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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, January 22, 1912

8 Rue de la Borouillère


22 January 1912.Monday.

Dear Mildred.

It was a sore disappointment that came with your letter—we had made sure of you for February, and it is hard to see it all in the air once more. Please do try to come. If only they would send you here or to Madrid! I think it was from Madrid that I wrote to you last. We have been back now two months, and have done a powerful lot of work; translated enough to complete the first volume, in fact. I now have the introduction to write—a very difficult job, on which my work will probably be judged. I must tell you that at Hume's death he left half a volume set up in type, at which he had been working for about six years! They sent me the proofs of course, and I started with the idea of continuing from the date of his last printed letter—i.e. 22 October, 1548. But on examining the documents here in Paris,Archives de Paris. I found that Hume had stopped at Bundle K. 1487, under the impression that nothing of the date existed in the following ones, whilst I speedily discovered several important letters in K. 1488 of dates earlier than 22 Oct. 1548! At Simancas I also found that Hume had neglected to examine a large number of bundles that contain a few important things. Also not one single man among the Archiveros“Archivists.” there had ever seen Hume, though it is true that only one of them has been there more than ten years, and he is quite ga-ga. However I discovered from the old inn-keeper that Hume had never actually stayed at Simancas, and only at rare intervals used to drive over for a week or two from Valladolid. Consequently he did none of his copying himself, only selecting the documents and having them transcribed by the under-archiveros for hire.

The great surprise came at Vienna.The Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Archives of the City and Province of Vienna). Please forgive so many details, but I can’t explain the position otherwise. The Calendar is supposed to contain all state-papers with reference to England or to the ReformationEnglish Reformation, the series of events in sixteenth-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. (thus embracing Italian and French policy) written by people in the Spanish employ or the Imperial while Charles VCharles V (1500–1558), ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his abdication in 1556. was Emperor. Charles V employed French (Franche-Comtois) [sic]Franc-Comtois, two separate language dialect groups spoken by people in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France. ambassadors in England and France, Spaniards in Venice and Rome. Most of his state papers stayed at Brussels until the Austrians cleared out during the Revolution, were then taken to Vienna.The Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Archives of the City and Province of Vienna). At that place all the diplomatic correspondence from France and England for Charles’ later years still remains. At Simancas is the correspondence from the Spanish ambassadors in Italy, and in ParisArchives de Paris. there now exists what was once the section “France” of the Simancas archives, which was carried off by Napoleon. This section “France” contains original correspondence for all periods subsequent to Charles V’s death, but for my period, when Charles was still Emperor and King (until 1556), that section only contains a few transcripts and extracts translated into Spanish from the Imperial ambassadors’—in France—letters, and sent to Prince PhilipPhilip II (1527–1598), son of Emperor Charles V and later king of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, king of England and Ireland. in Spain. Philip, let Hume and his other biographers say what they will, understood no French and little Italian. Now Hume, in most incredible dullness, never even looked at the section “France” in Vienna,The Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Archives of the City and Province of Vienna). which contains all the original letters, and printed the rubbishy extracts that exist here in Paris and are always incomplete and usually badly translated. I could hardly believe my eyes when I found all the originals at Vienna,The Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv (Archives of the City and Province of Vienna). for I had taken it for granted they must have been lost, and that the Paris translations were all that remained. On making enquiries I found the explanation. Hume had not visited Vienna for many years, and simply used to write to a well known Jewish paleographist called Dr. Goldmann to copy for him the section “England” solid. Goldmann had not heard of Hume’s death, but Hume still owed him some money for transcribing, and when he heard someone was there copying documents for the Spanish Calendar, he came running down with a bunch of Hume's letters in his hand, thinking me to be someone sent by Hume to take the bread out of his mouth. He is as near stone deaf as possible, and I had a devil’s own time getting him to understand that Hume had shuffled off this mortal coil, and stopping him calling Hume names like “Schweinehund.”“Bastard,” literally “pig-dog.” He then showed me a lot of Hume's letters asking him to make transcripts, and he had done the work for years. I prefer to think Hume had no notion that the French section at Vienna might contain the originals, but it is also possible that he knew it, but as less than 50% of the documents from that section can go into the Calendar, and as he didn’t even make the choice of what was to be copied, he did not wish to pay for twice as many transcripts as he would be able to print, and contented himself with what he found here.

The upshot of it is that I have about 40,000 words of important documents that ought to be intercalated among the 300 pages Hume left at his death. This would mean upsetting Hume's arrangement, and casting aspersion on his work. However, the Calendar has been slated vigorously in most of the best modern histories, and I don’t intend that my part of it shall meet the same fate simply for the sake of preserving a reputation among non-Sachverstandigen“Non-experts.” which Hume never really deserved. I thought it better not to attempt to explain all this to my chief at the Record Office by writing, so I have translated all the documents to be intercalated, and am going to take them over to London presently and show them to Sir Henry Maxwell LyteSir Henry Churchill Maxwell Lyte (1848–1940), a British archivist and historian. myself, giving him at the same time my reasons. As I am alone responsible for the Calendar, I don’t believe Sir H., who is a charming person, will refuse to have Hume's stuff upset, and still less now that I have taken the trouble to do all the translation. But it is delicate and unpleasant business bringing such a charge against the work of a man old enough to be my father and who had worked for the Record Office for twenty years.In a review of the Calendar of State Papers Spanish, vol. 13, 1554–1558, J. E. Neale wrote: “The contrast with the Elizabethan Calendar is striking. Not only was Martin Hume's search for documents defective: he did not know of the existence of despatches actually in print when he compiled the Calendar. Neither criticism can be made of Royall Tyler.” The English Historical Review 72, no. 282 (January 1957): 113.

The time passes here with terrible rapidity, as besides the Calendar I have other things that occupy me constantly. I never let slip a chance of seeing Gothic sculpture or Persian pottery, or as far as I can, early Chinese things. I never have cared very much for Japanese art, and Chinese porcelain also leaves me cold. But Chinese painting of periods earlier than MingMing dynasty, the ruling dynasty of China between 1368 and 1644. (which begins you probably know when—I believe about the early XV) is tremendous stuff, and a lot of it has come through Paris lately. Also Chinese Ceramics of the SungSong dynasty, the ruling dynasty of China between 960 and 1279. and earlier periods, before the deadly perfection of Ming porcelain was achieved, are in their way as fine as anything can be. Very hard pottery, mostly, breaking into real porcelain towards the end, and one colour or at the most two, and run at random at that. The greatest refinement and delicacy in shapes, and a nobility of matter in body and glaze unknown to Persia. They have been coming fairly freely for the last four years or so, but are still pretty cheap—dirt cheap compared with the debased, complicated, frippery stuff of the Three EmperorsThe Three Emperors, Kangxi (1662–1722), Yongzheng (1723–1735), and Qianlong (1736–1795), the most powerful rulers of China’s last dynasty, the Qing.—though in China itself they are highly appreciated. The British Museum recently tried to buy the collection of a great Mandarin, consisting of pottery and paintings of the Sung and earlier periods, but the Chinese Government refused to allow it to leave the country.

I am enclosing a letter from ElisinaWilliam is a great joy to me now—though to speak the truth I was unable to so much as simulate much affection for him during the first year of his life—he seemed so distant and inhuman then, but now that he knows me it is very different. Please write soon.

Yours sincerely

Royall Tyler

Associated People: Martin Hume