West Point [New York] 12 March 1853
I should have sooner acknowledged, My dear Mr Bonaparte, your letter of the 27 Ulto, but have been obliged to save my eyes for the service they had to perform that was indespensable. I have not how ever been the less thankful for your kind recollection, nor sympathized the less with Mrs B. in her indisposition, because I could not say so; & indeed tell her I am not certain that their affection was not caused by their furnishing a vent to my overcharged heart. But they are better now & I infor therefore that she is well, & truly hope that you are also released from your confinement & are enjoying your horse & exercise as usual. I understand that your good temper has remained imperturble under the whole & there is only one more test that I wish to see it put to, before being satisfied that it is the best in the world. What a blessing it would be if it could only be possed by the Supt. of the Mil Acady! My friend Charles Carter is mistaken. I am not dissatisfied. Nor has any soldier cause to be, while endeavouring to perform his duty. That duty may not be pleasant to him, & there may be circumstances attending it, distasteful & unpalatable, but while assigned to its performance, he has no right to be dissatisfied, still less to express it. As to the truth of your prediction time as you say will alone shew. I can only sat that it has worked but little progress so far, & that I should pay but little attention to my feelings could I hope that a portion of what you kindly say I shall accomplish will be realized. I have more at heart the prosperity of the Academy than my own pleasure, while under my charge I shall administer it to the best of my ability But when called upon, shall relinquish that charge with more cheerfulness than I felt reluctance in undertaking it.
I am very glad you get such pleasing accounts from Jerome. He has all the qualities to make a good soldier, & where he can perform most service will always be most agreable to him. His life of active service must be improving to him, in body & mind, & his temptations to those pleasures so captivating to the young, far less I think, than when aggravated by the idleness & listlessness enjoyed in Barracks & Cities. For my part I have no fear of his falling into such habits. He ought to be above their reach & I take it for granted he is. Still you & Mrs B. must aid his goodly nature, & make the life of virtue & rectitude so agreable, that he can live no other. I suppose you will have seen Lacy & Ives on their route through B— I can therefore tell you nothing new of them. I must also leave to them to report the news of the Point. I do not know whether we have had more than the usual alotment of Colds, Catarhs, Scarlet fever &c. But such complaints have been & still are very prevalent. The weather is wretched. Snow, wet, mud, mud, wet, snow. It snowed all yesterday, hailed all night & is now raining. Dr Simons was so ill yesterday I have to telegraph to New York for a Surgeon, & recall Dr Cuyler from his leave. He is better this morg. Mrs L. has been suffering from Cold, & I presume my eyes are indebted to the same cause for their pleasant state. My young friends are as well as usual. Some of them come to see us every Saturday. But I fear they find the Supt & his dame, dull commodities in the interchange of social pleasure. When you & Mrs B— come on to see us, we shall be more in favour. You said nothing of Charly & Mrs Emily H— You must bring them with you. I hope you got to the ball in Washn. The 1st Class are in communication with the tailor, the hatter, the boot & trunk maker, & do not envy the Emperor, in his acquisition of a grand Empire & beautiful Empress. I wonder which is the happier in their anticipations! Mrs L. joins me in kindest regards to Mrs. B. Mrs H. Jerome, Charly & Mrs Wms. The mail is closing & I remain always most truly yours
R E Lee
Source: Bonaparte Papers Maryland Historical Society, printed, William D. Hoyt, Jr., ed., “Some Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, 1850–1858,” Journal of Southern History, 12 (November 1946), 560–62.
Uploaded by Colin Woodward, 2015 December 23