Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Virginia J. Randolph Trist

I cannot bear to let Mr Barrell go without a line to you dearest Virginia, I wrote a long letter to Cornelia ten days or a fortnight ago & must try to write to Mama as soon as I can. occupied as I always am & perplexed with care, I feel as if my intercourse with my own family was one of the few things left from which I derive comfort and pleasure, to write to you all is one of my relaxations, & to receive letters one of my greatest enjoyments. no one can tell the value of family ties until, like me, they are deprived of them, and depend upon it, my dearest sister, that you are highly favored in never having been taught by sad experience how inestimable a blessing you enjoy would lose in the society of your mother & sisters. Ellen continues better to day; Fanny Eliot is dead. we have a promise of change of weather, this morning was even warm, but the East wind, the evil spirit of this otherwise favored land, continues to blow, & disease rides on it’s baleful wings. I hope your darlings are well; a conversation that I had with Dr Warren on the subject of Martha’s throat relieved my apprehensions on her account. for dear little Jeffy should your worst fears be realized the instruction now given to the deaf and dumb is so perfect as to restore them to society, as useful and as happy as any but it’s most distinguished members. the interest that they excite is very great, and the general feeling of benevolence and kindness of which they are the object must be considered as a compensation for many disadvantages by all those who see the hatred & rancour with which men in general persecute each other. there is an admirable institution for their education at Hartford within a day’s ride of Boston, & should Joseph & myself continue to live here, I hope you would consider him us as your representatives. I long to see Browse of whom I hear wonders, but I know not when I shall have it in my power to go south. you must not let your children grow up strangers to me, I should wish if possible the same feelings to unite our families as existed between yourselves and the inhabitants of poor old Ashton. tell me something when you write of Jefferson’s children, for of them I am in danger of losing sight.

I really wish I could think of something to write about besides myself, but I am so wrapt up, just at present, in my own family interests that I hear little or heed little of any thing that is going on around me. the Exhibition of pictures is open at the Atheneum and said to be fine, but I have not seen it, nor yet the Jeptha & his Daughter of the self-taught sculptor Augur. he himself is a little short ungainly man with some fire in his eye, but otherwise looking more like a common stone cutter or mason than a disciple of Phidias. there is quite a prodigy here in the form of a juvenile painter, a beautiful boy of 15, a nephew of Alston who promises to rival his uncle. he comes from Charleston; Boston being now decidedly the Metropolis of the arts as well as of literature. I tryed to get a copy of Bryant’s poems for you but the whole edition had been bought up at once. he is I think the best living poet Scott & Moore being considered as laid on the shelf. of course I speak now only of English poetry. there are some things by Bryant that would do honour to any name that has ever been famous in the annals of the British Muse.—Mr Barrell has just gone, he called to say he should leave Boston in three hours and would take charge of any letter ready within that time. it gave me pleasure to see one who will so soon see you. [he wi]ll probably meet Joseph in New York whose absence just now is grievous to me. he has, like other men, some faults of temper, but redeemed by a thousand noble qualities, and I cling to him as a vine does to an oak. I should make a miserable widow, particularly with four boys to govern.

I had received a particular account of Ann Jones’s misfortunes from Maria Woodward. before Mary’s letter, and should have written to her had it been possible for me to do it. I love her as much as ever and some of the happiest recollections of my girlhood are connected inseparably with her image. I think Maria Woodward seems a good deal subdued, she now writes affectionately but not extravagantly & her letters give me unmingled pleasure. I am too old and too broken-spirited to relish any thing like exaggeration in real life. it is beautiful in poetry but no where else. I ask simplicity and truth and the evidence of self command to inspire my confiden[ce] and command my respect. I have left Ellen with her nurse Mrs Milne whilst I write to you, Joseph & Bessie are in the room making a great noise and I am hurried by the preparations for dinner which are going on round me. adieu dearest sister I meant to have told some of the things that Mrs H. Otis told me about Mama’s good spirits and good looks but forgot them until too late. She Mrs H. O. dashes prodigiously since her return receives morning visits in a bonnet & walks the streets not absolutely in flame-colored stockings but something pretty near. give a great deal of love to all including Nicholas whom Joseph loves extraordinarily.

remember me particularly to the Vails & tell me what has become of the Cutts family farewell dearest. I was glad to hear from Mr Barrell that Septimia looked as well as ever.

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); edge chipped; addressed: “To, Mrs Nicholas P. Trist Washington” by “Mr Barrell.”