1862 February 26 Albemarle County, Va.

Castle Hill Feb. 26, 1862

I have been wishing to write to
you ever since our return home, my dearest son,
but having assured you of our safe arrival in
a letter to your sweet little moitie[?], I waited
in the hope of saying we are all well.

Papa has been quite sick since two days after
our return, though I hope he is now mending.
His attack has been like those he had in Richmond,
only more severe and protracted. Douglas has
treated him mildly but I believe very judiciously,
and we trust his restoration to his usual health
is only an affair of time.

When I told Papa I was going to write
to you, he told me to give his best love to you
and Sadie and added “tell Alfred to do his best,
but not to indulge in too much anxiety, and
not to fret about what cannot be helped–to
leave that to God.”

I can only repeat my injunction when you
were a student at the Porte-chaussées—with
an entreaty to take every precaution with regard
to that most precious of blessings, health.

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You will have to establish rules for yourself
something after the fashion of a prize fighter
in training, in order to bring to their full
development those gifts it has pleased heaven
to engender you with, and which are now so
usefully employed. Simple food, regular rest,
and as much fresh air as the case admits of
will go very far toward this end, as you know
from experience–the only thing is for us “to
practise what we know.”

We have been provoked at the despondent
tone of the only Richmond news-paper we see.
It reminds me of Bob acres in Sheridan’s play
of “the Rivals.” When persuaded that his honour
demanded a fight, he goes to the field with his
second, sir Lucius O’Trigger. When he sees his
antagonist coming he begins to shake, and exclaims
“They are coming!–Oh Sir Lucius, I feel all my
courage oozing out of the palms of my hands-
I I s-say–Sir Lucius, we we we wo’ont-run,
will we? sir Lucius?”

This seems to be a good deal the spirit just
now. People have been talking instead of working,
and seem to be backing down just when they

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ought to be fiercest. But the designs of
Almighty providence are yet hidden in his own
mysterious but wise decrees with regard to all this
awful change. We can only bow our heads
and worship knowing that whatever he ordains
is best, “The judge of all the earth will do right.”

I cannot tell you how thankful I have
been that we got home before Papa was sick.
It is such a comfort to have every thing at my
orders, with all the privileges of home. the
pure atmosphere, the absence of dust–the quick
attendance of servants–the absence of annoyances–
the elbow–with other things too numerous
to mention, but which you can imagine.–

We have seen none of our neighbors yet in
consequence of the rainy days and muddy roads.
We hear they are all well.–

Ella and Bijou are flourishing. Ella sends
any quantity of love, and if I were to ask Bijou
if he loved you he would certainly reply “oui” with
an expressive lengthening of the word

Kiss your little darling for us all, and offer our
love to the family.—

Knowing that you have not much time, I will
leave the last sheet blank–

God bless you my beloved child–

your fond devoted Mother.
JPR

Colonel Alfred Landon Rives, 1830–1903, son of William and Judith Rives, trained as an engineer in France and was chief of engineers to General Robert E. Lee.

Judith Page Walker Rives, 1802–1882, who married to U. S. Senator William Cabell Rives, 1793–1868, a lawyer and biographer of U. S. President James Madison

MSS 38-348

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