Fort Brown, Texas, 9 Jany 1857


On the 7th dearest Mary by the steamer from the Brazos to New Orleans, I acknowledged the reception of nine letters from you, embracing dates from 21 Sept to 7 Decr inclusive. As they arrived in company with over 20 others from different individuals, I could give them but a brief perusal & reply, before the departure of the steamers mail. I have since read them more carefully. The subject which gives me most anxiety is the condition of your health. I feel it the more in consequence of my separation from you, & my inability personally to administer to your comfort, or do aught for your recovery. I can propose nothing better than what I submitted in my former letter, viz: that you procure a good regular nurse, & as soon as it is proper in the spring, that you repair to such of the mineral springs as the Drs may think most suitable for your disease, & make your arrangements to pass the whole summer in trying the virtues of their waters. You might take such of the children, as you pleased, & I have already written to Custis to ascertain the prospect of his being able to join you a portion of the Summer at least. You will have plenty of funds, & must not mind the expense. It will require but $500. to make the Feby payments for the girls & Robs schooling, & to add to Marshalls note to purchase the state bond I desired, which after getting your necessary summer equipment for self & children will leave over $1,000. for your expenses. Fitzhugh has already recd his 1st 2nd & 3rd qrs allowance, & I will send him his 4th. The July dividends will pay all school arrearages for the year. Custis expenses for the trip must be paid also. I was much pleased & comforted to find in all your letters, that your good sense & pure piety enabled you to bear with patience & resignation this painful affliction & I feel that we must bow with humble resignation to all the chastisements of our heavenly father & submit ourselves entirely to his will. I only wish to obey his commandments, to neglect nothing on our part for the accomplishment of that which is plainly our duty, & with earnest prayers for his mercy & deliverance, to leave the result in his hands. The best course for the recovery of your health, ought therefore to be systematically tried, fairly & patiently. When it is found to fail, try some other, till all reasonable means are exhausted. Then, & not till then, we must be resigned to our fate. There are several matters to which you referred in your letters, which I will answer in order. If all the money has been drawn from the Farmers bank Alexa, due on last July dividends, for which I sent you several checks, & those checks are no longer wanted, destroy them, as they may fall in other hands. You have my check for all the Jany dividends, & can draw it as wanted. I had hoped you had had the furnace repaired last Fall. The pipes will rust out every summer, unless cleaned with black lead &c after the fires cease. It requires proper management, or it is a nuisance. Mr Vail the Cashr of the bank of Commerce N. Y. is not your acquaintance. Not Aaron Vail, formerly in Washington & subsequently charge abroad. I only mention it to correct your error. I do not believe that he is related to that family. I suppose everything has been done that can be done in reference to the change of managers at the White House. As soon as I hear that Mr Winston has taken charge I will write to him. At the time you last wrote he had not accepted. I do not know what Fitzhugh means by my discouraging him. I cannot commend his errors, but endeavour to point them out to him. I try to stimulate him to caution & to shew him the consequence of idleness. I was much pleased at the good report of dear little Rob & the girls. Give much love to all—your father, Mary & Markie & the rest. Truly & affly your husband

R E Lee






Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 184, Section 10, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 November 2