Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) to Nicholas P. Trist

Dearest Nicholas

All your letters bring the same charge, of want of punctuality, against me, & I do not think that I deserve it in the least. you have written me seven letters, the two last of which I received together,—dated 24th of Feb. & 10th of March—while spending a week at Ashton from whence I returned late yesterday; and this is the sixth that I have written you. I have not let a single month pass without writing once at least, and as you say you have been three months without hearing from me, I suppose some accident must have befallen my letters or detained them upon the road. But you are getting quite above your place and I must devise some means of speedily reducing you, “dis a lover! quel homme, quel tyran! and den of course when he grows to be a husband, he will be worser and worser, and badderer and badderer.” take care, or perhaps some Dashwood may spring up and punish your audacity.

We left Richmond the 6th & arrived here the 10th of March, having visited Tuckahoe & Morven (not Mrs. Higginbothams Morven, but the house of one of my cousins) on our way home; after taking an early dinner in Richmond we came to Tuckahoe, only 15 miles, escorted by the “violin player” and Walter Jones, formerly of the navy, but who has most unwillingly relinquished the profession, for that of the law, without which sacrifice, he must have lost all hope of marrying Miss Taylor to whom he has been attached for five or six years past. he is really a charming fellow, and so high in our favour, that inspite of sorrow at parting with so many friends in Richmond, and the settled melancholly of my Uncles family so soon after his wifes death, he kept up the spirits of the whole party, by his own gay & very amusing conversation; the next morning was a delightful one, and we walked as far as Powells just a mile from Tuckahoe, and there took leave of our darling little sailor, who was almost killed by the ride of the day before, and our musical friend Capt. Bolling, who had most unfortunately been rejected by a lady in Goochland, a few weeks previous to our departure from Richmond, and had become so habitually gloomy, that not excessive gratitude for his constant and unwearied attentions, could make us think him tolerably agreable, [. . .] his only recommendation in a drawing room was great gaiety and good humour, playing, by ear, on the violin very sweetly & correctly, and to ourselves the most assidious attention, most scrupulously divided between the four. it is a little singular that our great favourites were all either engaged or married men, and Mr. Norborne Nicholas, whom I like extremely, is almost out of his senses at Eliza Roanes inflexibility; so far from being engaged when they were here E. R. had just given him a “flat” and only bore his company with patience, because her Mother and Father were so very partial to him. The little that I saw of her this winter pleased me so much that I regretted her frequent indisposition which prevented our becoming better acquainted. as for Mr. Spectacled Baker, he did not remind me of the game of chess although I saw him frequently but I thought that was my own fault, and continued to like him from a grateful recollection of the assistance he had afforded me in the Cotillion figures that I was unacquainted with, when I first reached Richmond. upon the whole I was glad that he did not ask me again to play chess with him, for I was so unaccostomed to play the game in a crowd, with many persons looking over it, that I was defeated & disgraced. the only time that I attempted it, which was with a travel’d jew, Mr. Myer Myers, who coxcomb as he is knew a great deal more about it than I did, and had not his faculties obscured by diffidence. Cornelia’s J—l took violent offence, to our great joy, and when I heard last of him, he had transfer’d his affections from the angelic Miss Cornelia, to the transcendantly beautiful Miss Calhoun. Why did you not dance at that ball and what makes you lead the “hermits life” which Mrs. Trist writes Mama you are leading? is it because you are so studious, or because you are afraid to trust your self to the fascinations of the young, gay, & accomplished society usually met with at places of amusement? you know you assured me, that the time was past when you would fall in love with a pretty face, therefore I am not afraid of losing my power. but seriously, have you lost your taste for amusements so generally sought by young persons? and certainly at two and twenty one may have as great a zest for them as at any period of life. follow my policy of grasping every harmless pleasure in your reach, for we have too few to afford the loss of one.—The girls from Ashton & Cornelia, Mary & my self went to Charlottesville to wait upon the brides Mrs. Downing & Mrs. Dyer, but as this last was from home I can only tell you what I have heard of her, that she is an ugly little woman with a freckled face, but very amiable and very sensible, also that her fortune depended upon a law suit, which as She has four uncles who are Judges, and her husband is a lawyer (though not one of great renown) She will probably gain. we intend also to visit Mrs. Charles Merriweather who is a near neighbour, and Miss Wydown a very fine girl who has undertaken the perilous task of teaching the young [. . .] Higginbothams.

After racking my brain & memory with my usual perseverance I have recalled the message from Elizabeth, which has excited your inordinate curiosity, it was I believe that she had been thought very much like you lately, & was encouraging the likeness as much as She could; at which I have no doubt your vanity will be much elated, for She is still as sweet & beautiful as ever. the message was given jestingly & after writing it, and showing it to her, I thought I had effaced it entirely. I hope you are satisfied with this explanation; and will no longer blind your self in trying to read what was not intended for your eyes.

I got a letter from Francis dated from Richmond, he was going immediately to his fathers, and I hope will soon come to see us. Wayles seems determined not to gratify very speedily our desire to see him.—Mr. V. B. was disappointed in his intended visit to Grand-Papa, but Papa saw him in Richmond and from him we heard that this youth of 45. whom I wasted so much ink and paper upon in my last letter to you, has red whiskers!!!! Ye Gods! and since that I find all that we heard of him was an exageration of this medling, talkative world; I am glad he did not come, I should have been so much disappointed in the hero my imagination had formed.—Adieu, it is time to curb the licence which I have given my pen that would run forever, if I was not fatigued with leaning over the paper. Give my love to Browse and your Mother always, and accept that of my whole family for him and your self. the enclosed is my portrait drawn by Harriet, I could not bear to disappoint you.—Mama tells me that she has sent you the mignonette seed. once more adieu dearest “la nuage léger de mes pensées volera sans cesse autour de toi”—

V. J. R.

}Throw this silly letter immediately in to the fire.—

RC (DLC: NPT); addressed: “To Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Donaldsonville La Fourche Louisiana”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 9 Apr.; endorsed by Trist: “Randolph (V. J.) Apr. 7. 22.”

dis a lover ... badderer and badderer is spoken by the character Mr. Dashwood in “Madamoiselle Panache,” in Maria Edgeworth’s Moral Tales for Young People, volume 3 (London, 1806).

la nuage léger ... de toi (“the light cloud of my thoughts will fly around you constantly”) is from Françoise d’Issembourg d’Happoncourt, Madame de Graffigny, Lettres d’une Péruvienne (Paris, 1747).

The portrait that accompanied this letter is a pencil sketch of the author, whimsically attributed to artist Thomas Sully, but drawn by her cousin Harriet F. Randolph and entitled “La belle Ginilla,” a name the author occasionally used in signing her letters to Trist. [To see it, please click on “View Original,” above.]