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

Mrs. Trist with Emma & Mr. Gilmer arrived at Farmington a few days ago, My Dear Nicholas, and this morning Mama & Aunt Randolph have gone to pay their respects and learn from your Grand-Mother when we shall have the pleasure of seeing her here. She bore the journey from Bedford very well, but I dare say has already given you an account of it herself. Emma Gilmer went immediately to Mr. Minors, and it is so far from us, and our excursions into that neighbourhood are attended always with so many disasters, that I am afraid it will be a long time before we shall see her.—since I wrote to you last, every member of our family has been sick; the worst colds that I ever knew at this season, are prevailing among us, and My Dear Grand-Father is now confined to his room with one of them. Mama has had quite a bad, and a very singular attack, of pain in her side, which Dr. Watkins pronounces to be rheumatic, and She has now such a swelling in her throat, & hoarseness, that we were almost afraid to let her venture out to day; perhaps the ride may be beneficial—Papa, even, has been quite sick, and of this general complaint, you may be very sure that I have had my share; for a week past I have been very much indisposed, and even now feel so weak & stupid that I am quite unfit for any rational employment; but your last letter has been laying unanswer'd in my desk for a fortnight, and surely deserves from it's affectionate style, that I should at least show you that my will, to write, is as good as ever. I received it, seated upon my throne in the kitchen, with a cookery book in my hand, faithfully discharging the debt that I contracted with Mary during my visit to Poplar Forest; therefore you had better reserve your bullying for a time when you may stand more in need of it, than she does at present.—We have just received a packet of letters from B. by my Brother who escorted Aunt Jane there, they contained good accounts of the health of both of the girls & Francis, but he has just returned from a visit to his Father who was very ill a few weeks ago, and has been entirely deranged ever since. Francis found him in Amelia at Mr. Bakers, he had gone there in the first days of his madness and Mrs. Eppes had joined him. [. . .] I feel so much sympathy with Francis in this misfortune, that it has in some degree dispersed the clouds of suspicion and jealousy that were gathering in my mind, at his late neglect of me, & threatened soon to burst in a tempest over his head. Can you believe that he has not yet answer'd a letter that I wrote him in April! “Friendships balmy words may feign” &c.t&

I expect you will scold if you return shortly, my Dear Nicholas, to hear how badly I still play upon the Harpsichord: but I have done making promises that I am obliged to break, and tho’ resolved to be more industrious infuture if I can, you must not positively expect me ever to become, as I once promised you, a “good musician”. but I am equally grieved to find, how impossible it is for me to apply more steadily to my books; in the winter the days are so short, I am such a martyr to the cold weather, and keeping house one month in the season interrupts me so much, that I scarcely make any progress in my studies; and during the long days of summer, the excessive heat makes me so languid and drowsy that even when the book is open before my eyes I look at the characters & read them, without having a single idea presented to my mind. We have had Quentin Durward in the house for some time past, and Mama & Sister Ellen like it much better than Peveril of the Peak, and better than the Fortunes of Nigel, a few scenes of that excepted. I do not know when I shall be able to pronounce a judgement upon it, for Aunt R. is resolved to put her nieces patience to a very severe test by making them wait until She has perused it at leisure. however I am sure She partly recompences me by her very sweet music, agreable even on our old ‘rattle trap’—

Our neighbourhood continues in the same state of repose; and my imagination is too sterile to furnish me with any agreable topicks to write upon; and this I believe will encrease with the length of your absence, I mean this difficulty of writing; for in a short time I shall have nothing to say which would interest you, but that ‘we are all well, or we are all sick' as they case may happen to be, and that ‘I have been very industrious and have read such and such books, which I like very much, or do not like atall; and conclude by expressing the feelings of affection for you that never change, and will at last ring in your ears, I should have said, salute your eyes, as words of course, things that you have known for years, and although still sufficiently valued to make their loss painful, yet the repetition not exciting particular interest as long as you are secure of my feeling for you the same as ever. at last I dare say you will be content with this paragraph in one of your Grand-Mothers letters occasionally, ‘The family at Monticello are well’! you see Francis’s inconstancy makes me doubt even you.—

Sister Ellen sends you her love with the promise of a letter very soon; She desires me to tell you that She is now as well as when She parted with you. however, She has just been sick with the rest of us. The girls in Bedford and C. and M. also send their love. Give mine to Browse; I am very anxious to hear whether he practices upon the flute now. Adieu Dearest Nicholas, continue every precaution for the preservation of your health to the very last moment of your stay in Louisiana; take all [. . .] necessary to render your journey or voyage back to us a safe one, and believe that nothing can alter the heart of your own

Ginilla

Post Scriptum. Mann has a son—

RC (DLC: NPT); addressed: “To Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Donaldsonville La-fourche Louisiana”; stamped and postmarked; endorsed by recipient: “Randolph (V.J.) July 21. 23.”