MVB to [Judith Paige Walker] Rives, 13 December 1834
Decr 16th 1834
My dear friend
I am heartily ashamed of myself for having so long neglected to acknowledge your interesting & kind letter. But the truth is, that this villainous conflict (Influenza) has afflicted me so much, and rendered me so disagreeable to myself that I did not dare to approach a lady, even by letter. I am getting better, but have not yet been able to shake it off entirely. So much, & too much for myself.
I begin to apprehend that your husbands re-appearance here may be delayed until next winter. Come it must, the only question is one of time. In a former letter you asked me whether I did not experience some compunction on passing your deserted house. I have too high a respect for your understanding to apprehend for one moment that you do not look upon Mr Rives resignation and its probable consequences upon his future prospects in their true light. Be assured that he has acquired more standing in the country, & has done for the perpetuity of our institutions by his resignation, under the circumstances, than he could have done by many years of senatorial service. I saw Madame Serurier the other day at dinner at Gov. Cass’. She was very agreeable, & made abundant enquiries about you, a portion of them related to Mr Rives’ prospects in regard to the senator. Mr. S., her dearly beloved husband, was too unwell to attend the dinner at the White House. His indisposition was partly real, & partly produced by the Message. I regretted their absence as Mr. Forsyth had, to his credit, obtained an alteration of the Etiquette in regard to precedence & between Foreign & domestic ministers. I felt solicitous upon the point, as I thought it greatly to be regretted that we should be behind all other nations in politeness. In the absence of Madame S. the lady of one of the Chargés occupied the seat of honor. The Presidents Cabinet is at least an Unit, & ^a^ better tempered or better disposed, set of men were never in their places. The President is in best health & highest spirits. The opposition have come in very much chop-fallen¾more so than ever. Very many of the most violent of them have called on the good old Chief in a spirit which indicates humiliation, if not conversion. He will, as he has heretofore done, pursue the <illegible> tenor of his ways, unmoved by their violence & uninfluenced by their caresses. In the gay world there is not much doing. The families of the Sectys of State Treasury & War happen to be in mourning ^for divers old people who did not die before their time^ and will confine themselves to dinner parties in regard to which the <
illegible> < illegible> < at> < least> ^first & last^ will not be wanting, if we are to judge from what we have already seen. Miss Mary is to be married on Tuesday to a very worthy young gentleman from Newyork (a Mr Hughes) of the Engineer corps—& much ceremony is to take place. Mrs <illegible> & Mrs Coolidge are here. I have called upon them but did not <find> them in. If the latter is as intelligent & sociable as she once was I shall have a visiting place. Mrs Donelson & Mrs Jackson are both here & will make the White House lively when they & their numerous children get over a fierce scarlet fever, Cholera Morbis & other diseases, the fruits of a bad climate. I wish all good people like them & yourself could find your days in the salubrious atmosphere of the North as there are no two of my female acquaintances, (may I not say friends) who say things better, or who I am convinced, entertain a more sincere regard for each other than Mrs. Van Rensselaer & yourself, I send you a note recd. from her at the conclusion of the election. The occasion was a large handbill circulated by the opposition over the State containing a crown, & headed Martin the 1st &c. which she had expressed a desire to see. Her oldest Son <illegible> voted our ticket openly at the Polls. I flatter myself with the <illegible> that his doing so was not adverse to the wishes of his good mother. The family spent the winter in Philadelphia.
I intend to challenge Mr [&] Mrs Donelson to make you a visit after Congress adjourns—stimulate <her> in the matter. The Major & Mr Smith desire to be cordially remembered to Mr & Mrs Rives, & ask kind regards to the former believe me to be
Very truly yours