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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, September 27 (?), 1904


Dear Mildred.

I send you the red hot poker seeds.Kniphofia (or Tritoma, red hot poker, torch lily, and poker plant), a genus of plants that includes over seventy species native to African that are known for their bright red, rocket-shaped flowers. They seem to need a good deal of care so perhaps you won’t find it possible to do them. I hope you will, however, as the result is gorgeous.

I had a letter from my stepfather last night and imagine my sensations on reading that he wants me to get myself introduced to Sargeant [sic] John Singer Sargent (1856–1925), an American portrait painter.—or whatever his name is, and arrange for the said painter to do a picture of Mrs. Sullivan and Mrs. Livingstone. The two sisters, Mrs. James Francis (née Lucy Nichols) Sullivan and Mrs. Oskar (née Leta Nichols) Livingstone, were later painted together by William Merritt Chase (The Sisters, ca. 1905, private collection). See Ronald G. Pisano, The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), vol. 2, William Merritt Chase: Portraits in Oil (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 210f, OP.418.  Also to fix the price, and time place ect [sic], of sittings. He sends me photographs of the pair, to show the man, so that he may not be compelled to buy a cat in a bag, so to speak. He suggests that I get myself introduced by the Carters,John Ridgely Carter and his wife, Alice Morgan Carter (1865–1933). John Singer Sargent painted a portrait of John Ridgely Carter in 1901 (private collection, Paris). who know him well, and ends the missive by saying that Mr. Sullivan James Francis Sullivan, a wealthy industrialist and president of Market Street National Bank in Philadelphia. had already written to Sargeant [sic], but had received no answer.

Even the Spanish mode of putting exclamatory marks both before and after a startling statement is utterly insufficient, so I leave them out altogether. He knows that I would far rather break stones by the wayside than ask the CartersJohn Ridgely Carter and his wife, Alice Morgan Carter (1865–1933). to do any mortal thing for me. And I should imagine he must have heard enough legends about Sarjent [sic] to know that when he does not answer a letter, it is as well to let it go at that. I am dining with the Carters tonight a propos of this. Excuse another epistle, but not being able to see you, I had to do it. My paper is all gone. A boy, Tudor Castle. great friend of mine, is going to the Rajputana on Oct. 21st to visit his cousin who is British Resident chez Rajah of something, and asks me to come too. This also helps my temper. I am going to get him to buy things. It’s a great country for sapphires. So please think of things to ask him to buy. He’ll do so for you as well of course. Now is the chance for sapphires [and] for the opal.

P. S. After reading that letter, I hastened to go to Queen’s HallQueen's Hall, a classical music concert hall that opened in London in 1893; the hall was destroyed by an incendiary bomb in 1941. and found it was a WagnerRichard Wagner (1813–1883), a German composer and conductor primarily known for his operas. night, and listened to the man for two solid hours, then crawled home quite deaf.

P. P. S. Just as I was sending the above off, I received a fat envelope from America—a long letter from the Alcalá prelate Juan José de Lecanda. with one enclosed for you. See Juan José de Lecanda to Mildred Barnes, September 5, 1904, Bliss Papers, HUGFP 76.8, box 27. I therefore retained the epistle and went forth to dine with the Carters.John Ridgely Carter and his wife, Alice Morgan Carter (1865–1933). They didn’t mention the subject. There were a few other people there, but they had quite a chance to open it if they had wished to, so I hope they are going to ignore it—quite the only thing to do, I imagine.

In an evil hour for my idea of America did the letter from Alcalá arrive. It is delightful. I haven’t read yours, of course, but hope to do so after you have. He sends you his picture. Do please find time for one last chat—I have so much to talk about, and my temper will be good if you can. RT

The picture is too large for the envelope, so I am keeping it till we meet. I think or at least hope, that you will be cheered by his letters.

Associated Places: London (United Kingdom)