The new house was approaching completion, and my father was much interested in the work, going there very often and discussing with the workmen their methods. That Christmas I spent two weeks in Lexington, and many times my father took me all over the new building, explaining all the details of his plan. All of his family were here together this Christmas except Fitzhugh and his wife, an occurence rather rare of late years. My father's health was unusually good, and he was bright and almost gay. He rode out often, taking me with him, as it was too cold for the girls. He also took me around with him visiting, and in the mild festivities of the neighbours he joined with evident pleasure. My visit ended all too soon, and the first week of January I started back to the "low country." Soon after my departure, he forwarded a letter to me with the accompanying one of his own:
"Lexington, Virginia, January 14, 1869.
"My Dear Rob: The accompanying letter was inclosed to me by Lawrence Butler [The grandson of Nellie Custis, my grandfather's sister, who married Lawrence Lewis, the favourite nephew of Washington] with the request that I would forward it, as he did not know your address, and urge you to be present at his wedding. I do not know that I can say more, except to inform you that he says he has the very girl for you if you will come on. You must therefore decide the question according to your best judgment. General Hoke, from North Carolina, has also sent you his wedding-cards. We have missed you very much since your departure, and wished you back. I hope you got home comfortably and found all well. Drive all your work with judgment and energy, and when you have decided about the house, let me know. Tell Fitzhugh I have signed the insurance policy and sent it to Mr. Wickham for his signature, with the request that he forward it to Grubb & Williams. The weather still continues pleasant, and I fear we shall suffer for it by the late spring. There has so far been a great lack of snow, and consequently the wheat is exposed to the great changes of temperature. We are all as you left us. Custis, I think, looks better. No news. Mail heavy this morning. Love to F--- and T---. With great affection,
Some one wrote to General Lee suggesting that General Grant, then president of the United States, should be invited to Washington College. His reply was as follows:
"Lexington, Virginia, January 8, 1869.
"My Dear Sir: I am much obliged to you for you letter of the 29th ult., which I am sure has been prompted by the best motives. I should be glad if General Grant would visit Washington College, and I should endeavour to treat him with the courtesy and respect due the President of the United States; but if I were to invite him to do so, it might not be agreeable to him, and I fear my motives might be misunderstood at this time, both by himself and others, and that evil would result instead of good. I will, however, bear your suggestion in mind, and should a favourable opportunity offer I shall be glad to take advantage of it. Wishing you happiness and prosperity, I am, Very respectfully,
A lady living in New York wrote to General Lee in 1867, asking for a catalogue of Washington College and a copy of its charter and laws. She wished also to know whether or not the college was sectarian, and, if so, of what denomination. She intimated that she desired to make a donation to some institution of learning, and was rather inclined to select the Episcopal Theological Seminary, near Alexandria, Virginia. The president sent her the following reply to her letter:
"Lexington, Virginia, June 24, 1867.