Baltimore 28 March 1852

 

Why Mr Boo, is that you, that talk of being melancholy & low spirited? A young soldier tall & straight, capable & willing (I hope) to do the work to be cast down? With his sword by his side & his head on his shoulders, the beautiful world & a long life, all before him? I must have read you wrong, or you must be mistaken. It cannot be. Think about home? That is right. Think of all at home. Think how they think of you. Think how they talk of you. Think how they feel for you. But let that gladden your heart. For know whether they think or talk, or feel, it is with pleasure, joy & pride all Combined. Do you not wish it So? I pray it may be always So! Why man, when I am troubled, harassed or vexed, I think of you to cheer & support me. I feel as if I had Some body to fall back upon. To stand by me. To take Care of my wife & children when I am gone. When I Can do no more for them. I think of you as labouring hard, for your own advancement & improvement, the credit of your family, & the happiness of us all. It does not make me Sad but cheerful. Shake off those gloomy feelings. Drive them away. Fix your mind & pleasures upon what is before you. Steadily, hopefully & trustfully. All is bright if you will think it so. All is happy if you will make it so. Do not dream. It is too ideal, too imaginary. Dreaming by days I mean. Live in the world you inhabit. Look upon things as they are. Take them as you find them. Make the best of them. Turn them to your advantage. Do not let them get the advantage of you. Do not imagine things are to happen as you wish. Wish them to happen right. Then strive hard to make them so. It is only by having good wishes & labouring hard & perservereingly that we can accomplish them. Sad thoughts I know will Sometimes Come over us. They are necessary & good for us. They Cause us to reflect. They are the shadows to our picture. They bring out prominently the light & bright spots. They must not Cover up all. They must not hide the picture itself. Do not therefore yield to them. But use them as a medium through which to view life correctly. All that is bright must fade & we ourselves have to die. Keep that in view & live to that end. I hope the crowd of fellows that interrupted your letter, drove away the vapours. I do not see how they can gather with so many fine fellows around you. Who are Coming on this far with you on furlough besides Wood & Turnbull? Does Parkin S. come this year or will he have to wait for his class? I suppose you have heard of Chudie’s appt. He is very anxious to go in, & from his ambition to distinguish himself & from the character he has at school for industry & application. I think he will do his part to Keep up the name & family. When he arrives, give him good advice & trust him as more than a cousin. Teach him to see things as they are, & not to look at them as the Cadets talk. For I have too high an opinion of them to think they believe what they say. Your Uncle Smith will be here with Nanie on the 10 Proximo on his way to Boston, where he must be by the 15th. He will then bring his ship the Princeton, here to take in her boilers, which are being built by Murray & Hazelhurst, whose establishment is on the other side of the basin. I do not think he will get away before June, so I hope we shall see much of him. He is much pleased at F’s appointment. It Came very unexpectedly to him. I put his name down in Jany when in Washington & applied for him. I hope it is the last cadet I shall have at the Point. You boys Keep me too anxious. First Louis, now you & presently F. There I think is enough for one family. You Can guess the one I want particularly to excel. How is he Coming on? How will he Come out in June. I have not told you of the wedding. It was a grand affair. A great many people present. Lots of pretty girls looking at the armory with much anxiety. Wash1 behaved with much propriety. The bride was abashed but very tranquil. She was beautifully dressed & as interesting as brides ought to be. Her sister Matilda & Miss Nannie & Jamieson were the bridesmaids, & Arthur Taylor & Mr R Johnson (the brother) the groomsmen. The family & friends were present but there are such a goodly number of them, that they make a large Concourse. Mr & Mrs Dangerfield were of the number & Miss Sue & Ellen. I went down with two carriagesfull. Cousin Esther2 & her boys in one. Your Mother Sister, Rooney & self in the other. Lawrence after being dressed felt so badly that he Could not go. He had been taken Sick the night previous but had recuperated so much by morg that I thought he was well. He had however to go to bed & has not yet left it. The Dr is attending him. He is better & the fever is subsiding. I hope in a day or two he will be well. The wedding was thursday evg. We had a magnificent Supper. Everything that [sic] was beautiful & good & our boys did ample credit to their appetites & the occasion. We left about 11 O’clock & so much was there new & interesting to them that even Danger was not wearied. The ladies were very gay & all seemed happy. The rooms were large & filled with flowers & the Supper table ornamented with pyramids of beautiful bouquets, which at the close the gentlemen presented to the ladies. If I could only have had the Corps of Cadets there I would have dispensed with the flowers. The next day we dined there at a dinner of 30. We sat down before Six & rose at ten. I was particularly honoured Sat by Mrs. J. with the bride on my right & the bridesmaids on my left. But in the way of viands we had too much of a good thing. Tomorrow they are to have a general reception. Next day, tuesday, the bridal party dine with us. Wednesday Esther & the boys if La_ is well enough3 return to Audley.4 Wash & his bride follow next week & thus ends the chapter. I forgot to mention the Secr of War5 was at the Wedding, but returned to W. next day. He has promised to dine with us tuesday. I shall ask him to row up you fellows. I will leave M__ & Rooney to tell you of the wedding &c. You Know that is out of my line. My thoughts tomorrow to Piledrivers, diving bells, concrete, laying stone under water &c &c. Capt Foster has left me. After putting Cousin Esther in the cars Wednesday, I shall go to Sollers6 & take up my abode. I want to get through my work by the time you come. Aunt Annie is better. She is sitting up again. Nothing more from Louis. John Taylor who you know is boarding at Mr & Mrs Nallys is going home at Easter, & is very anxious for Rooney to accompany him. He has kind invitations from his father &c to him. But I do not think I can spare him. His holidays are too short to go so far. He has just come in to take my letter to the P. O. & says I must tell you not to get disspirited. He wants to Know if you are in love, but it has not that effect on him. All unite in much love. Your Grd mother says it has been a long time since she has heard from you. Good bye my dear son. Love always your devoted father RELee

 

 

1. Lee is describing the marriage of George Washington Lewis (1829-1885) and Emily Contee Johnson Lewis (1832-1909).

2. Esther Maria Coxe Lewis (1804-1885).

3. Apparently referring to Lawrence Fielding Lewis (1834-1857), son of Esther Lewis.

4. Audley, in Clarke County near to Annfield, was the home of Warner Washington. The place then passed to Lawrence Lewis, husband of Nelly Custis, Mary Anna Randoph Custis Lee’s aunt. Around 1840, following the death of her husband, Nelly Custis Lewis lived at Audley with her son, Lorenzo Lewis, and his family. She died at Audley in 1852. Her son Lorenzo had died in 1847, but his widow, Esther Coxe Lewis, continued living at Audley until her death in 1885.

5. Charles Magill Conrad (1804-1878), a Louisiana politician who later served in the Confederate Congress.

6. Sollers Point, where Lee was working on the construction of Fort Carroll.

 

 

Source: Transcribed from PDF of original letter, Mss2 L515 a 75, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2022 March 25