Marie Jacinthe de Botidoux to Martha Jefferson Randolph

Je ne t’Ecrirai qu’un mot aujourd’huy Chere Jeff. n’ayant pas un instant à moi. j’ai des affaires par dessus La tête Si bien que si Ce n’étoit pour récompencer La peine que Mr Short s’est donnée de venir Me demander une Lettre pour toi je ne t’aurais pas Ecrit du tout.

Je n’avois jamais rencontré Mr short depuis ton départ il y a 20 ans, mais j’avois bien souvent parlé de Lui, De nos Diners aux Eclats de rire et je disois souvent Mon dieu je voudrois bien retrouver Mr short pour parler de Ce tems La. voila qu’il y a 8 jou[rs] il Me tombe des nues, je ne L’aurois pas plus reconnu que Le grand turc pour La figure, il Est grand et il me sembloit que je L’avois vu petit Malheureusement depuis un Mois ma femme de chambr[e] Est Malade et je n’ai quelle de domestique, je suis à La Lettre dans un chien1 puis ce tems La. j’ai recu Mr Short dans un salon sans feu &c au risque de Lui faire gagner un rhume, Sa visite [. . .] a donc été Courte, il Est revenu hier et je n’ai pas pu Le recevoir mieux, de manière que voilà toutes mes Causeries renvoyées aux Calendes grécques Car il M’a dit qu’il alloit quitter paris et retourner en amérique je Me Console un peu de tout Cela en pensant qu’il n’auroit pas pu me dire grand Chose de toi il paroît qu’il ne t’a pas vue depuis 8 a dix ans. C’eut Été mr Coles que j’aurois fait parler a Lui donner une Extinction de voix Mais C’eut été un Miracle qu’il M’eut trouvée. Il y a 10 ans que j’ai quitté L’hotel De noailles et depuis j’ai Eté 3 ans en angleterre et 3 ans dans Ma province

Enfin j’éspere que tes Lettres me dédommageront. j’en attends avec grande impatience J’espere que ta paresse Et ton amour propre ne te reprendront plus, je ne te Le pardonnerois pas. j’aurois Mieux aimé alors que tu ne M’eusse jamais Ecrit, je ne M’occuppois plus de toi Et ta Lettre est arrivée pour me semonter La tête

je voulois t’envoyer un chapeau de paille pour Cet Été Mais Mr short M’a dit qu’il ne pouvoit envoyer qu’une Lettre je verrai Si Ce printems je peux trouver une occasion—quand à La Musique je n’en ai pas encore. depuis La Revolution j’ai tout a fait Laissé ma Harpe je n’ai donc que mon ancienne Musique de panthemont. quand à La nouvelle Ce sera un hazard si dans 500 pièces je te trouve quelques jolis airs—Ce n’est plus Le Même genre qu’autrefois. De notre tems La musique etoit Chantante et amusante, a présent elle n’est plus que Savante Et D’un Ennui assomant. je verrai pourtant a tâcher De te déterrer quelques airs de ballets, ou quelquess pots pouris—adieu Chere jeff je t’Embrasse un Million De fois. D’ici a quelque tems je t’Ecrirai plus Longuement, aujourd’huy C’est seulement pour te prouver que je pense à toi et que je t’aime toujours=

je ne sais si tu pourras me Lire je ne Sais plus Ecrire je ne fais que griffonner—

je t’ai déja dEcrit il y a 4 Mois et je t’ai dit que je Lisois L’anglais Comme Le francais ne te gêne donc pas pour M’Ecrire en anglais si tu Le préféres

editors’ translation

Today, dear Jeff, I will only write you a few words, as I do not have a moment to myself. I am over my head with things to do, and if it were not to compensate for the trouble Mr Short went to in coming to ask me if I had a letter for you, I would not have written at all.

I had never met Mr Short since you left 20 years ago, but I had spoken about him quite often, about our laughter-filled dinners, and I had often said, “My God, how I would like to meet Mr Short again and talk about those days.” And then, 8 days ago, there he falls from the sky. I would not have recognized him by his appearance, any more than I would the Grand Turk. He is tall, and it seems to me that I had seen him as small. Unfortunately, my chambermaid has been sick for a month, and she is my only servant. I have literally been living like a dog since then. I received Mr Short in a parlor without fire, at the risk of making him catch cold. Thus, his visit was brief. He came back yesterday, and I was unable to receive him any better, so all my hoped-for chats will only happen on the Greek Calends. Because he is leaving Paris and returning to America, I console myself by thinking that he could not have told me very much about you since it seems that he has not seen you for 8 or ten years. Had it been Mr Coles, I would have made him talk to the point of losing his voice, but it would have been a miracle for him to find me. I left the Hôtel de Noailles 10 years ago, and after that I was in England for 3 years and then 3 years in my native province

Well, I hope your letters will pay me back. I am waiting for them with great impatience. I hope that your laziness and your pride will never again take hold of you. I would not forgive you for it. In that case, I would prefer that you had never written me. I was no longer thinking about you, but your letter arrived and gave me new hope.

I wanted to send you a straw hat for this summer, but Mr Short told me that he could send only a letter. I will see if I can find an opportunity this spring—As to the music, I still do not have any. I have completely given up my harp since the revolution, therefore I have only my old music from Panthémont. As to the new, I would be lucky if, among 500 pieces, I could find a few pretty tunes—It is not the same as in the past. In our old days, music was melodious and entertaining. Today it is just intellectual and deadly dull. I will nevertheless try to unearth a few ballet tunes or a few medleys for you—Farewell, dear Jeff. I kiss you a million times. I will write more at length in a while. Today, it is only to prove to you that I think about you and still love you—

I do not know whether you will be able to read this. I no longer know how to write, I only scrawl—I wrote you 4 months ago and told you that I read English as well as French, so do not worry if you prefer to write me in English.

RC (ViCMRL, on deposit, ViU: Botidoux Letters, # 5385-aa); edge trimmed; partially dated, with full dateline repeated on address cover; addressed: “Mrs Randolph Monticello Virginia.” Quotation marks in translation editorially supplied. Translations by Dr. Roland H. Simon.
aux calendes grécques: “On the Greek Calends,” a humorous expression meaning “never” (Oxford English Dictionary).
1Manuscript: “chein.”