Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

Dear Sister

I received your last some weeks before I left Monticello, but I believe you are so much accustomed to my bad ways that you do no require a fresh apology for every letter—I have in vain tried to be punctual but bad habits are not so easily conquered; particularly when the causes which first gave rise to them still exist and strange to say we are as much interrupted by company here as at Monticello. the neighbourhood is really an excellent one, and it being known that my visits are short the neighbours all crowd in to see us and entertain us before we return the roads are so good and the country is so thickly setled around us that I can pay as many morning visits here as in town, and even drink tea with some of them and return without danger or difficulty there are no less than three great establishments upon what was my land. so much for security ships, how we shall get through with them remains yet to be seen. the neighbours are very kind good people one of them told My father he had sewed a patch of early peas on purpose for him, in addition to what his own family would require, another gave him an asparagus bed in his garden, and fruits, fresh meats, and all the delicacies of the season they supply us with in profusion, knowing as they do, that this not being our principal home those things must be neglected in our absence. it is a beautiful and flourishing part of the country and their devotion to My dear father makes me very partial to it. you would be astonished to see the number of large brick houses many of them in a style of city refinement and luxury, the furniture equipages and grounds in a style uncommon in the country in this state. it is very agreable to see such appearances of prosperity and content in any part of our dear native state, which generally speaking to my infinite sorrow I must acknowledge it, has been sinking in the scale of importance for many years back the deplorable state of education is I have no doubt the cause of it. it is impossible, to get a boy educated in the plainest way in Virginia at present. if the University prospers, as the Proffessors will all be brought from Europe and none but men of high science employed it may produce a change, but the effects will not be perceptible in our time I am afraid. the ensuing generations will profit by it. but most of my boys George excepted, and perhaps Lewis (who is thought to be a boy of better parts than common, & may derive some benefit from it) will be too old to go to school by the time it goes in to operation the buildings would have been all finished this year but for the folly of the last assembly who actually stopped short at the last building the Library, and the workmen will be obliged to be discharged to be recalled after the next session, for there has been such a clamour about it that no doubt the next assembly will do every thing possible to repair as much as possible the mischief done by the folly and ignorance of the last. but reassembling workmen who must be brought from a distance, and in fact reorganising the whole business will occasion a great deal more loss of time than the year you can have no conception of the beauty of the village. the two ranges of buildings on each side of a lawn flanked by the 10 large pavillions with their intermediate dormitories comunicating from one end to the other by an arcade in front of the dormitories and passing through the portico's of the pavillions with their gardens offices yds & back, extending to a street on which the boarding houses with their gardens & & are built making 4 rows of buildings in the finest style of Ancient architecture. the Lawn between the two middle rows will have a Rotunda at one end in which the Library will be commanding the whole and this last building alone in [. . .] and after spending so much, as the finishing hand was about to be pu[. . .] stopped short and refused to permit the library to be built in which a[. . .] large lecturing rooms and the library will be. how ever next year I hope we shall retrieve our character. looking over this hurried scrawl I would really throw it in the fire if I knew when I should have time to write another but we set off home tomorrow and after our arrival collecting the family who are all dispersed, and as Papa terms it “opening shop” will ocupy my time pretty closely. adieu dear Nancy Ellen and Virginia who are with me join in love to you and dear Gouverneur, to whom Tim sends her remembances yours sincerely and affectionately

M Randolph
RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); dateline below signature; addressed: “Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrisania Harlaem Post Office New York”; stamped; postmarked Lynchburg, 3 June.