Lexington, Va: 9 Nov 1868
My dear Nephew,
I hope my letter to the care of Jameson Smith and Colling, New York, reached you before you sailed for Europe. I merely write now to inform you that all the boxes sent from Boston, books, wines, cigars, waterproofs dog collar & whistle, arrived safely & have been distributed according to their address. I hope the recipients have properly acknowledged them, & expressed their thanks for your kindness which on the part of myself, I do now very sincerely. The Shakespeare will be a great comfort to me, & the Worcester will take the place of Webster. I am inclined to think however that the dictionary which I understand is preparing in England will be the great work of the kind. I hope So, for we ought to have a good dictionary of the English language & it ought to come from England. The English language is the most important in the world & as far as we can now See is destined to spread over the civilized nations & to become to them a necessity. Its literature laws & civilization will all be objects of interest & research, & the language ought to be more purely taught & more perfectly known than it now is. Washington College is the only College in this Country that I know of where it is made a branch of study & taught with as much care & in the Same manner as Latin, Greek, mathematics, or any other Subject. Nor do I know anywhere in England where it is taught with the same care.
But I doubt nephew whether at this time I can excite your interest in the study of Eng. language. Your attention I am sure is fixed on the 28th & the “Pretty Bird” (I wish I could recall the Indian name) that will then rest on your hand. I will think of you on the occasion & you both will have my innermost well wishes & most earnest prayers for continued happiness.
I will therefore only detain you to give the united loves of the whole family & their sincere congratulations.
Fitzhugh & his wife are expected this week.
R E Lee
Mr. Edward L. Childe
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.368, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 30