Adams Papers

Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to Abigail Adams, 29 Jul. 1797

Atkinson July 29th:1797

My Dear Sister

Your kind Letter which assured me of your welfare was a cordial to my heart. It came safe to hand, with its contents by Judge Livermore. The affectionate regard it evinced for me, & mine, might have overwhelmed an heart less accustomed to favours; accustomed, not callous I assure you, for esteem, love, & gratitude so often put in motion, fans the finer feelings, & makes them glow with unremitted ardor, & I am frequently so oppressed with such a sense of the ummerited beneficence of my Friends as to leave me drowned in tears, especially when I consider how inadequate a return I can ever make.

I feel myself under peculiar obligations to the President, & to you my Sister for thinking upon my Son for good. I wish he may be qualified in every respect for the Office proposed. As to his capability of retention I think I can assure you, that he is not “loose of Soul,” but from a Child considered a Secret, as a sacred deposit & I believe at this more mature age would keep inviolate anything entrusted to him. The Utility <of> of method, & regularity in small affairs, & the absolute necessity of it, in the more important concerns of Life, I have frequently inculcated in the most pressing manner, & shall repeat them upon this occasion, with a request to pursue the method you proposed, of purchasing Copper plates, & writing every opportunity he can be released from his Clasickcal Studies—I feel affraid that his mind may [be] too much absorbed, & that he will not attend sufficently to the various duties of life, but when he realizes that his bread must be earned by assiduity to whatever may be his employment, I hope he will not be wanting in propriety of conduct—

I suppose I have had greater anxiety upon my mind respecting William’s proffession, & getting into business, than if both Parents were living. I have had thoughts of requesting Mr Abbot to bear him upon his mind for an assistant at Exeter Accademy, but your letter has releived my mind from that care, & my wish is that he may treasure up such seeds of useful knowledge, as shall be servicable in future life, yeilding a rich harvest; & hope that the suggestions relative to my Son in your letter, may prove an incentive to everything that is lovely, & of a good report.—I know he feels too young to determine what proffession to follow, indeed the decission must depend upon Contingences. He wishes to pursue his studies after he leaves Colledge. I find that History both ancient, & modern is his favourite pursuit, & he seems gratified that you say, there will be some time for the purpose of reading. When he first enterd Colledge, I did not know but he might prefer the study of divinity, but I cannot say I wish it—Law, I presume would be his favourite pursuit, were there not so many obstacles to impede his course. I wish him to lay a good foundation, a store of knowledge that may qualify him for any business & then it will not be difficult to find some whereby he may get a living—I scarcely know what to say, with regard to his taking a School in the winter vacation, as his board & other expences in this senior year must necessarily be much accumalated. Perhaps it may be best, should a good place be offered—

Judge Livermore called upon us Commencement Week. Mr Peabody & Daughters attended it—& I could not give an answer respecting the Children till his return—He now wishes me to assure you, that if Mrs Smith should like to send her Sons, & place them under our care, he will attend to their morals, & manners, & as far as it is in his power, make them excellent Scholars—& on my part I shall be happy to render either you, or my dear Niece any service, & as much as possible supply the place of their amiable Mother, to her dear Children—We have a most worthy Preceptor, who understands human passions & well knows how to regulate; not exterpate them—The intense [heat,] & dryness of the weather for this month has been as much as we could bear—I think of you often, & hope you find cool breezes to refresh, & invigorate both body & mind after the fatigues of the Day—

I was at Mr Allens the other day, She enquired very affectionately after you—She has not been well this summer—she has the jandice I believe— Our Haverhill friends are well as usual—Mr White called upon me the other morning, & said his Wife, & Son, & daughters were well—Our worthy friend Mr Sam. Tufts drinks deep of the bitter Cup—He will soon be called to part with all his Children I fear—His Son, & daughter now lie at the point of death—They are upon the brink of the eternal world—He is almost bowed to Earth with grief—but the Christian [religion] is his support—Faith in the being, & attributes of a righteous Governor, is as an anchor to his wounded Soul—

General Wadsworth said he saw you the night before he left the City, & you had some hope of returning & making a short visit, I wish it might be in your power; & then you could take your Grandsons with you, if it was agreeable to Mrs Smith—I long to see her, she was always a favourite Neice—I cannot but think of what Juba, said of Marcia “The virtuous Marcia towers above her Sex”, [to me] she is fair” &c.

I do not know how to convey this Letter to you, I suppose [the mail] will be the most regular—I commend it to the care of Mr Smith—wishing it a speedy passage, I subscribe with much love, & affection, your Sister

Elizabeth Peabody

P.S—Everything that respect & gratitude can inspire, is presented by your Nephew, & Neices—

Perry’s Dictionary Websters third part, & what latin Books are in schools, are defect here—Terms of board in Town is from eight to nine shillings pr week, nine shillings entrance for three months—& nine d[per] week—afterwards as long as they chuse—

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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