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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, May 18, 1941


18 May 1941

I have had you on my mind constantly these days, dearest Mildred, that I must write to you now, while I look out of my window and see the hills across the frontier, in that country that has meant so much to both of us, all our lives. Probably no one knows, as I know, what you are feeling now. And you know what is passing through me. It’s hard to keep one’s bearing in such a moment—but it’s a consolation to me to remember you, and I know you’ll read in these lines much that I’d like to say and would say if my first concern were not that this should reach you surely and as quickly as may be. If it’s still possible when you get this, I beg you for a line of your writing, and if that can’t be, news by cable.

I’ve not succeeded in seeing Elisina. I’ve had news from her—that she is well and brave as ever. When I got back to these parts, she expected to get the permission as she did last winter, but in vain. She says she is surrounded by kindness—thank Heaven for that. I’ve done all I could think of to help. In the meantime, I can’t go away from here. She sends you fond love.

I long to hear where you are, and especially how you are, and how Robert is.Robert Woods Bliss had a gall bladder infection and would undergo an operation in Santa Barbara, California, on August 2, 1941. See “Robert W. Bliss in Hospital,” New York Times (August 2, 1941). That last cable of yours, that I got before I sailed, frightened me badly. Do let me have as full a report now as you can. I feel very much cut off from the outer world, as you may imagine. Letters from the other side are very irregular. Many that one doesn’t particularly need come quickly. Those that one most wants take a long time, or don’t turn up at all. I long to hear that you are back in Washington, for in those surroundings I can picture you to myself.

You have no doubt heard, long since, that TruelleJacques Truelle (1880–1946), a French diplomat who had been counselor of the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., returned to France in early 1941. He left France on February 26, 1941, to become the French Vichy government’s ambassador to Romania, a post he assumed on March 4, 1941. In June 1943, he joined the resistance movement of General Charles de Gaulle. See Adriana Bichiş, “De Vichy à la Résistance: Le Cas du Diplomate Jacques Truelle,” Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai—Studia Europaea (March 2012), 189–208. is at Bucarest. I’ve seen lots of friends at Vichy and Lyon to whom I gave your news, and who spoke of you with the warmest affection.

I haven’t heard from Bill for a long time; but I have a letter from Doro from which I fear that Bill’s exam didn’t go off as he had hoped,William Royall Tyler failed his doctoral preliminary examination in art history at Harvard University and was awarded the degree of MFA. and I’m grieved about that. I was delighted to hear that Doro had got the Guggenheim fellow-ship.In 1941, Doro Levi was awarded a twelve-month John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship at Princeton, which enabled “outstanding scholars to devote a full year to a research project, free from teaching duties in their educational institutions.” See “Three Graduates Given Fellowships. Guggenheim Awards Granted to Professor Gary, Doro Levi and George Woollard,” Daily Princetonian 67, no. 36 (April 11, 1942). See also (accessed May 24, 2013).The fellowship began on May 1, and Levi’s project was a continuation of his study of the mosaics of Antioch-on-the-Orontes. This research led initially to two smaller papers on Antioch mosaics: “The Evil Eye and the Lucky Hunchback,” in ed. Richard Stillwell, Antioch on-the-Orontes 3: The Excavations 1937–39 (Princeton, 1941), 220–32, and “Mors Voluntaria, Mystery Cults on Mosaics from Antioch,” Berytus 7 (1942): 19–55. He certainly deserves it. I’m afraid AnnaAnna Cosadino (Kosadinou) Levi (1895–1981), wife of the art historian and archaeologist Teodoro (“Doro”) Davide Levi (1899–1991). She was born in the Greek section of Istanbul and married Levi in 1928. See Giovanna Bandini, Lettere dall’egeo: Archeologhe italiane tra 1900 e 1950 (Florence: Giunti, 2003), 92n29 and 122n3. is still very ill, though the last news are a bit better. The doctor wouldn’t hear of her starting on that journey. And now. . . .

I think so longingly of those last hours we spent in Washington. Where, again? I send this to Washington now, so that if you have returned there it may reach you the sooner.

Give my fondest love to Robert. You’ll be doing a deed of mercy if you’ll write to me, dearest Mildred. My constant thoughts are with you.


R. T.

P.S. 19 May. A long letter just in from Bill, telling me all about it. Poor lamb, I fear he’s been through a bad time. He says you and Robert have been angels!

Associated People: Doro Levi; William Royall Tyler
Associated Places: Geneva [Genève] (Switzerland)