Martha Jefferson Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

Your last letter My dear Ellen, is a fresh proof of the infalibility of my judgement. the old dutchess de la Ferté could not have predicted with more [. . .] confidence than I did, that it was only necessary for you to become acquainted with Boston for you to be pleased with it. and it appears impossible to become acquainted with know a being so near perfection as Mrs Coolidge and not love her with enthusiasm. how often and how bitterly have I regretted that I could not do for My dear Jane what she does for you, but instead of smoothing her path and assisting her in her difficulties, we make a frightfull addition to them, and to the daily privations and sacrifices which evident to their connection with us, which she bears with the affectionate resignation of a child. God bless and reward her for it as he has done your filial duty dearest Ellen—

Jefferson has had an attack, though not a very severe one of the fever which has appear’d in the neighbourhood, in some very few instances originating in it. but he is entirely recovered except his strength and flesh which are still under par. Jane is also much better though still pale & delicate Mann is also doing well. but Your dear Grand father is not so well. the fatigue of the last week has thrown him back a good deal and obliged us me to encrease his nightly dose of laudanum to 100 drops; though suffering much pain yet his he is not as feeble I think as when I wrote last—

we have had a riot at the University 2 nights successively. on the first a young Man of the name of Ayre, a rich fool, throw threw a bottle, with a pack of cards in a Mr Long’s window cursed the “European professors” whom he challenged to come out that they might be taken to the pump & & &, and on the ensuing night they masked and turned out when [. . .] one of them being seized by two of the professors the one escaped leaving his collar in Mr Tucker’s hands, and the other Wilson Cary, finding he could not so easily shake off Mr Emmet, struck him. a stone and a stick were also thrown. the young men disclaimed the brutal conduct of Ayre, and the throwing of the stone, professed great personal respect for them, (the professors) and certainly made every atonement in their power. but upon the first alarm Long and [. . .] Key with drew from the faculty and sent in their resignations; they assured the young gentlemen that the events of the preceding evening had nothing to do with their determination, and it was said, that they meant to go to Princeton. in returning from England where he had been allowed to go for to obtain his fellowship Mr Long he landed at New York, and came on through the great towns. whether they were dishonorable enough at Princeton to attempt to seduce them I can not say, but certainly it is not easy to account for their conduct in any other way. they were bound in a penalty of 5000 $ if they broke their contract before the expiration of the 5 years, and had actually persuaded them selves that the visitors would have the folly to let them off [. . .] with no better reason than that Long did not like his situation, and Key has bound himself to him. the other1 professors express the most unqualified disapprobation of their conduct and disclaim all knowledge or participation Dunglisson and Bonny-Castle have declared “they would not give up the ship” and the other 3 were equally zealous those 5 cooperated with the 7 visitors with one spirit, and the consequence of the riot taking place the night before a full meeting of the visitors has been the immediate expulsion of the offenders Ayre, W. Cary, and Thompson; order being immediately restored and a pretty rigid code of Laws enacted upon the spot. I think so far from regretting it that it has2 eventually placed the institution upon a much more sod solid foundation by giving discipline which it certainly wanted, and expelling some who have kept it constantly in confusion. every thing is going on quietly and smoothly and likely to continue so. some few remain who ought to have been expelled, but for want of legal evidence they could not be laid hold of, but they are known and will be closely watched. the two professors have placed them selves in a very uncomfortable situation, but they deserve it. I am sorry for V. C. though I have no doubt it is better for W—, for it was a place of too great temptation for him. if she follows General Cocke’s advise and will place him in the country to read Law. this may change the complection of his future character which is certainly not a very favorable one at present. good tempered, plausible, (they say clever) vain, self conceited, with ungovernable appetites his [. . .] past situation was fraught with danger to him self, and mischief to others over whom he had great influence.3 we asked him to come and stay with us till his mother sent for him, he promised but was has not come yet.

have you heard of dear Anne,s intended marriage? Strother Jones, a nephew of old Mrs Harvie, is the gentleman’s name, he is said to be extremely amiable, is wealthy a good manager (a very important [. . .] feature in a Virginia Gentleman) he has a large and handsome establishment 10 miles from Winchester in Frederick. she is to be married the 31st of Oct. and to leave home the first of November. Your trunks have been sent some times since from Here, directed to Mr Swett. the large one was partly packed by Cornelia and partly by My-self, your books and papers nearly filled it, the smaller one contained your writing desk, work box, flannels Musick and many little articles, your silver cup &&, and one that will make you think of me some times when you drink your coffee. the work box contains what the girls call trash, they were various shabby little keepsakes whose beauty was past and who could had their have no value but from your own affections only no doubt many some things were left that you would have chosen to have had sent and some perhaps sent that might have been left, but some books were kept that the girls thought were borrowed such as “portraiture of quakerism by Clarke.” “Francis’s Hor[a]ce” and some others were merely packed in to keep the others tight. but they will go by a waggon to Richmond and I am very much afraid our packing may be disgraced and wor[se] all the goods damaged. it was so late before I could get any decent flan[. . .] it threw the packing into the meeting of the visitors M and I do not know [. . .] we had more less company or more less leisure any time since July than we had then. we have had a succession of company that, large as the house is, and as many servants as we have, they have been insufficient for our purposes. we are now for a wonder alone, and except morning and afternoon parties have no one visitors. poor Meade is dying. he went to see his mother in Norfolk was taken sick immediately upon his arrival and your Aunt Hackley wrote me word that he could not possibly hold out many days longer. poor fellow his best friends can not wish the continuance of a life so miserable. adieu My dearest daughter, remember me most affectionately to Joseph; I wrote to him my self about a month ago, though I do not know whether he ever recieved the letter it. I write in such haste and am so often interrupted that I wish you would burn my letters as soon as you read them. God bless you and make you as happy as you deserve is the daily the hourly prayer of your most affectionate mother

M Randolph

I remember Mrs Humphreys very well I knew her in Washington pray present me to her & & &—

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); dateline adjacent to signature; torn at seal; addressed: “To Mrs J. Coolidge Junior Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville Oct.; endorsed by Coolidge: “October 13. 1825”; with notes by Coolidge: “Grandpapa not so well. Riot at the University. Wilson Cary. English Professors. Strange conduct of Messrs Long & Key. Contents of my trunks—(which were afterwards lost at Sea.).”
1Manuscript: “otther.”
2Manuscript: “is has.”
3Manuscript: “infuence”
Date Range
October 13, 1825