Cornelia J. Randolph to Nicholas P. Trist, with Postscript by Mary J. Randolph

I have been so very much occupied, dear Nicholas, this winter that I have not had time to write to my friends. Mary & myself have been correcting the manuscripts for publication, & we scarcely keep ahead of the printers. we devote about as much time every day to them as you do to the business of your office & afterwards have a good deal of necessary needlework to do. we might write on sunday but almost [. . .] every sunday some accident has prevented us. This sunday I shall give to my absent friends, & consider my letters to you the most pressing, for brother Jeff. having determined to enclose the catalogue to Mr Clay I think I had better apprise you of it at once. [. . .] else he (Mr C.) will not know what to do with it or what it is sent for. I do not know why he chooses to send it to Mr Clay, I think we had better ask the favour of Mr Madison, but he has determined to do it & we can say no more. I do not think he would even send it now if I had not undertaken to fold, seal & direct it & send it by this post; he promises to write a line or two with it but I do not think he will, he has become the greatest procastinator I ever knew, & what makes the matter worse, so sore on the subject that to remind him of any thing he has to do gives him a desire to put it off. I do not know how we shall prevail on him to1 take the necessary steps about the lottery tickets, but hope he will soon. Brother Jeff is like a bow that has been too long strung, his energies have been kept too long upon the stretch; we can only hope that time & l ease may again restore him to his right temper of mind. This is not the trouble that weighs upon us at the present, however, one that presses more closely, afflicts us; James H. Randolph is at present ill in the house of a typhus fever, & one that we have strong reason to think infectious; Ben nurses him, sleeps in the room, & remains with him almost the whole day, & I am miserable about him; I do not think we are in much danger. [. . .] we shall take every means to avoid the infection by keeping the house ventilated & living high as they say, for though it seems strange, that is what has been advised as a preventative. I shall write to mama & Virginia to advise their remaining at Carysbrook, but shall not tell them we think the fever catching, for that would bring mama home, or if they succeeded in keeping her, make her very miserable. I think Uncle Tom & Harriet (the first at any rate) will come as soon as they receive our letters, & in that way Ben will be relieved before the fever has reached its most infectious stage. This seems to be one of the most malignant of those typhus fevers we have had going occasionally through the upper country; out of 26 cases at the University 2 students have died & seven are now exceedingly ill some of whom will in all probability die also; James is certainly very ill & his complaint has not yet reached its height, as he has only been sick a week, but he does not appear to have what the physicians here call “the typhus gravior.” This desease, in all cases but one, has been three weeks or more reaching its height, & lasts five or six weeks before the patient dies or is out of danger. It differs from common thy typhus fevers [. . .] in several particulars & is remarkable for one thing that when the patient appears to be going on well a change will take place, in half an hour perhaps, & symtoms even fatal appear. Adieu, dear Nicholas, I fear more than I hope when I wish we may get over all our troubles & be united in one quiet family, what which though poor will be happy in the health & contentment of all its members. believe me your sincerely affectionate sister

C. J. R.

We have not yet been able to get Dr Dunglison; Dr Gilmer has just left James’s room & says he thinks it will be a long case, but he does not see any thing very unfavourable.

Pray make our excuses to Miss Vail for not contributing any thing for the fair, it will be impossible for us to do it I find. & remember me to her; I shall have much pleasure in renewing my acquaintance with her.

Sister Jane intended to add a postscript to his letter which however she has not time to do.

I suppose C. has told you how busy we have been my dear Nicholas & [. . .] must be my excuse for not having written to you. I hope soon I shall be ab[. . .] so & that I shall have better news to give you, I see [. . .] that she has also told y[ou] all our uneasiness about the fever. we do not wish mama & Virginia [. . .] return, but shall not tell them our fears about that the complaint is infectious as that would alarm them & probably hasten their return instead of deferring it. it will be better to put their longer stay at Carysbrook upon the footing of convenience—still it is not even certain that the danger does exist or it may be in a very slight degree & we may surely hope that we shall escape it.

adieu my dear brother.
your affectionate sister & friend.
M. J. R.
RC (NcU: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “To Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Washington D.C.”; stamped; postmarked Everettsville, 10 Feb.; endorsed by Trist: “Randolph, C. J. Feb. 8. 29.”
1Manuscript: “to to.”