Jane H. Nicholas Randolph to Cary Ann Nicholas Smith

My dearest sister,

I received your affectionate letter last saturday & cant’ express to you how much gratified I am by it; nothing is so gratifying to me as to hear from my friends expressions of interest in me, which I never think of but with the greatest pleasure, & return with the truest attachment; particularly, to you, my beloved sister.—Your advise to us to move, meets with the most anxious wishes of my heart, & I feel now that I cannot be happy here but alas! I fear that I shall be doomed to endure all the anxieties (which have borne me down so long) There is no saying how long; as Jefferson thinks it impossible for him ever to leave his mother; indeed the matter is now at rest; for when he got home, in his first visit to his grand-father, he found, the poor old man sick & in an agony about his unfortunate child; & in talking to Jefferson about her, he observed that he felt he could not last long; that it was agony to him to leave her in the situation she is now in; & that Jefferson must promise him he would never leave her; that he would always be at hand, to give her any comfort & assistance that he could; Jefferson at the moment promised without hesitation; & I have not for a moment blamed him for it; indeed, I dont know how he could have done otherwise.—his grand father talks in the most heart-breaking way to him about his mother; tells him that she is sinking every day under the suffering, she endures, and that she is literally dying before his eyes. Jefferson thinks his health is seriously effected by his anxieties about her; he has had for the last ten days a very bad bowel complaint, but as usual did nothing for it; & on saturday he was so ill that they sent for Dr Dunglison and we have been dreadfully frightened about him; but thank Heaven, he is better to day, but not yet I fear, out of danger; I was there this morning & yesterday this morning early he was no better, but before ten oclock the complaint was checked & he ate with a good deal of apetite; he certainly has been blest with the very best constitution that ever any one had. this is the fourth violent attack he has had in the last four years.—I had been so happy in being with you all, that I felt as light-hearted as could be, & had forgotten my troubles so much that when I first returned & heard all that Mamma wrote to you about, I was miserable, a great deal more so than I should have been, had I not left home; but I am now nothing like as much so, for I take great comfort from the affection that this poor man shews for Margaret & Pat; they say that he kisses them when ever he sees them, & talks a great deal to them. & I flatter myself that his threats against my dear husband, is all talk, and that he may be softened in the course of time. I feel now that this would be the greatest happiness I could have; give my love to Mr Smith, & tell him, I shall ever be most grateful for his advise to Jefferson, he has followed it closely ever since his return, & I am very certain it is the only [. . .] way left for him.—

I thought of you every rain we had, & hoped you might have had your part, & now I am hoping most sincerely that you may not have had as much, too much, as we are at present suffering from; for the old saying of it “never rains but it pours” has been sadly verified to us for the last ten days; this little duck puddle of a river of ours, has, for the last week, been threatening to rise in its wrath, and distroy all that the drouth left within its reach; & last nights rain has done the business; I never heard such a frightful storm as we had all night, & to day there is a greater fresh than has been known for many years. poor Col Carrs propects for the year I’m afraid are all swept off; for his whole crop was on his low grounds; you may guess how extraordinary the fresh must be when Mamma has actually consented to go & see it this evening. we shall sustain a good deel of loss by our fences being carried off & what makes it worse is that we are in the midst of our harvest; but this is so small an injury in comparison to what the poor people who have low grounds have sustained that I do’nt think we ought to complain; Jefferson went last evening to Charlottesville to hear something about the goings on in New York with the subscription; he was kept there by the violence of the rain & to day the creek is so high that he can’t get home; for which I am very sorry, as I am very anxious about this matter tho it frets him very much for me to express any fears on the subject, but as he does not hear me now, I will tell you I am very uneasy about it; he has not heard one word from NY. since we got home, & we do not see that they are doing any thing any where else; he has written to McIntyre not to delay a day longer than the fifth of July to bring out the prospectus for the lottery; & I only wish that he had taken Mr Smiths advise in this matter too, & have issued the tickets whilst we were in Baltimore; as I greatly fear, the time is past for the sale of them.—if it is Heaven only knows what will become of this poor thoughtless family; the two older members Mother & Mr J. are too much broken in constitution to bear it long, & the younger ones look forward to nothing but misery: but Jefferson would say this was all croaking, & at all events it is very selfish [of?] me to be telling you of cares I may never have, when [you have?] my dear sister so many of your own to struggle with. Mamma got a letter from Sarah the day I got yours in which she gives such a glowing discription of your entertainment that the old lady is quite charmed: Tell Mr S he aught to be ashamed to give utterance to such suspicions, for my single self, I have been afraid to communicate the result of my observations to my better half, who you know is the most prudent of the prudent. I told Mamma your wishes with regard to “my sister Carr,” & no doubt the madam will get a lecture, such as she deserves for her bad conduct. I took your lecture about physicking my children in very good part, & think the result of your experience is so much better than mine, that I am resolved to fol[low] your plan in this important branch of the art of rearing children. & in return for this [. . .] admonishon of yours, allow me to say that I am fearful you three sisters, will not visit each other half as often as you aught if I were living near you, I should visit you much oftener & suppose I should get myself affronted twenty times a year at not having my visits returned.—I think Sid ought to be ashamed of her self, but I suppose she thinks it would be a shame for her to leave Dab & I hope he is too busy to leave home; I happened to mention to our dear romantic Mother that the child had gone out whilst I was with you & staid two days & a night, & do you think the old lady does’nt call it the most shameful peice of neglect on the part of her spouse to allow her to go with out him & says it only proves that what she said of her sons in law was true, takes them all in, poor fellows, for this misdemeanor of one: but you know she was ever fond of giving us all a touch up, when she thought one did wrong.—

You must give a great deal of love to your interesting little family & tell my sweet little neices not to forget me, I gave such a fine account of the delights of their exhibitions that they mine are crazy to have one. Tell Wilson Mary can say more than half the verses in her book, & kiss my little Jeff & tell him Ellen Wayles says several of them very prettily. Maria sends her love to Louis & desires me to say to him that she can snatch at a leg of chicken for her dinner & a peice of biscuit for her breakfast equal to any body of six months old; but as to growing or improving in her personal charms she fears she is still wofully behind him, her beautiful cousin; Mamma & Margaret thought she had not grown the least. Did Aunt Smith go to the springs, & was her health improved by the trip if she went; remember me to her; & do, let me know if Uncle Smith has roused himself yet. I got a letter from “my sister Nicholas” by the last mail & am to have the pleasure of answering it this evening so I must bid you good night: as I flatter myself you [. . .] will be glad to hear how the dear old man of the mountain is in the morning I will not close my letter till I hear from him then. Mr J. was still better when I heard from him late last night, but the Doct staid all night & says that as old a person as he is, very often goes off after such an attack as this when they are apparently better. & he is very fearful that this may happen to him so that we are still all anxiety about him.—but as I know that Dr Dunglison is apt to despond I hope he is mistaken now.

yours most sincerely
RC (ViU: ER); torn at seal; addressed: “For Mrs John Spear Smith Baltimore Md”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 29 June.
Cary Ann Nicholas Smith
Date Range
June 27, 1826