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From Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to William Smith Shaw, 20 November 1799

Atkinson November 20th 1799

My Dear Son,

When I have not seen, or written to a Friend for several months so many Incidents have intervened, that I often pause, & am at a loss where to begin, not knowing what will be most interesting. Several things have occured which not having time to transmit would now appear insipid, having lost the charm of novelty. For many things lose there Spirit & flavour by age. If we cull the fairest, & most beautiful flower, it is not worth acceptance, unless presented in its season. I must therefore pass unnoticed events, which, if I could have had time to transmited to you some account of at the moment, might have engaged your attention, pleased, & perhaps been useful.

Ever since the Spring has opened we have had one continued series of Cares & fatigues & a demand for every econimick virtue which your excellent Grandmother possessed in an eminent degree, & which (fortunately for those connected with them) she entailed in some measure to her children. In your Aunt, you have living, indubitable evidence of hereditary virtues, & the importance, & advantages of early precepts, & of “training a child, in the way they should go.”—Now my Son, if you perceive one drop of eocomimick blood in your veins, I beg you to cherish it.—It is a treasure that will assist you in the lowest circumstances, & the most ample fortune without it, will soon be exhausted—

You can scarcely conceive my Son what close attention is necessary to regulate & govern a family, composed of a large number of Individuals, each having separate Interests—

To take a number of other Peoples Children & rear them up to men, & mantain rights, preserve property, peace, & order, I have sometimes thought, required the patience of Job, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Eyes of Argus the lungs of Stentor, & the strength of Hercules—

Harriet L. has been with me all Summer, you know in part, what a trial I must have had—I cannot but regret that passion should predominate, & drown the finest talents. Harriet is now gone to live with her new mother at Portsmouth. I will call every latent virtue into full exercise——

It would make her very happy to receive a letter from you—She loved your Sister, & you ought to gratify her in this request—We have a very pretty Miss boards here now—a Sister of Sam. Gilman’s—& a Miss Oliver from Beverley—quite an agreeable young Lady—of 16 years old—goes to the academy with Miss Arolina, & your Sister whom I have sent since the Exhibition, & hope she will be able to go, I was obliged to take her away in the Summer, she was so feeble—poor Girl, she has had no chance for gaining knowledge. She has been so feeble for these 18 months past—She seems to be in better health now, & I hope it will continue—

I know you will be glad to hear that Mr. Vose boards here—& I suppose will, untill the happy time arrives when his hand will be united to the amiable Miss Lydia Webster—His tenderest affections have for many years been fixed, beyond the reach of change—So it is he holds fast, nothing wavering—though shook, not broken—though all the attillery of female excellence is blazoned upon him, yet unmovable, because the Base, upon which he builds, is Virtue—in its fairest form—

William, & John are well, performed excellently at the Exhibition—I have tried to perswade John to copy of the Epilougue he spoke to Mr Voses peice, as it was the affections of Miss Palmers pen—It did honour to her—but I find he has not finished it, so cannot send it to his Grandfather—It was an high gratification to me to see the little fellows—& to hear them, & others of the academy so highly applauded—I longed to have their nearest connection see how well they each performed their several parts—

Mr Smith of Boston was here, & was much pleased—

Mr Bartlet I hear is going to morrow, I must send this directly to Haverhill, or lose my chance—otherways I could fill the sheet with love, flowing in every line—I received your letter written at Trenton—To hear you are well, in ever so laconic a stile is pleasing to your Mother—

I should have written to my dear Sister if I had time—I hope she has arrived safe—What a happy circumstance to you—watch her countenance, prevent her wishes if possible—go to her for Instruction, receive it as from the Delphian Oracle—She can advise you in everything much better than I, especially in those affairs relatative to your peculiar Station—Tell my Sister I have made the cloths she provided for the Children, & that they shall want for nothing we can do for them—Give my love to Mrs Smith, the Mr Adams’ &cc & Mrs Otis—Mr Peabody presents his best regards—As you are in the meridan of knowledge, I wishes to know what Gazzetter would be most useful in a family—Your dear little Sister sends love—so does Miss P—— & good Lydia—I never feel greater inclination to write, than when I have written a whole Sheet—still I find my full heart has not imparted half—

But I must close with fervent wishes, that you, & the dear family you are with, may be preserved in health—& returned in safety to the peacefull field & to the arms of your most affectionate Mother

Elizabeth Peabody

DLC: Shaw Family Papers.

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