Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Martha Jefferson Randolph
|Dec. 30th |
Your letter my dearest mother, found me dressing to go to dine with Mrs Brown, who has shewn me very great attention & kindness & that day, not only invited me to a select & very pleasant party but sent her splendid carriage (by far the most elegant equipage in the city) to convey me to her house, where I found among others my cousin John, who treated me with wondrous civility making many inquiries after my whole family, but especially concerning yourself. the day before I had dined with Catharine & Ogle Tayloe in a large party of gentlemen, from these two worthies I have received considerable attention also—I understand that the old Colonel enjoined it upon his daughter to overwhelm me with civilities to make his house my own & treat me in all respects with the utmost possible consideration. he is himself with Mrs T. spending the winter in Charleston, S. C.—his children have not obeyed him quite to the letter of the law, perhaps they understood the spirit better than those who merely heard the words but they have been upon the whole very civil, & Catharine is a good pretty girl, Ogle very well mannered & as times go quite respectable in all points. on Wednesday then I dined & past the evening with them, I was the only lady at table besides Miss Tayloe herself, but in the evening we had a large invited party including many of the grandees of the land. the day before I had dined at the Navy yard by invitation with Col. Henderson a bachelor & commander of the marine corps. Mrs Freeman & Miss Erwin were the only ladies besides myself but among the gentleman we had a Mr Van Buren Senator from New York a very well bred and agreable man, & exceedingly influential in his own State where he has held some of the highest offices, these advantages combined with a large fortune would make him what is called a speculation, were he not a widower encumbered with five children, & of decidedly plebian birth. this party at the Navy Yard was exceedingly pleasant, we had an elegant dinner, our eyes were regaled with a parade, & our ears with music, and then there were so few women, & petticoats do not contribute as much towards [. . .] entertainment as pantaloons, in general society, that is very certain. I never wish for more than just enough to keep me in countenance.—I have become quite intimate with the Vails & very fond of them, Eliza & Nancy, the elder sisters, I find, now I have become acqainted with them, lively & intelligent, Clementine very handsome & very “naive” Eugene the eldest brother, a young man of four & twenty handsome, graceful, intelligent & well-bred, with a good deal of foreign accent & manner, by no means unbecoming to him, & very completely & entirely devoted in his attentions to me. this you know is a point of no small importance. Aaron I have already described as handsome, witty & satirical, & Edward a little midshipman of fifteen, wonderfully [. . .] civilized for a boy.
I had written thus far last night when I laid down my pen & walked over to Mrs Cutts with whom I had made an appointment to spend the evening with Mrs Brown—it is a charming house to visit at, & you are sure to meet the first society—Mrs B. has a little sociable party every Sunday, & although she cannot give regular invitations for fear of scandalizing the Clergy she continues to let her friends know that she is always at home on that evening & happy to see them. she has not only given me a general invitation but particular ones also, of which I am always glad to avail myself. you go just as you are in a cambric frock the same you wore at Church in the morning if you are too lazy to put on another which is always my case—I have walked hitherto that I might be under the protection of Mrs Cutts & I could not go alone in a hack—last night Mrs Greenleaf (the celebrated Ann Allen) insisted most positively on bringing me home in her carriage—she is really an elegant woman with all the lofty courtesy of the old school—
I meet Mr Poletica [. . .] every now & then—he always addresses me very particularly; & desired that his compliments & homages might be presented to the family at Monticello—
Burwell is waiting for my letter—adieu my dearest mother. the fifty dollars reached Mrs Smith in safety but she was too lazy or too ailing to acknowledge the receipt—a great deal of love to all & for yourself the assurance which you do not require of my idolatrous devotion—