<br /> Lee Letter: a079

Washington and Lee University

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

I have recd dearest Mary your letter of the 8th May & feel very much elated with hope at your report of having felt better for the few days previous, since the commencement of milder weather, & trust that Spring & the Drs pills may mitigate, if they cannot eradicate, your attack. I hope you will let nothing delay your trip to Bath, longer than is practicable, for I am anxious for you to try the effects of that water; & should it not answer your case, to have time to reach some other springs before Fall. You have not told me who is to go with you, or how you are to go, both matters of interest to me. I am very glad to hear that Winter has at last left you & that everything is looking green & sweet. Here it has become excessively hot. The thermometer Saturday in the shade stood at 105° at 3½ P.M. though there was a fine breeze all day. I was on horseback from 8 AM till 5½ P.M. on the river above us, looking for a better camp, & had the full benefit of it. This great heat or some other cause has produced much sickness among the men, & there are some serious cases among them. The little children too have suffered very much, & a bright little boy, died a few days since from the same disease. He was the only child, & his parents were much affected by his loss. They expressed a great desire to have him buried with Christian rites & asked me to perform the ceremony. So for the first time in my life, I read the beautiful funeral service of our Church over the grave, to a large & attentive audience of soldiers. The parents were much affected. I am very sorry to hear of the indisposition of Cousin Susy Mason & Boynton. I did not know that the latter was so ill. I fear your relief to Fitzhugh will be only temporary. He like many others thinks he can only do what is agreeable to him, & has the same arguments that are used in like cases to satisfy himself of its correctness. I hope in time he will have other principles to guide him. I am very glad that the desire of pleasing his parents is sufficiently strong to induce him to continue at college, & hope it will avail to lead him to study & prepare himself to succeed in what hereafter may please him. I am sorry our Cousin Toles has her anxieties & sorrows about her son too. I wish I could do anything to relieve her, but cannot. Any recommendation of mine would be useless in procuring him an appointment At W.P. [West Point] were I there to give it. If the member of Cong: from his District, will nominate him to the vacancy when it occurs, in his District, his appointment will be certain. It will be better for him though I think, to engage in some of the industrial pursuits of life which are open to every one, who has energy & industry. I hope Eugene is doing well in his profession, & that his mother will enjoy her visit to Cumberland. Where is Stuart now? I hope your father will enjoy his trip to Jamestown & will get to Williamsburg to see the old place. I fear nothing will be made of Mr what I undertake, for they are apt to be industrious. I am glad to hear that dear little Rob is so far advanced in the classics. Does he understand what he studied, or is he just pushed on with the class? How does he read Latin, intelligibly, or not? There is precious life too, who teaches her now her sister is away? She I hope is not counted among the idle hands. I have a great deal for her to do, if she was here. I hope our other dear girls are well & enjoying the satisfaction & serenity of the consciousness of doing their duty. That is the greatest happiness that any can enjoy in this world, for if done in its full sense, it holds out the prospect of happiness in the next. It would be a great satisfaction to me if Custis could accompany you this Summer if only for a month. But if he can only be absent that length of time, it would hardly more than enable him to be a fortnight with you. Still we must be thankful for that. As you do not mention Mary, I presume she is still in Phila, & fear she will not be at A[rlington] when her Uncle & Cousins are there. You must give much love to every one, your father, Markie, & all the children, & to amy Aunts if with you.> I wish there was anything interesting here to relate to you. But we are in a desert of dulness, out of which nothing is drawn. One of our Lts: Mr R. N. Eagle, left last week on sick leave, & Mr leigh, brother of Mr. A. K. Leigh, whom we knew at W.P. the sutler of the post, have gone to the states to purchase goods, & will take that opportunity to visit his friends in Md. They are related to the Kerrs & Tilghmans. I expect to make a little tour down the river tomorrow & will be absent a few days. I will now bid you farewell, with earnest prayers for your health & happiness.

Truly & affly yours

R E Lee

Notes:

Transcribed in Francis Raymond Adams, Jr., An Annotated Edition of the Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, April, 1855 – April, 1861, pp. 359 – 63.