Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Martha Jefferson Randolph

I must write to you my dear Mother in a short and hurried manner, for breakfast is nearly ready and my letter must be finished immediately after that Burwell may take it with him to the office; but short & hurried as it may be it will serve to let you know that I am well and amused—since the fine weather commenced I have had little or no leisure, for walking and riding abroad and the repairs of my wardrobe at home occupy me very closely—my female friends have been very kind in calling for me that I might enjoy the pleasure of exercise & fresh air with them—Mrs Johnston of Louisiana has taken me out frequently, Catharine Tayloe is unremitting in her kind attentions and I have formed a new acquaintance who if she only holds as she has begun will completely win my heart. this is Miss Johnson of Charleston, the daughter of that Judge Johnson whom I formerly knew here; she has charming manners, and shews a great disposition to cultivate my acquaintance, a disposition which exists on my part in a still greater degree—my only regret so far, is, that she has been but a short time here—and of course I we have not had time to swear eternal friendship—I have also taken a fancy to the Miss McKnights, nieces of Commodore Decatur I spent a day with them not long ago—Mrs Decatur still confines herself to her room but receives the visits of her friends; she admitted me and I cannot tell whether I was most surprized or shocked at her appearance. she has wasted away to a shadow and looks the ghost of her former self; her countenance retains a good deal of its former intelligent expression combined with a profound melancholy—she received me very affectionately, but burst into tears and wept several moments in uncontrouled agony. when we last parted, I left her with her husband proud and exulting in his affection, and the eclat of his name, and I found her widowed and desolate. the recollection was too much, and overpowered her fortitude—she told me at parting I must go come and spend a day with her nieces, and a short time afterwards she sent in for Aunt R. and myself. I passed the day pleasantly enough with the Miss McKnights and Mrs R. G. Harper, and in the evening Mrs D. received me in her room and renewed her request that I would should be a great deal in her house. she lives at Kalarama, Mr Barlow’s old place—

With regard to the time of my return home, I wish most anxiously to visit Baltimore if only for two or three days, and whenever I can effect this if the thing be at all possible, and I trust it will be, I shall then look round for an escort home. Congress will rise in about a month or six weeks. it will certainly I am told not extend the session beyond the 20th of April—if I can accomplish my visit to B. and find a protector in the mean while, I should not wait for it's [. . .] rising, but I could neither leave go to B. nor leave Washington to return home without some addition to my funds; [. . .] I may therefore be delayed until then some of the Congress Jacks are ready to escort me. my cousin Pleasants for example or my trusty friend Andrew Stevenson who although he has never once been to see me, would I am sure give me the shadow of his countena[nce] home—I am as yet very well pleased. where I am and my health is certainly improving although not as M. Nicholas would make you believe. however I hear from the Vails especially a great many pretty things [. . .] on the subject of my personal attractions, and if I did not look tolerably well, it would stagger even french politeness to tell me I had any pretensions to beauty.—adieu in great haste there is a vessel a man of war to be launched here on the 20th of the month, eleven days hence, and I must see that. a great deal of love to all my dearest mother

RC (ViU: Correspondence of Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge); partially dated; edge trimmed.