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

as my dearest friend may suppose, I am in no great mood for writing: it is some relief however, to disburden my heart into that of my better half; especially as I know the sympathetic throb which will have beat in her bosom before this reaches her, and the anxiety she will feel to hear the tale of woe, I announced some days ago—

The 26th of last month was ushered in by a storm, very violent, but only a faint presage of that which was soon to harrow up our souls. The weather did not, how ever, impart any of its gloom to my Mother: she was, as ever, cheerful, and all attention in promoting the happiness and [. . .] pleasure of all around her, by those delicate attentions which it seemed as natural for her to pay, as to breathe. The day passed, without any unusual occurrence.—After supping by her side, I retired to my room to finish a letter to your Mother: in less than an hour, I heard my father’s tramp in the dining room—he was come for a glass of water for my mother, who finding an obstruction in her breathing, [. . .] a few minutes after lying down, had risen, and stepped out into the piazza.—we found her there, complaining of a pain in her stomach, and making attempts to vomit; she succeeded in throwing up a little phlegm, and then expressed a desire to return to her bed.—I ran to lift up the musquito net, my father and Browse supporting her—she had not advanced more than two steps, when she dropt lifeless in their arms. They brought laid her in mine, and Browse ran barefooted to the Doctor’s; he returned in a few minutes with the tidings that he was in New Orleans! Another was Sent for, but he was fifteen miles off, and did not come before day.—This was immaterial, however, for all the Drs in the world could not have saved her:—The whole did not take up five minutes.

My Grandmother was attracted by the noise.—The first object that presented itself was her child, dying, if not already dead, in my arms.

What a night, Great God! Great surely; and, above all, incomprehensible; else, how often should we impeach not only his mercs mercy but his justice.

Though she was cold long before the Doctor came; we could not believe [. . .] She was gone, until his look and tears told us we had nothing to hope.—

Not long since, speaking of our poor little Mary, she observed that my connexion with You had relieved her mind from one great load: she was now happy in having a person whom she considered as worthy of the trust, to leave her with; in case she should not herself live to bring her up—I answered in perfect confidence, that many a happy year was destined her yet: (when will I again repose any trust in Providence?—)

Now, my Virginia are you to prove your Love for me!—it will I know, (for I know you) make the discharge of this duty, a source of happiness.

None of us are unwell,—[. . .]An affectionate embrace for my only mother and all her children; Preserve yourself my beloved, for your little charge, and your own


But for this occurrence I should have written to Ellen before now, present me to her as a brother in every respect; more than ever, if possible.—The letter I had almost finished to mother, accords too little with my present tone.—I have destroyed it.

Ever! ever! ever! yr own

RC (NcU: NPT); dateline beneath signature; addressed: “Mrs M. Randolph of Monticello Near charlottesville Albemarle County Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Donaldsonville, 5 May.