You are here:Home/Resources/ Bliss-Tyler Correspondence/ Search the Letters/ Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, June 24, 1938
Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, June 24, 1938

Cunard White Star—R.M.S. “Queen Mary.”


So many things I had wanted to talk to you about, and couldn’t for lack of time—dearest Mildred. It would be the same, however long the allowance of time, no doubt, and I am grateful for what I’ve had—tho’ already clamoring for more.

One thing: You remember Hayford’s childlike assumption that any papers either of us did for the Oaks seriesMildred Barnes Bliss and Robert Woods Bliss envisioned a scholarly publication series that would become the Dumbarton Oaks Papers. In correspondence from Barbara Sessions to Royall Tyler, dated December 20, 1937, she writes: “Mr. and Mrs. Bliss have asked me to write to you in regard to a plan which has been germinating in their minds for a Dumbarton Oaks publication, to take the form of a series of illustrated Papers or small separate monographs, each devoted to the publication of some object or group of objects in the Collection. Before proceeding to ‘allocate’ any of the unpublished objects to the various scholars who have expressed an interest in them (the names of Goldschmidt, Herzfeld, Morey, Miss Richter and Weitzmann have at once occurred to us), Mr. and Mrs. Bliss feel that if you would consent to preparing a paper for such a series, you should by all means be given first choice of the Byzantine material.” Byzantine Collection, Royall Tyler correspondence file. would be done by “us.” Well, we can’t tell him nay, can we? He and I have dealt jointly with all Byz. questions now for some 15 years, and you’ve now seen for yourself how painful it would be to have to convey that any change was contemplated, even for one occasion.

I’ve had some pleasant talks with Mrs. Barlow,Ernesta Beaux Barlow (née Aimee Ernesta Drinker), who was married to the American composer, pianist, and critic Samuel L. M. Barlow (1892–1982). and particularly with MELCHIOR, her black Viennese bull-pup. And today I went to see “Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs”,Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a American animated film produced by Walt Disney in 1937. and left in the middle, unable to encaisser“To take.” any more. Fortunately, I was able to have recourse to MELCHIOR for replenishment of my spirits.

It’s very hot and steamy on board, and I’ve been relaxing in it as in a vapour bath. But I’ve also been trying to sort out my impressions of America, and I’m not altogether displeased with what I’ve gathered.

Kelek is disgusted with me for having crabbed his RouaultHC.P.1938.04.(O). to you—and I think he suspects me of having instigated Robert to screw him down on the little ivory portraitProbably BZ.1938.63. of Hayford at the ring-side. He little knows how I bullied you to get it—not good for him to know it.

For once, I was deeply interested in a prize-fight (Joe Louis and Max Schmeling),The second boxing match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling took place at Yankee Stadium in New York on June 22, 1938. Louis was an American Negro and Schmeling a representative of Nazi Germany, and the fight came to symbolize the struggle between democracy and fascism. and I really was pleased when the coonSlang for African-American. knocked the Boche’sSlang for German. head off in the first round. By the way, we never talked about the Federal Grand Jury’s mention of Germany in its indictment of the spy-ring.In June 1938, the federal grand jury indicted eighteen men, including the head of the Secret Service, as spies in the pay of the German government. See “U. S. Jury Indicts 18 as Spies in Reich Government’s Pay; Secret Service Head Named,” New York Times, June 21, 1938. Doesn’t that sound like v. PapenLieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen (1879–1969), a German politician who served as chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as vice chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934. Papen was expelled from the United States during the First World War for his complicity in planning the sabotage of U.S. rail lines. and AlbertHeinrich Friedrich Albert (1874–1960), the German commercial attaché to the German ambassador to the United States during the First World War. Albert was the paymaster for German espionage and sabotage operations in the United States. days? Boy-EdKarl Boy-Ed (1872–1930), the German naval attaché to the United Stated who was expelled as a saboteur in 1917. Boy-Ed worked closely with Franz von Papen to establish a spy ring and saboteurs in the United States during the First World War. etc?

Precious Mildred, I have in my mind’s eye many delightful pictures of you, but also one or two that frighten me, especially (mingled with guilt-consciousness) when I reflect that you came up to N.Y. with fever to see me off. I do beg you to go easy, very easy. Remember what happened to Elisina—and she has had luck, on the whole—just short of the abyss. Please be merciful to me and go easy; I can’t bear the idea that you should tempt those malicious and malevolent spirits that watch out for one when one overdoes it. I was almost relieved today when I read in the rag that is printed on board that the Crown Prince of SwedenOsca Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf (1882–1973), the crown prince of Sweden who became king in 1950, suffered a kidney attack and remained on his ship during a visit to the United States in 1938. His brother, Prince Bertil of Sweden (1912–1997), took up his duties, visiting Delaware and New York between June 27 and July 1, 1938. The crown prince of Sweden was a personal friend of Mildred Barnes Bliss and Robert Woods Bliss. had been indisposed on the journey over to America: I said, to myself “Ah, perhaps that may let her off.”

The Oaks are constantly in my mind. I gloat over those treasures. No one knows what they mean to me—only you.


I’m going to post this today, in the hope that it will catch the first boat back to the USA.

I’ve done a lot of work these days on board, and also had a good rest. What a merciful dispensation of Providence that the USA should be separated from Europe by at least 4 1/2 days of sea! One trembles to think what it would be like if one hadn’t that amount of repose before and after a visit to the land of our birth.

I’ve had some very comical talks with Kelek. I wish you could have been behind the Arras.“Tapestry.” His remarks on the Am. Museum people are extremely entertaining. I will say this for him, that he recognises quality when he sees it—e.g. in John Lodge,John Ellerton Lodge (1878 – 1942), an American art historian of Asian art who became director of the newly founded Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in in 1931. for whom he has the greatest regard, and in Marvin Ross.Marvin Chauncey Ross (1904–1977), an American art historian who studied at Harvard University (1928–1930), the Centro de Estudios Históricos in Madrid (1930), and New York University (1933–1934 and 1937). He was curator of medieval art at the Brooklyn Museum (1934) and curator of decorative arts at the Walters Art Gallery (now Walters Art Museum) beginning in 1937.

I’ve arranged to go and see his Byz. glass ewerThis molded blue glass ewer has not been identified. as soon as we land.

Fondest love and blessings, to you both


R. T.

Associated People: Dikran G. Kelekian; Hayford Peirce
Associated Artworks: BZ.1938.63; HC.P.1938.04.(O)