Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello Oct. 31 1825|
We have at last got established in winter quarters dearest sister, but I do not feel at home without you & long for your company even more now than during the summer, then I was in such a constant turmoil that I scarce knew whether I was on my head or my heels, & scarce had a leisure moment to look the sisters who were with me in the face, but now when I sit down on one side of the little table at the fire I feel sad to see another there in your place. Mary and myself are established in mama’s room with all her furniture, & the sunny window in which I shall range my green house plants when the weather is cold enough to take them in, makes it a much more pleasant apartment to me than any we have yet had; if you were here to share it with me
I cannot yet feel, however, as if you were gone for more than a visit. I have myself gone been from home more this fall than usual, & the last time, a three weeks visit to Cary’s brook, has added a little plumpness to my cheeks; I have not been in bad health however this summer. The family at Cary’s brook were as kind to me as the Tuckahoes are can be in their kindest mood, which you know is saying much. Aunt C. is certainly much improved in conduct as in every thing else; prospects brighten around her & her character assumes the hue of the hour; with the girls I am much pleased—Jane is entirely sincere & not vain, at least so far as regards a good opinion of herself, she really thinks herself uncommonly ugly & begins to find out that her beau ideal is not the beau ideal of the world, & best of all, listens to a sisters praises without having her affections cooled towards her, which in one so passionately desirous of admiration, is not a thing as easy as many might imagine; but Jane wishes to be good and knows that envy in such a case [. . .] must meet with no quarter, if she [. . .] would be so. Mary is so much admired that if she has not an uncommonly good understanding, or is not kept much at home, she will I think have her head turned—she has recovered her health & looks as beautiful as ever, & when she goes to church, or when she meets with her student beaux, they crowd round her and almost get into a scuffle for her two unfortunate arms that are seized & kept close prisoners untill she is placed in the carriage or seated in the drawing room; one of these young men I think is much in love with her, Wm Wardlaw, her old dancing school beau who has remaine’d faithful in spite of the propinquity of his two pretty cousins Evelina & Susan Garrett. Ben & Lewis are both on the list of her conquests though I think they are some what cooled of late, either disgusted by the excessive attentions of their rivals or intimidated by the laugh raised against them. I think Mary is a fine sensible girl but and a good one, but her beauty does not promise to last. I spent two days at Bremo while in Fluvanna and was well enough pleased to wish a farther acquaintance there; I was surprised to find Gen. Cocke the merriest man & fullest of fun & humour I almost ever knew. Mrs Cocke is become more dignified & is improved by it; she is a kind hearted, good woman & I am sorry the Gen. should be of so obstinate a disposition & so fond of rule that he is both master & mistress in the house and she has no more authority than a child, I think she must feel this sensibly & for this reason is less wild & gay than formerly.
This is Cousin Ann’s wedding day, by this she is Mrs Jones, and horror of horrors! the wife of a man with a big stomach! they say he is amiable & good but I really thought cousin Ann was too romantic to overlook so ridiculous a circumstance in marrying.We have had a meeting of the presbyterians [. . .] in charlottesville the synod they call it. I went one day & heard two sermons and certainly it is a species of gratification to listen to a man who is orator enough to command your attention; one of these men drew tears enough from the eyes of those who had recently lost friends and certainly was much affected himself for he is a man, and has recently lost a young wife for whom he must have had some affection I suppose. they say he is eloquent, I do not pretend to be a judge, but you may have heard him [. . .] yourself Mr Armstrong. these men are all so fanatical or so hypocritical that I have no patience with them. In the evening aunt C. pointed out “brother Ben. Rice ” to me, and certainly he must be a man of some ability I think if not a great deal; at least he had more power to move me than any one I ever heard. he is the only [. . .] speaker I ever heard whose manner appeared to me to be natural, the others all seem to be acting, but about him there was something very impressive in spite of the superstition of the principles he taught, [. . .] which though it astonished me to hear, he seemed to have art to impress with double conviction on the minds of the [. . .] true believers. that same day an accident happened at the University, & a birth occured, the child born was Mrs Dunglison’s, a little girl. the accident was that of two young men, students, being thrown out of a single chair in which they [. . .] were riding one in the lap of [. . .] the carriage wheel run over the cheek nose & scull of [. . .] them, but strange to say has not spoilt his face or serious[. . .] him; the other was kicked by the horse & had both bones of his [. . .] broken just below the knee; his name is Marshall I danced with him one whole evening at a party & thought from what I saw he would be the last man on earth to endure the thought of having one of those beautiful legs spoilt or any damage done to his handsome countenance, & accordingly he told the drs to spare him no pain in the operation but to set the limb strait & well without considering any thing else, then clasping his hands round the bed post above his head he submitted to a most dreadful operation without a groan or change of countenance. in spite of all not only the limb but his life is in danger.Maria Carr I am afraid is dying; I went to see her once, & was haunted the whole night after by the ghastly smile of a countenance on which death appeared to me to be strongly stamp’d. Mrs Carr has returned from Baltimore to her & she is surrounded by her whole family who hang over her with that mixture of despair and fears & faint hopes, catching at every trivial and deceatful deceitful appearence of a favourable symtom, as I suppose forms the history of every case of consumption. [. . .] Maria is the idol not only of her own family but of those of her aunts, her cousins love her as her sisters do. John Nicholas is [. . .] here also & as he has just come to see us at this moment I must leave you my dearest sister & go down stairs your own affectionate sister
by them them Mrs Carr has sent me a beautiful handkerchief which I can scarce express the pain it causes me to accept.