Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre to Margaret Woodrow Wilson


Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre to Margaret Woodrow Wilson


Sayre, Jessie Woodrow Wilson, 1887-1933




1930 November 10


Jessie Wilson Sayre writes Margaret A. Wilson, with news of a trip to India.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson family




Darling Margaret

     The days fly by chock full of interest! At first I just hated India and kept asking myself: "Goodness alive, why am I here." I was afraid to eat anything or drink anything. We have to put potash in our washing water and take quinine, and boil our water for teeth and eat only cooked food etc. etc. Well, as you can see it concentrates your mind on bad things and I got a bit nervous. However one does know where to find help and with that and better hotels and getting used to things I am beginning really to enjoy India now.
     We have seen so many thrillingly beautiful things that one would be a hardened egotist not to expand and relax under their influence. It makes a Westerner feel very very humble to see how much beauty they achieved out here. If "absolute" or "perfection" can be used about anything human they can be used about the buildings of the Moghul Empire here. I never really heard of them before these Moghul Emperors, Mohammadans, who came from Turkestan and conquered most of India as late as the 15th century - after the discovery of America anywhere. The greatest of the builders was Shah She Jehan who built the Taj. Probably you know all this but it was news to me. Here in Agra, beside the Taj, are the most lovely palaces and gardens of his that you can imagine. You can't imagine them. This morning we sat on the balcony of the Jassemine Palace over-looking the broad curve of the Jamuna river and watched the Taj shimmering and almost floating in the mistinessess of the river and the blowing sands. Framed by the ivory-marble of the palace columns it was lovelier than a dream.
     Near this palace is a mosque - the Pearl mosque, all of carved and inlaid marble so divinely lovely that one cannot be in it without worshipping the God of Beauty. One literally wanted to fall on ones knees and bow the head to the ground.
     This afternoon we drove out through fertile plains and a wide avenue of trees to the tomb of one of these old Emperors. It is enormous for those days - five stories high. The topmost story is a marble pavillion, open to the sky but screened by a marble lattice work all round. In the center on a marble platform is the stone of most delicately-cut marble - one large piece. It must have taken four elephants to pull it, but so perfectly proportioned and delicately carved is it that one does not realize its bulk. While we were standing by it Frank said: "I wonder that the Jats when they over threw the city and destroyed the bones of the Emperor under this didnt want to destroy all this too. Did they appreciate its beauty?" An Indian standing by came up at once and said: "What Sir! Do you want to destroy all this?" Imagine our horror! We hastened to explain that we had come a long way to see this and honored and loved its beauty and told what we had really said. Ah yes, they destroyed what was precious and left the rest, he answered and we had a friendly conversation.
     Thursday we go on to Delhi where we hope to meet some people. We have lunch with the Vice Roy on Friday. Here we will have dinner tomorrow with the best criminal chaser in India. When others fail they turn to him. He ought to be interesting unless like many English he wont talk.
     I am homesick for a word from you and Nell. We feel far away and yet not far. You are far away we are right here!
     Precious sister our hearts turn to you constantly with love. How we wish you could share the Taj and the Jassemine Palace with us!



Original Format



Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944




Sayre, Jessie Woodrow Wilson, 1887-1933, “Jessie Woodrow Wilson Sayre to Margaret Woodrow Wilson,” 1930 November 10, WWP19632, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.