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Feb. 2nd 1868


Dear Milly

I was so glad to hear from you & so soon. The depths of agony that I descended in after my arrival in these parts no mortal tongue can tell nor human hand portray (trying to cover young P but ca’nt) & I was thirsting for a word from someone, who immaterial when your note inclosing the Mim’s arrived, together with one from Aggi at Lynwood & from some of my He friends in Balto urging me to come on & pay them a visit. Before preceeding further it becomes necessary for me to say that young P is a bird. I have been trying in vain since its arrival to unravel that mysterious letter.

I felt all the time that it—like some ingenous machine—was about to blow up & destroy me. & having only Worcesters unabridged Dictionary it was impossible for me to make out what the Y. P. wanted to say or intended to imply. It read to me very much like Mr L Lindsays’ motion in the present La Convention to appoint a stenographer. I have the letter with me & when I go to Balto or Richmond will get the necessary books of reference & employ some ancient Savant to decipher for me the hidden treasures of thought burried [sic] with in that forest of untrimmed tropical words (I think that pretty good do’nt you?). I found two places in the entire letter where one might according to the Rules of English composition place a full stop.

I wrote to Ma soon after my arrival & told about my getting here. I was two nights in R-d saw the Haxalls the last. Called with Dr Booth had a very pleasant visit. Gave Miss R your bundle & letter. She told me to thank you for them—but I declined & proposed that she should do it herself at which she “snickered” (I use the word advisedly) sweetly & said she couldn’t. was at this point interrupted by Mam’selle Marie informing me that she wanted me to marry her right there & then & start for Romancoke in the morning, saying that a false Cartiff (?) had been trampling on her & that she was fast becoming a raving maniac & her only object now was a quiet life in the country with me &c &c for a half an hour without stopping. I declined the honor stating reasons but finally agreed if she would meet me at the cars next morning to which she agreed, but failed to come up to time. so I consider the match broken off.

Miss Charlotte was very pretty & nice—but, tell Pa, did not offer herself in her sisters place which she had a right to do being leap year. I had Phil to dine with me having picked him up on the street looking very hugry. He enquired particularly after you & wants to know whether you got his letter—a gentle hint for you to answer it. You did not tell me what he said. I felt a delicacy in asking but I think it would have been very sweet in you to have offered to tell me.

I saw all the other R-d swells & we had a meeting or two before I left. All enquired how I left you & then asked after your Father complimentary is’nt it? Had my picture taken proof sheets looked very well. I’ll send four up to Lex when I get them & you all can divide don’t quarrel about them & if possible prevent your intimate friend Madge Corvell from ever seeing one. I think I would suffer from it even this far off. Aggie writes that she has seen Ned Moore who is gotten up regadless & that Y. P. is distant & lofty as yet but has hopes of bringing him around. Willie Dallam writes me he is kicked again & fulminates accordingly in language more forcible than elegant this is “entre nous” as Dr E G Boothe says. Every thing Boothe told me was “entre nous”. Consequently “I am not at liberty to tell many & various little “on dits” which he confided me–& the world is thereby deprived of much smartness wit & humor. Hav’nt been up to the W. H. since I stopped there coming down. Had intended going up to day, but a vessel arrived yesterday evening with lime & for corn, so I have to stay & attend to it. They were both seemingly very happy. The Judge perfectly radient [sic]. I expect by this they are in their new house. Tell Pa since my return I am more in favor of matrimony than ever & if only I thought she would’nt mind my style of ranche would ask her down. Provided I can find a “her” which as yet I ca’nt locate.

Allow me to request in the most delicate manner possible that you for once during your long & meritorious life break through that rigid rule of not being at liberty to tell & acquaint me with the “fellows” name & what he sent, it will be “entre nous” you know. I may have secrets of my own some day.

Was it Candy (Punk!!!) or has Alex (spell wrong) sent you a net for your $25 braid. Fitz was still in R_d trying to concentrate. I believe he has gone to Balto now. I was in hopes that after Xmas I would be quiet & you poor thing would have soon rest. Try & bear up until Lent. There is a very good dodge to avoid it though expensive viz; go in mourning & when asked who for exclaim with a sob & two tears that you are not at liberty to say—when done well the effect is tremendous & you’ll find that you become twice as interesting as every body will presume you were engaged to some young unfortunate.

I am reading Racine in the original & singing & dancing by myself between acts. Love to George & all at home sister Milly included I would recommend kerosene oil for her well rubbed on & then ignited.

Your brother

RE Lee Jr    




Source: Checked against original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 g 116-122, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 September 6