Extract from Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Henry S. Randall
|Boston 16. May. 1857.|
For the details of Mr Jefferson’s funeral I must refer you to my brothers and sisters. I was not present nor was my sister Cornelia. She was with me in Boston when in July 1826, we received a summons to hasten on to Virginia if we wished to see our grandfather alive. We set off immediately but heard of his death on our arrival in New York. In those days of stage coaches and slow Steamers the journey was a long one and when we reached Monticello the funeral was over. I made no inquiries about it. I seemed to attach no importance to such details. He was gone. His place was empty. I visited his grave, but the whole house at Monticello, with it’s large apartments and lofty ceilings, appeared to me one vast monument. yet I could not always feel that I should see him no more. I wandered about the vacant rooms as if I were looking for him. Had I not seen him there all the best years of my life? I now had a child of my own. Was I never to shew it to him? To see him smile upon it? I passed hours in his chamber. It was just as he had left it. There was the bed on which he had slept for so many years–the chair in which, when I entered the room, I had always found him sitting–articles of dress still in their places–his clock by which he had told so many useful hours–In the cabinet adjoining were his books, the beloved companions of his leisure–his writing table from which I gathered some small relics, memoranda and scraps of written paper which I still preserve. All seemed as if he had just quitted the rooms and there were moments when I felt as if I expected his return. For days I started at what seemed the sound of his step or his voice, and caught myself listening for both. In the dining room where, in winter, we passed a good deal of time, there was the low arm chair which he always occupied by the fire side, with his little round table still standing as when it held his book or his candle–[. . .] In the tea-room was the sofa where, in summer, I had so often sat by his side–In the large parlour, with it’s parquetted floor, stood the Campeachy chair, made of goatskin, sent to him from New Orleans, where, in the shady Twilight, I was used to see him resting. In the great Hall, with it’s large glass doors, where, in bad weather, he liked to walk, how much I liked to walk with him!–Every thing told of him. An invisible presence seemed every where to preside!
After some weeks passed with my mother and sisters, for whose future fate I felt the most painful apprehension, I quitted the home of my youth never to return. I can never again feel a local attachment. As far as place is concerned I can never love again.