1857 March 13 to Mrs. Lee
San Antonio, Texas, 13 March 1857
I was delighted to receive dearest Mary your letter of the 18th Ulto, & to learn that you thought yourself a “little better”. I trust that this favourable change which I hail with so much pleasure may grow into a Complete restoration, & that you may soon enjoy your accustomed health. The mild weather you were then enjoying I fear has yielded to the rigour of winter; for at that time I recollect it was hot on the Rio Grande. A Norther however which struck us on the Prairie on the 5th Inst, & has continued but with little interruption to this time, has reproduced as great a degree of cold, as has been felt here I understand, during any part of the Winter. The gardens are seriously injured. Peas that would have borne in a few weeks are killed, as well as other plants. Figs that were as large as persimmons are destroyed. The leaves of the tree are killed. The cotton is killed, the corn is killed to the root. I fear then it will prove a serious injury to the Country. But I have to record a more distressing calamity than that. I mentioned in a former letter that I had met here Lt & Mrs Edwd Stockton, on the day of my arrival, this day week, he complained of having taken cold, having been caught out thinly clad by the Norther, but was then going about as merry as in former days at West Point. The next day I heard that the Dr had advised him to remain indoors, & a day or two after that he had a bad sore throat. I went to see him, found him in bed, & she herself complaining of neuralgia in her head. I laughed at both & left. At my next visit I learned that Stocktons disease had become alarming. Inflamation had attacked the larynx, & threatened the air passages. Last evg the Dr Informed me his case was hopeless. The air passages were so inflamed, that he was beyond relief. He died at noon today. His young wife did not seem during his illnesses to realize his danger, nor can she now realize his death. Fortunately two of his classmates, Capt Withers & Lt Williams, were in the same house with him. The latter has a young wife too. Every attention & kindness has been shewn them, by other Army ladies & officers, & all that the skill of two physicians could accomplish, Dr McCormick of the Army, & a physician of the city, has been done in vain. I have seen her & gave her all the aid & Comfort I could. I shall write to her father by this mail. You may imagine her feelings as she looked at him cold in death, in his wedding suit! She said he looked exactly as he did 5 months ago when they were married! The flush of his disease, & the pain of death had passed, & his features had resumed their original repose. It is better as it is. He has left the world before its brightness & pleasure had faded, & untouched by its care & afflictions. I trust he is at rest. She has only the remembrance of her young happiness & his love; undisturbed by real or imaginary disappointments, & her recollections will recall nothing but what is pleasurable. The funeral is to take place tomorrow. I shall propose to her return him with Lt Howard, 2nd Cavy, who goes out the last of this month, unless a sooner opportunity offers. One of her brothers can meet her in N. Orleans or Cincinnati, where Mr [illegible] goes. I had intended to have commenced my journey to Indianola tomorrow, but shall now wait till Monday, the last day I can remain, & go down with the mail. Poor lady she is much to be pitied.
I am very glad to hear that Fitzhughs health is good & that he is satisfied with his progress & acquirements at College. He is so uncommunicative in his letters to me that I have no means of judging from his own statements. I hope he may not deceive himself, which I fear as regards his personal interests it is easy for him to do. As to his financial affairs he avoids all reference to them, & has never yet stated them with any precision. He appears to spend all the money he gets, & if he does liquidate his debts, he contracts new ones. I do not think it is any benefit to give him money. What with his allowance of $400.00 a year. The donations by yourself, his Grandfather, expenses at home, & his clothing, his annual expenses must be about $1000.00. A sum I should think reconcile it to himself, under all the circumstances, to spend, except on the ground of self gratification & an amount I have not allowed myself, excepting the purchase of my horse & equipment, & the expenses incidental to my position. Cambridge is not the only place that is expensive. It would have been pleasant to me to have spent three times the amount I have & my comforts not luxuries would have been increased. I fear he is too much engrossed with his pleasures & will continue to be so. I have never understood how you proposed he should make his living off the “land in the family.” By his merit alone? If at 20 he is not able to be his own guardian, how does he expect to be so at 21? I wish him to continue at college another year, but not if he has no disposition, or does not incline to profit by it. I shall then make no objection to his going to China, or anywhere else where he can make an honest living. It is better he should employ his faculties at a distance usefully, than let them wither in idelness at home, & become paralysed by folly & dissipation. The girls account for the half years tuition seems large though perhaps it includes the charges for the present half year. It will detract more than I supposed from your travelling fund. I wrote you on this subject in my last letter, & shewed how it could be increased. I will remit you the $900. from Indianola. You must let me know how much you have & how much you will require & I will send it. Have you ever drawn the $98.80 interest on the funded debt of the Ches: & Ohio Canal of which I left you the certificate? It is due annually in April. Nor have you even mentioned having paid the taxes on the lot in Washington. That is due I believe every July. I fear you will not find many comforts at Soda Sulpher. Then it is so inaccessible, & will render it difficult for you to get elsewhere, should the waters not your case. You must however go wherever you feel inclined. When will you get there? The waters I think are good, but do not know whether it has facilities for bathing. I have recd several pleasant letters from Anne & Agnes, dated 20th Feby. Also one from I have written to Childe. Give much love to everyone. I have no time for more. Tell the little children I found so much to do here. Letters public & private that I have not time to write both. I will do so soon. Ever & truly yours
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 190, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 7