Adams Papers

From Abigail Smith Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 2 January 1801

Washington Janry 2 18001

my dear Thomas

I have been much concerned for you ever since mr Shaw received your Letter. I should have written to you, but have been myself so unwell and so afflicted by sleepless Nights, that I am unfit for any active service through the day and Christmas & New year have had their calls upon me for more than common exertions. I have got through them, as well as some large dinners drawing Rooms I have considered as wholy improper for me to hold, upon account of my own private affliction indeed I had but little inclination for them, and under all circumstances public, and private, am certainly excused in my own opinion and trust I am, by all considerate persons—

I hope your illness has terminated without any long confinement; I would not have you too free with the lancet. I have found Emetics more salutary than bleeding unless the lungs and head are much affected. the pills which I once gave you a receipt for promote perspiration, and may be used with safety. but the Night air is very pernicious for your constitution, and so are all full Rooms whether they be Theatres or assemblies. it is hard in early life to be shut out from all amusements, which tend to exhilirate the Spirits, & thereby promote health, in good constitutions. but in disorderd ones, they must be sparingly used, for without health, few are the enjoyments of Life— In the midst of Life we are in death. I received a Letter from your Aunt Cranch this week informing me of the sudden death of Mrs Byce uncle Quincys House keeper, who went well to Bed, but was found dead in the morning in her Bed; poor old Gentleman, he feels the shock most sensibly, for she had lived so long with him, that she knew all his wants, and all his cares—and was attentive to him and to his Family. he had but few comforts, of the greatest he is now deprived—

I wish you, my dear son a happy new year concious innocence virtue and integrity, are prime ingredients to tender every succeeding year of your Life pleasent to you—but if in this Life only you have hope, say the scriptures, ye are of all men the most misirable. it is looking beyond this transitory scene, where all is fleeting, transitory and delusive to the well grounded hope of a blessed immortality, which mitigates the pains of sickness, the crosses vexations and trials to which “flesh is Heir too,” and Silences the Christian to that patient submission which teaches to endure all things, or in the words of the poet to say

“Save me alike from foolish pride

or impious discontent

At ought thy wisdom has denied

or ought they bounty lent”

I received the articles sent by mr Cox, and shall in my next send you the money to pay for them. I have only columbia Bills now—

I am my dear son / your afftionate mother


MHi: Adams All Generationss.

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