Sender: Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee
Sender: Mildred Childe Lee
Recipient: Harry Lee
I was very much gratified my dear Harry to receive your affectionate letter & to hear that you were pursuing a course calculated to improve your health & with it your usefulness & capacity for study You know what an advocate I am for early rising & then to work with your dear father must render it more pleasant to you, Tell him I wish my son Custis had his taste & energy in such matters. I think my garden would be better for it & his health also yet we must not expect perfection in one poor mortal & I must be thankful for the good he has. You would scarcely know the house now It looks so nice the walls have all been - also mine a nice kind of coloured wash. The parlour rose colour, dining room & library nile green my room buff & all the up stairs pearl colour hall fawn, - for the first time since it was built it looks like a new house
When we get our pictures hung up it will have a more home like appearance.
I enclose the picture of Dr Andrews but am almost ashamed to send it to him & indifferently done, but I have tried my best for it is a fine photograph & a splendid looking boy, but none of the Custis often being finished will take the paint smoothly & you have to put it on in little dots which does not look so well - under a glass it will not shew so much - Thank him too for the one he sent me which I value very highly I regret very much that the building committee here have not decided to employ the two young men he recommended so highly as I am sure they, that is the vestry would gain by the transaction as part of the work men here are very unreliable but having said my say I have done all I could, in the matter There is I believe a good mason here & it will be more time before any thing else is needed Every one is preparing for the examinations & we have just had a delightful rain to prepare the face of nature, we had almost begun to fear it might never come, at least until it was too late, but man's extremity is you know God's opportunity & that kind Father is always far better to us than we deserve, or even expect for few of us can respond to the invitation Open thy mouth wide & I will fill it I have seen Mr Rust lately I fear his finger will never be restored unless it should be broken & reset - I do not even know that would be best - Mr Chester is here very often but I do not see much of him nor have I heard of any thing new or extraordinary going on here Carter I think is growing & I hope studying hard He will leave the day after the or rather his examination is over as his Mother is very sad on account of the sudden death of her sister Mrs Gilliam I think he misses you very much for he seemed much attached to you - He certainly has failed lately very much in his appetite. The girls are much the same & send you much love & regrets for your absence. Custis also. He is kept very busy now, & seems tired when he gets home, you must remember us all to your own family though we do know them all, & tell your little friend that her sweet picture should hold a prominent place in my album I shall colour it before placing it in there I shall always be pleased to hear my dear cousin of your advancement in all things & believe me most faithfullyMy dear Harry -
Mamma has left me this page to finish, as her hands are getting tired, & it scarcely leaves me room to say half I want to say & I wont be able to touch on our favorite topics - Dr Andrews & round dancing! But I will tell you, how very much we have missed you, & how often we talk of you & regret yr absence. Inquiries are certainly made of you, from our numerous visitors male & female! Lizzie Letcher & Eliza Maury send their love. Miss Lucy, it is to be hoped, has given all of hers to Mr Rust. I am still on crutches, & am cross & disagreeable in consequence, I am going with the rest of the family to the Hot Springs to get well. Mr & Mrs Rufner join me in love - give mine singly to all your home circle I wish I had more paper.
Affly yr cousin -
Robert E. Lee Papers (064 collection)Leyburn Library
The letter's envelope is addressed: "Mr Harry Lee Care of E. F. Lee, Shepherdstown Virginia."