Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph Trist
|Washington Sept 13 1827|
Mr Gilmer was obliged to stay one day here my dearest Virginia & that gives me an opportunity of writing to you which I will do if it is only to tell you how much I have thought of you all since I left you; every thing else I suppose Martha has told you for she was going to write to you directly when I parted with her & I had managed to tell her all my adventures [. . .] in the little time we were together.
I have felt sorrow & even remorse & much self blame since I left you. sometimes I think I ought not to have left it to Mary to decide but ought to have decided to stay myself for I am sure Mary made a sacrifice when she determined not to go, & for myself it was more my business than hers to stay at home & assist you & certainly I ought not to have left Ellen’s work upon your hands. You will say these reflections were made too late, they are, & for that I blame myself, but I tell you that you may know I have thought of such things. I went out to day with Mr Gilmer & Mr White (of whom M. no doubt told you as she said she was going to make a fine story of his attendance) to see the capitol, & a grand building it is in spite of its barbarous domes; when I got into the room in which the paintings are I felt a confusion & bewilderment of my senses, I was feverish & nervous before I suppose was the reason; but it is a noble room & would have affected me at any time & then the echoing & reochoing of the noises below, carts, drays &c sailors almost under the windows voices in the building it itself ascended in one mix’d roar like the waves of the sea & the wind rolling through those stately arches & large rooms added much to this resemblance. afterwards we went into the library & I made haste to renew my acquaintance with my old friends the books particularly the annals Les beaux arts which I looked over and wished I had my pencil and paper that I might sketch the outlines of some of my favorite figures just for old acquaintance sake. the library seems to me to be a convenient room though not strikingly handsome. nevertheless I staid & stood & thought of the time when the books were ours & looked out [. . .] of the windows & felt so strangely as the recollections of six years old entered came to my mind & gradually I recognised things long long forgotten; the past returned like a dim dream & I thought whose granddaughter I was & that his fame would make the eyes of every body in the room turn on me if they knew who I was & I shrank away & hid myself in a nitch with some of the books & felt so strangely & such mixed sensations that I began to feel sick. & then I thought what a strange uproar it would make if I were to faint or have the hystericks among those strange people & then it would get out that Mr Jeffersons granddaughter had fallen into a fit at the sight of her1 grandfathers books & how some few persons would pity her & think it very natural & amiable & showed much feeling & how some would exclaim against the2 abominable affectation of the thing & most would say of me as we said of Mary Terrell when she burst into tears the first time she heard an organ, & after all, it would be nothing but fatigue & bodily weakness, & then I laughed to think of the thoughts that had come into my head & got up & walked about & felt better & went to see the other rooms which I admired exceedingly. but enough of myself & my sensations. the paintings I think look raw & unfinished & the declaration of independance almost cadaverous, as if the good people had been burning brandy in the room; & yet I admired them all very much indeed. coming back I stopped & bought a trunk & as I had left my bandbox at Gordonsville & the back of my trunk was bad & had got shaken open & as I thought there would be more backwardsing & forwardsing to Boston & that Mary would go too some time or other I determined to get a good trunk at once & so got a large convenient strong one that will hold all my cloths & other things but alas I had to pay eleven dollars for it & I paid them down like so many drops of my hearts blood & came back & thought I had been extravagant & asked myself what right I had to get more things & travel more than you all for I am not selfish my dear sisters & would gladly work for you if I could.
I intended to tell you my adventures lest Martha should not do it but feel so much fatigued I must defer it to another letter. We are at Gadsly’s Hotel, a large new building with very comfortable accomodations though not remarkably good fare but we had blue wing for dinner & I for one will not complain. the room I am in is very comfortable indeed we should be glad of as nice a one at home & the chambermaid or room-setter as they call her an attentive kind old mulatto woman.
I have been uneasy about the debts I left at home for I do not know how you will pay them they are that to the milliner which I [. . .] know not how much it is; but sister Jane has the bill, I gave it to her to take care of. I should like to know how much it is, I wish you would tell me when you write. about 2 dollars to the saddler. & 1¾ $ to Jones near Leitches old store which I promised to pay before tuesday the day I set off. the money I owe Mary Harriet will pay her if I can get the guitar strings in Philadelphia. Tell H. that her memorandum got lost out of my purse or mislaid & I wish she would tell me what it was directly. I will write to her from Philadel[phia and] to my dear Mary from the first town I have time to write from goo[d night] my dearest I am so sleepy I can write no more give dear dear love to all & dozens of kisses to the babies.