Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Nicholas P. Trist
|Monticello March 28th 1823|
I have not written to you for a long time my dear Nicholas, for I have as usual had nothing to write about. you receive such regular bulletins from other sources, that but little is left for me to tell, & that little before it could be committed to paper, has generally escaped from a head at present always confused & frequently aching—in such a state of things what can I do,? assure you that in sickness or in health, in weal or in wo, I shall always love you; pray you to take care of yourself & to sacrifice any thing and every thing to the grand consideration of your health—these things I say to you every time I write, and if I use “vain repetitions” and “think I shall be heard for my much speaking” it only proves how sincere are my wishes and anxious my cares on your account. I hope the return of spring will produce no ill effect upon you. I have already experienced in some degree the debilitating influence of the first warm days, and this makes me think the more of you and your southern breezes bearing any thing but health upon their wings.
We have been passing a very quiet winter—seeing no new faces, and hearing very little of what was going on in more busy and animated regions—since the spring came on we have received one visit and made one very pleasant acquaintance, a certain Mr Dodge, in whom I could find no fault but his name. this gentleman, the American Consul at Marseilles & returned to his country after an absence of seven years, left Monticello, from the visit of a week, carrying with him the good will of the whole family, and their sincere regret that being but a bird of passage, and waiting only for the “warning voice” of another autumn to wing his way to the bright skies of France, there is but little probability of our ever seeing him again—I was so unwell when he first arrived & indeed continued so during the whole time of his stay, that I could not derive from his acquaintance the pleasure it seemed to afford others, but the little I saw and heard, shewed him young, handsome, intelligent and well-bred, very much of a frenchman in his manners & so much so in his tongue, as not always to express himself elegantly in english; & now and then, not even grammatically, but then he apologized so genteely, & his french or italian words dropt so gracefully from between white teeth and rosy lips, that I dare say I should have thought him and them charming if “pleasures had not lost the power to please” with me, for I have bid Farewell Health, and with health” every thing worth living for
Francis & Elizabeth are preparing to try the strength of their pinions not in a voyage across the Atlantic, but to their own snug nest at Poplar Forest, alighting for a while at Millbrook—they leave Ashton to morrow—it will be a painful parting on all sides, but they carry with them youth and hope and love, their prospects are as fair as their warmest friends could wish, and although Solomon says “Time and chance happeneth to all” yet even the royal moralist must have allowed probabilities their due influence in regulating the feelings of friends if not the destinies of men.—Col. Isaac Coles is going to follow his brother John’s example & commence Benedict at the mature age of (I believe) five and forty. I have seen some where, in french, an anecdote of a young man who consulted an old philosopher to know whether he thought it most advisable to marry or remain single, & received for answer, “Prends celui des deux partis que tu voudras et sois sur de t'en repentis.” it would seem that the Col. meant to try the effect of two repentances, by comparing the two states at his leisure. his choice is a prudent one, Miss Louisa Newson of Norfolk, a fine woman of eight and twenty (the difference in their ages only 17 years, that is a trifle) with a handsome fortune. malice apart, I wish them the happiness I believe they both deserve, and which they cannot fail to enjoy with the good sense, good temper & competent fortunes they both possess.—
Have you seen O Meara’s work “A Voice from St Helena”. if you have not, and it is to be procured in that “whited sepulchre, beautiful outward, but within full of bones and all uncleanness” which you call Louisiana, get it, and promise yourself in readin[g] one [. . .] greatest pleasures you have enjoyed for a long time—this book has [. . .] a downright Bonapartist of that most English of Englishmen my uncle Thomas Eston. what think you of such a miracle as this? is it not equal to any performed by St. Stephen’s bones?—
I must hasten to conclude my letter that I may get Francis to drop it in the office as he goes through Milton —we are all pretty much as usual, Mama has been unwell but is fast recovering, Grand-papa’s arm continues to require the bandage; but we hope the return of warm weather will compleat the cure—Virginia, I suppose, has informed you, that she is trying the effects of that remedy for all the ills endured by man, Jenner’s Tartar Emetic Ointment. she uses it “in scoffing”, and as I suspect, faith, is in this case, all important, I apprehend she will receive no very material benefit; indeed she is as well as usual, but as this said ointment could do no harm injury, and might do good there was no harm in trying it. they wish me to make the experiment, and I will do it not to appear obstinate but I fear that I must “dree my wierd” as the Scotch say, that is fulfil my destiny—