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

I have waited a few days to enable me to have a good report to give you of Mama’s health, Dearest Nicholas, in my answer to the letter I received from you a few days ago. when I wrote last I mention’d a slight head-ache which she Mama was afflicted with, but which lasted a [. . .] very short time; however her sickness was not to end there, and the following week She had the most violent attack She has had for years; the first night was passed in agony from her head, the aching of which She thinks was very much encreased by a dose of brandy that I persuaded her to take believing that indigestion was the cause of her sickness, and the three following days She was confined to her bed with high fever, sick-head-ache, and swelling and inflamation of the face. thank heaven She is down stairs in her setting room to day, complaining only of excessive weakness. We were made very uneasy by an unusual affliction1 of her head some weeks ago, but which I did not mention to you, because I wished first of all to know whether Dr. Watkins thought our fears were well grounded; yesterday he declared all her complaints to be from the stomach entirely. the sensation of which I speak, was that of a sudden check to the circulation of the blood in her head, and almost a suspension of sense; they were like strokes over immediately, and her pulse much raised at the time. I have given you all the details which I know you are anxious to hear.—Mary got a letter from Mrs. Trist, by the last mail, in which She says She has relinquished her visit to Albemarle this fall. we have all written to press her to come, believing the change would be beneficial to her health, and are very sorry that She will not do so. I suppose She believes me a correspondent of Col. Robert Nicholas! I can not suspect you of any indiscreet communication after your boast of prudence, and She desired Mary to ask me to write when ever I got a letter from the south.

You seem very determined to prove that I have refused to “sanction your return” next spring, and yet for my life I can not remember a sentence in any of my letters implying anything like an objection; you talk a great deal about your “confidence” in me, and if you really confide in my affection, why suppose that I wish to detain you in that deadly country, longer than you your self think necessary? It is true I have still a lurking dread of that “Minotaur matrimony,” but attachment to you, having once sufficiently overcome my terrors to make me consent, I have no intention of deferring the period unnecessarily. Be it then [. . .] your birth day, annexing only your own condition.—and now having spoken very candidly, may I ask you in return why you have been so very anxious to make me give a promise of which you are quite uncertain whether you can avail yourself?—

I have many sins to confess on the subject of my harpsichord, having neglected it sadly since the spring, and when I have forced myself to perform the task, and with great resolution kept my seat three long, weary hours, it has been with so little spirit, & hope of success, as to render the sacrifice unprofitable. However there are some palliations for past offences [. . .], and a promise of amendment, which shall be faithfully kept, must make my peace with you. as for the voice my dear Nicholas, you might as well relinquish all hope of it’s ever being worth your listening to; Nature may possibly have given me an agreable one, but disuse & want of tuition, have [. . .] render’d her gift [. . .] unavailing and now it is too weak, and rusty for service. I am very much gratified at your compliance with my wish respecting drawing. I never gave you an “order” except to mention your health whenever you wrote. I have just renewed my attack upon Moliere’s plays, but as yet feel a greater inclination to cry over the difficulties, than laugh at the wit, and am constantly obliged to [. . .] repeat to myself, “suck away Tommy, you’ll come to the sweet presently”!!

Henry Gibson from Richmond has been here, and although he said that all the scandalous stories afloat in the world were told by the ladies, yet he added a few annecdotes to my budget, or rather made one for me. among others, that when Miss Braddick was married, the parson by mistake [. . .] open’d his book at the service for the burial of the dead, and had made some progress in it before he was aware of his mistake—Miss Betsy Carr has married a preacher of the name of Paxton, of whom I have never hear’d any harm, and that you know is saying a great deal of good. Mr. Newcomb brought his bride behind him, in defiance of kinsmen (who had I think no right to advise such grey beards) and married her here in the hall, in presence of a female friend of her own, and all the members of the family here, who were quick enough to see the sight; her name was Gray. I wish She deserved the same commendation I have given Mr. Paxton. Margaret Peyton married Randolph Jefferson, a brother of Lilburne of whom fame can not have left you in ignorance.—I have been frequently in company with both of the midshipmen, and am still as great an admirer of John Nicholas’s beauty, & John Carrs fine disposition as ever. the first will leave the neighbourhood next week, in company with his Mother & sisters, for Baltimore. I have dined but once at the “wanstead house” (since you will not give it it’s own name of Morven) and then I was too sick to admire it’s beauties, or even to enjoy the sweet music which our pretty little neighbour Isabella Wydown gave us. Mrs. H. is going to Philadelphia this winter to visit her friends, and taking her two youngest children with her, will leave the other three under the care of Mary Ann Wydown; I pity the poor girl for having to sustain such a charge during the gloomy winter months, tho’ She is all patience & good humour. Our bridal visits have been returned, but Mrs. D… makes me angry, because [. . .] She looks so foolish, and I have no particular fancy for Mrs. Downing although she is very pretty.—You will never again complain of my being “sparing of my talk,” indeed I fear you will find this letter a good anodyne! however it is a sudden fit of obedience to your wishes that has made me give loose to my pen, as I sometimes do to my tongue. Mama says She will write to you as soon as She is strong enough. I do not intend to be the bearer of your impertinant advice to Francis, least he should repent the audacious attempt.—the geranium leaf was fresh when I enclosed it, as were also, also all the flowers that I have sent; they were merely to perfume the paper on which I had written. Adieu dearest Nicholas, give my love to Browse, be in a very indulgent mood when you read this, and believe me your own affectionate

V. J. R.

one of my letters was sent to Milton, and the post master there, is so careless, that I feel uneasy about it’s fate—let me know when you receive one with that post mark.

1 Manuscript: “affiction.”