• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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Lee Family Digital Archive

March 11th 1837

 

My dear Sir,

 

            As the dearest friend of my beloved husband, and the one to whom he was the most attached I venture to address you. Mr. Brent1 tells me that my husband wrote you in the month of January last respecting a remittance from Mr. Love. Several letters from you have arrived in February, but in none of them you speak of this affair. May I beg you for the sake of your poor friend and for his unhappy wife to interest yourself to have some money sent either from Mr. Love or Mr. Somerville. I hope if the Bill before Congress for his relief should have finally passed, as you seemed to think it would. Mr. Somerville can have no farther excuse for not paying me the money he owes. My Brother Carter is so far off or I should not give you this trouble. The death of my dear husband was so sudden, so unexpected, for I was hardly made acquainted with his danger, before he was no more. He had a violent influenza which lasted only 5 days; (it terminated in inflammation of the lungs) and as he was subject to bad colds neither he nor I was aware that his illness was so serious. He was delirious from the moment he became worse to the last, and so completely exhausted that he did not notice me, or any one about him. So that the blow fell on me with overwhelming force. I thought I could never survive him; and in the bitterness of my grief and desolation I prayed to die, but I must resign myself to live and suffer as long as it may please God to spare my life. When he was with me, I never knew a want or a sorrow that he could avert from me. I never knew any of his embarrassments until they were over, for he would never tell me any thing that he thought might give me pain. But now, alas, how different is my situation. To be left all at once penniless, on the world. All the little debts of my poor husband must be paid and all together they amount to upwards of a thousand francs; that is what he owed to trades people. There is another debt more considerable with Rothschilde who advanced him three thousand francs on the security of Mr. Brent, for the expense of printing the 2nd Vol. of his work. You know my dear Major Lewis, it is my duty and for the sake of my husbands memory to endeavour I can to arrange his affairs: I can live on very little now but I must have something, I can live comfortably here, on much less than I could in the United States.  All my habitudes are of this country I have been here so long, and the idea of returning there without him is horrible to me. I can have no satisfaction in associating with those who disliked and persecuted my dear husband while living, and who may probably rejoice that he is no more. Now, I can never be happy any where, but much less so there than here. I have written to my Brother Carter, a short letter. He is now my only, or at least my nearest friends, and the one to whom I must look for counsel and protection. I hope now soon to hear something from him. It would be a great consolation to me if he could come over and arrange the affairs of his brother. No one can do it as well, or have the same interest in his concerns as he would.

The second Volume of the life of Napoleon; was at the press and three fourths done. The printer behaved very badly pretending he had lost the Manuscript but Mr. Brent insisted he should finish the work. It is now en train to be completed, and I am told by his friends that it may sell well as it concludes the campaigne of Italy, a certain epoch in the life of Napoleon. It is beautifully written.  Poor fellow, how cruel to be cut off before he had completed a work on which he had bestowed so much labour and research, and which might have immortalized his name. I received a note from a London editor the other day in which he says it will be long before another is found with his information and talents for such an undertaking. I hope I shall not tire you by this long letter about myself. You know grief is selfish. I have been several days writing it. My health is very indifferent and I am so nervous I can scarcely do anything. I shall depend on your kindness if you have it in your power to do any thing which may alleviate my unhappy situation. When you receive this, if you could do me the favour to write a short letter to Carter, telling him of my situation, and the importance of having something done for me, I should be greatly obliged to you. The remains of my dear husband are interred at Mont Martre without an enclosure, or even the plainest slab to mark the spot. This can not be of use to him, but it is a consolation necessary to me to have his grave respected. There never was a better heart beat in a human bosom than his, nor a more noble and generous spirit bowed down by neglect and mortification. Dear and beloved friend, thou art now at rest, and I trust no sorrow can approach thee! that thou endured upon earth! Is it surprising that I cannot endure the idea of quitting the spot where he lies. It would be like tearing me once more from all I love. I sincerely believe it would kill me. Excuse this indulgence of my grief. I shall ever remember with gratitude your enticing friendship for my dear husband, and your kindness to us both. I pray you to remember me kindly to M[onsieur]. and Mad[emoisell]e. Pageot and believe me (dear Sir) with great respect, most sincerely and truly yours,

Anne R Lee

 

P.S. I would write to Mr Somerville myself, but am at this moment quite unequal to the task. I should think, upon your representation of my situation, he would send me the money he owes, particularly as he has never paid any thing since he had the land in his possession.

19th March  

A R Lee

 

 

 

Source: Photostat copy of handwritten letter, vertical files, Stratford Hall. Original at Yale University Library

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 15

 

 

1. She may be referring to Henry More Brent (1797-1875), who was born in Winchester. His parents were Colonel Innes Brent and Rachel Moore. He married Harriet E. Baker, ca. 1825. He died 1875 October 17 in Winchester.

 

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