Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

It appears doomed that I am always to begin every letter to you dear Nancy with an apology. I should have written to you as soon as I heard through Mr Wadsworth of Gouverneur’s illness, but I was my self confined to my bed at the time. My health although greatly improved is still delicate, and I have had 3 or 4 attacks this winter [. . .] such as I have been subject to lately. a more complete prostration of health, strength, and spirits, was never experienced by any one than my self when I left Virginia. Our prospects are much brighter in a pecuniary point of view than they were: the lottery having been united to the one of the district, will eventually ensure it’s success; by which my dear Father’s debts will be paid, and some thing left, although the delay occasioned by the failure in the first instance by adding to the interest will take so much from the remaining property. but thanks to the generosity of South Carolina, we have 10,000 $ certain. if that is well managed I should think it would give us 600 $ per annum. much better I think than laying it out in a kind of property that is a certain expense and a very uncertain profit. it may however save me from the horrors of keeping a boarding school; to which I have looked forward as the only means of support for my large family; and which in the country where I should have had the trouble of boarding with all it’s teasing consequences, in addition to tuition, would have been a very severe trial in my feeble state. I can conceive none more so. untill the drawing of the lottery our circumstances will be miserably streightened, as the debts are pressing and our affairs so unsettled that I really do not know what we have to depend on. and as yet I am without a home. the establishment at Monticello is broken up, and every thing but a few beds and some absolute necessaries, is sold. we shall have to rent a house some where, and buy a little of the most ordinary furniture to enable me to relieve Jefferson from the burthen of my very large family, who are staying with him, and crouding him in a manner that cannot be submitted to in warm weather in his small house. but really any positive evil that we know the extent of is preferable to the state of doubt and uncertainty that has preyed upon my health this winter. the school even whilst I looked upon it as a certain evil, was less apaling than since my hopes have escaped from it

I have just recieved a letter from Mr Randolph. John went with him. but in Georgia, Virginia, or New York, he will I fear be still the same irrational helpless being. his family will I dare say do better with out him, for although he had an excellent practice, yet I suspect he never collected any thing, or kept any accou accompts which would enable them to do it. I will certainly not pass you in returning, but when that will be I cannot as yet say. for no arrangement has been made about a house, and to return again to Monticello to occupy it in it’s present desolate state to quit it altogether when the lottery is drawn, is a useless repitition of the distress of giving up. but necessity has no law and saving one year’s house-rent is an object of some importance amongst the many obligations I owe to my dearest father is the taste for reading which he gave me in early life, which has never deserted me and which is one of my greatest comforts and only amusement at present. adieu dear Sister. I have become such a croaker that it is almost wrong to infect you with my gloomy feelings. but even that is better than an appearance of neglect. I hope Gouverneur has recovered. Ellen desires to be affectionately remembered to you both she would have written to you but she is very poorly and to my great sorrow far advanced in pregnancy. she expects to be confined in August adieu dear Sister give my love to Gouverneur and accept for your self the best wishes of your friend and sister

M Randolph
RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); dateline below signature; addressed: “To Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrissania Haarlem P. O. New York”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 21 Mar.