Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Martha Jefferson Randolph

It is late in the morning of Tuesday, dearest mother, and I should not attempt to write, as I dislike so much to be hurried in writing to you, but having in my last mentioned Ellen’s illness I thought you might be anxious to hear again. she is very much better, but still pale & thin; I returned from Nahant on Friday, & finding the weather most intensely hot in Boston, I carried her the next day to Cambridge, intending to leave her a week with Sarah; in this however I was disappointed as I found the whole house in a commotion of preparation for the approaching marriage of it’s master. Miss Roach had been there to give her orders as to the disposition of the furniture which Mr Farrar & herself had been chusing together, & you could not move without stumbling over bales of carpeting & crates of crockery. of course Sarah’s hands were too full to take any additional charge upon them, & I left Ellen for that night & the next day only, & yesterday morning she came home with Francis in the Cambridge stage; being with her man the only passengers. to-day we have clear cool autumnal weather, & I trust the change will be permanent for a long enough time to let my babies get acclimated to the city again. I could not avoid a sigh of envy when I thought how charming Mr Farrar’s house would be completely furnished. Mr Gardner’s room is converted into a library, & Mr Farrar’s study into a drawing room. your old chamber is to be carpeted & furnished along with the rest, and as the grounds are considerably improved under Matthew’s care, you have no idea what a charming beautiful place it will be.

The society at Cambridge will receive a considerable addition in the persons of Mrs Farrar, & Mrs Follen elect, & Mr & Mrs Henry Ware who, it is thought, will remove thither on account of his health. I forgot to mention that Dr Follen preached his maiden sermon in our church about a month ago, and a very excellent one it was, although rather long; he has since divided it into two, and if his after efforts are equal to the first, he will become an [. . .] addition to additional star in that galaxy constellation of pulpit orators which is one of the great ornaments of the Boston hemisphere. I called on Mrs Stearns after depositing Ellen at C Mr Farrar’s, & found her as full of affection for you as ever, & as anxious to hear all I could tell her about you. George had dined with me the same day, he looks very well & very contented, & seems to have excellent care taken of him. I told him he should write to you oftener, but I suspect the composition of a letter is still a work of time for him. his clothes appear in very good order, but he tells me he wants a coat for autumn wear, which I shall see about having made for him.

Sarah Webber is hesitating whether or not she can agree to remain under the same roof with the detested Matthew, Miss Roach being anxious to retain her. I find so much trouble in getting a good cook that I proposed to her to come & live with me again, in that capacity, & I rather think she will come accept the offer. Mrs Burns is still with me, but is absolutely insufferable from her abominable temper, & her extravagance, she wastes &, I suspect, gives away, the value of her wages every week. Mary Ann I shall likewise dismiss, for though an excellent chamber maid, I have no faith in her principles & do not feel secure in any thing that regards either her truth or discretion. Ann I shall retain till I hear of somebody better.

Thomas & his wife, with her sister, a very lovely young girl, are daily expected. great preparations have been made for their reception at the square; you would scarcely know the old house with it’s new paint & paper, it’s fresh carpets & splendid rosewood piano. the large chamber up stairs is beautifully fitted up for the new Mrs Coolidge, & the small one over the little front parlor for Mary Goldsborough. they will remain there until Thomas finds a house to suit him & gets it furnished. all this strikes me as much more hospitable & affectionate than my own reception, but I know not whether it is merely suspicion on my part, or whether really the daughter of an orthodox and federal family, & who is believed to have received a useful education is really more welcome than a blue-stocking unitarian democrat, could possibly be.—

Ellen sits at my elbow with a little doll, to whic[h she] is singing ‘hi baby, ho baby, hou baby’, in a transport of maternal love so great that she has let me get through my letter almost uninterrupted. Ann is on a visit to her sick & I fear dying mother-in-law, and I am getting along as I can with both children unwell, & Miss Dewhurst the seamstress to assist in taking care of them. pray write to me dearest mother, as often as you can, & especially what your plans for a future residence are—I do not much affect Georgetown; I thought it both federal & fanatic when I knew it; dissenters both in religion & politicks from the true-faith. but this may be changed, & I am afraid to give an opinion, so little do I know where it would really be most for your interest to settle. my heart always inclines for Philadelphia. farewell, my dearest mother, love to all. I received Mary’s letter yesterday, & shall write to her next tuesday. Ellen is just beginning to tease, & Bess to cry from the nursery, but I am grateful to the young ladies for their long forbearance. still I have written “under the whip” as fast as my pen could drive. once more adieu.

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs Randolph Monticello near Charlottesville Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Boston, 19 Aug.; with a postscript “my dear grandmama” in the hand of Coolidge followed by several pen scratchings, presumably made by her daughter Ellen, and signed “Little Ellen.”