Adams Papers

From Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to William Smith Shaw, 15 February 1801

Atkinson February 15th. 1801.

My Dear Son

Charity hopeth & believeth all things, & Love covereth a multitude of faults— But in parental affection, is included all the generous Sentiments, all the tender emotions that can animate the feeling heart; & though it may be dissposed to the most favourable constructions yet it is most sinsibly alarmed by neglect, or a want of filial regard. Feign would I hope, that my dear Son, is no ways culpable or defficient in his duty & attentions to a Mother who feels deeply interested, & concerned for his welfare. And when I am asked; when did you receive a letter from your Son? I reply, it is sometime since, & I believe his letters have been lost—

I have often told you, & again repeat my request that you would accustom yourself every night, to think over the occurrences of the Day, to minute the most interesting circumstances, to make suitable remarks upon Characters & conduct; diffuse, or concise as time, & feeling admit, “Laugh where you must, be candid where you can,” never failing to scrutinize your own, & bringing it to the impartial Bar of Conscience. By this practice you may correct deviations, assist your Memory, preserve many valuable anecdotes, have hints for conversation & entertaining Letters, that I should rejoice to see. And in miniature, for your own benefit & satisfaction, you may become an Historian, Chronologist, Biographer, & Moralist—This is not merely an Image of the mind, you have a living evidence of its practibility in your Patron. Let him be your pattern, & Exemplar. Mr Peabody too, has not omitted one day, for near thirty years, & it has been of eminent Service to him in the affairs of life. He has found much pleasure, & advantage by recurring to it in many Instances—

Your Aunt I suppose will soon leave you, & be upon her return to Quincy.

You will sensibly feel the loss of her improving conversation. I hope your health will not suffer for the want of her maternal Care

I need not request you to double your assiduities in her absence to meliorate, and to sooth the mind of your venerable Benefactor, oppressed with a weight of publick, & domestic Cares.

History—ever portrays republican Governments deeply shaded by Ingratitude, & I regret that ours, so soon must be marked by a crime so base, so depressing, & destructive to men of genius & of Virtue—I lament that the President at this period in the zenith of usefulness, which is his glory, while its benign Influences pervades all ranks, & is felt throughout united Columbia, he should be thrust from his Orbit to move in a smaller, & less conspicuous Sphere—The Powers of Earth, & Hell have combined, & by their machinations the Government will devolve it is thought, upon One untaught; undisciplined, who like Phaeton will rapidly set the world on fire;—

I mourn that at this Juncture the President should retire to the private walks of life, & be an inactive Spectator of the Drama—I fear his health will suffer from an exempion from those labours, to which he has been so long accustomed. For men, even of the great [. . .] seldom find that repose, that [. . .] which they have anticipated

I received a letter from your Aunt Adams—She did not say but that you were well—Your little Sisters health is rather better this winter—she sends love to you—Mr Peabody has almost recovered—Capt. Peabody has returned to his Farming, and Merchandise at Buckstown. Mr. Stephen Webster, & Wife are now upon a visit & send love to you—Mr. Vose became the Parent of an Infant Daughter a week past—The academy prospers in numbers—William and John will be made happy by a visit to their Parents at New York—They are fine Boys, & they will I think do honour to their Preceptor. I feel quite proud of them— Williams manners are elegant & neither of them adicted to any vice, I pray—heaven, they may be preserved, & not contaminated by bad company, & example.

I wanted to consult with you upon the mode of life you are to follow. One, of two professions, I presume will be your choice— May you be directed to that, in which you may be useful, & I shall be happy—Adieu, my dear Son—May we soon see each other, is the wish of your affectionate Mother

P.S. Mr. Peabody presents affectionate regards to the President, remember me most cordially to my dear Nephew William Cranch & family, & all enquiring friends.

DLC: Shaw Family Papers.

Index Entries