Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Martha Jefferson Randolph

I have, for the last week, thought of you so incessantly, my beloved mother, that scarce any other idea could find a place in my mind. I have not written to you—alas, what could I say? had I been at your side to watch over you, & to suggest thoughts of comfort & peace, as opportunity arose, & I caught the proper moments for administering such relief as you were capable of receiving, then should I have found words to speak, & time for silence, as my vigilant tenderness discovered what it believed best for you. directed; but deprived by absence & distance of all power to do that which my heart so powerfully prompted, I could only commit you by prayer to him, in whom my own trust is continually strengthened strengthening, by with my increasing experience in the ways of life & the necessity of that interference in the affairs of man, which, to deny to Providence, is to rob us of all that is worth living for. my dear sisters are round you & will do all that I could do, but what would I not give to be near you my best-loved mother! as it is, to think of you by day & dream of you by night, & to [. . .] is the present employment of my life, & to watch with impatient eagerness of for the arrival of those days which bring the hope of hearing from you. a week has elapsed in which I have received no tidings, but I scarcely hoped there would be time to write to me, & I feel assured that my sisters will not allow me to pine for regular accounts of your health & that of my beloved grandfather & all my the dear objects of my solicitude. for myself, I feel an increased desire to do every thing that can preserve or improve my own well-being. I feel as every care I took of myself was for your sake, & every word of encouragement & promise of security which my physician & friends liberally bestow upon me, I treasure up as if they were my mother’s property, not mine. and when I look forward to the moment when I shall not only embrace her myself, but with Heaven’s will, offer to her love & blessing a little being who will one day love me as I love my mother, I feel as if all this were for her alone, & my own interest in it second to hers. take care of yourself, my own dearest dearest mother; take care of yourself for the sake of those in whom you have long seemed solely to live, to suffer or to enjoy, your father & children.—

The letter of my dear Mary arrived when I had written thus far, & in telling me that you were well it has given a lightness to my heart it has not felt since the last account from home. many many thanks to her for her kindness in writing I am in debt to both Cornelia & herself, & all three of the girls but shall not long continue so.—I see by the papers that the Virginia legislature has passed the lottery bill for my dearest Grandfather. great interest has been felt & expressed in Boston upon this subject; all parties seemed to have joined in regretting the necessity of such a step & in warmly declaring their sympathy & earnest desire for the success of the plan. I think it probable, that had the legislature refused permission for the lottery, that Massachusetts herself would have come forward on the occasion. the Assembly is in session & the members had begun to speak of bringing or offering to be made voting a certain sum to be offered in the name of the State, to an old revolutionary patriot & the friend of Science & the Arts. they are an enlightened people, these New Englanders, liberal & public spirited, & how their character has come to be so misunderstood at the South, I cannot tell, except that the divisions of party & the rage of political discord impelled them to acts unworthy of themselves, whilst it embittered our own judgment of their motives. but all that is over, & the energies of the people directed to better purposes, their own moral & intellectual improvement. all hearts & minds are taking this direction, & the system of education is every day becoming more better calculated to answer its great purpose. I think the school to which Nicholas alludes must be that of MM. Cogswell & Bancroft at Northampton, which is esteemed the best in this part of the world, & to which, from the accounts I have heard of it, I should prefer sending had rather send a son there than to any other. before I reply to him I must see or write to Mr Ticknor who will best give me the necessary information. the education of females is advancing in proportion. there is a school here, at present, for a select number of 30 girls, kept by a man of as great such talent & information as would qualify him for an able instructor to the other sex, & his little pupils are said to make a progress equal to their advantages. twenty years hence, we shall have to hang our heads in presence of our daughters, & yet no where are the women better house-keepers & managers than [. . .] Boston.—I wish they were a little more sentimental & roma[ntic] but there is not one drop of the essence of poetry in their whole compos[ition] nor have the young men anything like that witchery of genius & imagination which so often fascinates in our southern scape-graces.—

Farewell dearest dearest mother, take care of yourself, & be quite easy about your absent daughter. I am at this time receiving frequent friendly visits from Dr Warren, the physician of whom I spoke, & whose skill is probably not surpassed in the United States; he directs me in the management of myself & will be with me as often & as long as can be at all necessary. my nurse is also one of the best in Boston, & quite a respectable lady-like woman. I shall come to you in the summer, with, I hope, a blue-eyed boy, but if it should prove a girl, why I will love her all the better for her misfortune. & next to her I shall love her three dear little cousins, the two who are already arrived & the one expected. ad again farewell my best-loved mother, take care of yourself & give my dearest love to all around. Joseph offers the affections of a son. it is but lately that he reproved me for asking him, (when he said something about “mama”,) whether he meant his mother or mine. “which of our mothers, you should have said, Ellen.” was his reply. & I felt the justice of the rebuke, even whilst my own heart whispered how impossible it would be for me ever to feel any thing for another which should [. . .] at all approach the my devotion for you my own, my only mother.

E: W: C.

a great deal of love for dear Ellen Bankhead & my little nephew to whose wardrobe I would joyfully contribute were I within reach. I have shamefully neglected my own pickanini’s. but Dr W. tells me I have more time than I thought for, & that I should abide by my first calculation the middle of April.

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs Randolph Monticello near Charlottesville Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 27 Feb.; with note at top of first page added by Coolidge at a later date: “written after the death of my sister Mrs Bankhead.”