Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams
Haverhill July 26th.1788
My Dear Sister—
I got home the Friday-noon after I left you, & had the great satisfaction of finding all well—my little Daughters humour much abated, & was going of without a sore forming under her chin, as the Dr feared— But I soon had a bitter ingredient thrown into my lap, by hearing the complaints of my faithful Servant Lidia, who had every Symtom of a voilent fever coming upon her—1 The Dr thinks her fever is come to the height, but she cannot set up more than ten minutes at a time now—
We ought to prize a good Girl, for we miss & feel the want of them, when taken from business most terribly— Your Family has been sick, as well as mine, & we know how to pity each other, for one we are used to, is worth ten new Servants—
I was fearful Ester would give you trouble when I left you— Her Step, & motions were much too quick for Stability,— I think it was very lucky for Cornish that she was taken sick just as she was— though I presume you do not think it so for yourself— I am sorry you have so much trouble, for Sickness throws everything into confusion—& brings ten thousand wants & cares with it—
I rejoice to hear of your increasing health—may it still keep on, in a happy progression— Cares if not too great, I have often thought were pleasures— Exercise of Body is absolutely necessary to our health— But few (my Sister) like you, can figure in the higher walks of Life, & with so much ease descend to the every concern, & business of your Family— It is happy when Americans can so do—
Peter was taken sick yesterday, but I hope it is nothing more than eating too much green fruit— Betsy Smith came home to me, with her Uncle from Commencement— Dear good Girl she is I am sure I do not know what I should do now without her—
Mr J Q A— went to Newbury a Thursday My Nephews have been rather unfortunate in this visit, on account of our Sickness—2 But I tell them they never found us so before, & they must take us for better, & for worse—
They do not know half the pleasure, & satisfaction they give their uncle, & Aunt when they make us those visits— They would never fail of coming if they did— I am glad to hear of the health & welfare of Mr & Mrs Smith— I hope to have a Letter from her myself soon—
I hope our Family will soon be well, & yours too—that we may have the pleasure of seeing, & welcoming to our habitation my Dear Brother & Sister—
adieu most affectionately Your / Sister
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs A Adams. / Braintree”; endorsed: “Mrs Shaw / july 26th 1788.”
1. Lydia Springer (b. 1762) of Haverhill was Elizabeth Smith Shaw’s long-time servant, first in Haverhill and later in Atkinson, N.H. (Vital Records of Haverhill Massachusetts to the End of the Year 1849, 2 vols., Topsfield, Mass., 1910–1911, 1:283; Paul C. Nagel, The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters, N.Y., 1987, p. 65, 69–70).
2. JQA and TBA rode together from Braintree to Haverhill on Monday, 21 July, and stayed with the Shaws until 23 July, when JQA returned to Newburyport (JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981–. description ends , 2:433–434).