Margaret Axson Elliott to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre




Margaret Axson Elliott is glad to hear from Jessie Wilson Sayre.


Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University




It was certainly good to get your letter, sweetheart, to gaze once more upon the Wilson hieroglyphics, and to learn that my family is enjoying peace and contentment. I devoured all your news, even the item concerning the sickly lady with the crooked necked. How well I know her! My experience of English lodging houses was brief, but, I fancy, thorough. Too bad O'Conner had been a cook only one month—not only for you and your tum-tums, but also for her and her morals. Heaven knows whether she will ever be able to plot laboriously along the English highway of beef and boiled potatoes after this mad plunge into American fancy foods. And there she is—lost forever. But who knows.Sister's beginning doesn't sound propitious. In bed with a cold so soon! I am sorry. Rydal Water doesn't provide the dryest climate in the world, but isn't it lovely! Never have I seen anything lovelier than the early evenings, with the glorious hills and the gorgeous, drooping clouds and the lights on the water. I know the Yates love it all, don't they? I am glad you like Mary, for I think that she is lovely, and most clever, and very beautiful too.
As for me, I am here with my Signorina carrissima. I came down last Friday, and I feel as though I were in another world from Lyme. This dear, quaint—little place, with its village-green, and goose-pond, and enormous Dutch wind-mills is quite as charming as Lyme, but different. The house is lovely! I thought so two years ago; but then I did not know her so well and I could not realize how perfectly her personality was worked out even in its smallest details. It's been bad weather, of course, ever since I came. That goes without saying. Really I might just as well have gone with you to England so far as rain is concerned. One steady stream for three weeks. Old St. S got mixed up in the business somehow and they say that we are in for forty days of it. But never mind, there are alleviations.
Yesterday afternoon it held up and we all walked over to Georgian Lake, a body of water back in the country. Then our suitors put us in wide damp boats and rowed us about three miles up and across to an enchanted garden. Phyllis DeKay said that on the whole she might as well have walked there—the condition of her clothes would have been just about the same. But it was worth it. I have never seen a place made more beautiful by the hand of man. It belongs to the Albert Herters. They are both artists, husband and wife, and there they sit like some other-than-human creatures in an enchanted circle. Your boat bumps against broad stone steps deleading down into the water. You tie it fast, ascend to the garden above, rub your eyes in bewilderment, then stand and stare. The house is broad long and low, of a pale cream coloured stucco, and reaches out a hundred welcoming hands in the shape of nodding rose-vines. Inside it is all dark, gleaming of oaken panelling, and heavy beams, and soft delicious colours in silken draperies, and masses of cushions, and a thousand beautiful treasures brought from all over the world. Then your hostess of the wide grey eyes gives you tea, and your host plays with a parrot which is like a green and orange flower, and you look at unfinished pictures in the studio, and then, after a bit, you find yourself in another part of the garden. Here there are strange flowers, and queer, little gasping fountains, and beyond the weirdest woods, where the trees are all gnarled and twisted, and uncanny. I could think of nothing except that they must be the haunt of some grecian sibyl. If so, the spirits that haunt such places must have been grateful to us for bringing Phyllis back to them. She is really too lovely for words! A veritable dryad. Never except in Capri have I seen such hair, and eyes and such wonderful colouring. Had I been the particular suitor who rowed her home I should have stopped midway and never returned.
But they have called to me that there is a moon and I must run see. Who knows when that lady will grant us another glimpse of her watery visage!It's great getting your letters, dear love.—because in themselves they are worth getting as well as because I have for once an assured means of communication with my family. (N.B. The above is not intended as a return for your gracious word of praise.) Still send your letters to the Vreelands.
But I must run!With hopes for the improvement of the not well, and the continued well-being of the well, and with loads and loads of love for every last one of you, devotedly yours,

Margaret Randolph Axson

Original Format





Margaret Axson Elliott, “Margaret Axson Elliott to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre,” 1906 July 3, WWP17341, Jessie Wilson Sayre Correspondence, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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