San Antonio, Texas 22 Oct 1860


I was very glad my precious life to receive your letter of the 28th Sept: It must have been a long time on the road, as it only reached me a few days since, having been enclosed to me by your brother. I am glad that you are comfortably located at school, & that the prospects before you are so pleasant. You could not be domesticated in a more worthy family, & I hope you will endeavour to profit from their precept & example. If you are precise& punctual in the performance of your duties, you will not be effected by the looseness of others, & I hope you will try to acquire the power of speaking french. It can only be done by practice. No matter how proficient you may be in the written language, to acquire the oral language, you must speak & hear it spoken. I hope you will also pay attention to your music. Learn to play well, not merely to perform certain popular pieces of music sufficiently well, to say that you play on the piano. But well enough to take pleasure in your own performance, as well as in the science itself, & to impart true pleasure to those who hear you. I hope you will also take care of your health. I do not mean to be too tender of yourself, but to study what is beneficial to you. Exercise regularly, eat moderately of wholsome & nourishing food, avoid such as may be injurious, though it may be agreable to your palate, & be regular in all your habits. You are in a fine healthy country & the fresh air of the mountains will do you no harm. I want you to grow in size, strength & wisdom, & at the same time to be an accomplished & useful woman. You must write to me therefore all about yourself. Tell me how you progress, what you do & what you wish. I can then judge of your advancement. Whatever you do, try & do it well.

I hope you will have a pleasant as well as profitable time, but both will depend upon yourself. To compensate for the absence of Tom, you must make a companion of one of the nice girls of your school, of which I have no doubt there are many, & should you in your intercourse discover traits in her character, not entirely agreable to you, remember that she will find an equal number in you. You must make allowance for these & hope they will come right in the end. I am glad that you have found so many friends there, in addition to those in the house with you. Your Cousin Mariettas family will be a great pleasure to you.

You are so near Arlington that I cannot tell you anything new from there. I am sorry you did not see your mother before you left home. She hurried back for the purpose. When I last heard from her, she & Annie were just going to Goodwood. May remained with your brother. I fear she derived little benefit from her trip to Canada, indeed from what I have none of the party has been much improved in health. Agnes is still in New York.

I am sorry you did not see more of Laura Chilton. I have no little girls here now to play with, & expect I am more lonely even than you are without Tom. You have other kittens around you but I have not. I am afraid it will be a long time my precious life before I shall have the pleasure of seeing you. But you must think of your Pa’a often, & know that he is always thinking of you. Remember me to Mrs Powell, her daughters & Mr P. also when you see Mrs Barnes or Dandridge present my compliments to them. Give my love to Marietta & Ida. I lead so monotonous a life that I have nothing to tell you. There is nothing here that I know of that will interest you. I will therefore bid you goodbye. You must write to me occasionally even though it may be a few lines, to let me know how you are & what you are doing. Every thing from you will be interesting to me.

With prayers for your health & happiness I remain your devoted father

R E Lee




Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 262, Section 14, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 May 2