From the 4 August 1878 issue of The New York Times.



A letter from Naples, Italy, to the Columbia (S.C.) Register contains the following: “Miss Mary Custis Lee, a daughter of Gen. Robert E. Lee, arrived here a few days ago, in company with some lady friends, from Malta, who registered at the Hotel Royal des Etrangers. It appears that during the night of July 8 the mosquito-bar around the bed ignited accidentally from a candle which Miss Lee had lighted. In a few moments the flames spread and caught the lace curtains, and the room was soon enveloped in flames, which Miss Lee heroically endeavored to supress, but without success, and fearing that the hotel might be burned, she gave the alarm of fire, which soon was heard by some gentlemen who were occupying rooms on the same floor, when ex-Judge Samuel W. Melton, and Mr. W. A. Clark, of Columbia, S.C., were the first who came to the rescue of Miss Lee, and succeeded in saving her money and valuable jewelry from the flames. The morning following the fire Miss Lee expressed her willingness to pay all damages, though the fire had occurred from accident. The proprietor, taking advantage of the lady, demanded 2,000 francs, which was a preposterous and enormous charge for the damange. A gentleman from Ohio, a Mr. Poland, a guest of the hotel, who has been Vice-President of an insurance company for a number of years, estimated the damage at $70. The friends of Miss Lee at once demurred to this enormous charge. The American Cousul, (Mr. Duncan), at this place was exceedingly kind, and protested against the payment of any such sum. The proprietor now being foiled in his disgraceful effort to overcharge for damage occurring from accident, became insolent, and spoke in a manner which reflected upon Miss Lee. The insult was quickly resented. Mr. Clark, of Columbia, S.C., struck him over the head with an umbrella. In a few moments the proprietor was surrounded by a number of Italians, who were clerks, waiters, and attachés of the hotel, but they were met by Judge Melton, Col. John T. Sloan, Jr., Mr. D. A. P. Jordan, of South Carolina, and Dr. I. B. Roberts, of Georgia, who by their courage and determination, caused them to stampede and call for the Police. A large crowd soon assembled about the hotel. The proprietor was denounced by Col. Sloan for his conduct toward Miss Lee, and challenged to go into the garden and answer for the same with swords or pistols, which he declined to accept.”