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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes, October 29, 1902

New College

Oct. 29th

Dear Mildred.

I enclose the dimensions—the "board" is a horizontal piece of wood, running along the front wall, its height from the ground is 2 ft. and if the ball while in play hits the front wall on or below the board, the player who hit it loses a point. The door may be in any wall except the front, and should be very tight fitting. If anything puzzles the local builders (which I doubt) send to me, and I will explain. I cannot help wondering what the country folk will say when they hear that you are building four walls of stone for mere pleasure.Mildred Barnes purchased a country house in Sharon, Connecticut, in 1898 and was in the process of renovating and improving it in 1902. A 1908 lease agreement for the property, however, mentions a tennis court but not a squash court. Bliss Papers, HUGFP 76.8, box 59.

I so wish you were here. I am enjoying life, and find myself much surprised at the prevalent virtue. As far as I can see, it is this, and I wonder what you will make of it. At New College, and some other of the good colleges, it is considered bad form to be conspicuously vicious in any way. At Cambridge, I know from personal experience, as I stayed there with a friend at Trinity College it is quite different. I am almost inclined to agree with a friend of mine who knows a good deal about both Universities, that the Oxford man is pleasanter to meet, and the other is nearer bed rock. However, leaving these mighty questions, there are plenty of minor interests. I have met an English Catholic, who was educated at the Jesuit College of Stonyhurst. I fear he is very stupid, though counted clever in the schools, and all my efforts seem fruitless. But there are several Jesuit priests taking lectures here, and I could easily get him to introduce me.This discussion of Catholic friends and acquaintances probably relates to Royall Tyler’s interest in the reconciliation of the Anglican and Roman Churches and to his possible conversion to Catholicism. See The Early Letters (1902–1908). Beside him, there is an Austrian (also Catholic) named von Sommaruga,Possibly Heinrich Hugo Teodor von Sommaruga, born in Vienna on April 28, 1884. who is charming. He has only been in England a week when he came up to Oxford. His Catholicism rests so lightly upon him, that I have almost abandoned that side of his personality. He thinks he is related to the TiskiewiczTyszkiewicz family, a wealthy and influential family of Ruthenian/Lithuanian nobility.—you know what I mean. I fear that he is what they call haughty, but it is only the fruit of his strict training at the gymnasium in Vienna, and he will soon get over it. Beside all these, there are scores of nice clean English boys, and I love them all. I don’t think England is as far gone as the pessimists think, a class of decent clean gentlemen is such a good thing for a country. Especially when a majority of these consider it their duty to go into politics.

My lectures are not many, but they are all interesting, and thank heaven I am no more frenzied by mathematics. I am doing two books of Herodotus,Herodotus (ca. 484–ca. 425 BCE), an ancient Greek historian often called the “Father of History.” it’s all about the beginnings of the Persian Wars in Greece.Herodotus’s History, written between ca. 450 and 420 BCE, contains one of the first surviving accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire and the events of, and causes for, the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the fifth century BCE. The Greek character is delightful, "faint, fleeting, perjured."A misquote from Act 1 of Shakespeare’s King Richard III: "Clarence is come;—false, fleeting, perjured Clarence, that stabb’d me in the field by Tewkesbury." I am getting Jowett’s translation of ThucydidesThucydides Translated into English; To Which is Prefixed an Essay on Inscriptions and a Note on the Geography of Thucydides, ed. Benjamin Jowett, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1900). for you. You know about Jowett,Benjamin Jowett (1817–1893), an English scholar, theologian, and classicist renowned for his translations of Plato. of course, he was master of Balliol,Benjamin Jowett had been a tutor of Balliol College, Oxford, and was elected to mastership in 1870. He had been a clergyman since 1842. and said that a Bishop without a sense of humour was lost.This is repeated in Mary Cholmondeley, Red Pottage, 2nd ed. (London: Harper and Brothers, 1899), 82. I am reading Voltaire’sFrançois-Marie Arouet (1694–1778), better known by his pen name Voltaire, a French writer, historian, and philosopher. letters, and am enjoying them hugely, but I can’t come to any conclusion about him. I can’t think how you can live without the Spectator. Do let me tell them to send it [to] you. I don’t suppose you have yet begun on your Sallust.Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86–34 BCE), known as Sallust, a Roman historian who wrote Historiae, a history of Rome between 78 and 67 BCE. We will have a battle over the "History" some day.

My other lectures are, Constitutional History, and Roman Law—and I forgot to mention that once per week I attend a learned and elegant discourse upon the gospel of St. Luke! I suppose you are having glorious weather, it rains every day here. I have to do four 8 AM chapels in every 6 days.

I am

Yrs. sincerely

Royall Tyler.

I have been scouring the country for a copy of Roseberry’s [sic] speech,Sir Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847–1929), a British Liberal statesman and former prime minister. It is unclear which Rosebery speech is referenced by Royall Tyler, but it may well be his speech on British Imperialism given on March 10, 1902. See Peter D. Jacobson, “Rosebery and Liberal Imperialism, 1899–1903,” Journal of British Studies 13, no. 1 (November 1973): 102. but have not found one as yet.

I am afraid this letter is what you term mentor. RT


Dimensions of Harrow Squash CourtThe game of squash was especially popular at Harrow School in London, and a more compact version of the game with purpose-built courts was introduced in the 1860s. The Harrow School officially opened a new complex of five courts on January 20, 1865. Royall Tyler attended Harrow School in London between 1898 and 1902.

Ft. 27–3 in. Length

19–3 Width

27–3 Height of front wall

9–6 Height “ back ”

2–6 Board.

October 1902.

Associated Things: The Spectator