<br /> Lee Letter: a064

Washington and Lee University

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

On my arrival here yesterday dearest Mary, I was gladdened by the reception of seven letters from you, commencing with one written on Xmas day, up to that of the 13th Feb which was the latest day. I found also a letter from dear daughter, the old Roon, Annie, Agnes, & those of Rob & Mildred diffused through yours. There was also a long letter from my dear brother Childe. I must acknowledge them all now in the aggregate, but each will receive a separate notice in time. I was much delighted to hear from you again & upon reading your letters again this mng, more attentively than last night, I feel a slight hope that you may possibly be better than when I last heard, though the report of dear Fitzhugh is discouraging in the extreme. I judge however from your own account, making due allowance for your hopeful nature, your disposition to exaggerate nothing concerning yourself, to make the best of the present, & your trustfulness of the future, that you are no worse, now that you have got through the long & severe winter, which I fear has been dreary & painful in the extreme. I look forward with great hopefulness to the Spring & Summer to bring you relief. The Winter God knows has been dreary & sad to me, & the presence of Spring gives no prospect of brighter days. Still I must try to be content, & hope at least for better times for you. I must try & insist that you make early preparations for your departure to such of the mineral springs as the Dr & your friends judge best, but that no matter which you may determine on, that you must during some portion of the Summer, spend from two to four weeks, at some good sulphur spring, merely to neutralize the effects of the mercury upon your system, if for nothing else; & to relieve it from the influence of the other medicines you have taken. Bathing has generally exercised a happy influence upon you, & the waters of Bath, in your former sad illness, seemed particularly efficacious. But you must not be contented with the trial on one, but continue to try until one shall be found that is efficacious, or all have been found useless. I fear you have left yourself but a small sum for your excursion, for as far as I understand, after taking the $85. from the Virga dividends, to add to the amt: derived from Marshall & the coupons for the purchase of the 2 Va. bds. you had only $873. left for domestic purposes, out of which the girls & Robs schooling had to be paid, which would probably reduce it to $400. But the Hudson River R.R. coupons, $210. are payable in April, & the St Louis City coupons $180. in June. These will make $400. more, & I will send you $200. besides, which will make about $1000. I will also send Fitzhugh his $200. in April, so you need not trench upon your travelling fund. The July dividends will be in time to square off the girls & Robs tuition bills for the year, & they may be left till that time. I think you ought to leave home by the 1st of June at the latest, so that you may have the four full warm months, not return to A[rlington] till the middle of October. You will at least I hope then escape all bilious attacks. Make up your plans & let me know them. Select which of the children you will take with you, & then dispose of the rest to the best advantage. I wish it was in my power to accompany you. But I unfortunately belong to a profession, that debars all hope of domestic enjoyment, the duties of which cannot be performed, without a sacrifice of personal & private relations, & one or the other must be abandoned. I cannot in honour abandon the former, while holding the office. I am therefore forced to relinquish the latter. You must therefore exercise your judgement & regulate everything for the best. Tell your father I wish indeed I could be with him, that I might see to the matters at the White House. The conduct of Mr Nelson has been most extraordinary. There is no telling what property he has left behind. I have however great confidence in Mr Winston, & hope he will give a straight account of things. At this distance I can do nothing but write to Mr W. which I will do & try & learn something about matters. As regards Robs future school I cannot add anything to what I have already said. So much depends upon the present stage of his instruction, the capability of his mind for advancement, & the strength of his body, of none of which can I judge, that I am unable to decide where he had better go. I think it probable he has learned all at Mr Tippetts that he can. If that is so, his remaining there longer than his present term, will be injurious. For at his time of life, if his mind does not advance, it will retrograde. He will lose also the power of application & acquire habits of idleness & indolence. The High School, though conducted by estimable people, has never appeared to me calculated to develop the energies of a boy, or to stimulate him to high action. I fear this may be the case at St James. But I do not know. I wish the dear little fellow to have the best opportunity I can afford him, to become a good & learned gentleman, & purpose if he continues to shew the same disposition & ability to learn, that he has hitherto exhibited, to send him to the Virginia University to complete his education, & therefore wish him prepared for it. Let him therefore finish his present term with Mr T & in the meantime, determine upon the best place for him. You mistook what I said about the office of Inspector Genl. There is no vacancy in the present offices, which are filled by Genl Churchill & Col Mansfield. But we had rumours that Congress might possibly provide for another. It was in that event, or in the event of a vacancy, that I spoke. The accounts you gave of some of our friends were indeed sad. My heart bleeds for them. Poor little Cass. Mrs. Lewis, & Mrs Stevenson. You must if occasion offers, give them my kindest sympathy & sincere condolence. May God have mercy upon us all! I also rejoice at the happiness of the young people. That sweet two eyed Susy can stand a little disappointment. I hope Miss Maria & Frank may be indemnified by the former rough course of their love. I did not see Mr. R – i [Radziminski] on my way up. I met his Captain however & Mr Lowe his brother lt. They said he was very well again. Had at one time been very desponding about his throat, but that it had been relieved by application of cuastic. I found here a long & friendly letter from him, in which he does not allude to his health, & I hope therefore he considers himself well again. His Compy is ordered to Ft Clarke on the Rio Grande & it will soon take its departure for that place. I went from the Court room at Ft. Brown to the steamer. Thence to Ringgold, & immediately, on landing saddled up & took across the plains to this place. The streams were all low & we had no difficulty in crossing them. Indeed we suffered for water. I had no opportunity of writing to you before my arrival here. Now I am much hurried to catch the mail. To my regret I find I am ordered to Indianola on another Court, ordered from Washington Direct to “Indianola, Texas.” Major Thomas came with me & went on today to Mason to bring down Mrs. Thomas. The Court meets on the 20th & he will have time to be back. I should not have time to get to Camp Cooper & will start for Indianola in a week. Give much love to everybody. Your father, Markie, Mary & all the children. May God guard you is the earnest prayer of

affectionately

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. 293 – 98.