• The Lees of Virginia
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  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Ft. Monroe 14th April 1834

 

My dear Carter

Most willingly would I have complied with your last injunction of writing forthwith had it been in my power. But your letter reached Arlington after I had taken my departure for this place & was brought down by Mary, many weeks after. My Holyday this past winter was a very short one. I reached Arlington about the middle of Jany & left the 3rd of Feby to resume operations at this place. I called at Broad neck both going & coming. On my first visit I missed the whole party by one day. Uncle Wms & Bella had gone to Richmond & Little Wm’s to Williamsburg to enter College. On my second, I just caught the old Farmer as he was getting out of his vehicle from Richd. & had the pleasure of spending one night with him.  He was very well & in fine spirits, said he had kissed his dear Emily (Smith) at 2 O’Clock that morning at the close of a grand party at Mr. Green’s where they were all staying.  She promised to give him another before his departure for home but though he delayed till 12, “the dear sweet little d___l”1 would not get up. Bella had been quite unwell previously & was not sufficiently recovered to make her appearance I was too much disappointed at not seeing my own little Susan & Somewhat surprised that Wms had left the Navy & entered Colledge. Dinah thought that he gave the preference to Wm & Mary from its proximity to his Cousin Parke, whom she thought Miss Bella would like most prodigiously for her Sister. Uncle Bernard wintered in Phila. & I did not see him. Neither did I see anyone from Fauquier, but learned they were all well & that a 2nd heir had been given to the Estates of E. view2 & M. A. Field. My time at Arlington passed as pleasantly as usual & only flew too rapidly. The Major was in his general health & spirits & devoted his leisure from agriculture pursuits to Painting & Tragedy. The large picture was not then ready for its exhibition in Washn. It would be useless to give you any acct of the proceedings in W[ashington]. as it would be but a repetition of what you have witnessed. Speechifying, villifying, & abusing in the mornings & Laughing, dancing, & Frolicking in the Evgs. The Ladies appeared to have exerted themselves at night to heal the differences that took place in the day. Miss Wharton of Phila was the reigning Belle, she is since married to Mr. Wordsworth, Genesee Cy. N.Y. All your former Acquaintances in that line were flourishing as usual except Miss Alexandrine Macomb, who was withdrawn from the number by Staunton of the Army. It was reported & I believe with some truth, that Miss Mary Shoaff was engaged to our Cousin Collins. But that the interests of the Gentleman were opposed by some of the family & I think I have heard since, that it is all off. Sweet Charles & Yorrick paid their daily visit to the Avenue. Mrs. Eugenia & the two little ones, were remarkable well & the third in a hopeful state of progression. Josephine & Mildred were dazzling the natives after their accustomed manner & through Landon told the former her day was past, She appeared quite willing to disappoint his prediction

I spent a few days in Baltimore with Anne & Mildred. They & their Boys were very well, Little Walker was very dolorous & seemed to feel Much Anxiety About Mr. Childe. Her last letters however were very cheering & she had some expectation of his being in this Month.  Our Wanze she had christened the Cassandra of modern times, who seemed disposed to deserve her reputation. Mr. M. I believe is doing very well & makes enough for his support. I never saw any one apparently more attentive to his business. John Lloyd looks exactly as formerly – Nelson is to move West this spring Miss Sherlock is certainly engaged to Thomas Swann3 & little Will Goldsmith is still (a candidate for) practicing Law. Modelled with immortal honour, but Robert will think I am quite distraut if I proceed in this style perchance it is true of Mother what Shakespear writes of lovers & “cool reason” would never comprehend all this, your imagination will “apprehend.” I am sure. Landon has been here quite as eloquent as usual on the subject of most interest to him; what that is, you have had penetration I doubt not to discover & waver in the praise of Miss Silsbee whom he pronounced an admirable person & a great intimate of his own. Do you intend coming.

Ah my dear Brother, you must see this Tender bud of mine before you ecstacize so poetically upon a village rose. She may be passing fair & a hero’s blood too, but language is inadequate to describe the glowing, varied beauties of my boy, the charm which can only be felt & his dear innocent face beaming with love & tenderness eyes sparkling with joy & the lily brow unsullied by a shade of sin or sorrow, lips which in Phidias might have

to the civilized world this spring you must come & see us for you are such an equestrian now you would not mind going a hundred miles out of your way.

adieu             

Your affectionately,

M C Lee

 

 

 

 

1. Some nineteenth century correspondents refrained from using the word “devil.”

2. “Eastern View,” the home of the Randolph family in Fauquier County, Virginia.

3. Thomas Swann (1809-1883), a prominent conservative politician, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, on 1809 February 3. In the 1850s, he was a member of the Know Nothing Party but became a Democrat. From 1856-1860, he was the mayor of Baltimore and later the governor of Maryland (1866-1869). He also served as a congressman representing Maryland’s 3rd and 4th districts. His first wife was Elizabeth Gilmer Sherlock (1814-1876). They had a daughter, who was born in 1843. After Elizabeth’s death in 1876, Swann married Josephine Ward Thomson (1820-1906). He died in Leesburg, Virginia, on 1883 July 24.  

 

 

 

Source: Photostatic copy of original handwritten letter, Yale University Library

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 15

 

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