Cornelia J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge
|Monticello aug. 26 1825|
I recieved your letter dear sister while setting at Maria Carrs sick bed, for her illness continuing & increasing the girls at Tufton became quite exhausted and by setting up and watching, and sister Jane sent to beg that I would go & assist them; except the first night I have only set up a few hours every other night & latterly not so often, so I have found no inconvenience from it; but during the hot weather she required fanning night & day without [. . .] ceasing & the fatigue of this caused me a rheumatism in the shoulder from which I have suffered much. Maria has been in her bed near five weeks; it was thought partly a nervous fever from fatigue from nursing her sister; the Drs have constantly said she was getting better while she was as constantly declining in strength, at last she [. . .] was taken with frightful chills which I do not believe they knew what was the cause of, Dr Dunglison said it was the quantity of bark that had been given her & then they said it was bile, but nothing they did prevented the steady decline; they say now however that she really is better, whether nature has triumphed over their doctoring or they have at last found the right thing to cure her I cannot say. Margaret & Patsey have been staying with us ever since & Dr D. has undertaken to cure their throats which he seems to think more seriously affected than their friends have been aware of (Margaret’s at least); for her, he has prescribed blistering & red pepper gargle. poor little Mary has suffered much from the same cause & has had so long a continuance of sore throat as to make her friends very unhappy about her but she is at last getting well, to my sick list I will only add grandpapa who I think is better also, he rides out occasionally in the carriage which he has not been able to do till lately.
Gen. La Fayette left us on sunday last, having arrived the thursday evening before; The professors & students gave him a dinner & the latter shewed such enthusiasm enthusiastic gratitude towards him [. . .] that he could not fail to be much affected & gratified. here was no tedious pomp & parade, no fatiguing shows to weary & exhaust the old man & make him wish his friends less kind or their manner of shewing kindness less oppressive, but one burst from of true feeling from young warm and enthusiastic hearts parting forever from the man to whom their country owed so much. the dinner was conducted very quietly except at one moment when they appeared to have reached their highest pitch of excitement but they soon returned to their quiet & orderly conduct; & again, when he got into his carriage they surrounded it & clung to it, shook hands with him over & over again & some almost forced their way onto it, but they were persuaded at last to let him depart; He spoke of them afterwards with much feeling, said they were fine young men, & at that age when the best feelings of the heart are most alive. some one their there gave him a rattlesnake which threw Mr Le Vasseur in to raptures as great as when he shot the poor little wood pecker with his own hand & gun. The gen. is going to carry it to France and a bear also, [. . .] a present likewise, & some dozens of Indian mocassins which they were carrying to the ladies of their family, besides a ship load of other commodoties, which they liked better than the honour of going in the Brandy wine (for they determined it would not do to take so much lumber into that vessel) & [. . .] resolved to sail in a vessel which sails early in Sept. Mama read that part of your letter to the gen. in which you desire her to get some thing in his hand writing for you, the tears came into his eyes as he expressed his thanks for your kind mention of him and he said if you would permit it he would write to you from Washington, he has most probably written before this. he seemed to think it a probable thing that he should be obliged to return to this country again, for refuge, & said he did not think he should be sorry for an excuse to settle here with all his family. I do not know whether you saw the little marquis who accompanied him, Mr Lion, we liked him much here; he is quite a different sort of person from the Mr Le Vasseur having the manners of one of gentle blood & breeding; I suppose he has lived in fashionable society, while the other I should judge to be country bred. Mr Lion besides being easy & graceful in his manners has very agreable conversation & although not perfectly acquainted with the English language converses fluently enough for he does not hesitate & bungle in his speech when the english word does not present itself to his mind, but substitutes the french at once. They say he is very clever & extraordinarily amiable; [. . .] very well informed on political subjects & now a republican, though a few years ago a flaming aristocrat and advocate for the nobility. Mr Le Vasseur seems to be a good creature though not so highly bred as the other, Nicholas says he is clever also. he diverted us with his diffidence & yet evident desire to partake of the society of the ladies & be polite & attentive to them, We came into the tea room one day & found Virginia & himself setting very sociably side by side, & alone, on the sofa, & as she said, every body moved off to the other side of the room as they entered as if they were afraid of interrupting a courtship; when we came to ask her what soft things he had been saying to her, she put on an air of great simplicity & naiveté & said “I hope you are no better this evening than you were this morning.”
We have had two young men with us from Louisiana of the name of La Branche they are nephews of of Mrs William Brown, Nicholas’s aunt in law. they have for the last seven years been in France where they were sent for their education, but have returned to go to the University here where they are now established. they are the smallest men I ever saw; one of them has a stiff black bear[d] is not any great deal taller than Septimia, they do not speak en[glish] well enough for us to have [. . .] made much acquaintance with them. [. . .]
Sat. 27. Miss Vail & her brother arrived here last night & intend leaving us tomorrow morning for which I am very sorry as I was obliged to go down to Tufton to set up with Maria Carr & shall see very little of her in consequence for this morning she went to the University before I got home. Maria is I think decidedly better.
Aunt Jane & Lucy have returned home with Elizabeth who stopping at Milbrook on her way was there when Mrs Eppes recieved news of the death of her mother she (Mrs E.) went to North Carolina immediately on hearing it & Elizabeth who was in her carriage was left in the lurch; I suppose however with aunt Jane’s carriage & the gig they will make out a mode of conveyance to Poplar Forest
Victor Randolph & his wife, Jane Cary says, are going to reside in a foreign land for many years & perhaps never to return, but what this foreign land is, Jane says not.
Adieu dearest sister give my love to my brother & believe ever in the warm affection of your sister.
How many prisoners was it that Mr Miralla told us Bolivar had had shot at one time in retaliation for the cruelties of the Spaniards?
Martha Woodward is here & sends her love to you.