Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Martha Jefferson Randolph

I wish my dear mother that Papa may be as good as his word and send me the remittance without which I can neither pay my visit to Baltimore nor leave Washington; I am becoming quite impatient and very apprehensive lest his delays should disappoint me in this much wished for visit—and after having spoken of it, (imprudent I own it was to make any calculation or promise which depended for it's fulfillment on such uncertainties) I shall feel considerably mortified if I am obliged to give it up. several ill-natured observations have already been made in consequence of my delaying so long to make the visit in question—I am not quite certain that 50$ will discharge some little debts that I have here, take me to Baltimore and pay my travelling expences home. but I will try to make it do, it cannot fall far short of what I shall require, and if I find any little deficit I can write to you before the first of May when I shall turn my face homewards. I am becoming anxious to quit this scene of turmoil it is a very agreable thing to be a belle, and of consequence, but it lays one open to remark, and I have been galled more than once by the malicious gossiping of people who have nothing to do but exercise their spite against their neighbours. I have certainly reached years of discretion, but I have not been sufficiently versed in the ways of the world to be a very skilful pilate through so troubled a sea, and my little bark has encountered several rocks and eddies which have at least made me long for the calm of the an inland lake. the joys of fashion are after all like the fruits of Pandemonium fair to the eye and enticing the appetite to deceive it with dust and ashes—I wish very much wish Papa could be prevailed on to make some little exertion to relieve me if he would only send me an order on the President for the money due him, it would at least be worth while to make a trial to get it. perhaps I had better write to him myself I am so much afraid of his strange temper that perh I know not what to do and he might take it in his head to put a stop to my visit to Baltimore, which really could not now be given up with any sort of propriety, and will add very little to the expenses I must necessarily incur whenever I put myself in motion—I think that the Great Father would be ashamed to refuse my application for so paltry a sum as 150$ and I could use what I wanted and carry the rest to Papa. to be sure it would be better to send me the 50$ if he can and the order besides when I could probably get the money, whereas he never will, for it must be a powerful motive which induces our chief to pay a debt. I think he would not dare deny it to me situated as I am, a girl distant from my friends, and calling h on him for a just due. however there is no answering for him. all the trust I formerly felt has been shaken to the foundation by this my visit to Washington, where he is so much better known than elsewhere—if Papa would send me 50$ and the order on Col. M. the money would be worth trying for. if I got it, and there happened to be a little deficit in my own fund, I could supply it and secure the rest for his use, and it is a doubtful point whether he ever gets it in any other way.—I give myself some little credit, considering how little I know how to lay out money, and how entirely nature has refused me the talent of economy for having spent four months in the gayest and most dissipated city in the Union, partaken of its endless variety of amusement plunged into the midst of it's dissipations, always preserved a decent appearance, & hitherto within the limits of my own stock and asking for a replenishment only when the change of season calls for some little change of dress, and the prospect of a return home makes me think about travelling expences—but no, if I had known how to be careful, and to help myself, the money I brought with me might have sufficed for all things, and I can only deeply regret that Nature refused me that prudence and frugality of temper which fortune renders so indispensably necessary. still I am very sure that habit would give me this envied talent, and that it is only want of practice which involves me in unnecessary expences. the experience of this winter has been of more service to me in teaching me to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary expences to know when to spend and when to spare, then all my preceding life. it has given me an insight into the mysteries of dress, the arcana of the toilette, which I never before possessed, and which I shall most probably never again be called on to exercise. I am pretty much in the situation of the dutchman's horse, who died just as he had learned to live without eating, just as I am learning how to live in town I shall perhaps be located forever in the country—however, I will indulge in no gloomy anticipations, I am returning home after a winter of enjoyment, with a fresh stock of health and of spirits, to friends whom I love with a love passing the love of woman.

Adieu my dearest mother, I will leave my letter open until to morrow, in case I should have any thing farther to add in the mean time believe in the devoted attachment of your daughter—
RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); unsigned; bottom half of third page cut away; addressed: “Mrs Thomas M. Randolph Monticello near Charlottesville Virginia”; stamped.