Cornelia J. Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)

My Dear Virginia

When you see Elizabeth make my appologies to her for not answering her letter by this post as I intended, but you see what sort of a piece of paper I am obliged to write to you on and I have not another scrap, but if I can procure a sheet I will write to her next post, the last time we shall write to any one from here and I am sick with impatience when I think of the long fortnight that is still to pass before we see you again. I sometimes think that it would be better if we came here & never saw the face of a human being out of our own family & never heard from home but were to be intirely dedicated1 to our books, & exclude all b other thoughts intirely for I you can not think with what trembling impatience I wait the day for the letters to come, & how much that is encreas’d when they arrive bringing news of every thing that is going on at home & I long to be at the scene of action, [. . .] besides we have had one very disheartening circumstance since we have been here last we have been interrupted so often, & I so far from not knowing this these ailments that you complain of, am so unfitted by nature in mind and constitution for study that if I were bless’d with every advantage that health and activity of body could give I should still find need of double & triple & quadruple the exertions that other people have, to counteract the effect of the slowest comprehension & the most entire want of memory that ever mortal was curs’d with, but added to this the least affection of the nerves or stomach overwhelms me with such torpor & stupidity that I am utterly incompetent to the task of recieving new ideas or recollecting those that I already possess, & I never saw the day yet that some hours of it were I was not undergoing all the horrors of indigestion as Elizabeth says, or suffering equally from that ravenous appetite which all the torments2 of which you know very well, & which the least fasting produces—but enough of this unprofitable nonscence, I meant only to observe in the beginning, that one days visiting put me completely out of studying condition for one day after at least, (a long ride sunday, indeed, laid me up all day yesterday & has made me so stupid to day that I can do nothing) and that I have lately been comforted by learning a thing which I will tell you as it may give you some comfort also, Helvetius, a man that has written a most excelent book shewing a great deal of understanding & learning while he was a boy had constantly such a cold in his head that it kept him always stupid, & was thought by all the world to be entirely mediocre, but after he had pass’d not only his boyhood but almost his youth he was seized with an excessive desire to be a learned man & write a book, which thing in the course of time really took place, now why may not we improve in health & understanding as we grow older & before we die be well inform’d women?I would make an alteration in one scene of Macbeth, that is, I would not draw such an exact line between the exceptionable & unexceptionable parts, as much as to say to the boys the reason we leave out this part is because it is not altogether so delicate, [. . .] but I would leave out so much as to make it appear that [. . .] we thought the scene too long, in this way, after the speech ending

More suffer, & more sundry ways than ever,
By him that shall succeed.
I would place this Mac d. Not in the legions
Of horrid hell, can come a devil more dam’nd,
In evils, to top Macbeth.
Mal. I grant him bloody,
Luxurius, avaricius, false deceitful,
Sudden, malicius, smackin of every sin
That has a name: but in my self I know

All the particulars &c. [. . .] and so on To the end of this speech, & then continue it with The king becoming graces, &c. And leave out a part of Malcolms long speech at the end of the scene, In this way you must make some alterations in the disposition of the speeches & put “in myself” instead of “in whom”—I had rather have it so but will abide by your decision; another thing, I protest aga[inst] the “Dear Duff” unless you mean to turn the most tragic sce[ne] comic scene, for I tell you beforehand I shall [. . .] that [. . .] you do not. I always stood up for “the taming of the [shrew”] & Like “king Lear ” very much Elizabeth could be Cordelia & she might choose one of us for the king of France, & leave out the husbands of Regan & Goneril, & the boys might be Kent, & Gloster & any body that chose to rave, Lear, I suppose there are exceptionable parts in that also, & the best reason for choosing it would be its having so many women. I cant promise you to act my part tho’ for I have rusticated here so long & it is so long since I have seen you all, that you will be quite strangers to me & I shant have confidence enough, besides that I have held my tongue so long that I dare say I have lost the use of it. Give my love to my aunts & remember me to Miss Braddicke,

ever yours
C. J. R.

Oh When shall I return to the land of my birth

Tis’ the lovliest land on “the face of the earth"3

I have found out that the beautiful Miss Ann Ward, is a married woman—Seth Wards wife.

RC (NcU: NPT); torn at seal; addressed: “Miss Virginia Randolph Monticello Near Charlottesville”; stamped and postmarked.
1Manuscript: “decated.”
2Manuscript: “toments.”
3Closing quote marks editorially supplied.