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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, December 31, 1925

Commissariat General of the League of Nations
Budapest 31.XII.25Thursday.

I expect this to be the last letter to which I shall set the date 1925, dearest Mildred, and it brings you and Robert all our most affectionate wishes for 1926. Elisina and Bill are here with me, Bill very happy and a great joy to us. He is getting on well at Harrow and loves the life there.

I had to face the Financial CommitteeThe League of Nations Financial Committee consisted of officials approved by the British, French, and Belgian finance ministries, central bankers, prominent businessmen, and private bankers from Switzerland and Holland. and the CouncilThe League of Nations Council was the executive body that directed the assembly’s business. It began with four permanent members (Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan) and four non-permanent members that were elected by the assembly for a three-year term. in December by myself, as Smith is still away in the U.S., and I enjoyed it after the first emotion was over.

But while I was at Geneva I had news of the death of my old friend Mr. Patrick William Stuart-Menteath, of whom you’ve often heard me speak. He had remained extraordinarily strong and living until two years ago, when one of his houses, containing all his life work in the shape of his geological collections, and almost all his books, was burnt down and everything in it perished. That broke his heart and, though he went on working he lost his hold on life. He was in his 81st year when he died. Mrs. Stuart-Menteath, whom I rushed down to St. Jean de Luz to see as soon as I could get away from Geneva, is well and full of courage. I felt her husband’s death deeply, though she has always been much more to me than he ever was. He first took me to Spain. As he had lived quite out of the world—except where science and philosophy were concerned—for nearly forty years, there was about him an atmosphere of an earlier age such as I have never felt about any one else—it gets blown away from people, even equally old people, when they have gone on living in the world. With him the memories of his boyhood, when he went to sea as a Midshipman on a frigate without steam, of Naples in the days of the Bourbons and Rome before 1870, had remained as sharp as if they had been of ten years before and as if the world hadn’t changed since. In 1914 he volunteered for service at sea, and was greatly injured when the Admiralty wouldn’t take him.

I have seen a good deal lately of a young archaeologist, attached to the National Museum here, by the name of Fettich. Though only 24, he knows the Migrations of Peoples stuff here in Hungary far better than anyone else, or than all the rest put together. He intends to spend several weeks in Sweden shortly, studying the stuff there (by the way, many thanks for the publication on it you have sent me), and I shall venture to recommend him to you, as he’ll be able to show you photographs of the stuff here and tell you all about it. He is passionately keen on his subject, and already has almost all the material he needs for a complete corpus of everything in his rayon“Department.” that has been discovered in Hungary. Naturally, he has some bees in his bonnet about klassische and barbarische Weltanschauungen,“Classical and barbaric ideologies.” but he’s young and not at all conceited, and his knowledge of the stuff itself is most remarkable, so you’ll overlook his callowness. When he does produce his big book it will be a contribution to archaeology of the very first order.Nándor Fettich published Az avarkori (Budapest: Királyi magyar egyetemi nyomda, 1926); A Zöldhalompusztai szkita (Budapest: Franklin-Társulat Nyomdája, 1928); and Bronzeguss und Nomadenkunst auf Grund der ungarländischen Denkmäler (Prague: Seminarium Kondakovianum, 1929).

The little book on Byzantine which Hayford Peirce and I have done for Benn is in the press, and I’ve just done a long paper on Spanish architecture for the special number the Burlington is bringing out on Spanish art.Spanish Art, An Introductory Review of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Textiles, Ceramic, Woodwork, Metalwork, Burlington Magazine Monograph 2 (London: B. T. Batsford, 1927). Royall Tyler wrote the chapter on architecture. I hope you’ll like them. It is very good for me to forget about State finance now and then and stray off into other paths.

Much love to you and Robert from us all

R. T.

Associated Places: Budapest (Hungary)
Associated Things: Byzantine Art (book)