Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Martha Jefferson Randolph
|My dearest Mother||[ca. 7–17 Feb. 1816]|
I have recieved your letter of the 20th in which you mention for the first time, the accident which happened to you last month. oh how sincerely I thank you for not permitting the girls to tell me of it for I should for it would have made me very miserable. even now I cannot help feeling considerable uneasiness although you assure me there is no cause for it.
My life is at present a very dissipated one, the city has become as gay as ever, and my time and attention are almost entirely occupied. I am however sometimes home-sick and would give the world to be with you again for a little time while. After all the life I have been leading is not to my taste. as long as the novelty lasted, every morning I rose with high hopes for the day, and almost every evening I went to bed disappointed. I could not enjoy myself at the evening parties because I had not acquired a taste for the frivolous and insipid conversation I heard, and in which I was obliged to join. I find however that habit which reconciles us to all things, has its influence here. I no longer have those feelings of loathing and disgust which I experienced on my first initiation into fashionable society, and which strange to tell did not prevent me from feeling an anxiety to please & to excite admiration which sometimes perhaps defeated its own object. my expectations are no longer so great, my disappointments have diminished in the same proportion. my anxiety to be admired is subsiding into a desire to please, and my mind becoming less confused, & more capable of acting, will probably soon recover its equilibrium.
All the The disagreable feelings I have described might in part have been avoided, if I had had time for reflection but when I first arrived every thing appeared so new to me that I fancied myself almost in another world. I could scarcely persuade myself that the same rules by which I had judged of persons and things would apply in a state of society so different from the one to which I was accustomed. it is an old saying that man is the same every where and as I am becoming more convinced of this, I am relapsing into my old ways of thinking & acting. My visit to Washington will give me a portion of that experience which before I came I was not conscious of wanting.
On Saturday evening last I went by invitation to spend a sociable hour or two with Mrs S. H. S. & her nieces the Miss Bayards. there were no ladies but those of the family, and myself. a few Philadelphia gentlemen completed the party. I spent my evening very agreably. the beaux were Mr Logan who amuses amusing from his affectations & absurdities. Mr Norris a genteel & apparently an amiable young man. Mr Richard Bayard son to the late minister, more remarkable for his personal beauty than for any thing else & Mr Gratz a young S man whose family is although wealthy & respectable & [fashionable] are all Jews. he is so handsome and agreable that I am almost sorry that he has adhered to the religion of his ancestors, for I cannot help feeling a prejudice against it. although not uncommonly intelligent, he is so [. . .] & [. . .] so uniformly gay & amiable that he has become one of my favourites. He has been in Washington almost as long as I have but I do not believe that I have ever mentioned him to you. Mrs Ms. carriage was broken and I went in a hack. the driver neglected to return at the hour appointed and I was obliged to remain all night. I prolonged my visit two days and became well acquainted and very much pleased with the Miss Bayards. the eldest Sally is about one or two and twenty; intelligent, well informed & extremely discreet in her manners & conversation. Elizabeth is only eighteen; lively but not giddy, and with perhaps less information than her sister is equally as amiable & agreable. our tastes, pursuits & opinions on almost every subject on which we conversed agreed so well; they treated me with so much kindness & shewed such a disposition to cultivate my acquaintance, that I left them with feelings of real affection. they go on to Baltimore next week. I should like extremely to accompany them and spend a week or ten days in that city. Mrs Smith has been very attentive in purchasing my things; has written me several kind letters & invited me to visit her. it would give me pleasure to do so. do you think papa could ever be brought to consent to it? if you approve of it, and think he will not be displeased, write to me immediately dear Mother or if you have not time make one [of]1 the girls write a single line to let me know your decision. if you disapprove of it in the slightest degree, do not hesitate to tell me so, for it will not disappoint me at all. Washington has become exceedingly gay since the supreme court has been sitting—to give you an idea of the mode in which I spend my time—to morrow—Wednesday is the drawing room. Thursday a great-lady dinner here—& an large & elegant party at Mr Dallas’s to which I shall go. Friday a dinner party at Col. Monroe’s and a an evening party at Mrs Forrest’s. I have accepted all these invitations and am in hourly expectation of an engagement for Saturday as I here hear several parties are in agitation. so you see my dear Mother I shall not have time to break my heart if I do not go to Baltimore
I must not forget to tell you that I have made acquaintance with Mr Forney. I am really afraid to judge of his understanding from what I have seen and heard. he is so excessively extremely diffident in the society of ladies that he can shew to no advantage; I fear however that he is without education; but if he is destitute of natural talent I give up all my skill in physiognomy; a more intelligent, a finer face I have never seen. Give a great deal of love to Grandpapa, the girls & the little boys. Papa I suppose has not returned from Richmond. I spent a couple of hours with Mrs Rush yesterday and she desired to be particularly remembered to you Mr Cutts whom I saw yesterday last evening made the same request.
kiss dear Septimia for me. I have written to [. . .] Sister Ann but have not yet recieved an answer to my letter. remember me to Aunt Marks, Aunt Jane & her girls. Adieu dearest Mother. write to me as often as you can for [. . .] every letter is a treasure to me. I remain with feelings of affection which you understand, but I cannot express