Cambridge March 30th ’56

Dearest Ma,

I don’t know when I have ever read a letter that has given me so much pleasure as your last I have read & reread it, and I assure you that I respond to every motherly feeling that you have so affectionately expressed.

On whom am I to rely, except on my mother? To whom am I to confide except to her? Most willingly, dear Ma, do I accept your proposal & will willingly confide to you every thing. At the same time you must not judge of me too hard, and must know that I am liable & exposed to all the temptations that others are.

My bills, I am glad to be able to tell you are all satisfactorily settled, & the only reason that I did not take the promise that you wished me to make was because I was afraid that I might sometimes inevitably brake it, such thing, you know, do sometimes occur. A cigar, pipe, or tobacco of any sort has neither, nor will they, pollute “these precious lips of mine” without your consent, during my college course, further than that I am sure you would not wish me to promise.

            I have not seen Mr. Armory since I have been back, although I have called on him almost every Saturday; he has been sick for some time, but I expect to see him next Saturday. He is delighted with his present, & appreciated it as one should prize such a memento.

I don’t know any gentleman for when I have more respect than for Mr A, he is so entirely different from the other family.

I have been to one or two little dancing parties, since I last wrote you, and at the same time have been studying very hard. Mr. Childs complimented me very nicely on my last Theme, the subject was “was Shakespeare indifferent to fame.” he said that he was very much pleased with the sentiments.

I have not received as yet the letter that you first wrote, and suppose that the servant must have mislaid it.

I think of you & all at home very often, and wish that I could be with you permanently, when I could do a great deal to relieve you of a great deal of care & trouble I as every one else am very fond of my ease & comfort, but when I have anything to do which I take an interest in I am as persevering as anyone & also as diligent.

But never having had and not having a taste for literary pursuits, I am totally unfit & I will not [illegible] totally. I mean that I could not excel for any but a practical life. I could be a lawyer, but both the study & practice of law would be as dry to me as a soldier’s life would be to Bernard. And Grandpa[1] having more land & servants than he knows what to do with. I see no reason why I should not be a farmer.

I tell you this because I wish you to know what I think.

Do write to me soon. Tell Rob that I answered his letter & ask him to write an acknowledgement. Passion week passed off here as if no one as a savior never existed. Give my love to little Milly & cousin Braskie.

Your aff & devoted Son

W. H. F. Lee








Source: Photocopy of photocopied letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 153, Folder 9, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond



Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 March 30


[1] George Washington Parke Custis (1781-1857), the owner of Arlington.