Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello Nov: 12 1826|
I have been longing to write to you dearest sister, for some time; our only pleasure is in writing & recieving letters from Boston at present, but I have been so busy for some days past that I could not write. The day before yesterday a box was packed & despatched to you which when you open you will think [. . .] contains a farrago from Morrissania, at least you will recognise our good aunt’ss blood in me, I was myself diverted at the temptation I experienced to be sending little remembrances to you. First on the top of the box is a collection of trees for Mrs Storer, I did not know what you had carried & lost, but thought I would make a collection according to my own taste; I chose then my favorite snowberry, so light & elegant in its form & foliage, and so pure its berries so beautiful & pure, but most valued by [. . .] me because it [. . .] most flourishes when all other flowers have faded. [. . .] the pyracantha which besides being very ornamental makes as you know a low hedge so thick that nothing can get throught through it. The yellow currant which for its fruit is of no value but it bears a quantity of beautiful yellow very fragrant flowers. [. . .] the Halesia or snowdrop tree which is so beautiful that I send it though I am afraid it will not bear the winter at fresh pond but it is worth trying. And the fringe tree which I know will not bear cold below zero, but as old madame Coolidge, I observed, cultivated green house plants, I thought I might send her this little acknowledgement of her kind attentions to me last summer, [. . .] and in truth this tree is as well worthy a place in any green house plant as most of the most esteemed exotics; nothing can be more beautiful than one particular plant that we have growing in our meadow here, behind a rock over which it bends & [. . .] dips its long pendant gracefull graceful branches covered with fringe like flowers into the branch below; you know I love flowers and must excuse my dwelling so long on the beauties of one of the prides of our meadows & woods. in the box also, which I was losing sight of, is that little old blue box of yours, & your yard stick which you charged me to send you as reliques of home. in the blue box is my sweet Ellen’s little frock which her lazy aunt begun so long ago for her; the body is made by one of Mrs Dunglison’s little frocks just recieved from England the skirt partly after one of little Ellen’s own & partly after my own fancy; I wish I had had enough of the worked edge to trim the seams & bosom but had not time to work it; if the tetting should not be admissible in Boston it will be very easy to take it off & put on something else. after the frock was finished I was terribly afraid that it would be too small in the waist for my niece who I recollected had a good stout body even when she used to kick up her heels in my lap every morning, & she must have grown since, it can be altered however by setting on plain hems behind with buttons & button holes and letting out the gathering of the skirt to them. mama will be surprised to see a waistcoat for George, & I know he has enough but I knew not what else to do with this piece of cloth left from Lewiss gaiters; and it makes a nicer waistcoat than some of those he has. the socks Mrs Saunders sent up to me for him & said they were his nicest pair. The pincushion for Tim is not exactly the thing to send from the country to the city nor has it the merit of being neatly made; its only value is that it was the work of my hands entirely. the books Lewis said mama wanted for Tim. The ear of corn you will laugh to see. it fitted in so exactly to keep the other things steady that I put it in, mama will tell you the history of it. Col C. charged me to say that it was not remarkable for its size. [. . .] three of the hams you must give to Mr Coolidge the father from me the other four Nicholas sends joseph. four are much better than the other three I imagine for they were some of Col. Carr’s old hams given us for the purpose of sending to Boston. two of these are mine & two Nicholases & that you may know them, they have been packed in bran, & the others in ashes. two of each sort you will keep. & these are most of the contents of this oddly furnished box in which trees & cloths, books, gilt pincushions & hams are all journeying so sociably together. the box was too large for the steps which was the cause of our cramming all these things in.
I am about to make a visit which I have long had in contemplation but now that I have an opportunity to do so, leave home with a very very heavy heard heart; any time but this I would have gone willingly; it is to Poplar Forest. the girls have written of [. . .] several times to me to press me to spend the winter with [. . .] them, & uncle Tom who came down a day or two ago, rode a hard trotting horse on purpose to take me back in a gig; I cannot spend the winter, that is very certain, but will go & stay some weeks with the girls I believe. we shall go in brother Jeffs gig which is open but the weather is di[. . .] now & there will be no hardship in it. we shall set off in a few [. . .] and when mama or yourself write to me let it be [. . .] to Poplar Forest [. . .] send the letter; I wish however to stay only a fortnight or three week[s.] Aunt Jane has had the worst spitting of blood that she has ever had and was much weakened by it at the time, but her health is now as good as usual. the school is encreasing slowly & their friends tell them their there that it has begun well; that the schol schools there always “begin in a little way” their music mistress has after engaging positively to come, & making all her arrangements with them, refused to comply with the engagement. they are trying to get another. Martha writes in bad spirits about her school & worse on Maria s account for the yellow fever still rages in Norfolk & a young man died of it just accross the street from aunt Hackleys, so [. . .] near to them [. . .] that they they heard his vomiting. Mrs Smith (Walter Jones’s mother) has had it & recovered, but aunt H.s family are not at all uneasy for themselves & say they are not in the infected part of the town, their side of the street is not infected. D. Terrel leaves Charlottesville in a few days which we regret much; we have all become quite attached to him & Nicholas & himself love each other dearly. We have had the house full for some days past with a set of frank open hearted boys who have visited us often lately, the Newsomss Newsoms & Mr Coalter, they have become quite well acquainted in the family & having kept me up last night till near twelve o clock I am so sleepy to night I can scarce write
give dear love to all your family, [. . .] my dearest mother, & dear George & Tim; to Joseph whom I love much, & your sweet baby whom I think of offen often & often with a longing to see her & kiss kiss her little innocent face. my thoughts visit my friends one by one & all who have spoken a kind word to me are remembered & would be named if my good wishes were worth [. . .] delivering. Oh had I the wings of a dove for then I would flee away and be with you.
Write some of you soon & often I entreat. we have determined to restrict ourselves to a letter a week but don’t you do the same to us. Aunt Marks sends love, & Mammy to the children—