• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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West Point      2 Jany 1854

 

Your good long letter my precious Markie, has been before me since the 25th Nov – It has been perused & enjoyed more than once, has frequently called you to my minds eye & reminded me of my procrastination – You have neither therefore been forgotten or overlooked, but held in reserve for a pleasant conversation at a quiet time. That time I fear is still distant, but I cannot let this day pass, devoted as it is to friendly greetings, without offering to you the only token in my power, of my sincere regard & true affection. Those feelings always strong are now much deepened by your kindness & Consideration for your venerable uncle, whose affection I experienced in boyhood, who since has been to me all a father Could, & whom I shall never cease fondly to regard & love as such – God knows how I grieve over his affliction!

How unutterably I feel the loss he mourns, & how I lament his present loneliness! I therefore appreciate more highly the relief & comfort of your society to him, & am the more grateful for your supplying to him the place of his only daughter.

Had I only myself to Consider, or my own pleasure to Consult, I could not Consent to her being deprived of the happiness of administering to her fathers Comfort & of cheering his lonely home. But the present welfare of the children, & their future usefulness require unremitted care & attention, more than my duties permit me to bestow; while at the same time my authority & direction, seems necessary to enforce their obedience & uphold her precepts. That is the great difficulty; & how we can separate without injury to them is the question. Our own pleasure we have a right to sacrifice but not their good. I hope however that their interests & our pleasure can in time be made to accord, & that when this first shock of the winter is over, Mary will be able, with the smaller children, to visit her father, & share with you the pleasure of attending him – Your own conscience & your own reflections will constitute your reward for what you have done.

I must beg you to present to your Grdmother, Cousin Brit, Misses Lum, Kate & little Markie my kindest regards & best wishes for their health & happiness. Tell Kate her little cupid is also included, & may the future of the man, equal the bright present of the child – To Cousins Washington & Jane & all theirs give my love & Compliments – To yourself & Orton my gratitude & service – I shall be very glad to hear from the latter whenever it suits his Convenience. He must not however expect very lengthy or prompt replies. Notwithstanding my postponement of my acknowledgement to you, to give you an idea of the interruptions I am liable to. I will state that I Commenced this at 7 this morg, & have written at evry spare interval between the various subjects of the day & that it is now 12 M. I must stop, for I have some matters to attend to, the mail to peruse & to pay my Compliments to our neighbors – We are all well & all join in much love – The Examn commences tomorrow – A wearisome & painful season – Some of my young friends will have to leave us – I hope not many

With much love I remain your

Cousin R E Lee

 

 

 

Source: Digital copy of original letter, Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, 1844-1870, Huntington Library, San Marino, California               

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 September 13

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