Indianola, Texas, 22 March 1857
How can you say my Precious life, that I have not answered your letters? I cannot answer them before I receive them, but always do, after. I was much gratified at finding on my arrival at San Antonio your two of the 4th Jan & 13 Feb. They were very nice letters too, particularly the last. Well written & all the words correctly spelled. I think in time you will write beautiful letters. You must continue therefore to try & take pains. It has been said that our letters are good representatives of our minds. If fair, correct, sensible & clear; so may you expect to find the writers. They certainly present a good criterion for judging of the character of the individual. You must be careful that yours make a favourable impression of you, as I hope you will deserve. I am truly sorry for the destruction of the long bridge. It will be an inquiry to the business of many, & an inconvenience to you in taking your music lessons. I am very glad to hear of your interest & progress in music, & hope your proficiency will keep pace with your labour. You must be a very great personage right now. Sixty pounds! Enormous. I wish I had you here in all your ponderosity. I want to see you so much. Can not you & dear Mary Childe pack yourselves up in a carpet bag & come to the Comanche country? I wish you would. I would get you a fine cat, you would. I would get you a fine cat, you would never look at Tom tita1 again. Did I tell you Jim Nooks, Mrs Waits cat, was dead? Died of apoplexy. I fortold his end. Coffee & cream for breakfast. Pound cake for lunch. Turtle & oysters for dinner. Buttered toast for tea, & Mexican rats, taken raw, for supper! Cat nature could not stand so much luxury. He grew enormously & ended in a spasm. His beauty could not save him. I saw in San Antonio a cat dressed up for Compy. He had two holes bored in each ear, & in each were two bows of pink & blue ribbon. His round face set in pink & blue looked like a big owl in a full blooming ivy bush. He was snow white, & wore the golden fetters of his inamorata around his neck, in the form of a collar. His tail & feet were tipped with black. And his eyes of green & stealthy face, were truly cat like! But I saw “cats as is cats” in Lavacca. While the stage was changing mules, I stepped around to see Mr & Mrs Monod, a french Couple, with whom I had passed a night, when I landed in Texas in 1846, to join Genl Wools army. Mr M received me with all the shrugs & grimaces of his nation, & the entrance of Madame was foreshadowed by her stately cats, with visage grave & tails erect, who preceded, surrounded, & followed in her wake. Her present favourite Lodoiska, a large mottled grey, was a magnificent creature, & in her train she pointed out Aglai, her favourite eleven years ago, when I first visited her! They are of french breed & education & when the claret & water was poured out for my refreshment, they jumped on the table for a sip too. If I can persuade the mail stage to give a place to one of that distinguished family, I will take one to Camp Cooper, provided Madame can trust her pet into such a barbarous country, & Indian society. I left that wild cat on the Rio Grande. He was too savage. Had grown as large as a small sized dog. Had to be caged, & would strike at everything that came within his reach. His cage had to be strong & consequently heavy, & I could not bring it. He would pounce upon a kid as tomtita would on a mouse, & would whistle like a tiger when you approached him. Give much love to Mary Childe when she comes & tell her I love her dearly. Be a good childe & think always of your devoted father.
R E Lee
Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 194, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 7
1. A large yellow cat that lived at Arlington. See Mary Lynn Williamson, Life of Robert E. Lee, p. 36.