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

I hope the fever which you have had is not the prelude of a more serious attack, My Dear Nicholas, but as this is the most sickly part of the year I would recommend great care of your health, to preserve which, strict attention to the diet, regular exercise before the heat of the day, and an endeavour to keep the mind tranquil, occupied, and as well amused as possible, is necessary. Let the mould on your law-books grow an inch thick, rather than pour over them while your health is delicate, and take up your pencil if you like drawing and do not find the attitude disagree with you. I give my advice boldly, because experience has taught me much on this subject, and convinced me that happiness depends more upon the health, than upon any circumstance whatever. I can not tell you that this is the last summer you will have to spend in that Country, for with respect to your return next spring you must consult your own interest entirely, if that permits you to come neither my self or family will oppose the plan; although I will not promise to consent to such precipitate measures as you propose—But of that it will be time enough to talk when we meet.

Since I wrote to you last Cornelia has had a severe spell of sickness, accompanied by airy distressing spasms, although we apprehended no danger as they proceeded entirely from the stomach; she is much better, but sister Ellen has been sick again, and Mama looks badly and has frequent fevers. However she has not had a bad sore throat for many months, and I think when the weather becomes cooler they will all be restored to health. As for my self, Dr. Watkins would persuade me that the calomel has made such changes in my complexion that I am grown quite a beauty, but my looking glass is like the palace of truth, and contradicts his words.—My studies have been unavoidably relinguished for several weeks, and can not be resumed immediately because Maria Woodward and Martha Richardson have come up from Richmond on a visit to us, and will necessarily occupy a great portion of my time, and next month I enter upon the duties of house-keeping again. “Despair is always either madness or folly” says Miss Edgeworth, but my progress is so slow in every thing that I ever attempted to learn, that I believe I should be driven to it, if I did not look forward to a long life, and expect a great deal of assistance from you, which Mama has not time to give me.—

What do you think of the fortunes of Nigel? Sister Ellen applies to it what Mr John Randolph said of the Pirate, that it is the lees and dregs of the Authors mind. everyone here, agrees in thinking it the least interesting of the Waverly novels, not excepting the monastary, but much better than any others.

Mr. Francis Gilmer came to the neighborhood a few days ago, and promised to call to morrow morning on his way to Bedford, to get our letters. Mrs. Trist was well when she wrote to me about a fortnight ago, but her letter brought heavy charges of inconstancy against the whole County of Albemarle, and I think unmerited, for she has many warm friends in it.

Sister Ellen desires me to give her love particularly to you, and say that she has not written to because she has been sick, and keeping house; but as soon as she is well enough, you may expect to hear from her. Harriet told me to give her “dear love to you, and say that she wanted to see you very much.” I deliver the message verbatim, for Cornelia accused me of not transmitting her messages when I wrote to you, and indeed my memory is so bad that I could not refute the charge. I do not think however that I could easily forget them, because the friendship subsisting between my mother, sisters and your self, is one of the greatest sources of happiness I have, and will never I hope be disturbed.

Give my love to Browse, and return one of the kisses little Mary sends me. Take it for granted that I feel all that is generally expressed at the close of a letter, and be in a future a more regular correspondent, for you have given me this summer great subject of complaint. farewell—

I was just going to close my letter without telling you that there was a wedding in this house a few weeks ago.—Mr. Hatch joined the couples, the gentleman’s name was Newcomb, the lady’s—you may guess.

RC (DLC: NPT); addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Donaldsonville Lafourche Louisiana”; stamped and postmarked; endorsed by Trist: “Randolph (V. J.) Aug. 19. 22.”