Chapter XI

 

This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination

Slavery

Site Search

Civil War Links

 

Civil War Art

Revolutionary War

Mexican War

Republic of Texas

Indians

Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait

  Up | Chapter I | Chapter II | Chapter III | Chapter IV | Chapter V | Chapter VI | Chapter VII | Chapter VIII | Chapter IX | Chapter X | Chapter XI | Chapter XII | Chapter XIII | Chapter XIV | Chapter XV | Chapter XVI | Chapter XVII | Chapter XVIII | Chapter XVIV | Chapter XX | Chapter XXI | Chapter XXII | Chapter XXIII | Chapter XXIV

Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee
by Captain Robert E. Lee, His Son

Chapter XI
The Idol of the South


Photographs and autographs in demand--The General's interest in young
people--His happy home life--Labours at Washington College--He gains
financial aid for it--Worsley's translation of Homer dedicated to him--
Tributes from other English scholars

The people of Virginia and of the entire South were continually giving
evidence of their intense love for General Lee.  From all nations,
even from the Northern States, came to him marks of admiration and
respect.  Just at this time he received many applications for his
photograph with autograph attached.  I believe there were none of the
little things in life so irksome to him as having his picture taken
in any way, but, when able to comply, he could not refuse to do what
was asked of him by those who were willing and anxious to do so much
for him.

In the following letter the photographs referred to had been sent to
him for his signature, from a supply that my mother generally kept on
hand.  She was often asked for them by those who very considerately
desired to save my father the trouble:

                                      "Lexington, November 21, 1865.

"My Dear Mary:  I have just received your letter of the 17th, and return
the photographs with my signatures.  I wrote to you by the boat of
yesterday morning.  I also sent you a packet of letters by Captain
Wilkinson [commander of the canal packet], which also ought to have
reached you to-day.  I have nothing to add to my former letters, and
only write now that you may receive the photos before you leave.  I
answered Agnes' letter immediately, and inclosed her several letters.
I was in hopes she had made up her mind to eschew weddings and stick
to her pap.  I do not think she can help little Sallie.  Besides, she
will not take the oath--how can she get married?  The wedding party
from this place go down in the boat to-night to Lynchburg--Miss
Williamson and Captain Eoff.  They are to be married in church at
eight P. M. and embark at eleven.  I wish them a pleasant passage
and am glad I am not of the party.  The scenery along the river will
no doubt be cheering and agreeable.  I think the repairs of the house
will be completed this week; should the furniture arrive, it will be
habitable next.  The weather is still beautiful, which is in our
favour.  I am glad Caroline is so promising.  I have engaged no servant
here yet, nor have I found one to my liking.  we can get some of some
kind, and do better when we can.  I have heard nothing of the wedding
at 'Belmead,' and do not think Preston will go.  Mrs. Cocke is very
well, but the furniture she intends for your room is not yet completed.
It will be more comfortable and agreeable to you to go at once to the
house on your arrival.  But if there is anything to make it more
desirable for you to come before the house is ready, you must come to
the hotel.  If we could only get comfortable weather in December, it
would be better not to go into the house until it is dry, the paint
hard, etc.  It will require all this week to get the wood done; then
it must be scoured, etc., and the furniture properly arranged.  Tell
Rob he will soon be well.  He must cheer up and come and see his papa.
Give my love to Mrs. Cocke, Miss Mary, etc., etc.  Tell Agnes, if she
thinks Sallie is IN EXTREMIS, to go to her.  I do not want her to pass
away, but it is a great disappointment to me not to have her with me.
I am getting very old and infirm now, and she had better come to her
papa and take care of him.

                        "Most affectionately yours,  R. E. Lee.

"Mrs. M. C. Lee."

My father was always greatly interested in the love affairs of his
relatives, friends, and acquaintances.  His letters during the war
show this in very many ways.  One would suppose that the general
commanding an army in active operations could not find the time even
to think of such trifles, much less to write about them; but he knew
of very many such affairs among his officers and even his men, and
would on occasion refer to them before the parties themselves, very
much to their surprise and discomfiture.  Bishop Peterkin, of West
Virginia, who served on the staff of General Pendleton, tells me of
the following instances, in illustration of this characteristic:

"It was in the winter of 1863-4, when we were camped near Orange Court
House, that, meeting the General after I had come back from a short
visit to Richmond, he asked after my father, and then said, 'Did you
see Miss ---?' and I replied, 'No, sir; I did not.'  Then again, 'Did
you see Miss ---?' and when I still replied 'No,' he added, with a
smile, 'How exceedingly busy you must have been.'

"Again--at the cavalry review at Brandy Station, on June 8, 1863--
we had galloped all around the lines, when the General took his post
for the 'march past,' and all the staff in attendance grouped themselves
about him.  There being no special orders about our positions, I got
pretty near the General.  I noticed that several times he turned
and looked toward an ambulance near us, filled with young girls.  At
At last, after regiments and brigades had gone by, the Horse Artillery
came up.  The General turned and, finding me near him, said, 'Go and
tell that young lady with the blue ribbon in her hat that such-and-such
a battery is coming.'

"I rode up and saluted the young lady.  There was great surprise shown
by the entire party, as I was not known to any of them, and when I
came out with my message there was a universal shout, while the General
looked on with a merry twinkle in his eye.  It was evidently the
following up on his part of some joke which he had with the young lady
about an officer in this battery."

My mother had arranged to start for Lexington on November 28th, via
the canal, but for some reason was prevented on that day.  In his next
letter, my father, who was most anxious that she should make the journey
before the bad weather set in, expresses his disappointment at not
finding her on the packet on the expected morning.

                           "Lexington, Virginia, November 20, 1865.

"My Dear Mary:  I am much disappointed that you did not arrive on the
boat last night, and as you had determined when you wrote Saturday,
the 25th, to take the boat as it passed Tuesday, I fear you were
prevented either by the indisposition of yourself or of Robert's.  I
shall, however, hope that it was owing to some less distressing cause.
Our room is all ready and looks remarkably nice.  Mrs. Cocke, in her
great kindness, seems to have provided everything for it that you
require, and you will have nothing to do but to take possession.  The
ladies have also arranged the other rooms as far as the furniture
will allow.  They have put down the carpets in the parlour, dining-room,
and two chambers upstairs, and have put furniture in one room.  They
have also put up the curtains in the rooms downstairs, and put a table
and chairs in the dining-room.  We have, therefore, everything which
is required for living, as soon as the crockery, etc., arrives from
'Derwent,' of which as yet I have heard nothing.  Neither has the
furniture from Baltimore arrived, and the season is so far advanced
that we may be deprived of that all winter.  But with what we now have,
if we can get that from 'Derwent,' we shall do very well.  There is
some report of the packets between this place and Lynchburg being
withdrawn from the line, which renders me more uneasy about your
journey up.  This is a bright and beautiful morning, and there is no
indication of a change of weather, but the season is very uncertain,
and snow and ice may be upon us any day.  I think you had better come
now the first opportunity.  Do not take the boat which passes 'Bremo'
Saturday.  It reaches Lynchburg Sunday morning, arriving here Monday
night.  You would in that case have to lie at the wharf at Lynchburg
all day Sunday.  I have heard of Agnes' arrival in Richmond, and shall
be happy to have 'Precious Life' write me again.  I have engaged a man
for the balance of the year, who professes to know everything.  He
can at least make up fires, and go on errands, and attend to the yard
and stable.  I have heard nothing of Jimmy.  Give my kind regards to
all at 'Bremo.'  Custis is well and went to the boat to meet you this
morning.  The boat stops one and one-quarter miles from town.  Remain
aboard until we come.

                       "Most affectionately yours,  R. E. Lee.

"P.S.--Since writing the foregoing I have received your letter of
the 28th.  I shall expect you Saturday morning.        R. E. L.

"Mrs. M. C. Lee."

At this time the packet-boat from Lynchburg to Lexington, via the
James River and Kanawha Canal, was the easiest way of reaching Lexington
from the outside world.  It was indeed the only way, except by stage
from Goshen, twenty-one miles distant, a station of the Chesapeake &
Ohio R. R.  The canal ran from Lynchburg to Richmond, and just after
the war did a large business.  The boats were very uncertain in their
schedules, and my father was therefore very particular in his directions
to my mother, to insure her as far as he could a comfortable journey
[my father was not aware, when he wrote such explicit directions about
the route, that Colonel Ellis had again put his boat at my mother's
service].

We did get off at last, and after a very comfortable trip arrived at
Lexington on the morning of December 2d.  My father, on Traveller, was
there to meet us, and, putting us all in a carriage, escorted us to
our new home.  On arriving, we found awaiting us a delicious breakfast
sent by Mrs. Nelson, the wife of Professor Nelson.  The house was in
good order--thanks to the ladies of Lexington--but rather bare of
furniture, except my mother's rooms.  Mrs. Cocke had completely
furnished them, and her loving thoughtfulness had not forgotten the
smallest detail.  Mrs. Margaret J. Preston, the talented and well-known
poetess, had drawn the designs for the furniture, and a one-armed
Confederate soldier had made it all.  A handsomely carved grand piano,
presented by Stieff, the famous maker of Baltimore, stood alone in the
parlour.  The floors were covered with the carpets rescued from
Arlington--much too large and folded under to suit the reduced size of
the rooms.  Some of the bedrooms were partially furnished, and the
dining-room had enough in it to make us very comfortable.  We were
all very grateful and happy--glad to get home--the only one we had
had for four long years.

My father appeared bright and even gay.  He was happy in seeing us all,
and in knowing that my mother was comfortably established near to him.
He showed us over the house, and pointed with evident satisfaction
to the goodly array of pickles, preserves, and brandy-peaches which
our kind neighbors had placed in the store-room.  Indeed, for days and
weeks afterward supplies came pouring in to my mother from the people
in the town and country, even from the poor mountaineers, who, anxious
to "do something to help General Lee," brought in hand-bags of walnuts,
potatoes, and game.  Such kindness--delicate and considerate always--as
was shown to my father's family by the people, both of the town and
the country around, not only then but to this day, has never been
surpassed in any community.  It was a tribute of love and sympathy
from honest and tender hearts to the man who had done all that he could
do for them.

My father was much interested in all the arrangements of the house,
even to the least thing.  He would laugh merrily over the difficulties
that appalled the rest of us.  Our servants were few and unskilled,
but his patience and self-control never failed.  The silver of the
family had been sent to Lexington for safe-keeping early in the war.
When General Hunger raided the Valley of Virginia and advanced upon
Lexington, to remove temptation out of his way, this silver, in two
large chests, had been intrusted to the care of the old and faithful
sergeant at the Virginia Military Institute, and he had buried it in
some safe place known only to himself.  I was sent out with him to
dig it up and bring it in.  We found it safe and sound, but black
with mould and damp, useless for the time being, so my father opened
his camp-chest and we used his forks, spoons, plates, etc., while his
camp-stools supplied the deficiency in seats.  He often teased my
sisters about their experiments in cookery and household arts,
encouraging them to renewed efforts after lamentable failures.  When
they succeeded in a dish for the table, or completed any garment with
their own hands, he was lavish with his praise.  He would say:

"You are all very helpless; I don't know what you will do when I am
gone," and

"If you want to be missed by your friends--be useful."

He at once set to work to improve all around him, laid out a vegetable
garden, planted roses and shrubs, set out fruit and yard trees, made
new walks and repaired the stables, so that in a short time we were
quite comfortable and very happy.  He at last had a home of his own,
with his wife and daughters around him, and though it was not the
little farm in the quiet country for which he had so longed, it was
very near to it, and it gave rest to himself and those he loved most
dearly.

His duties as president of Washington College were far from light.
His time was fully occupied, and his new position did not relieve
him from responsibility, care and anxiety.  He took pains to become
acquainted with each student personally, to be really his guide and
friend.  Their success gratified and pleased him, and their failures,
in any degree, pained and grieved him, and their failures, in any
degree, pained and grieved him.  He felt that he was responsible
for their well-doing and progress, and he worked very hard to make
them good students and useful men.

The grounds and buildings of the college soon began to show his care,
attention, and good taste.  In all his life, wherever he happened to
be, he immediately set to work to better his surroundings.  The
sites selected for his headquarter camps during the war, if occupied
for more than a day, showed his tasteful touch.  When superintendent
at West Point, the improvements suggested and planned by him were
going on for the three years he remained there.  Very soon after he
assumed charge of Arlington, the place showed, in its improved
condition, the effects of his energetic industry.  The college at
Lexington was a splendid field for the exercise of his abilities in
this line.  The neighbouring Virginia Military Institute soon followed
teh example he had set, and after a year the municipal authorities
of Lexington were aroused to the necessity of bettering their streets
and sidewalks, and its inhabitants realised the need of improving and
beautifying their homes.  He managed a very large correspondence,
answering every letter when possible, the greater proportion with his
own hand.  To the members of his own family who were away he wrote
regularly, and was their best correspondent on home matters, telling
in his charming way all the sayings and doings of the household and
the neighbours.

My sister Agnes had gone to the wedding of Miss Warwick direct from
"Bremo," and was in Richmond when my father sent her two of the first
letters he wrote after the arrival of my mother in Lexington:

                            "Lexington, Virginia, December 5, 1865.

"My Worrying Little Agnes:  your letter of the 1st received to-night.
I have autographed the photographs and send a gross of the latter and
a lock of hair.  Present my love to the recipients and thank them for
their favours.  Sally is going to marry a widower.  I think I ought
to know, as she refused my son, and I do not wish to know his name.
I wonder if she knows how many children he has.  Tell Mr. Warwick I
am sorry for him.  I do not know what he will do without his sweet
daughter.  Nor do I know what I will do without her, either.  Your
mother has written--Mildred, too--and I presume has told you all
domestic news.  Custis is promenading the floor, Rob reading the
papers, and Mildred packing her dress.  Your mamma is up to her eyes
in news and I am crabbed as usual.  I miss you very much and hope
this is the last wedding you will attend.  Good-bye.  Love to everybody.

                 "Your affectionate father,   R. E. Lee.

"Miss Agnes Lee."

The other is dated nearly a month later, and from this it appears that
the wedding so often referred to is about to take place:

                            "Lexington, Virginia, January 3, 1866.

"My Precious Little Agnes:  I sat down to give my dear little Sally--
for she is dear to me in the broadest, highest sense of the word--the
benefit of Jeremy Taylor's opinion on hasty marriages.  But, on
reflection, I fear it would be words lost, for your mother says her
experience has taught her that when a young woman makes up her mind
to get married, you might as well let her alone.  You must, therefore,
just thank her for the pretty inkstand, and say that I'll need no
reminder of her, but I do not know when I shall make up my mind to
stain it with ink.  I was very glad to receive your letter of the 26th,
and to think that you were mindful of us.  I know you do not wish to
be away, though you are striving to get as far away as possible.
When you reach Norfolk, you will be so convenient to New York, whence
steamers depart almost daily for Europe.  Let us know when you sail.
But I do not write to restrain your movements, though you know how
solitary I am without you.  I inclose...which, with what I gave Mildred,
I hope will answer your purpose.  Send me or bring me the photographs
I asked for.  I like them of the last edition; they seem to take with
the little school-girls, and I have nothing else to give them.  I
hope you will have a safe and pleasant trip.  Tell Mr. Warwick I shall
sorrow with him to-night--though I believe Mrs. Lee is right.  Remember
me to all friends, and believe me,

                      "Your devoted father,           R. E. Lee.

"Miss Agnes Lee."

The latter part of January my father was sent by the board of trustees
to Richmond to converse with the Committee on Education of the Virginia
Legislature, then in session, as to some funds of the State held by
Washington College.  His mission was, I believe, successful, and
great material aid was gained.  He remained no long than was absolutely
necessary, and, returning to his duties at Lexington, encountered a
severe snow-storm.  The difficulties he had to overcome are described
in the following letter to his daughter Agnes, whom he had met in
Richmond, and who had gone from there to visit some friends in Norfolk:

                            "Lexington, Virginia, January 29, 1866.

"My Precious Little Agnes:  I have received your letter of the 17th,
transmitting the photographs, for which I am very much obliged.  I
returned the one for Miss Laura Lippett, whom I wish I could see once
again.  It would be more agreeable to me than any photograph.  I had
quite a successful journey up, notwithstanding the storm.  The snow
increased as we approached the mountains, and night had set in before
we reached Staunton.  The next morning, before sunrise, in spite of
the predictions of the wise ones, I took passage on the single car
which was attached to the locomotive, and arrived at Goshen about 10
A. M., where, after some little encouragement, the stage-driver attached
his horses to the stage, and we started slowly through the mountains,
breaking the track.  On reaching the Baths, the North River was
unfordable, but I was ferried across in a skiff, with all my bundles
(I picked up two more in Staunton and one at Goshen) and packages,
and took a stage detained on the opposite bank for Lexington, where
I arrived in good time.  I found all as well as usual, and disappointed
at not seeing you with me, though I was not expected.  I told them how
anxious you were to come with me, and how you wanted to see them, but
that you looked so wretchedly I could not encourage you.  I hope you
are now in Norfolk, and that the fish and oysters will fatten you and
cure your feet!...  But get strong and keep well, and do not wear
yourself out in the pursuit of pleasure.  I hope you will soon join us,
and that Lexington may prove to you a happy home.  Your mother is a
great sufferer, but is as quiet and uncomplaining as ever.  Mildred
is active and cheerful, and Custis and I as silent as our wont.  Major
Campbell Brown is here on a visit.  I am surprised to find him such
a talker.  I am very sorry to find that Preston Cocke has been obliged
to leave on account of his health.  I have one comfort:  my dear nephew
will never injure himself by studying.  Do not be alarmed about him....
Remember me to Colonel Taylor, all his mother's family, his wife, the
Bakers, Seldens, etc.  I know none of the latter but the Doctor, for
whom I have always had a great esteem.  Your mother, brother, and
Mildred send their best love and kindest wishes.  I am always,

                 "Your devoted father,     R. E. Lee.

"Miss Agnes Lee."

It was at Dr. Seldon's house that my sister was visiting.  He had been
very kind in offering assistance to my father and mother.  I remember
well the supper given me and several of my comrades when we were coming
back from the surrender, and while the Doctor and his family were
refugees at Liberty, now Bedford City, Va.  Stopping there one night,
weary and hungry, while looking for quarters for man and beast, I got
a note asking me and my friends to come to their house.  An invitation
of that kind was never refused in those days.  We went and were treated
as if we had been sons of the house, the young ladies themselves waiting
on us.  In the morning, when we were about to start, they filled our
haversacks with rations, and Mrs. Selden, taking me aside, offered me
a handful of gold pieces saying that she had more and that she could
not bear to think of my father's son being without as long as she
possessed any.

The love and devotion shown my father by all the people of the South
was deeply appreciated by him.  He longed to help them, but was almost
powerless.  I think he felt that something could be done in that
direction by teaching and training their youth, and I am sure this idea
greatly influenced him in deciding to accept the presidency of
Washington College.  The advantages to the South of a proper education
of her youth were very evident to him.  He strongly urged it wherever
and whenever he could.  In a letter written at this time to the Reverend
G. W. Leyburn, he speaks very forcibly on the subject:

"So greatly have those interests [educational] been disturbed at the
South, and so much does its future condition depend upon the rising
generation, that I consider the proper education of its youth one of
the most important objects now to be attained, and one from which the
greatest benefits may be expected.  Nothing will compensate us for the
depression of the standard of our moral and intellectual culture, and
each State should take the most energetic measures to revive the schools
and colleges, and, if possible, to increase the facilities for
instruction, and to elevate the standard of learning...."

Again, in a letter to General John B. Gordon, written December, 1867,
he says:

"The thorough education of all classes of the people is the most
efficacious means, in my opinion, of promoting the prosperity of the
South.  The material interests of its citizens, as well as their moral
and intellectual culture, depend upon its accomplishment.  The text-
books of our schools, therefore, should not only be clear, systematic,
and scientific, but they should be acceptable to parents and pupils
in order to enlist the minds of all in the subjects."

In a letter to a friend in Baltimore he is equally earnest:

"I agree with you fully as to the importance of a more practical course
of instruction in our schools and colleges, which, calling forth the
genius and energies of our people, will tend to develop the resources
and promote the interests of the country."

In many other letters at this time and later on, especially in one
to Professor Minor, who had been appointed with him upon a board by
the Educational Society of Virginia, did he urge the importance of
education for the present and future safety, welfare, and prosperity
of the country.  Among the many tokens of respect and admiration, love,
and sympathy which my father received from all over the world, there
was one that touched him deeply.  It was a "Translation of Homer's
Iliad by Philip Stanhope Worsley, Fellow of Corpus Christi College,
Oxford, England," which the talented young poet and author sent him,
through the General's nephew, Mr. Edward Lee Childe, of Paris, a
special friend of Mr. Worsley.  I copy the latter's letter to Mr.
Childe, as it shows some of the motives influencing him in the
dedication of his work:

"My Dear Friend:  You will allow me in dedicating this work to you,
to offer it at the same time as a poor yet not altogether unmeaning
tribute of my reverence for your brave and illustrious uncle, General
Lee.  He is the hero, like Hector of the Iliad, of the most glorious
cause for which men fight, and some of the grandest passages in the
poem come to me with yet more affecting power when I remember his
lofty character and undeserved misfortunes.  The great names that your
country has bequeathed from its four lurid years of national life as
examples to mankind can never be forgotten, and among these none will
be more honoured, while history endures, by all true hears, than that
of your noble relative.  I need not say more, for I know you must be
aware how much I feel the honour of associating my work, however
indirectly, with one whose goodness and genius are alike so admirable.
Accept this token of my deepest sympathy and regard, and believe me,

              "Ever most sincerely yours,

                          "P. S. Worsley."

On the fly-leaf of the volume he sent my father was written the
following beautiful inscription:

"To General Lee,
The most stainless of living commanders
and, except in fortune, the greatest,
this volume is presented
with the writer's earnest sympathy
and respectful admiration
'... oios yap epveto Idiov Ektwp.'

                    Iliad VI--403,"

and just beneath, by the same hand, the following beautiful verses:

"The grand old bard that never dies,
     Receive him in our English tongue!
 I send thee, but with weeping eyes,
     The story that he sung.

"Thy Troy is fallen,--thy dear land
     Is marred beneath the spoiler's heel--
 I cannot trust my trembling hand
     To write the things I feel.

"Ah, realm of tears!--but let her bear
     This blazon to the end of time:
 No nation rose so white and fair,
     None fell so pure of crime.

"The widow's moan, the orphan's wail,
     Come round thee; but in truth be strong!
 Eternal Right, though all else fail,
     Can never be made Wrong.

"An Angel's heart, an angel's mouth,
     Not Homer's, could alone for me
 Hymn well the great Confederate South--
     Virginia first, and LEE.

                          "P. S. W."

His letter of thanks, and the one which he wrote later, when he heard
of the ill health of Mr. Worsley--both of which I give here--show
very plainly how much he was pleased:

                           "Lexington, Virginia, February 10, 1866.

"Mr. P. S. Worsley.

"My Dear Sir:  I have received the copy of your translation of the
Iliad which you so kindly presented to me.  Its perusal has been my
evening's recreation, and I have never more enjoyed the beauty and
grandeur of the poem than as recited by you.  The translation is as
truthful as powerful, and faithfully represents the imagery and rhythm
of the bold original.  The undeserved compliment in prose and verse,
on the first leaves of the volume, I received as your tribute to the
merit of my countrymen, who struggled for constitutional government.

          "With great respect,

                  "Your obedient servant,

                             "R. E. Lee."

                              "Lexington, Virginia, March 14, 1866.

"My Dear Mr. Worsley:  In a letter just received from my nephew, Mr.
Childe, I regret to learn that, at his last accounts from you, you
were greatly indisposed.  So great is my interest in your welfare
that I cannot refrain, even at the risk of intruding upon your sickroom,
from expressing my sincere sympathy in your affliction.  I trust,
however, that ere this you have recovered and are again in perfect
health.  Like many of your tastes and pursuits, I fear you may confine
yourself too closely to your reading.  Less mental labour and more
of the fresh air of Heaven might bring to you more comfort, and to your
friends more enjoyment, even in the way in which you now delight them.
Should a visit to this distracted country promise you any recreation,
I hope I need not assure you how happy I should be to see you at
Lexington.  I can give you a quiet room, and careful nursing, and a
horse that would delight to carry you over our beautiful mountains.
I hope my letter informing you of the pleasure I derived from the
perusal of your translation of the Iliad, in which I endeavoured to
express my thanks for the great compliment you paid me in its
dedication, has informed you of my high appreciation of the work.

"Wishing you every happiness in this world, and praying that eternal
peace may be your portion in that to come, I am most truly, Your
friend and servant,

                             "R. E. Lee."

That winter, my father was accustomed to read aloud in the long evenings
to my mother and sisters "The Grand Old Bard," equally to his own and
his listeners' enjoyment.

Two or three years after this, Professor George Long, of England, a
distinguished scholar, sent my father a copy of the second edition of
his "Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius."  The first edition of
this translation was pirated by a Northern publisher, who dedicated
the book back to Emerson.  This made Long very indignant, and he
immediately brought out a second edition with the following prefatory
note:

"...I have never dedicated a book to any man and if I dedicated this,
I should choose the man whose name seemed to me most worthy to be
joined to that of the Roman soldier and philosopher.  I might dedicate
the book to the successful general who is now the President of the
United States, with the hope that his integrity and justice will restore
peace and happiness, so far as he can, to those unhappy States which
have suffered so much from war and the unrelenting hostility of wicked
men.  But as the Roman poet says,

"'Victrix causa deis placuit, sed victa Catoni;'

"And if I dedicated this little book to any man, I would dedicate it
to him who led the Confederate armies against the powerful invader,
and retired from an unequal contest defeated, but not dishonoured;
to the noble Virginian soldier whose talents and virtues place him by
the side of the best and wisest man who sat on the throne of the
imperial Caesars."

These two nearly similar tributes came from the best cultured thought
of England, and the London Standard, speaking more for the nation at
large, says:

"A country which has given birth to men like him, and those who followed
him, may look the chivalry of Europe in the face without shame; for the
FATHERLANDS OF SIDNEY AND BAYARD NEVER PRODUCED A NOBLER SOLDIER,
GENTLEMAN, AND CHRISTIAN THAN GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE."

In a letter to his old friend, Mr. H. Tutweiler, of Virginia, Professor
Long sent the following message to my father, which, however, was
never received by him, it having been sent to my mother only after
his death:

"I did not answer General Lee's letter [one of thanks for the book,
sent by Professor Long through Mr. Tutweiler], because I thought that
he is probably troubled with many letters.  If you should have occasion
to write to him, I beg you will present to him my most respectful
regards, and my hope that he will leave behind him some commentary
to be placed on the same shelf with Caesar's.  I am afraid he is too
modest to do this.  I shall always keep General lee's letter, and will
leave it to somebody who will cherish the remembrance of a great soldier
and a good man.  If I were not detained here by circumstances, I would
cross the Atlantic to see the first and noblest man of our days."

Another noble English gentleman, who had shown great kindness to the
South and who was a warm admirer of General Lee, was the Honorable
A. W. Beresford Hope.  He, I think, was at the head of a number of
English gentlemen who presented the superb statue of "Stonewall"
Jackson by Foley to the State of Virginia.  It now stands in the Capitol
Square at Richmond, and is a treasure of which the whole Commonwealth
may justly be proud.  Through Mr. Hope, my father received a handsome
copy of the Bible, and, in acknowledgement of Mr. Hope's letter, he
wrote the following:

                               "Lexington, Virginia, April 16, 1866.

"Honourable A. W. Beresford Hope, Bedgebury Park, Kent, England

"Sir:  I have received within a few days your letter of November 14,
1865, and had hoped that by this time it would have been followed by
the copy of the Holy Scriptures to which you refer, that I might have
known the generous donors, whose names, you state, are inscribed on
its pages.  Its failure to reach me will, I fear, deprive me of that
pleasure, and I must ask the favour of you to thank them most heartily
for their kindness in providing me with a book in comparison with
which all others in my eyes are of minor importance, and which in all
my perplexities has never failed to give me light and strength.
Your assurance of the esteem in which I am held by a large portion
of the British nation, as well as by those for whom you speak, is
most grateful to my feelings, though I am aware that I am indebted to
their generous natures, and not to my own merit, for their good opinion.
I beg, sir, that you will accept my sincere thanks for the kind
sentiments which you have expressed toward me, and my unfeigned
admiration of your exalted character.  I am, with great respect,

             "Your most obedient servant,

                        "R. E. Lee."

 

 

site stats

 

Site Copyright 2003-2014 Son of the South. For Questions or comments about this collection,

contact: paul@sonofthesouth.net

privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.