Ellen W. Randolph Coolidge to Martha Jefferson Randolph

We arrived here in safety, my dearest mother, at four oclock in the morning, & have taken up our quarters at Gadsby’s within a stone’s throw of the Vails. they have all, except the old lady, been to see me this morning & it made my heart swell to find myself once more re-united with friends whom I had known during a time of such happiness & from whom I have been so long parted. these faces so familiar, these voices so kind carried me at once back to the hours, perhaps the brightest of my life, which I had passed in their society. I sh seemed, in the language of Godwin, to have “leaped a gulph of three years” & to be again standing just where I was when I last took leave of these kind & valued beings. Eliza looks well & happy & received me with open arms, Clementine is the same naive little french girl whom I knew in the winter of 22—Aaron’s countennance shines with the same expression, but Eugene’s is lighted up with a glow of hope & happiness I have never seen seen in it. his wife suits him perfectly, is the joy of his mother’s heart, beloved by his sisters & brings him a fortune which at once removes every thought or care for the future & forever banishes the corroding anxieties arising from uncertain fortunes, unsettled prospects. he need not dread to become a father, for his children he will have ample means to educate his children & establish them respectably in life, & the serenity of his clear calm brow shews a heart at ease, relieved from all fears & doubts. Mrs Eugene is one of four five children her father is known to possess an income of 40,000$ annually & how much more is not known. Eliza proposes to spend part of August & September with Mrs Barbour & says she will go & see you at Monticello. Aunt Randolph has likewise been with me this morning. she seems out of humour, gloomy & dissatisfied, & talks of going to live with Meade at York. we were not alone together & she could not therefore give me any history of her grievances. the Bulfinch family also called consisting of the father and mother, a married daughter with her husband, & two sons. I saw too little of them to form any opinion whatever, but as I am to spend the evening at Mr Bulfinch’s I suppose I shall become better acquainted. I regret the absence of Mrs Cutts very much. she is at Montpellier with Mrs Decatur who is to remain there a fortnight & talks of paying you a visit, but I doubt whether she will. poor Phebe Morris is dead, cut off suddenly by an affection of the brain; she is much lamented, that is natural, but she is likewise pitied, as if to die just as the cheat of life was beginning to be discovered, & before it’s bitterest sorrows had been tasted, were not fortunate for the person dying, however afflicting to those who are left to stand the buffetings of fortune, & bear the burthen of life, with one friend less to love & comfort them. I have not spoken of my journey which was like other journies, with the usual quantum of trouble & fatigue, & the usual monotony of what is called a safe journey. if our trunks arrive we shall leave Washington on the morning of the 28th & you will hear from us in Baltimore. I have to spend this evening with Mrs Bulfinch & to morrow evening with the Vails in this dismal black silk—but that is a small misfortune, & at least saves me the trouble of dressing which weary as I am is no small consolation for being obliged to appear in such dishabille. I will finish my letter to morrow but I must not forget to tell you that I saw a vision of Eliza Garrigues, for I cannot believe it was really her, which kissed me and congratulated me, on board the steam-boat, after nine oclock at night, as we rapidly passed each other, she going on shore & I coming on board. I had not time to ask a single question, but presume she was on her way to see Mrs Higginbotham.—

June 27. we spent last afternoon with Aunt Randolph & the evening with Mrs Bulfinch. I think in the shew of relations, as far as this city goes, Joseph has the advantage of me; his are neither very elegant nor fashionable but amiable & kind & have treated me with great cordiality, my own indeed have not been wanting in attention to us, but Aunt R. is much soured—I do not think she will remain where she is. Joseph & myself are going to see the capital directly after breakfast, & then, if we have time, to Mason’s island. we shall dine with Aunt R & spend the evening with the Vails, & to morrow if our baggage arrives we set off for Baltimore; if it does not come we [. . .] remain longer & Joseph even talks of going back after it, in [. . .] case I should remove from the hotel to the Vails or Aunt R. [. . .] I hope things will not be so bad as this. Mr Bulfinch the lawyer is drawing up a power of attorney which Joseph will sign empowering Jefferson to dispose of Sally & to protect her. her own wishes you know my dear mother must direct the disposition that is made of her for I would not for the world that after living with me fifteen years any kind of violence should be done to her feelings. if she wishes to be sold let her chuse her own master, if to be hired she should have the same liberty, or at least not be sent any where where she is unwilling to go. but why should I say any thing to you on this subject who are the very soul of gentleness & humanity. adieu dearest dearest mother, God bless & preserve you & make you happy at least in the well-being & duty & affection of all your children if happiness be denied to you through other channels. give a great deal of love to all at home my dearest grandfather, Cornelia, Virginia, Mary, Jefferson, Nicholas, Jane, the boys, & children. remember me to papa & the Ashton family, I am very anxious to hear about Elizabeth, do not forget to say something to Francis for me, to Mrs Nicholas Margaret & the girls, to all in short whom I left in the three houses not forgetting poor Aunt Marks, I think of the servants even with affection & wish them to know that I do so. I asked Joseph if I should say any thing to you from him, & his answer was “say every thing.” once more adieu dearest mother I shall write to Cornelia from Baltimore if we go on to morrow, if not by the next mail from this place—your own devoted daughter.

RC (ViU: Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge Correspondence); mutilated at seal; addressed: “To Mrs Randolph Monticello Charlottesville P.O. Virginia”; stamped; postmarked Washington City [DC], 27 June.