Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children. 1919.

A Visit to Washington’s Birthplace

White House, April 30, 1906.

On Saturday afternoon Mother and I started off on the Slyph, Mother having made up her mind I needed thirty-six hours’ rest, and we had a delightful time together, and she was just as cunning as she could be. On Sunday Mother and I spent about four hours ashore, taking our lunch and walking up to the monument which marks where the house stood in which Washington was born. It is a simple shaft. Every vestige of the house is destroyed, but a curious and rather pathetic thing is that, although it must be a hundred years since the place was deserted, there are still multitudes of flowers which must have come from those in the old garden. There are iris and narcissus and a little blue flower, with a neat, prim, clean smell that makes one feel as if it ought to be put with lavender into chests of fresh old linen. The narcissus in particular was growing around everywhere, together with real wild flowers like the painted columbine and star of Bethlehem. It was a lovely spot on a headland overlooking a broad inlet from the Potomac. There was also the old graveyard or grave plot in which were the gravestones of Washington’s father and mother and grandmother, all pretty nearly ruined. It was lovely warm weather and Mother and I enjoyed our walk through the funny lonely old country. Mocking-birds, meadow-larks, Carolina wrens, cardinals, and field sparrows were singing cheerfully. We came up the river in time to get home last evening. This morning Mother and I walked around the White House grounds as usual. I think I get more fond of flowers every year. The grounds are now at that high stage of beauty in which they will stay for the next two months. The buckeyes are in bloom, the pink dogwood, and the fragrant lilacs, which are almost the loveliest of the bushes; and then the flowers, including the lily-of-the-valley.

I am dictating in the office. Archie is out by the sandbox playing with the hose. The playing consists in brandishing it around his head and trying to escape the falling water. He escapes about twice out of three times and must now be a perfect drowned rat. (I have just had him in to look at him and he is even more of a drowned rat than I supposed. He has gone out to complete his shower bath under strict promise that immediately afterwards he will go in and change his clothes.)

Quentin is the funniest mite you ever saw and certainly a very original little fellow. He left at Mademoiselle’s plate yesterday a large bunch of flowers with the inscription that they were from the fairies to her to reward her for taking care of “two good, good boys.” Ethel is a dear.