Adams Papers

Mary Palmer to Abigail Adams, 17th 21 March 1790

Mary Palmer to Abigail Adams

Braintree March 17th 1790

Dear Madam

The enclosed will need your utmost candour, but as I am not able to write it over again being Still in very low health & kept so long upon Sal Vol. & Lavender that the Smell & taste of both is hateful to me & the sight of a Phial disagreable, I hope you will excuse it.1 The very kind Letter that I reciev’d from you when you was in France to which I fear you never reciev’d any reply; emboldens me to write with the freedom of a friend.2

We still remain in your House but are looking out for some humble Situation where we may gain an honest tho’ mean livelihood for ourselves, Integrity & independance will give a relish to every enjoyment & sweeten the coarsest food. Betsy & I wish not to be seperated, we were ever dear to each other, & affliction has been far from loosening the Cord. As yet we have not pitch’d upon a place, but hope to before your return.

I wrote to Dr Adams soon after he left us, but suppose the Letter was lost, it was only about a Book, Princes Chronology you will please to tell h[im] it is in the office.3

Your Lark is in [good he]alth & very saucy & dainty, chooses the best of every thing [won]t eat Bread without Butter or Sugar or Meat but of the very nicest, his Seeds also must be very good & the water very clean, or he will Scold at the whole family [th]o he is not grateful enough to sing us a Song for our care of [him.]

Your Pussy is also very well & as cross as ever, & as good a [rat]catcher. but the Rats have lately left the House, so she has but little to do within doors.

Pardon Madam this triffling, when the heart is too full & afraid to vent its own feelings, it is apt to say something foolish.

I hope Betsy will be able to write to Mrs Smith, but as every thing lays upon her I fear she wont. but She as well as her Mamma may be assured of our wishes for their prosperity & affectionate respectful Love. Our Love to Louisa, we hope She will ever approve herself worthy of so excellent an Aunt

Mrs Briesler her sister & Children are entitled to a great share of our remembrance My love to them if you please.

I am Madam [you]r Affect friend & Servant

Mary Palmer.

What I meant to enclose, is rather out of Season now, I am a little better. M. Pratt has bro’t 2 Loads of Wood since Mammas death the office is safe tho’ not in good order as I wish it was, I flatter myself that you will not have any cause to blame your tenants for neglect of any kind. I dare not touch upon our loss. it has been Almost too great to bear. She was a living Saint, & her departure was happy & Sweetly tranquil without a Sigh or Struggle. She is now gone to enjoy that society which her constant piety & integrity seem’d to fit her for.

March 21st.

I broke open the Letter to inform you of what I fear’d might be in your eyes against us if not explain’d. the day Dr Adams went away from here, Suckey Adams came for a Hearth Brush which was in the office & was as good as new & soon after for a Cloathes Brush both which she said her Uncle had given her. & both were deliver’d to her. I am afraid we were too hasty in doing it.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Abigail Adams / New-York”; endorsed: “miss Polly / Palmer.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.

1Sal volatile was administered for fainting fits; lavender oil, known to be particularly pungent, was used to treat various nervous disorders (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d edn., Oxford, 1989; 20 vols. description ends ; Robert Hooper, A Compendious Medical Dictionary, Boston, 1801, Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–1966; 22 vols. description ends , No. 671).

2Not found, but this letter was probably that of 30 April 1785 mentioned in Palmer to AA, 11 Dec., vol. 6:489.

3In her letter of 25 Nov. 1789 (Adams Papers), Palmer informed JA that she had located his copy of Rev. Thomas Prince’s Chronological History of New-England, Boston, 1736.

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