Ellen W. Randolph (Coolidge) to Martha Jefferson Randolph

My dear Mama

Johnny’s arrival gave us great pleasure as we began to be very anxious to hear from you, and I thank you very much for having spared time to write such a long letter. the head of Christ is really a great curiosity, Grand-papa is almost as much pleased with it as we are, and considers it extremely ingenious & original. it is certainly a very fine face and the character is so decided that I believe I should have known without being told for whom it was intended. we have studied it with so much attention that I think we know exactly the proper distance from the candle and the wall.—

We have been entirely alone since our return from the Natural Bridge, but have not felt at all solitary—we are anxious to see you all, but too constantly employed to suffer from Ennui—I go on with my latin bravelyCornelia has finished Cordery, and will make an end of Gillies before she returns home. we have seen no body but Mrs Yancey; and Mrs Clay. the last who came very kindly and spent a whole day with us—from ten o clock untill near sunset. you may imagine how rapidly the hours passed and what a “feast of reason and a flow of soul” it was for us.—I must do the old woman the justice to say that I do not believe she intended to have paid so unconscionable long a visit, but her savage husband wholly unconscious of the ridicule and impropriety of the thing insisted upon making all staying all day of it. he is much more uncivilized than any Indian I ever saw, and indeed I doubt whether the wild Hottentots described by Peron are as bad—they certainly cannot be more savage in voice and manners, or more entirely ignorant of the rules of good breeding; but I have as Larry would say) wasted too much ink on them who d’ont desarve it. De Laage dined here the same day and was full of apologies for the state of confusion in which we found his “menage”1 the day we called on his wife—“Mde de Laage is the most foolish little woman in this world”2 said he “and would you believe it mademoiselle she cried all day long. after you left her, for having been [. . .] and could not be comforted for having been found in such a situation by Mm Randolph & the young ladies.”3 he seems pleased with Lynchburg and very gratefull to Grandpapa for letters of recommendation which he says have been of essentiel benefit to him.

Grandpapa had heard of Mr Du Pont’s death and was much distressed at it. he has received a letter from Baron Quinette who has got back to New-York. he sent him a french pamphlet which had been directed to M. de Rochemont, by which we conclude that he is probably called by that name in France—. I believe it is common for the French to take the names of their places—is it not? perhaps Papa may know him in his public character be that as Mr de Rochemont

You must not be astonished at my not admiring Pat. she was a little red formed half formed thing, only a fortnight old, and her little screwed up face was [. . .] exhibited in striking contrast with Margaret’s animated intelligent countenance—she was leaning over the cradle the whole time, and the play of her little features, with her gracefull motions, and the sweet sound of her voice made me forget every thing else—

I expect to hear that John smith and Mrs Smith is divorced from her husband, for I do not think he will bear the insult of a second daughter.

I have written this last page by candle-light and you know what a trial that is to my eyes—I dislike so much to receive a short letter myself; that in writing to you I run on with all the nonsence I can think of, but in reading this over I find it so much worse than usual, that if I had time I would write another. I have besides been questioning Cornelia on the subject of her letter and find she has [. . .] upon told you the same things, so that you will have them with all their interesting details. my hope is that you will read mine first that they may at least have the merit of novelty—

Give my love to the whole family. tell the Girls that I do not ask them to write to me because I conclude they would have done it if it had not been too much trouble—

Remember me particularly to both my Aunts and their daughters and believe me my dearest mother your most affectionate daughter—
E. W. R.

I do not send any message to Aunt Randolph for I rea[lly] cannot pardon her for not sending up the pocket handkerchiefs of which I am in dreadfull want—

remember me to Maria—as we expect to return home in a fortnight or three weeks, we have sent back what clothes and books we could do without, and I wish you would make Sally unpack the trunk and put away the things—the books I recommend particularly to your care, as there are some borrowed ones among them—I found La Eudoxia’ so dull that I could not get through it—although it was recommended to me by Mrs Stevenson who said that George liked it very much—perhaps I had not perseverance, to ‘suck away’ untill I came to the sweet—

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); undated; torn at seal; addressed: “Mrs Randolph. Monticello.

feast of reason and a flow of soul comes from Alexander Pope’s works in imitation of Horace (Pope, The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace [London, 1733], 39)

The character larry Brady admonishes himself with this line in a letter he writes to his brother Pat in Maria Edgeworth’s The Absentee (1812).

1Omitted closing quotation marks editorially supplied.
2Omitted opening quotation marks editorially supplied.
3Omitted closing quotation marks editorially supplied.
Date Range
September 1, 1817 to September 30, 1817