Atkinson May 1st. 1800—
My Dear Sister—
As I very seldom have any copy of my Letters I have forgotten what, & where were my last informations. Frequently I think I have mentioned things, when afterwards I have found, I had not—The Intention was so forcible upon my mind, that I believed the thing performed—But I find there is a wide difference between purposing & doing—I believe you thought me very unfeeling not to notice the indisposition you mentioned, which had given you so much uneasiness—It is indeed a very troublesome disorder, but it is what our Mother, & Aunts had for many years—Aunt Thaxter especially—My William’s appeared to be the result of a broken state of blood—from the measseals, & an ague that struck all over him by catching cold, a cutting wood in the east wind before he had quite recovered from them—He came into the house threw himself upon the bed, & shook for an hour; & his agues were repeated voilently for several days, & then began to break out all over,—It took every hair off his head, & I was obliged to use for many Weeks two or three Bisket a day, to poltice him in different parts of his head, & body—I made use of so many things, that I can scarcely tell you of any one which was effectual—But I am perswaded that no external application whatever can be of service alone—The Mass within, the fountain must be purified, or we may expect grievous disorders, of various kinds—Everything else, directed either to body or mind, can only “slightly heal”—House Leek, green of elder, plaintain, sweet apple leaves, simmerd in cream, together with a spoonful of Tar, I thought did the most good—But I never found anything so really beneficial to my Children as change of air, &—a Journey to Quincy. I wish you would try if Atkinson air may not be of as much service to you; how happy it would make me, if you could come & tarry a month with us—I laugh sometimes only thinking, I hear Mr Peabody & you conversing with each other—upon domestic affairs—My dear Neices, loved to spend a part of there time with me, when I lived at Haverhill, could they come, they would be as happy now—My love awaits them—Tell them my sweetest pleasures result from a review of past time—Though mixed with many painful scenes—I had my comforts—I had my happy moments—Every one was sweetly interested in my welfare, & I in theirs, & I thought the Eye which for many years saw me could witness at least to my kind wishes, & “bade each morn, propitious smile on me.”—A long residence in one place, & a mutual interchange of kind offices, had greatly endeared every surrounding Object—It has pleased heaven to break the chain—The cement was strong, & I felt the Shock—but its repeated Stroke has broken me—I feel as if I was only the Shadow of what I once was—as if only a little solotary peice of my heart remained—Yet still conscious rectitude—& a desire of performing the various duties of life with becoming dignity, keeps me from falling; & the invigorating hope of being admitted to join the happy Choir above, smooths the slope of Life—& I look forward to that period with sweet anticipations, yet fearful & trembling.
Your Letter to your Neice was a very excellent one, full of discreet suggestions, & could not fail of doing essential service to an ingenious mind—& such hers truly is—I can approbate her conduct now that her affections are turned into a channel, where with the utmost propriety she can [seize] an ample return, & I hope prove mutual Blessings to each other—I know he is delighted with his prospects—& I trust they will make him steady, & be a stimulus to every worthy pursuit—He is not young—he will be popular & make an handsome figure in life—though he is not wholly determined what profession to follow,—I think she had better be silent; but I fear she has already given her opinion—& we know that would be in favour of the ministerial line—I think she has been a little too premature in everything, & I find her Mother was of the same opinion as well as you—Her mother writes charmingly—I did not know she was so sensible, & good a woman—She told her Daughter that if Mr P. had the affection necessary to form an happy union, he could not think of a connexion, ‘till he had a permanent support, & a good prospect for a genteel maintenance—That there was nothing more dreadful, than Poverty, to those who had flattered themselves with high expectations &ca—I knew he had too great a knowledge of mankind, & of what was before him, to think of a sudden marriage, & I told her she must wait, perhaps many years; however long they might seem in perspective, yet they would soon roll off; Jacob found it so, & Letters were likely to supply the place of personal interviews, at lest the frequency of them might compensate, for the want of constantly beholding the dear Object.—I saw the ninth & she has had two since, & I know he has had two sheets for one, for she never is indebted in this way—Letters by the Post are established once a fortnight—but I feel quite easy now, —it is all rightly directed—The exuberance may now be poured forth blameless—We none of us love the Stoic Soul which like logs of green wood quench the coals—
I am always happy to hear of the welfare of your dear Children—Give my Love, & best wishes to your Son—May he be blessed, & see many good days yet—with his precious family—May we meet again on earth is my petition—Give love to Mrs Norton, & Greenleaf—Dr Tufts & Aunt & all the good Folks—I am glad to hear Mr Cranch has had a comfortable winter—& that my dear Sister has had her health—I long to have the President, & all return—We have eleven boarders, & how I shall ever get from them I know not—We have so little for board that it will not do to hire much help, that we are all necessitated to be up & doing, & all the boarders are very good—We have three fine young Gentlemen that will enter Colledge this year—
Abby seems much better for a fortnight past, for which I am sincerely glad—adieu—
Excuse this writing— from your affectionate / Sister
DLC: Shaw Family Papers.