Virginia J. Randolph (Trist) to Nicholas P. Trist
|Monticello Nov. 27th 1823|
Mail after mail has arrived without bringing me a line from you My Dear Nicholas, for more than a month past. have you forgotten me? or are you sick? I assure you that enquiry, which I make of myself every hour in the day without being able to answer, torments me very much. the last letter that I received from you was immediately after having despatched one, and I have not sooner written an answer, because I expected constantly to hear from you again. Your Grand-Mother also is very uneasy; but her complaints have probably been vented both on Browse & yourself, in her own letters. The birth of Elizabeths little bantling She has also mentioned I suppose, which every one quarrels with for being a girl; however She gives the promise of beauty Harriet thinks, tho’ the matter is somewhat contested by Cornelia, whose penetration has discover’d many unamiable traits in her character. Elizabeth has named her Jane Cary, and I have worked her a cap, which are facts much better authenticated than the above mentioned. this cap, with a good deal of other sewing work, and some company to call me off from my books and music, of course enable me to give a very poor account of my time. the harpsichord I have not touched for many weeks; but I am making a slow progress in a french translation of Appians history of the civil wars of Rome: and am also reading an easy introduction to astronomy written by Ferguson; it is intended for the use of younger students than I am, but from the subject being so entirely new to me, my head soon gets confused and incapable of comprehending the simplest parts; but nevertheless it interests me, and I am very anxious to proceed. I wish I had time to apply to arithmetic, which would smoothe some of the difficulties that I now encounter. [. . . .]
John Carr who has been for a year past among the Pirates, took leave of us to day, after spending a week in this neighbourhood, with the expectation of going [. . .] immediately to the West India’s again, and with the hope that he will return in time to sail for the Mediterranean next spring, in the Constitution. What do you think of our getting a share of the spoil taken from the Pirates? Mary has a beautiful spanish saddle cloth given her by John Carr, and sister Ellen a collection of good for nothing Spanish books sent her by Victor Randolph, a far off cousin, and great favourite of ours, who went on the same cruise with John Carr. perhaps you may know something of his brother, who, I am told, is a physician of some note in New Orleans.—Mr. Crawford returned to Washington without having it in his power to visit Grand-Papa, but Miss Vail, accompanied by Cornelia Barbour and her brother, came and spent some days with us. at the same time we had a visit from a young Virginian fresh from Europe, whose letters, or rather some extracts from them were published last summer in the Enquirer, by his friends in Richmond. Dr. Greenhow is very amusing indeed I think, and seems to have some information on every subject, which he is so willing to impart to others, that he talks incessantly, no doubt even in his sleep.
‘Good Gods! ’tis like a rolling river,
That murmuring flows, and flows forever!’
we have a promise that he will visit us every year, and I heard Grand-Papa and sister Ellen agree that he would be more agreable when the gloss of Europe was a little worn off. Mr. Coffin, a snuffling Englishman or Irishman, has lately stolen Grand-Papa’s affections by his profound learning, but really his dismal name, and the cold in his head hardened my heart completely. when I have mentioned a short visit from Emma & William Gilmer which gratified us much, and another from a raw Kentucky lad who called us Cousin from the eldest to the youngest member of our family, because his grand-mother was sister to our great grand-father, I shall have enumerated all our late guests atall worthy of note.
Phanuel Campbell is married! She has reached the zenith of her [. . .] & her parents [. . . .]viable Mr. Gilly Lewis a doctor of high renown in Columbia. Tell Browse that his fair Malvina has been very ill with a brain fever, but having undergone a tremendous salivation which deprived her for sometime of the use of her tongue, is now convalescent. Poor Mrs. Southall is far gone in a consumption, and by the advice of her physicians will spend the approaching winter in New Orleans. Mr. S. and herself invited Sister Ellen to accompany them, and we regretted that the expense of such a trip, render’d it impossible for her to accept their invitation; for her health is delicate still, and might perhaps be reestablished by a voyage and spending the winter in a milder climate. however, I should have been very uneasy at her being so much with Mary Southall, since pulmonary complaints are so easily communicated.
my usual bed hour is past, but before I lay aside my pen I must reproach you for fighting Browses battles with so much more warmth than you do mine; when I complained of Francis’s neglecting me you advised pacific measures altogether; but as soon as Browse met with the same ill treatment you ‘took up the cudgels’ in his defence. I followed the advice you gave me, and even was mean enough to write to him again, making use of gentle remonstrances, and thereby obtaining the honour of a reply. I think Browse had better follow my example. tho’ Francis tells me that he has written to him.
Adieu, the love of all around awaits both you and himself, but in what manner can I renew my assurances of attachment, that you will not think “trite?”—Good night, pleasant dreams & refreshing slumbers attend you.
I am truly ashamed of this blurred epistle, pray burn it directly—my pens are execrable.