Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

my visit to Montpellier last week my dear sister prevented me from writing to you in regular turn as I should have done had I been at at home, I was sorry for it at the time but feel very well pleased at present to have some agreeable news to communicate concerning our dear mother and her journey, later than what Virginia told you. I accompanied her (as I believe you know already) as far as Mr Madisons and had every reason to be satisfied with the manner in which she bore the fatigue of her first days ride, seeming rather better the next day than she had been when she left home. this was some consolation to me under the pain of parting with her and I had the pleasure of receiving by the return carriages a few lines written in her own hand from the steam boat landing, which she had reached in safety, her health and spirits improving as she advanced on the journey. if she loses no time by stopping in the large towns she will perhaps be in Boston as soon or sooner than my letter, but as brother Jeff seemed rather uncertain what delays might occur on the route it is possible you may be very glad to receive news of our travellers even as far as Fredericksburg, before they can reach you—I was much pleased with Montpellier and think both the house and situation delightful, I found too, much amusement in looking at the endless variety of pictures, statues, and engravings, with which every room is crowded and in walking [. . .] over the grounds and in the garden which gives promise of a great l abundance of fruit and vegetables in their proper seasons, though when I saw it, nothing remained of the former but a few figs still hanging among the curled and withered leaves which no longer afforded them protection or concealment, and the tomatoes whose green and flourishing [. . .] appearance I so much admired one evening were found blackening and falling w in the next morning’s sun, the work of a single night of frost. the trees too were fast losing their leaves and the atmosphere was so thick and hazy as to afford me but one transient view of the mountains while I staid: but I still found pleasure in walking in the grove which skirts the lawn at the back of the house, in treading on the beautiful soft grass, still in the full pride of its verdure, and listening to the dropping of the chesnuts which every wind brought in down in showers from the boughs of the old trees. nothing however gave such real gratification to my heart as the kind affectionate manners in our of our hostess who with all her usual politeness, and attention to the comforts, and anxiety to promote the pleasures of her guests, seemed to feel and express towards [. . .] all of us who a kinder and warmer interest I thought, than she would have shown to towards persons in prosperity, merely possessing the same claims on her kindness that we had. the old lady too, Mr Madisons mother, whom I saw frequently must be an object of interest I should think to every one, there is always something melancholy in the sight of old age even under the best circumstances but hers appears so respectable and so tranquil, so free from the irritability and waywardness of temper that we so often see in persons of her advanced age, that you feel cheered by the conviction that under such a form as this it is at least a bearable evil. she still possesses her eye sight, her hearing, and her memory in an uncommon degree, she made many enquiries inquiries about you, as did also your old acquaintance Miss Nelly. on my return home I found both the girls sick and Nicholas sick, Virginia confined to her bed, and Cornelia suffering with an attack of. St Anthonys fire, they are now however as well as usual and we are all going to work to get things in order for us to shut up the house, by the time the room at Tufton is rendered habitable which will not be for two or three weeks at least. we shall have much trouble and little comfort during the time we remain here I forsee, yet even this seems preferable in our eyes to quitting this place with our present feelings and prospects, we cannot bear to leave the scene of whatever happiness we have ever known and one too that is even endeared to us the more by all we have suffered in it not knowing when we return to it, (for return we must and shall, be it for ever so short a time) whether it will not be to take a last farewell of so many dear and precious objects [. . .] before we are turned forth from our home. its doors forever closed against us and we thrown upon our own exertions to earn by the drudgery of a school a scanty precarious subsistence, yet what right have we in particular to complain when the world contains, nay when even the circle of our acquaintance, even the nearest branches of our own family offer examples of others suffering under th similar or worse misfortunes—our poor Aunt Jane and her unfortunate family have are already tasting these sorrows and privations in their full extent, her health grows daily worse and I fear there is little hope from all we hear, that she will long remain to cheer and animate her daughters to exertion, and oh what would become of them if they were deprived of her? their prospects sometimes make me even more sad than my own and when I think that we may flatter ourselves without being too sanguine that next spring will again bring mama to us, restored to health & to a portion of [. . .] her former spirits I cannot but acknowledge that it would be sinful in us to suffer ourselves to despair, though we may be called upon to undergo hardships and submit to sacrifices and vexations that we have never yet known

since I begun to write we have heard from mama in Baltimore and that she is continues still rather the better for her journey—I often reproach myself dear sister for writing to you in this desponding strain but I know not why it is that when I sit down to write a thousand melancholy thoughts crowd upon my mind, and being no longer kept out by the necessity necessary attention which my usual occupations demand I can not prevent them always from taking possession of me, I have besides been obliged to lay down my pen so often while writing to day that I am afraid my letter is quite incoherent, I would not have any one but yourself to see it for the world, but I know no one else will see it and I am not ashamed to write carelessly, weakly, foolishly to you whom I do not wish to think better of me than I deserve much as I value your good opinion—give my love to Joseph and a kiss to dear sweet little Ellen and for yourself dear sister believe me always and in all circumstances truly and affectionately your

friend & sister
RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); addressed: “To Mrs Joseph Coolidge junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 31 Oct.; endorsed by Coolidge: “Mary. Oct. 30. 1826”; with notes by Coolidge: “Mamma. Montpellier. Mrs Madison. Mr Madison’s mother. Grief at the thought of leaving Monticello.”