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

A long and unavoidable separation from one so much loved, as you are [. . .], Dearest Nicholas, would be painful enough without the fears and melancholy forebodings that I have on the subject of your health. You are already sick and your strength prostrated by one summer spent in Louisiana, [. . .] how then am I [. . .] to expect you to get through the next? I assure you I have had a great many heartaches since the receipt of your last letter, and do not anticipate very cheerfully a renewal of the anxiety that I felt, as long as the unhealthy season lasted, this year. I think a little insight into futurity would spare me many a pang by which I am now assailed; and with the conviction that I should see you again, and well, I would not yield to weak and vain regrets at the temporary loss of a society, than which, none but my Mother is so dear to me. Of course I have believed always that you would not let inclination get the better of reason and prudence; but remember that your health is the first of all considerations, and that you no longer have the right even if the disposition exists, to tamper with it. inshort dear Nicholas consult your own judgement, far superior to mine, on all occasions; but do not own any risk. I fear that I shall have no opportunity of sitting for my portrait, but believe me I shall never miss one of gratifying your wishes when in my power to do so.—Nothing would give me more satisfaction than to send Dr. Watkins to you, as I have perfect confidence in his infallibility in most cases; though the I do not believe that I am indebted to his mercury & bleeding last summer, for any thing but the miserable feelings they occasion'd at the time. Cold weather generally restores the tone of my stomach, and my appetite; of course then I fatten and my face becomes rather smoother, which is the case this winter as much as usual. neither do I think his practice has ever benefitted sister Ellens health; but for nerves & stomachs like those of almost every member of our family there is probably no remedy. do not be terrified it is the object of my life to prevent my nerves from tormenting my friends.

Wilson Nicholas will set off next week to join his brother Col. Robert; if I see him again before he goes, he shall be the bearer of one of my most affectionate looks to you, but as I fear he will never deliver one of that description, when you see him you must think of me, and like me, regard him as one of the most amiable young men in the world, and from his peculiar temper & education more unfortunate than either of his brothers. The sale at Warren took place on the 17th, and we have not hear'd yet whether my Brother went on from there to Bedford, or has returned home. at any rate I will not let Mama forget your message when she does see him. We are in hourly expectation of Francis & Elizabeth, although the weather has been rather unfavourable for their journey. E. appears to be, from the letter She wrote Harriet, very well pleased with her new relations, and had the prospect of seeing some of her own “kin and clan” at a wedding dinner which Uncle Eppes was to give on the following day to his “son & daughter”—in a note from H. yesterday She desired me to give you her “sisterly love,” the first time I wrote.—We expect Sister Ann at Carlton immediately after Christmas, & are not, as you will imagine, much elated at the prospect of having Mr. B. again for so near a neighbour—

I see that the word pistol suffices to remind you of the valiant Mr. Mc Duffee of dodging memory, and his antagonist whose courage is thought here undoubted, and [. . .] his success in the design of crushing Mr Mc Duffee perfect: Your pistols which Mama got Francis to examine are entirely free from rust: I do not know why you should be so anxious about preserving them, for I pray to heaven that they may be ever as useless to you as they are at this instant: indeed they are odious to my sight from always reminding me of their bloody profession, and I would willingly put them in the fire.

Do not resume your law studies too soon; I hope when you have Grand-Papa to converse with on the subject, it will be less irksome & more profitable to you. he intends to give you for a study, the Pavillion corresponding to Papa’s which is now completed and ready to receive him when he returns, which we are in daily expectation of.

Adieu dearest Nicholas it can not be wrong to say how constantly my heart is overflowing with tenderness towards you, and that you are never absent from my thoughts except when driven out by the warlike Romans, whose history I am reading, or Moliere’s provokingly difficult plays. At the harpsichord Mama and your self are stationed with me, and alone have influence to make me submit to the din that I raise. farewell again, and believe me forever your own

V. J. R.

remember me affectionately to Browse—and say something of your pretty little sister.—

RC (DLC: NPT); addressed: “To Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Donaldsonville La-fourche Louisiana”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 22 Dec.; endorsed by recipient: “Randolph (V.J.) Dec. 20. 22.”