1822. Jany. 8.
Dr. Mayo to H. Lee (fr: original)
Richmd. Jany. 8. 1822-
I snatch a brief moment from the pressure of business to impart to you a hint of “what reinforcement we may gain from hope” which I assure you is a resource with me hitherto inexhaustible & has therefore saved me the necessity of drawing any “resolution from despair”, & affords me the consoling maxim ‘nil desperandum’
To be brief I have enclosed to Mrs. Rose a copy of my first letter to her now in yr. possession in such a manner that she cannot get over recieving & perusing it. And I am deeply impressed with the belief, that she will abate her scruples before she has barely passed the exordium; to which was the envelope itself may favorably predispose her good graces.
I have concluded the envelope by observing that I feel my character too deeply implicated, not to make every laudable effort to extricate it from unmerited censure; and, that, in order to be assured whether I am excused or yet stand culpable in her estimation. I shall take a ride to Westmoreland after a reasonable lapse of time (say two or three weeks) & beg to be indulged in a few moments’ conversation with her (Mrs. R).
And could you for a moment apprehend that I would yield at all to despair? When for my part I can see nothing so formidable in the correspondence you have communicated to me. In the first place, I feel myself infinitely indebted to Mrs. Lee, for her favorable prepossessing, & have no doubt they have some influence with Miss McC. if they do not ultimately with Mrs. R. & as to Mrs. R.’s objections, they are only of a general nature, and such as would occur against anyone who might step forward as a stranger without having his views understood. I do not therefore consider the epithets used on the occasion as personal to myself; on the contrary I commend Mrs. Rose for her wary zeal, & feel sanguine that she may become as warmly my friend when she has it in her power to appreciate my sentiments, even in the proportion of a penny’s worth to the pound – if I may be allowed so gross an illustration of the exalted character of my view, above the ordinary human conception. But far superior to this is my chief dependence – Look to Miss McCarty’s own words, they are neither daggers not frowns – nor indeed anything that I consider absolutely repulsive – they are a meek resignation to the advice of her grandmother – while they constitute the most captivating, the most enchanting form of expression, that the english language could have afforded! “I have seen your letter to grandmamma & approve of what she has said in answer to it.” Not another word to enforce her own wrath against the monstrous odious adventurer who plots against her temporal & eternal welfare. She concludes with this impressive & amiable expression, in which my enraptured imagination fancies it sees the all eloquent dew-drops of deep regret – yes; those beloved words – “I believe it wd. be madness in me to marry any one” – have made an impression upon my heart that can never be erased but by the most unexpected reproaches from the lips that have uttered them. Yours sincerely,
Excuse haste & Let me hear from you again, till I see you.
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 7, M2009.160
Transcribed by Caitlin Connelly, 2016 July 1