Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/333

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Jeff. Davis House. 327

" The tastes and to some extent the occupation and habits of the master of a house, if he, as in this case, assisted the architect in his design, are built in the brick and mortar, and, like the maiden's blood in the great bell, they proclaim aloud sympathy or war with those whom it shelters. One felt here the pleasant sense of being in the home of a cultivated, liberal, fine gentleman, and that he had dwelt there in peaceful interchange of kind offices with his neighbors. The gar- den, planted in cherry, apple, and pear trees, sloped in steep terraces down the hill to join the plain below. To this garden or pleasance came always in my mind's eye a lovely woman, seen only by the eye of faith as she walked there in 'maiden meditation.'

" Every old Virginia gentleman of good social position who came to see us looked pensively out on the grounds and said with a tone of tender regret something like this : 'This house was perfect when lovely Mary Brockenbrough used to walk there, singing among the flowers; ' and then came a description of her high step, her dignified mien, her sweet voice, and the other graces which take hold of our hearts with a gentle touch and hold them with a grip of steel."

She does not seem to know a part of the history of the house, and as there may be others in the same position it may not be uninterest- ing to give you a few items on that subject.


Dr. John Brockenbrough, so long president of the Bank of Vir- ginia, in this city, who had the mansion planned and erected, mar- ried Mrs. Gabriella Randolph, widow of Thomas Mann Randolph of " Tuckahoe," and they had no offspring. The lovely Mary Brock- enbrough referred to must have been her daughter, the celebrated and fascinating Mary Randolph, who became the wife of Mr. John Chapman, of Philadelphia, and who died quite early prior, I think, to the year 1840. I remember meeting Mr. Chapman in Richmond society when he was a widower, and was paying his devoirs to another of our leading belles. He did not win her, however; she afterwards accepted a more distinguished Virginia widower.


There was a second daughter, Margaret Harriet Randolph, who became Mrs. Francis A. Dickins, of'Ossian Hall" and Washington city. She also possessed many attractions, and, like her sister Mary, was a very fine equestrienne. My father told me of a race he once