From the 15 June 1871 issue of The New York Times.

ROBERT E. LEE.


His Views of the Political Duty of the South—His Anxious Wish for the Restoration of Good Feeling.
From the Richmond Dispatch, June 13.

Gen. LEE viewed the situation in a military sense. He considered his countrymen of the South and himself as captives and prisoners. His high sense of honor and personal dignity would not permit him to rail at those who held him in custody. He truly considered that unmanly and peevish. To indulge the language of exasperation or the wail of lamentation was equally abhorrent to his ideas of true manhood. He therefore bore himself like a man with a conscience void of offense, knowing that he was at the mercy of his captors, and submitting himself to their power.

Nothing gave Gen. LEE so much concern as the haste with which the Press and public men at the South rushed into the politcal canvass, deluded by the ignis fatuus set up by President JOHNSON after his infamous $20,000 amnesty proclamation. He did not think it wise or becoming. Adhering to his idea of what should be the conduct of captives, he feared, and justly feared, that while this was unbecoming in the South, it would exasperate those who held us at their mercy, and increase the severity of the sufferings of his own people. He was not anxious for himself.

As late as a month prior to his death he held to his opinions on this point. The writer of this then met him, and beginning with the assurance that he was no interviewer, as the General knew, and would make no improper use of any remark he might make, asked him how he felt about the political condition of the country. He replied that he thought there was some improvement, but still there was a great deal to deplore in regard to the temper of the discussions North and South—that they opposed a great obstacle to the restoration of peace. He alluded particularly to the tone of the Southern Press, and said that though greatly improved, there was still room for improvement. We put in a plea for the Press in respect to its promptness in vindicating the South from false accusations, and as an illustration referred to an article in this paper commenting upon the surprise expressed by a Northern journal that Gen. LEE could possibly have fought with the South, as he was opposed to slavery. In that comment we assumed that the opposition to slavery was not rare in the South—that Virginia had been very near abolishing slavery in ’30, and that many prominent Southern men, adopting Mr. JEFFERSON’S views, favored abolition as the best for the welfare of the Southern people; and taht these men had a higher motive than the defense of slavery in their taking up the cause of the South.

The General replied that controversy did no good—that the Northern journal should have known his opinions long ago—that he expressed them before the Reconstruction Committee, in answer to their questions—that his father before him was opposed to slavery as a public evil in Virginia. All this ought to be known, and his motives in standing by his native State ought to be known everywhere. But controversy is unavailing, said he; it does no good, and only protracts the day of peace and national harmony. In this spirit he conversed a while, and then changed the topic of conversation.

Gen. LEE was more anxious for his countrymen, especially for Virginia, than he was for himself. He yearned for quiet and order for the country, and for the subsidence of bitter sectional animosity. If anything hastened his death it was the disturbed state of his country and the mad passions which delayed the restoration of good feeling and general peace.