Mary J. Randolph and Virginia J. Randolph Trist to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello September 11th 1825|
as you have yourself had the misfortune to be housekeeper for our large family My dearest sister, you can perhaps imagine what it is to have five persons in addition to our usual number, but I think even with your experience of Monticello in the summer, you could scarce form an idea of the run of company we have had ever since the beginning of the month. Aunt Cary arrived the very evening before I entered upon my duties and we have since (not taking into consideration accidental visitors which have been numerous) already given three dinners, the first to Mrs General Taylor of Norfolk, the second to Mr and Mrs Key who staid all night. & yesterday the Bolling & Garrett families, whom Mama was obliged to invite together, came in full numbers, and in addition to uninvited and unexpected guests and those already staying in the house, made a party of one and twenty persons besides our own family. to day indeed we are alone, but sunday you know, of all the days in the week; can least be called a day of rest to the housekeeper, not to mention that in the present instance, the evil is aggravated by the circumstance of my having had Aunt Carys two youngest children thrown upon my hands the whole morning, their mother went to church and carried her own daughter Mary, and Cornelia and Septimia with her, their mammy is gone “to meeting” and mama locked herself in her own room to write a letter, so that they have literally had no one to look after them and nothing better to do with themselves than to dog my footsteps incessantly and follow me about from place to place, and though they are really not worse than other children I should have been most heartily obliged to any thing that would have ridded me of their company. to morrow the Davis’s dine with us, and the day after the Terrells, and then I hope to have a resting spell from the drudgery I have been going through for some time past. I expec[t] to have but little leisure however through the whole of this month, hitherto to I have had none, not even enough for sewing work, and I have an unfinished frock upon the stocks which I have not thought of touching since I carried the keys. Virginia went home with Harriet and Martha on tuesday last and James has gone to bring her back this evening. she has had two letters from Nicholas, beside[s] hearing from him by cousin Beverley who had seen him at the springs and gave a very favourable report of his health. Mann is also at Ashton unless he has left it for Poplar Forest. he came up and brought his eldest boy with him on account of the ill health of both. he has himself the ague and fever and little Eston is too delicate to withstand the bad effects of teething and such an unhealthy atmosphere as he has been breathing in Gloucester—your friend Mr Vail spent another day with us on his return to Washington by Richmond and Norfolk; I have not seen any one for an age whose manners and conversation pleased me so much, and he quite won my heart by discovering a resemblance in my voice and features which no one else had found out, a resemblance to your self dearest sister whom I so much wish to resemble in all things. I found no difficulty in getting acquainted with a person who knew you so well, and who seemed almost as willing to talk of you as I was to listen, where you were the subject of conversation, almost his last words were a request to be remembered very particularly to you when I should write next—we have got rather better acquainted with Mrs Key and like her very well, her manners and tones strike you as being somewhat abrupt at first, but there is an appearance of frankness about her which makes amends for the defect. she plays very agreeably on the piano, mama says with more taste than execution. your maid Sally seems contented and cheerful in the character of a nurse for little Miss Key of whom she is extremely [. . .] fond. the baby is a miniature of its mother and has even the rudiments of red hair and eyebrows with a skin almost as dazzingly white as hers, and Mr Key is the proudest, most devoted, father I ever saw.
I [. . .] mama and myself were so peculiarly unfortunate the other day at Mrs Terrells as to have a encounter with Mr Bankhead in one of his drunkest moods. fortunately for us, there was no one present but the family, and we were spared the shame and mortification of such a meeting (which I know was premeditated on his part) in the presence of entire strangers. Aunt Cary and Wilson succeeded at last in carrying him home but not until he had offered to shake hands with us. I could not have given him mine and acted from impulse in withdrawing it, though I still think I was right in doing so, whatever impression his cry of unrelenting malice and persecution on the part of our family towards him, may make on people who never can be fully acquainted with all the circumstances of the case. the Miss Terrells behaved very well [. . .] however though they seemed almost as much distressed as ourselves—Virginia has returned, and I fear from her account that Mann’s situation is truly alarming, he was taken ill on the morning he was to have set off on his journey to Bedford, and yesterday he lay the whole day in a state of stupor apparently unconscious of every thing that was passing around him. Dr Gilmer was sent for and as soon as he arrived he desired that Dr Dunglison might be called in. unfortunately the servant did not find him at home so that he could not possibly have seen Mann yesterday. and we have not heard from Ashton this morning. I have said nothing of grandpapa because I have nothing to say, he thinks that there has been no change in his complaint since I wrote to you last and we perceive none, but he continues to ride out in the carriage every day and latterly has extended his rides a little farther than usual—I have not time to write a decent letter my dear sister the greater part of this was written sunday evening after it was so dark that I could not see to guide my pen—Aunt Cary desires her love to yourselves yourself and Mr Coolidge, assure him also of that of his sister and believe me ever with devoted affection your own
13th Mann was better when we heard from him yesterday evening, Dearest Sister, he had ris was awake from that alarming stupor & was quite rational, & tho’ suffering much & still very ill his physicians Dr.s Gilmer & Gooch) thought all immediate danger passed. poor little Eston was taken sick yesterday, having had a chill followed by a very high fever, in which way Mann’s illness commenced. Adieu dearest Sister, [. . .] ever your own devoted friend