Extract from Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Henry S. Randall, with “Omissions” Noted by Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge

No. 9. Given with some omissions (which I in part restore) by Mr Randall.

P. 347. Vol. III

My dear Mr Randall,

In my last short letter I told you &c &c. I should not forget to tell you or remind you that after my marriage, just a year before my Grandfather’s death, I was separated from my family, never saw my grandfather again, and my father but once. (After the anecdote of my grandmother’s blaming her husband for being too good, I had added,)

My grandmother Jefferson had a vivacity of temper which might sometimes border on tartness, but which, in her intercourse with her husband, was completely subdued by her exceeding affection for him. This little asperity however sometimes shewed itself to her children, & of course more to my mother, her oldest child, than to the others who were much younger. (Again after “These are trifling details but they shew character” I went on to say,)

It would be doing injustice to my grandmother, having spoken of her small defects, not to say that they were entirely redeemed by her good qualities. All the family traditions were greatly in her favour. She had been a favorite with her husband’s sisters,—(we all know that this is a delicate & difficult relation—) with his family generally, and with her neighbours. She was a very attractive person and my grandfather was tenderly attached to her. She commanded his respect by her good sense and domestic virtues, and his admiration & love by her wit, her vivacity, and her most agreeable person and manners. She was not only an excellent housekeeper and notable mistress of a family, but a graceful, ladylike and accomplished woman, with considerable powers of conversation, some skill in music, all the habits of good society, and the art of welcoming her husband’s friends to perfection. She was greatly liked by them all. She made my grandfather’s home comfortable, [. . .] cheerful, pleasant, just what a good man’s home should be. As a girl I have amused myself in looking over some of her old papers which were in my mother’s possession. Her receipt book written in a light, straight, somewhat stiff Italian hand, her book of family expences regularly kept, her manuscript music book with the words of songs all fairly copied out and free from blot and blemish. Things that told of neatness, order, good housewifery and womanly accomplishment. Her loss was the bitterest grief my grandfather ever knew, and no second wife was ever called to take her place.

(At the end of the letter I find the following.—)

Have I ever told you how kindly disposed towards my grandfather is Mr Sparks, Author of the lives of Washington & Franklin & late President of the Cambridge University_____Your mention of Mrs Randall & of your daughter gives me the opportunity to offer my best respects to them.—With the most fervent wishes for your success, I remain, my dear Mr Randall, Very truly yours—

Tr (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence, Letterbook); unsigned; in the hand of Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge; dashes in original.
Date Range
March 31, 1856