Fine Creek [Va.], Decr 3rd 1868



My dear brother Robert,

            You have hardly imagined how gratified I am at the letter from you which greeted my arrival here after my long absence, but I have been waiting from mail to mail to receive accounts of the Memoirs, but I have been continually disappointed. The day before I left Baltimore, James McLane told me that he was about to write to his Brother Robert in New York, who would be happy to comply with my wish that he would see this Richardson & ascertain what he was doing with the Memoirs & when they would be out etc. & inform me of the result of this interview. Why I am not yet informed of it I can not tell. Mr. Piet[1] a bookseller in Baltimore to whom Charles Kerr introduced me as reliable, gave a sad account of Richardson, said he had failed twice, & the last time did not pay ten cents on the dollar & could not get credit for ten cents worth of anything in New York, & could not be relied in for anything. Our Woodhouse of Richmond is not so outspoken about him, but evidently regards him as an “Oily Gammon,”[2] & often gives him the first appellation. I really think you ought to be very careful about anything entrusted to him, & if you have heard nothing lately about the Memoirs, do inquire about them. I heard from Moffit, another bookseller, in Baltimore, who is agent for Richardson in the sale of schoolbooks in Baltimore that he had heard that the Memoirs were just out, but as that was a month ago, & I can hear nothing of them there must be some mistake about it. The “Lee Family”[3] is very handsomely got up, but contains most extraordinary mistakes. It states within the compass of a few lines that Genl Lee married a sister of “King Carter,” & that the latter died twenty four years before the former was born, & that you, Mrs. Lee’s 4th child were born in 1807; so that if Mrs. Lee, the “King’s” sister had been even twenty years younger than her brother who died at 69, she would have been upwards of 80 when she had her fourth child. But for this error & others almost as bad, Richardson is not responsible.

            Want of funds enabled me to do but little toward the improvement of Howard’s Lick; but they had well underway a road I contracted to have made across the North Mountain at 5 degrees, & to be paid for in land though which it passes. It connects with the graded road from Mt. Jackson to the Orkney Springs, about two miles below that “Watering Place” & is to extend to the Cove Road at the Western foot of the Mountain. This will bring the Spring within 22 miles of Mt. Jackson on the Manassas Gap R. Road, which the cars from Alexandria could easily reach by 12 O. C. whence the passengers could reach the Spring in stages by . . . I removed the late tenant & put the property under the care of [M] Randolph, a sire of our old & departed friend Beverly Randolph & who married a Miss Seymour, is active & energetic , & lives about 12 miles from the Spring. He thought . . . [letter is incomplete]




Source: Typescript copy, vertical files, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall



Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 9


[1] Likely Piet of Kelly and Piet, book publishers in Baltimore.

[2] Term meaning “fatty ham,” it apparently originated from the 1839 novel Ten Thousand A-Year by Samuel Warren, which was very popular. The term, which is one of approbrium, can be compared to the modern English phrase, “slick customer.”

[3] Referring to Edward C. Mead’s book, Genealogical History of the Lee Family of Virginia and Maryland from AD 1300 to AD 1866 (New York: Richardson and Co., 1868).