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The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Chateau Hondainville

Near Clermont (Oise) about

36 miles due west[1] from

Paris 15th June 1831

 

My dear brother

 

            Your letter of the 20th and 30th April reached me together about 3 days ago, enclosing the one a credit on Haune for 1530 francs, and the other a duplicate of the meme.  Being so far from Paris I have not had the honour of seeing your friend the comte, and having been confined for 2 weeks with a worse influenza than that which I had about 4 years ago in Washington I have it not in my power to place myself in his way. My last letter will have informed you of my having relocated to this place – of which in my next I will give you some account – and that I was induced to take that step from motives of economy & a disposition to consult Mrs. Lee’s wishes. I am now scarce able to sit up much less to write a long letter I must therefore beg you to wait until the next packet, & in the mean time to hear my regret that you gave me no account of the situation of Tuckers suit. If I land in the U. S. before Beverly is able (if he ever should be) to relieve me from that responsibility. I am not able to see how I shall escape the jail, which has been grasping for me for years. And although I expressed this fear to you in every letter you say nothing about it. I shall remain where I am until I hear from you particularly on this subject. Three hundred & fifty dollars which will be required to carry us home, but we hear no home will support us here five months, and I dont think there is a person in the U. S. except yourself that would give half that sum to see either of us.  I have now exactly 350 dollars, & if the Doctors fees do not make a hole in it, I can hold out here until November next. From Brown[2] or Lane or Somerville[3] you must contrive at that time to find me about 400 more. There is an English Gentleman – a correspondent of the Times newspaper, now in Paris endeavoring to establish an English paper in opposition to Galignani.[4] He has some idea that I would be of use & has offered me a share in the Establishment. But as the govt. requires an annual Deposit, by way of caution money, in case of libel, appearing in the paper, of about £2,000 Stg I do not know whether he or his backers will be able to secure that arrangement & therefore do not count much on the prospect. I shall wait however & in the interim employ myself on my remarks in reply to Jefferson, who is the most barefaced Liar and unprincipled hypocrite that the western world ever produced — Quincy Adams not excepted.

            Mrs. Lee is unable to hear a word of or from her grandmother. Can you give her any assurance that she yet lives.

Yrs ever,

H. Lee

 

I wrote to Genl Jackson, to Lewis[5] to Donelson[6] – from Mahon – from [illegible] & Paris – but Have not a line from either. Have they deserted me too? Direct as heretofore to Hottinguer & Co.

 

 

Source: Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2009.176, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 November 6



[1] Hondainville is actually due north of Paris, in the Oise department, Picardy Region.

[2] Richard T. Brown of Westmoreland County, Virginia.

[3] Henry Vernon Somerville, younger brother of William C. Somerville. William had bought Stratford from Henry Lee IV. Since William had no children, upon, his death, his estate passed to his brother Henry.

[4] John Anthony Galignani (1796–1873) and William (1798–1882) were influential publishers in Paris. Their paper, the Messenger, carried an obituary of Henry Lee IV. Galignani also published Henry Lee’s biography of Napoleon in 1837, though it was originally published in London in 1834 by T. and W. Boone.

[5] Perhaps William B. Lewis, who was a member of Jackson’s “kitchen cabinet.”

[6] Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799-1871), who was President Jackson’s private secretary. President Jackson was also Donelson’s uncle.

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