University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Warm Springs: Letter from Till [Matilda Palmer]? to Septimia Randolph [Meikleham], October 2, 1833

Excerpt from Till’s letter showing the address

This letter was written to the appropriately named seventh daughter of Thomas Mann Randolph and Martha Jefferson Randolph. The granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson, Septimia Anne Randolph was born at Monticello and spent her first 12 years there. It is possible that she suffered from tuberculosis. In this letter Till inquires about the pain in Septimia’s breast. For more on Septimia Anne Randolph Meikleham, see the Jefferson Encyclopedia.

Randolph-Meikleham family papers, 1792-1882, Accession #4726-a, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

Washington October 2, 1833

My dear Septimia … you remember the enthusiastic manner in which you used to speak of the University, I do not wonder that you thought of it with such pleasure, setting aside the tender associations that were connected with it, You could not but have enjoyed its situation and beauty. No one can look upon it without admiration, then the surrounding scenery is so beautiful, for my part, I was perfectly enchanted. I was disappointed in not seeing the White Sulphur Springs but report said it was so crowded that we could not be accommodated, and as Frank was so great an invalid we determined to remain at the Warm Springs. I know dear Tim you will be happy to hear that our dear Frank is quite recovered, his general health is now quite good, he suffers still from his foot, as the Doctor anticipated the bone has exfoliated, and he must have patience as exfoliations are always tedious…. I was enchanted with your beloved Virginia the people are certainly very kind, and the ladies have the most winning ways & the softest voices, and oh! The beautiful mountain scenery t’was grand, but I must confess although t’was a sublime sight to behold those majestic mountains covered with clouds, rearing their lofty heads so high, still my eye unsatisfied thirsted for bright flowing waters. Water gives life and animation to a prospect, after your eye has traced the outline of a mountain upon the horizon, you have seen all its beauty, there is no change, but in a river the scene constantly changes, sometimes calm sometimes rough, even its [unclear] ripples seem to dance with life. I wish you had been with me in the bath at the Warm Springs, how we would have enjoyed it to-gether, it is not an artificial bath but a natural spring constantly bubbling up; at first I was quite alarmed there was so strong a smell of Sulphur, the smoke was so great, and there was such a rumbling noise whilst the water was running off, I was in dread of a visit from his Satanic majesty, but very soon I became quite accustomed to it, and enjoyed the bathing excessively. … I hope you will not come back until after frost for chills are quite prevalent, and if you were to get the ague now it would scarcely leave you all winter. How is your pain in your breast dear Tim? I hope you do not suffer from it as I do. I was not improved by my excursion, I have been sick almost constantly since I came home and my cough is worse than it ever has been. Sometimes I think, at least I am afraid that I am quite in bad health, but I shall do my best to overcome all these weak bad feelings. Julius had been at the Warm Springs just before we arrived there. I was sorry I did not see him. … Good bye dearest Tim … Till

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