Mary J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph Trist, with Postscript by Cornelia J. Randolph
Cornelia wrote to you the day after our arrival here dearest Virginia and I intended to have written again in a few days, but having set to work with my needle in the mean time I got so intent upon finishing sundry jobs that I had begun that I let the few remaining days of the week slip away with out writing and am now beginning the regular order of things by sitting down to write to you on sunday morning. you have had all the particulars of our journey already, the day on board the steam boat was quite pleasant & the rattling and jolting of the stage on a bright moonlight night, was quite exhilarating after the lazy motion of the boat, but with our arrival at that odious tavern in Fredericksburg ended the pleasantness of the journey, the next day if you remember, was cloudy, damp & chilly with frequent showers & our horses though true and gentle were slow travellers, but the day after we reached Montpelier was a delightful one and though feeling badly, I was almost renovated by the first view of the country when I stepped out upon that delightful little terrace which I always do there the moment I am dressed, the sight of the mountains, the turf, the trees, the fragrance of the air which was perfumed by the clover & the singing of the birds made me fancy myself once more at home & I passed a great part of the day in walking in the portico & about the grounds when the sun had dried the wet grass sufficiently, I missed you much & wished that you could have been with me to have enjoyed these pleasures Montpelier is a beautiful place & it looks even more beautiful from the contrast it makes with the barren miserable country you have just journey’d through to reach it the transition from a wilderness flat, sterile, tame & uninteresting to one of our smiling mountain landscapes is refreshing to the eye, and the kind hospitality with which you are received, joined to the charm of Mr Madison’s conversation, makes their house the pleasantest I have ever visited. the hot weather began the morning on which we left Montpelier & the heat has continued to be excessive until yesterday. we have all felt completely stupified by its effects, so much so indeed that I have scarcely been conscious of any other feeling. mama has appeared quite well, except that she has been incommoded by a slight toothache. Ellen & Willie have been with us till to day & this morning Tom who has just come home, accompanied the servant who brought horses for Septimia & herself to ride & escorted them back. the girls were mounted on two quiet plough horses who to judge from their appearance must have required as much cudgeling to keep them in motion as the cavalry of the Vicar of Wakefields family did in their progress to the church, but Septimia’s total inexperience and Ellen’s excessive timidity which experience has failed to overcome, made this ride, it was very evident, an affair of some trepidation to them both & when Ben arrived from the University at least more than half an hour after they had set out, he reported that he had met them at the gate where they had just dismounted for the purpose of changing horses. while they were here, they resumed their practice of waltzing together & exhibited every night to the great admiration of the spectators, and every child in the house down to little Tom now is learning the waltz step. our little pet Willie had grown out of our recollections & out of all recollection of us too as you may well suppose & we were at first mortified & disappointed, however he is still a pretty boy though at a less interesting stage of childhood than when he left us, he is disfigured by too great a quantity of hair, though soft & curling & pretty in itself, and has exchanged his delicately fair complexion for such a coat of bronze as our Virginia boys usually acquire in the cour[se of?] four or five years, but his features still retain much of their regular[ity but?] not so much of their former sweet infantine expression. he does not ap[pear?] to be a bad child, he is not fretful or peevish & Ellen seems to have [. . .] some controul over him, she takes the whole management of him, even to inflicting t punishment when she deems it necessary, which does not seem to have diminished his fondness for her. she will go return with us this winter certainly. Mrs B. turns out to be a vixen, she is sometimes affectionate & kind to her step children when she is in a good humour, but very jealous of their interference in the smallest matter about the house and subject to fits of passion, in which she loses sight of decency entirely and uses the most abusive language towards them, she has however been uniformly kind to Willie or rather has never been unkind to him, for she does not pay much attention if any to him. Ellen has never mentioned these circumstances to any one but ourselves & she said the general impression in the neighbourhood was that they were perfectly well satisfied & that Mrs B. passes for a silly goodnatured woman. she thinks on the contrary that she is not deficient in sense though uneducated, and sister Jane says that her conduct to her step children is beginning to get out through the servants, some reports of the kind had reached her ears. Mr Poindexter is in the neighbourhood, he came in his carriage with the four duns, to dine here last monday & is coming again, Mr Garret & Col. Carr dined here also on the same day & Ben says that the Dr & Mrs Dunglison are coming to morrow, mama has received a note from Mrs D. Dr Kean & John Carr, Victoria Kean & Miss Gay Ferguson staid here night before last. Victoria is in wretched health, she had the measles, the dysentery & a bilious fever last summer & has never recovered. her father brought her to this neighbour hood with the hope that her health would be improved by the change of air but she was returning without having experienced any benefit from it & really looked too ill to travel—I have not been outside of the gate here yet, in consequence of having brought no walking shoes, but I shall endeavour to get a pair. my green veil was found packed up in Mama’s trunk as she suspected, I have given it to Tim & you must get one on mama’s account to supply the place of yours which I have. I hope our precious Jeffie is well by this time. kiss both him & darling little Pat for me I have their sweet little figures often before my eyes & I never open your useful pincushion with out thinking of your disinterestedness in resigning it, adieu dear give love to Nicholas & remembrances to all my friends particularly the Vails & Cutts my love also to Jane Smith
Tell Nicholas that there was silk enough for five cravats & I am going to send the 5th to John Bankhead in his name.