Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

Cornelia and my brother are with you, ere this my dear sister and you I hope and believe, from the favourable accounts Joseph has so regularly transmitted to us, are well, and strong enough, to enjoy their society without fear of being fatigued or injured by too much excitement. how anxious, how impatient, we have all been to see you and the dear baby ever since we heard of its birth! and I feel quite sure if we had been in possession of the magical cap, or box, or carpet, or any of the delightful, wonderful, means of conveyance we read of in the eastern tales, we should not have hesitated to [. . .] offend against the restrictions of your physician & should have presented ourselves, quick as thought at your bed side. perhaps however it is better as it is, though I would have given the world to have seen my niece, in time to have welcomed her first entrance into it, a pleasure which I must lose by the [. . .] immense distance that now separates us, but for which however I console myself by reflecting that she will no doubt be greatly improved by the experience of life that a month or two more will give her. our babies (I mean those at least who are in Virginia) have already profited considerably by the short space they have [. . .] had for improvement and both in personal and mental acquirements are much altered for the better—Esther Maria in particular begins to give signs of a sprightly disposition which accords very well with the character and style of her beauty. she is a clear brunette, with beautiful dark eyes, [. . .] shaped face, the rest of her features are not thought to be [. . .] inferior to his cousin [. . .] intelligence and animation and so grave t[. . .] he can seldom be prevailed on to smile. a spell of unusually cold weather for the season has obliged mama to delay sending to Carys brook for the nurse Aunt Cary promised us for him, her child is too young to bear exposure, and we must wait for a return of spring weather before we can hope to get her, a change which cannot be far off, indeed the temperature of the air is quite delightful to day, so much so that if it continues fair, the nurse and her baby will be able to travel in perfect security and we shall thus have a weight of trouble and anxiety removed from our minds. at times, I in some degree, share in your surprise, when I wake in the night and find myself with an infant lying on my arm. I have the satisfaction however of thinking that I acquit myself very well for one who has no experience and never had any turn for the business of nursing and the tenderness and [. . .] anxiety, I feel for the little thing makes me feel the disturbance at night, and the interruptions by day (which I share in common with the rest of the family,) but lightly, or almost as a pleasure. grandpapa continues as well as usual, [. . .] indeed he is diminishing his quantity of laudanum at night which he never ventures to do unless he thinks himself getting better than [. . .] common. to our great annoyance he has resumed the practice to of inviting students to dinner on sunday and we are to have to day a company of school boy guests who for any pleasure or profit we expect from their society are not worth the additional trouble their presence gives but grandpapa wills wishes it, [. . .] last sunday in place of the students we had a part of the faculty. including [. . .] their wives among whom was Mrs Bonnycastle no very great acquisition to our neighbourhood I believe, but apparently perfectly inoffensive—you have perhaps learned from the papers that the professorship of Law has been offered to Mr Wirt and refused, the next person chosen to fill this vacancy Mr Lomax, has not yet returned an answer but it is supposed will accept. he has twelve children and is the brother of our old acquaintance Miss Judy. I do not know what is thought of this appointment generally and have never heard a syllable from grand papa on the subject. Mr Wirt I am told says that the best speech and the most convincing arguments he ever heard were on one occasion delivered by Mr Lomax. it is a little remarkable however (this I heard at Tufton) that he should have lived all his life within thirty miles of Montpellier and yet that Mr Madison should have been ignorant of his very name and existen[ce] until he was proposed, as a candidate for the professorship. at the University. Mr Wirt’s name and high standing would have been a great advantage to the institution and his refusal is unfortunate on that account—if brother Jeff is with you when you receive this, you may tell him that all are well at Tufton, the news will be later I know than any he has received—sister Jane Mrs Nicholas and Margaret N. desired me when I saw them two days ago to give their love to you & tell you how much rejoiced they were that you had got so well and safely through your troubles. you [. . .] your maid Sally who was here lately with Mrs Key begged me also to deliver a message [. . .] of love to her mistress, and to say how much she wanted to see you and [. . .] the baby both. she thinks of you with much affection and I have always a long chat with her on your account as often as she comes here. she makes a very good nurse and Mrs Key seems to have perfect confidence in her ability & fidelity—I will write soon to my dear Cornelia and tell her all that the baby has done and is doing in her absence we are a little uneasy about him at present on account of a rising that we have discovered in his head which discharges through one of his ears. such things I believe are not absolutely uncommon with babies but they are painful and distressing and in some cases have been known to destroy the hearing a misfortune which of course we cannot think of the possibility of without shuddering—love to her and to both of my brothers. and believe dearest sister in the unchangeable affection of your

M J R.

I have always forgotten to thank you for the sealing wax & the dear little seal which mama has taken such a fancy for that she almost appropriates it

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); mutilated at foot of first page; addressed: “To Mrs J. Coolidge Junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked 18 Apr.; endorsed by Coolidge: “Mary: April 16 1826”; with notes by Coolidge: “Ellen’s birth Great distance from Boston to Charlottesville. Grandpapa has students to dine. His health better. Mr Wirt. Mr Lomax.”