Mary J. Randolph to Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

it seems a long time since we have heard from you my dearest sister, and I believe that we on our parts have not been very regular in writing to you of late. I spent the week before the last, which is now just ended, in Charlottesville with Cornelia and she I think wrote you from there. she is not yet returned, I came home last Sunday to take Virginia’s place & take care of her two little ones [. . .] in her absence, while she went to pay a long promised visit to Mrs Garrett. Cornelia & herself will both return this evening, she has never been separated from the children longer than a week and is always impatient to get back to them, but the circumstance of Jefferson’s requiring a wet nurse & prevents her taking them with her in her visits. they are sweet children in our eyes at least, and I should like to be able to shew them to you when they are looking their best, Pat is really pretty though she has the defect of having too long a chin, but then she has a fine, soft, clear brown skin, with a very delicate tinge of pink in her cheeks when she is quite well, her eyes are black and well formed though not very large, her mouth is very small & pretty & her head is covered with the most beautiful chesnut curls I ever saw. Jeff is rather fair, with light eyes, a wide mouth & a head that looks as if it had been newly shaven, but he is a merry good humoured thing & shews a very sweet little dimple in one of his cheeks whenever he laughs. sister Jane is in size enormous, as usual, and she has had one or two alarms of having matters brought to a speedier conclusion than she expected, but as these have blown over, she says she mean to abide by her first calculation, and give herself no farther uneasiness about what is to come, until the appointed time, the middle of September, arrives. I wish the time was over with all my heart, as it seems to be such an awful one that it is impossible for any one, even the bystanders (I dont use the word in a literal sense only) to look forward to it without some degree of trepidation. the whole affair will be over no doubt, before we shall be ready to set out on our journey to Washington, & I feel no impatience on that account, indeed were it not for Virginia’s extreme impatience at being separated from her husbands, and mama’s [. . .] dread by anticipation of the removal, and her wish to have it over, I should have no objection to whatever to a delay. I shall regret much to leave my friends here, I shall be sorry to give up even the distant view of Monticello, though it often makes me sigh, I shall regret to lose sight of the mountains of and of many old familiar scenes and familiar faces, that I have so long been in the habit of seeing that I cannot even remember a time when I did not know [. . .], them. with many things to regret therefore in taking leave of my old neighbourhood, with some fears for the future and no brilliant anticipations, I am not very anxious for the change, though perhaps I too shall rejoice when it has actually taken place, to find the bustle and trouble of the removal over & myself settled down in my new home. the books you sent us have not reached us, but I suppose they are safe in Washington and if Nicholas should find a safe opportunity soon I suppose he will send them on, [. . .] as we probably shall not go on before the middle [. . .] of October, though we speak of the first, as the time fixed on for our departure. to day I read one of Blairs excellent and beautiful Sermon’s and I could not help thinking how much better and more devotional were the feelings it inspired, than what I felt last sunday after listening to a sermon from Ben Rice. to me it seemed that the preacher shewed too much passion & made too little [. . .] attempt even [. . .] to appeal to reason for the support of his doctrines, but perhaps in this he was wise, as he could [. . .] scarcely have asked the aid of reason to maintain his such opinions, the defence of the trinity being his object & an attack on the belief of the Unitarians. he seemed to me to be very angry & to talk with as little wisdom as people in a passion usually do & once or twice I could not help fancying that some of the things he said were levelled at grandpapa, he made no direct attack on him however & the sermon did not appear to have made an unfavorable impression on any one but myself. I could not help thinking however that I was not altogether wrong in my opinion of it when I heard [. . .] a circumstance mentioned a few days after, of which I was not aware at the time. Mr Rice and Mr Bowman it seems had gone into the printing office some days before this sermon was preached & had asked for some sheets of the “Memoir & Correspondence” &c Clarke gave them he says the first he happened to lay his hands on & there happened accidentally to be among them a letter to Mr Adams on the Subject of religion, in which he grandpapa had expressed his sentiments with his usual freedom & afterwards made some pretty severe strictures on the presbyterians, which gave great offence to these gentlemen as they Mr Rice at least testified by some animadversions that I heard of [. . .] his making. I did not even know that Mr Rice was in the neighbourhood until after I had left the church & therefore was not biassed in my judgement by this fact. I have written you a rambling letter my dear Sister and I am afraid you will think it a very dull unsatisfactory one, but I was obliged to break off once in the middle of it. & have been several times interrupted in the course of the last two pages. besides I really do not remember that I had anything to tell you of, that you would care particularly to know, after telling you or leaving you to infer, that every body is well &c. I hope we shall get a letter from you tomorrow, for it is some time since we have had one. how are the little ones & when do they return to you.? we have not heard from Aunt Jane or James for a long time but Cornelia got a letter from Harriet in which she says Elizabeth had been confined to her bed some time with a bilious attack, the consequence of the journey, but was then getting better—

adieu my dear Sister, love to Mr Coolidge & kisses to the children

your ever affectionate
RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); addressed: “To Mrs Joseph Coolidge Junr Boston Massachusetts”; stamped; postmarked Everettsville, 28 Aug.; endorsed by Coolidge: “Mary. August 23 1829”; with additional notes by Coolidge: “Jefferson Trist... (The family at this time had no suspicion of his deafness.) Jane’s situation. Removal of my family to Washington. Mary’s natural regrets. Angry sermon from Ben Rice & attack on the Unitarians—his virulence probably aimed at Grandpapa. Anecdote to explain his bitterness. (How is it to be wondered at that Calvinism should revolt instead of persuading[)].”
Date Range
August 23, 1829