Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee, Jr.
PRESIDENT OF WASHINGTON COLLEGE
PATRIOTIC MOTIVES FOR ACCEPTANCE OF TRUST—CONDITION OF COLLEGE—THE GENERAL'S ARRIVAL AT LEXINGTON—HE PREPARES FOR THE REMOVAL OF HIS FAMILY TO THAT CITY—ADVICE TO ROBERT, JUNIOR—TRIP TO "BREMO" ON PRIVATE CANAL-BOAT—MRS. LEE'S INVALIDISM
ABOUT this time my father received from the Board of Trustees of Washington College a notification of his election to the presidency of that institution, at a meeting of the board held in Lexington, Virginia, on August 4, 1865. The letter apprising him of the action was presented by Judge John W. Brockenborough, rector of the college. This was a complete surprise to my father. He had already been offered the vice-chancellorship of the "University of the South," at Sewanee, Tennessee, but declined it on the ground that it was denominational, and to some suggestions that he should connect himself with the University of Virginia he objected because it was a State institution.
Washington College had started as an academy in 1749. It was the first classical school opened in the Valley of Virginia. After a struggle of many years, under a succession of principals and with several changes of site, it at length acquired such a reputation as to attract the attention of General Washington. He gave it a handsome endowment, and the institution changed its name from "Liberty Hall Academy" to Washington College. In the summer of 1865, the college, through the calamities of civil war, had reached the lowest point of depression it had ever known. Its buildings, library, and apparatus had suffered from the sack and plunder of hostile soldiery. Its invested funds, owing to the general impoverishment throughout the land, were for the time being rendered unproductive and their ultimate value was most uncertain. Four professors still remained on duty, and there were about forty students, mainly from the country around Lexington. It was not a State institution, nor confined to any one religious denomination, so two objections which might have been made by my father were removed. But the college in later years had only a local reputation. It was very poor, indifferently equipped with buildings, and with no means in sight to improve its condition.
There was a general expectation that he would decline the position as not sufficiently lucrative, if his purpose was to repair the ruins of his private fortune resulting from the war; as not lifting him conspicuously enough in the public gaze, if he was ambitious of office or further distinction; or as involving too great labour and anxiety, if he coveted repose after the terrible contest from which he had just emerged.[note 51]
He was very reluctant to accept this appointment, but for none of the above reasons, as the average man might have been. Why he was doubtful of undertaking the responsibilities of such a position his letter of acceptance clearly shows. He considered the matter carefully and then wrote the following letter to the committee:
POWHATAN COUNTY, August 24, 1865.
Gentlemen: I have delayed for some days replying to your letter of the 5th inst., informing me of my election by the board of trustees to the presidency of Washington College, from a desire to give the subject due consideration. Fully impressed with the responsibilities of the office, I have feared that I should be unable to discharge its duties to the satisfaction of the trustees or to the benefit of the country. The proper education of youth requires not only great ability, but I fear more strength than I now possess, for I do not feel able to undergo the labour of conducting classes in regular courses of instruction. I could not, therefore, undertake more than the general administration and supervision of the institution. I could not, therefore, undertake more than the general administration and supervision of the institution. There is another subject which has caused me some serious reflection, and is, I think, worthy of the consideration of the board. Being excluded from the terms of amnesty in the proclamation of the President of the United States, of the 29th of May last, and an object of censure to a portion of the country, I have thought it probable that my occupation of the position of president might draw upon the college a feeling of hostility; and I should, therefore, cause injury to an institution which it would be my highest desire to advance. I think it the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony, and in no way to oppose the policy of the State or general government directed to that object. It is particularly incumbent on those charged with the instruction of the young to set them an example of submission to authority, and I could not consent t be the cause of animadversion upon the college. Should you, however, take a different view, and think that my services in the position tendered to me by the board will be advantageous to the college and country, I will yield to your judgement and accept it; otherwise, I must most respectfully decline the office. Begging you to express to the trustees of the college my heartfelt gratitude for the honour conferred upon me, and requesting you to accept my cordial thanks for the kind manner in which you have communicated their decision, I am, gentlemen, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
R. E. LEE.
To present a clearer view of some of the motives influencing my father in accepting this trust—for such he considered it—I give an extract from an address on the occasion of his death, by Bishop Wilmer, of Louisiana, delivered at the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee:
"I was seated," says Bishop Wilmer, "at the close of the day, in my Virginia home, when I beheld, through the thickening shades of evening, a horseman entering the yard, whom I soon recognised as General Lee. The next morning he placed in my hands the correspondence with the authorities of Washington College at Lexington. He had been invited to become president of that institution. I confess to a momentary feeling of chagrin at the proposed change (shall I say revulsion?) in his history. The institution was one of local interest, and comparatively unknown to our people. I named others more conspicuous which would welcome him with ardour at the presiding head. I soon discovered that his mind towered above these earthly distinctions; that, in his judgement, the cause gave dignity to the institution, and not the wealth of its endowment or the renown of its scholars; that this door and not another was opened to him by Providence, and he only wished to be assured of his competency to fulfil his trust and thus to make his few remaining years a comfort and blessing to his suffering country. I had spoken to his human feelings; he had now revealed himself to me as one ‘whose life was hid with Christ in God.’ My speech was no longer restrained. I congratulated him that his heart was inclined to this great cause, and that he was spared to give to the world this august testimony to the importance of Christian education. How he listened to my feeble words; how he beckoned me to his side, as the fulness of heart found utterance; how his whole countenance glowed with animation as I spoke of the Holy Ghost as the great Teacher, whose presence was required to make education a blessing, which otherwise might be the curse of mankind; how feelingly he responded, how eloquently, as I never heard him speak before—can never be effaced from memory; and nothing more sacred mingles with my reminiscences of the dead."
The board of trustees, on August 31st, adopted and sent to General Lee resolutions saying that, in spite of his objections, "his connection with the institution would greatly promote its prosperity and advance the general interest of education, and urged him to enter upon his duties as president at his earliest convenience."
My father had had nearly four years' experience in the charge of young men at West Point. The conditions at that place, to be sure, were very different from those at the one to which he was now going, but the work in the main was the same—to train, improve and elevate. I think he was influenced, in making up his mind to accept this position, by the great need of education in his State and in the South, and by the opportunity that he saw at Washington College for starting almost from the beginning, and for helping, by his experience and example, the youth of his country to become good and useful citizens.
In the latter part of September, he mounted Traveller and started alone for Lexington. He was four days on the journey, stopping with some friend each night. He rode into Lexington on the afternoon of the fourth day, no one knowing of his coming until he quietly drew up and dismounted at the village inn. Professor White, who had just turned into the main street as the General halted in front of the hotel, said he knew in a moment that this stately rider on the iron-gray charger must be General Lee. He, therefore, at once went forward, as two or three old soldiers gathered around to help the General down, and insisted on taking him to the home of Colonel Reid, the professor's father-in-law, where he had already been invited to stay. My father, with his usual consideration for others, as it was late in the afternoon, had determined to remain at the hotel that night and go to Mr. Reid's in the morning; but yielding to Captain White's (he always called him "Captain," his Confederate title) assurances that all was made ready for him, he accompanied him to the home of his kind host.
The next morning, before breakfast, he wrote the following letter to my mother announcing his safe arrival. The "Captain Edmund" and "Mr. Preston" mentioned in it were the sons of our revered friend and benefactress Mrs. E. R. Cocke. Colonel Preston and Captain Frank were her brother and nephew:
LEXINGTON, September 19, 1865.
My Dear Mary: I reached here yesterday about one P.M., and on riding up to the hotel was met by Professor White, of Washington College, who brought me up to his father-in-law's, Colonel Reid, the oldest member of the trustees of the college, where I am very comfortably quartered. To-day I will look out for accommodations elsewhere, as the Colonel has a large family and I fear I am intruding upon his hospitality. I have not yet visited the college grounds. They seem to be beautifully located, and the buildings are undergoing repairs. The house assigned to the president, I am told, has been rented to Dr. Madison (I believe), who has not been able to procure another residence, and I do not know when it will be vacated, nor can I tell you more about it. I saw Mrs. Cocke yesterday afternoon, who looks remarkably well, and will return to the Alum [Springs] to-morrow. Captain Edmund is with her and goes to-day to Kentucky. He and Mr. Preston, are very ell. The latter will accompany his mother to the Alum. I have not yet seen him. I saw Mrs. and Colonel Preston, Captain Frank, and his sister. All the family are well. I shall go after breakfast to inquire after my trunks. I had a very pleasant journey here. The first two days were very hot, but, reaching the mountain region the third day, the temperature was much cooler. I came up in four days' easy rides, getting to my stopping-place by one P.M. each day, except the third, when I slept on top of the Blue Ridge, which I reached at three P.M. The scenery was beautiful all the way. I am writing before breakfast, and must be short. Last night I found a blanket and coverlid rather light covering, and this morning I see a fire in the dining-room. I have thought much of you all since I left. Give much love to the girls and Custis and remember me to all at "Oakland." Most affectionately yours,
R. E. LEE.
MRS. R. E. LEE.
When he first arrived, the family, very naturally, stood a little in awe of him. This feeling, however, was soon dispelled, for his simple and unaffected manners in a short while put them at ease. There were some little children in the house, and they and the General at once became great friends. With these kind and hospitable friends he stayed several days. After being present at a meeting of the board of trustees, he rode Traveller over to the Rockbridge Baths—eleven miles from Lexington—and from there writes to my mother, on September 25th:
. . . Am very glad to hear of Rob's arrival. I am sorry that I missed seeing the latter, but find it was necessary that I should have been present at the meeting of the board of trustees on the 20th. They adjourned on the eve of the 21st, and on the morning of the 22d I rode over here, where I found Annie and Miss Belle.[note 52] . . . The babies[note 53] are well and sweet. I have taken the baths every day since my arrival, and like them very much. In fact, they are delightful, and I wish you were all here to enjoy them. . . . Annie and Belle go in two, and sometimes three, times a day. Yesterday I procured some horses and took them up to the top of Jump Mountain, where we had one of the most beautiful views I ever saw. To-day I could get but one horse, and Miss Belle and I rode up Hays Creek Valley, which possessed beauties of a different kind. I shall return to Lexington on the 29th. I perceive, as yet, no change in my rheumatic affection. . . . Tell Custis I am much obliged to him for his attention to my baggage. All the articles enumerated by him arrived safely at Colonel Reid's Thursday morning early. I also received the package of letters he sent. . . . I hope he may receive the appointment at the V.M.I. Everyone interested has expressed a desire he should do so, and I am more desirous than all of them. If he comes by land, he will find the route I took very pleasant, and about 108 miles, namely: "Bremo"—Dr. Wilmer's—Waynesboro'—Greenville. He will find me at the Lexington Hotel. . . . I wish you were all here with me. I feel very solitary and miss you all dreadfully. Give much love to the girls and boys—kind remembrances to Mrs. P., Miss Louisa, and Mrs. Thos. Cocke. I have no news. Most affectionately,
R. E. LEE.
P.S.—Annie Belle send a great deal of love to all. R.E.L.
These little excursions and the meeting with old friends and dear cousins were sources of real enjoyment and grateful rest. The pains of the past, the worries of the present, and the cares for the future were, for the time being, banished. My father earnestly desired a quiet, informal inauguration, and his wish was gratified. On October 2, 1865, in the presence of the trustees, professors and students, after solemn and appropriate prayer by the Rev. W. S. White, D.D., the oldest Christian minister in the town,[note 54] he took the oath of office as required by the laws of the college, and was thus legally inaugurated as its president.
On October 3d he wrote my mother:
. . . I am glad to hear that Rob is improving, and hope you had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Dana.[note 55] . . . The college opened yesterday, and a fine set of youths, about fifty, made their appearance in a body. It is supposed that many more will be coming during the month. The scarcity of money everywhere embarrasses all proceedings. General Smith informs me that the Military Institute will commence its exercises on the 16th inst.; and that Custis was unanimously elected to the chair of Civil Engineering.[note 56] I am living at the Lexington Hotel, and he must come there if he comes up. . . . The ladies have furnished me a very nice room in the college for my office; new carpet from Baltimore, curtains, etc. They are always doing something kind. . . . I came up September 30th from the Baths. Annie and Miss Belle still there and very well. They expect to be here on the 10th. . . . You tell me nothing of the girls. I hope Agnes is getting strong and fat. I wished for them both at the Baths. Annie and Belle were my only companions. I could not trespass upon them always. The scenery is beautiful here, but I fear it will be locked up in winter by the time you come. Nothing could be more beautiful than the mountains now. . . . Most affectionately,
R. E. LEE.
In addition to his duties as college president, my father had to make all the arrangements for his new home. The house assigned him by the college was occupied by Dr. Madison, who was to move out as soon as he could. Carpenters, painters and glaziers had to be put to work to get it into condition; furniture, carpets, bedding to be provided, a cook procured, servants and provisions supplied.
My mother was an invalid and absent, and as my sisters were with her, everything down to the minutest details was done by my father's directions and under his superintendence. He had always been noted for his care and attention to the little things, and that trait, apparent in him when a mere lad, practised all through his busy and eventful life, stood him in good stead now. The difficulties to be overcome were made greater by the scarcity and inaccessibility of supplies and workmen and the smallness of his means. In addition, he conducted a large correspondence, always answering every letter. To every member of his family he wrote continually, and was interested in all our pursuits, advising and helping us as no one else could have done. Some of his letters to my mother at this time show how he looked into every matter, great or small, which related to her comfort and welfare, and to the preparation of her new home. For example, on October 9th he writes:
. . . Life is indeed gliding away and I have nothing of good to show for mine that is past. I pray I may be spared to accomplish something for the benefit of mankind and the honour of God. . . . I hope I may be able to get the house prepared for you in time to reach here before the cold weather. Dr. Madison has sent me word that he will vacate the house on the 16th inst., this day week. I will commence to make some outside repairs this week, so as to get at the inside next, and hope by the 1st of November it will be ready for you. There is no furniture belonging to the house, but we shall require but little to commence with. Mr. Green, of Alexandria, to whom I had written, says that his manufacturing machinery, etc., has been so much injured that, although it has been returned to him, he cannot resume operations until next year, but that he will purchase for us anything we desire. I believe nothing is manufactured in Richmond—everything comes from the North, and we might as well write to Baltimore at once for what we want. What do you think? I believe nothing of consequence is manufactured here. I will see this week what can be done. . . .
And again, a few days later, he writes:
. . . I hope you are all well, and as comfortable as can be. I am very anxious to get you all here, but have made little progress in accomplishing it so far. Dr. M. expects to vacate the house this week, but I fear it is not certain he can do so. . . . I engaged some carpenters last week to repair the roof, fences, stable, etc., but for want of material they could not make a commencement. There is no lumber here at hand. Everything has to be prepared. I have not been in the house yet, but I hear there is much to be done. We shall have to be patient. As soon as it is vacated, I will set to work. I think it will be more expeditious and cheaper to write to Renwick [of Baltimore] to send what articles of furniture will be required, and also to order some carpets from Baltimore. . . .
In a postscript, dated the 17th, he says:
The carpenters made a beginning on the house yesterday. I hope it may be vacated this week. I will prepare your room first. The rest of us can bivouac. Love to all. Most affectionately,
R. E. LEE.
On October 19th:
. . . I have been over the house we are to occupy. It is in wretched condition. Mrs. M. has not yet vacated it, but I have some men at work, though this storm has interrupted their operations and I fear little will be done this week. I think I can make your room comfortable. The upstairs is very convenient and the rest of the house sufficiently so. I think you had better write at once to Brit[note 57] to send the curtains you speak of, and the carpets. It is better to use what we have than to buy others. Their use where originally intended[note 58] is very uncertain. They have been tossed about for four years, and may be lost or ruined. They can come by express to Lynchburg, and then up the canal, or by Richmond. The merchants say the former is the best way—much more expeditious and but little more expensive.
Spending the summer on the Pamunkey at the White House, exposed all day in the fields to the sun, and at night to the malaria from the river and marshes, I became by the last of September one continuous "chill," so it was decided that, as the corn was made, the fodder saved, the wheat land broken up, and hands not so greatly needed, I should get a furlough. Mounting my mare, I started on a visit to my mother and sisters, hoping that the change to the upper country would help me to get rid of the malaria. When I reached "Derwent" my father had gone to Lexington, but my mother and the rest were there to welcome me and dose me for my ailments. There was still some discussion among us all as to what was the best thing for me to do, and I wrote to my father, telling him of my preference for a farmer's life and my desire to work my own land. The following letter, which he wrote me in reply, is, like all I ever got from him, full of love, tenderness, and good, sensible advice:
My Dear Son: I did not receive until yesterday your letter of the 8th inst. I regret very much having missed seeing you—still more to hear that you have been suffering from intermittent fever. I think the best thing you can do is to eradicate the disease from your system, and unless there is some necessity for your returning to the White House, you had better accompany your mother here. I have thought very earnestly as to your future. I do not know to what stage your education has been carried, or whether it would be advantageous for you to pursue it further. Of that you can judge. If you do, and will apply yourself so as to get the worth of your money, I can advance it to you for this year at least. If you do not, and wish to take possession of your farm, I can assist you a little in that. As matters now stand, you could raise money on your farm only by mortgaging it, which would put you in debt at the beginning of your life, and I fear in the end would swallow up all your property. As soon as I am restored to civil rights, if I ever am, I will settle up your grandfather's estate, and put you in possession of your share. The land may be responsible for some portion of his debts or legacies. If so, you will have to assume it. In the meantime, I think it would be better for you, if you determine to farm your land, to go down there as you propose and begin on a moderate scale. I can furnish you means to buy a team, wagon, implements, etc. What will it cost? If you cannot wait to accompany your mother here, come up to see me and we can talk it over. You could come up in the packet and return again. If you do come, ask Agnes for my box of private papers I left with her, and bring it with you; but do not lose it for your life, or we are all ruined. Wrap it up with your clothes and put it in a carpet-bag or valise, so that you can keep it with you or within your sight, and do not call attention to it. I am glad to hear that Fitzhugh keeps so well, and that he is prospering in his farming operations. Give him a great deal of love for me. The first thing you must do is to get well. Your affectionate father,
R. E. LEE.
His letters to his daughters tell, in a playful way, much of his life, and are full of the quiet humor in which he so often indulged. We were still at "Derwent," awaiting the time when the house in Lexington should be ready. It had been decided that I should remain and accompany my mother and sisters to Lexington, and that some of us, or all, should go up the river to "Bremo," the beautiful seat of Dr. Charles Cocke, and pay a visit there before proceeding to Lexington. Here is a letter from my father to his daughter Mildred:
LEXINGTON, October 29, 1865.
My Precious Life: Your nice letter gave me much pleasure and made me the more anxious to see you. I think you girls, after your mother is comfortable at "Bremo," will have to come up and arrange the house for her reception. You know I am a poor hand and can do nothing without your advice. Your brother, too, is wild for the want of admonition. Col. Blair is now his "fidus Achates," and as he is almost as gray as your papa, and wears the same uniform, all gray, he is sometimes taken for him by the young girls, who consider your brother the most attentive of sons, and giving good promise of making a desirable husband. He will find himself married some of these days before he knows it. You had better be near him. I hope you give attention to Robert. Miss Sallie will thaw some of the ice from his heart. Tell her she must come up here, as I want to see her badly. I do not know what you will do with your chickens, unless you take them to "Bremo," and thus bring them here. I suppose Robert would not eat "Laura Chilton" and "Don Ella McKay." Still less would he devour his sister "Mildred."[note 59] I have scarcely gotten acquainted with the young ladies. They look very nice in the walks, but I rarely get near them. Traveller is my only companion; I may also say my pleasure. He and I, whenever practicable, wander out in the mountains and enjoy sweet confidence. The boys are plucking out his tail, and he is presenting the appearance of a plucked chicken. Two of the belles of the neighborhood have recently been married—Miss Mattie Jordan to Dr. Cameron, and Miss Rose Cameron to Dr. Sherod. The former couple go to Louisburg, West Virginia, and start to-morrow on horseback, the bride's trousseau in a baggage wagon; the latter to Winchester. Miss Sherod, one of the bridesmaids, said she knew you there. I did not attend the weddings, but have seen the pairs of doves. Both of the brides are remarkable in this county of equestrianism for their good riding and beauty. With true affection, Your fond father,
R. E. LEE.
To his daughter Agnes, about the same time, he writes:
LEXINGTON, Virginia, October 26, 1865.
My Dear Agnes: I will begin the correspondence of the day by thanking you for your letter of the 9th. It will, I am sure, be to me intellectually what my morning's feast is corporeally. It will strengthen me for the day, and smooth the rough points which constantly protrude in my epistles. I am glad Robert is with you. It will be a great comfort to him, and I hope, in addition, will dissipate his chills. He can also accompany you in your walks and rides and be that silent sympathy (for he is a man of few words) which is so soothing. Though marble to women, he is so only externally, and you will find him warm and cheering. Tell him I want him to go to see Miss Francis Galt (I think her smile will awake some sweet music in him), and be careful to take precautions against the return of the chills, on the 7th, 14th, and 21st days. . . . I want very much to have you all with me again, and miss you dreadfully. I hope another month will accomplish it. In the meantime, you must get very well. This is a beautiful spot by nature—man has done but little for it. Love to all. Most affectionately, Your father,
R. E. LEE.
About the first week of November we all went by canal-boat to "Bremo," some twenty-five miles up the James River, where we remained the guests of Doctor and Mrs. Charles Cocke until we went to Lexington. My sister Agnes, while there, was invited to Richmond to assist at the wedding of a very dear friend, Miss Sally Warwick. She wrote my father asking his advice and approval, and received this reply, so characteristic of his playful, humorous mood:
LEXINGTON, Virginia, November 16, 1865.
My Precious Little Agnes: I have just received your letter of the 13th and hasten to reply. It is very hard for you to apply to me to advise you to go away from me. You know how much I want to see you, and how important you are to me. But in order to help you to make up your mind, if it will promote your pleasure and Sally's happiness, I will say go. You may inform Sally from me, however, that no preparations are necessary, and if they were no one could help her. She has just got to wade through it as if it was an attack of measles or anything else—naturally. As she would not marry Custis, she may marry whom she chooses. I shall wish her every happiness, just the same, for she knows nobody loves her as much as I do. I do not think, upon reflection, she will consider it right to refuse my son and take away my daughter. She need not tell me whom she is going to marry. I suppose it is some cross old widower, with a dozen children. She will not be satisfied at her sacrifice with less, and I should think that would be cross sufficient. I hope "Life" is not going to desert us too, and when are we to see you? . . . I have received your mother's letter announcing her arrival at "Bremo." . . . Tell your mother, however, to come when she chooses and when most to her comfort and convenience. She can come to the hotel where I am, and stay until the house is ready. There is no difficulty in that, and she can be very comfortable. My rooms are up on the 3d floor and her meals can be sent to her. Tel Rob the chills will soon leave him now. Mrs. Cocke will cure him. Give much love to your mamma, Mildred, Rob, and all at "Bremo." Your affectionate father,
R. E. LEE.
Miss Agnes Lee.
Colonel Ellis, President of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company, placed at my mother's disposal his private boat, which enabled her to reach "Bremo" with great ease and comfort, and when she was ready to go to Lexington the same boat was again given her. It was well fitted up with sleeping accommodations, carried a cook, and had a dining-room. It corresponded to the private car of the present railroad magnate, and, though not so sumptuous, was more roomy and comfortable. When provisions became scarce we purchased fresh supplies from any farm-house near the canal-bank, tied up at night, and made about four miles an hour during the day. It was slow but sure, and no mode of travel, even at the present day, could have suited my mother better. She was a great invalid from rheumatism, and had to be lifted whenever she moved. When put in her wheel-chair, she could propel herself on a level floor, or could move about her room very slowly and with great difficulty on her crutches, but she was always bright, sunny-tempered, and uncomplaining, constantly occupied with her books, letters, knitting, and painting, for the last of which she had a great talent.
On November 20th my father writes to her from Lexington:
I was very glad to hear, by your letter of the 11th, of your safe arrival at "Bremo." I feel very grateful to Col. Ellis for his thoughtful consideration in sending you in his boat, as you made the journey in so much more comfort. It is indeed sad to be removed from our kind friends at "Oakland," who seemed never to tire of contributing to our convenience and pleasure, and who even continue their kindness at this distance. Just as the room which I had selected for you was finished, I received the accompanying note from Mrs. Cocke, to which I responded and thanked her in your name, placing the room at her disposal. The paint is hardly dry yet, but will be ready this week, to receive the furniture if completed. I know no more about it than is contained in her note. I was also informed, last night, that a very handsome piano had been set up in the house, brought from Baltimore by the maker as a present from his firm or some friends. I have not seen it or the maker. This is an article of furniture that we might well dispense with under present circumstances, though I am equally obliged to those whose generosity prompted its bestowal. Tell Mildred I shall now insist on her resuming her music, and, in addition to her other labours, she must practise seven hours a day on the piano, until she becomes sufficiently proficient to play agreeably to herself and others, and promptly and gracefully, whenever invited. I think we should enjoy all the amenities of life that are within our reach, and which have been provided for us by our Heavenly Father. . . . I am sorry Rob has a return of his chills, but he will soon lose them now. Ask Miss Mary to disperse them. She is very active and energetic; they cannot stand before her. . . . I hope Agnes has received my letter, and that she has made up her mind to come up to her papa. Tell her there are plenty of weddings here, if she likes those things. There is to be one Tuesday—Miss Mamie Williamson to Captain Eoff. Beverley Turner is to be married the same night, to Miss Rose Skinker, and sweet Margaret will also leave us. If they go at three a night, there will soon be none of our acquaintances left. I told Agnes to tell you to come up whenever most convenient to you. If the house is habitable I will take you there. If not, will bring you to the hotel. . . . I wish I could take advantage of this fine weather to perform the journey. . . .
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