Fort Brown, Texas 31 Jany 1857
Another week has passed dearest Mary, since I last wrote to you. I then (24 Jany acknowledged the receipt of your letter of 13 Decr forwd through the kindness of Capt Williams. You stated in that, that you had destroyed my three checks, two for $200.00 each, & one for $141.50, & had only made use of that for $400.00, which with what you had previously drawn, had exhausted the July dividends of Bank of Virga. The account as I understand it from your various letters stands thus—I was credited in Br Farmers Bank of Virga, Alexandria, by Mr Marbury with
Amt: recd from Bank of Virginia, Richmond, 24 July $758.50
do interest of Kanawha bonds 19 Aug $183.00
do dividends of Bk of Valley 28 Aug $195.00 $1136.50
You drew for your trip to the Springs in July $258.50
do on your return on 19 Aug 183.00
do to invest in orange RR bds: 6 Sept 400.00
do to remit to Fitzhugh in Nov 195.00 $1036.50
Leaving a balance in Bank, as far as I can gather from letters of yours $100.00
You will see if this statement is Correct, or at any rate can be enlightened by Mr. Marbury. I only mention it that you may See if it is Correct. If you have drawn that $100.00 you have not mentioned it in any of your letters that I have recd. I hope you keep a list of the monies you receive & expend, in a regular book. Otherwise you will never know how your accounts stand. It will be impossible to retain them in your memory, even if you were not harassed by indisposition and other matters. You must also make your record at the time, do not postpone it a minute, or you will be sure to forget it. I am obliged to pursue this course, though I have always been in the habit of keeping such a record, for I have experienced the danger of delay & the treachery of my memory.
I had hoped I might have heard from you by the last mail, but it brought me nothing. I think it probable now, that I shall not be here longer than another week, for as far as I can judge from the opinions of the members, they do not seem disposed to wait longer than the arrival of the next steamer from New Orleans, which is expected on the 3rd Feby, for the desired witnesses. I have been so often disappointed, that I shall not consider the Court at an end, till it adjourns sine die. After the testimony is Completed, Major Porter will occupy some time in making his defense, & as he has hitherto not exhibited any desire to expedite matters, perhaps a fortnight is the earliest period of the probable termination of this Case.
I have nothing now to relate, & indeed have Seen or heard nothing since I last wrote. My time passes very monotonously, as I have previously described. My little neighbors on either side of me, are as regularly uproarious, & their poor mothers, who seem to have entire charge of them, are as incompetent, or indifferent as ever, to their proper management. They are Consequently miserable themselves, & annoying to others. I have seen so much bad home-training, that I have become an advocate for Infant schools where children can be gathered together under well trained instructors, & taught to practice politeness, gentleness, courtesy & a regard for the rights of others. These may be realized to a certain extent in well regulated families, but among a large number of pupils with a variety of dispositions, an actual world of infant intercourse & infant business, when each child brings its stock of selfish animalism, to aggravate that of its playmates, the necessity & advantage of self-denial & Self Control, can be forcibly exemplified, & their exercise confirmed into habit. This exercise & this habit, is the true means of establishing a virtuous character, so far as it can be accomplished by human means. God grant that our own children may be able to practice them. I shall not then feel so guilty when I see the lack of them in others. I suppose by this time Fitzhugh is with you. I have not heard from him for a long time, not since his first arrival in Sept: at Cambridge. He does not seem to think it necessary to write to me now. I hope he is well & doing well. He will probably have left on his return to C___ before this reaches you. I need not therefore send any message. Write me how he is & how he is doing. Annie & Agnes will finish I presume in July their studies at Staunton. I hope they will then Commence a Course of reading & self instruction under you at home. They may make it the most profitable time of all their previous course of learning. I hope they will return with a desire to live a rational & religious life, & will have acquired that wisdom, which will enable them to be useful & agreeable members of society. I continue to hope dearest Mary that your painful malady may be so much ameliorated this winter, as to leave you entirely in the spring. I pray constantly to our Heavenly father, the giver of all good, that such may be the Case. But you must neglect nothing on your part to ensure so desirable an end. I hope you will therefore make your arrangements, to try the virtue of the mineral baths as early in the spring as it may be considered beneficial, & if necessary, spend the whole Summer, in giving them a fair experiment. Nothing Can be of more value to you or your family, as far as this world is concerned, than the reestablishment of your health. Major Thomas sends his regards. You must also give much love for me to your father, Markie, & all the children. Remember me to all friends, & May the great & holy God have you & all with you in his holy keeping.
Truly & faithfully yours
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 186, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 3