Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson


Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson


Wilson, Ellen Axson




1904 May 23


Ellen Axson Wilson writes Woodrow Wilson with news of her trip to Italy.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence




My own darling,

     Here we are safe in Florence, four whole days before the earliest time we had thought of coming! Perugia was not a success from the convalescent point of view. It was an excellent modern hotel, yet it was harder to get the special things we needed for Jessie than in the little inn at Assissi. Then there was no garden; and the weather was very dry; so that there were great clouds of dust constantly in the air so that there was no comfort in taking her either to drive or to walk. So as the sister thought there was no doubt about her being strong enough for the journey we left Perugia after one day and reached here Friday afternoon. Jessie did not seem tired at-all. She told the Smiths that she was “perfectly well only she couldn’t get anyone to believe it”!—As for me instead of being happy and excited at finally reaching Florence I was unreasonable enough to be miserable because I had put off our sailing two weeks when one would have sufficed, and to get in consequence a perfectly desperate attack of homesickness! I spent my time on the journey planning to open the whole matter anew with Jessie & the steamship company, and get the passage changed to June 2. But I am afraid now I haven’t the courage to begin all over again to with the company,—and make myself rather absurd I suppose. If it were only unsettled,—if I had a free hand—how speedily it would be decided for June 2! I believe Mary Hoyt thinks I am crazy, because finally when we were alone together I broke down and wept bitterly,—at “having to stay in Florence two weeks” she says. She is thankful she is not married or in love if it makes people so perfectly ridiculous!
     Jessie is so very very well that there is evidently no further need of a nurse; the sister is quite sure of it herself, so she is to go back to Rome tomorrow. I am delighted to be able to save any further expense on that score. Mary will come to us instead and stay until Thursday week - Of course, I shall insist on paying the difference in cost to her,—which in this case is 5½ fr. a day(!) for she, alas! is staying at a cheap “girls home” for 3½ francs a day & I had to come to a 9 fr. place in order to get the necessary “lift” & garden for Jessie. Mary wanted,—begged hard—to stay with me until the end & put us on the steamer at Genoa, (She goes anyhow from here to Genoa.) but of course I wouldn’t hear to that. As it is,—leaving here on the 2nd—she has but two weeks for the Italian lakes & Switzerland, for she must be in Holland on the 16th when her ticket expires. Isn’t she sweet and unselfish? I can never forget her goodness to me through all this time. I have had hard luck getting a letter written & must cut this rather short or it may miss the mid-week steamer. I went to San Marco with Mary in the yesterday morning, meaning of course to write my letter just after lunch. But a Miss Young from Danville Ky. sent up her card just as I came up stairs and made me a long visit. Then the Smiths came & spent the rest of the afternoon.—And I have yet to find the pension where one can write at night; we are very well here with our “electric light,”—one tiny bulb high up in the ceiling; more impossible than candles to read or write by. I am writing this now at break-neck speed for I had wanted to have an Eng. doctor look Jessie over, give a tonic if necessary, & advise me about a number of points, & I had to take her before writing so as to catch him at his office hours. He was a Dr. Gerry, & proved very nice and satisfactory. He says he knows this place well,—comes here constantly,—& from the point of health it is everything that could be desired, and that it will not be too late or too hot for her in Florence up to June 9th—I was suffering from misgivings on that point. He also says it won’t do her the least harm to go sight-seeing for an hour or so a day. And he found her throat in a perfectly healthy condition. So I feel very cheerful and reassured about her.—The place is really charming,—it has not only its own garden, but is surrounded by other beautiful ones, and is only five minutes walk to the lovliest & largest park I ever saw, stretching along the banks of the Arno. The food too is delicious,—really the very best American cooking. It is a famous old place—this “Villa Trollope”—The Smiths left early this morning for Venice! They seem to have had a glorious two weeks here; in fact Lucy was so extremely effervescent and excited that she was rather overpowering to poor me who am naturally in a slightly subdued frame of mind. It was a relief to have them go. Marguerite & her mother are also here & will stay on for some time “to be with” me. But I must stop,—will write again almost immediately & tell you what we are seeing & doing. Oh, I must mention one thing; this is the anniversary of the burning of Savonarola; there is a bronze plate on the spot in the piazza, & on this day the Signoria go & decorate it elaborately with flowers;—(though not in sack-cloth & ashes as they should.) Then the citizens & strangers follow suit. We went with our offerings and found it a very interesting place. Of course we saw his cells yesterday at San Marco. I have never found any place more solemn & moving than those cells. And indeed the whole convent, with the lovely faded old pictures by Fra. Angelico—one in each cell. Think of each monk having a heavenly vision like that all to himself!—
     With love to all my dear ones, and love unspeakable for my own darling from his devoted little wife,


Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924





Wilson, Ellen Axson, “Ellen Axson Wilson to Woodrow Wilson,” 1904 May 23, WWP19550, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.