Martha Jefferson Randolph to Nicholas P. Trist

Dear Nicholas

Your letter from Cincinati, after having loitered 20 days on the road found me still amongst the mountains, from which I most sincerely congratulate you to have made your escape before the cold weather set in. the month of december was one of unusual discomfort here, and must have been much worse on the water on your keel boat, with a drunken pilot. I was much rejoiced to know you safely landed at Cincinati with only the ordinary dangers and discomforts of such a voyage to encounter.

Have you recieved the letters directed Louisville? I should be very sorry that they should fall in to any hands but your own. I do not often deal in sentiment, and when I do, most assuredly it shall not be if I can help it, for the amusement of the public

The little pledge you dispatched from the banks of the Ohio sped “on the eye of a blast” too cold for such a trust, it must have been a perfect congelation long ere it could have reached us, and has no doubt under the guidance of some friendly power taken it’s place along side of the Comæ Berenice or some of the northern constelations if you are well acquainted in those regions, you may some night perchance descry the glittering stranger pursuing its silent path through the Heavens—

Give me credit for bestowing it as well as Ovid himself could have done another time ask possibilities of me and I will do it if I can—

If you take the Enquirer, you will see that the Governor and his council have brought their quarrel to an issue at last. his cause might have stood by it’s own merit, for every body who understands the subject at all, says that his construction of the constitution was [. . .] unquestionably the true one. but during the reigns of the many Rois Fainiants who come into office, they have been in the habit of taking the reins of government entirely into their own hands, and thereby reducing the Governor to a mere signing clerk. when therefore a Governor is elected who is really competent and determined to do his duty and to permit them only to advise upon such business he thinks proper to lay before them, there will allways be a struggle more or less according to circumstances. they are constitutionally1 insignificant and useless therefore as a body they always have been, and always must be, contemptible. no young man of talents will accept of a place where neither reputation nor money can be acquired. the members of the Assembly who appoint, and scratch them out, are unacquainted with them personally, which makes the whole business a thing absolutely of chance, as I heard many of the members say, $1000 a year by so frail a tenure is worth no body’s acceptance unless it be some person residing in or near Richmond and who pockets the salary without permitting the duties of the office to interfere with their private business. that fact is so notorious that I have known Mr Randolph detained three weeks unable to make up a council although it requires but four members of the eight, the Governor himself making a majority. his friends regret the occurrence from the warmth he has carried in to it. self command you know was never his characteristick virtue—

Ellen’s letters have actually kept me alive this winter. she is completely in her element, and to judge from her good humour, she must have recieved “the proof of merit” from every body worth aproving her cousin John (Randolph) amongst others has been very attentive if you recollect upon his first introduction to her he called her cousin Ellen because Miss Randolph was too cold and formal, but soon quarrelling with cousin, as a mean contemptible appellation he chose My dear Ellen. that was in the hight of his madness, now I suppose he will consent to abide by the rules of fashionable society. the Browns (Senator) and his lady, particularly the latter, have been even kind in their attentions and the de Neufvilles with a long list of & & & that have contributed a qui mieux mieux to make her pass her time as agreably as possible. the others girls are in Richmond where the very night of their arrival they recieved a visit from Mr N. N. (the magnesia bride groom) his fair lady and himself having parted, Elisabeth it is said, is destined to take her place. Elisabeth is a mere country girl, who thinks I dare say, that if people do not actually marry for an establishment they ought at least to have some little penchant for the man attached to it and although Mr N does sport the most elegant equipage in town and has one of the best establishments in it yet I believe upon the whole F—s is not in much danger. adieu dear Nicholas never forget to mention you health when your write. the more of what you would call egotism, the more acceptable your letters will be to us all. you can chuse no subject in which we can feel as much interest as your self. remember me most affectionately to Browse who staid too much with us not to be loved and valued as he deserves. to your dear Mother and Mrs Brown say every thing that you know I feel, and to the rest of your family as one who feels an interest in them all generally and individual[ly]

God bless you yours most affectionately
M Randolph

direct all your letters to Monticello it will make very little difference in the time of our recieving them, and it is the one2 sure distinction there are no less than 3 Mrs T. M. R—s and at least 20 Mrs M R—s

RC (NcU: NPT); dateline beneath signature; torn at seal; addressed: “Nicholas P. Trist Esqr Donaldsonville La Fourche Louisiana”; stamped; postmarked Charlottesville, 10 Jan.; endorsed by Trist: “Randolph (Martha) Jan. 8. 22.”
1Manuscript: “contitutionally.”
2Manuscript: “on.”
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