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

I am very glad for your sakes my dear Virginia to hear that you are at last “coming to the sweet” of your visit to town tho’ every day lessens the chance of my going down to partake of the gaieties which Cornelia tells me are just beginning my fate is fixed I am afraid & there seems very little doubt that I shall be chained to the soil for the rest of the winter at any rate, I must therefore resign myself with the best grace I can to the prospect before me & give up the hope of being in place to assist you in doing the honours of on the 27th however I dare say my presence wont be wanting & as Richmond has already got a sufficient stock of the Miss Simmonses it may be as well perhaps to keep the rest in the back ground at least till some of the others are disposed of, you can tell me what chance there is of that but above all things I hope & expect that you will always bear in mind the consequence of the antelope & not dishonour our noble scutcheon by quartering it with a yard stick or a pair of scissars such as I have seen dangling by the side of Elizabeth’s knight for example, almost the only time I ever saw the gentleman & of course my ideas of him are not very sublime but I need not recommend it to her to assert our dignity I am sure particularly as she is surrounded by so many vigilant counsellor’s & advisers all zealous for the honour of the family. I can assure you that our “mamas” are not insensible to the pressing demands of their daughters for money but what is to be done? what expedient can we fall on for raising cash when not even turning old clothes women would be of any avail, after considering & reconsidering the thing in every possible light I can think of no means of obviating the difficulty except the expedient that the philosophers advise, to “[. . .] reduce your wants to your means” & if this idea meets your approbation I am sure you will be captivated with the rest of the plan I am going to propose, Grand papa received a circular the other day & an oration delivered at an examination of the Franklin school in Pennsylvania by Mrs Katharine Duane Morgan, daughter of the editor of the Aurora; after proving as plain as a pike staff in her oration that Leghorn & crape are to cause the downfall of the republic, she publishes a circular (to which she has obtained a pretty long list of subscribers) calling upon every one to enter into an agreement that from this time forward they will bind themselves to wear nothing but American manufactures; for which good deed they are to deserve a place near a string as long as my arm of grecian & Roman worthies whose names Mrs Morgan has recorded in her harangue now what could you do better than to shew your patriotism by joining the confederacy & then your wants might all be so easily supplied, we might send you down a whole bale of providence cloth & a piece of steam loom shirting to make ball dresses would quite set you up—seriously tho’ if I can hear of any opportunity to Richmond I promise to sweep the house of every shred or rag of finery, & bundle them all up to send you but I am afraid that will not be much for you know I never owned any, I do not think sister Ellen left anything, & I am pretty sure that your drawers & presses have all been cleared out before. I found the straw coloured trimming belonging to your old died crape which I looked for to send with the spencer when Phill was here but could not find it if I can get it to you perhaps you may make some use of it—I have a great deal of my work still to do which I begin to weary of because it prevents my employing myself more to my “teeste” & as I have begun it I do not like to lay it down [. . .] untill it is all done tho’ it is of the most tedious kind, all depending on me who have not time to fix it except by degrees, for the days are too short for me to do any thing with the interruptions that I have. “I could tear my air & disporrage myself” to think of the precious time I am wasting from my precious studies & that I shall not be a bit the wiser for the secluded life I have led, nor gain one single advantage over you who have spent the winter in dissipation is not that provoking? I have a great mi[nd] to learn latin in a fortnight to have some thing to surp[rise] you with when you come home. but I dont know how th[at] would be compatible with my house keeping duties. the school boys I am sure would all mutiny if once the cry of famine was raised & for the honour of my administration I am afraid I shall be obliged to post pone becoming a scholar myself to a more suitable period—I am sorry to see that sister Ellen’s old complaints have not deserted her, the stage did not “jolt the liver out of her” & even dissipation has failed to cure the dispepsia under which she was laboring perhaps she has enjoyed it with too little reserve & the present cessation of gaiety will afford her time to recruit her strength against the recommencement of the gay season which begins again in February—I have written you such a scratch as I am sure nothing could excuse but the pens I have written with & the uncommon stupidity of the subjects I have [. . .] not chosen but been compelled to write upon from absolute want of something to say—adieu my dearest Virginia I can scarcely say what a devoted affection I feel for you

RC (NcU: NPT); torn at seal; unsigned; in the hand of Mary J. Randolph; addressed: “To Miss Virginia J. Randolph to the care of governor Randolph Richmond”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 2 Feb.