Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

I was just preparing to answer a letter from Joseph which to my infinite regret arrived a week after Susan had left us when I received yours announcing poor old Mrs Coolidge’s death. few, perhaps I may say none, who had seen so little of her as I did, will regret her more sincerely. on her own account, old, infirm, and suffering as she was it was not to be lamented, but you My dear Ellen have lost a most kind and affectionate friend, and to poor Catherine her loss is irretrievable—to return however to the subject of Joseph’s letter, few things would have given me so much pleasure as to have had the opportunity which Susan’s stay with us would have afforded, of shewing some little attention to a member of that family from which whom I have received so much. if I had thought for a moment that her father and mother would have consented, I should at once have pressed it upon her. not upon the terms Mr Coolidge mentions, but as a connection upon whom I had the strong claim of favours received. if she formed any intimacy with Ellen (Bankhead) she could not but have been benefitted by it, for I never knew a girl of stricter principles or more singular good sense & propriety of conduct. she is really every thing that a mother would wish her daughter to be and is more over very studious and anxious to improve her self—Tim is still idle and childish, but modest and reserved in her manners to the gentlemen, whose society seems rather a restraint than a gratification to her. I think her also much improved in character & manners and beginning to feel some anxiety about her education—

We have been visited by every body and of course have had our time very much engrossed returning them visits. Mrs H Smith has been kind enough to come with her carriage occasionally which has enabled us to pay the distant visits ones with out the expense of a hack. I received the first visit from the ladies of the P—s family & the Secretaries the etiquette which existed in My father & Gen. Washingtons time is I am told reestablished no one expecting of right to be visited first but the P—s Lady. I was invited to a dinner of the cabinet and as these things are always arranged [. . .], was before hand, it was determined that I should be the honor’d guest and took take precedence in at table and be led in by Mr V. B. at whose house the dinner was, and placed at his right hand. this week we are to dine with the P—t quand, nous nous verrons”—Mrs Cutts has been all in all to us in advising & superintending the toilette with the solicitude of a near relative & friend. the girls have not got their new bonnets & cloaks which has prevented their visiting Mrs Gorham and some other strangers, but I hope in the course of the week we shall all be equipped. Burwell (Randolph.) amongst other valuable presents gave me his mother’s eider down cloak, which only required a new cover from his having lent it to a poor rheumatic lady who so completely took the shine off that I was obliged to have it covered, but I met with an excellent black india satin at $ 1,12 the yard & for $ 9 I got it made up new & handsome again. he gave me most of her bed room furniture and left her bureau for the use of the girls. I felt some delicacy upon the subject but he said “they were hers and I give them to you because I beleive you will value them for her dear sake” he has left us to go and live with his brother who has moved to town. he said with out hesitation that he preferred staying with us, but his brother’s children had the first claims and he thought it his duty to add even his mite to their support. he is really the most affectionate tempered, liberal, self forgetting being I ever knew, but so troublesomely fond of his cousins, that Tim and Ellen particularly whom he took the liberty of kissing absolutely abominated him, and Septimia would I really believe have insulted him if he had continued. Beverly & his wife have been very cordial in their manners. he sent us a fine supply of vegetables from his farm & she 2 qts of the most delicious damask rose water I ever smelt. I like very much what I have seen of her, she is frank and friendly in the extreme. our house is very near Mrs Rush’s not farther than your former residence is from your present. Mr V. B in Mrs Decatur’s house half a square only, the Russian Ministers the same Mrs Cutts 1 square, Mrs Barrel 2, the seven buildings the same, the P—ts house about the same, and many others. we can with great oeconomy not counting dress or hack hire, live comfortably enough for 1200. that will give N. 800 & me 708 over and above the bare necessaries. however we both have debts, he for his paper & his share of the furniture, and I for mine & the clothing of the whole family not one member of which was in a state to go abroad. living is certainly very cheap

I find that we may supply the family servants and all with meat for 25 c a day. milk about $ 5 a month, bread 6, not counting indian meal which we are all fond of. potatoes at 44 c a bushel by the barrel. the best butter 20 c indifferent for 16. when I say meat at 25 c I do not speak of the choice pieces but such as we should thing think very tolerable in the country—when our debts are paid which I hope will be in the course of the year I think we shall do very well. the house is new & chearful and the place clean as you know by experience. Your friends & acquaintances enquire much after you—after this week we shall have to begin our labours again, visiting the strangers amongst whom we may select such only as are worth cultivating without offending those that are not, but who may expect a visit. we have heard of the safe arrival of your Aunt Jane in better health & stronger than she has been for years. the family are much pleased with their situation they have bought a very good piece of land & built in the style of the country a very good house upon it; Your Aunt Jane’s room is even plaistered. their prospects are brightening and I hope and trust they will once more be happy and comfortable—I rejoice much in the agency I had in advising a plan of removal which has been attended whi with such complete success. she had not received the jujube but left orders for it to be forwarded if it arrived, there will always be opportunities from Norfolk. I sent a little ink stand to George by Mr Parker; he called by appointment to see me but after waiting till 9,o clock and having been kept up till 2 the night before I concluded rather hastily that he would not come and went to bed when to my great shame he arrived. Mr Bradford has promised to take charge of this and a little packet containing a book for you & a medal for Joseph. Jefferson has taken George off of my hands but if you do not receive supplies regularly and in time do let me know as I can always arrange matters for remitting the quarter or half yearly sum necessary I have given you details of all [. . .] sorts not from vanity or a love of talking but that you may be better enabled to form your own judgement of matters if you come & see us by moving the girls in the book room quite a comfortable one you can have a large chearful room for your self and the nursery for your nurse in which no one sleeps V’s children both sleeping in her room, her nurse being wife to the dining room servant. dear George also be accomodated. Ben made enough by his agency in collecting [. . .] subscriptions to put him self to the University where he is studying medecine & a very hard student they tell me he is. he will then attend a course of lectures in Philadelphia and try his fortune in a world that he says he has so far found a “very kind one”

Lewis is doing very well with judge Carr, who gives a very encouraging good account of his morals, mind, & application. he encourages his fondness for the company of the ladies, as the best preservative from bad company of his own sex. James is plodding on not doing much I am afraid & rusticating in solitude adieu dearest daughter kiss My darlings all particularly [. . .] Preciocita whom I still love too much for my own comfort love to My dear Joseph & all those dear friends whose names I have not room for. The medal is a duplicate of that I had retained. the others generally with one or two exceptions will be sold

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); unsigned; in the hand of Martha Jefferson Randolph; undated; date conjectural based on internal evidence; addressed: “Mrs J. Coolidge Junior Sumner street Boston” by “Mr Bradford”; endorsed by Coolidge: “Death of Grandmamma Coolidge Aunt Jane in Florida. Attentions paid Mamma.