Martha Jefferson Randolph to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)

This beautiful weather and quiet hour makes me anxious once more to see you my dearest daughter at a home, recovering its charms with the fine season. every thing like comfort is so completely destroyed during the winter by the boys, that I had rather forego the pleasure of your society provided I know you happy, than to submit you to noise and dirt of1 4 rowdies so well qualified to figure amongst the half aligator, half horse, men that infest our western country. Nicholas, and even Browse with all his impertinence, or rather sauciness for the former is too harsh a name, have ruined me for our young Virginians, who however are by no means as rude generally speaking as my part of the population, can it be all bad management? or is it in some degree blood? Pandora’s box with all it’s evils had one blessing hope, to which I will cling. I will also remember that there never was so arrant a rowdy, or one more abominably mismanaged than Francis and yet what mother would dare to repine who had such a son—

the Louisville letters had arrived safe, I believe I told you. at the time N— wrote he was going in a few weeks to Natches to try and recover a piece of land which had been occupied by squatters as they are called, his title was clear and he seemed to have no doubt of recovering it. he proposed also selling a tract at Baton rouge belonging to Browse and him self and converting the whole in to slaves purchased in this state to work with his fathers and then immediately beginning the study of the law. he supposes he might be rea[d]y to commence practising by the spring of 23, in which however I think he is mistaken, but there is nothing to prevent his carrying on the study here as much longer as is necessary to qualify himself for the practice

the tabinet, I have always believed to be the same with the poplin; it is very costly, and so full dress as to be worn upon great occasions at [. . .] court. at the same time from it’s plainness it may be worn also in undress. I had a grey one the first time I went to Washington made up as a morning dress which I occasionally wore to small dinner parties and also travelled in; with suitable trimming I might have worn it in full dress they are very costly, (mine was $20 the pattern) and very beautiful. but Mrs T— has a right to make you such a present, and you may be very sure that no action of hers will ever even border upon impropr[i]ety [. . .] she is a woman of the best sense, and most strict propriety of manners I ever in my life knew., gracefull, chearfull & actractive, her beauty striking as it is, is allmost her least charm. and I believe My dear Virginia she is as strongly prejudiced in My favor as I am in hers with this difference that there can be no prejudice in [. . .] admiring her I paid her many visits of some days, one of a fort night besides seeing her a great deal at our own house and was as intimate with Lucy and her self as I ever was with any of your fathers sisters or my own and there appeard from the first of our acquaintance an instinctive confidence such as honorable minds will always often feel at first sight where no sinister motives or suspicion intervenes to disunite them. Jealousy I have known, but envy I feel no scruple at in saying I was always as much above as the angels themselves in heaven. I never had nor ever could have a feeling of the kind disconected with my affections. adieu dearest daughter. when you complain of the shortness of my letters you forget how many I have to write this is the third by this mail, 2 more I must write and a third if I can accomplish it. God bless you kiss the dear girls for me and remember me affectionately to Your aunt Hackley and the girls and accept for your self all that a mother’s heart can feel for one of the best of children.

I shall send by the carriage such articles of your bundle as I could procure you—may want them and they wont make much addition to your baggage 3 books belonging to Wayles which I mended tell Mrs Baker without having helped to tear them, a [. . .] frock a shawl and a bonnet to die dye black and dress. I will send the [. . .] money for the [. . .] crape and the shawl the bonnet may stay till Mr R— has money I will write to him about it and when he can pay for it Jane will be so good as to attend to the dying and dressing. I cant wear [. . .] it is [. . .] pr of the morocco shoes sent were so large that the[y] [. . .] ret[ur]ned. I send a pair of prunelle that by sewing up the tops that were opened for me one of you can wear. as I am in black they are of no use to me the enclosed is this moment come to hand

RC (NcU: NPT); dateline above postscript; torn at seal; addressed: “Miss Virginia Randolph to the care of Governor Randolph Richmond”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 28 Feb.; with dateline repeated at head of text, probably by recipient.

An “alligator” (aligator) is a “tough frontiersman,” one of whom boasted in 1808 that he was “an alligator; half man, half horse; can whip any on the Mississippi by G-d” (OED).

1Manuscript: “of of.”