<br /> Lee Letter: w143

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Unknown
Recipient: “my dearest Mary”

If my dearest Mary was aware of the extent of my engagements since I came to this place I am sure she would pardon my apparent neglect or forgetfulness on my part – under this impression I will avoid the disagreeable apologetic strain usually presented to correspondents – and commence at once with our pleasures which I am sure will be more acceptable to my fair friend – The first of our engagements you are already privy to I mean the party like – I can only acquaint you of Mrs Scoots party & diners others that have served to pass our evening hours – & in the morning visit the kind folks that of the old settled motions to me & the young stylish bucks to Rosalie – except the morning ones – It would serve you for the moment – but grieve you to the soul & our sake often awhile to see me at the horrible state of things cornered by some old Grandame talking about the sober realities of life – tis seldom indeed that I can even peep into the formal scenes of my youth One says “Mrs Lomox when do you intend to <illegible> keeping; another says tis rough I think for you to attend to your respective family – you had better remain with your two parents – is worth the advice of many & the horrible anticipations of all I am in a complete state of doubt & fear – tho finding apart I would recommend to all my young friend to seek out & help <illegible> for themselves tis indeed of the <illegible> status we appreciate as much quiet & indisposed of the work – E. Mason arrived last evening with your short letter to Rose – I really grieve at your present last condition – Indeed you should be more provident & if you will not engage yourself to your numerous swains – at least keep some hangers on in case of desertion – Only then you will be more grieve at your state too when I tell you the fair Boon Mason is in for promotion only I imagine him the idol of Lawyers and a Bank Man – and a celebrated village Dr and how one full indeed – the only <illegible> swains that I speak of, which are many others who are studying hard their favorite language of flowers & making ready their bouquets – She is of course in fine spirits – giving each imploring glance its due encouragement – & sometimes whispering neighbouring Judges (who by the by I forgot to lead the list with) – many unheard of before compliments – This Judge is a fat jolly soul of about 40 – a widower with some children – so you see all that trouble which many say I have here Miss Anna will like this – tho for my own part I should prefer the little Bank man whose affection I am so plainly is so great that word, one to feint to sap up his growing feelings a gentle squeeze of the hand or arm in returning from the portion – on a look – is all he can present to show that his “words are bonds,” his oath oracles his “looks” pure messengers sent from the heart.

I saw Mr Tayloe on his return from Arlington – He looked in fine spirits – I said he should return to the Dist to collect from you again something more to support life – consequently I conclude you have been kind –

Poor Richard is in great dismay at having so formidable a rival – & says when he writes do tell me all about Miss Mary – she has been very sick – but is better now – Cousin Howard is our life – yet his fund of anecdote & originality will never aspire – he often speaks of you – & joins in our ardent wish that you could be with us to animate our party to Culpepper – We propose proceeding on our trip in ten days – having no particular object in view I imagine we shall spend the chief part of our time in travelling & viewing the different curiosities –

A few evenings Rosa & myself with a large party of young folks took unto ourselves a ride on horseback I by way of being young again – & determined to have all the fun I could make M L remain at home – After proceeding about 3 miles from town we were soon taken by a severe storm of thunder rain & hail – We rode a perfect John Gilpin race – I soon lost my stirrup – & really anticipated the departure of the limb which it supported – but we fortunately got home with all our limbs safe & sound – but not to the skin – Mr Lomox tho we found nearly expired with fright – & as soon as I appeared I know the melancholy sound of – never again while you and I – so think not of proposing it – If you do a <illegible> be certainly prepared for you – I feel quite anxious to have the opportunity to shew my authority which when I do I will inform you as I am sure you will rejoice in the dignity & authority which I possess –

One Thursday we took a walk to Chatham – the seat of your Ancestors – I went with all the feeling of my friend I am sure to this abode of the youthful joys of her dear Mother & I am sure felt all she could have done – Rosa & I talked of the scenes we expected she had enjoyed – wished for you a thousand times & culled from apparently old shrubs some cuttings which we concluded might be valuable – the situation is a beautiful one – the wreck of former grandeur splind<or> out & I may say hospitality in the large mansion remained – to tell of days gone by – I saw some of the old servants come forward to see us – & drank in the former dairy of your grandfather some delightful Buttermilk – we were kindly permitted to walk through out the house – & we though (or looked on the hearth where your mother had so often enjoyed herself in youthful gambols – with as in the commencement of her entry into the world as a woman) of the enjoyment she <illegible> experience in viewing them again – But tho vivid the scenes may be to us of youthful pleasures yet to them they are forgotten – as Byron beautifully says dear the school boy spot we near forget – tho we are forgotten

Notes:

Robert E. Lee Papers (064 collection)Leyburn Library

This letter, in very poor handwriting, was written possibly by Mrs. Lomax, a daughter-in-law of Elizabeth Lindsay Lomax, and may have been addressed to Mary E. McCormick McDonald or Mary Custis Lee.