Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/21

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10
 

The Captain, returning to his post in St. Louis, writes : “You do not know how much I have missed you and the children, my dear Mary… If I could only get a squeeze at that little fellow turning up his sweet mouth to ‘keese Baba !’ You must not let him run wild in my absence, and will have to exercise firm authority over all of them. This will not require severity, or even strictness, but constant attention, and an unwavering course. Mildness and forbearance, tempered by firmness and judgment, will strengthen their affection for you, while it will maintain your control over them”

The Captain was all the more entitled to give advice because he had, to the highest level, a natural gift for education. To an almost feminine tenderness, he added the firmness that springs from a strong feeling of justice. Deeply imbued by everything noble, Robert Lee had in him what was necessary to communicate his passion.

It is said that to convince, one must be convinced. Cold moral lessons never improve anybody ; but one does not resist long to the contagion of good practiced with conviction and simplicity.

The visits to Arlington were precious moments. If the father kept in his heart the tender picture of his “little fellow,” the “little fellow,” and later on, his brothers and sisters, had a deep admiration for the great officer who, once at home, seemed to belong to them entirely. The Captain,