West Point, 31 October 1853


Your farewell note my dear nephew,[1] before your embarkation at New York was gratefully recd. It was very painful to me to part with you & your father,[2] & when I reflect upon the vicissitudes of life, & the uncertainty of human affairs my regrets are not diminished. To you life is new & light, & you can naturally look forward with anticipation of joy & pleasure. To me looking at the future from the past, it brings feelings of apprehension & resignation. We do not therefore see things with the same eyes, nor do the same circumstances produce in us the same feelings, Happy is it that it is not so, & may all your anticipations be realized & all my hopes be fulfilled. I shall follow your steps in all your travels with much anxiety & my sincere prayers for your safety & prosperity will accompany you wherever you go. Your time for the next two years will be very profitably occupied in studying men & things in different countries, & the comparison of the results flowing from the actual state of each, will enable you to satisfy yourself as to their superiority & your own preference. I shall be very happy if after this review your judgement & wishes should prompt your return to your native County, where it seems to me the humans race is most elevated & ennobled; in as much as the individual man, is most Considered, esteemed & valued. But whatever may be your decision & wherever you may pitch your tent my interest & affection will remain the same. Your prosperity will be my happiness & your success my pride. Your Aunt & Cousins unite with me in much love & every kind wish for your health & happiness. We hope that you will be able occasionally in your travels to tell us of your whereabouts, & though we may not be able to send any return, yet tidings of your welfare will not be the less agreeable or the less appreciated. I hope you found your mother & Sister well, & that Florence enjoys all health & happiness. Tell your father I had intended to have written to him by this Steamer also, but as I have heard nothing directly from Anne, about whom I know you are all equally anxious with myself. I will defer it for the present. I have heard nothing from M. Since your departure, though I have written several times. I have heard indirectly that Anne was again recg her friends which makes me hope that she is doing well. Mrs. F. & Nannie have not yet arrived. Their letters still speak of coming, but if they do not carry out their intentions Soon, I think the cold weather will settle the question for them. We have a nice young lady staying with us now.  Laura Stuart from Chantilly. Marion Turner & Mary Whitting have are expecting to day. I wish you were here to entertain them. Give much love to your father, my dear little Walker, & Marie.


Your devoted Uncle,

RE Lee

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2009.223, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 4



[1] Edward Lee Childe was born in Paris in 1826. He is author of The Life and Campaigns of General Lee. He was the son of Lee’s sister Mildred, who married Vernon Childe. Edward Lee Childe died in 1869 in France.

[2] Edward Vernon Childe.