Martha Jefferson Randolph to Elizabeth Trist

I believe it is better My Dear Mrs. Trist to let you take my apologies for granted, than to engross a page of the few letters I do write with so uninteresting a subject; and really I could say nothing that ought to excuse a silence of two years. I have been sincerely gratefull to you My Dear Friend for having written to me during the time. you were right in supposing that news of your family was allways interesting to me, there are very few people in the world that I love better than you and yours, although I do not write often to tell you so. Jefferson has married a lovely little woman, one whom it is not possible to see with out interest. the old Lady and My self have not met yet but not from any fault of mine. I shall certainly cultivate her acquaintance for the sake of her daughter, I may be an object of ridicule perhaps, but I trust never one of just cencure; and if undeserved it should be my fate to incur it, so much the worse for those who bestow it. Ann is living with Mrs Bankhead where she will continue either one year or longer should the payment of Mr Bankhead’s debts and other circumstances which perhaps you have heard, render it proper. hers has been a hard fate, but thank God the property is secured to her self and children. Doctor Bankhead has behaved nobly and My Dear Father has added to her little property so as to make her independent; in case of the worst that could happen her children and her self can never want a home of their own. Ellen fulfills the promises of her childhood she is a nurse to me in sickness a friend and companion in health and to her grand Father “the immediate jewel of his soul” I think sometimes she will never marry and indeed after her sister’s fate I almost wish she never may, her feelings are too acute for her own happiness she is very much like her Father but with out his temper, and such are not calculated for this selfish world. Mr Hackley has broke and I am afraid his honor has suffered more than his fortunes the report is that he has defrauded his creditors and I believe to a great amount. his wife expects to be sent for this fall but I fear his conduct to her has been perhaps the worst part of the whole business, we have heard that he is devotedly attached to a spanish woman, if so his promise to send for Harriet is merely intended to amuse her, and decieve her friends. I believe my self that he is a mean rascal, and a fool I know him to be. there are very few people I despise more sincerely than I do him. I am not fond of scandal but in telling you news it is my misfortune to have little else and next to Mr Hackley on My catalogue though preeminent in wickedness stands John Randolph. he went with Judy to Morrisania to fetch home her second son said to be dying of consumption & there he had a quarrel with Nancy. he went to New York and wrote to her through her husband to abuse her. he tells her in this infamous libel that but for R— Harrison’s humanity in suppressing the evidences of the murderhis brother and herself would have swung upon the same gallows” he accuses her of having seduced one of Judy’s little boys & attempted the chastity of the other neither of them nine years old at the time, and gives up the youngest Tudor whom she had been so kindly nursing as his author. he then goes on to accuse her of having had a connection with a black man of the name of Billy Ellis and says that in Richmond she was a common prostitute I believe he accuses her of having laid a plan for ensnaring him also he says that her conduct since her marriage has been the same & that Morrisania is equally the scene of her licencious amours, and he either, declares or insinuates that the child is not her husband’s. her answer to this letter also through her husband is in 25 pages & she has sent I am told at least 20 copies of them to Virginia to be used against him in his election. they say that some gentlemen his friends who were about to throw him off he has had the art to convince and attach to him more firmly than ever. what proof he can pretend to bring of such a tissue of base false hoods I am utterly at a loss to concieve. upon his conduct in distroying the happiness or rather attempting to do it of a woman who I really believe has most religiously performed every duty as a wife and mother I shall make no comment, language is totally inadequate to express the horror that I feel for such conduct what can we think My Dear Friend of the morality of a district who can choose such a man to represent them particularly as it is said that Tudor so far from having told him what he says he did was ignorant of the whole transaction at least so I am told his mother asserts who has written to G. Morris upon the subject. J. Randolph says in his letter that the granter of the annuity meaning we presume Mr Harrison was so well convinced of her infamy before she left Virginia that he would not let his wife associate with her. if my testimony would be of the smallest advantage to her I would write to her to contradict that part of the charge. but her husband takes up the cudgels so vigorously in her defence and asserts so roundly that she never decieved him that it would be useless for me to say any thing and she might look upon it as an attempt to propitiate her now that she is in prosperity. she still speaks very badly of me & says that I intercept the letters she has written to her brother because he has been too lazy to answer them. for I believe every feeling of resentment has subsided as entirely in his breast as I call heaven to witness it has in mine. and this moment if I thought my writing would even give her pleasure and much more if I believed it would benefit her I would write to her immediately to contradict as far as it is in my power the infamous falsehoods John Randolph has propagated about her. I think you mentioned in your letter that Mrs Bache said she heard I had become very religious I suspect it is the mistake of a name Jane Randolph is extremely so, she is in the way to increase her family again and her health much mended. we stand so still in this neighborhood that I believe old Time has forgotten us in his rounds for I certainly dont feel my self nor do I percieve that any of our mutual friends have grown older since you left us. I am not without hope of seeing you again and I flatter my self shortly Papa talks of carrying me to Poplar Forest with him in which case I hope you will be able to come and see us Adieu My Dear Friend I see Peachy coming give my love to Mary & the children and believe me with sincere affection yours

M Randolph
Typescript (ViHi: Elizabeth House Trist Papers); dateline below signature.
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