Adams Papers

From Margaret Caldwell McHenry to Abigail Smith Adams, 2 December 1798

Philada. Decr. 2d. 1798

Dear Madam

I was most agreeably surprised about two weeks since by the receipt of your favor—As I had not counted upon a letter from you I feel the more obliged by your kind attention to my enquiries.

Your letter gave both pleasure & pain. the information that you were at lenth on the recovery was to me extreemly gratifying—but to know that you still continued weak & indisposed so that you cou’d not accompany the President to Philada. was & is a cause of much regret to me and also a disappointment to those Ladies whom you so kindly sent your regards to—I can easily conceive what it must have cost you to have remained—The Presidents happiness too, must be broken in upon by the separation; but your health which was certainly the most important consideration will I hope be soon restored by this self-denial on both sides. The session of Congress will be short which will be some consolation and in your own mind, you have such resources that tho’ deprived of the society of a friend or two you love I hope you will neither be lonesome nor unhappy.

I shou’d have indulged myself in writing to thank you for your goodness to me immediately after the receipt of your letter but as often as I proposed it I was prevented by one cause or other—we had but just got home; and I cou’d not till within a day or two past get a sufficiency of servants—An Uncle of mine too—whom I much loved had a severe paralytick stroke the day after we got to town—he lay extreemly ill for two weeks & expired last monday, leaving a large & aimiable family in great distress. while he lived, I felt it a duty to devote as much attention as was in my power to him & since his death to his family—As a gratification to myself I now write to you and that I may not seem ungrateful for your goodness—for I cannot imagine that you have felt any want in being till now without a letter from me.

I shou’d suppose with you that the Philadelphians wou’d not be much disposed this winter to extravagance or dissipation after the dreadful Calamity which raged with such fatality so lately in this City—the effects of which must be felt for a long time—there are I fear very few families that have not lost some near and dear connections by that fatal malady—so that as the distress was general the spirits of the inhabitants must naturally be generally saddened—but there are minds (I hope not many) on whom scenes of distress make little impression, whose sensibilities are as variable as the wind, and who shake of all reflection as soon as it is in their power to do so—Such thoughtless beings certainly ought not to influence by their conduct people of reason and sensibility—Yet we sometimes see this the case & are concerned at the power of bad example.—

Mr. McHenry presents his respectful regards to you & his best wishes for the restoration of your health—Please to remember me affectionately to Miss Smith—With the sincerest wishes for your health & happiness / I am dear Madam / Yrs. Respectfully,

M. McHenry

MHi: Adams Papers.

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