<br /> Lee Letter: v039

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Charles Carter Lee

My dear Carter

The day after I rec – d your letter relative to the Situation of our poor Sister in Paris, I obtained from Major Lewis the letter of Monsr Bouchon to which it referred. I was not prepared to find that the prospect of want was to be added to her Sad condition, but as Such is the fact it is necessary that prompt measures be adopted for her relief. It Seems to me vain to rely for her support in Paris upon You, Smith and myself. However strong may Be our inclination we could not calculate on annually furnishing $900. which it appears is requisite in addition to her own income. My means are hardly sufficient for the maintenance of my present family, my expenses will be yearly increased, and I can have no expectation of augmenting my income for years, perhaps during my life. Smith is in the same situation, and your business is so uncertain that however sanguine you may be you can not be more certain of the future than of the past – How could we then conscientiously obligate ourselves to pay this sum when we do not know that we should have it; and would it be right to allow Mrs Lee to remain in Paris with the prospect of obtaining her supplies from these uncertain resources.

As you have asked my opinion as to “what is to be done,” I will tell you frankly what I think best. That Rich – d Stuart take his sister to his house, and her property into his hands and manage it for her benefit. In her situation she ought not to be left to the care of strangers and indeed I think it wrong for her to remain so far away from those to whom she can look for protection. Under these impressions, and at your request to write to Mr Stuart if I thought it proper to consult with him upon the crisis presented by Bouchons letter, I have enclosed it for his perusal, and stated to him the substance of yours to me so far as it refers to the subject in question. I also plainly told him the difficulties that presented themselves to our raising the necessary sum, viz the uncertainty of your business, the inadequacy of my means and Smiths, but that I would cheerfully pay my portion as long as I was able, and that I have felt it my duty to give him this information thus explicitly from the urgency of the case, and to afford him an opportunity of taking whatever course he thought proper. I doubt whether he will think it incumbent on him to adopt that which I have already stated to you I thought the best, and he may think he has good reasons for not doing so. You must not understand that I recomm – d it to him, as I thought that would come more properly from you. As to the difficulties which you think she herself would interpose, and his objections to live with any one but yourself; I think if the matter was plainly stated to her, so as to shew her the situation of her affairs and of your own, that unless she is entirely changed from what I recollect her, she would see the necessity of yielding to circumstances. There is no one so able to take care of her and manage her property as he to whom she can most naturally look, and on the other hand he ought not to hesitate to undertake it, but go to Paris and bring her home –

Having now candidly given you my views upon this subject according to your request, you must not think I have been influenced by any unwillingness to contribute such assistance as I am able. I have already said that I will cheerfully give my portion and I only wish that I was able to do more. Whether Smith and Mildred can make the arrangement you propose I do not know, and we are all so far separated, and our situations so uncertain, that in my opinion it is highly imprudent to run the risk of a disappointment which would be so painful and embarrassing. Therefore she ought to at all events I think be somewhere in this Country, where she could live comfortably for much less than she is now doing in Paris, and be near her friends.

Major Lewis inf – d me that he had rec – d $300. of the draft you mentioned which he would remit by the next packet. He was trying to negotiate a bill of exchange on as favourable terms as he could. They are asking from 7 to 9 per cent. I was much relieved at his having obtained even that portion as the application of the $600 to the purpose I mentioned to you in my letter to Winchester did not leave me $20 in pocket. This was a part that I had intended to lay out in some professional books which however I can for the present dispense with. I know not what is to be done about the 2nd Vol: of Napoleon. I have seen Franck Taylor at Major Lewis, request who declines making an arrangement about them. I hope the Major may be able to do something with him, or with some one else. When you see so many calls for money and no possibility of getting it, it ought to make you more cautious of increasing the demand, and less sanguine of meeting new engagements. I presume Major Lewis will write himself on these matters and when I hear from Rich – d Stuart I will let you know what he says. I saw Bernard yesterday in Wash: He was waiting the return of his father from Phil – a Chas: Turner had arr – d from N. York the day before, and I went over with him on his way to Kinlock. He takes the stage tomorrow. We met at Fullers Blade Dulaney who is ordered to the West-Indies and wished to get relieved – He says John Hill looks very badly and is in very bad spirits in consequence of poor Shirleys death – All unite in much love and

I remain yours very sinc – y

R E Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

This letter is addressed “C. C. Lee Esqr, Cacapon Forge Near, Wardensville, Virginia.”