Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge, with Postscript by Nicholas P. Trist
|Tufton Nov. 26th 1826.|
at last my dear sister we have quitted Monticello and are doing our best to reconcile ourselves to our change of abode, here we shall meet with kindness and comfort, and when time has lessened our regrets for all we have left, I hope we shall be happy, at present we are very home sick and it required no small sacrifice of inclination & feeling on our part to relinquish, as we have done, our home, for as yet our hearts refuse to give the title to any other spot on earth than the one we have just given up. the house here was not ready to receive us till tuesday, (nor indeed is it yet finished, for the plastering in the room intended for the nurses & children is not yet dry, and they are occupying [. . .] now the same that I do) and we came down wednesday evening, this did not allow us time to do more than half the things that were necessary for our comfort &. satisfaction, but brother Jeff. insisted so strongly on our immediate removal that rather than refuse we determined to walk up every good day to Monlo until we had got every thing in the house arranged as we wished it. we have walked up two days already, friday and saturday, and should have gone up to day [. . .] if it had not rained. we worked very hard the two days that we went up and did not think of returning till sunset, having made our dinners on some cold meat & bread that sister Jane gave us, but we have still several days work before us which will prevent our feeling settled here until we have completed the whole and are at leisure to turn our undivided attention to teaching the children and performing our other duties. papa is still in the neighbourhood, he wrote a very affectionate letter to Virginia since we have been here, inclosing one he had received from mama. he says he shall certainly set off for Milledgeville to day week, [. . .] if not ordered to go sooner—I believe it is decided that Lewis shall go to Mr Giles’s school the next session. I do not know what has been or will be determined on for Benjamin but at present they are carrying on their studies alone, and as far as I can judge appear to be industrious. Lewis had become quite so before he left home. they occupy an out house in the yard and we seldom see them except at meals. Nicholas goes every morning to his office in Charlottesville and returns at night. to day being sunday and the negroes consequently having nothing to do, was fixed on as the most convenient time for removing Virginiass piano, and since the rain has ceased and the sun is again shining out. N. has ridden up to Monticello to superintend the business for her. the piano will stand in her room, where it will be safer from injury than it could have been in the dining room, besides affording her greater facilities for practising on it, indeed but for this arrangement brother Jeff’s aversion to music would have cost her the sacrifice of the evening’s practise practice. I was interrupted yesterday by a summons to dinner, this day has been spent in making a beginning with the children’s lessons, and to night Nicholas brought me my dear sisters letter, for which however short and unsatisfactory I thank you. it saved us as you supposed [. . .] much uneasiness which we were prepared to feel if we had received no intelligence from mama or yourself. the same mail brought us news of Cornelias safe arrival in New London without cold or rheumatism, which we feared would have been the certain consequences of a journey performed in such weather, & with no better shelter from the wind than what the old gig afforded—the Carysbrook house was burnt to the ground on friday last, & the whole family forced to seek shelter at Oakhill which is already crowded—most of the furniture was saved but considerably injured, [. . .] the accident was supposed to have arisen from the mischief or carelessness of a little black girl, the servant of a visitor—at least so says Aunt Cary in a few hurried lines which we received from her to night. she [. . .] says nothing of their plans for the future or whether they have as yet formed any…Cousin Jane Taylor & her husband are going to move out to Missouri, they have met with no success at Old Point and Mr Taylor has rich relations in that part of the country who hold out better prospects to him if he will join them there. Aunt Hackleys school is still very small and Lucia and Harriet are obliged to contribute their assistance to the support of the family by teaching little children. I made my first essay with the little ones here this morning and think I shall find an excellent pupil in Cary Anne who promises to be docile and intelligent. Mary is not so far advanced, has been more petted and has not besides the quiet goodness of her sister, she is a sweet pretty little creature however and I daresay will come on very well when she has regular attention paid her. I wish I had a little more insight into this same business of teaching, to know a thing yourself [. . .] is not quite sufficient to render you capable of [. . .] instructing another, but above all things to have but an imperfect knowledge of the thing you are to teach is the greatest bar to success, and I find that I know nothing accurately enough myself to teach it to others, I hope nevertheless that I shall have opportunities of supplying these deficiences as I advance, and am determined to lose as little time as possible, and not to sit down (at least if I can help it) with my hands before me when I feel as if I had [. . .] five times as much to do as I can possibly accomplish and that it is vain to struggle with impossibilities—I long to see baby with her two teeth, and wish you could judge with your own eyes of the improvement that has taken place in Martha, she is quite good humoured when she is well and you never saw a face so radiant with smiles when she is in a good humour. her eyes are like two little stars and her cheeks ch plump and rosy. Mrs Bonnycastle had a son born on wednesday, weighing 10 lbs. and is doing well—love to my dear mother, Joseph, & the children & kisse[s] to dear baby—ever dearest sister your own devoted
the piano has arrived quite safe.
Dr Ellen—Tell Joseph that I have been disappointed in getting the paper.—Jones has recd two boxes lately—one of them containing a small package of books to me; but neither, the paper in question—Many thanks for the ambrosial soap—it deserves the name &, in future, I’ll use no other if this can be had—I shav’d this morning with it—went out soon after into the cold air, without the least chap or tension. I’m afraid it will after a while make my wrinkled crow footed-hollow cheeks ‘luxuriously soft & delicate’ as the advertisement runs.—Adieu. a kiss to little Nora for every tooth she can count—Martha’s first born has not made its appearance yet, but her gums have [. . .] kept her crying for the last 24 hours almost incessantly; & will probably soon bring forth—