Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ann C. Morris

I could never make you understand my dear Sister how impossible it is for me to be punctual, without any laziness on my part. but you have been kind enough to give me credit for my good intentions and wave all ceremony in writing your self, for which I am most grateful. we have allways a great deal of company in the summer, but the University has encreased the evil to such a degree that our lives are literally spent in the drawing room frequently I have been detained from 10 to 3, and in addition a large and unexpected party to dinner. we are now expecting La Fayette during which time of course we must keep open house. My father’s health has been seriously enjured by the fatigue and confinement of the drawing room. his complaint, (an inflamation of the neck of the bladder) is always encreased by setting long, or rising frequently. and he is always much better lying down. I recieve his company and where the case will admit excuse him for not appearing. but a great proportion of his visiters are people that he thinks himself obliged to entertain and he is so feeble and suffers so much bodily pain that his health is much injured by exerting himself when he is really too ill to rise. he is not with standing some what better than he was I recieved your delicious eau de Cologne. when it is as good as that it is a very great luxury, and one that can be seldom met with in Virginia. the rose water was very acceptable also—

I am not surprised at your approbation of my two children. they are indeed both of them every thing that the most ambitious or the most affectionate mother could wish them to be both as to head and heart—and I think I can wish you no greater blessing in this world than that our dear Gouverneur should resemble Mr Coolidge. he is an elegant gentleman in manners, of uncommon information for his years, and one of the purest moral characters, and most truly ecellent dispositions I have ever known. Ellen has drawn a prize in hymen’s lottery and I hope will her self be one. they were much gratified by your kind reception of them, and confirm every thing you have told us of Gouverneur. his understanding, acute observation and excellent natural dispositions were apparent even during the short time they spent with him—the sale of our property has been stopt by an injunction which Mr R— obtained from the chancellor I acknowledge I see no advantage in putting off the evil day for come it must, and with accumulated interest for every day that it is delayed. we are irretrievably ruined and the only ground for hope is that by fortunate sales the property may be made to pay the debts; securityships for the payment of which money was borrowed upon usurious interest has been our ruin, but from the circumstance of our income having been steadily diverted from our own use to the payment of other people’s debts we might have lived in affluence and laid by every year something for our children. I have the comfort of knowing that no extravagance of ours has occasioned or even acelerated the mischief

Jane has not yet heard from her Sister Smith about Anne, the coloured woman that you wished to hire. but the girls thought it more than probable that she had already got a place before she wrote, and Harriet the other, had returned to Mrs Smiths service before Ellen applied for her. however I hope I shall hear something more certain in a few days. the people of that discription in this neighbourhood are such infamous creatures that no lady could tolerate one of them about her. adieu dear Nancy remember me affectionately to Gouverneur and accept for your self the kindest wishes of Your friend and Sister

M Randolph

I got a letter from Ellen to day, after a delightful tour tr[. . .] the lakes & & she reached Boston the 30th. we heard a rumour of [. . .] Gouverneur’s (Mr Monroe’s daughter) having died in child bed. is there any truth in it?

RC (PPAmP: Smith-Houston-Morris-Ogden Family Papers); dateline adjacent to signature; torn at seal; addressed: “Mrs Gouverneur Morris Morrisania Harlem Post office near New York”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, Aug.