Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

I am as much obliged to you for your letter dearest sister, as if you had written earlier or oftener, and as long as I continue to hear regular news of you through mama, though I cannot deny the pleasure it gives me to receive letters written in your own hand and addressed to myself, I will make no complaints of your silence and will continue to address every other letter to you, that I am allowed the privilege of writing to my friends in Boston, this will lose one mail, of which my absence in Charlottesville till Sunday is in part the cause, and I hope mama and yourself will not be uneasy or much disappointed at so small a delay in the weekly bulletins you are in the habit of receiving. indeed I have little more to say than that we are (including the babies) as well as usual not withstanding I have been out, for the second time in nine months and have actually passed a whole week at Mr Garretts, it was a very sober one however though I took advantage of my stay there to visit the University where I had not been [. . .] since the portico of the Rotunda was completed, it is a noble building and the circular room containing the library, which is now all arranged in its proper place, is the most beautiful I ever saw or expect to see—this session has been as quiet as possible; the regulations [. . .] limiting the students in the amount of their pocket money, have been carried into effect as well as those forbidding, or at least discountenancing, their visits to confectioners and taverns, and have met with no opposition I believe, on the contrary all those whom I have heard speak on the subject appear to rejoice very sincerely in the restrictions that have been imposed. I accompanied Mr Garretts family to church on Sunday but will not pretend to deny that I was rather “ennuyè” than amused or edified by anything delivered by Mr Hatch in his discourse and I could not join in the praises pronounced on his sermon by many of his hearers. I have never been so fortunate as to go to church on Mr Bowmans day for preaching, who I am told preaches very rationally and sensibly sometimes, and I should have prefered hearing him greatly. I left Cornelia in Charlottesville. when I returned here, she had promised to spend this week with Mrs Dunglison and was to have gone to the University to day. Jane Cary is in the neighbourhood and I have some thoughts of accompanying her home when she returns. she talks of going shortly, but is spending her time very pleasantly among a number of old and new acquaintances in Charlottesville, and will feel no disposition to leave them soon I daresay. she has had one of her teeth drawn and plugged and put back again and it feels as firm now as ever she says, though the operation was a very painful one and its effects have not yet gone off entirely. I do not think I would have consented to have such a one performed on my mouth even to have saved a front tooth (though the dentist (Dr Roper) compliments me on possessing a pretty good stock of firmness) and Jane’s was so far back as only to be seen when she laughed or stretched her mouth very wide, which she can do now do with the satisfaction of exposing nothing but a row of sound white teeth. I have been obliged to have mine filed again very much in front but I believe they are safe for the present at least—we see by the news papers that Louisiana is probably about to do as much for us as South Carolina has done; I have like yourself, always had a lurking hope that the school might be eventually found to be unnecessary, and present appearances are more favourable to that hope than they were when I first allowed myself to cherish it, yet I think with you that it is right to prepare ourselves to meet the worst that may happen and if we must submit to the task of teaching, we should enable ourselves to discharge it properly, and I regret to think how little I have as yet done and how little I am doing towards effecting this purpose if our prospects were a little more certain, if I only knew where and how we are to pass even the next six months, I should not feel so entirely unsettled, so totally without interest or object as I now do, my heart often turns towards home, the only spot I can yet consider as such, and every member of the dear circle by which it was once filled, with an insupportable longing and I sigh to remember that it is now only in my dreams that I can ever hope to live over again those scenes of past happiness—I am sorry to find that mama’s spirits are still so bad in Spite of absence and distance and change of air and scene, and the more so as I feel that this is not the place for her to recover them. Virginia told you I suppose that one of Nicholas’s plans was to fix in Washington, or in the country round it, the last new scheme talked of [. . .] among us, for we have new ones every day, planned, advocated, and opposed by the different members of the family, we are indebted to Col. Nicholas for originating, he holds out Louisiana as the land of promise, that is to say the land where money may be made, if not enjoyed, and his successful crop this year, which I understand will bring in a profit of 20,000 $ to the persons concerned in the plantation he superintends, seems to have dazzled the eyes of our gentlemen here, not a little, but the ladies are not quite so favourably disposed towards a removal in that quarter. to brother Jeff. set off for Albany a few days ago, under the expectation of being absent several weeks. he has engaged a Mr Wills, a young man who lived some time in Leitch’s store and was highly recommended to him, to copy the manuscripts which we were to have assisted in, but have had no time for this winter. Mr W. occupies a part of James’s room and only comes into the house at meal times. he is quite modest & well behaved and a very inoffensive inmate—report says that Isabella Wydown has discarded Mr Trig, but though it comes from seemingly good authority, (Mr Higginbotham) I am by no means sure of the fact, which if we were to keep school would be of some importance to us, as it is supposed her marriage would induce her sister to qui resign her place as teacher at the female academy. we had thought of it two as an agreeable and advantageous situation for the Woodwards who find it hard to live in Richmond and would I am sure gladly remove to Charlottesville for the hope of a greater profit—tea is waiting and I must bid you adieu dearest Sister but not till I have given my usual quantity of love and kisses to all and a double share of both to my dear mother. ever & devotedly yours

Bolivar’s nephew is at the university—

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); addressed: “To Mrs Joseph Coolidge junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped and postmarked; endorsed by Coolidge: “Mary. 13. March. 1827”; with additional notes by Coolidge: “Regulations at the University. The Rotunda. Operations on teeth. Home, sweet Home. Louisiana.”
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