lexington, April 16, 1861.
My Dear Son, — As I may miss you, I leave this letter. Serious as is the state of things in the country, and imperative as may be the call of duty to brave everything in repelling wrong, — at a day not far distant, — I am very clear that your duty now is to quiet your mind to the utmost, and to finish your course at the University. God, my dear son, indicates this for you in the circumstances of the case. It is all-important that you secure the advantages of the A.M. And I express it with all the emphasis of my judgment, and of my own concern alike for your happiness and for the interest we all have in your career, as my decided expectation that you will brace yourself for the full measure of effort that may be needed for your degree. Say not, my son, that you cannot command your faculties under the excitements of the time. Why, if you cannot bring mental agitation into subjection for so important a purpose when God directs, as I am sure He does, will you not be too much flurried for calm endurance in a hundred ways for the trying times we expect?
No, no, my son. Possess your soul in patience yet awhile. If we have real war, your time will come soon enough. Considerable delay will be unavoidable, and I still trust God may frustrate Lincoln's schemes. Much is to be done besides this movement of militia.
If it becomes clearly duty by and by, I will bid you go with my blessing, and looking up for heaven's grace to attend you. But now — if you come home — return immediately, and stand firmly in your lot at the University.
Your fond father,
W. N. Pendleton.
SOURCE: Susan Pendleton Lee, Memoirs of William Nelson Pendleton, D.D., p. 135-6