Lexington Va: 29 Sept 1868
My dear Mrs Taylor
I am very much obliged to you for the picture of the Washington family enclosed in your letter of the 22nd. It will be a pleasing addition to the other tokens of your kind remembrance & its value will be enhanced as Coming from you.
I am glad that Virginia has still a place in your affections, & am sure that her people will give you a cordial welcome whenever you can visit her. She can now offer but few attractions, for though her grand mountains & noble rivers remain, her fields are impoverished & her homes broken up. Still she has warm hearts & liberal hands & her doors always open to strangers, will never be closed against her friends. I hope that you will visit her next summer & will come to our house. Do not be deterred because it is Small. It will never be so full that room cannot be made for you, or so empty that you will not be cordially welcome.
It has been more than two weeks since we returned from the Alleghenies. Mrs. Lee’s general health I am glad to say is much better than when she left home; & her pains are less, though her powers of locomotion are no better. She enjoys a drive now very much & is out to day with her invalid daughter, Mildred. The latter is steadily improving, though still feeble, but I hope this fine weather will give her strength again. The weather is really delirious & is compensating us for the heated term you experienced here. As soon as she is able to ride on horseback, & exercise regularly, I shall feel more secure. You may have heard that Mary joined us at the Hot Springs & returned with us. She & Agnes are very well, & the latter is apparently entirely restored. We wished often for you while in the mountains, & I think the waters of [the] Bath would have been agreeable to you & your children. When are expecting our nephew Edward Childe every day. He is now in Boston & expects to return to France in November. If he does not arrive tomorrow, Agnes & I propose to ride down to the Baths for a day or two, to pay our respects to the Harrisons, & Richmond; Stewarts as well as to the waters. As she will have to carry her wardrobe in a pair of saddle bags, you will know that her visit will not be long. I think Traveller was more rejoiced at our return than any thing else. It was in our first separation for seven years & he did not understand it. Whatever his thoughts may be his acts show unmistakably that he is rejoiced at our reunion. We found Custis at his post at the Institute, & Fitzhugh & Robert write that as soon as they finish sowing their wheat they will come & see us. We shall also have with us our daughter [words are faded]. Tell Miss Belle [words are faded] not to forget us. I hope the former will not find me so fearful when we meet again & that Mr. Taylor will be with you, then you will be more satisfied. Please remember me particularly to Mr. and Mrs. Cook & their children. Agnes wrote to you a few days since & I presumed gave messages from the family. I knew they would all send love—did they know I was writing
R E Lee
Mrs. Helen Taylor
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.364, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall. Gift of James Eliot Cross, 1959.
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 28