Fine Creek, Powhatan County, July 25, 1866
My Dear Brother, I send you, for the work you are engaged upon, as the best history that can be furnished of the close of our father’s life, his letters to me at that sad period. How much of them it may be necessary to publish I leave to you; for I should reproach myself did I not overestimate such evidences of his affection. I have endeavored to clear my judgment of partiality, to write about them with as much calmness as I can command. I think they show how well-directed studies in our youth operate to bless our declining years. What consolation he must have felt, to be enabled to inculcate wisdom and virtue in those, in elevating whom he raised himself above his sufferings. I think too, they are peculiarly valuable for inspiring a love of truth as the basis of all excellance [sic]. Of course I do not limit that inculcation, merely to correct narration and faithful testimony; but to that enlarged view, which in all its aspects regards Truth as the daughter of God, and as such to be preferred, no matter how much she may frown upon us and our preferences, to all the erroneous though smiling offspring of the brain of man. This is the most difficult of our achievements in religion, in manners, and even in science. As to his praises of myself, no one will imagine, I presume, that I regard them in any other light than as proofs of affection; and therefore, the more I am impressed with their extravagance, the more precious they become to me. I send you full copies of the letters, twelve in number, from which you must use your own discretion to take what you deem proper, to record the melancholy close of a life whose dawn was so brilliant, whose meridian was devoted to promote the best interests of his country and of mankind, and whose career was shortened and end darkened by forebodings of the failure of these exertions. It is most gratifying to us to perceive how the innate grandeur of his soul, exalted by the noblest studies and sanctified by the holiest affections, shed a glory on the close of his day, which the clouds that surrounded it seemed rather to enrich than obscure, and which, I pray, may render its last teachings so dear to his descendants as to make them blest in themselves, and by their beneficial influence a blessing to others.
Your affectionate brother
C. C. Lee
Source: Vertical files, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 January 10