Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello Nov. 24 1825|
I have my hands so full at present, dear sister, that I can scarcely spare a half hour to write even to you, the duties of a housekeeper, of a milliner & mantua maker and the necessity of paying some neighbourhood visits before we are shut in for the winter, have made me a perfect drudge for some time past; even visiting is drudgery here, and I sigh for leisure to improve my mind, indeed I almost despair of ever obtaining it, months & years roll away & I do nothing, my life is wasted, I see my books lying covered with umolested dust, my drawing boxes locked and never opened, the letters of my correspondents filling my desk and reproaching me for my neglecting to answer them, & I say tomorrow & tomorrow I shall have leisure to read & to write & to draw, but that tomorrow ever flies me as I approach it, or if I do take a book I am sure to neglect some important business, I have had the tales of the Crusaders & Casimir de la Vigne’s “Messeniennes” both borrowed books, lying by me so [. . .] long that I fear I shall have to return them without having read them. however when I give up the keys I hope I shall have time to paint two watch pockets I designed to send Mr Coolidge and yourself; they were white velvet; I attempted it once on water colours but found it impossible to succeed and should have given it up in despair if Thomas Bolling the brother of Albert, had not promised to get me directions for painting on velvet from a friend of his, & made a sort of an offer that the proper colours should accompany them, but if they do not I can easily get them in Richmond. do you know what became of the fan Albert Bolling I gave you he asked me if you were pleased with it and I told him very much. Thomas Bolling is an amiable obliging little follow who, as Capt B. once said of himself, has “a talent for every thing that is done with hands.” he plays, they say, incomparably on the violin, & a little on every instrument he ever saw, & draws, these accomplishments or his diminutive size I cannot tell which, make him a great favorite of the La Branches who are themselves musicians, painters, & dwarfs; Euphemon La Branche is scarcely bigger than George. [. . .] he is very clever & though scarcely speaking english is an enthusiastic admirer of lord Byrons poetry; himself and his brother are nephews of Nicholas’s uncle William Brown & [. . .] were schoolmates of Nicholas himself. they are not the only young men from the other states, there are two or three from South Carolina, & one from philadelphia, the nephew of Bolivar also is to come & young Jerome Bonaparte. We were very sorry my dear sister, for your loss as you may suppose, we know how much you would feel the loss of your things that were the property of your childhood & had been given you by your dearest friends, & mama & grandpapa have put up several little things valuable on account of their antiquity which they thought you would prize, & several things of yours which were forgotten, your fur cape & chess box among others; which I hope you will recieve. I kept out several of your drawings to copy, the Spanish book that Mr Miralla gave you & his translation of Gray’s elegy, which as I suppose you will not care about having immediately I will keep on till I am done with them, as I suppose I ma shall have some opportunity by which I can send so small a packet.
I had heard that Maria Woodward only got 150 dollars from Mr Harrison, only the half of what Mr Higginbotham gave Miss Wydown & the quarter of what Isabella Wydown gets, and I thought it was not very generous in Mr H: to take such an advantage of her situation. little Virginia Harrison said when she was here that they did not like Maria Woodward near as much as their last governess “because she would not play with them” as the other did, I wish Maria could have got the place of school mistress in Charlottesville which the Wydowns have now, I believe they get 600 dollars.
Maria Carr is so low now that she cannot live many days longer, and her friends are as much aware of her situation as [. . .] people in similar situations can be, but I believe it impossible [. . .] to cease to hope when so near a friend is concerned. Dabney Carr, who seems to inherit that excessive sensibility that his grand mother & father had, is dreadfully afflicted and so is his mother, and they all suffer exceedingly. Virginia and myself are going to see Maria tomorrow & probably this visit will be our last.
The young man who had his leg broken from being thrown out of a gig died. this accident excited a great deal of feeling indeed, he was so young so clever, so handsome & such a favorite among his fellow students, and an idol in his family.Mann was taken ill as soon as he got home but how he is now I cannot tell as it is some time since [. . .] heard of him. Aunt Randolph, they say, has borne her loss [. . .]ly both health & spirits are miserable & I suppose from wha[t] [. . .] that Burwell’s temper & behavior is not softened. aunt Hackly is coming to Richmond to keep school again. The Ashton family talk of going to Lynchburg and keeping a school, I am afraid they will be obliged to do some thing of the sort; aunt Jane & Harriet are anxious for this plan to be put in execution and uncle Tom seems to have come into it but nothing is determined on positively and it is only mentioned to intimate friends
You ask if it is impossible for any of us to go to see you, I am afraid it is, it is not a thing that Mary or myself could ask in our present difficulties, & when we shall get out of them heaven only knows. I know I wish I could do something to support myself instead of this unprofitable drudgery of keeping house here, but I suppose not untill we sink entirely will it do for the grand daughters of Thomas Jefferson to take in work or keep a school, & we shall hold out for some time yet; ours is not a gallopping consumption but one of those lingering deseases which drags on for years & years. [. . .] Nicholas and Browse have lost their cotton crop again but B. is going to New Orleans to live, (invited by the governor) where he will make money. & N. I think must succeed at the bar. he talks of getting his licence next spring. adieu dearest sister give my love to Mr Coolidge.
grandpapa has resumed his rides on horseback again.