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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, December 20, 1924

Commissioner General of the League of Nations
Budapest, 20.XII.24Saturday.

You must be back by now, dearest Mildred, and I hope this will reach you in time to bring you and Robert my love and best wishes for Xmas.

Elisina is bringing Bill out here for his Xmas holidays, they arrive on the 24th, and I’m greatly looking forward to hearing Bill’s account of his first term at Harrow.See letter of July 18, 1924. He is certainly very happy there, much more so than I was my first term, or any new boy was in my day—l’adoucissement des moeurs“Milder manners.”—though I can’t really believe Harrow has changed to such an extent that new boys are no longer put through the hoop sometime or other. His house master, I hear, is considered exceedingly good, he only took the house over two or three years ago and is keen. What Bill enjoys, I needn’t add, is the life of the school, and not the work. However, he’s very high up, and I don’t worry about his present lack of height of brow.

It is said that time passes very quickly in prison, and there’s just enough analogy between Budapest and a place of detention to explain why time should rush past here as it does. I lead a very monotonous life, my chief excitement being the language, which has endless tricks and turns and may be trusted to keep one on one’s toes for years. I can talk it a little now, and read with the help of a dictionary, but I’m nowhere near as far advanced, after 8 months here, as I was after 3 in Germany.Tyler lived in Kassel, Germany, between 1904 and 1906 to learn the language.

Apart from the language and the work—which is most absorbing and increasingly interesting to me—I wish I could have a couple of days to tell you about it—such few moments as I have I spend on the archaeological discoveries they are making here. Every time the ground is scratched something is found. Recently they’ve found proof, in the shape of liturgical objects in graves, that some at any rate of Attila’s Huns were Buddhists!Attila the Hun (ca. 406–453) was the leader of the Hunnic Empire from 434 until his death in 453. He launched several attacks against the Roman Empire from his base in what is now Hungary. For the evidence of Buddhism in Hungary, see Russell Webb, “Buddhism in Hungary,” Buddhist Quarterly 2, no. 2 (1969): 7–10; and Ernest Hetenyi, “Note II: A Short History of Buddhism in Hungary,” Bulletin of Tibetology 10, no. 1 (1973): 57–79. And then, happily this place is near enough to Vienna for a lot of good music to come here—the big Vienna Symphony orchestras come for a few days every month in the winter, and they are magnificent far beyond anything I’ve heard elsewhere.

Much love, dear Mildred.

R. T.

Associated People: William Royall Tyler