WestPoint 4 May 1853

My dear Son


I have recd your affectionate letter of the 31st & thank you sincerely for the love & consideration you feel & express for me. The affection of my children, their welfare & prosperity is all the pleasure I expect or care for in this world, & my only desire is to deserve the first, promote the second, & do my duty to my Country & God. When I Can no longer do any of these, I no longer wish to live. You therefore See that much of my pleasure depends upon you. If you feel the affection for me you profess, & I believe; be Careful of every thought word & act that may give me pain. Do not be Satisfied with wishing & intending right, but do it. All would do right if easy or agreable, but because it is not, it is done by few. Be one of those few. Have that Command of yourself, that will enable you to defy the tempter & scorn the Sinful pleasure he offers. Let your pleasure be in doing good. Keep before you the example of your dear Grdmother. Remember how she laboured for others. Remember her care & love of you. Prove yourself a worthy descendant of one of the purest beings in the world. Her entire want of Selfishness so Conspicuous throughout her life, was equally distinguished in her last moments. On Saturday morg, when told by the Dr that she was dying, & asked if she had any message for her daughter, she took no thought of herself but only thought of the distress of her she so much loved, & Said, “Oh how terribly she will be shocked when she hears this”! She was always ready for the Summons & happy to meet her God. Seeing that your younger Sister Could not restrain her grief, & fearing she was repining at her departure, she turned to her & Said, “Why do you weep so Annie”. She left a letter for me prepared before her last sickness, full of affection & interest, which the grave Could not diminish, for your Grdfather, your Mother & yourselves. May you die the death of the righteous & may your last end be like hers! I have recd a very gratifying letter from your Sister. Mine to her announcing the Sad news was for Some Cause late in reaching her. Although it was overwhelming at first. Miss B__ wrote me she was quite Composed & resigned. I hope you were able to get to See her Saturday. It would be a Comfort to you both. You must cherish your love for each other, & Stand always ready to relieve & assist your Sisters & brothers. Rob & Mildred are very well & very good. They can hardly realize their loss, though at first were much distressed. Your brother Spent Saturday evg with me as usual. It was muster & Inspection day & my daily duties were much augmented. But at night when the little people had retired, we had a quiet talk together. His grief is deep & strong, but notwithstanding he has maintained his position in every class & been present at every duty, except drawing monday, (He recd the sad intelligence at 1 P.M.) afternoon, when he was too blinded by his tears to guide his pencil. He said he should write to you Sunday. I have no news to tell you, & you know I have little time for writing, I endeavour to take Rob a short ride every evg before parade & Send Eliza to walk out with Mildred. They go to school as usual & are very well & very good.

I remain your devoted


R E Lee


Wm. H. Fitzhugh Lee




Source: Transcribed from photocopy of original letter, Helen M. Taylor Papers, Mss1 T2144 a, Section 6, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2019 May 1