Mary Elizabeth Randolph (Eppes) to Virginia J. Randolph (Trist)

The arrival of my brother’s promised letter by John Nicholas, has put us all in high spirits this evening, and although sometimes fearful of being tiresome & importunate to my gayer friends, I feel too secure of your affection & sympathy on this occasion, dearest Virginia, to restrain my impatience to give you immediate intelligence of it. Brother Mann had been sick when he wrote to us last fall, & [. . .] notwithstanding his assurances of being almost entirely recovered, it has afforded us subject for constant anxiety & frequent uneasiness since. you may judge then of our delight at having all those doubts & fears removed, & with what rapture we broke open the packet sealed with his seal, & directed by his hand. his the letters were to Harriet & Lucy, & a few lines in large hand to Mary, have placed her on the summit of human felicity. he is always very particular in enquiries about his friends & remembrances to them, & in this packet desires us “not to fail to present his most affectionate love to all at Monticello.”

Sunday the 6th—The unusual Elasticity of spirits, which the perusal of Brother Mann’s packet occasioned, induced me to begin this letter to my dear Virginia last evening; for whether in joy or in sorrow, my first wish, is always to communicate with those I love—& for whom have I the same affection & confidence, as for you, to whom I am united by every tie of nature & of reason, & who my soul has ever loved with such entire devotion? The free communication of our thoughts & feelings, is one of friendships dearest privileges, & having always exercised it to its greatest extent, I think I could ill bear its loss or dimim diminution; nor do I fear to lose it, for judging of your heart’s by my own, I feel the most entire confidence in the durability of your affection, & am perfectly assured that it will stand the test of sickness, sorrow or absence, nay even of marriage itself, which we are told, chills the fondest affections & dissolves the firmest friendships.—“Je ne change qu’en mourant” is an excellent motto, & would suit any, or all of us. The Randolph fickleness & inconstancy, I have heard much talked of, and censured, but with whatever truth the terms might be applied to the former race, they are surely inapplicable to the rising generation. our families, at least, have, & will always I hope, refute such a charge.

[. . .] Aunt Randolph informs us that they have been daily expecting the arrival of the little colony, but that they are very methodical & seem determined to wait untill the appointed time, which is the 6th (this day)—heaven help Aunt Cary, in her hour of need—surely there is no pleasure attendant on the marriage state which can compensate, in any manner for such months of pain & hours of agony.

We heard yesterday through Cousin Jane Hackley that old Mrs Randolph has lately had a stroke of the palsey—a slight on[e], she says, but at her age it must be very alarming, & I feel a great deal for Aunt Lucy’s [. . .]

Socrates, or Seneca, or Baron Knigge says that we may heave a sigh or drop a tear over the death of a friend’, but that farther lamentation is equally weak and unavailing unavailing, alas! we must all allow it to be, but reason, nature & feeling revolt at the idea of its being considered a weakness. that philosophy, which teaches to regulate the mind & affections, & to subdue the passions, I reverence & admire as I ought, but when it goes farther, when it tends in any manner to render us cold & unfeeling, none but the cold & unfeeling can possibly be guided by it.

Make my excuses to Cornelia & Mary for not writing to them by this opportunity. I have neither time nor paper now, but if the latter is to be procured I shall write sometime in the course of the ensuing week. Why do you not write & send your letters to the Post Office? H. availed herself of that mode of conveyance for a letter to Cornelia yesterday. You will recieve this from Tufton, whither I shall send it tomorrow along with Aunt R’s letter to Cousin Ellen, & Cornelia’s Politcal Economy—My affectionate love to my Aunt, & all around you, & if it is not too unfashionable, kiss Septimia & George for me—

Adieu my best beloved—
your tenderly attached friend—
Mary E. C. Randolph

Mama begs you [. . .] her Irish bulls & Rack rent Castle, &, if [. . .] keeper can share it, one vol of the new [. . .] books.—

RC (NcU: NPT); mutilated at seal; addressed: “Miss Virginia Randolph Monticello”.
Nike Air Force
Mary Elizabeth Randolph Eppes
Date Range
February 5, 1820