Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/70

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64 Southern Historical Society Papers.

warmed by the "Promethean heat." For surely never revealed it self to the human mind a more delightful subject for contemplation than the life and character of Lee.

The phenomenal elevation of his soul was developed by every fer- tilizing influence that could tend to stimulate and strengthen, by the antecedents of his race, by the surroundings of his life, by the lofty character of his education and profession.

The blood which coursed in his veins descended in purest strain through an illustrious ancestry, running back to William the Con- queror, every record of which indicates a race of hereditary gen- tlemen. That the blood of Launcelot Lee, who landed with the Conqueror, and of Lionel, who fought with Cceur de Lion, had not degenerated as it percolated through the centuries is evidenced by the history of the American Lees, whose founder was Richard Lee, a cavalier of Charles the First, who removed to the New World, and is described by Bishop Meade as " a man of good stature, comely visage, enterprising genius, sound head, vigorous spirit, and most generous nature." From his stock sprung a host of illustrious Virginians, the most conspicuous of whom were that Richard Henry Lee, who, in the Congress of the colonies, moved the reso- lution adopting the Declaration of Independence, and proclaiming that the American colonies "are, and of a right ought to be, free and independent ;" and the father of our hero, Light Horse Harry Lee, the Rupert of the Revolution, the friend of Washington, elected by Congress to deliver the eulogy of that illustrious man at his death, and who conferred upon him the memorable title of " first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his country- men."

Born in the same county with Washington, and thus bound to his memory by the ties of hereditary . friendship, fate seems to have determined that this illustrious exemplar should "rain influence" upon Lee from every source. It gave him to wife Mary Randolph Custis, daughter of the adopted son of Washington, the nearest representative of Ijis house, and a woman whose exalted virtues were derived by lineal inheritance from the wife of Washington. This marriage transferred his residence to beautiful Arlington, the repository of the Washington relics, where he lived surrounded by objects so freighted with the dearest memories and associations of the hero's life, that the very atmosphere of the place seemed in stinct with the brooding influence of his spirit.

From his very infancy Lee seems to have been enamored of