<br /> Lee Letter: a032

Washington and Lee University

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

I had hoped my dearest Mary to have heard from you before this, but nothing has come to hand since your letter of the 29th June (No.1, New Series) which I acknowledged on the 28th Ulto. At the date of your letter, you were still on your bed, & I have been anxiously expecting another, stating your release. I trust it has taken place long before this & that you, your father & the children, are in some healthy region. At this distance I can do nothing for you, but pray to our heavenly father for your preservation & comfort, into whose hands I trust you & all that belongs to me with that faith & confidence which is my only consolation. I enclosed in my letter of the 28th my check of that date, to your order, on the Br Farmers Bank of Virga Alexa, for $400.00, which I now mention lest it should have miscarried, that you may stop its payment at Bank. As you state that he desires to return to Cambridge, I now enclosed my check of this date on the Br Farmers Bank of Virga Alexa for $200.00 to your order, which if [he] determines on returning, you can no doubt get Mr Marbury to pay by a check to his order on New York, & give him. In that event, just endorse the check, & let him take it in to Alexa $ get the matter arranged. You may possibly have to pay one dollar or so, for difference of exchange. Should he on the contrary determine on going to the Virginia University, Virginia funds will answer. I make the check payable to your order, as he may possibly have left before it reaches Arlington. I wrote to him by the last opportunity, giving my views as to his future course & him the option of either finishing his collegiate studies at Cambridge, the Virga University, or giving it up altogether. Although anxious & ambitious for his improvement, education success & usefulness in life, I have no desire for his nominal standing, when he wants the real. It is the substance, not the show I desire for him. If he cannot, or will not attain the former, I wish him to abandon the chase of the latter. He has to make his bread in the world, for I cannot aid him always, & must therefore make up his mind as to the means of attaining it. All I can do for him, he can rely on. It is time he began to think of something else besides running about amusing himself, & I wish him to do so at once.

I am very glad to hear that Wm & Rose are doing so well. When you write you must express the pleasure I experienced at their success & hope they are satisfied that they adopted the wisest course to ensure it. I wrote on the 28th to your father relative to Mr Nelsons accts: & telling him of Mr. Winstons offer to undertake the management of his Estates & the terms ($500.00 per annum, & expenses in attending to sales &c) all of which I repeat, lest the letter may have failed to reach him. I hope he continues well & enjoyed his usual celebration of the 4th July. Mine was spent after a march of 30 miles on one of the branches of the Brazos, under my blanket elevated on four sticks driven in the ground, as a sun shade. The sun was fiery hot, the atmosphere like the blast from a hot air furnace, the water salt. Still my feelings for my country were as ardent, my faith in his future as true, & my hopes for her advancement as unabated, as if felt under more propitious circumstances. The weather still continues hot & dry. There seems to be no prospect of rain, the grass is parched & our hopes for a few cabbage plants & roasting ears, have passed away. We must bear it. The worst is the Clear fork no longer deserves its title & is converted into fetid stagnant pools. We however enjoy good health, have plenty of bread & meat & have great cause for gratitude & thankfulness. Col Mansfield, the Inspr genl arrived here on a tour of inspection last Thursday. I pitched him a tent by the side of mine & set him a plate at my table. He is a capital officer & a good man, & I have enjoyed much pleasure in his society. You may recollect, he was formerly in the Engineers. He leaves me this mrg for Belknap, & thence to the States. I have been so much occupied with him, exhibiting the state of instruction of the Command, condition of affairs &c, that I have been unable to do much else, than keep along with my official matters. I will endeavour to write Mary, but must postpone the pleasure of doing the same to Anne & Agnes, till another opportunity. As regards Mr. R – i [Radziminski] tell Alice, I will have no control over his movements. I have recd orders to send his Compy to the Sabinal near the Rio Grande, which will also bring him nearer San Antonio. I will despatch the Compy in a day or two & he will then be beyond my command. She must recollect what Mrs Stiles says “Young people are really sometimes very queer.” Ella I suppose thinks she has as good a right as others, to do queer things, & to make herself as miserable as she chooses. A life in the Cavalry will be a hard one. I hope if she chooses it, it will be to her at least a pleasant one. Mr R. continues to send his respects. You must give much love to your father, all the children & all friends. God bless you all. Truly &

sincerely yours

R E Lee

Notes:

Ely-DeButts 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. 139 – 42.