Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello May 18th 1827|
I have found it absolutely impossible to write before this, dear sister, we have been so busy lately, to day we have come up to have the bedding sunned & house aired &c &, & I will try to accomplish getting a letter finished in the odd times while I am hear here, though I do not think there is any apology due to mama [. . .] or yourself for neglect in this particular, of writing, for you have been but negligent correspondents yourself yourselves for some time past. one of our greatest pleasures is our occasional walk up here, the place is so lovely & in this beautiful season too, that if it was not for our affection to it it would be a pleasure to come; & the house so cool that it is a releif from the heat of Tufton which I fear we shall find overpowering this summer. we were much fatigued by our walk to day but when we arrived found the doors & windows all open the floors rubbed bright, the old remaining chairs, & marble tables (which mostly belong to brother Jeff. & of course have not been removed) were all set in order & the whole place seemed to welcome us, the robin sung his sweetest song as he used to do the summer you were married & I sat in the hall a long time enjoying it & thinking of that time, with a mixture of pleasure & pain which I always feel here now. it is to Burwell’s care we owe all the neatness & order in which we find every thing, he has even been at the trouble of digging up the young poplars which where springing every where & would soon have made a wilderness of the yard, & of pruning the trees, he seems to take pleasure in keeping things as they used to be; he and all the servants shew much feeling & affection for us & often send their love or some message to mama & yourself & express a great desire for her to return. brother Jeff. proposes to make this a grass farm which will be the thing of all others I shall be most pleased with, for it will cover our unsightly red soil with beautiful green which will be kept in order & at the same time the stock upon it will be a great source of profit. We went to Edgehill about a fortnight ago brother Jeff. is just making his preparations there to begin building; his house is to be a handsome one, a square building with a long portico in front extending the whole length of the house like that at Mr Tucker’s which perhaps you remember; it is not a high portico, reaching only to the floor of the second story. Edgehill is one of the most beati beautiful spots I ever saw, it seems made for landskape gardening & vegetation riots in the luxury of that fine soil, I never saw a greater variety of trees, shrubs & plants of all sorts from the giant elm which surpasses in beauty & size that on the common at Boston to the smallest & most delicate flower & trees grouped about by natures own hand, continually present to your unexpecting eye some beautiful & picturesque object, here a peep as Mrs Petticola used to call it; of the loveliest lans landskape in the world, there a thicket of tanl tangled thorn or plum trees forming a shade so dark that not a ray of the sun ever penetrates it. then you will suddenly come in sight of a clump of slender graceful locusts with long rank green sward closing round them, & the tall poplars & spreading walnuts you have not forgotten; brother Jeff. whose hobby at present is grass farms proposes to leave the beautiful turf for a considerable distance round the house & I have no doubt will bu make a paradise of this place for sister Jane delights as much in these kind of improvements as any one can. we found a quantity of strawberries in the garden there & your spice wood which you planted with your own hands so many years ago was growing very luxuriantly.the family intend moving to the old house this winter of which two rooms, the dining room & parlour, are left, & the garret above them; the rest has fallen down; they expect to get into their new house in a year. They talk of sending the girls to Liberty to school & they are to go to dancing school here this summer.We have not much to give us pleasure here; we work very hard with the manuscript which in addition to our other work leaves us little time to do any thing else, however, we laid it aside for the recreation of making two dresses for your little Ellen which gave us great pleasure in the making & I hope baby will be able to wear them. they are made by some of Mrs dunglison’s little frocks, one is a walking dress & the other a little frock. we have been plann[ing] them all the winter & were glad of this opportunity of send[ing] them. I have made a pair of bracelets for Septimia of platted silk by some of Mrs D,s also, they are worn over the sleeve in morning dress. Tim’s are brown, which I thought she could were this summer,these [. . .] are a joint present from sister Jane [. . .] little Mary E. Wayles & myself [. . .] the frocks from sister J. V. & myself. our amusements here are our visits to Monticello occasionally, & a ride on the horses which work all the week to e Edgehill on sunday a delightful mocking bird too which sings day & night is to me a great source of pleasure, he is of all animals the happiest & has the most untiring vivacity.[. . .]
& when they met it was evident to every body that they were conscious of having been separated for a longer time than usual they screamed with delight as soon as they came in sight of each other & held out their hands, their joy being expressed in a rather uncouth & disagreable way when they met, by putting their hands in each others faces & Willie in an extacy open’d his hand & slapped Martha with all his strength over the nose & mouth, at any other time she would have screamed with rage but now she only caught her breath & returned it with a kiss, & he with great gallantry took her little wrist between his thumb & finger & licked her hand all over for a kiss.