West Point, 31 October 1853
Your farewell note my dear nephew, before your embarkation at New York was gratefully recd. It was very painful to me to part with you & your father, & when I reflect upon the vicissitudes of life, & the uncertainty of human affairs my regrets are not diminished. To you life is new & light, & you can naturally look forward with anticipation of joy & pleasure. To me looking at the future from the past, it brings feelings of apprehension & resignation. We do not therefore see things with the same eyes, nor do the same circumstances produce in us the same feelings, Happy is it that it is not so, & may all your anticipations be realized & all my hopes be fulfilled. I shall follow your steps in all your travels with much anxiety & my sincere prayers for your safety & prosperity will accompany you wherever you go. Your time for the next two years will be very profitably occupied in studying men & things in different countries, & the comparison of the results flowing from the actual state of each, will enable you to satisfy yourself as to their superiority & your own preference. I shall be very happy if after this review your judgement & wishes should prompt your return to your native County, where it seems to me the humans race is most elevated & ennobled; in as much as the individual man, is most Considered, esteemed & valued. But whatever may be your decision & wherever you may pitch your tent my interest & affection will remain the same. Your prosperity will be my happiness & your success my pride. Your Aunt & Cousins unite with me in much love & every kind wish for your health & happiness. We hope that you will be able occasionally in your travels to tell us of your whereabouts, & though we may not be able to send any return, yet tidings of your welfare will not be the less agreeable or the less appreciated. I hope you found your mother & Sister well, & that Florence enjoys all health & happiness. Tell your father I had intended to have written to him by this Steamer also, but as I have heard nothing directly from Anne, about whom I know you are all equally anxious with myself. I will defer it for the present. I have heard nothing from M. Since your departure, though I have written several times. I have heard indirectly that Anne was again recg her friends which makes me hope that she is doing well. Mrs. F. & Nannie have not yet arrived. Their letters still speak of coming, but if they do not carry out their intentions Soon, I think the cold weather will settle the question for them. We have a nice young lady staying with us now. Laura Stuart from Chantilly. Marion Turner & Mary Whitting have are expecting to day. I wish you were here to entertain them. Give much love to your father, my dear little Walker, & Marie.
Your devoted Uncle,
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2009.223, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 4