Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello October 2nd 1825|
I have been sitting all the morning with Mrs Madison my dear sister, and must now take advantage of her having retired to her own room to begin a letter to you, which I fear I shall scarce have time to finish before the that mail goes out which I consider as exclusively appropriated to myself, our family circle is at present not large enough to allow of the absence of more than one individual to pass unnoticed and Virginia who has undertaken to supply Cornelia’s place as housekeeper, that she might make a visit to Carysbrook, is too much occupied with the cares of her office to give any assistance in entertaining company. Mrs Madison’s arrival last night, though as usual hailed with pleasure by us, gave us a new occasion to feel and regret the void made by your departure, and though sensible how little I could do towards filling your place near her, I that idea, I confess was but the smallest part of my regrets, she speaks of you with as much affection as ever and appears to miss your presence very much. the visitors are beginning to assemble and will probably all be here by the evening, as grandpapa was particularly urgent in his request that [. . .] would they would all meet here the day before their legal meeting at the University, which he then thought he should be unable to attend. his health however is so much mended in the last ten days that he ventured a few days ago to extend his ride in the carriage as far as the University without having suffered any ill consequences from such an unusual degree of fatigue he looks, and is certainly, much better in health and spirits than when I wrote last, though he has not as yet been able to discontinue the remedies prescribed by Dr Dunglison without feeling the ill effects of the omission. Mann is still convalescent though recovering slowly, the fever has left him and his chief complaint is debility and a disordered stomach which makes him liable on the slightest imprudence in his diet, to violent attacks of cramp. the physicians consider him as doing very well however and have discontinued their visits. Brother Jeff also has had a threat of a bilious attack which we hope has passed over without any very serious indisposition, and sister Jane has not yet recovered her good looks after an illness occasioned by cold which produced a tendency of blood to the head and caused a violent headache for which there appeared to be no remedy; she was several days confined to her bed, in a room from which every ray of light was obliged to be excluded. Nicholas has just returned from the springs having gained while there exactly one pound of flesh, but not an exemption from head ache and heart burn as we had hoped would be the case. he thinks however that his health is rather improved by the journey though there is no visible alteration in his outward appearance. from Captain Crozet he received intelligence of the sudden death of his friend Ragland who died in twenty four hours from the commencement of his illness. he had begun the practice of the law and with every prospect of a success which would have ensured a comfortable independence to his wife and two children, left utterly destitute by his loss. among the million of worthless and worse than worthless lives with which the world abounds, that the lot should have fallen upon one which might and probably would have been employed in promoting the comfort and happiness of others, is a circumstance which cannot be too deeply deplored, though in this case as in all others the burthen still falls upon the survivers—I suppose you are already acquainted with [. . .] cousin Ann’s” approaching marriage with Mr Jones and better even better informed about “matters and things in general” than we ourselves are, we had the less reason to be surprised at the news because of certain flying reports which had from time to time reached our ears, but I confess that I should have continued incredulous to the very end of the chapter had not the affair been officially notified at Poplar Forest and of course transmitted with all haste to Ashton and from thence to Poplar Forest Monticello—I have too many affectionate recollections of my dear cousin, little as I have seen of her since her I was capable of appreciating the value [. . .] of such a rare character [. . .] as hers, not to take a deep interest in a subject so nearly connected with her future happiness. that she has acted with her usual good sense in the present instance, (so far as human wisdom could be of any avail) I am sure, and that she will in time be rewarded by a degree of happiness proportioned to her deserts I cannot help hoping with a [. . .] feeling of confidence which amounts almost to security—Mrs Jane Cary accompanied by her granddaughter Jane and Cornelia left us day before yesterday, Aunt Cary and a part of her family had gone back to Carysbrook nearly a week and before and sent up her carriage for those who remained behind. she is to be in the neighbourhood again the twentieth of October in company with a party from Bremo who are coming to the presbyterian synod, but I suppose that sermons by day and prayer meetings by night will prevent her from spending any time here where she could not so conveniently lead the life of religious dissipation that she will do in Charlottesville—her present prosperity seems to have generated a fund of good humour [. . .] and charity towards her neighbours which as yet does not appear in any danger of being exhausted, and it gave me real pleasure to observe the appearance of harmony and cordiality existing between all the component parts of the family circle—Virginia asks room for a long postcript and it is high time for me to return to the ladies so with all love to your husband and yourself believe me always dearest sister your unchanged and affectionate friend & sister
Virginia has not time to write and she desires me to say that you will find in the Port Folio for May 1825 no. 277. a description of the Cumumbra Lamp. page 405.—Dr Cooper and his son arrived yesterday and are still here. I am ashamed of this scrawl, but I can neither make a pen for myself nor write with one of mama’s making.