bernard Berenson. See Hermione Lee, Edith Wharton (New York: Chatto and Windus, 2007), 293–94. and the dear Abbé Mugnier,Arthur Mugnier (known as the Abbé Mugnier) (1853–1944), a French Catholic priest known for his participation in Parisian social life and his friendship with authors. See Anne Foata, “Edith Wharton and the Faubourg Saint-Germain: The Diary of the Abbé Mugnier,” Twentieth Century Literature 43, no. 4 (Winter 1997): 394–405. who filled Bill’s heart with joy by referring to Betsy—on trust—as cet être de beauté et de lumière.“This being of beauty and light.”

My episode of the wedding was closed by a very pleasant dinner with Lady Hood,Possibly Ellen Floyd (née Touzalin) Hood (ca. 1885–1950). on the evening of the wedding, at which I sat next to Lord Cranborne.Robert Arthur James Gascoyne-Cecil, 5th Marquess of Salisbury (1893–1972), known as Viscount Cranborne between 1903 and 1947, was a British Conservative politician. He has all the vivacity and penetrating intelligence of the Cecils,The branch of the Cecil family that held the title Marquess of Salisbury descended from Sir Robert Cecil (1563?–1612). and I enjoyed our talk very much. “We must hold to democracy—” “Yes, . . . but selected democracy,—” and so on. It was delightful to end that sad day for the parents, among friends, and among legitimate distractions—just distracting enough to ease the weight on one’s heart.

Gioia and Betsy are very good friends. Gioia and little GillyHelen Gillian Owtram (born 1926). She married Julian de Zuleta (born 1918) in 1946. spent three weeks here in June. Both were very well, and Gilly is a wonderfully happy, cheerful, gentle little girl, never boisterous, and quite perfectly brought up. She is also very pretty. Gioia has not changed at all. She is writing another novel,In 1934, Gioia Owtram published a novel, Camilla, A Romance, under the pseudonym Anne Stretton. She would publish the novel Proposal under the same name in 1936. with the same attention, enjoyment and perseverance which she bestowed on the first.

Well, dearest Mildred, goodbye, and thank you again, with all my heart, for your loving thought and your constant, and so precious affection for me. Please give Robert my very best love. And please both come soon to Europe!

Yours ever devotedly