Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Washington May 30 1830|
As I have prevented Virginia from writing, Dear Sister, I must write to you myself in spite of the drowsy & stupid feelings which oppress me mama will I believe write very soon to Mrs Coolidge; she has been staying with Mrs H. Smith in the country & was there when Mrs C.s letter arrived; she was taken with one of her violent attacks of sick headach & has just recovered from it. Virginia is just getting over her sickness at the stomach but still is constantly unwell. Jefferson gave us a fright by being exceedingly ill cutting one of his front teeth & though he has recovered to a certain degree he is still very thin & delicate & it is a bad preparation to begin a summer with in a climate we are rather suspicious of.Since you left us besides this sickness we have heard news which distressed us, first we heard that Mrs Dunglison had been so ill that her life was nearly despair’d of for nine days; & she was not out of danger when we heard; she has continued to get better however & we hope soon to here hear of her convalescence. Then we heard of mammy’s death & at this we were all much affected; she has always been a kind nurse to us, & shewed a never tiring desire to serve us ever since we left Monticello tis true we never required much of her but there were a thousand little attentions she paid us, & some very troublesome to herself. she died suddenly, she had been complaining of headach several days & one day had a prayer meeting at her house, seeing her husband troubled she asked him how he could bear a greater misfortune if he was so distressed by a small one; that night he read prayers to her & they went to bed; during the night she groaned & he asked her if she was worse she said no but that her head ached a great deal; she told him also to look under the looking glass & he would find something he would care for; he thinking it was a paper of seed he had lost thought no more about it, at last she uttered an exclamation calling on god, gave a deep sigh & several convulsive twitchs & was still & silent, he thinking she was had gone to sleep, dozed himself, but being uneasy he soon awoke & shaking her found she was dead on his arm, he arose & called up the servants in the next house but she was stiff & cold. some days after recollecting that she had told him to look under the glass he did so & found a bundle containing a black cravat, crape hat band & a lock of her hair. Should we ever visit Monticello again, her loss will be cause a painful addition to the feeling of loneliness & desertion we [. . .] shall experience there; [. . .] finding our old servants about us when we went there it did seem something like home, but when they are gone (as all are now but Betsey’s family & old Bet) it will be deserted indeed; the presence of Strangers is worse than utter solitude. I am sure I shall never feel at home again any where, I cannot attach myself to any place, let it be ever so beautiful it wants those things with which the pleasures of my childhood & youth are associated & my strongest feelings; & such a beautiful place as that is; I cannot feel any where else as I did there. I see in the Charlottesville paper [. . .] several deaths among our old neighbours, Old Mr Divers, Old Mrs Terrel & Dinsmore.
There has been a great excitement in Congress at the passage of several obnoxious bills, but for my part I hear little & understand less, & know not which party is on the right side or even which is our side, so I will leave you to the news papers for information on the subject. The house did not adjourn untill sunrise sunday morning, I heard one of the members yesterday morning say “& they kept those poor old senators up till [. . .] 3 o clock” he had not been to bed at all. They expect to adjourn this morning early & then they are most of them ready with their families to be off the moment they are let out,. There is a general demand for more stages & steam boats than can be procured. I wish I was to be off too, I wish I could be a bird of passage. Browse has determined to remain here all the summer, it is too late in the season to go to Louisiana; I am glad of it; for besides that it makes me melancholy to see every body going away & leaving us, we should have been somewhat uneasy about his going at this season.1
Remember we are more in want of news from the fashions here than we were in Albemarele.
We were to have been invited to a family dinner at the presidents the very day you left us but Mrs Donelson heard that her father was past recovery; he is since dead.