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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, November 26, 1904


Nov. 26th 1904.

Dear Mildred.

I have your letter from San Miguel,São Miguel, an island in the archipelago of the Azores. Mildred Barnes had sailed from Naples in early November 1904; the ship apparently called at São Miguel. Robert Woods Bliss also received a letter from the Azores islands. Robert Woods Bliss to Mildred Barnes, November 25, 1904, Bliss Papers, HUGFP 38.1, box 1. and as you are so kind as to be solicitous for the safety of the pearls,See letter of November 1, 1904. I hasten to assure you that StreeterEdwin William Streeter (1824–1923), a London jeweler who owned a shop on Bond Street. has them safe in town. I am delighted to find an excuse for writing, as I had made the stern resolution not to do so until Christmas.

I am glad to hear of your brother Robert’s appointment.Robert Woods Bliss was appointed second secretary of the U.S. embassy in Saint Petersburg on November 10, 1904. I had seen something in the papers, but the name was spelled wrong, and I didn’t like to risk congratulating you before I was sure. I can’t take Russian lessons, as the woman who was to give them to me isn’t coming. Yesterday I went for the first time to my studio.Tyler was taking painting lessons. See also letters of November 1, 1904; February 16, 1905; and June 4, 1905. The painter is a young German, with no very extraordinary talent, and a most extraordinary disability for tongues, as he studied for some time in Paris, and returned with a widow some ten years his senior and a ten-year old child, and so scant a knowledge of French that my German is preferable as a means of communication.

However, the widow, to whom he is to be married in a few days, has nice manners, and various misfortunes (of which [being a] widow is far the worst) so won me that I decided to patronize him. He completely captivated me by mentioning the portrait of Philip II by El Greco at the Louvre,The reference is unclear, as the Musée du Louvre does not have a portrait of Philip II by El Greco. Royall Tyler is possibly referring to El Greco, Saint Louis, King of France, and a Pageboy (1585–1590), a portrait acquired by the Musée du Louvre in 1903. Royall Tyler later identified the latter painting as a portrait of San Fernando (King Ferdinand III, 1199–1252), which was the former identification of the king portrayed. See letter of October 10, 1905. and a relationship of the compositions of that painter with those of Tintoretto,Tintoretto (Jacopo Comin) (1518–1594), a Venetian painter. which I had also noticed.

Immediately upon the arrival of your letter I sat down and wrote an enormous reply—giving my views upon the German, but I am inclined to think that I had better not send it, as it was written before 11 a.m. which is hardly fair to the Germans, is it? I shall keep it, with an account of a dinner at which I was present. You shall see them sometime, and I hope you will not hesitate to use them as an instrument of torture if I ever change my mind on this country.

I am so happy you liked my anniversary letter.See letter of October 10, 1904. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did yours. The 10th of October is the day of San Francisco de Borja.San Francisco de Borja (1510–1572), a Spanish Jesuit and the third superior general of the Society of Jesus. He was canonized in 1671 by Pope Clement X; his liturgical commemoration was inserted in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1688 for celebration on October 10 (the date then free from other celebrations that was closest to that of his death). But because of his limited importance on a worldwide scale, this commemoration was removed in 1969, and his feast day was moved to September 30, his dies natalis (his birth to heaven). Do congratulate the man TobinPossibly Richard Tobin, with whom the Blisses corresponded between 1924 and 1941. See Bliss Papers, HUGFP 76.8, box 38. for me, and have some nice white geese for your pond.At the house in Sharon, Connecticut. I am delighted it has all gone so nicely. And please don’t forget the answer to de Lecanda’s letter.See letter of September 27 (?), 1904.

My scoundrelHorace Cole. is a joy forever. He writes to me imploring me to come home for Christmas, because he wants me to go to Heidelberg with him in the Spring. And it will be such a bore if I know much more German than he. The habitual user of the truth can never know how delightful an occasional and economic use of the same may be. This little incident would be thrown away on anyone other than an habitual prevaricator. (Please note the delicately implied compliment to yourself). He, you will be pleased to hear, is on the verge of asking for admittance into the Church. And the little boyProbably Lyulph Howard. In his letter of June 4, 1905, Royall Tyler mentioned that he introduced Lyulph Howard to Mildred Barnes Bliss at Claridge’s, a luxury hotel in Mayfair, central London. you saw is taking Spanish lessons at Oxford. So I think I did well in town.

French politics have become very interesting of late. I took the liberty of sending you the dossier published by the “Figaro”Le Figaro, a French daily newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris. Its editorial line is conservative. which is publishing further revelationsRoyall Tyler is referring to the Affaire des Fiches de délation (“affair of the cards of denunciation”). See following note. now, and I’ll send them too if they are united. The “Figaro” has been doing well lately, has it not? I wish you could see some of the cartoons it has published about the affair. I am very much pleased. The English and American press, which has been laughing at the Latin races for crossing themselves at the word “masonry” will have to eat a lot of articles.In October 1904, the French daily newspaper Le Figaro exposed the so-called Affaire des Fiches de délation (“affair of the cards of denunciation”), in which it was discovered that the anticlerical war minister under Prime Minister Emile Combes was making or preventing promotions based on a huge card file that detailed which public officials were Catholic and who attended Mass. The newspaper revealed that much of the information had been collected by the officials of the liberal French Grand Orient de France. See “La délation dans l’armée, une nouvelle maffia,” Le Figaro, October 27, 1904.

You will be pleased to hear that the “Exposition des Primitifs” was a great success, even financially. And the Louvre has been presented with a fine picture of the Avignon School by Charenton.Enguerrand Quarton (or Charenton) (active 1444–1466), La pietà de Villeneuve-les-Avignon, ca. 1455, Musée du Louvre (R.F. 1569) (registered in 1905 as from the Société des Amis du Louvre). I mean the Parisian exposition. Also I couldn’t stop at Cologne,Possibly referring to auctions held at the Great Hall of the Casino in Cologne, Germany, on October 19–27 and 27–29, 1904, of the Bourgeois Frères Collection. See J. M. Heberle, Collection Bourgeois frères: Catalogue des objets d'art et de haute curiosité composant la célèbre collection Bourgeois frères et dont la vente aura lieu à Cologne [dans la grande salle du casino (Augustinerplatz 7)] du [mercredi] 19 au [jeudi] 27 octobre, 1904 (Cologne: Impr. D. Schaubert, 1904) and J. M. Heberle, Catalogue des tableaux anciens et modernes: Composant la Collection Bourgeois Frères (Cologne: M. Dumont Schauberg, 1904). See also letter of October 10, 1904. as I hadn’t enough money. And the Exposition has since been dissipated. It is a sore memory. The thing was magnificent.

In fact, money delayed so long in coming, that I was quite embarrassed, and began to think that the letter writer had indeed borne a queer apple. However, it came at last with a very nice letter, nearly apologizing. I was most pleased with the postscripts, which informed me that one of those women would be pleased if I would buy her pieces of old silver for photograph frames.This reference is unclear, but it suggests that Royall Tyler was possibly receiving financial support from the Barnes-Bliss family. For Miguel de Unamuno’s support of Royall Tyler, see Alison Sinclair, Uncovering the Mind: Unamuno, the Unknown and the Vicissitudes of Self (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 66.

I have read Lessing’s “Nathan der Weise”Nathan the Wise, a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing published in 1779; the play is a fervent plea for religious tolerance. and a good many short things by Goethe,Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), a German writer and polymath. and like it very much indeed. No success with the people, and very slow with the language. I refuse to allow myself to drift into talking about the Germans. I am bored to death. Do please write me some long letters.

Yours sincerely,

Royall Tyler.

I think if you would take in the “Saturday Review” you would be a little edified. It has quite the best articles on the Presidential election I have seen. Of course the Americans were right to elect Roosevelt,Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858–1919), the twenty-sixth president of the United States. He served from 1901 to 1909, and was elected to his second term in 1904. unsympathetic as he may be personally. The Saturday seems to me to be better informed on things American than any other paper on this side of the Atlantic, and it has a delightfully unpleasant way of looking at things. BurtonProbably a reference to Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890), an English explorer, writer, and linguist known for his travels and explorations within Asia and Africa as well as his knowledge of twenty-nine European, Asian, and African languages. Robert Irwin writes that “according to his friend Lord Redesdale, . . . ‘[Burton] could drink brandy with a heroism that would have satisfied Dr Johnson’.” Robert Irwin, Arabian Nights: A Companion (London: Tauris Parke, 2004), 28. used to drink 3 bottles of brandy before breakfast when he was hard at work.

Associated Places: Kassel (Germany); Paris (France)