"My Dear Mary: I have received your letter of the 13th, and am glad to learn that you propose visiting the 'White House,' as I feared my journey might prevent you. I am, however, very anxious on the subject, as I apprehend the trip will be irksome and may produce great inconvenience and pain. I hope you received my letter of the 11th, written just before my departure for Florida. In case you did not, I will state that I forwarded your petition to Cassius Lee as received, not thinking my signature necessary or advantageous. I will send the money received from the 'University Publishing Company' to Carter, for whom I intend it [This was the money that came to General Lee from his new edition of his father's "Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States."]. I returned from Florida Saturday, 16th, having had a very pleasant trip as far as Palatka on the St. John's. We visited Comberland Island, and Agnes decorated my father's grave with beautiful fresh flowers. I presume it is the last time I shall be able to pay to it my tribute of respect. The cemetery is unharmed and the grave is in good order, though the house of Dungeness has been burned and the island devastated. Mr. Nightingale, the present proprietor, accompanied me from Brunswick. Mr. Andrew Lowe was so kind as to go with us the whole way, thinking Agnes and I were unable to take care of ourselves. Agnes seemed to enjoy the trip very much, and has improved in health. I shall leave to her all details. We spent a night at Colonel Cole's, a beautiful place near Palatka, and ate oranges from the trees. We passed some other beautiful places on the river, but could not stop at any but Jacksonville, where we remained from 4 P. M. to 3 A. M. next morning, rode over the town, etc., and were hospitably entertained by Colonel Sanderson. The climate was delightful, the fish inviting and abundant. We have returned to our old quarters, Agnes to the Lawtons' and I to the Lowe's. We shall remain here this week, and will probably spend a few days in Charleston and Norfolk, if we go that way, and at 'Brandon' and 'Shirley' before going to the 'White House,' where we shall hope to meet you. I know of no certain place where a letter will catch me before I reach Richmond, where the doctors desire me to spend a few days that they may again examine me. Write me there whether Fitzhugh is too full to receive us. It will depend upon my feelings, weather, etc., whether I make the digression by Norfolk. Poor little Agnes has had, I fear, but little enjoyment so far, and I wish her to have all the pleasure she can gather on the route. She is still weak and seems to suffer constantly from the neuralgia. I hope I am better, I know that I am stronger, but I still have the pain in my chest whenever I walk. I have felt it also occasionally of late when quiescent, but not badly, which is new. To-day Doctors Arnold and Reed, of this city, examined me for about an hour. They concur in the opinion of the other physicians, and think it pretty certain that my trouble arises from some adhesion of the parts, not from injury of the lungs and heart, but that the pericardium may not be implicated, and the adhesion may be between the pleura and ---, I have forgotten the name. Their visit was at the urgent entreaty of friends, which I could not well resist, and perhaps their opinion is not fully matured. I am continuing the prescriptions of Doctors Barton and Madison. My rheumatic pains, either from the effects of the medicine or the climate, or both, have diminished, but the pain along the breast bone ever returns on my making any exertion. I am glad Mildred has returned so well. I hope that she will continue so. After perusal, send this letter to one of the children to whom you may be writing, that Doctors Barton, etc., may be informed how I am getting along, as I have been unable to write to them or to any one at Lexington. I have so many letters to write in answer to kind invitations, etc., and so many interruptions, that my time is consumed. Besides, writing is irksome to me. Give my love to Fitzhugh, Tabb, and Robert and to Custis, Mary, and Mildred when you write. Agnes said she was going out to return some of her numerous visits to-day, and I presume will not be able to write. She has had but little comfort in her clothes. Her silk dress was spoiled on the way, and she returned it to Baltimore, but has learned that they can do nothing with it, so she will have to do without it, which I presume she can do. I hope you may reach the 'White House' comfortably. I will apprise you of my movements from time to time. I hope my godson will know you. Tell him I have numbers of his namesakes since I left Virginia, of whom I was not aware. I hope they will come to good.
From the following letters--all that I can find relating to this part of the journey--it appears that the travellers started for Virginia, stopping at Charleston, Wilmington, and Norfolk. Of their visit to Charleston I can find no record. He and Agnes stayed at the beautiful home of Mr. Bennet, who had two sons at the college, and a lovely daughter, Mary Bennet. I remember Agnes telling me of the beautiful flowers and other attentions lavished upon them.
At Wilmington they spent a day with Mr. and Mrs. Davis. His coming there was known only to a few persons, as its announcement was by a private telegram from Savannah, but quite a number of ladies and gentlemen secured a small train and went out on the Southern Road to meet him. When they met the regular passenger-train from Savannah, General Lee was taken from it to the privateone and welcomed by his many friends. He seemed bright and cheerful and conversed with all. He spoke of his health not being good, and on this account begged that there would be no public demonstration on his arrival, nor during his stay at Wilmington.
On reaching that place, he accompanied Mr. George Davis [Attorney General in Mr. Davis's cabinet] to his house and was his guest during his sojourn in the city.
Mrs. Davis was a Miss Fairfax, daughter of Dr. O. Fairfax, of Alexandria, Virginia. They had been and were very old and dear friends and neighbours. The next morning my father walked out and called on Bishop Atkinson, with whom he had been well acquainted when they both lived in Baltimore, some twelve years before, the one as rector of St. Peter's (Episcopal) church, the other as Captain of the United States Engineers, in charge of the harbour defenses of the city.
There was a dinner given to my father that day at Mr. Davis's home, and a number of gentlemen were present. He was looking very well, but in conversation said that he realised there was some trouble with his heart, which he was satisfied was incurable.
The next day, May 1st, he left for Norfolk, Virginia, where Dr. and Mrs. Selden were the kind entertainers of his daughter and himself. Agnes told me that in going and returning from church the street was lined with people who stood, hats off, in silent deference. From Norfolk they visited "Lower" and "Upper Brandon" on the James River, the homes of the Harrisons; then "Shirley," higher up the river. Then they proceeded by way of Richmond to the "White House," my mother having arrived there from Lexington a short time previously. The General wrote from "Brandon" to his wife:
"My Dear Mary: We have reached this point on our journey. Mrs. Harrison and Miss Belle are well and very kind, and I have been up to see Mr. William Harrison and Mr. George and their families. The former is much better than I expected to find him, and I hope will recover his health as the spring advances. The ladies are all well, and Miss Gulie is very handsome. Agnes and I went over to see Warrenton Carter and his wife this morning. They are both very well, and everything around them looks comfortable and flourishing. They have a nice home, and, as far as I could see, everything is prospering. Their little boy was asleep, but we were invited in to see him. He is a true Carter. Mrs. Page, the daughter of General Richardson, is here on a visit, and Mrs. Murdock, wife of their former pastor, arrived this morning. We are to go up to Mr. George Harrison's this evening, where the children are to have some tableaux, and where we are expected to spend the evening. In Norfolk we saw all our friends, but I did not succeed in getting out to Richard Page's as I desired, on account of the heavy rain on the appointed day and engagements that interfered on others. Agnes and Mrs. Selden rode out, however, and saw all the family. Everybody inquired kindly after you, down to Bryan, and all sent their love. 'Brandon' is looking very beautiful, and it is refreshing to look at the river. The garden is filled with flowers and abounds in roses. The yellow jasmine is still in bloom and perfumes the atmosphere. I have not heard from you or from Lexington since I left Savannah. I hope all are well. I am better, I trust; am getting fat and big, but am still rigid and painful in my back. On Tuesday night I expect to go to 'Shirley,' and on Thursday, 12th inst., to Richmond, and on Friday to the 'White House,' unless I hear that you are crowded, in which case I will submit myself to the doctors for two or three days, as they desire, and then go down. Agnes now says she will accompany me to the 'White House,' so that I shall necessarily pass through Richmond, as our baggage renders that route necessary. Therefore, unless something unforeseen prevents, I shall be with you on Friday next. All unite in love. Agnes, I hope, is better than when she left Lexington, but is not strong. You must give a great deal of love to Fitzhugh, Tabb, my grandson Robert, and all with you.