Lexington 6th February 1871

I have not written to you my dear brother Carter because I feared it might rather be an annoyance to you to receive letters that you were unable to answer, but as Lucy wrote me you took some interest in hearing from me, I have determined to write. I have waited for some days hoping to receive a check from Richardson as he wrote me he would send it as early in February as possible, but so far have waited in vain, & will now only let this letter lay over till next mail. I was in hopes to have sent it ere this & that it might have served to procure you some comforts & paid some debts, but we have to be patient, in all things & bide our time, remembering its is God, the omniscient & all Merciful who ordains our trials as well as our enjoyments. I trust & pray that He may comfort & support you in your hour of weakness & suffering for He cannot fail those who trust only in Him Remember how long He has sustained you in health and animal spirits & now when these are failing you, look to Him & Him alone He Heard & answered of all who pray to Him humbly & earnestly.


            “The future His mercy shall clear

            “And what looks dark in the distance, may              

brighten as I draw near,

            “For perhaps the dreadful future, has less

bitterness than I think,

            “The Lord may sweeten the water before I stoop

“to drink.”

            “or if Marah? must be Marah? he will stand

beside its brink”1


He knows what you need & stands waiting to be gracious, the Ruler of the Universe waiting on one poor sinner, who would seem but an atom in creation & yet precious in His sight, Let your soul seek comfort in the promises for none of us can plead with god any claim than that in the prayer of the Publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Your dear brother was unable to express any of his hopes or feelings, Yet the sublime resignation apparent in his whole bearing, assured us that God was with him. He had been for many years the most humble Christians I ever knew & for the last few years ripening for Heaven, that we may all meet there when our Father in Heaven sees fit to call us hence is the prayer of your affectionate sister.


Mary Custis Lee



Source: Photostat of original letter, vertical files, Jessie Ball DuPont Library, Stratford Hall. Original held by Yale University Manuscripts and Archives Library.


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 March 28



1. From the religious poem, “Not Knowing,” which was published in 1869 by Mary Gardiner Brainard (1837-1905).