Plantation and Politics
The long honeymoon went right on as Jeff brought Varina upriver in mid-April 1845 to Brierfield, the home whose proportions amused her so. She was not the fairylike beauty whom he had brought to the Hurricane ten years earlier. She was darkand statuesque—about as tall as he—and her beauty lay more in her laughing charm and the soul that looked out of her great eyes than in her features. Yet his love now was as strong as then, and even more humble. A courtship letter strikingly resembles his sole surviving one to Knox:
I have felt as I have acknowledged to you my unworthiness of the love you bear me, yet never so deeply as when reading your kind, generous expressions towards me … I felt that you viewed me through the medium of your own noble nature, and ascribed to the object a brightness not it's own.
When circumstances shall give you greater opportunities to instil into me goodness and purity I believe I shall be more worthy of [the] opinion you now have of me, incorrigible indeed would he be that could constantly drinkat so sweet [a] fountain and not become fond of its properties …
Your spirit is with me. I feel it's presence, my heart is yours, my dreams are of our union, they are not dreams, for I will not wake from them.
Your own Jeff 1
There was a fairy-tale cast to the Brierfield surroundings. “The land is so fertile, ” wrote Varina, “that golden-rod grows large enough for a strong walking-stick, and the heads of the bloom are like banks of gold on the sides of the road…. Nothing could be more pleasant than the dense shade through which we could ride for miles, in air redolent of the 111