Lexington Va: 7 Apl ‘66


My dear Markie

I have recd your good long letter, commenced on the 14th & finished on the 30th Ulto. It seemed like old times to hear you talking again, & I am glad to find that you still retain the art. I am truly grateful for all your kind thoughts & kind words, & hope I shall receive them some day face to face. In my late visit to Washington, knowing how our Merciful God, mixes in the cup he gives us to drink in this world, the sweet with the bitter, I had hoped I might have found you there. But you were far beyond my reach. The changed times & circumstances did recall sad thoughts; but I rejoiced to think, that those who were so prominent in my thoughts, at former periods when returning from long & distant excursions, & whose welcome was so grateful; were now far above all human influences, & enjoying eternal peace & rest. I saw however other friends, whose kind reception gave me much pleasure, yet I am considered now such a monster, that I hesitate to darken with my shawdow [sic] the doors of those I love lest I should bring upon them misfortune. Tudor looked very beautiful. More so I thought than I had ever seen it, & Cousin Brit & little M. very serene & sweet. I did not approach Arlington nearer than the railway which leads to the city. I know every well how things are there, & you had better get all your books pictures &c you can.

You must feel no hesitation in visiting us here, on account of the size of your party. If your little charges are with you, you will be better satisfied, & we shall be more pleased. Our house is small, quite small, but the whole of it is open to you. By prudent distribution, I think all can be accommodated, and with contented spirits we shall be as happy as if we were in a palace. I have no doubt but that you can find plenty of places to board, but you must come to us, & if dissatisfied you can go elsewhere.

I am very sorry that you still suffer from neuralgia. A trip to the Va: Mts: will I hope restore you. I shall endeavor to get your poor cousin Mary to some of the healing waters this summer, if I can convey her, in any way that is tolerable to her; and first think of going to the alum springs, 14 miles distant, which is thought very beneficial in all chronic afflictions. After that I will take her to some of the baths, in hope she may obtain some mitigation of her sufferings. I do not think of going till last of June or first of July.

I enclose you a sheet of autographs as you desire. As you are making a study of my profile, in order I hope to make a picture of me, I send two others. One is Brady & the other is Gardner’s of which your Cousin M. spoke. I also send a full face view. They are all bad alike to me, but there are some more awful than these daily brought to my notice. You must send on any, & as many, as you choose, for my signature, & do not think it will weary me to do anything I can for you. I am easily wearied now, and look forward with joy to the time, which is fast approaching, that I will lay down & rest.

Agnes is still in Richmond, & we learn has got partly well. She will probably get here next week, & Fitzhugh also promises us a visit this month. Mary is in Baltimore, engaged in the Fair now going on. Robert at Romankoke, planting corn I hope. You must give our united love to your little children and tell them we hope to see them soon. Other members of the family propose writing to you, & I will leave to them all local matters—With a great deal of love. I am most truly your Cousin

R E Lee




Source: Transcribed from digital scan of original letter, Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, 1844-1870, Huntington Library, San Marino, California              

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 September 26