Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson

Identifier

WWP17881

Source

Wilson Papers, Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Washington, District of Columbia

Text

My dear Wilson

I am writing you this personal note, man to man, about a subject that is none of your business nor mine, and is, therefore, the more fascinating. If you have any influence in that quarter, I pray that you will persuade your daughter and her fiance when they are married to accept the invitation that Mrs. Page took great pleasure in sending a little while ago to make us a visit. We have a house large enough to entertain the King (in fact, I have had to take one for that very purpose, because His present Majesty expects the American Ambassador to ask him to dinner), and it is, therefore, quite big enough for them to make themselves at home in. We now know some of the most interesting people here, and we can, I hope, really contribute to their pleasure and give them an interesting experience.
If they are married in the Autumn and come immediately, they will be here out of the London season, which does not begin till Spring. There will be no court functions, but there’ll be plenty of other things; and we can make as much or as little fuss about them as they wish. You and I will not publicly confess it, but a little well–ordered fuss gives much fun to the young—of all ages.
We American folk come here by the thousand and see the outside of London and of English life. A few see a little of the inside. Very few ever see much of the inside. But this inside is very well worth seeing. They are a noble race yet—these dukes and earls and knights as well as the commoners. You forget their amuzing ceremonies and decorations on close view. For instance, one day not long ago I met Lady Philip Sidney and her son (another Sir Philip to–be); the next day a Lady Somebody–else, who is sprung in direct line from John Hampden, and her son; the next week, Lady Darwin and Charles Darwin III, as fine a young fellow as any Kingdom can show. These folk and their like we seldom see in the United States or on mere summer visits to England. They are very simple and genuine; and I can think of nothing more interesting than to come to know them. Such an experience I should like to give your fine and genuine young couple as they start forth. And at the same time we should give these folk here an experience with young Americans that would be worth their while.
Or, if they prefer to come later and be presented at Court and see the finest show of that sort now left in the world—very good: let them come then. There may never be such a sight again after this reign and after Lloyd-George gets his work done. [I was at the Palace looking on at the gaudy ball when the King and Queen were dancing, and the highly bedecked nobleman of “the silver stick” who walks backwards before the king, having a moment of rest while the dance went on, came up to me and whispered: “Your Excellency, I should like to know your real opinion of all this damned tinsel.” I told him and we became firm friends.] It’s a great show, worth seeing. One of my boys, who was here on a visit and was in the dance, hoped to have the pleasure to tell your daughter about it.__________This plan, for the young couple to come, good and sufficient for its own sake, is also a prelude to a more swelling plan. Later, when the first big tasks are done, you and Mrs. Wilson must come here—I mean during your Presidency. Then you’ll smash a precedent to some purpose!The whole subject of American—British relations is the most fascinating and important thing imaginable. The peace of the world hangs on it. They have their Germany and we have our Mexico and we both have our Japan. Of ourse we want no alliance: we need not engage ourselves to their troubles. Perhaps we can do even without treaties: no great matter. But there is a deeper kinship than we realize so long as we are absorbed in our domestic problems. These people of the real ruling class are conscious of it, and proud of it and they wish to learn from us and to keep close to us. I went the other day with a fine specimen of Englishman to look at the grass–grown, out–door theatre where the Saxons held their first moot—the real mother of parliaments. It is kept as it was when they sat there and made laws. “Your newest state legislature at Tucson”, said he, “runs back to this: do you realize it as we do?” There is a way, if we can be so fortunate as to find it, to do a great piece of constructive work in the right adjustment of world forces by using just right this English admiration of our greatness and strength—using it positively, without boast or formal alliance, with no artificial force at work, with perfect naturalness. I believe it would help greatly if you should find a perfectly natural occasion to come here—I will say, to accept the gift of the old Washington homestead which will be made next year as a part of the celebration of our hundred years of peace, or your presence here in April 1916 (tho’ that’s too far off) when the tercentenary of Shakespeare will be celebrated all over the world. Either of these or some other occasion could be used which would make your coming here natural and would relieve you of any reason to visit any other European country. I have a feeling that such a visit, made as quietly as it could be made, might possibly prevent an Anglo—German war, which seems almost certain at some time, and an American—Japanese war which is at least conceivable a decade or so hence. I think the world would take notice to whom it belongs and—be quiet. I mentioned this to House when he was here, and his imagination took fire. Talk with him about it.__________

To return to the young couple—further our plans.

With all good wishes for your health and continued masteryYours affectionately,
Walter H. Page


The Hon. Woodrow Wilson,
President of the United States.“

ACK’D SEP 101 1913


"CLS” is stamped in the upper right corner of the first page.

Original Format

Letter

Files

Citation

Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918, “Walter Hines Page to Woodrow Wilson,” 1913 July 20, WWP17881, First Year Wilson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.