<br /> Lee Letter: a053

Washington and Lee University

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

I have been recalling dearest Mary the many happy Xmas’ we have had together, & the pleasure I have enjoyed with you, your dear parents & the children around me. I ought not therefore to repine at an occasional separation from you, but be grateful for what I have had, & be prepared to keep this solitary & alone. I hope nothing will happen to mar or disturb the pleasure of the fireside at Arlington, but that you may all assemble around its comfortable hearth, with grateful, cheerful & contented hearts. My prayers & thoughts will be with you & all will receive my fervent salutation. I hope nothing will be omitted that I could have done, to make each one happy, & that the New Year may bring additional happiness to every member of the family.

In a week or fortnight from this time I trust I shall receive my letters from San Antonio. I long to get information of you all & to be satisfied that you are all well. I feel anxious about your health, your fathers affairs, the children, & particularly about my dear son Fitzhugh. He gives me many anxious days & sleepless nights, & adds more years to the grey hairs on my head. Always affectionate & apparently disposed to do right, he is yet thoughtless, impulsive, & is guided more by his feelings than his reason. Until I see that he has acquired proper self control, & is guided by principles of duty, rather than the notions of others & feelings of pleasure, I can never feel assured of his conduct. Distance & my inability to watch & aid him, adds to my uneasiness. I hope however his increased years, has given him increased wisdom & stability, & that he now sees his proper course & steadily pursues it. I have seen so many young men throw themselves away before they were aware how tightly they were bound in the chains of idleness & vice, & when their eyes were opened, they were not strong enough to break them. It is therefor so important for the young to acquire habits of self-control & self-denial. Use makes them easy & familiar. Reason is able to exert her power. Truth becomes apparent, & passion & self love controuled.

I have nothing to add in relation to business matters to what I have already written. I hope you recd in due time my letters containing my checks for the Jany dividends. In my last I mentioned, should Marshall find it convenient to pay the amount of his bond due in Jany, I wished it invested in State Stock, Virga, Missouri, N. Carolina &c as may be thought most advantageous. For this purpose you must add to the Amt: enough derived from the coupons in your hands, to purchase the bonds & it will be more convenient to address Mr Riggs in Washn a note in my name to make the purchase, than to send the funds on to Mr Vail. You can pay him when he gives you the bonds. Perhaps Chas: Carter if in Washington could do it for you. Unless the stock falls lower than I have seen it quoted, you will not have funds enough to purchase more than one bond of $1000. Take of the balance what you may require for your purposes & cause the balance to be placed to my credit in the bank of Commerce New York & let me know the exact amount. I have written to Capt Seth Williams to get me from Frank Taylor some books I want on Courts martial, & to send the bill to you for payment. If you do not see Capt Wms I wish you would drop him a note on the subject. The books will probably cost $20 or $25.

It has been very warm here for the past week, & my evg path through the chapperal has been bright with wild flowers. There is a species of Althea, with a crimson flower like a red rose bud, & a wild verbena with a rich orange & red petal, that are very abundant. Yesterday I was in a summer coat with raised windows & no fire. A shower of rain about sunset turned me back in my walk. I had scarcely reached the garrison, when a Norther sprung up, & all my blankets could not keep me warm during the night. This morg great coats are necessary. The Norther still rages & flakes of snow fill the atmosphere. You will have some idea of the sudden change of temperature in this climate.

The Court adjourns from week to week, in expectation of the absent witnesses. At the meeting on the 18th Inst: an effort was made to proceed with the case. The motion was negatived & the Court adjourned to the 26th. A steamer is expected from New Orleans on the 24th & it is hoped she may bring the witnesses or some intelligence of them. They seem to have made up their minds to wait. I see no prospect of a final adjournment earlier than the middle of Jany & more probable it is farther off still. A grand Civ & Military ball last Sunday night in Matamoros, terminated the celebration of the lady of Guadaloupe. Committee of invitation came over to invite the officers & ladies of the Garrison. Some of the young gentlemen went. The dancing was kept up all night & they report everything as having gone off well, & the whole affair muy decente. I had supposed it was to have come off in the cathredal, but I am told it took place in the town hall.

I have been able to learn nothing from Col Frank Taylor of our Baltimore friends. He could not even tell me whether Mr Bonaparte had returned to this country, or what had been the decision of his affairs. I saw in an old New York paper his name among the arrivals in a steamer from Havre. I have not been able to gather anything more about him. I suppose Frank was so occupied with his own affairs he paid no attention to those of others. He seems pleased & cheerful & I do not know whether he has Miss Sallie Sprigg in view for his next or not. I wonder how he would like my dear daughter. I could not give her to him. I should like mightly to have her here for myself, or even that precious life, or Rob, but it cannot be. Give much love to all of them, your father, & all friends. God bless you all, is the constant prayer of yours

R E Lee

P.S. If Childe & his are within reach give much love to them. REL


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. 238 – 42.