Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) to Nicholas P. Trist
|Dear Nicholas||Monticello January 16th 1823|
I am a lady of so much importance during this month that I can scarcely command time enough to write to you [. . .]; but at least if my letters afford you the pleasure you say they do, it is a fresh inducement for me to make the attempt. in this short piece I have been twice interrupted.—Hugh Minor was here to day just from Liberty, and was the bearer of two letters from Mrs. Trist to Mary and my self; She still complains of her health, but speaks of visiting us, and will I am sure be greatly benefitted by the journey, change of air, and meeting with so many of her old friends, when the weather and roads are in a state to admit of travelling. the affectionate style of her letter made me reproach my self for the accusation I brought against her in writing to you not long since. however She says she loves me for your sake now, as She once told me She did for Mamas. We have had quite a school here of late; the boys spend this month at home saying their latin lessons to Grand-Papa, and learning french with Mama: Ellen has also begun french and the emulation between her Uncles and her self makes them all very industrious at present. D. O. Carr has been here for a week past to carry on his Italian studies. You may imagine the degree of quiet reigning during the time in the house and especially the sitting room; a portion of the noise follows me to my room, for my pupil Ellen, and her companion Septimia have the most voluble tongues I ever was annoyed by in my life. next month will bring the blessing of a still house along with it I hope, and make me again mistress of my time every moment of which I would willingly bestow upon my books and music, although I do some times feel very lazily inclined and had rather dream away the day than force my self to attend to any thing rational. you must not imagine that I only have the usual difficulties to encounter in reading Moliere, for I hammer out a few pages with the aid of the dictionary, and with quite as much difficulty as Ben & Lewis have in getting their latin lessons. my stupidity and want of memory seems to render the acquirements of any language impossible, I do not think I shall ever know my own well. with an infinite degree of labour I worked my way through Gil Blas, (except those plays the hardest french I ever read). afterwards I was somewhat consoled by finding that Sister Ellen had to use the dictionary in reading it. but I ought not to make these complaints to you, for you will either believe that it arises from impatience, or that I am not candid. and under neither of those imputations do I choose to lay, at least in your eyes.—obedient to the ! of “my Lord & master” “Baron” or by “whatever [. . .] other title more high, more low you may choose to be addressed,” I have practiced lately, as much as I could, on the harpsichord. perhaps in my phraseology I should have expressed it differently, assigning you the place custom would give you among the humblest and most submissive of my servants, whose wishes I sometimes complied with like an indulgent mistress. but I fear by your audacity I have fallen into the “fatal error” of spoiling you; expect the utmost rigor therefore until you have returned to that path of duty from which you appear to have strayed so widely.—Have you ever returned Col: Robert Nicholas’s visit? in his last letter to Sister Jane, he speaks of it as having pleased him very much; I suppose Browse and your self must have been very agreable, for he said you were the “finest young men he had ever known;” also that your sister “was the most perfectly beautiful & graceful little creature in the world”, and lastly regrets that you should ever think of returning to Virginia; leaving that charming country, which wanted only good inhabitants, and from which you could not be spared—I hope you will both “scratch his head” a little in recompence for this. do not be affronted the simile of the ass was only intended for him.
as usual I have overpower’d you with nonsense, and for that reason hasten to conclude my letter, having nothing new to tell you but the birth of an heir to the illustrious Mr. F. B. Dyer, and the death of Mr. Southall’s son, who was a sweet sprightly little fellow and no doubt a great loss to his mother.—I had very nearly forgotten to quarrel with you for your frequent quotations from my letter in your answer. do not again call forth [. . .] recalling foolish letters the contents of which I am glad to forget.—write to me [. . .] still lo[ve?] me as I believe you did, and believe me affectionately yours
Elizabeth is here and joins her affectionate remembrances to those of the girls.
I have always intended to enquire whether your finger has given you any tro[uble th]is winter? I am afraid my ear will furnish you an excuse if you please to make use of it.