Woodrow Wilson to Mary Allen Hulbert Peck
I have been wondering if, — fearing, — hoping (I do not know just how to express a thought mixed of all these elements) Allen had at last persuaded you to let the surgeon try his skill on your neck; and have been looking anxiously for a letter that would answer the question. I think that my predominant thought is one of hope; for I do not understand that the operation is dangerous; I believe it is always successful; and your emancipation from the physical strain on you now would be so great and so delightful. It would make you young again. It is all that your splendid vitality has been waiting for. What has happened? Of course I have paid for my little vacation, and paid with interest. The things that had waited had all to be done immediately, all at once, and a score of new things called out to be taken hold of and set going. I am fairly out of breath as a consequence. I have had no breahthing spell even yet, and must steal any moment I devote to my family, my friends, or myself. I learn that it is the belief of the housekeeper, Mrs. Jaffray, that I never know what I have on, — or whether I have anything on or not. I wonder if that is a criticism of my valet? Perhaps my appearance suggests to her that uncomfortable suspicion; though she meant it in praise of my concentration on other things and as an illustration of her theory that I never think of myself. How I wish she were right about that! How much more comfortable I should be in my mind.
Jessie and Frank came back from across the water last week: to-day they started for their home in Williamstown. The pang of it is still deep in my heart. When they went off on their wedding journey the thing somehow did not seem to me final: they would be back after their honeymoon! But now! This going to make a permanent home for themselves comes on me like a new realization, or— rather— a first realization of what has happened, and I feel bereaved. They are very happy, — delightfully happy, — it is a joy to see; but that does not fill the gap here. Ellen is wonderfully brave and sweet about it all, but I know from my own feelings how she is suffering, and that adds to my own misery. But enought of that. I’ve no business to complain. I must work, rather, and thank God that I have been given work to do that is worth while.
The thorn in my side is of course Mexico. I have a sneaking admiration for at least the indomitable, dogged determination of Huerta. No doubt it is founded in large part of on ignorance, but it is as firm as a rock. It makes the task of smoking him out so much the more interesting. He seems to hate me venomously (shall we blame him?), but I have no personal feeling about him whatever. His insults do not disturb me in the least: they are only an evidence of how things are going with him, and of how successfully I have made myself his insuperable stumbling block. But the problem is most puzzling because I must keep the men in Europe quiet to whom he is not paying the interest on his debts at the same time that I steer our own public opinion in the right path. I am growing cross-eyed with watching people in so many separated quarters at the same time. You may wonder at the look of me when you see me next. I fancy a man grows old fast at this business. Not that I feel physically old yet. I do not. But I do feel the constant all but unbearable strain; and I know that no man of fifty-seven can stand it indeffinitely. I am trying more than other Presidents have tried, and no doubt have no one but myself to blame if my back groans and sinks under the load; but I cannot see that that makes it any lighter to carry. This is the penalty for having held ever since I was a youngster a distinct theory of what a President ought to be and ought to attempt. One ought not to write books until he knows whether he will be called on to do what they say ought to be done. I am now paying the price of having told other people what they ought to do when I never had the slightest idea that I would ever be thrust into their place.
We are all well (including the complainant) and all unite in sending affectionate messages to the lady whom it is a pleasure even to write to since I can’t talk to her.