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Lexington, Va: 8 March 1870


My dear Nephew


     I was very glad to receive your letter of the 17th Ulto: & to hear that my dear niece was well & driving & visiting about, to the delight I know of those who saw her. I hope that before this you have recovered from your Cold; they are terrible things as I know to my Cost, for I still feel the effects of mine; pains through my body & chest. I begin to think it is rheumatism & hope that it will not adhere to me. I hope that you have recd my joint letter to you & Blanche I told you there all about myself & that I was unable in my condition, to undertake, or even to contemplate a visit across the water. I hope that I may feel better as spring approaches. The climate in the mountains this month is very trying. There is now on the ground the deepest snow we have had this winter & the temperature is vibrating between spring & winter & Constant to neither. Your Aunt & Cousins are as well as usual. Poor little Agnes I think is suffering occasionally more or rather oftener than usual from her attacks of neuralgia. I have frequently urged her to go down to Norfolk & Brandon to get rid of this climate, but she cannot make up her mind & wishes to wait for her mother who proposes to go to the White House[1] in April, which she wishes to visit once more. I am afraid that she will have a hard journey, but I do not like to object to anything from which she thinks that she will derive comfort or pleasure. Agnes I believe I told you is to act as Bridesmaid to her friend Miss Mary Stewart who is to be married about the middle of April, near Richmond. Mildred has not yet returned, but will this month. Custis has recd the cigar case & cigars & has been waiting to send McCabe to acknowledge them. Your Aunt has the volume now & is to pack it up with the music. I shall put in the package a fine copy of your Grd fathers “Memoirs” & send the whole to Mr. Cotting. You must write him what to do with them. Custis says that he has been very busy with his classes, teaching new text books which he has to study very attentively. I do not think tell my niece that his attentions to any of her sex, has occupied him to any alarming extent, or has prevented him from thanking her for her Kindness. You will be sorry to hear of Mr. Jeromis Buonaparte’s state of health.[2] He is suffering from a Swelling of the glands of the throat which is increasing & which the Drs have not been able to arrest. It does not however affect his general health & he is able to drive & go about as usual, but the Drs think it may at any moment reach the jugular vein & produce suffocation. They have felt obliged to impart this sad news to Mrs. B. & she in turn to Mr. B. who the next day drove to a farm he had recently purchased & which he had been much interested in improving. He however stopped all the works & discharged the workmen, & on his return home commenced to settle up his affairs. I have received this account from Mrs. Podestad with great particularity who is much distressed at it, but I hope that the Drs may be mistaken & that as his general health seems not to be impaired, that his system may yet overcome the disease. I am very sorry to hear it, for Mr. B. has always been very kind to me, & my feelings for him have undergone no change by time. You had better not mention his condition, for it may be exaggerated & will unnecessarily distress his son Jerome. If true I presume he will get the correct report. I am glad that Paris is quiet & that all difficulty is for the present apparently relieved. Colonel McCulloh[3] is well & sends his best regards. I shall think of you at 9 ½ at peace. Your Aunt & Cousins send their best love to both of you. How is his littleness?[4] Fitz Lee & Mr. Robert Beverly[5] paid us a visit the other day. The latter married Jane Carter. The former says he knows that that [sic] his wife is somewhere, but she has not come home yet. Mrs. F. & Nannie are well & your Uncle Carters family also.


Your most affectionate Uncle,

R E Lee

Edwd Lee Childe


Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.387, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 October 9


[1] White House plantation in New Kent County. See Robert E. Lee’s letter of 1870 February 19.

[2] Jerome Bonaparte (1805-1870) was the son of Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother Jerome. He was born in London but moved to the United States, where he lived with his wealthy mother. She was the daughter of a prominent Baltimore merchant. Bonaparte married Susan May Williams. He died on 1870 June 17 in Baltimore.

[3] McCulloch was a professor at Washington and Lee.

[4] “Duckie,” the Childes’ dog.

[5] Robert Beverley (1822-1905) of “Blandfield” in Essex County, married Jane Carter (1821-1915), a native of Prince William County, in 1843. Carter was the daughter of Susan Baynton Turner and John Hill Carter.