Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

Mary & myself have been here (at Mr Garrett’s) some days, Dear sister & intend remaining for a week or two; now that we have done with the manuscripts we are at liberty to pay visits to our friends here which we have always intended to do before we left the state. Septimia & myself went to Lynchburg to see aunt Jane & remained three weeks there. aunt Janes health is as the same that it always is, at least, misfortune, of which she has had so much, & advancing years have not made as great a change in her as might have been expected; I suppose however were you to see her now you would think she looked worse than when you saw her last; she certainly is weaker, she sits all day upon her bed & does not go to meals & complains much of being in a constant state of discomfort even when not in pain; still she employs herself, & directs her family from her bed, & frequently goes down stairs for a short time; her family goes on in the same quiet way as usual & her house is as neat as ever. Lucy’s health is very bad & her spirits have been worse but of late they have revived a little. She has, if not a confirmed chronic thrush, something that approaches very near to it, & is very pale & thin & delicate; if she heats herself & takes a little too much excercise she has a fever, & if she is not very particular in her diet she has a head ach & is indeed almost constantly sick. James seems well except being disabled by what may be the rheumatism or may be something else; he is fatter than usual but can scarcely walk across the room even supported on crutches & is in extreme pain while doing it. The physicians seem doubtful what is the matter with him but it is agreed to call his complaint the rheumatism though no one is satisfied that it is that. his friends wish much to send him to the springs if it can be accomplished; the expence is the difficulty. The whole family are going to leave Lynchburg & board in New London & that will probably be beneficial to Lucy’s health as it is a high dry situation, & the air bracing like our divine breeze at Monticello, the very taste of which acts like a charm now on our health while its sound is sweeter to our ears than the sweetest music. Aunt Hackley is very unwilling for aunt Jane to undertake a voyage, & indeed her representations of it have shaken my confidence in it; still however, though we are all very anxious about the result of this journey we incline to think the voyage the least hazardous of the two, the other being a journey entirely by land. They all, particularly aunt Jane, sent much heartfelt love to you & sincere wishes for your welfare. for these are not times for cold words of ceremony.

I have just got a note from Edge hill from Jane hurrying the purchase of some articles of baby cloths “for” she says “I fear there is not much time to spare; I thought my hour was come yesterday & no wretch condemned to the gallows was ever more delighted with a reprieve than I am to day.” But this is more than a month sooner than she has all along expected to be confined & she may be mistaken in her feelings now. For the grand affair of a name, Sarah’s & mine are the candidates if the infant should prove a girl, if it is a boy perhaps it may be called Thomas Jefferson. Jane is not as large as usual I think.

When I return home we are all going to Monticello to pack up, having determined on carrying some of our furniture at least to Washington. Virginia & myself went up some days ago to help Nicholas pack his books & finding a sofa & a straw bed there we staid all night. it is at once a sad & a pleasing thing to be there, but certainly pleasure must predominate since we linger so & quit with so much1 regret the spot when we do quit it. We never so fully appreciated its beauties & comforts as we do now, & Nicholas loves it as much as we do; & indeed who is there that is not in some degree influenced by the indescribable charm that pervades t[he] whole place; the very wind sounds differently from what it does any where else, it rolls, coming unconfined & uninterrup[te]d from a distance & litterally plays with the leaves of the trees; & then the birds, the wood robins sing so clearly & fe[. . .] & there are such numbers of them, & the myri[. . .] myr[. . .] sawyers & crickets & tree frogs seem to have [. . .]er & softer tone than elswhere; [. . .] nor is all this a delusion of our imaginations, for an elevated situation gives us the same advantage with regard to sound that it does to sight, we he[. . .] hear more & from a greater distance than those below, & all the sounds come softened & harmonised by the distance. The beauty of a low place consists in the picturesque form & situation of a single tree or small group of trees, a rock, or near mountain of or if you see anything distant it is p but a peep of it, lovely from its contrast with near objects; so it is with sounds, a single mocking bird comes during the day or whipperwill during the night & sings loudly in a tree near the door but distant sounds are lost. At Monticello we look upon an expanse of beauty & we listen to low soft sounds coming in from all around, but enough, you know the place as well as I do. You never have said whether you would let little Ellen come & stay with us sometimes. Kiss the dear little things for me & believe me your affectionate sister.

Is there nothing that will do to wear in town in winter cheaper than silk? silk dresses for four women is an expence we can hardly afford. Mary must also have a shawl, what kind must it be?

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); torn at seal and on fold; addressed: “To Mrs Joseph Coolidge Junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 12 Aug.; endorsed by Coolidge: “Cornelia. 12. August 1829”; with notes by Coolidge: “Visit to the Ashton family of Lynchburg. My Family preparing to leave Virginia. Visits to Monticello. Charms of the place. Advantages of a high situation. Variety in sounds as in sights. Passionate attachment of all my sisters to this beloved home of their youth.”
1Manuscript: “muct.”