Martha Jefferson Randolph to Nicholas P. Trist

Dear Nicholas

I shall not apologise for keeping your letter 3 weeks by me unanswered, exact punctuality is not in my power, fortunately perhaps for my correspondants. as you did not receive the Louisville packet in due season I am almost sorry that my part of it at least had not gone to the bottom, for old letters doat as much as old people. and two month after the date mine must have appeared completely in it’s dotage

V— has no doubt recovered her spirits long ere this, but as contrary to my expectations I did not go to Richmond this winter, I can only judge from their letters. not going down my self, and Harriet’s illness who might otherwise have acted in my place, will occasion you a dissappointment with regard to Peticola, for which I am very sorry indeed, and Virginia still more so, but it could not be helped I assure you

Your arrangement is a very judicious one I have no doubt, but I am by no means equally certain that you will have it in your power to return as soon as the spring of 23. however time will shew, and your own good sense will point out the course most likely to ensure your happiness, bearing in mind always that you have people to deal with as rational as your self, and who will submit without ill humour to a delay should your interest render it necessary. I need not assure you of the pleasure it will always give Mr Randolph to render you any service in his power. “If you have mind enough to keep your hearts warm,” you know your interests will be the same, and if you have not, a circumstance specially provided for on the treaty I believe, he would still do it on your own account I am sure—you have certainly a right to speak as freely of our affairs as of your own, and I shall acknowledge that right by answering as freely. I mentioned to Jefferson your idea of removing the negroes to a country where they would be so much more profitable, he assented at once to the advantage of such a step but said what I knew to be the fact that his Grandfather would never listen to such a proposal for a moment, although moving them in a body it would occasion little or no distress to them not a tenth part which a sale under the usual circumstances would. then again the difficulty of getting a judicious and trust worthy agent which would render it a step of certain expense and uncertain advantage. but I am not with out hope that with Jefferson’s mannagement and some arrangements which he proposes the estate may be saved without any, or but a trifling sacrifices, he has already arrested the progress of the debts, and the property is daily improving. Poplar forest which for years had been regularly fallg falling behind hand will this year contribute to the maintenance of the family, and in a few more will yield a considerable profit and under the worst circumstances, such as are not likely to concur, 100 negroes might be sold and still leave 150 and the land, from 8 to 10,000 acres. Ann is already provided for, and Jefferson in part, so that independant of their father’s property their Grand father’s will be divided amongst the children after the payment of the debts, independant of me. this last arrangement was made at my own request. I shall probably have a life estate in some part of it but I wished it so secured as to render them independant of any accident that might happen to us. Francis will rank as an elder son. Jefferson and himself will consequently have more than the other boys. for them, I wish them to have professions that will enable them to make their own way in the world. Lewis is a boy of promising talents and if his father’s inveterate prejudice of against the Law does not prevent him that would be the course his grandfather and my self would wish him to pursue, as the most honorable as well as the most certain road to preferment. the others may also make their way as well as thousands of others have done before them if they have industry. our neighbours in Albemarle are as great babblers as Sister R— V— found her secret known where ever the family was; Col John told her of the reports prevalent, and begged her to authorise him to contradict them, he aw, he aw, he aw. Robert N. has not mannaged as badly as you have heard. he pays no rent but finds the labourers, who are maintain’d, and all expenses defrayed by the land holder and they divide the net profits. Col. R—s share came to $3000 this year clear of charges. Jefferson is my authority for this statement in which if there is an error it is in him, for he certainly understands it so. Mr N. N. is finally discarded by Miss Roane, but he has not as had been predicted, turned his eyes towards any of our friends to supply her place. E— must comfort herself for her dissappointment as the fox did. “the grapes are sour, and not worth having” She complains that V— and herself have been pointed out as forbidden fruit, though wherefore [. . .] poor innocent soul she cannot conceive. the young ladies all agree on one thing, puffing each one other. according to their own accounts they stand unrivalled in the world of beauty and fashion. Harriet and Cornelia who appear to have taken the lead are much fattened and Cornelia I am told greatly improved by the additional1 roses which returning health and a little dissipation have given her Harriet required no addition of the kind being already as blooming and lovely as possible Elisabeth and Virginia have gained no flesh but Mann tells me they look unc[ommonly?] clear and better than he ever saw them. V— has given you a good deal of news abou[t] [. . .] more than was true in some respects and less in others; but as I pique My self [. . .] a second Jack Lizard in discretion, though not quite as silent, I shall not tell you my own health returned with the cold weather. the swelling of my throat externally [. . .] which I had considered as a local affection was nothing but debility, and disappeared entirely as the winter cold advanced. I have had only one serious attack since you left us. and now My dear Nicholas, when I again repeat, beware of the sun and the dew, I beg you will not believe me quite as unreasonable in my fears, as the old lady who cautioned her son against a gun without a lock “lest that thing called a barrel should go off and shoot him” remember I have your father’s authority for fearing fear of a Louisiana sun. such a caution in the southwest Mountains2 would be idle but in Louisiana it is but common prudence. adieu remember me most affectionately to your dear Mother and Mrs Brown give My love to Browse and accept the same from your very affectionate friend and Mother


Mary desires to be remembered to Browse and Your self she has borne her additional3 month of house keeping and solitude with unparalelled philosophy

there has been a disturbance at Columbia College and all the Junior class and Wayles at the head of them are suspended for 3 months he is expected daily in Richmond

RC (NcU: NPT); dateline below signature; mutilated at seal; addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist Donaldsonville Lafourche Louisiana”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville 10 Mar.; endorsed by Trist: “Randolph (Martha) March 7. 22.”
1Manuscript: “addional.”
2Manuscript: “Montains.”
3Manuscript: “addional.”