Lexington, Va: 4 Oct ‘67


My dearest Markie

I found on my return about three weeks since, your letter of July & Aug: & was delighted to learn that you were well & pleasantly located in the beautiful town of orange. When I visited it many years ago it was but a village, & as far as I recollect contained a handsome church of red free stone, which material also entered largely in the construction of the residences. Form [sic] your description it must have grown largely in importance & beauty since then.

            Your cousin Mary has given you an account of our visit to the W. Sulphur & Sweet springs. I wish you could have been with us, for we should have had more opportunity as well as leisure to have enjoyed your company than the preceding summer, as we had nothing else to do than to see our friends & drink the water & bathe. But you probably were more comfortably situated where you were, & I must therefore be content. I think your cousin M. & Agnes were benefited by their visit, & though I see no amelioration in the rheumatic attack of the former, she is stronger & better in general health than before. Custis is much improved in health I think & now looks very well. I enjoyed very good health at the white, but in some way, I believe from cold, became sick at the sweet, about the time I thought of leaving, & it seems to me if all the sickness I ever had in all my life was put together, it would not equal the attack I experienced. However by the mercy of God I was restored, & came home by easy stages on traveller, who was considerate of my weakness & suited his gait to my debility. I have never seen anything of the poem in his honour, & I confess I have never had any hope of his being immortalized except by your brush. That is my sure trust, & I hope you will not forget to append his tail to his likeness. I am very glad you are able to enjoy the visits of Dr Flint in your present retreat & I hope he was able to make them frequent during the summer, for if the temperature was as proportionably warm with you as it was in the mountains, they must have been as beneficial to him as they were pleasant to you. I feel much better satisfied, when you are near one of his goodness & friendship, for then I have the feeling of assurance that you will recieve [sic] all the human aid that is practicable or necessary in time of need. I recollect Miss Susan Poore very well & am very glad to hear of the wellbeing of Mrs St John. Please if you see the Cooks & Mrs Helen Taylor remember me most kindly to them. I do not know that I shall ever have the pleasure of seeing them again, but I can never forget them. I hope your sweet little nieces are well & happy. They are often in our thoughts & form the topic of our conversation, & our conversation, & our earnest wish is that the boys may grow in wisdom & goodness. Fitzhugh & Robert were well when last heard from though both had experienced an occasional attack of intermittent fever. The latter had mad[e] a short visit to the E. S. of Md: & as soon as he had completed sowing his wheat, contemplated a visit to Westmoreland to attend the wedding of some friend. F. is building a small house on the site of the old White House residence, which I hope will add to his comfort & enable him to get married. Their crops for the year will only supply them with bread, but that it enough—

I must leave to other pens of the household a description of affairs in Lexington, & the change has been so slight since you left us that I do not apprehend that you will be fatigued by the perusal. We have nearly 400 students at W. College & they all seem to be earnestly pursuing their studies—

All unite in much love & I am most truly & affly

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 October 2