Lexington Va: 22 Feby 1869


My dear Markie

I am very sorry to learn from your letter of the 17th Inst: which I have just recd, that your health is still feeble, & that the cares & anxieties of your life consequently weigh heavily upon you. I can well understand of what deep interest to you is the future of your sweet nieces & nephews. The disposition of them must be a subject of most earnest consideration, & its decision depend entirely upon what may seem for their good. You seem to have gone over the whole ground & to have taken a proper view of the question from every point. I can suggest nothing to you. It is a matter that you will have to determine for yourself. No one can help you. I beg that you will fully weigh the last consideration in your letter: the delicacy of your health; the heavy care; & whether it would not be to their advantage to relinquish them, especially the boys, to their father. It is a grievous question & you must decide it with all the lights before you, if you do not live with their father.

I feel very much obliged to Dr. Porter for his great kindness to you in so many ways during your sojourn in New London & am sure that his advice so far as your strength is concerned, will be potent with you. You must not let the subject disturb you too much, or it will interfere with its proper solution. I think you will decide rightly & will therefore leave you to your own reflections.

I wish I had something cheering to tell you. This day formerly brought great rejoicing to the country, and Americans took delight in the celebration. It is still to me one of thankfulness & grateful recollections, & I hope that it will always be reverenced & respected by virtuous patriots. The memories & principles of the men of the earlier days of the Republic should be cherished & remembered, if we wish to transmit to our posterity the Government in its purity, they handed down to us. Who can ever rival Washington in our esteem & affections? The students of the College will have to night in the new chapel the celebration of the Washington Society, & I hope the speakers will recall for our edification his great example.

We are all well as usual. Your Cousin M. so far has progressed through the winter tolerably comfortably. As soon as the weather is warm enough I shall try & get her to the Rockbridge baths. I think the waters there were as beneficial & surely as comfortable as any she has tried so far. She can then go to any others she may wish. You may have heard that Mary is in New York with Helen Peters. Fitzhugh too has we are told a fine son, which has made them very happy at the W. H. I wish it would stimulate his brothers to get married. Robert says he is going to build himself a house this summer & then try & inveigle some one in it. He believes with the spider, in an appropriate trap. Agnes & Mildred are very well & seem disposed to make a trip somewhere this spring. So probably we old people may be alone for a little while. We shall then have more quiet; the only thing I long for.

Good bye My dear Markie. I shall think of you in your troubles & you know you always have my warm & sincere sympathy. After reading your letter once more I shall dispose of it as you request

Truly & affly your Cousin

R E Lee




Source: Transcribed by of 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 3