Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph Trist
|Washington aug. 11. 1833.|
I must try & make out to write a short letter to my dear Virginia although I am tired & indisposed to write. Lewis has had a fever & headach for the last two days; Mama has not yet thought it necessary to send for the doctor; she would have done so this morning if he had not been better. I will do so still if his fever rises in the course of the day; but he thinks himself much better this morning; probably1 in consequence of the operation of his medecine. Tim made such a fuss about her pain in her side that at last mama consulted the Doctor about her; he did not seem to think there was much the matter with her but said there was probably a slight derangement of the liver which was very common at this season & ordered2 her to take blue pills for a short time; it is surprising how we all get over our fear of mercury even mama did not say a world against the blue pills & I really believe it is necessary to take calomel occasionally in this climate. I think it quite probable Tim’s liver may be in some degree to blame for her being so sick at particular times. I do not think she looks badly now. Mama continues quite well.
You will laugh to hear what disciplinarians we have turned out to be. Not a week after Sally was put in the hands of the constable who gave her by far too moderate a correction, she stole a pr of stockings & gave them to Melinda’s Ann. Melinda brought them back, Sally was called up & asked when she took them, she told the day without any hesitation, mama asked where a pr of satin shoes were which Septimia missed, she said they were up stairs & went & brought them from where she had hid them. I thought we held a council about what was to be done, Mama, Melinda & myself. I thought we had better send for the constable again without any delay but Melinda said no it would give us a bad reputation, that she would whip her if we chose, whereupon we decided, took her down into the basement, Melinda & myself held her & mama inflicted the flagelation pretty severely but Melinda said it was not enough; however, I think it will have more effect than the constable’s whipping. You are quite mistaken in that girl she has nothing malignant or revengeful about her; so we all think, the servants too, she is passionate like a spoilt child but nothing more; she is kind to the animals & fond of Ellen’s child & never has given a single proof of revenge. to satisfy your fears mama has put away the key of the medecine chest not that she thinks there is any danger of what you feared. The next day Willie throthrew a stone & broke one of the windows of the large dining room & told a story about it as might be expected; Mama told him then she would whip him if he ever did it threw stones again (he had been chased home a few days ago by a boy who said Willie had stoned him) & I told him I would whip him if he ever told me another story for he had been just caught in a desperate lie a short time before. Not [. . .] fifteen minutes after these threats Tim happened to be looking out of the window & saw him throw a great stone at Sally, mama just walked down & gave him a nice trimming and since that we have not heard of his throwing stones; I am not so sure that he has not lied to me since but I would not rush the matter as when I do I shall have to take the rod in hand myself. Willie some weeks ago was out all day on Sunday, did not come home to dinner, when he did come we taxed him with having gone to the river with [the y]oung Waglers, he was quite indignant at our [su]pposing such a thing, & said he had been playing all [day] with John Hanson in the president’s square where we some[times] let him go to play. I sent to ask the Waglers & they said Wi[llie] had been with them at the river all day; Willie said he did not care what the Waglers said he had not been with them, but the whole day in the president’s square with John Hanson; he persisted so boldly that I was staggered, I did not know what to think; I told him if he would tell me the truth I would let him off but that if he continued telling me a story I certainly would whip him, he said he had told the truth. I locked him up & went to him several times with no better success; I then went to Mrs Hanson’s & learnt there that John had not been out once that day; Willie did not care, he said, John had been with him in the presidents square at last mama prevailed on him to acknowledge that he had been fishing with the Waglers [. . .] all day; I had him put to bed directly & his pockets were full of shells which I threw away & I have never let him go out in the street since except when he goes with me, I find no difficulty in keeping him in, the servants watch him with hawks eyes & when I leave him in Fanny’s care she never lets him go out of her sight.
I am sorry to have to tell pat that her male canary is dead, I am sure she cannot be as much distressed about it as I was, after feeding & attending to the little creature so long I was quite attached to him; I went to see Miss Clarks the when he was taken sick (he was moulting) on purpose to consult them about him, & lost no time on coming home to follow their directions, Miss but he died that night*Miss Clark said she was afraid he would die when I told her he did not sit upon the roost; she said they were very often sick & frequently died while moulting. The female called him for two days incessantly after his death & sung so sweetly that I determined it was a vile slander to say the female canary did not sing; she seems to be comforted now and has stopped her song.
Alexandrine Macomb has been exceedingly ill with the bilious fever but is better. Frank is better also; Matilda, her family say she is & some persons say she is not & very hard things are said of the Gen. for not sending her from home. Mrs Lagnel is perfectly well & looks very pretty. Mrs Williams had an enormous boy the night before last. Miss Stillings is getting worse.
The Kanes have returned home benefited by their jaunt and as yet in no danger of bilious fever Adieu & give much love to every body from me. ever yours.
We have just had the garden put in order, it had become the abomination of desolation.