Adams Papers

From Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to Abigail Smith Adams, 16 April 1804

Atkinson April 16th. 1804

My Dear Sister,

When your Son delivered me your kind letter, little did I think, it would be so long, before I should reply. But my youngest Girl went home the Saturday after, & I have had a round of heavy cares upon me ever since. It was ten weeks before we could get any other Girl, & in some of the worst cold weather, & dreadful Storms which has proved quite too much for Lydia & me. But it could not be helped. I find the exertions have worn upon both of us, though we should not have felt fatigue so much if a number of our Boarders had not been taken sick, several threatened with settled fevers, but by care & attention at first, have happily excaped a long sickness—Abby, & I have suffered from severe colds, & sore throats—Eliza Hayes had the canker in hers, and I thought the others caught it from her—Miss Nabby Hayes has had an unusual humour in her Ear. Nothing would give her ease but poltices, which I applied two or three in a day, for more than a month, with bathing every day, & you know what work it makes—But they are now both almost well enough to return to Gloucester; they have sent to their Parents, & our vacation commences the 20th of this month, which I hope will afford me a days respite, I do not expect much more, for they are coming & going the whole time.—I should not have given you this detail, but I thought you would think me negligent, if you did not know how fully my time has been occupied; & in bad weather when other families are retired, & have leisure, mine is the most encumbered, & every energy of Soul, & Body is required to keep them still, & improving in their respective Studies—

I do not know that I ever more sincerely rejoiced at the return of the genial warmth of a new born Spring, than at the present moment—Though I feel an alloy, when I consider, that it speedily brings on the day, when my Son must fix upon some Spot, where he may be likely to obtain a livelihood—I wish that his path of duty may appear plain. I know not how to be reconciled to his going at a great distance from us, & one great Objection is, that those of my particular acquaintance, who have gone have either lost their lives, or spent one, two, or more years & then returned disgusted with the People, & dissapointed in all their Expectations—But I know he must fix with a degree of energy, hard as it may be, & I pray he may do what appears the most eligible—& then we shall have no cause to repine, though he should not prosper—But he appears to me to be so little calculated for the rough & thorny path of life, that I tremble for him—Chesterfield’s maxim “sweetness in the manner, & firmness in the mind,” is absolutely essential to gain the publick confidence. To do good, & to turn the follies, & passions of mankind to our own advantage requires no small degree of knowledge of human nature, & of virtue & integrity in our own hearts—I should have written to him if I could found a moments leisure—The experienced President, & you, will please to give him your parental Counsel—

Your Son Thomas I trust will make an excellent Citizen, & his facetious, engaging manners will ingratiate him, & he will gain the love, & respect of his native Town,—I think he will be a Blessing to your declining years, & smooth the pillow of age, & these are qualities, which every Child does not possess—May he succeed in buisness, & prosper, for the happiness of my friend is with his, intimately woven.—

I was in hopes I should have heard from Quincy; I wish to hear how your health is, & of that of your family, & of my Sisters, & her Children—I have not heard a word of William Cranch & his family, since my dear Sister communicated the melancholly account of their Sickness—How is Sister Smith, & Louisa—& Phebe, I have thought of this long tedious winter—Mrs Foster I have repeatedly written to, but she hates to write, as well as my William—& I cannot hear one word, so I hope they are well—I am almost asleep myself, & hope your repose will be refreshing, that you may awake with renewed strength, is the wish of / Your affectionate Sister

Elizabeth Peabody

I wish I could go to Boston & Quincy, but I know I cannot—I hope William has been wise enough to wear his Cotton Shirts—If I could get a good piece of linnen I would make it for him—If Dr Tufts would let him have sufficient to purchase him some, I should be glad, & Mr Locke would bring it, when he returns his Daughter—I should have sent some Stockings before, but I have been dissappointed in every thing—My Son knows who I mean by Mr Locke—he is a Merchant, & an excellent Man—

MHi: Adams Papers.

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