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British General Tarleton sent troops to capture Governor Jefferson, who was occupied in securing his most important papers. While thus engaged, his wife and children were sent in a carriage, under the care of a young gentleman who was studying with him, to Colonel Coles, fourteen miles distant. Monticello was captured (if a residence occupied by unresisting servants may be said to be captured), and the house searched, though not sacked by the enemy. Many of the negroes were taken, and but five ever returned, while many of those left behind sank under the epidemics raging at the time. The house was robbed of nothing save a few articles in the cellar, the farm was stripped of valuable horses, and many thousand dollars' worth of grain and tobacco. “Two faithful slaves, Martin and Caesar, were left in the house and were engaged in secreting plate and other valuables under the floor of the front portico, when McLeod's party arrived. The floor was then of planks. One of these was raised, and Martin stood above handing down articles to Caesar in the cavity. As about the last piece went in, Martin either heard the clang of hoofs, or caught a glimpse of the white coats through the trees, and down went the plank shutting Caesar into the dark hole below. And here he remained eighteen hours without light or food. He was a powerful, determined fellow, six years younger than his master, and having been brought up with him, was sufficiently attached to him to have endured fast and darkness for another eighteen hours, rather than make apparent the cause of his concealment.” In April, the loss of her infant, together with constant anxiety for the safety of her husband, shattered the remaining strength of Mrs. Jefferson. Toward the close of 1781, she rallied. Her last child was born the 8th of May, 1782. Greater apprehensions than usual had preceded the event and they were fatally verified. The delicate constitution was irrevocably sapped. “A momentary hope for her might sometimes flutter in the bosom of her lonely husband, but it was in reality a hope against hope, and he knew it to be so. That association which had been the first joy of his life, which blent itself with all his future visions of happiness, which was to be the crowning glory of that delightful retreat he was forming, and which was to shed mellow radiance over the retirement to which he was fondly looking forward, was now to end; and it was only a question of weeks, or, possibly, months, how soon it would end. Mrs. Jefferson had returned her husband's affection, with not only the fervor of a woman whose dream of love and pride (for what wo. man is not proud of the world's estimation of her husband?) had been more than gratified, but with the idolatrous gratitude of a wife who knew how often that husband had cast away the most tempting honors without a sigh, when her own feeble health had solicited his presence and attentions. And now, as the dreadful hour of parting approached, her affection became painfully, almost wildly absorbing. The faithful daughter of the church had no dread of the here. after, but she yearned to remain with her husband with that yearning which seems to have power to retard even the approaches of death. Her eyes ever rested on him, ever followed him. When he spoke, no other sound could reach her ear or attract her attention. When she waked from slumber, she looked momentarily alarmed and distressed, and ever appeared to be frightened, if the customary form was not bending over her, the customary look upon her. For weeks Mr. Jefferson sat at that bedside, only catching brief intervals of rest.” She died on the 6th of September. Her eldest daughter, Mrs. Randolph, thus, many years afterward, recorded her recollections of the sad scene: “He nursed my poor mother in turn with Aunt Carr and her own sister, sitting up with her and administering her medicines and drink to the last. For four months that she lingered, he was never out of calling; when not at her bedside he was writing in a small room which opened immediately at the head of her bed. A moment before the closing scene, he was led from the room almost in a state of insensibility by his sister, Mrs. Carr, who, with great difficulty, got him into his library, where he fainted, and remained so long insensible that they feared he never would revive. The scene that followed I did not witness, but the violence of his emotion, when almost by stealth I entered his room at night, to this day I dare not trust myself to describe. He kept his room three weeks and I was never a moment from his side. He walked almost incessantly night and day, only lying down oc. casionally, when nature was completely exhausted, on a pallet that had been brought in during his long fainting fit. My aunts remained constantly with him for some weeks, I do not remember how many. When at last he left his room, he rode out, and from that time he was incessantly on horseback, rambling about the mountain, in the least frequented roads, and just as often through the woods. In those melancholy rambles, I was his constant companion, a solitary witness to many a violent burst of grief, the remembrance of which has consecrated particular stones of that lost home beyond the power of time to obliterate.”
The propriety of dwelling upon one who had been dead nineteen years, and whose body had crumbled to dust and sprung to life again in forest leaves and flowers, may be questioned; but when we consider that Mrs. Jefferson would have held the position of Lady of the White House had she lived, and that a knowledge of her two daughters can best be gathered by a perusal of her life, this short memoir is deemed not only admissible but proper. It was her fate to die young, and be denied the honors that later in life crowned the brow of her gifted husband. Had she survived, no more pleasant life could have been traced than this gentle, cultivated southerner's. Hers was no passive nature, swayed by every passing breeze, but a loving, strong heart, a rare and gifted intellect, cultiwated by solid educational advantages, experience, and the society of the greatest statesman and scholar of his day. In the midst of all happiness, vouchsafed to humanity, she died; and with sincere respect and admiration for the talents she possessed, and the strength of character she discovered, we honor her sex by portraying her life.
Martha Jefferson, after the death of her mother, was placed at school in Philadelphia at the age of eleven years, where she remained until her father took her, in 1784, to Europe. “His other two daughters, being too young for such a journey, were left with their maternal aunt, Mrs. Eppes, wife of Francis Eppes, Esquire, of Eppington, Chesterfield County, Virginia. Mary, the second of his surviving children, was six years old, and Lucy Elizabeth, the third, was two years old. The latter died before the close of 1784. The child of sorrow and misfortune, her organization was too frail and too intensely susceptible to last long. Her sensibilities were so precociously acute, that she listened with exquisite pleasure to music, and wept on
hearing a false note.
- After a short period of sight-seeing, Martha Jefferson was placed at a convent, and continued to reside there during her father's stay in Europe. In July, 1787, “the long-expected Mary (called Marie in France, and thenceforth through life, Marie) reached London.” She had crossed the Atlantic with simply a servant girl, though doubtless they were both intrusted to the charge of some passenger friend, or some known and trusted ship commander, whom we do not find named. They were received by Mrs. Adams, and awaited an expected opportunity of crossing the Channel with a party of French friends of Mr. Jefferson. These continued to defer their return, and Mr. Jefferson became too impatient to await their movements. Accordingly, his steward, the favorite and trusty Petit, was sent to London after Marie, and she reached her father's hotel