Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

You were right in Your conjectures My dear Ellen; parting with George has been a great affliction to me, and my health has consequently failed, as usual; but convinced as I am of its being for his advantage I hope you know me well enough to beleive that I have never for one moment repented. my conduct I trust I shall always controul and even to a considerable degree the expression of my feeling, but the physical sinks at once. employment, diverting my thoughts1 into other channels, but above all time “the great Comforter” brings with it resignation and though still sad and in a state of considerable debility, I am tranquil and beginning to feel a certain degree of interest in my usual occupations I have every comfort that reason can give, he is developing admirably, his mind seems to have taken a spring which shews it self in his manners though modest, and he really has a degree of general information that surprised me, and has been remarked by strangers. he spent paid a short visit to the Vails while he was here last, and they all were all struck with him as a fine intelligent boy, and one who appeard to have much observation he spent two days with me on his way to Norfolk; hearing that the sp ship was to sail sooner than was expected, Jane who in Jefferson’s absence had the management of his preparations sent him here instead of Norfolk, and I learnt from the department that I had better not detain him beyond the sunday’s stage 2 days after his arrival. I had so many little things to do foi for him in that time, that my mind did not entirely realise the loss I was about to sustain. the whole events of those two days from his unexpected apparition at my bed side the morning of his arrival, to the last glimpse of the stage that bore him from me seemed like a troubled dream from which I awoke only to find him gone that moment you may conceive—fortunately there are not very many such in our life. every thing that I have hear is in favour of what we have done the Captain is highly spoken of, several friends of ours are in the same ship and have been to see me and promised to attend to him. Edward Vail is one of the lieutenants and a Mr Hodgson a young Virginian, I beleive bearer of the dispatches, I am not certain but I know he is in some way attached to the mission to Constantinople2 where the vessel is ultimately, perhaps immediately bound, came to see us and promised that he would pay every possible attention to him. he has made the same [. . .] voyage before and is acquainted every where in the mediterrannean he said he would take George ashore with him and at many of the places where the vessel would stop he could introduce him to some of the distinguished people of the place. Gibraltar, A Mahore Algiers, Tunis, Smyrna, he mentioned. said they should touch at. at Algiers he said he should be at home though great changes have taken place there since his time. he said that it was customary to take all the officers and even midshipmen that could be spared from the Vessel to swell the suite of the minister when he is presented to the Grand Signor, I hope George may be one at any rate Mr Hodgson being one of the Attachés will give him opportunities and advantages of seeing more on shore that than he [. . .] might other wise have. George he knows enough of Geography and has read enough to profit by what he will see. they will have opportunities during the cruise of seeing Naples and indeed every place of any importance on the Mediterranaan Meditterranean, that the acquisition of french & italian were necessary and unavoidable: though I can not learn that they have a regularly organised school in the John Adams as they have in the larger ships yet they all seem to agree in one thing that their education particularly mathematics and the modern languages are particularly attended to. when he returns after his three years cruise he will enter for a couple of years at the University, and by that time I presume My [prospects] hopes will either be realised or dissipated, in the first case, it may give him a choice, in the second he will be also provided for in the way that he has already chosen. there still seems to be an uncertainty as to the time the vessel will sail. I am not sorry at a delay that will give him time to fix himself comfortably. John Nicholas told Jefferson to send him with 150 $ and that he should never again cost his family a cent, indeed that spending nothing at sea many of them after a long cruise brought home from 500 to 7 or 800 $ George however can do nothing of that sort, his pay is only $20 with the rations a month. he goes wh with the determination of sending me half his pay, every cent of which shall be deposited in the bank for his use—I have rather more of the Pelican than the Vampire in my nature—

I have tried very much to impress upon him the necessity of acquiring the habit of expressing himself with ease and accuracy on paper, which habit can o[nly] be acquired by writing something every day, and letters as often as an opp[ortu]nity offers. he is very much ashamed of the unformed hand he writes [. . .] I have supplied him with a whole bunch of pens a travelling inkstand and most of the implements of writing, and send sent to beg John Nicholas to furnish him with a good writing desk to enable him to keep his papers in order and not to have to collect them and put them away when ever they are used. I beleive I have told you every thing that would most interest you about him and Mr Hodgson told me he would make him write from Gibraltar I think he goes under great advantages, I ought, and shall be in time more than reconciled. You will learn with pleasure that your two brothers, a son of your Uncle John’s and a son of Peyton Randolph of Richmond, are said by the professors to be 4 of the most studious, & correct young men in colledge. the 4 young Randolphs; it was balm to my heart the prospect of seeing the name recover some thing of it an old respectability. Ben & Lewis are both very hard students and Ben has been two years successively chosen to write the essay, I beleive for the examination he has wisely declined for no young man does himself justice in coming before the public at that age. I beleive he will graduate [. . .] at the University but he will take one course of lectures in Philadelphia and pass examination there also. he has been advised then to try and get the place of surgeon’s mate which in the Navy which will give him at once a salary of 500 $ and immediately a good practice, besides the advantage of seeing some thing of the world I beleive he f would find no difficulty in getting a place. George’s success proves Mr Archer to have been correct when he said no son of mine would find any difficulty. My dear fathers memory sheds a blessing over the family that to the boys who can make their own fortunes after getting their foot upon the first step in the ladder and to which his services have led them, will be inestimable—

the girls and My self also are neither forgetful nor ungrateful and if it should3 ever be in my power to assist the married ones also I beleive I should almost die with pleasure. God bless you dearest such gossip in is most interesting to you I know therefore shall not apologise for it remember me most affectionate to dear Joseph and kiss the dear little ones for me. yours ever & unalterable unalterably

will you send me one of those little seals with the guinea hen & come back upon it. I forget where we saw so many of them but perhaps you may remember

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); dateline at foot of text; torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs J. Coolidge Junr to the care of Joseph Coolidge Junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked City of Washington, 23 Apr.; endorsed by Coolidge: “1831”; with note by Coolidge: “parting from George.”
1Manuscript: “though.”
2Manuscript: “Constaninople.”
3Manuscript: “shoul.”