Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

If I were a Muhometan I should say “it is written” that I am to be allways wanting in punctuality, and should not appologise apologise for what was beyond my controul being preordained, but I am no predestinarian, and can not help believing that with sufficient energy a person may very much form the character, or rather in a great measure conquest conquer [. . .] the vice of the character it by attention and perseverance. I will only say then that I have been much interrupted and have had a great deal to do, but with better habits I might still have found time to devote an hour to you dear Nancy. I hope before this that Gouverneur has recovered his strength and is able to pursue his studies and sports as usual. no one knows better than my self “the horrors of typhus” having had an attack of it myself in youth and witnessed the effects of it in My Sister who was for many weeks Deaf and stupid; indeed I do not think her mind ever recovered entirely from it, having always retained a torpor of the intellect which I thought was not natural to her. I have generally found it rather a tedious than a dangerous disease it has repeatedly gone through our black family, and although many of them were so low as to be unable to feed them selves yet I do not remember ever losing one by it.—

I dare say knowing John as well as you do you have already anticipated if you have not heard, of his having quarrelled with Mr R— and left him. his situation was one which brought him 5$ a day which his folly and [. . .] ill temper made him throw up in resentment and return to his unfortunate family with not more than enough to bear his expenses home. his wife I have always heard was an excellent woman, how cruelly thrown away upon him, those only who know him can judge—I shall remain here till October when I shall return probably to Monticello where I shall have the bare walls and the income from the S.C. and L.a donnation. 1200$ per annum it will require pretty rigid economy to make it support a family of 16 persons. 3 of them boys going to school and 10 that have no other source of income. Mr Bankhead of course cloathes his children and if I find I cannot get along without it I should call upon his plantation to contribute some thing to their board of the children but it is such a trifle that they would add to the consumption of the family that nothing but dire necessity would force me to make any call on their account. the lottery has completely fallen through but the sale of the personal property with the collections have paid so much of the debt that it will give time to My dear Jefferson to, bring his legacy the (manuscripts) in to the market. it appears impossible to sell the land but at so frightful a sacrifice as totally to defeat the object. lands that some years back were valued at from 40 to 100 $ the acres acre will not bring 5. untill the boys can do some thing for them selves we shall live in real poverty when they can maintain them selves my annuity will I have no doubt enable us to live in a degree of [. . .] comfort even, but the land must probably go at last for what it can be sold for and in the mean time I still think it will be necessary to keep school, one year will however enable us to decide, and if it is, I shall certainly not shrink from it—Ellen desires me to return you her most grateful acknowledgement for the chair it will be a great comfort to her in her present uncomfortable situation particularly as her’s is by no means an easy one. Mr Coolidge has taken a part of professor Farrar’s house in Cambridge for the summer and next week we shall begin our preparations for a removal. she will be confined there and will probably not return to Boston till I leave her. the children are both at school or they would cordially join in the love which I beg you to accept dear Nancy for your[self] fond and Gouverneur from Your affectionate friend and Sister

M Randolph

if I had time to write another letter I would not send such a hurried scrawl as this is but if I wait for more time I may lose 2 or 3 weeks more—

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, 17 May.