Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello October 1st 1826|
if time passes as slowly with you, as it does with me my dear sister, I fear you will think I have been a great while silent, and I must confess, four weeks is a long time for me not to have written a single letter to you; longer much longer than I wished or inted intended it should be when I parted with you, but independent of my dislike, (which for some months past has amounted to an aversion) for writing, housekeeping [. . .] and company every day, have left me little or no controul of my own time. to day I have laid down my burthen, but only to take up another, which I am afraid, will besides being as disagreeable will occupy me as completely as the old [. . .] one, it is a piece of writing to be done immediately, and which will take me I know not how long; I received it yesterday and but glanced my eye over it so that I do not even know what it is, but I know by sad experience that to one who writes as bad a hand as I do, copying is the slowest and most fatiguing thing in the world. I hope however I have perseverance enough to carry me through the job which practice will perhaps make less irksome as I advance, and [. . .] if it does any thing towards reforming the scratch I write at present, it will be a subject of rejoicing to myself and my correspondents as well as a great advantage to me in future, by enabling me to take a larger share of the writing that we wishe if possible to divide amongst us—I am sorry to tell you dear sister that our present prospects look as gloomy as they well can, the success of the lottery is extremely doubtful. it is [. . .] put off till the 5th of December to allow a longer time for the disposal of the tickets, but there is great cause to fear that it will be impossible to sell half of the number by that time which would alone warrant the drawing of the lottery, should it fail the Bedford property will be offered for sale on the first of January and the furniture here with a part of the negroes, on the 15th as the place itself cannot be sold without a decree of the chancellor which it will take some time to obtain (perhaps till the ensuing summer or fall) it will be necessary to retain negroes enough to keep up the plantation untill this obstacle to its sale is removed, [. . .] should these things take place mama ’s plan is to issue proposals immediately for opening keeping a school which will be opened as soon as she returns from Boston, in the mean time it is decided that the rest of the family shall go to Tufton to stay until she returns—the loft which has hitherto been sister Jane ’s storeroom is to be fitted up and made to accomodate Will and his nurses and Ellen & Patsy, the Mrs Trist and Aunt Marks will be obliged to occupy the same room and the rest of us are to be stowed away in the remaining rooms—this removal will take place as soon as Mama is gone and you may suppose how unwilling we are to leave our home in a few weeks, perhaps never again to return to it, and how much we should prefer lingering here till the last moment under any circumstances of loneliness & discomfort, but the argument that it will be less expensive for us all to form one family than if we were still divided in two, is to us unanswerable and makes us feel at once that [. . .] we must sacrifice our own inclinations without hesitation whatever the sacrifice may cost us and brother Jeff thinks it better that the public should be at once informed of the real state of our affairs, as it seems an idea has got abroad that we shall still be independent after our debts are paid, and he thinks his coming up here to stay would tend to confirm people in that opinion, as it might be supposed he would not take such a step unless we expected to retain possession of the place, whereas our abandoning it as we shall do (perhaps in the course of this month) will be sufficient evidence of the contrary. I hope Mama will soon be with you, she has been seriously preparing for her visit ever since you left us and expects to set out I believe about the twentieth; we shall all feel sad enough at parting with her under such circumstances, but we all hope for the happiest effects on her health and spirits from her journey north and should be miserable at the idea of her passing this winter in Albemarle, besides this consideration so important to us all, the pleasure her society will afford you is a great consolation to us, and one which will help to lighten our regret at the separation from her. for after what I have said of our plan of keeping a school and the great probability there is, of its being soon put in execution you will [. . .] understand what a necessity there exists for my applying myself closely this winter to those things which will best fit me for bearing my part in it, and I cannot help thinking with regret that I am so little perfect in what constitutes the usual school routine [. . .] as to be myself in need of schooling in most of its branches, perhaps I might with truth to say in all of them—I begun to write two days ago but got no further than the first page since when I have received your letter and rejoice most heartily to learn that you are safe in your own house in Boston again, and that baby is well and shews no signs of the whooping cough which we have been a little uneasy about.Mrs Madison is here and will probably remain some days as it is thought this the present session (of the visitors) will last a week—I have written in such haste that I scarcely hope my letter will be intelligible. love to Joseph and kisses to baby from her aunt. Will’s ha first tooth has just made its appearance.