<br /> Lee Letter: v045

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Charles Carter Lee

My dear Carter

On my return from West Point a few days ago with an attack of the grippe upon me, I found your letter & one from Mr Childe enclosing the half sheet to you which I now send. If it was not for the pain I feel at the trouble & vexation of your situation, I should have to laugh at the grandeur of your plans & the hopelessness of raising funds from the three main supporters of the firm, yourself, Smith & myself. The description you give of the spring & the prospects of the increased value of the property are very flattering, but how in the world are they to be made available. Nothing can be done without money, & it is the very kind of property that requires a large outlay before any profit can be realized & then it will depend upon fashion & prejudice. I would with great pleasure send the amt you write for, without however having much expectation of reaping any advantage, or more than I would from the purchase of a lottery ticket, but merely to gratify you, if I had it or could raise it. But I have not got it & I have no means of raising it. It was as much as I could do to make both ends meet this year & I am now anxiously looking for the dividend of the VA. Bank to enable me square off all scores & to send Custis back to school 1st of September. You see what Mr. Childe says. People are not going to advance or lend money upon doubtful security – He no doubt has need of all his cash & now that his Mother will be travelling with him his expenses will be increased. I hardly ever expect they will return to (to live in) this Country. Mildred will always oppose it I think, & as Childe finds himself more comfortable & perhaps better in Europe he will not urge it. I mention this much as my opinion formed from their letters, & lest you may be too sanguine of assistance from that quarter. As for myself I believe if I had a thousand for every hundred dollars I have, I should not have enough for all the demands upon me for money, not so much on my own acct as on all of those near & dear to me who require aid & whom I am powerless to serve. Smith came down on Saturday to see us & left with me your letter to him enclosing certain bonds. He will himself write you about them. I do not think I understand the matter rightly, for judging from your letter there seems to be in your opinion little chance of our ever being called upon for the money & yet you have executed promissory notes for nearly $1000.00 for all of which payment may be demanded on the 4 of next September. Smith expects to go to sea next week & says he has not the means of meeting any of these notes & as I have not I cannot enter into an obligation to perform what I know I cannot accomplish. What is to be done I know not. The time has expired or nearly so that you gave as the limit of action. Before we can hear from you again Smith will probably have sailed & then it will be too late to execute bonds of indemnity which it seems to me is all that would be necessary in the case you mention – If it is not too late write us what can be done. We are all pretty well. Custis came on with Smith to spend his vacation with us. Mary sends sends a great deal of love in which she is joined by the boys. Mrs Custis when she last wrote was very poorly & it was very doubtful whether she could come on to see us this Summer. The Majors finances she thinks not permitting it. Poor Anne is still confined to her room. We have been urging her to come on & try the salt bathing again but she has not yet determined to do so – Very truly

& affr

R E Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives