Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

The mournful subject of this letter dear Nancy will excuse the delay in answering your last. I have had the affliction of again losing one of my dear and excellent children. my poor James who no doubt you remember, whose quiet gentle manly manners you remarked as a boy and whose manhood fulfilled all the promises of childhood, was taken from me after a short & rapid illness, during the last 5 days only of which he was confined to his room, and to his bed only one of those. I ought not to grieve, for it is a selfish wish that would have kept a being so pure, so gentle; to so disinterrested in a world that he was not formed to struggle with. the little farm which he had cultivated rent free since his grand father’s death was obliged to be sold, and his humble establishment broken up without the means of resettling another. he had just come to spend the winter with his family previous to taking such measures as he should determine upon for a future maintenance, when he was taken with what we thought was dispepsia, and he him self attributed it to the change from very plain living and rather a laborious life to freer living and no exercise at all. the dissease progressed so rapidly and his strength failed so much, that I sent for Ben to come and see him. at first he was deceived as we were, but having determined to stay all night, the next day he told us James was much iller than we were aware of, that he had passed a dreadfull night and was so weak that he had persuaded him not to leave his room. every thing was done which the case appeared to required require, but nothing produced any change. another physician was called in on the morning of the fifth day, who still was not alarmed. about dinner time a frightful change took place in his appearance. he called me to his bed side took leave of his sisters & My self “do not grieve for me dear Mother I go with a good heart” he give me your blessing” God bless you all” were the last words we heard. the doctor begged us to leave the room and we never saw him again. the physiciand and Jefferson and My dear Jane remained with him to the last. his senses were as clear, and the same gratitude for what was done, and submitting to inconvenience him self rather than give trouble, marked the last moments of his innocent life. a more guileless, kind hearted creature never returned to the footstool of his creator. he died on the 23d of january before he had known the adversity which awaited. him, and would soon have crushed his gentle spirit. his little farm had supplied the few wants he had, moderate in all his wishes desires he was contented with as small a share of the comforts of life as ever fell to the lot of any one. I ought not to lament his being with drawn from the sufferings and misfortunes which seemed to encompass him, and I certainly recognise the hand of a father in the very circumstance which wrings my heart; he was too good for this world, and, I too poor to have shielded him from the blight of poverty which had nipped him in his early youth. some few notes upon the character of the grecian philosophers which seemed to have been taken probably from the last book he was reading was the only thing found in his hand writing, but those shewed a mind of the highest order. as we were to lose him it is fortunate for us that the habit of intercourse with him had been broken by long absence from him how much more bitter cruel the loss would have been had we have had the comfort of his society, and associated his image with every object around, I unfortunately know from bitter experience. God bless and preserve you and yours dear Sister, excuse this incoherent scrawl but I am not in a state of mind to arrange my ideas. with sincere affection yours

M Randolph

poor doctor Gilmer died that day three weeksthat he closed the eyes of My dear child also of an inflamatory disorder

RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); dateline beneath signature; addressed: “To Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrissania West farms Post Office New York”; stamped; postmarked Everettsville, 17 Feb.