Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Two or three years after this, Professor George Long, of England, adistinguished scholar, sent my father a copy of the second edition ofhis "Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius." The first edition ofthis translation was pirated by a Northern publisher, who dedicatedthe book back to Emerson. This made Long very indignant, and heimmediately brought out a second edition with the following prefatorynote:

"...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 bejoined to that of the Roman soldier and philosopher. I might dedicatethe book to the successful general who is now the President of theUnited States, with the hope that his integrity and justice will restorepeace and happiness, so far as he can, to those unhappy States whichhave suffered so much from war and the unrelenting hostility of wickedmen. 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 itto 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 bythe side of the best and wisest man who sat on the throne of theimperial Caesars."

These two nearly similar tributes came from the best cultured thoughtof England, and the London Standard, speaking more for the nation atlarge, says:

"A country which has given birth to men like him, and those who followedhim, may look the chivalry of Europe in the face without shame; for theFATHERLANDS 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, ProfessorLong sent the following message to my father, which, however, wasnever received by him, it having been sent to my mother only afterhis 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 thathe is probably troubled with many letters. If you should have occasionto write to him, I beg you will present to him my most respectfulregards, and my hope that he will leave behind him some commentaryto be placed on the same shelf with Caesar's. I am afraid he is toomodest to do this. I shall always keep General lee's letter, and willleave it to somebody who will cherish the remembrance of a great soldierand a good man. If I were not detained here by circumstances, I wouldcross the Atlantic to see the first and noblest man of our days."

Another noble English gentleman, who had shown great kindness to theSouth and who was a warm admirer of General Lee, was the HonorableA. W. Beresford Hope. He, I think, was at the head of a number ofEnglish gentlemen who presented the superb statue of "Stonewall"Jackson by Foley to the State of Virginia. It now stands in the CapitolSquare at Richmond, and is a treasure of which the whole Commonwealthmay justly be proud. Through Mr. Hope, my father received a handsomecopy of the Bible, and, in acknowledgement of Mr. Hope's letter, hewrote the following:

"Lexington, Virginia, April 16, 1866.

"Honourable A. 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 bythe copy of the Holy Scriptures to which you refer, that I might haveknown the generous donors, whose names, you state, are inscribed onits pages. Its failure to reach me will, I fear, deprive me of thatpleasure, and I must ask the favour of you to thank them most heartilyfor their kindness in providing me with a book in comparison withwhich all others in my eyes are of minor importance, and which in allmy perplexities has never failed to give me light and strength.Your assurance of the esteem in which I am held by a large portionof the British nation, as well as by those for whom you speak, ismost grateful to my feelings, though I am aware that I am indebted totheir generous natures, and not to my own merit, for their good opinion.I beg, sir, that you will accept my sincere thanks for the kindsentiments which you have expressed toward me, and my unfeignedadmiration of your exalted character. I am, with great respect,

"Your most obedient servant,

"R. E. Lee."