Lexington Va: 14 Apl 1868


My dearest Markie

There is something in your last letter that prompts me to answer it at once. You must not think me one of those who “cannot comprehend disinterested love,” & I know that your devotion to your nephews & nieces is caused by that & your natural affection alone. What I said in reference to matrimony was intended to be general, without reference to particular individuals, unless perhaps one that was spoken of in your last visit here. You must not say you will never marry. It may be proper as well as becoming in you to marry some of these days, & if you determine now “never to marry,” it may make it difficult to you to do so. I hope therefore that you will come to no determination on the subject but leave it an open question, to be settled by circumstances. I am sure that no one would make a better wife than you Markie, & you ought therefore to be willing to give the world the benefit of your example & conduct.

I am very glad that you have secured so comfortable a house, & hope that both you & the children may feel the benefit of it. Fresh air & exercise is of the greatest advantage.

I was called to Richmond the other day & ran down to see Fitzhugh & Robert. I was much gratified with my visit found they had been very industrious had a good report among their neighbours, & their farms looked better than I had imagined. F. had built a very comfortable house on the site of the old Custis mansion, was very energetic and successful in the conduct of his business, & he & his handsome wife seemed contented & happy. She has laid aside all her handsome dresses, attends to her house, garden &c & has never been off the place since her arrival on it. I tried to persuade her to come up with me to see her poor Mama, whom she has never seen, but could not prevail.

Roberts mansion is rather forlorn, too uncomfortable he says for a fair occupant; so he will have to wait until he can provide a suitable bower for the lady who is to grace his establishment. I hope next year that he will be able to build a small cottage as his present abode is scarcely habitable.

We are all pretty well here. Your Cousin M. is still a sufferer, Mildred has a young companion with her from Richmond, Custis constantly engaged with his classes, & I as usual. We are expecting to day Mrs Helen Peters Taylor. She attempted to come through night before last in the stage from Staunton, but on reaching Greenville; 12 miles, the story & fatigue caused her to lay over for the next stage, which only passes every other day. Hearing yesterday about 1 P.M. of her position I sent in the afternoon a carriage to bring her in this morg, to save her the night ride to night, as the stage would only take her up about 11 P.M. & land her here before day tomorrow. As she will have 24 miles to make over our mountain roads, with her two children & nurse, she will hardly get here before dinner. She intended to give us a surprize, not knowing the condition of things & got caught herself. I hope she may not have been made sick.

Remember me to the sweet little girls. I saw last evg that handsome admirer of theirs, Robbie Campbell, who was smiling & blooming.

      Good bye my dear Markie. All would send love did they know I was writing. Most truly & affly

your Cousin

R E Lee




Source: Transcribed from digital scan of 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 3