Martha Jefferson Randolph to Jane H. Nicholas Randolph

I wrote to Cornelia out of turn dear Jane because it was a letter of business in which she was so much more concerned that you could possibly be, that not to treat You as Mary did Ellen, and merely make you the Organ of a business in transactions in which you have not concern but through your affection I wrote directly to the principal agent, as no doubt she thinks her self. I mean however to tell another story when I get home, with renovated health and spirit I [. . .] intend to be a second “Madam Bullfinch” and govern every thing with despotic sway even Jeff that “3 tailed bashaw” shall yield implicit obedience when I command the girls should remember that who ever takes english grammar and arithmetick ought to be getting in to a state of preparation to enable them to be ready at it particularly arithmetick. and their occupations of this winter will all turn to acco[ount?] by giving them the habit of teaching. I determined to make amends for Ellen’s dissapointment, by giving her the Octagon table. Nicholas says the desk is screwed on but John Hemmings must have done it, and of course can easily draw out the screws, and if he cant plug the holes neatly which however I should think he might, it can be done here. the clock I wished to get [. . .] as a present for Dr Dunglison and pray dear Jane send it soon and safely: Ellen wishes you to see Burwell and get from his own mouth his method of making coffee. pray what house have we determined upon? and what cook? the other servants we can make out with the young ones we have. as I have not Tarare’s belt which would giving give me the means of occasionally taking tea with you, gossiping an hour or two, and returning with the news before the house [. . .] was shut up, or even if it were, to my own bed again, I must depend upon you all for writing me just such letters as you would wish under similar circumstances to recieve. the winter here is said to be tremendous—the ground has been covered with snow for the last 5 weeks, and it is snowing furiously to day but we have the good fortune to occupy a Lyman house and Jack Frost might as well attempt to get into the oven while the bread was baking as into one of Mr Lyman’s South rooms where I am accommodated. the water has never frozen in my bed room yet, though the thermometer has been 10 below [. . .] zero. I have repeatedly been out to take tea with Mrs Storer 4 or 5 miles from Boston in an open sleigh and returned hours after dark but so well protected with my wadded pelisse, down wadded calash, cloth cloak, woolen shoes bufalo robe, fur cape & that I should defy Siberia it self under my [. . .] present equipment to redden even the tip of my nose I have one proof of health that I have not felt for years if I feel cold and throw any thing over me in addition to my covering, it produces a glow, and I immediately get quite warm; before I left home if I once got chilled no additional covering nor even the fire could restore warmth but with fever. and it was almost as impossible to restore warmth circulation to the dead as to my feeble veins if it were once impeded. I go no where but to Mrs Coolidges and Mrs Storers though I have been a good deal visited and met with many kind attentions. and so have the children who both are going on as well as possible. Septimia has kept steadily at the head of her class going to school has given a stimulus to her character which has supported it self, and her school mistress told T. Bullfinch that she had never had a better little girl in her life. George also is doing very well, he is getting on very well with geography and grammar besides spelling reading writing and arithmetick as soon as the candles are lit at 6 oclock I take them both up in my room where they set and get their lessons very industriously always till 9, and sometimes it is 10 oclock before they get through them. they are in school always from 9 till 2 and twice a week Septimia has to attend her musick lessons at Mrs Coolidges. which makes about 8 hours pretty close employment every day in addition to her musick lessons and a little, very little practising on the piano which being at present in a north room with out fire it is impossible to practise I must conclude this scrawl not to lose the mail burn it for god sake as soon as you have read it love to the whole household and believe me ever your own affectionate Mother

RC (ViU: Septimia Anne Randolph Meikleham Papers); dateline at foot of text.

3 tailed bashaw: a grandee; a haughty, imperious man (Oxford English Dictionary).