Windsor June 2nd 1888
My dear George,
Why, your last letter shows you are a very married man. I thought the whole letter showed it, but especially, when a man can talk, or write, about paying bridal visits, without grumbling, I pronounce him then, like a horse well broken to harness. I was in truth very much gratified with your whole letter to Alice, except the part about Ella’s health. I was very sorry to read that. I wish, you could afford to bring her to Virginia to see us. I have no doubt a trip would benefit her very much. But, in the meantime, until you can make law subservient to you & provide funds when needed, try to get her to visit more, & devise plans to interest her, and as she is delicate, keep her out of the kitchen. There is nothing worse for a delicate person to be near a hot stove in warm weather. I hope she – Ella – will soon write to me, and that we may learn something of each other by letters, as we will not be able to have any other acquaintanceship for some time, I am afraid. We always said of you, you know, that you were one of the best possible persons to have about a house. Knowing how to manage a refractory lock, to put in a pane of glass, to use hammer & nails, to put things in order in garden & her house, & to do the thousand & one things necessary about house, garden, & yard. And tell Ella you are an excellent nurse. But you will not neglect your law, I hope, for all these matters I have enumerated I think, you must be living in a house on the edge of the town, as you speak of the prairie being on one side. Have you warm weather where you are? & are you having rain? We are having rain until I am almost afraid of pneumonia & they tell me it is warm, but I generally have to be dependant on others for my knowledge on that matter. But everything, looks so lovely. There is the peculiar freshness & color upon everything, that you generally see only upon trees & shrubs by a water course. Robert has a very large stand of corn, & it looks so well, and he has planted out the principal part of his crop of tobacco, & the oats have improved so much. We have an excellent garden, & the clover crop looks well but I am very much afraid the incessant rains will injure the wheat. Fortesene was over here yesterday evening. He looks very delicate. He gave me better news of Nanny. She has been sitting in the porch, has stood for a few minutes at the gate, coughs less, & is altogether & is altogether better. Nanny herself thinks, she is just recovering from her trip from Richmond to Rocky Mount. According to the Dis[patch] this is only a temporary rally, but I wonder sometimes if the Dis know so much more than other people. Old Dr. Nelson used to say, that physicians very often did not know, and made great mistakes, and he was one of the few Doctors your father had any faith in. Nanny may lose the whole of her left lung & live. You recollect that was the case with Kate Mayo, but Dr. Upshaw says, the right lung is wrong, and you are obliged to have that in good order. Our John, I hear is considered the first of the law students. I think he must be one of those persons who are town lawyers. He wrote to me once, that if he had as little trouble practicing law as reading it he should consider himself fortunate. That sounds like a conceited speech, but it was only meant for my eye. Putting anything in practice however, and learning it, I suppose, are very different matters. I know, he is going to have a hard time of it in many ways. I sometimes think he had better settle in Richmond, but John might regret changing his mind one of these days, so I am afraid to try to influence him. However, nothing is settled yet. He seems to have a good deal to do in other ways besides studying, & is evidently determined to make the best of his last commencement. I believe, I told you, he was Capt of the Albert Sydney boat crew. I hope, they will win the race. He may go by R. M. for I told him that as it would cost him little to go there from Lexington, & a great deal from here, I thought he had better pay his visit there before he returned home. Katharine too is going to Norfolk, & I want him to be here when she returns home. Mildred’s last letter speaks of operas to which she is going soon. Don’t you wish you were there? But you must try not to be envious. Our Norfolk couple seem to be happy folks. Alice & Robert join me in love to Ella & yourself. I have shown her photograph about a good deal, & it is very much admired. I remain,
Your devoted mother
To stay with you, so soon after your marriage, I wish, I could accept it. But it is impossible now. Duty keeps me here; & will for some time. Tell Ella, to write to her old mamma, and if she prefers it, I will not show her letters to any one. Give her my love, Robert’s, Alice’s & Katharine’s. All here, join me in love to you, my dear son, & believe me always.
Your devoted mother,
Source: Facsimile of original, courtesy of Rhonda Lee, vertical files, duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 January 8