Do not get tired of this long letter I will be more moderate another time
March 21st 1857
Thank you dearest Mamma, for your letter. It did me so much good. I hope I have found the “pearl of great price,” discovered the truth the satisfying of its comforts. That I may be a child of God, as lamb in Christ’s fold is my earnest prayer. I find so much comfort in prayer. Every morning I go into one of the unoccupied rooms in the new building and closing the door pray aloud for help and guidance, for my dear family, and what I feel I need. I know they are very weak and imperfect but it seems to me when uttered they confine my attention better and make me feel their reality. So long have the lips framed words the heart but little felt this wicked habit clings to me and my thoughts will sometimes wander. Yes I earnestly desire to be confirmed, I feel if I make a public profession it will strengthen me. It seems to me impossible to make myself in the least pleasing in Gods sight. He is so holy and I am so very wicked, I never knew, I suppose I never examined, how very vile my heart was, but then I know on my own strength I never can be any better. Yet I would not give up the hopes the peace I sometimes feel for anything. It is so delightful to feel there is some one to go to who will hear our sorrows, and grant us peace.
Mr. Sheffey’s and Mr Phillips’ conversations (not to me particularly but to all the girls) are very instructive, and Mr. Latane a most faithful preacher. He preached a most beautiful sermon last Sunday upon “Seek ye the Lord, that ye may be hid in the day of his anger.” One of the girls gave me an excellent letter from her pastor on the subject of not being good enough to come to Confirmation. O I feel sure I love my Savior and though I am so very wicked, I will still trust in Him and however often I fail which is always I will strive on, not doubting “His grace is sufficient for me.” It is a blessed promise “He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” I still have doubts and darkness but I hope and pray they will be removed. Annie has been sick for some days with something of a bilious attack, but I think is now better.
I cannot conceive how our bill would be $469.37 for a half session. You know it would be equivalent to one for the whole session, $200. for english & board $60 for music $60 for french Latin and drawing making $320. altogether; unless they have made different charges than those I have stated and charged the extras for the whole session. Incidentals such as music, books &c could not be nearly $170. by any possible calculation, so I suppose they must have charged some things for the whole year and it will not be so much the next half session. As to our uniforms Mrs. S. says it is absolutely necessary. She says there is but one shade of heal tan color and I can get no pieces to send as sample, but a night light shade would be prettier, I would like mine made with small tucks about a fingers width very high to the waist as you tuck muslin but if that is too troublesome please make a very wide hem nearly as wide has your arm from the elbow. Please make it over white cambric it will be much nicer. I want mine low necked with one of those long pointed capes, if they are worn now, trimmed with fringe of the same color, and long sleeves to take out with belts of the same color. Anne wants hers high necked but it will be too troublesome for you to have the bodies made, besides, you cannot fit us, Annie says she would rather have hers made here, and I think it would be best. Just send the trimming and belts. Please make my dress long and enough to turn under at the top as most of my dresses were deficient in that this winter. If necessary I can send a measure but I expect I am fully as tall as sister and, as the skirt will be sewed on to the dress here, it will not be necessary. Annie wants some chemises, and if you have seamstresses at leisure I should like two under skirts, but they are not absolutely necessary. Annie says please send her a pair of gaiters, and I want a pr also. My old ones have a hole or two in them, besides being generally worn out so they can only be worn in the house. Do not get them all around with patent leather it cracks all up. I have been very economical in shoes have only worn out one pr since I have been here, and I brought very few with me. I would like my boots with heels I’ll take good care of them and only wear them to church. Annie wants 4s, I think, mine 2 ½ they will be full large. My last were twos they were rather broad but it would be bad to have them too small. Do you think I can do with my present every day dresses. I have my brown gingham and light chintz that’s all. Send my lawn skirt and I can wear it with one or two white bodies I have. Its body does not fit me so you need not send it. Do as you think about another dress. Annie is also thinking she wants another. Now please send me a collar a nice broad worked muslin to wear with my uniform dress. I have none except my lace one (or the one trimmed with lace) and the little one you send me last fall, which is rather narrow and think to wear with summer clothes. Then those two are really not enough. Annie says she would like one also. If you have a moderate sized peice [sic] of fine linen in the house wont you send it to me I want to stitch a collar after a very pretty pattern the girls have here. And then a common fan, not paper they tare so, and you know Grandpa did not give me one last summer. I have none. Just a brown linen one with broad spokes to it. I have no doubt you have seen them often and it will last, and be most easily carried travelling. I do not think ruches are pretty without anything in them for our bonnets but then consult your taste. Do not think dearest Mamma, we have many wants indeed.
I know if you could see my wardrobe you would agree with me, if you could hear a list of my other schoolmates wants you would think your daughters very moderate. Of course every Spring we all require new clothing and I am determined to do without as many things as I can. Mrs. S. says she does not want have any bills here so it will be better to send everything from home. I am sorry this letter should be so filled but it is better to do it once and have it over send them as soon as you can. It will do no harm. Don’t weary yourself unnecessarily. I am so glad you are going to Bath and do hope and pray you will be entirely recovered. I do long to see you well. As to the hoops I asked for certainly if you do not want to, don’t send them. I don’t care much for them I merely thought it would be cooler in summer with very small ones. You must not dear Mamma compare our requirements with yours. You know you are confirmed very much to the house while we go about a good deal more need for bonnets and dresses and cloaks than you perhaps think Mrs S gave, in her own parlor, a very nice little party (though it would scarcely be called one) Three young ladies and one young gentleman from town and about sixteen girls Ada, Annette & myself included were present Annie & Mary Stuart had headaches and Mary C. did not wish to come down. It was very pleasant and nice refreshments. O I forgot please send me about 4 prs of summer stockings. I have only thick winter ones and not many of them. You know I did not get but a single pr. last year and they are so large they fit Annie besides they are winter stockings. I believe Annie is waiting for what she wants.
I will write soon again a more interesting letter and send Millie such a beautiful letter a little brother of one of my friends wrote his Mamma in Heaven. Write to us soon dearest Mamma from your ever devoted daughter. Agnes I will again enumerate my “wants” as you always call them so you will have no trouble finding them when you want them Bonnet, dress, worked collar, linen for an everyday one, stockings 4 prs, garters, fan, & underskirts and everyday dress if you think best. I am afraid I cant do without the latter though I hope so. Much love to all Please tell me sisters direction. I would like to write to her.
Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 193, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 14