Adams Papers

From Elizabeth Smith Shaw Peabody to William Smith Shaw, 24 September 1798

Andover Sep. 24th. 1798

Dear William

I will not sink, & dispair because many are my disappointments, & afflictions—for our Saviour has assured us that those were not the greatest of Sinners, upon whom the walls of Siloam fell—But I am sometimes ready to believe (what is almost a paradox,) that the less sensible, are the most happy, and that we must be too wise, or too stupid to be moved at the vicissitudes, and accidents which encounter us upon every side, before we can enjoy this life—for it is a dangerous, thorny, devious, rugged road through which we have to pass, & you may depend on this as a certain truth my Son, that nothing but religion, the bright prospects of a better world, a conscience void of offence towards God, & towards man, <[. . .]> that can support us, and cheer the gloomy vale, then we may be wounded, but not dismayed, we may be shaken, but not overthrown or greatly moved—

You may wonder perhaps to see from whence this letter is dated. I am sorry to tell you misfortune has brought me hither. I have been detained here ever since last Wednesday with your dear little unfortunate Sister, who fell down upon a stone I suppose, struck the under part of her elbow, & has done something to her arm that has caused it to swell so suddenly, and so bad that neither Dr. Cogswell, nor Dr. Kitridge can with certainty ascertain what the dificulty is. They suppose that she has split her bones—She fell last Tuesday morning. I brought her here Wednesday—The Dr. said she must remain in town, for it would ruin her arm, to examine it while it was so hard & terribly swelled, & Mr & Mrs Symmes were so kind as to insist upon my keeping with them, where the Dr. could see it twice a day—And here I have had every attention hospitality could invent—for which I cannot return any thing but gratitude, & the best wishes for their happiness—Gratitude with me is a never failing currency—My friends are always making demands. Its coin is pure gold, with as little alloy as human nature will admit of—I am sorry my Son that you are entitled to so little of it in the instance of letter writing, for not one word have I had, since your return to Quincy—Do you think I do not wish to hear from you? If you are a good Child, I shall feel tenderly interested in every thing that may concern you, & take a peculiar pleasure in receiving your letters—& I am sure writing to me can be of no disadvantage to you— If I could but write politicks, you, I dare say, would think it worth while to answer me—appropriately. I heartily relished the toasts that were given, especially that of Capt Beales respecting my Sister, & involuntaryly said amen & amen—William Austin I see is determined to make himself conspicuous—& will I hope (as others should) improve “by every friend, & every foe”—

Take William a prudent care of your health. Dr. Rush says the evening air is hurtful. Be temperate in all things—Use moderate exercise,—By all the dispensations of providence, by all that we suffer, & by all that we enjoy may the mind be purified, and made wiser, & better, more qualified for the society of happy Spirits, who been taken from this wilderness—, & transplanted into fairer Climes, where I hope we shall find them flourishing in the paradise of God—May your Aunts health be perfectly restored prays your Mother

E. P—

Give my love to all—Cousin Louisa, W. & J. Abby is a patient Creature. She had an eminent pattern in her Sister.

DLC: Shaw Family Papers.

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