Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) to Nicholas P. Trist
|Monticello August 3d 1823|
I am grieved to hear of your affair with Mr. Tournillon, My Dearest Nicholas, but I trust that it will be amicably adjusted, and Browse and yourself spared the scandal as well as the expense of a law-suit. surely his character can not have been so entirely mistaken as his present purpose would make it appear; and he must have been influenced by passion, that will yield after cool reflection to better principle. it is my earnest hope that you may be successful in your endeavours to accomodate matters with him, if it is only for the sake of poor little Mary, who under your charge would probably give you every reason to rejoice that you have a Sister. When shall I see you disengaged from the perplexing affairs that now engross you, and your thoughts turned entirely to the study of your profession! the rock upon which all your hopes of success in life should be anchor’d! heaven knows I never wish to see you harassed and worn out with the management of a farm; the life of a ‘saddle-bag’ lawyer is, I believe, far less laborious and more independant. and moreover you could attend the courts laced in a Cossack jacket or russian belt, and be as much of a dandy as my heart can wish!!—I have to give you in return for your news, a long list of sickness in my own family, for the bad account contained in my last letter was merely the beginning of the complaint which is still lingering amongst us. My dearest grand-father is just recovering from a fever which lasted three weeks without intermission, and which Dr. Watkins & my brother ascribe to his daily visits last summ fall to the Mill-dam where he was in the habit of remaining from breakfast until dinner time. but this fever was accompanied by the influenza that none of us have escaped; and violent perspirations every night render’d him too feeble to set up, or even to read without bringing on a head-ache: since these have ceased his recovery has been rapid, & will, I hope, soon be complete. Mama took fresh cold in visiting Mrs. Trist, and had a very violent attack of sickness; her fever still returns every day, and the soreness of her breast occasioned by a violent cough, still keeps her indisposed. Sister Ellen, Cornelia & Mary are just at the threshold of the long tedious complaint, and Cornelia & Aunt Randolph convalescent. Papa left us quite unwell, and we have not hear’d what the effect of his journey was. this unpropitious time was chosen by the Miss Carrs to visit us, and I was very sorry, because I like them very much & should have been well pleased to have made their stay with us more agreable. they were accompanied by Uncle Cary with two of his daughters & one of Mr. Miles Cary’s. and now that we are still stupefied absolutely, we have the certainty of seeing in a few days Mr. Crawford and with Miss Caroline and Miss Ann Crawford, and one of the Miss Vails.—no body will believe me when I tell them that I am the most diffident creature on earth; perseveringly they continue to ascribe all my deficiencies in grace to the natural awkwardness of my movements & manners; and yet, with sorrow I declare it, that the idea, alone, of meeting a stranger, throws me into paroxisms of terror that ought only to be occasioned at encountering some ferocious beast of pa seriously, the evil of which I complain if it continues, unabating, will make me turn hermit; and I assure you that it does not arise from vanity, for I am fully sensible of my insignificance in company, and that if I am not remarked for my awkwardness, I shall escape un-noticed. even my desire to visit Richmond is as much because I think it might be a cure for my bashfulness, sheepishness if you choose to call it, being forced every day into society; as that I should expect much amusement. I have occasionally in my life been sufficiently excited by a crowd of gay company to be amused very much indeed, but most commonly I am thrown into a nervous ague, which gives place only to a state of stupefaction. I have not exagerated atall in describing these sensations; to the contrary I can not express them in language strong enough. ‘me miserable! and thrice miserable’!—but I will spare you the rest of my this ejaculation, or refer you to Mr. Escot.—
Uncle Tom has rented a house in Lynchburg and a mill in the neighbourhood; we have a years reprieve as he can not remove his family until [. . .] next summer or the ensuing fall; but Harriet has been absent ever since the month of April, and may possibly, instead of returning with her Mother in a few days, remain until Elizabeth comes in October. in parting with those two girls we lose the only society we ever have had, and friends with whom we have been in habits of close intimacy from our infancy. I really think if I had foreseen all these consequences of Elizabeth’s marriage I should have put my veto upon it. especially if I had known that Francis’s friendship could not stand the test of matrimony. but how could I anticipate the loss of the society of two friends and the love of another. however it is very selfish, I acknowledge, to oppose my wishes to the happiness of so many.
Mrs. Watkins has sent the Doctor orders to return immediately to Tennessee, and to have her piano carried to her, for she has determined to remain at least until next year, and I believe he expects to live there. I think our County will have to send a petition to Mrs. Kean to let her husband come here to supply Dr. W.s place. Dr. Kean wishes very much to do so, but Mrs. Kean has conceived so formidable an idea of the fashion & splendour of Albemarle, that being herself rather homespun in her tastes, She will not permit consent to the removal. I believe Dr. R. is merely a good nurse, and better able to manage long illnesses, than to save a patient in a sudden and violent attack. I do not know what is to become of us all.—Mr. F. Gilmer brought me a letter yesterday from your Grand-Mother She is quite well, and in good spirits at having just hear’d from you. Mama & Aunt Randolph will go to Montpelier as soon as Mr. Crawford leaves us, and when they return Mrs. Trist has promised to come to see us.—as usual, dear Nicholas, I have written you a great deal of nonsense, but you must pardon what I can not help. never fail to speak particularly of your health whenever you write; mine has [. . .] been uncommonly good for the season; and remember that you can not speak too much of yourself in writing to me. accept the united love of all around me for Browse & yourself, assure him of mine also, and believe me with unchanged heart your own
my great haste must partly excuse the errors of this epistle, I have had two letters to write for grand-papa already to day.