Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

Cornelia returned home yesterday my dear sister, after an absence of three weeks, accompanied by Jane and Mary Cary who are come up to attend the preaching which the presbyterian clergy mean to pour forth upon us at the meeting of their synod on the 27th. Aunt Cary, Mrs Cocke and Louisiana will be in this neighbourhood in the course of the week on the same pious errand, which it is said will call together such a concourse of people that the hospitality of the inhabitants of Charlottesville and its environs, however ready and willing they may be to make sacrifices, and submit to impositions, will be inadequate to the demands that are about to be made on it. we, I doubt not shall come in for a share of the company of some who have claims upon us and perhaps of others who have none, at least as far as morning calls, which I think it quite probable we shall be frequently exposed to for the time being; luckily however the distance, and the roads at this season, would render this place inconvenient as an abode for those whose piety would carry them three times a day to church, and that circumstance I believe will exempt us from being much taxed on the occasion—and we begin now to think ourselves near the term when we shall once more be allowed to contract our circle to the size of our own large family and live quietly in the pursuit of our own occupations, and thus thrown once more together dear sister, we shall feel more sensibly than ever that [. . .] the place is now vacant which would have been filled by yourself if you had been here, but I am not selfish enough to mingle with the sorrow I cannot help feeling at the loss of your society, any regrets for the cause that has deprived us of it, since it has called you to a situation of more comfort and happiness than we could ever have hoped to see you enjoy among our fallen fortunes and it is a [. . .] source of pleasure in the midst of the clouds that darken round us so thick as sometimes to shut out even the hope of better days, to reflect that [. . .] you at least are exempt, (except through the medium of sympathy with those you love) from a participation in whatever may befal our interests, but I am not desponding and I would not make you so, and indeed I should almost fear [. . .] to draw down a judgement on my head if I could be guilty of the sin of murmuring against providence just now, when I see others so near us and so much more heavily afflicted than we have ever been—poor Maria Carr I fear will not be long spared to us her friends, she is dying in the [. . .] bloom of youth, and of a disease which has been so insiduous in its approaches that the [. . .] first notice her family had of her danger, was a declaration of the physicians that they thought her too far gone to be benefited by a removal to a warmer climate; that the case will probably be rapid in its progress, and they that they see no ground for hope, as far as their experience goes, that its termination can be otherwise than fatal. her complaint is not a common one and has not been attended with the usual symptoms usual in consumption the Doctors say I believe that an excavation of the lungs has taken place in this instance without the formation of any an abscess—so little were her friends aware of her situation that they had written to Dabney Carr, (a few days only before they were apprised of it), to let him know that he might come on [. . .] to be married immediately, as Maria was sufficiently recovered to return to Baltimore with himself and his bride, . and they expected him at Tufton on friday, but I have not heard of his arrival yet. Maria is now at Mr Davis’s but will remove to Tufton to pass the winter if it the thermometer rises as high as 70. any day this fall, that being the artificial temperature which is, by advice of her physicians constantly maintained in her room. Mrs Carr and Jane Margaret are also expected to return to Virginia, and sister Jane will be obliged to send Margaret and Patsy to us for the winter, if they should all stay with her; she I am sure is very anxious to have them, and with her warmth of heart [. . .] and affectionate attachment to her relations it is natural she should be, but we of course feel sorry that in her own delicate state of health she should be exposed to the burthen of trouble and anxiety and perhaps of sorrow which will be the consequence of their stay with her. may heaven avert the calamity which appears at present to be impending over them. I cannot help hoping that things may still take a more favourable A aspect than they wear at present and I cannot reconcile the idea of death, with the image of youth, health, and gaiety, which a few short months ago I saw Maria Carr in full possession of—Nicholas has just had a visit from his friends Captain Crozet and Mr Fairfax who called on him yesterday in their progress to Richmond, and he prevailed on them to stay till this morning, notwithstanding their repugnance to present themselves before ladies, under their present rough exterior, having been forced frequently during their survey of the K[a]hawa K[a]nawa to pass the night in the woods. Mr Gilmer is here also & just recovered from a long illness and looking more wretchedly than I ever sa[w] him—affairs have been going on very quietly at the University since the last explosion. report says that two of the Miss Tucker’s are to marry Dr Emmet and Mr Bonnycastle s, and last thursday was assigned as one of the wedding day’s. the parties nevertheless are still single whatever may be their intentions for the future. we have just received your letter to Cornelia which we all took the liberty of reading in her absence, Jane and herself are gone to Charlottesville and the University and will not return till dinner time. when you receive your books which are on their way to Boston, you will miss the little copy of the maxims of the Duke de Rochefoucauld which lately fell to your share in the division of the books, and I must tell you that it is in safe hands and shall be safely returned to you next summer, I retain it for the present because I have a great desire to read it and [. . .] do not know whether I shall ever have another opportunity of doing so if I were not to take advantage of this, and talking of books, I have been several times to the little library at the University where I have lounged away the morning very agreeably, and sighed to think that through the severity of the restrictions I could derive no other advantage from it. it is forbidden to carry a single volume beyond the precincts of the Institution so that my brother’s even have not the use of it—. adieu dearest sister, do not forget to give my best love to Mr Coolidge and believe me his and yours most affectionately

M. J. R.

no body ever remembers I believe to give you the love of the families at Ashton & Tufton though their desire to be remembered to you has been often & affectionately repeated

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs J. Coolidge Junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville 29 Oct.; endorsed by Coolidge: “October 23. 1825”; with notes by Coolidge: “Presbyterian synod. Piety the fashion. Hospitality abused. Religious levity. Gloomy prospects at Monticello. Dangerous illness & probable death of Maria Carr. Capt. Crozet & Mr Fairfax. Francis Gilmer. All quiet at the University.”