Margaret Axson Elliot to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre




Margaret Axson Elliott writes to Kessie Wilson Sayre about Adeline’s wedding.


Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University




Carissima mia

I am inside the limit though barely. But after all weddings are as mal-conducive as automobiling and travelling, and this is to be a real wedding letter.
I meant to put in the newspaper account to save time and energy, and it wouldn't have been cheating you so dreadfully, after all, for I wrote that. Josiah was in despair at the thought of letting the “local correpondent” commit atrocities and begged me to write it up. I did, but I have been upstairs for two days with a little touch of malaria (It's all over and I'm all right, so don't let Sister get bothered.) But the result was that every one else whisked off the newspapers, and I shall have to begin at 'the beginning' with you.
Ecco!!Adeline came into Nashville for her last shopping and stayed at the Ewings with me. There we descended upon B. and the whirl began. Trousseau—very pretty clothes, hats, underclothes etc. A perfect run on dainty white waists. Presents arriving by the score, lovely ones, and almost no duplicates except in the line of silver cream pitchers and sugar bowls. I never told you what I gave her, did I? I searched every antique and old curiosity shop in New York for a necklace of the kind I wanted and finally found one in an old Genoese design—a twisted rope of real gold and a pendant all twisty and curly and scrolly. It wasis very pretty and most becoming. She wore it at the Great Event. Then the Sibley clan appeared, and in spite of everything, I likeJosiah. He was nice and carried off the difficult part of a groom before the wedding almost as well as Legare Walker. His sister Frances is dear, so attractive, and pretty, and graceful, almost Spanish in her long flowing lines. Some of his cousins were here as ushers and his brothers as best man, and everything went smoothly and jollily with loads of darkeys every where and the efficient Mrs. Webb at the helm. Then the great day broke in torrents of rain and since the ceremony was to be outdoors, that was terrible. But early in the afternoon it cleared, canvas was hastily stretched so that our footsies wouldn't get wet, and at four o'clock the p'rade started. First the ushers with white ribbons roped off a path-way, then two little flowers girls tripped down, looking too cunning and cupid-like for words. Then Frances Sibley and Susie Black (a B.
B. friend) in white with pale lavender girdles and sash arrangements, while the wedding march tum-tum ti-tumiled from inside (There was a wide space between each two couples so that the full effect of gowns, colours, and flowers could be noted. These last were lovely, I designed the bouquets and I must say I was proud of them. Each girl carried a great showery bunch of white periwinkle in her left arm, and trailing down her skirt a long garland of clematis vines, which she caught up lightly in her right hand thus making a great, drooping, graceful festoon across the front. But the first couple are about far enough ahead now so I can proceed. Next came Beulah Hayes and Fannie May Howell (a Nashville girl) in pale pink ribbons then I alone (a kind of “First Bridesmaid”, Adeline called me) in straw colouredribbons then Cornelia Webb and Eva Clary (a cousin) in green ribbons then Susan and Emma Webb in pale blue ribbons. Each couple split when it reached a certain point (I didn't split, I may add) and we all formed another half circle inside the natural one of trees where Josiah and his B. and the pastor were standing.
Then Alla Webb came in a pale green gown with a bunch of maiden-hair fern. Then Adeline and Mr. Webb. You cannot conceive of any one so beautiful as she was! She was absolutely and exquisitely and perfectly beautiful. Her gown was nothing but white swiss, lovely and dainty of course, but her veil was what made it—net, edged with Brussells lace, and she carried a shower bouquet of white carnations and ferns (the ? ? flower) Well, it was soon over then, even though they did use up Van Dyke's new farm. But I wish you could have seen the look she gave Josiah when the preacher started her saying, “..Adeline, take thee, Josiah”—etc. If I ever caught myself looking at a man in that way, I hope he may be the Archangel Michael at least. Then the best man tried to kiss her first, but Josiah cut in and beat him, and every one laughed and felt thankful for it had been solemn enough before, and then we fell on her and she rushed off to put on her gray cloth suit, and they took the 5.30 train for Nashville and the west. Bless her heart, she certainly is about the sweetest ever!Most of the crowd stayed over for some more jollification—and we had a good time. Oh Jes I must tell you about a joke we played on one of the men, Mr. William Langley Sibley a cousin. When he left he wrote back a very sweet letter to all the bridesmaids addressed to Alla as maid of honour, saying how he hated to leave us, and if he had only had more time who knows but that he might have persuaded one of the fair maids to lighten his melancholy, only the difficulty would have been to choose. Well, we thought that pretty bad to intimate that anyone might have been his for the choosing, so every one cried for revenge and appointed me a committee of one to see to it. Perhaps you might like to see the nonsense I wrote.
To Mr. William Langley SibleyWarrior,
There was a man from Warrior town
and he was wondrous wise.
He jumped came into a bridal bunch
And smiled with both his eyes.
But when he saw those silly girls
Blushing with might and main,
He tore his hair in mad despair
and rushed for the Warrior train.
And what said those maidens, ten Beauties,
Left weeping thus alone?
When the vanishing train
And the tears like rain
Proved that the man had flown?
Oh loud, loud and long, did they
wail, Brother.
Wringing their hands in their woe—
—“Had he only stayed!”
“Had he just delayed—
Who knows, who knows, who can know!”—
(Cornelia Webb) said“My hair is redand like a spirited girl.”(E. Webb) And the next one cried“I am like the BrideAnd he knows, he knows—what a pearl—”(B. Hayes.) But the third broke inIt is hard to winWhen one comes from the Northland's rigour.
But I'm sure he'd be loathe—To take Southern slothWhen he might have northernvigour”.(F. Sibley) Then the fourth beloed—“I'm his cousin, you know,and I'm sure he would stick by his kin!”(E. Clary) And the fifth exclaimedI'll stake my claimOn my figure, I'm lovely & thin”.(S. ack is to be married this week) And the bride-to-beSmiled self-consciously“Too bad I'm taken, Perhaps—I'd—better—”But the maid of HonourLooked coldly upon her“You needn't, it was I got the letter.”(F. M. Howell. a joke about place cards.) Then the eigthth maid declared“It makes me quite madTo hear all of you talking so silly.
To whom, may I ask?To whom the sweet taskOf writing, and calling him 'Billy'!”(Susan Webb) The ninth little maidSmiled sweetly and said,“I agree that he'll ne'er quit the fold,But where could he find hermore close kin, or kinder,?I'm his cousin's wife's sister, I'm told.”But the tenth maid sighed wearilyand sighed again drearily—“There is nothing, naught, naught Ican claim.”Georgians we once were(To live in Ala.) But now he's renounced herand only my sad heart remains!”
(The brides maids' flower) The white periwinkleLooked up with a twinkleThe clematis quite lost its poise—For there came a loud cryFrom the wind blowing high,“Girls, it's lucky he's not made his CHOICE!”
All over the first part were drawn little trailing vines of periwinkle with a disconsolate or weeping girl's face in each flower—, and at the end were the was a row of the little periwinkles standing very jauntily with a mocking smile on each face. Of course we sent it off without another word, and now we are mad with curiosity to know how in the world he will ever answer it. Probably he will ignore it.
I expect to leave in a few days and go stay with Nell Flinn. She is in Columbia, S.C. now so my address will be care of Dr. J.W. Flinn. Meemee isn't in Atlanta yet, so I can't go there.
I am glad that all of you are well again—You must be enjoying your travels. What a pleasure to see those lovely cathedrals. I never could decide which I loved best, Wells and Lincoln very much, but then Durham and York are so wonderful—and Canterbury—oh well, what need to decide.
It must have been fun to see Reginald again and to note the changes. But he must be a perfect cyclopedia.
I must run now. With best love for each and every one of you dear ones, as ever from


Original Format





Margaret Axson Elliot, “Margaret Axson Elliot to Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre,” 1906 September 12, WWP17343, Jessie Wilson Sayre Correspondence, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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