Joseph Coolidge and Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Martha Jefferson Randolph

My dear mother,

You well know by letters from Ellen how very anxious we are that Cornelia should visit us; and one recd not long since, (from dear Virginia,) made us happy in the prospect of soon seeing her. our motives for pressing it, at this time, too, you well know; and these, I am sure, will excuse our importunity. we did, indeed, fear that some objection would be made to the escort we offered; but ’tis not unusual with us for a gentleman, and that a young one, too, to act as ’squire to ladies both married and single, and this without infringing any of the ‘convenances’ of society: however, we were glad to hear that Jefferson himself would accompany his sister, both from the great pleasure his presence would give us, and because we well imagined that Cornelia would prefer him to a stranger: we had been looking forward, therefore, to more positive information as to the time of her departure, and even began to think of preparing the two chambers for their use, when Cornelia’s letter of this morning renewed all our uncertainty; for she speaks even seriously of her doubts whether she shall be able to come at all!—We earnestly desire her to do so & you will excuse me, my dear mother, if I presume upon your regard for me, and speak plainly.From what I learn from Ellen the objection to Cornelia’s visit is the expence it would impose upon you, amounting you believe to 300. dls; indeed this is a great mistake: I am certain that 100. would be more than enough. The expence of journeying from Washington to Boston is not quite 24 dls —, that is if you do not linger in the large towns in yr. way; how much it costs to go from Monticello to Washington, I know not, but suppose about 8 dls ;—so that one might comfortably pass from Monticello to Boston for less than 35 dls , every thing included! On arriving, she would be in a sister’s house, whose health does not permit her to go much abroad, and whose every trinket and article of ornament or use would be entirely at her service: during the two or three days which she would be compelled to remain at home to recover from the fatigue of her journey, our milliners and mantua-makers could do for her whatever Ellen and herself should deem indispensable: and this would be, believe me, very very little—; a bonnet, perhaps, and a shawl, which could be had cheaper with us than with you; and I suppose of a later fashion: every thing else might, and would be as if we were all at Monticello, where they would not hesitate, I am sure, each to use the things of the other.But there is another difficulty—the tobacco, if sold for money, must be sacrificed: let it—dr. Mr be stored in Richmond, or elsewhere, till Jefferson shall advise the sale, and be able to effect it without loss, and draw upon me, immediately on receipt of this, thro Col. Peyton, for sum such sum as Cornelia may require, and while she is with us permit me to be her Banker; and, when we all return to Monticello, you shall reimburse me, if you please, or defer it longer—; or, if you will not consent to this—consider the tobacco as a consignment to Thomas Bulfinch & Co, of wh. thence, I am Principal, and do as all who make consignments, draw upon as for ¾ or 4/4 of the whole value; and, when it arrives, we will have it sold, or kept until it brings its full price: here, there is no chance of its being sacrificed; because, in a large city, there are always many ready to buy when an article is not above the current-p value.—In this way, then, we get rid of the difficulty—: draw upon me, either in my own name or that of Thomas Bulfinch & Co, and send the tobacco from Richmond, by the packet; or draw upon me, in my own name, and have the tobacco sold there, when an opportunity offers, and replace the money whenever you see fit; during the Summer, or the next fall: more I would say, but dare not; tho. the presence of Cornelia would be such a comfort to Ellen, and afford so much pleasure to myself, that the obligation would be wholly ours. One circumstance gives me great regret—that while we are writing, back and forward, weeks and months elapse; and each day creates a more earnest wish that Cornelia were already with us—; for tho. (I speak truth!) Ellen’s health and spirits are good,—better both than I dared to hope—yet it would be a solace to her, and a great relief, to have a sister near: my own family are very solicitous that she should have society of one so dear to her; and I do not beleive that either Ellen or myself felt a more lively joy at the prospect of Cornelia’s coming then my mother did, and my sister, and my aunt; but there yet remains a another difficulty which I did not foresee; Cornelia mentions it as by no means certain that Jefferson will come north on business; and, in this case, what can be done? My own Bro. writes me that, after receiving Nicholas’s letter at Washington, he wrote to him to again urge compliance with our request; and to offer to delay his return; but the answer to this letter, also, I fear was unfavorable, and—in this case—Thomas will come directly homewards, not less disappointed than all of us.—In such case I confess I am at a loss.—

What precedes was written last night; and Ellen has since reminded me that her Cousin Mann, and his wife, are to leave Albemarle for New York very soon:If Cornelia will accompany them, I will provide her a suitable escort from New York; or, if necessary, will myself go and meet her.1

I hope, my dearest mother, you will not think that we press this subject too far; we should be sorry to shew anything like a teazing degree of importunity. but as we are very anxious to have Cornelia if she can be spared, our object is to do away such objections as exist only from a mistaken estimate of the necessary expense, or from the difficulty of immediately raising the small sum requisite. I would not have my dear girl sacrifice her little all for my selfish gratifications, but if she can at once accomplish the end of making her visit to Boston & yet, by a little delay in the sale, get a fair price for her crop, it would give me such pleasure as will be understood by you my dear mother, & all who know what it is to be parted from home & family. If Cornelia’s presence be necessary for your comfort & that of your family I will not urge her coming to me by another word, but if she can be spared I should much regret that any last obstacle which can be got over, should de[prive] me of the comfort of her society, & her of the change of scene which will [. . .] at least some variety in her life.

E: W: C.

I change the subject abruptly to say that the piano is aboard the Carrier for Richmond, (the vessel wh. brought us the chess-men, “desk” &c) and is insured; that a box aboard the same vessel contains the Fish, & tongues & sounds for Grand Papa, and a [. . .] tierce the cask of Brandy wh. he ordered; of very good quality: a smaller box contains books &c from Ellen, and a small cask encloses another cask contg about 12 gallons of very excellent old French brandy, such as is rarely to be procured, and which is an offering from J.C Jr to Gd P. and Nicholas. If I am not deceived in its quality it is too good to make tody for the throng of thirsty souls who bait at Monticello, and should be reserved for those who need it more.the vessel has not yet sailed, but I have written to Col. P, and sent bill of lading—: and now, dear Mother, venture to breathe again, having done all I could to insure the safe arrival of these in Richmond —; but Nicholas had better write to Col P. and direct whether it shall be sent by land or water; and whether the casks shall be enclosed each in a third, to prevent spoliation: I am ever as anxious to hear of the safe arrival of these things, as even Virginia was to be told that the piano was done, and on its way.

Addio, il Cielo te benedica,—madre mia.
J. C Jr
RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs Randolph: Monticello, Charlottesville; Albemarle County, Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 8 Feb.
1Above written by Joseph Coolidge.