• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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San Antonio, Texas 15 July 1860

 

I have recd by the last mails dear Mary your letters of the 27th Ulto & 1st Inst: enclosing notes from Mary C. & Mary Goldsborough, of whom I was glad to hear. I am also glad to learn that you & all around you are enjoying your accustomed health & that you are preparing for your visit to St Catharines. I trust that its healing waters may be beneficial to you & to those that accompany you, & that you may all return well & happy to your home. At this distance I can do no more than offer my poor prayers to our merciful God who knows better what to give us than we ask for, & who has more ways to aid & help us, than we know or think. After making use of all the means he gives us for our benefit, the rest I confidently leave in his hands. In one of your former letters you mention that Messrs Derby & Jackson, were going to issue another edition of your fathers memoirs. On reading the copy you gave me at occasional times after my arrival, I noticed some errors in the text & made a memorandum of them, intending on a more careful perusal, to notice any I might discover. As it is uncertain when I can do this, I have determined to send you the mem: I have made, to which you can add any you may have observed, & have them Corrected in the next addition. I will also enclose some remarks of Lord Brougham, which I have taken from a newspaper, & which I think might with advantage be introduced with some of the notes on the character of Washington that are inserted in illustration of the text. It is a truthful tribute from one of Englands most distinguished statesmen, & worthy of preservation. There is one letter from your Grd father to washington which I wish had been omitted but I suppose it is too late now. I have not the book by me, but it is one in which he asks permission to let a Col Baylor have a share in a Privateer in which they were jointly interested. There is nothing objectionable in the letter, but I felt on reading it, that I would prefer it had been omitted. It may suit the mercantile taste of the East more than it does mine. I also send you a newspaper slip which will give you some information of little Jimmy Whistler. I wish indeed he may Succeed in his Career. He certainly has talent, if he could acquire application. I have but little to tell you of my surroundings here & should only have to repeat the old story of heat, drought, parched plains & ruined crops. We have no Episcopal service to day. Efforts are being made to erect an Episcopal Church. A site has been secured, an edifice Commenced, the walls of which are perhaps about half up. The work is stopped for want of funds. The subscriptions that have been raised here are exhausted, & Mr Jones, of whom I believe I have spoken to you, the rector of the church, has gone East in the hope of procuring aid. The Congregation is small at best, & poor at that, nor is this a country where religion ranks preeminent in the hearts of men. I have been glad to see that the officers stationed here, have been the most liberal subscribers to the church, though they of course have not a permanent interest in its erection, & those now here may never see its completion. In the mean time service is held in a hired room, in the heart of the city, which is hot, small & noisy. In the absence of Mr Jones, Mr Quimby, the Bishops assistant at Austin, has been for the few last Sundays officiating, to the great edification of the young ladies of the Congregation, & indeed to the admiration of some of the seniors. He seems to be a promising young man, & with some study, practice & learning, will become a good preacher. Giving him all credit for his talents & good qualities, on the whole I prefer Mr Jones, who appears to have an earnest piety, which many disadvantages cannot repress. If any of your rich friends could spare him $1000 or $2000, to aid in the completion of the church, it would be a good deed. I sympathize with you in all the pleasure & thankfulness you feel in our dear little Robs change of heart. I pray it may be perfect & lasting, & that his example may not be lost upon the rest of us, That religion that fills the heart with the pure gift of charity, the bond of all peace & virtue; & which gives us a victory over all our sins & imperfections & rools [sic] out all self righteousness, self interest & self will, is the greatest blessing that man can receive. We would then feel the pleasure of abiding in the presence of God, in depending upon him, in leaving ourselves entirely to his disposal as a continual sacrifice to his will. But that which is content with the name, conversation, the attendance upon church, & is satisfied with the forms ceremonies & appearance, all of which have a certain value as leading possibly to better things, to my mind is not much to be prized. It is the first we ought all to strive for, & endeavour to attain as much as our nature is capable of. I am sorry to hear of the bad health of Laura & Mary Stuart. I hope their native air this summer will invigorate them, & that our girls will return home in renewed health. I think you had better take Annie as well as Agnes to St Catharines. The waters may be of service to her. I had seen in the papers before the reception of your letter, the appointment of Col Joe Johnston as QMGenl. It is high & honorable promotion which his merits richly deserve & a place which I believe he will fill with interest to the country & satisfaction to the Army. If you see him you must congratulate him for me, & also Mrs J, who will be happy in having him with her in W[ashington]. His promotion makes no vacancy in the department of Inspt Genl as you seem to think. He had only an acting appt given him by the Secy I presume for his gratification. He will no doubt give it to some other on the same ground, of whom he can find plenty. I can make no application for it as I am now situated, being in command of a Dept. I hope my presence is not necessary & that you have those around you whose Compy will give you more pleasure. Give much love to every body. Kisses to the children & with much love for yourself & constant prayers for your health & happiness I am always yours

 

R E Lee

 

 

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 258, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 April 26         

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