Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo


Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo


Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944




c. 1936-1940


Margaret A. Wilson writes Eleanor Wilson McAdoo with news from the Aurobindo ashram in India.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Wilson family




Darlingest One

     Today the Year is still young and my heart feels young and happy and so inconsequential that I dont know where or how to begin my letter. The last few days my mind has been repeating to me over and over Stevens little verse- The world is full of a number of things and I an am sure we should all be as happy as kings. I feel so gay and happy for instance when I think of Nell and Faithie starting out on an entirely new adventure. Oh darling that was just the move to make- I feel as sure about it as you do. It takes courage to pull up stakes like that but isnt it fun when you actually do it after all the doubts and questions have left the mind and it becomes a clear and fair field for all the new impressions? I traveled with you, the southern way, stopped in New Orleans between trains and saw the Smithies, then came up through the lovely green forests and hills of the Carolinas and arrived at a house that overlooks green meadows and llooks to blue mountains. It has old mahogany furniture in it, and big square rooms. Did you come by train, as a matter of fact, or by car. Surely you have your car with you for you will wander, you and Faithie all over the lovely Mother-state, won't you? By the way, dont miss seeing Edward and Esther and their children. I have come to appreciate Esther for what she is, a truly remarkable character, strong and intelligent and her children are amoung the most adorable I have ever seen and their bringing up has been almost perfect in my opinion. And of course don't miss the caverns- I mean dont let Faithie miss their wondrous beauty. Will you, darling, write me some of the details of your new adventure, in your inimitbable way?-- no detail can be too small to interest me and they will all serve to make the Aladdin carpet that will carry me right to your doorstep in imagination, perhaps actually in a part of me- who knows? I feel that you are both ripe for new impressions, Faithie just old enough and you matured to the point that the new scenes can yield up all their significances. You have such a rich background now in your own experience against which to see and value and don't you find too, now-a-days that impressions are deeper and more poignant than they used to be in our youth or early maturity when they were all cloloured and in some measure actually discoloured by the presonal preoccupations of our minds? When we get ourselves even a little out of the picture, the picture widens and deepens and we seem to expand and deepen with it, as we could not when our little selves occupied so much of it- doesn't it seem so to you? And so darling, I am more thrilled over this new adventure of yours and Faithie than it is possible to tell you. It will be a new and beautiful chapter in both your lives. I feel too what fun it will be for you to see the lovely familiar gentle scenes of the East through Faithies eyes as well as yours. Gosh! Aren't you lucky - You will have four eyes with which to look at it all, and all eyes that see.
     Now to try to make my letter a little orderly, I'll go back and begin with Christmas day. I was dressing, even dolling up a bit in American clothes and putting rouge on my lips, for Christmas dinner with some new friends here, who like myself are a combination of East and West. She is English and he Hindu, but they were brought up Christians as he comes from a part of India that was Christianised so soon after Christ that some think that it was the apostle Thomas that came to India as the first missionary. He is now a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. She is not interested in Yoga or apparently in spiritual matters at all- is just a very beautiful English girl, honest as the day and still longing to go to the theatre and hear bands in parks to mention the two extremes of the same life impulse. She gets little opportunity for such things here where life as it is lived ordinarily is very poor- that is it is poor to educated people, but as everywhere in the world the simple contented peasant type finds all that it really needs (Except poor dears ehough food, and that exception which you would think would make of them a sour looking undernourished race like one sees in cities slums or industrial centres like Calcutta and Glasgow seems to make no difference to their beauty or their contentment. They seem to take in nourishment from the air and light that they live in. They live out of doors, practically, here in Southreern India, their houses being virtually only shelters for themselves and their cattle, from the noon day sun and the rains in the short rainy season. Well to go back again- It is hard for me when I think of these beautiful people not to go on and on about them-
     At that point, yesterday, I was interrupted by my little ayah, coming softly to the door on bare feet saying-c'est pret, Madame- her short cut way of telling me that lunch was ready and I went and ate my little lunch in solitude while the ayah and the hindu boy I have went off for their noonday siesta of threehours. I let them go after they have fixed my lunch without waiting to serve it in order to have the luxury of solitude. This large high ceilinged house seems even more peaceful when they are gone- I say evenmore, for these servants move about even when they are working so quietly that you hardly know when they are in the house or out of it- Still when you feel that people are waiting for you to finish eating you don't feel quiet- at least I dont. (I am digressing here with details deliberately for I have never, I think, given you any of the small details of my life here that might make the picture of it a little more vivid.) After lunch I meditated- that time is a wonderful time for meditation for all Pondicherry, as all India sleeps then- then I had about half an hours sleep too. Then though I usually take a cup of tea at three o'clock, I ran down to the garden to help plan a little corner of it that a Czecho-slovakian artist here is making into a kind of Japanese garden, all green, for it is all in the shade, under flowering trees. Gardening here is almost an impossibility because of the scarcity and cost of water and the salt sea winds, but the Mother is letting me experiment a bit in this compound as part of my work- I told you did I not that every body here is supposed to do some kind of work, but the term work is very elastic; if one is serious about meditation, that is considered an occupation, and believe me it is. But the physical work here seems to be very beneficial to the Yoga. Perhaps one reason is that it keeps the mind sufficiently concentrated without tiring it and so rests it. One is very apt to strain and struggle with the mind at the beginning of the practice of yoga, especially Westerners, because they begin it usually much later in life. Those Hindus who do not learn meditation practices as children at least take in ideas about Yoga and meditation almost from the moment they dringk their Mother's milk. I strain a lot although I know that it is stupid to do so, so a little actual garden work in the morning before the sun is far up, hoeing and weeding immediately after my meditation is helping me. Well- the planting and confabbing in the Japanese corner and a little orange juice and conversation afterwards with my delightful artist friend on my prorch took all the time left before my sunset quiet hour- then came supper and meditation with the disciples, the Mother in our midst, a little chore after the meditation, washing some of Mother's and Sri Aurobindo's supper dishes - we don't let any servant touch anything that goes to them and what joy it is to serve them! - then home and a short quiet evening usually alone, with nothing more strenuous in it to do except a short meditation before going to bed. Now it is the next morning and for various reasons not interesting enough to recount it is late and almost lunch time again, but I am trying to get on a little with my letter to my darling.
     Well just as I was putting on my hat (See page ) a messenger came from the asram with an air mail letter- Christmas day remember. Wasn't I the happy one then? What to do- I was late already- Could I wait until I got back and had time to luxuriate in the letter? No,-Yoga hasn't taught me to wait that patiently yet, so I took it along and as the beautiful coolie ran softly along pulling me along in a little rickshaw with rubber tires so that we seemed to slip by the quiet houses behind their high walls I ready my grand letter. That word is more than just a colloquialism, for there is a grandeur about you that shows in and through everything you do. The news about your moving made Christmas day a day of adventure for me too, while you and Faithie were, let me see what were you doing at that hour? With you it was eight o'clock about on Christmas eve- were you having dinner and was the Christmas tree all alight and were there for dinner. You havent mentioned Jo for a long time- How is he?) I was as happy as a child with my letter, even had to flourish it in the air upon my arrival at my friend's almost shouting- Look what I got on Christmas day- a letter November 8th-!!
     I read Faithie's precious letter too on the way to Christmas dinner and was so glad that you had added a comment on it in your letter or I would have wondered if she was going through another calf-love experience! Whether or not this is the boy for her it is well, is it not for her to find a deeper emotional self a more stable one, this way? Tell the darling that I really will write her soon.
     I should have gone back to the letter before Christmas, that wonderful one in answer to my September letter. Gee but I am rich with three letters in close succession from you! What did I quote to you about us about it's being either a feast or a fast with us! I don't know about my letters being a feast, but I do subject you to fasts sometimes and so do you me, and your letters make up a hundred fold for the fasts for they are such feasts.
     No you did not exaggerate your experience, darling, for it was one of those experiences that Sri Aurobindo calls "undeniable" and therefore of Reality. One cannot imagine Peace, that tangible Presence that came to you while you gave yourself up in prayer, neither can it be exaggerated for It is infinite. What people do sometimes do, after the memory of the experience gets covered over, is to magnify their own importance because such grace came to them, but you, you darling, are keeping the true humility that such an experience always leaves with one. Now all you have to do is to try to keep near that central core of being and surrender more and more to the Lord in the heart. Follow your own path your own way, darling, and the goal of Divine Realization will be yours. Prayer is one of the universally recognised means of yoga- yoga as I think I have told you meaning only union, union in consciousness with That which we are in the secret depths and heights of our Being and That which transcends too all that we can possibly conceive or imagine - the universal and transcendent Lord.
     About the stories, darling, I am waiting patiently and confidently though eagerly for them, for I know from experience that MSS takes a long time to get here- I have just this minute received a registered M.S.S. from Swami in New York that was mailed November I4th. Thank you precious for taking so much

Original Format



McAdoo, Eleanor Wilson, 1889-1967




Wilson, Margaret Woodrow, 1886-1944, “Margaret Woodrow Wilson to Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo,” c. 1936-1940, WWP19646, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.