• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 us about how you can contribute to this historic project.




                                                                                                             20th September 1830



I had no idea of the immediate peril to which my disclosure exposed you or pity or perchance a gentler feeling would have induced me to forebear. The first alarming sensation having by this time subsided & peace being restored you will pardon my thoughtlessness which has occasioned you so many blushes & believe me when I assure you that there is nothing I have so much at heart as your true interests & for these my petitions are daily offered to my Heavenly Father & from whose love & mercy I hope for every blessing. I cannot say all I would on this subject for I might weary you & I know how I once felt. I only beg you to consider it & not to banish it from you heart. Your letter arrived on Wednesday the day I went to Ravensworth & I did not receive it until I returned on Saturday which must account for my delay. Aunt Maria is still in a state of despairing wretchedness did I not hope for her that this distress might lead her to Him who inflicted the blow & who alone has power to comfort her I should mourn over her hopelessly. She thinks of going to Baltimore this week with her Father to remain a short time. Mary has had a bilious fever but is much better now. I suppose Charles has told you all about his plans & many stories about me. We have spent today with Aunt Lewis who desired her love to you when I saw you. There was quite a commotion in Alexa occasioned by the arrival of a company of Phila troops who marched through the town with music playing & colours flying. I thought of you may guess who at that time. It is so cold that I can scarcely guide my pen. Mr Marshall has been here & says Ann is at West River in very poor health & spirits & they expect to go to Baltimore very soon. We go on much as usual. I have gained 3 pounds & ought to be as happy as possible could I feel as thankful as I ought for all the blessings which are daily lavished on my head but we are so accustomed to them that we do not feel them until they are taken away & then we murmur & repine. I hope Aunt Randolph has given you much good advice I know she loves you & feels a great interest in you. I have got a very pretty present for you to take to Cockspur with you. I shall hope to see you very soon now. Mother says if her eye is so appalling to you she will promise not to require a sight of your letters though I told her I could not imagine any thing you had to say that she might not see. Yet I know it is sometimes unpleasant so you are perfectly at liberty to say what you please trusting to your discretion to say only what is right. I could too say a great deal but Mr Hervieu is waiting for me & I am so hurried for I do not wish to lose this opportunity & occasion any unnecessary delay for I know that hope deferred maketh the heart sick. So you must appreciate my good intentions & excuse this very wandering epistle. I wish you were here today to amuse me while I am sitting for my portrait indeed I wish for you very often though I am still content. You must remember me to everyone up the country if you choose & I shall expect an account of all that you have been doing up there not pining I conclude from your allusion to the corn bread & milk. I direct this to E View & shall not expect to hear from you again before you come. I cannot keep Mr Hervieu waiting longer so must unwillingly bid you adieu. That God may protect & bless you & above all things may turn your heart to Him is my unceasing prayer for you. Then I should have nothing more to wish for on earth with regard to you. Believe me yrs devotedly.

M Custis

I will write you longer letters when you get to Cockspur.




Source: Robert E. E. deButts, Jr., “Lee in Love: Courtship and Correspondence in Antebellum Virginia,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 115, No. 4 (2007), pp. 515-517.



Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 22

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