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



My own darling

This is our last day in Rome; the trunks went to Florence yesterday, our packing is all done and we leave in about an hour, our train starting at 12. This is the day for the great military parade in honour of Loubet, troops are marching and bands playing all over the city. The others all went out early to see what they could see. Mary Smith has just returned reporting that they saw the king, the queen, Loubet & the court! I am very glad were in such luck! My dislike for a crowd is such, that I wouldn't stand in a crush for all the kings in Europe! They have also gone now to drink of the fountain of Trevi and throw in their coin, — which you know ensures their return to Rome some time.

It seems this visit of Loubet is considered of great political importance, and of most happy omen, so the preparations have been most elaborate. The street decorations were most interesting because they were exactly like those of imperial Rome, as one sees them in pictures and bas-reliefs of triumphal processions; entirely unlike what one sees elsewhere. We are just around the corner, so to speak, from the palace, and yet we ourselves are in the slums, on a miserable, narrow, dirty street, of small shops. How curious these old cities are in that respect! There is no “East” & “West End”. The poor they have always with them, and perhaps it is just as well,— “lest we forget.” Still I rather hope we may be in better surroundings in Naples Florence. Our street in Naples was vile, — though when one got behind those high convent walls all was changed, – sweet & clean and fragrant. I am rather glad to be leaving Rome, for there is doubtless less danger of illness in Florence than in either Rome or Naples, & I have, of course, had all the time more or less dread of Jessie 's getting ill, for she has never before been exposed to a malarial climate; all the rest of us grew up in it and are more or less “proof.” It is a good thing that I have her on my mind for it makes me the very soul of prudence while the others are quite reckless — sleeping with their windows open, staying out at sunset, and all the rest of it!

I suppose I will not have another moment to write until we reach Florence; and I am very eager to get there for the sake of my own letters; as I have not heard for a week. We are perfectly well; Jessie is the very picture of health; and I am scarcely ever tired even.

— Nothing much has happened since I wrote you last. I spent yesterday morning of course, at the Vatican; – it was pretty hard to turn my back on it forever! I could scarcely keep from crying, – it is the only place I have had any such feeling about. But I was so fortunate in one respect; one corner of the Sistine Chapel was covered by scaffolding, hiding the Delphian Sibyl, – much the most beautiful of all,— so that I had given up all hope of seeing her. But yesterday, the scaffolding, which is on great rollers, had been moved along a little and she stood revealed! — and she is one of the two most beautiful creatures in the world;— the Venus of Milo of course being the other. The pictures, lovely as they are, do her no justice at all. There is no other face so truly inspired. Beyond any doubt she sees in a vision “all the glory that shall be.” The others had all gone to the Palatine for the morning; but when I told them the news they rushed away from the lunch table, and so managed to get ½ hour at the Vatican before it closed at three. — But I must stop at once.

With love unspeakable.
Dearest love to all.

Your devoted little wife, Eileen

Original Format





Wilson, Ellen Axson, “Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson,” 1904 April 26, WWP15012, Ellen Axson Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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