Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) to Nicholas P. Trist
|Monticello February 4th 1823|
The post brought me two letters from you this evening Dearest Nicholas, and has made my conscience smite me for the unjust suspicions I had allowed to creep into my mind during a month—wanting only a few days—that I did not hear from you except by the means of Mama and Sister Ellen. those suspicions of course were intirely banished by the affectionate style in which you wrote, and probably originated in a bad cold and the repeated disappointments on the days that I expected to get letters which made me very “satirical”, and more easily affronted than ever. this I might easily have concealed from you but for the compact we have made, and which I will always remember. after your example I have taken a holiday this evening for the purpose of devoting it to you, and thereby escaped that drowsiness and stupor brought on by reading the “Macedonian wars” in Livy. heretofore I have read the history with a good deal of interest, having begun it late in the fall and nearly finished the 5th volume, which is very quick reading for me; but since I came to the above mentioned period of the history I have experienced [. . .] the effects that you so feelingly describe in a like pursuit. I acknowledge however that I am totally unacquainted with that intense degree of interest, which you say you have felt in the study of mathematics; no one can be more anxious to improve themselves than I am, and I had rather read than sew or keep-house; but yet I do not find a positive pleasure in carrying on any one of my lessons, and am at a loss whether to attribute this want of interest in these occupations to the great difficulties I have always had to encounter in learning, or to a badly regulated mind. Perhaps you will laugh to hear that I find more pleasure in reading a sermon now, than any thing else, but I have restricted the gratification of my taste to sunday, from want of time in the rest of the week, and have not tried any as yet but Blairs and Sternes, which are I think rather moral than religions discourses. next sunday if the weather permits I will accompany my sisters to Charlottesville to listen to the doctrines preached by the Reverd Mr. Hatch; but more out of respect for appearances than from any pleasure or profit that I expect to derive. he has become excessively solicitous about the salvation of us all, which I suppose he thinks endangered by the bad roads and weather that have prevented our attending public worship, having no cause he believe to believe us more negligent than others in saying our prayers at home. Poor Mama will certainly be damned for we intend to exert the remnant of our authority to keep her from sitting several hours in that “cold and pitiless Labrador” the Court House, until the return of Spring. I have always forgotten to tell you of her rebellion against the management of her daughters, and although we constantly hold Mrs. Nicholas up as an example for her, and a pattern for Mothers; it is without effect. Mrs. N. only required, last summer during her stay at Tufton, a shake of the head from Margaret or Sidney, to make her desist from whatever She was going to do. but Mama to the contrary is so wilful that our command is nearly overturned. her health is tolerably good at present, and Grand-Papa’s [. . .] arm is also better than it was: Dr. Watkins called however at a very critical moment the other day for the swelling in his hand had increased so frightfully, that nothing but the timely bandaging saved it from bursting in a few hours. and Dr. W. and Papa both thought that the consequences of such an accident might have been very alarming. the swelling is now very much reduced; the bone has united, and he is gradually recovering the power of moving the limb. Sister Ellen’s health continues the same, and you may imagine that we begin to be impatient at the delayed recovery that we so anxiously expect. I think we must have recourse to the new “king cure-all” Dr. Jenner’s Tartar emetic ointment. it has made some wonderful cures, and is now producing a very beneficial effect upon Aunt Hackley, who has not been able to walk a step for six months. the ointment is recommended particularly in liver complaints, and as it has long been decided that both Sister Ellen and my self had a tendency to that disease, could not be improper. Maria Woodward wrote to advise me by all means to use it; but I prefer waiting until I am sick in the summer to quack upon myself; and besides have a horror for its consequence, an irruption on the skin like the chicken-pox. Did you not meet with Sarah Lindsay when you visited in the neighbourhood of Castle-hill and that “great little coquette” Ann Nelson, five years ago? She died the other day, and though in expectation of the event it did not fail to shock me excessively. in November I saw her, and was told that she was recovering rapidly, but neverthless was convinced from her looks that I should never see her again.—Julia Ann Mayo with whom I think you became acquainted in Richmond, has just made a run–away match with a young Doctor by the name of Cabell. with her bonnet & pelisse on, she met the gentleman booted, spur'd, and spatter'd with mud, at the house of a friend and was married in great haste. the interposition of Mrs. Scott prevailed upon Mrs. Mayo to send her carriage for Julia and her husband that evening. She said afterwards that she had objected merely from the belief that her daughter did not know her own mind on the subject. I do not know whether your argument in favour of “wedding parties” are good or not. it is a “knotty point” that I have hear'd discussed without its being brought to a satisfactory decision. I have hear'd Mama say that her sufferings were greatly increased by Grand-Papa’s having a dinner party the day she was married. and another lady asserted that she had been greatly relieved by a dance. I do not think one of Elizabeths friends could have forced gaiety sufficient to suit a festive scene. I know I could scarcely restrain my tears. I have never mentioned to you the important affair of the black dresses which was so much noised about. Cornelia, Harriet & myself from some reason of consequence that happened to rule our tastes, and influence our choice, in performing the duties of the toilette the day Elizabeth was married, put on black frocks; and quite as much fuss was made about the “impropriety of appearing in Mourning at a wedding” as if we had put on sack cloth and strewed our hands with ashes. We hear'd that the circumstance excited much surprise in Richmond. and have learnt to think ourselves very important personages. Mann came to his sister's wedding, but went down immediately after to Gloucester, and on the first day of January Susan and himself took possession of their house. he has no thought of going to Florida; and I think it is very doubtful whether Aunt Hackley will ever go. Mr. H. has been in New York on business ever since July. In answer to your two letters received together, I have written this farrago with the hope that you will destroy it when you have fortunately reached the end. I hope Browse is quite well by this time, and will accept the assurances of my affectionate remembrances, with that of the whole family for both you and himself. farewell dear Nicholas, gratitude alone, for the many proofs of disinterested affection that you have given me, would insure you forever the sincere love of your own
The late fresh in our river has carried away Grand-Papa’s mill dam which he had been employed about nearly the whole summer and fall. the season has been with us unusually mild; there has not been snow enough yet to fill Grand-Papa’s snowhouse, but incessant clouds & rain.