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

Florence, Italy




My own darling,

At last Jessie & I have been made happy by a budget of letters, long hoped for, long delayed. It seems to me that the Credit Lyonnais are very remiss in attending to such matters. We expected to find them when we reached Florence at French and Lemon's, but there was nothing there I wrote at once to Paris and only yesterday they arrived, yours of the 6th, 10th, & 12, one from Mrs. Hibben, & three for Jessie. Your dear, dear one of the 16th send directly to Florence made splendid time & reached me on Friday, - also Nellie's to Jessie. Oh how glad I was to get them!- how your sweet tender words of sympathy and love seemed to bridge the gulf between us and make me feel your dear heart beating as it were against my own! I walked as on air for forty-eight hours! - In fact I would be doing so still but that this little difficulty about the cabled money has brought me with a bump down to the hard eruih. I am chiefly annoyed at having to trouble you further about it, my darling The letter from the  Credit Lyonnais disclaiming all knowledge of it came just before lunch & Mary has gone on her way to the Boboli gardens, to send you a cable about it. How I hate to do it! But I don 't know what else to do. We went Sat., a week ago yesterday, to French, Lemon expecting to find the money there, - they knew nothing about it but said it was probably at the Bank of ltaly. As soon as possible,-that is on Monday, we went there, -place closed, -festa. Went again Tuesday, - no money, - Sent us, (in vain) to two other banks. I wrote the same day fully to the Credit Lyonnais, & as I said received the enclosed answer this morning Yesterday afternoon, being tired of waiting for a letter, I telegraphed them, but, had no answer;-- the telegram probably reaching them after office hours. I cannot imagine what is wrong unless indeed some confusion arose from the fact that I wrote them that you had sent 50 pounds when the real sum was 100. But of course a detail like that ought not to matter when I mentioned Blair, &c. &c. giving all the names dates &c. But enough of this-of course it will all come right in a day or so, and I am not suffering for the money. I can still borrow Mary's hundred if necessary, and I have seventy odd of my own though my hotel bill here is unpaid from the first. I had hoped by saying in my long cable that my money would suffice until I reached Florence to save you the expense of cabling the remittance,- but alas! I did not tell you when I would reach Florence! It is difficult to be very explicit in a cablegram. Jessie really seems as well and almost as strong as ever; though of course it is difficult to judge about the strength, we are so very careful of her. She looks perfectly lovely, and enjoys everything extremely; we took since I last wrote the drive to the "Certosa",-another high hill just out of the city with another beautiful view, - though not so beautiful as San Miniato. The Certosa itself is a very interesting ancient Carihusian monastery, with good old frescoes, tombs by Donatello, &c. &c. Jessie of course went there; and also Thursday to the Boboli gardens perhaps the largest and most wonderful of all the famous "Italian gardens". (Tell Nellie she will find pictures of it on one of last winters "Century's") It is connected with the "Pitti Palace"once the home ofthe Medici, now, the home of the famous "collection" and of the king when he visits Florence. I greatly regret to say that he is just about to visit it,-- will arrive on June 2nd. It grows to be a real grievance with me that these crowned heads insist upon following me about so! In Southern Italy it was the German Emperor and the Queen of Holland, in Rome it was Loubet & now it is the King ofltaly,--and always they bring such crowds and confusion,--and raise the price of cabs!

But besides taking drives Jessie is now beginning to do a little sight-seeing. We all went to the Bargello Friday morning, where we saw sculpture - Michel Angelos, Donatellos, Luca della Robias, &c. &c. the first grandly beautiful, the others full either of vivid life and charm of expression or exquisite sweetness. There was one little alto-relievo of a dead saint by Beneditto da Rovezzano, which I had never seen reproduced in any form and which is wonderful and beautiful beyond description. It had all the spirituality of the ascetic type without any loss of beauty,- ay painful meagemess,-the saint is still a man. But oh! The expression, - the glorified peace! - "My peace I give unto you, -- not as the world giveth, give I unto you."-The grand old building we found quite as beautiful and interesting as any of its contents. Jessie was perfectly enchanted with it; and indeed it does look as if it came out of a fairy tale. It absolutely satisfies one's dreams of a medieval castle - palace; with its deep embrasured windows, the noble old ceilings, the stone walls hung with priceless tapestries and above all the wonderful court with its loggias & staircase, and traceried windows and carven work. And thoughts of the wonderful history of which it has been the centre adds the last charm to it.

Yesterday morning we went with Jessie to see the Michel Angelo's at the Medeci Chapel, Peruginos masterpiece at an old convent, and Bonozzo Gozzoli's masterpiece in the Riccardi palace. We had a beautiful morning, - just one (or two) superlatively fine things in each place and plenty of time to sit and study them quietly,-without fatigue. Our plan is to take Jessie out for a time in the morning then come home to rest & read to her until four. Then Mary and I go out to "do" a church or two, (they are closed from 12 to 4.) at six we come are back & starting with Jessie for her little drive.

Words cannot express how full and rich the week has been, or what a wealth of beautiful memories it has given me for the rest of my life. There is no other place to compare with Florence - from the artistic standpoint - not even Rome. I need not say that I am enjoying it all intensely, in spite of the drawback which I will not mention again,- being heartily ashamed of saying so much about it last Sunday! That melancholy letter was enough to give you the blues, and I beg your pmĀ·don for sending it. And yet after all when I talk of being "homesick" you know right well that what I really mean is that I am beside myself with longing for you, -- that "home" simply means your arms,- and that need not make you very unhappy after all! Do you think so? I am perfectly well and strong. I hate to make myself ridiculous yet I must- unselfishly, -- repeat an absurd speech of my opposite neighbours at table because it will furnish you such convincing proof that I am not worn out by what I have been through. They say I am the very image of Titians "Flora", & express great surprise that no one ever told me so before! I am about as much like Giotto's tower,-but that even a pair of idiots could compare me to that radiant creature at least proves that I am in fairly good condition. -Those poor creatures came here for four days and planned to spend half of one going to see Egyptian mummies! Isn't it pitiful!- in a place more full than any other in the world of things eternally alive and young and beautiful. One of them took me aback tonight by asking me - at table d'hote- if I "knew the story of Leda and the goose"! But I managed to hide my embarassment and simply say that it was supposed to be Jupiter - in the shape of a swan. But the other at once explained to her friend in a loud voice that it was a "very improper story & she ought not to ask about it." Wasn't it dreadful?

Give dearest love & kisses to darling Nellie & all. I love you my precious one with all my heart and soul,- tenderly, passionately, entirely.

Your own Eileen.

They have sent up my hotel bill & I have paid it (on Sunday!) since I began this- and I still have $30.00. I feel encouraged, - with Mary's hundred to fall back upon.

Original Format





Wilson, Ellen Axson, “Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson,” 1904 May 29, EAW05291904 , Ellen Axson Wilson Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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