<br /> Lee Letter: v033

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee
Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: George Washington Parke Custis

I have this moment received your letter my dearest Father in a package from Genl Gratiot accompanied with several other letters all of which were most acceptable & I write at once because I hope Mother will be leaving home as soon as she is able to move. I am extremely concerned to hear she is sick & hope she did not take any of those hot rides for any thing for me as all I have mentioned to her can be done quite as well in the pleasant fall weather when she & my little woman can ride about together. So she must not trouble her mind about them, If she has got the linen to leave her maids to sew on tell her she can have them made the old way with a band behind to open & button & hemmed in front with strings & a plain shoulder strap I will send her a pattern for the size of the sleeves which I do not wish made full. The length of her skirts would suit me so much for business – I hope you send Mother or rather take her & my little woman as soon as she can move up to visit her friends I think it is important she should go for even if it is not sickly at home she has so many cares there that they retard her recovery & now that I am not with her you might get a good hack which you can get in Alex – a for 3 $ a day & take her up to Kinloch stay there a day or so & then return tho’ I would not advise her going so far until it becomes cooler, she could go first to Ravensworth & Chantilly. Her family is so small now she could not inconvenience anyone I received a long & affectionate letter from Frances Butler giving an account of Poor little Lorrey’s having broken his thigh bone just below the hip & his noble & patient behaviour on the occasion He has suffered a great deal but the Physicians assure there is no danger or any permanent injury from it. If Robert can get off for a month or 6 weeks this fall we shall try & make a visit to New Orleans it is a matter so easily accomplished from here. The children have been remarkably well considering that they have been in town & confined to the House nearly all the summer Mr. Rooney runs all about & is the most impudent fellow you ever saw. He knows nothing about Towns but is delighted whenever he sees a cow or a horse. I have been ailing myself for some days with a slight bile attack but have taken some calomel & am better, tho’ without my appetite which makes one feel rather low, & weake Robert says he will fill up my sheet for me, Mr. Rooney sends his love to Granpa & GrandMa & daughter & so does our Boo. Hope soon to hear from you that Mother is quite well & has left home

Yrs devotedly

M C Lee

The arrival of your letter this mor – g my dear Major gave us great pleasure, although it contained the sad news of our dear Miss Mollys sickness – I hope we shall soon get another telling of her recovery and that you and She are about starting for the Upper County – Mary has told you that she has not been very well, and except that hers is of recent date, I should think there was some sympathetic attack upon our wives – She appears to have been very bilious, has taken medicine to relieve her, has had little or no fever, is entirely free of it now at any rate and seems only to be affected by lassitude and loss of appetite. The Dr. has commenced giving her a little Quinine which I hope will soon procure for her a Sauce that will prevent her feeling the want of some of Nurses good viands – He seems to think that her continuing to nurse Rooney may have had Some hand in her Sickness, and that it is not very good for him, and advises his being weaned – I do not know how that may be, but they both have appeared very well until now – And Mr. Rooney has taken so kindly to bacon and bread that he does not feel the loss of his Mother – He will not take tea or milk, and prefers a glass of this good Missouri water to all the tea you can make him – I was Showing him a picture to day of a woman and child, and told him there was Grandmother and little Sister. He immediately turned round and pointed to his Gany’s Portrait and tried to pronounce Gan-mother, and then pointed to little daughters – He walks all about, converts the chairs books etc into Steam Boats and shoves them along puffing on the high pressure System – I am very glad, to learn of the healthiness of the District, and though the injury to the crops by the the drought is to be regretted, yet all things considered the loss in the end may not be great – I only wish I could spread two feet of this rich black earth over your farm, and then with good cultivation nothing could hurt it – The produce in this Country is enormous – Not much attention is yet bestowed to ornamenting or improving, though in Some instances those that can afford it are commencing on a grand scale – I have been much pleased to learn of the extensive sale that Sparks life and writing of Washington has met with in the West. It speaks greatly in favour of the People, which I am sure you will give them credit for, and must tend vastly to their benefit in every respect – I have met in many places where I least expected it full copies of the handsome calfskin editions, which cost according to the distances to be transported from $4. to $5. a volume – I recollect at two different times dining at the houses of two ship carpenters at New Albany, Ind – a Men who lived by their daily labour and could afford nothing better than a small piece of Pork with a few Potatoes and Corn Bread for their families, – and to my surprise found in each house an edition of the kind I speak of, ranged along side of the Bible in a Glass case. One of them expressed to me the pleasure he had enjoyed in its perusal, and said that in the long cold nights of last Winter, “They were better to him than the best conversation he had ever met with” – George Calvert told me when in Baltimore that he had seen Spark’s, Agent when in that City, and after he had only been there three or four days, Who said that he had already Sold 300 copies, and expected to sell 500 – That in Boston he had sold 11,00 copies – So you see that the work has not failed in the encouragement it deserved – I am afraid I have already made this letter so long that you will hardly ever get to the end of it. I must now conclude with my most fervent wishes and prayers for our dear Mothers Speedy recovery and your continued happiness

Very Affectionately

R E Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

This letter is addressed “G. W. P. Custis, Esqr, Arlington, Near Alexandria, D.C.” The postmark is “Washington D.C. September 5.” Also on the envelope is a note, perhaps in Mary C. Lee’s handwriting, “the letter which had the sleeve pattern in.” Page one and half of page two are written by Mary Custis Lee.