Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson




Ellen Axson Wilson writes to her husband, Woodrow Wilson, during a trip with her daughters to Italy.


Library of Congress


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum



Spatial Coverage

Rome, Italy


No. 6

My own darling

At last the longed-for letters from Paris have come,—three of them,—this morning. I am glad I read them in the order in which they were written, for the first two made me so delightfully happy, and I had that joy before I learned from the last about Nellie's measles! Of course I am trying to be sensible about it, & I am not going to borrow trouble but I am inevitably a good deal disturbed. How I wish I knew whether Margaret took it! The cablegram came this morning before the letters and is in a way reassuring; but I noticed with a little misgiving when it came that you did not say all were “well,” but only “everything prosperous”; & that struck me then as very vague; & now that I know about the measles it seems even more so. One can have typhoid fever “prosperously”! But I will not worry! Surely with a good trained nurse and strong healthy children there can't be any danger. I am so sorry my darling should have the extra care and mental burden of it all. Something always happens when I leave home! I'll never do it again. My conscience has hurt me from the first about this journey & now of course more than ever.

Jessie had a little sick turn night before last; doubtless one of the queer dishes disagreed with her; but she got entirely rid of it whatever it was;— we kept her perfectly quiet yesterday, and she is perfectly well again today, though just as a precaution I did not let her go out to church in the hot sun. She was dreadfully disappointed at getting no letters from the children; there were tears in her eyes, poor child! Was Margaret forbidden to write her because of possible infection? At best they have treated her rather badly, for I had four letters from you written before the measles began & she has not had a word from anybody! Yesterday was dear Margaret's birthday, and we all gave Jessie little presents in celebration of it! So we are faithful to old customs even in foreign lands.

I am perfectly well, the weather continues beautiful, and all goes smoothly and delightfully; Jessie's little turn was nothing to worry about & I think she was rather glad of a quiet day at home. We spent the morning among the antiques at the Vatican, & in the afternoon staid in until late, when we saw one church & bought a few photographs,–they are wonderfully cheap & good here,–much cheaper than in Paris. You should see us starting out on our rounds with our Baedaker & hand books, our opera-glasses & mirror!—a very important adjunct. We take the hand mirrors everywhere in our bags, but for the great Sistine ceiling we were not content with that but took the large mirror from a bureau! It was a grand success; we could see the whole ceiling at once in it and study it in perfect ease & comfort. We were the envy of the whole crowd in the chaple, & generously gave all the other women present a look! An opera-glass of course is an absolute necessity in Rome, and we were all foolish enough to come without them; Mary even had left hers in Paris. So to my great disgust I had to buy a pair one. But I can hardly regret it now for somehow I could never see anything much through those at home & these are splendid because the glasses are extra large in diameter — the largest made. We can see the expression of every face perfectly. I paid $10.00 for them (!) and I am trembling over the duty.

We have a handsome American girl here from Philadelphia a Miss Peters who seems to be an habitué of Princeton and a tremendous admirer of yours. She has met you somewhere. She looked at me really awe-struck when she heard I had the honour of being your wife. She spends most of her time in anti-chambers trying to get audiences with the Pope & the two queens. While her mother and her artistic sister,–who studies art in Paris, do the galleries. Do you remember them? the artist is Edith, the beauty Ethel.

There is just one man in this house, Mr. Rinaldi himself,–son of the Madame! There were really more at the nunnery, for it was infested with priests. Mr. Rinaldi is, he says, a “military artist,” is quite good-looking & is thought by his mother to be a Prince Charming; so he is put exactly in the middle of the long table to entertain the crowd. He is really a very clever man and interesting talker, but is inclined to make a fool of himself with his grimaces & contortions, His mother calls him “Ninni” & their behaviour to each other is as good as a comic play. It seems they are cadets of a noble house & he has a very nice dignified English wife; He has taken it into his head to admire me; told me to my face that I ought to be painted—& that my mouth was the most exquisite imaginable; and amuses me extremely with his contemplative stare at table;– but he really does not mean it for impudence, it is only a manifestation of “the artistic temperament.” I do it myself often; the other day I stared at a young monk so long that he began to smirk at me — and completely spoiled the picture!

It is only five weeks & four days now before we sail; — it is harder than ever today to restrain my impatience with these three dear letters before me. Oh my dear, my dear! how I love you how I want you! Nothing can make up for separation in such a world of change & danger as this is! I do not see how I can wait seven more weeks to see my treasures!–But I will not write thus. Thank you for the good news of Stockton, I have been longing for news of him, for I have been troubled with bad dreams about him, & a good many anxious thoughts.

With a hear full of love & sympathy for my baby, & for all the rest– believe me darling in every heart throb,

Your own, Eileen

Original Format





Wilson, Ellen Axson, “Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson,” 1904 April 17, WWP15009, Ellen Axson Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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