Arlington         1 April 1861


Upon the arrival of your letter of the 23rd Ulto: My precious life, I could not conceive what new female correspondent I had got. I did not recognize your hand writing. It has changed so & improved & I hope when it is formed that you will write beautifully. It is a great accomplishment to write well & adds to the pleasure of a good letter. I am sorry to hear of your shortcomings in spelling. You must be particular on that point, or the world will think that Sister did not pile on enough of “those extra lines.” I noticed that you spelt Saturday with two ts (satturday). One is considered enough in the Army, but perhaps the fashion is to have two. I  hope you did justice to the Farmer the Soldier & the Sailor. The first is the most useful citizen. The two last necessary evils, which will disappear when the world becomes sufficiently christianized. I mean the military not the Commercial sailor. I am much pleased to see the high position you take in your studies & read with much interest your class reports. If you are proficient in all the studies you are engaged in, you will become quite learned. I hope you will endeavour to be so, & be careful not to undertake more than you can properly accomplish. I would rather you would be thoroughly acquainted with a few important subjects than know slightly many. I have no objection to your studying latin if you desire it, provided Mr Powell thinks it will not interfere with branches more important to you at this time. I should think from the number of subjects you are now engaged in, your hands were full. Perhaps latin had better be postponed till another year. I want to see you very much, but do not know whether I shall be able to visit you at present. I am much occupied. You must thank Mrs Barnes for her invitation. I shall certainly go to to [sic] see her if I am able to get to Winchester, but Cannot Consent to trouble her with my Company all the time I may be there. I shall be very glad to see her when she comes to Washington. Tom is the delight of the house. I fear he will be ruined by indulgence. He is so petted by your Sisters & Miss Helen Peters. The latter wants to put him in ruffles but I object as I fear it will interfere with his handling the mice, a game he is much dedicated to & plays very skillfully. Your Sisters never array him in collars, believing that beauty unadorned is adorned the most, & that they would cloud his verdant eyes. Your brother Comes up occasionally from Fort Washington to see him & Orton rides over very often from Washington. The latter is now a Lieutenant in the 2nd Cavy. I do not think that Chudie has resigned his Commission, at least if he has, his father & mother do not know it & he said he was not going to resign till I did.

Tell Cousin Rebecca that I think a great deal on the State of the Country. Too much to give my thoughts in a letter. She however ought to know that the business of an American soldier is to defend his country. All unite in much love & many kind messages, but none longs to see you like your father

R E Lee



Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L 51 c 278, Section 15, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 May 23