PGBC Senior Prom - Stepping Out In Elegance - August 10th

West Point 20th Decr 1852


My dearest Mother


Your letter by Mary has been long unanswered, but as nothing has occurred requiring particularly the employment of my pen, I have been Content to leave to hers, while new & fresh, accounts of ourselves & occupations. I Cannot tell you how grieved I have been at your sickness, & at the necessity that seems to separate us so far from you, I know the Comfort M. & your Grd children are to you, & I would willingly sacrifice my own pleasure to yours & theirs. These young people though mother, must be taught their duty & made to perform it or their lives will be miserable to themselves & useless to others. I have therefore to Consider their interests rather than our pleasure & if I merely consulted my own, I would have them all with me & I should be with you. I hope you are enjoying your usual health at least, & that you will have a comfortable winter. I am too thankful our good Cousin Mary M. is with you. Tell her she must remain all the winter. With her cheerful company, Miss Poor, those two young women. Nelson & the admirable Barbara, & to crown all the Major, there will be no lack of good company. On our part we shall have our duties to keep us company. I doubt whether there will be much else in the way of sociability. We shall be deprived too of the pleasure of spending our xmas with you. But if not there in person we will be there in heart mother and you, our good father, dear children & friends, will have our earnest prayers & ardent & sincere wishes for every happiness & blessing that can be showered upon you by an all kind & merciful God, to whom we daily pray that he may guard & protect you from all harm. We shall however have a small party around us. Mary & Fitzhugh will come up xmas eve. Custis & our little people we have on the spot, & we shall add to our party our young relatives among the Cadets, Chudie, Conny, Eugene, & Campbell (son of Marian Lee Campbell). I recd a letter from Mary yesterday. She is to Come to Mrs Abby Cooks Thursday evg, & at 1 P.M. Friday she & F. will take the Cars for this place. The only difficulty in the route is the passage across the river, which has to be done in an open boat from Cold Spring, a distance of two miles, which at this season of the year is not at all times pleasant to the tender or young. Eiza Carter & Lavinia Deas are to come up after xmas. Having promised to spend the day in New York with their relatives, they cannot accompy M. I am very anxious to see Eliza & have her with us on account of her dear mothers sake. Lavinia I have seen. I am much obliged to you for Dr. Sparrows sermon. It was eloquent & true. I wish he was near enough to preach for us occasionally, though I fear he would have to prune down his sermons considerably to suit the patience of the Cadets. Mr [Sprote?] seems to be an excellent man, & to have their interest very much at heart. His discourses are prepared entirely with reference to them & occasionally are eloquent & impressive. His whole discourse is good & his teaching true & I have never heard anything from him to wound the feelings or principles of the denominations. He avows tolerance, & deference to the dictates of conscience, & in a community like this it is right he should, & in that differs from our late Pastor [McMullen?], but he advocates the doctrine & principles of the Bible & that there is no salvation but through our blessed Saviour. With that I can find no fault. I only regret that his manner is not as good as his matter, & that the last I fear is rendered less effective, less pleasant less convincing than it ought to be by the former. It is too much on the charge bayonet principle which is very good to drive in the hour of battle, but is not palatable to use in argument or persuasion. Yesterday his sermon from the text “He that ploughs iniquity & sows wickedness will reap the same,” was [illegible] & eloquent & would have been delightful, had his manner been less harsh & his invitations gentle.

I understood him to say plough, but I thought at the time it ought to have been plant. He rarely repeats his text, & last night I could not find it. I was sorry to hear of the illness of Roberts son Beverly & though I cannot help hoping he may recover, I know it is better for him disavow. I am very glad to hear of my dear old uncle Fitzhugh Carter. I trust he will find comfort & happiness at last. He was so kind to me in my youth & to my mother always affectionate, that my heart always warms to him. I have written you with no satisfaction to your mother. A line at a time, running through the whole day, with frequent & long interruptions, & two or three entire letters, written at intervals. I hope however it may serve in somewhat to express to you my love & affection. Mary has written her own messages. We had Custis with us Saturday from dinner till 9 P.M. Give much love to all & tell Lucretia not to hearken to that [Ship?]. Believe me always your devoted son

R E Lee




Source: Letters of Robert E. Lee to Martha Custis Williams, Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 August 21