<br /> Lee Letter: a008

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee

I have read dearest Mary your letter of the 29 June, & yesterday your addition to Smiths note reached me. I rejoice that you are all well & trust everything will progress satisfactorily. It is a comfort to have the furnace is completed, & the men out of the house: but I do not understand how “the walls in the Hall could have been so broken, as to require being plastered all over.” They could only have opened the strip for the air pipe in the hall, & that they should have restored. They could not give the new the exact colour of the old plastering, & the whole may have to be coloured, but not plastered, unless you wish it hard finished, as it is called, which it is not now. I have read a letter from Mr. Launitz saying he had shipped the monument at the 28th & had it insured to Alexa. I hope it will arrive safely & be got out without being broken. You must endeavour to have it put up properly. There will be no difficulty, if the foundation is properly done, but from your account of that, I confess I do not feel confident of it. Should the erector of the monument find it defective, it would be better to have it remade, than to run the risk of the monuments falling. But should he find it right, let him put it up, & if it should afterwards yield the monument can be taken down.

As regards the painting of the large room, white is the simplest & cheapest colour, & I think with stained doors will look very well. If well grained in imitation of oak or walnut, (the latter I prefer) it will look richer, though darker, & the room you know wants light. You had better consult your father, though I think on the whole, white will be the best. The horse nets are in the top of my chest of papers in the upper closet. The key is the same with the oak chest with the plate on it. The lock has a spring to it & is a little difficult to open. I fear you may have trouble, or injure the lock. If you open it, you will find them wrapped in paper, lying on the top. Be sure you lock the chest again & disturb nothing else. The hall lamp chain & all were disposed of at West Point, I forget how. You will have to buy a chain if you wish one. The spare piece that was in the book case I do not recollect what became of it. The girls may. They packed up those things. I believe I have answered all your questions. But you must not think I desire the house to be repaired, from any expectation of enjoying them. It is not with that view I do anything, farther than incidentally. But I think it right to improve everything for which we are responsible, as far is necessary for its object, & within ones means, & leave the enjoyment to the great disposer of events. In this particular instance, it is for the sake of her who is gone, & of those who remain, that I wish the place dear to their affections to be properly preserved, & not either to suffer from, or exhibit neglect. And I wish it out of respect for their memory & feelings. Life as you say hangs by an uncertain tenure; but that ought rather to stimulate us to exertion, than to relaxation, that we may fulfill out duties, & the work set before us, before we go home. It matters not who is benefited by our labours, so our part is done. May God grant it be well done, & that we may earn the title of faithful servants. As regards our separation, I pray it may be short, & that neither you or those in whom I am interested may suffer any loss or inconvenience by my absence, & that it may not be as grievous to any as myself. I wish I could see a period for its termination. I presume the Regt: will be ready to move from here in Sept. It ought to at any rate, & if Texas is its destination, which now seems to be indicated by appearances, that we shall move across the country, to Fort Gibson, thence to Washita, & so to the country along the range of the Washita Mts: & take post at Forts Belknap, Chadbourne, McKavet &c. The officers represent it as a healthy, pleasant country, abounding in game, though destitute of civilization except what they carry with them. They have their families with them, & I see no reason why they cannot be as happy there as anywhere. Mrs May is just from there. She brought her carriage, plate, piano &c &c all of which she carried from New York. Mrs. Johnson is going with the Col, & many of the younger officers are going to carry their wives. I see no objection or difficulty to your joining me in the Winter after putting the children to school, except leaving your father alone. Anne & Agnes can go to Staunton, Robt to Mr. Gibbs, each of them to remain 2 years, Mary & Mildred to accompany you. Ask your father to come out with you & take a look at the country & Indians. Bring out George & Perry, & we could give him plenty of venison, wild turkies, bear, black hares, & partridges &c. In two years you could come back & take Anne & Agnes from school, see to Robt & come out again, either there or wherever I might be. Make your arrangements therefore, & first settle about the children. I know no better school for them under the circumstances than those I have mentioned. If you do, let me know it. I hope you recd Capt Palmers letter in time, & that you got Grace to him to take advantage of the escort he had in view. He wrote to me on the 1st that he had written to you to send her on, so that he might forward her with another horse on the 5th. I am very sorry to hear of Mrs Gurleys suffering & sickness. I hope her visit to Arlington may restore her, & that the rest of your guests may be comfortable & happy. Remember me to them all. Tell Ella & the little Stuarts they would not come there while I was there, & as soon as Mrs. Barnes heard of my departure, then she came. I have recd a very kind note from Mr Skinker, saying he had been looking for me, & inviting me to spend some days with them at their home in the country. Mrs. S. has another baby which she wants to shew me. It is a boy. Sarah Irwin too has written to me to come up & spend some days with her & her mother, & Major Ramsey of the Ordnance, who married Miss Gales & is now stationed at the Arsenal, came down in his carriage & pressed me very much to come up & stay with him, but I cannot go anywhere. I have too much to do here. Recruits are coming in every day, with no officers, & there is no one to take care of them. We have nearly 600 now. I recd a letter from Rooney. He expects to get through his examination on the 13th & to start immediately for A. He says he is very well & seems

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Ely-DeButs PapersLibrary of Congress

Transcribed in Francis Raymond Adams, Jr., An Annotated Edition of the Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, April, 1855 – April, 1861, pp. 28 – 32. The letter ends abruptly, and the postscript is written at the top of the first page.