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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, August 11, 1929

41, Bishopsgate
London. E.C.1.
11.VIII.29Sunday.

I am spending a British week-end, dearest Mildred, and while the RosbifsFrench for “roast beef” and slang for “the English.” go about their avocations I profit by the opportunity to tell you about this, that and the other.

My feelings about SnowdenPhilip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden (1864–1937), a British politician and the first Labour chancellor of the Exchequer between 1929 and 1931. are with difficulty contained; I’ll wait and see to what lengths he pushes his intransigence before speaking my mind to you on that question—but: I’ll say at once that the support he is getting from all sections of opinion here makes him doubly dangerous. This is the crowning mercy of Sir Austen’sSir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (1863–1937), a British statesman. He was foreign secretary between 1924 and 1929 and had a great respect for France and French culture. Following the resignation of Baldwin’s government after the election of 1929, he resigned his position and went into retirement. dispensation, that his weakness towards France has so disgusted English opinion that all parties are now supporting Snowden in an attitude that is in itself as unreasonable in its refusal to consider any but the opposite direction. The pity is that Snowden wasn’t Foreign Secretary in the last Govt., and Sir A. Chancellor in this one. What’s going to happen now?

The Burl. Fine Arts Club is going, next Spring, to have an Exhibition of ‘Western Art in the Dark Ages, A.D. 400–1000.’Art in the Dark Ages in Europe (circa 400–1000 AD), an exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, in 1930. See Reginald A. Smith, “Art in the Dark Ages,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 57, no. 328 (July 1930): 3–10. EumoGeorge Aristides Eumorfopoulos (1864–1939), a Greek merchant and art collector of mainly Chinese, but also medieval, art. is chairman of the Committee, and I have accepted his invitation to sit on it.

I needn’t tell you that I had no hand in defining the scope of the show. There is something to be said for it, and for having a Byzantine show another year, but I should infinitely have preferred ‘Art in Europe A.D. 324–1204’ or any other arrangement making it possible to illustrate the play and interplay of influences between Byzantium and the Barbarians. However, one should be grateful to the Rosbifs that they should deign to recognize that there was any art at all between A.D. 400 and 1000, and the show will certainly be of interest. And concurrently with this show at the Burl., there will be (still confidential) Eric’s Exhibition at the S. Ken., of English art in the Middle Ages.See Egerton Beck, “Medieval English Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 56, no. 327 (June 1930): 292–305. By the way, if your piece of Opus Anglicanum embroidery is available, Eric would like to have it.

Do think this over, and let me know if you can remember any particularly good things, in private hands or Museums who would lend, for the Burl show. Any in the U.S.A.? Our great clou“Showpiece.” will undoubtedly be the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ jewelry, painted MSS etc. from provincial museums and libraries in England, but I trust that we shall be able to get a lot from the Continent too. The Barcelona Exhib.The Barcelona International Exposition was held from May 20, 1929, to January 15, 1930. will cut off practically everything we might otherwise have got from Spain. I hope Bpest will come across with Szilágy-Somló etc, and the Hun. Avar stuff.Hungary lent gold objects from the second find at Szilágy-Somlyó (no. 5, five pieces from the second find at Szilágy-Somlyó: round brooch, cup, round-headed Gothic brooch, and pair of round-headed brooches), and Nándor Fettich wrote the introduction to the Hungarian loan section. See Burlington Fine Arts Club, “Introduction to the Loans from the Hungarian Museums,” Catalogue of an Exhibition of Art in the Dark Ages in Europe (circa 400–1000 AD) (London: Privately printed for the Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1930), 79–83. The Szilágy Somlyó (Szilágysomlyó) treasure, consisting of an onyx fibula, ten pairs of fibulas decorated with gold and jewels, a swearing-in ring, and three gold bowls, was found in 1889 at what is now Şimleul Silvaniei, Romania. It is housed in the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest. An earlier discovery, in 1797, of a separate part of the buried Szilágy Somlyó treasure is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. If they don’t, we’d like to have the girdle ornaments I got for you last Spring.

There will be one amusing paradox in the Burl, show: it is to exclude everything Byz. as not being ‘West.’ It will contain quantities of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Merovingian’ jewels. Now, the jewels from S. Russia of the Gothic period IVe–Ve–VIe centuries, how about them? They are absolutely indistinguishable from the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and the ‘Merovingian’ stuff found in the West. If we exclude them, it will be rather absurd; and it will be equally absurd, if we include them, that we should be showing stuff from the Crimea in a ‘West’ Exhib., while we are excluding things made in Athens or Constantinople. There will be some superb Ur-Rosbifs on the Ctee. e.g. Reginald SmithReginald Arthur Smith (1874–1940), an archaeologist and keeper of British and medieval antiquities at the British Museum in the 1920s. of the Brit. Mus. and I expect to have a lot of fun, and to learn a good deal myself.

18.VIII.Sunday

I’ve had to interrupt this for a week.

Oscar RaphaelOscar Raphael (1874–1941), an English Orientalist and collector. has left for China with Hobson,Robert Lockhart Hobson (1872–1941), a ceramics specialist, the keeper of the department of Oriental antiquities and ethnography in the Bristish Museum between 1921 and 1938, and the author of The George Eumorfopoulos Collection, 6 vols. (London: E. Benn, 1925–1928). for a long trip. I tried to connect with him before he left, but we couldn’t manage it.

I dined with EumoGeorge Aristides Eumorfopoulos (1864–1939), a Greek merchant and art collector of mainly Chinese, but also medieval, art. the other night, and am dining again with him tomorrow. I found his collection rather less wonderful than I had thought it on earlier occasions, although he has added a lot to it since I was there last. What is it? In the first place, the things suffer very much from their very numbers: those rooms are lined with cases, and the cases all full of stuff, all of it Chinese.The Eumorfopoulos Collection of Oriental art grew to an enormous size, and he added a two-story museum to the back of his London townhouse in Chelsea. See Robert L. Hobson, The George Eumorfopoulos Collection, 6 vols. (London: E. Benn, 1925–1928). One has sometimes wondered how one would feel if confronted by several thousand authentic and exquisite works by, say, Antonello of Messina,Antonello da Messina (Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio) (ca. 1430–1479), a Sicilian painter active during the Italian Renaissance. or the Maître de Flémalle?The Master of Flémalle, now usually identified with the artist Robert Campin (ca. 1375–1444), a Flemish painter of the early Netherlandish Renaissance. Wouldn’t one’s appetite flag? Well, at Eumo’s one is confronted by several thousand objects all within a narrow artistic scope, and the fact that their level is perhaps not as high, in the absolute, as the Maître de Flémalle’s, doesn’t make things any easier.

Indeed, I am beginning to have a surfeit of primitive Chinese art. It was an immensely interesting world when it began to be revealed, and it benefited by the contrast with the XVIIe and XVIIIe Chinese stuff which was all one had known previously. But, now that one has been looking at it for 20 years, I find myself asking whether Chinese art down to the XVIIe is any better, in comparison with Western art of the same ages, than is Chinese art of the later period compared with our Modern art. And I’m inclined to feel that when the Chinese has done a plain black jade blade, and a pretty austere, simple shape of bronze, he has done the only things at which he is really outstandingly good. His textiles, which challenge comparison with Western textiles, are nowhere near as good. His sculpture hits it off once or twice. His painting I can’t make up my mind about, but I am satisfied that it is about as much use comparing it with Western painting as it would be to compare the music of a reed-pipe with Mozart’sWolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), a German composer of the Classical period. orchestra.

By the way, I don’t much care for Eumo’s green jade horse.Head and the Partial Torso of a Horse, Chinese, Han Dynasty, ca. 206 BCE–220 CE, nephrite jade, 14 cm x 17.2 cm x 6.5 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. A.16-1935. I never wish to see another Tang pottery horse,The Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) is noted for its sculptural horses and horses with riders that were usually made of clay, both glazed and unglazed. They have been discovered at grave sites mostly in the provinces of Ho-nan and Shen-si. and that particular formula doesn’t commend itself to me any more when applied to a hard material.

We’ve had some serious trouble, Elisina and I. Bill fell ill, as you may remember, at the end of May, high temperature, bad throat and chest, rash on legs and arms.See letters of June 17, 1929, and August 13, 1929. Elisina rushed over to England. The Harrow doctor examined Bill in her presence, and said he had tonsillitis and a cold on the chest; ‘not scarlet fever.’ Bill was coughing up nasty stuff, and Elisina said she thought it ought to be analyzed. The Dr. refused—‘quite unnecessary.’

Bill remained in the Sanatorium for about a fortnight. He was then sent to the sea-side for 5 days, and then back to school. When he had been there a few days, his hands and feet began to peel. At this the Dr. said ‘The boy has had scarlet fever all along,’ and sent him back to the Sanatorium, where he stayed until he had finished peeling. After that, he was sent back to school again, and stayed till the end of Term, taking the Shooting VIII to shoot at BisleyBisley is a village in Surry, England, known for rifle shooting since 1890, when the village became the location for the National Rifle Association Championships in the United Kingdom. several times, and leading a pretty energetic life. He felt poorly, and coughed, as he had been doing since the end of May.

The first day of holidays, Elisina took Bill to be examined by Dr. SmolizanskiDr. Léon Smolizanski (1882–1944), author of L'albumine dans les crachats des tuberculeux (Paris: Jouve, 1911). in Paris. He was radiographed and his sputum analyzed. Smolizanski found a lesion 2 in. wide on his l. lung—which he declares is 2 months old, with Koch bacilli.Koch’s bacillus (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), the causative agent of most cases of tuberculosis. It was first discovered in 1882 by Robert Koch (1843–1910).

Happily, Antigny is exactly at the right height and Bill can lead there exactly the life he should lead at present. We hope that he’ll be perfectly well in 2 months time, and able to go up to Oxford mid-October, when Term starts. But in the meantime it’s anxious. I’m taking steps to make it hot for the Harrow doctor, but this has to be done in an indirect manner, for as you know no one ever succeeded in getting any change out of the British Medical profession by a straightforward attack.

It’s a difficult and interesting time in the city. I’ve enjoyed my stay here very much, and find the HambrosSir Charles Eric Hambro (1872–1947), a British politician and chairman of Hambros Bank; Ronald Olaf Hambro (1885–1961), the managing director of Hambros Bank since 1921; and Charles Jocelyn Hambro (1897–1963), who was elected a director of the Bank of England in 1928. exceedingly nice and friendly. Arrangements have been made, and will shortly be completed, for me to be a director of several allied institutions abroad: The Nieder-Oesterreichische Escompte Bank, ViennaThe Niederösterreichische Escompte-Gesellschaft, a large bank in Vienna owned by the Austrian monarchy. (the biggest Vienna bank); the Banque Commerciale de Grèce;L’Ethnikí Trápeza (Εθνική Τράπεζα της Ελλάδος), the oldest and largest commercial bank in Greece. a new combine for financing electrical developments, in which we participate with the Union des Mines,Union des Mines (1928–1939), union of major U.S. banks with the goal of American economic expansion in Europe. called the ‘Franco-Américaine’ Paris.La Compagnie Franco-Américaine d’Électricité, which comprised Blair and Co., the Union des Mines, and General Electric.

There may be something very interesting developing in the Argentine—but I fear it won’t help me to see you there. Eric Hambro,Sir Charles Eric Hambro (1872–1947), a British politician and chairman of Hambros Bank. the Chairman of the bank, is planning to go out to B.A. in Jan. If he does, you’ll come across him, and I hope you’ll like him. He’s a great big thing, a fine athlete in his day, very good looking and very attractive. If we do anything out there it will be in close association with U.S. interests, so you may wish us luck without any reserve.

The Lloyd incident in EgyptGeorge Ambrose Lloyd, 1st Baron Lloyd (1879–1941), served as British high commissioner to Egypt between 1925 and 1929. His resignation was forced by foreign secretary Arthur Henderson (1863–1935). See Richard Long, British Pro-Consuls in Egypt, 1914–1929: The Challenge of Nationalism (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), esp. chs. 11 and 12. See also Baron George Lloyd of Dolobran, Egypt since Cromer (London: Macmillan and Co., 1933–1934); and Yunan Labib Rizk, “Lloyd’s Account,” Al-Ahram Weekly Online, October 23–29, 2003. was the great excitement here until The Hague started erupting.The Allied Reparation Committee met in Paris during the first half of 1929 to work on a program for settlement of German reparation debts from the First World War, as it had become apparent that Germany could not meet the huge annual payments required by the Dawes Plan, especially over an indefinite period of time. The committee submitted its first report on June 7, recommending a 26.3 billion war debt plan, which became known as the Young Plan after the American committee member Owen D. Young (1874–1962). The report met with great objections from Great Britainn, and the plan became the subject of a contentious conference at The Hague beginning on August 6 (the first conference). The conference was attended by representatives of Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, and Yugoslavia. During the conference, a struggle broke out between Great Britain and France over three questions: the distribution of the so-called unconditional part of the reparation payments—the part not subject to postponement; deliveries in kind (Great Britain demanded their reduction in the interest of increasing its own exports, especially coal); and the percentage distribution of the total sum of the reparation payments among the creditor nations. The United States did not officially participate in the conference; but having proposed the Young Plan in Paris, she successfully exerted pressure on the conference participants to adopt the Young plan. As a result of secret negotiations among the main conference participants, a protocol approving the Young Plan in principle was signed on August 31, 1929. The final confirmation of the Young Plan took place at the second session of the Hague conference in January 1930. Lloyd is Eric Maclagan’s brother-in-law, so I heard something from that side, as well as from others. It is pretty clear that the F.O.“Foreign Office.” had made up their minds to get rid of Lloyd some time before the Election, and merely took advantage of the change in order to do it with more dispatch than would have been possible under the old regime. The Permanent Secretary comes in for a good deal of comment as to the wording of that telegramme: Lloyd’s friends refer to him (the Perm. Sec.) as ‘the vilain [sic] of the piece.’ What is really funny, is that the more extreme Labourites say Lloyd has been disgracefully treated, thus joining hands with the die-hards.

On the whole, I think the new Govt. is doing pretty well. I personally don’t appreciate Mr. Snowden’s performance at the Hague,At the first Hague conference, Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden (1864–1937), a British politician and the first Labour chancellor of the Exchequer between 1929 and 1931, was unwilling to accept the experts’ recommendation on the division of reparations, as he believed Great Britain should have a greater share. According to Charles Poor Kindleberger, “[i]n the course of the debates, Snowden called an argument by Chéron, the French minister of finance, “ridiculous and grotesque,” an expression strong in English but still stronger in French. This led to difficulty.” See Charles Pool Kindleberger, The World in Depression, 1929–1939 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 68. Snowden’s demands and rejection of the offer at The Hague are chronicled in a series of articles in the New York Times by Edwin L. James: “Applauds Snowden for Hague Demands; Labor Party Organ in London Says He has not Flouted Socialism by Stand” (August 23, 1929); “Snowden Rejects New Hague Offer; Allies to Try Again; British Spokesman Finds Sum is only 60 Per Cent of his $11,500,000 Demand” (August 24, 1929); “Britain Asks New Offer, France, Belgium, Japan and Italy Then Reply 70% is all They Can Give” (August 25, 1929); “Offer to Snowden 60% of his Demand; Four Powers to Submit ‘Final’ Young Plan Proposal to Britain at The Hague Today” (August 26, 1929); and “Snowden Rejects ‘Final’ Hague Offer; Break-Up at Hand” (August 27, 1929). but there is no doubt that he is the most popular man in England today in consequence of it. The Govt’s Egyptian policy I think is the right one, and, most important of all, the Prime Minister clearly wants to keep up a real and intimate understanding with the U.S.

The weak point of the Govt. is its unemployment-relief policy, which really doesn’t appear to amount to anything substantial. But there are signs of improvement in the coal position, and in the heavy industries. Cotton is very bad—and both cotton and coal need drastic reorganization. The wages disputes are mere ripples on the surface; the real troubles lie much deeper—extravagant overhead, watering of capital, failure to renew plant, disorganized marketing etc.

Bless you, dearest Mildred

Yours
R. T.

P. S.

It occurs to me that the Kaleb. jewels would come into the scope of the Burl. ExhibitionArt in the Dark Ages in Europe (circa 400–1000 AD), an exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, in 1930. The Bliss objects were not included in this exhibition. (as found in Rome). Are they in Paris, and if so would you lend them?

The more I think of the scope of that show, the surer I am that it is badly chosen, and I think I’ll have another go at Eumo on the subject. But it won’t be any good. The British Museum has spoken—and all art is Dark Ages where they are concerned. What people! All one can say is that works of art are so hidden away among junk and rubbish there that, in hunting them down, one has all the emotions of the successful excavator, nay of the creator himself.

Some silly people here are now saying that those Celtic ewers with coral inlay are wrong.The Celtic (La Tène) bronze Basse-Yutz flagons (P&EE 1929 5-11 1-2) were acquired by the British Museum in 1929 after the museum’s publicity campaign to raise the purchase price of £5000. See also letter of May 8, 1929.

Well, dear Mildred, I must stop sometime.

R. T.

 
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