Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

I have been long owing you a letter dear Sister but the state of my family has been such this winter that I have not had a moment to do any thing that I wished, and as for writing I believe I have not written three letters since I left Albemarle although two marriages have taken place in the family since I left it. Benjamin to Sally Carter the sister of Ellen’s husband and Patsy, Jefferson’s second daughter, to John R. Taylor of Frederick Grandson of Mr Edmond Randolph by his daughter Susan whom you probably knew. I had a visit from My Dear George whom I have not seen before since his last cruise. he went from his ship to the naval school where he has been preparing for his examination but when it comes on he will still be too young by 10 months, which will throw him back another year. he staid long enough with me to get his cloaths put in order for another cruise which considering the number they are compelled to take with them occupied My time fully during his stay. and ten days after he left us I lost my dear Lewis, not by death, but by a separation next a kin to it, at my time of life so near the end of my career. the President made him Secretary of State of the territory of Arkansas with a salary of $ 1000 a year and perquisites making it some thing more. it moreover will leave him time to practise his profession (the law). as the appointment is for four years it will give him a support till he gets in to practice. I ought to be satisfied with all this, but I acknowledge that the idea of giving him up altogether, and seeing him cut off from his friends and family and thrown amongst Strangers in such a state of society, too looks infinitely more to me like a melancholy exile than what it really is, beginning life under the most favorable auspices with fair prospects of success. they tell me he will be dreadfully home sick at first, but that he will become reconciled and that it is a fine field for a young man of his talents; that I shall see him in a few years in Congress & & &. perhaps so, but in the mean time I cannot forget him. his place at table, his chamber, and in short every thing in the house reminds me of my loss, and that it is permanent. he is engaged to be married to a Miss Martin of Tennessee a very sweet girl but like him self with out fortune, of course the marriage cannot, or ought not to take place for some years yet: whether in his solitude he will have the discretion to wait is to be seen. if you go to Clifton we shall of course see you here, where not withstanding the size of the family which will not allow enable us to make you as comfortable as we wish, yet I trust you will take the will for the deed and put up with such accommodations as circumstances will allow, certain of a sincere welcome from us all. Virginia is still with me. Nicholas’s business oblidging him to return this spring it was judged best to delay her removal. Ellen and also and her little family are spending the winter with us giving us a family of eight children under nine years old, and six of them boys. consequently quiet is not an inmate in our family now, but in May the weather will be mild and the garden will relieve us from much of their noise. one of Ellen’s little boys has been dangerously ill. the fever first attacked his head which was relieved by leaches, the inflamation then fell upon his stomack when his situation became alarmingly critical, that also to a certain degree is removed. the fever has abated but an obstinate cough and flushed cheek make us apprehensive for his lungs; how ever we have much confidence in our physician and children seem to resist these attacks wonderfully. this is the 14th day and he has been set up with every night, of course we are somewhat languid from watching, and anxious about him. Harriet Hackley is removing to Philadelphia where she will open her school the middle of April. and Virginia Ca[ry] will also take charge of a school in Albert Fairfax’s house. they [. . .] keeping the house and boarding them all. I have seen very little of Virginia this winter. I have been so sick with chills and fevers and have had so much to do that I have not been out at all for the last three months. Jane Smith has a third son; poor soul I pity her: it is bad enough for those who can provide for them to have children so fast, but for people in their streightened circumstances to have one every year is horrible. George is in S the Constitution but they have had so much to do that even if you were in town he has not had time to go ashore. I am sorry for it, he is a fine little fellow with whom I wish G— and your self to be acquainted. God bless you I have stolen a short time from the sick room to scribble this to you dear Sister excuse haste and it consequenses and believe me ever and sincerely yours

M Randolph
RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); dateline beneath signature; torn at seal; addressed: “Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrisania West Farms Post office New York”; stamped; postmarked Washington, 25 Mar.