Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Martha Jefferson Randolph

Your letter of the 8th reached me yesterday my dearest mother, enclosing 20 $ for which I am very much indebted to you; I have not been in want as yet, but the addition of 20 $ to my funds is no small source of satisfaction—if you should receive this before Margaret Nicholas leaves the county, you could render me great service by sending by her, a few pair of short gloves white & coloured, from Raphael’s. those you got for me were excellent & lasted me a long time. the gloves I purchase here, are of high price & miserable quality; I have torn two pair at a time in such a manner that they never could be worn, and the money they cost became a dead loss. in addition to the gloves a paper or two of small pins, and a yard of fine Ind thin mul mul muslin would be very acceptable, also a few balls of adelphi cotton. I left behind me a piece of real blond lace, not very clean, but such as I could wear if I had it here—Raphael had some small thread cambric handkerchiefs at a dollar a piece—mine are wearing entirely out and his would do very well for shew handkerchiefs which is all I want, and two pair more of his seven & sixpence silk stockings would quite set me up—I am enjoying myself so much, (in spite of my health which is not good, my stomach being so seriously deranged as to deprive me almost of the power of eating, my appetite having deserted me almost as entirely as it did in Richmond,) that I will willingly remain here as long as I can. I recollect in reading Ovid’s Metamorphoses, being charmed by the description of the magic liquor of Medea’s brewing, which restored youth, and was so powerful in it’s effects that the withered branch with which she stirred it, long dead & dry, recovered it’s colour & flexibility, & finally budded & bloomed in her hand—so it has been with me, the magic liquor in this case is a compound like Medea’s of many ingredients; variety, change of scene, gay company, dress, flattery &c &c—you cannot concieve how my spirits are rejuvenated, and how happy well-pleased I am, in spite of discomfort at home, and the gnawings of those two vultures, dyspepsia in the stomach, and the dread of expense in the heart—oh if I only knew how to lay out my money; a little management would so greatly curtail my expenditures & increase my enjoyments—I suppose it is my ignorance on the subject of dress, and never having been in the habit of laying out money for myself, but always trusting to others, that makes me so helpless and liable to being imposed upon—but enough of this—I have been to a good many parties lately and received my full share of attention—I have no cause to complain of neglect from either friend or foe—you should hear the fulsome compliments poured into my ears by Charles Fenton Mercer, see Harrison G. Otis bow until his toupee brushes the floor, and old Rufus King bending to the floor ground to tye my shoe string, whilst my cousin John asserts in a loud voice the claims which country name and blood give him to a portion not only of my attention, but to being considered in the light of a friend, and called upon whenever I require any service that he can render—in the midst of all this flattery & attention, vain weak woman as I am, I acknowledge the potent effects of the nostrum, and press the intoxicating cup to lips as hot & thirsty as if I had not been educated for better things, as if this high enjoyment of a vain & frivolous & idle & extravagant mode of life, was not unworthy of the grand daughter & pupil of the wise & great Jefferson, of your daughter, my dearest mother, who born and [. . .] brought up to ornament the highest walks of life, have [. . .] humbled your talents & stooped your graces, to a life situation the most monotonous & secluded, and been contented withal to make [. . .] sacrifices which would have annihilated me, or driven me to desperation. you would scarcely know my countenance if you could see it lighted up, as I am told it is, in these scenes of festivity. Mr Poinsett, (who acknowledges himself “blasé” or to use his own expression “desengañado” with almost all that the gay world can offer, it in whose practised & wearied eyes, youth, beauty, grace, animation, [. . .] all that we most admire, have lost in great measure the power to please—) says, “your face Miss Randolph [. . .]almost is one of the few new things I have seen in Washington” I felt the full force of the compliment coming from such a source—

If I could but get rid of this dreadful complaint of the stomach which is sapping the very foundations of life, and which I too much fear is connected with the liver; my teeth are shewing symptoms of [. . .] renewed and rapid decay, and I must go on to Baltimore not only to see my dear Maria Goodwin whose letters are the most frequent & pressing & tender, and with whom by the very particular invitation of Mrs Lyde Goodwin who added a postscript for the purpose to one of Maria’s letters, I shall make my home at least part of the short time if not the whole, I mean to allow for my visit, but also to consult a Dentist residing there, & said to be one of the best in the Union. this trip will be attended with very little expence, they are not as gay in Baltimore by a great deal as they are here, & I should stay a short time only, and go very little out, if at all. I feel very very uneasy about my teeth, and I feel there is no time to be lost with them.—

I have no time to give you the particulars of the Canning quarrel—it was hideously exagerated in the newspapers, both were in the wrong—Canning I fancy gave the first offence—& De Neuville’s french impetuosity for a few moments got the better of his good sense & good breeding—the blame seems equally divided, & the gentlemen have been well punished by being dragged through the newspapers and caricatured into the bargain—I wish I could get a copy of the caricature for you—the quarrel is mad[. . .] night before the last I saw & spoke to [. . .] Canning [. . .] de Neuville’s house—

your[s in?] the greatest possible haste my own dear mo[ther]

it is a great deal colder than it was yesterday my dear mother & you had better wrap yourselves up in the things I have sent you

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); unsigned; torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs Thomas M. Randolph Monticello near Charlottesville Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Washington, D.C., 14 Jan.