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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0031

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1764-04-26

John Adams to Abigail Smith

Many have been the particular Reasons against my Writing for several days past, but one general Reason has prevailed with me more than any other Thing, and that was, an Absolute Fear to send a Paper from this House, so much infected as it is, to any Person lyable to take the Distemper but especially to you. I am infected myself, and every Room in the House, has infected People in it, so that there is real Danger, in Writing.
However I will write now, and thank you for yours of Yesterday.1 Mr. Ayers told you the Truth. I was comfortable, and have never been otherwise. I believe, None of the Race of Adam, ever passed the small Pox, with fewer Pains, Achs, Qualms, or with less smart than I have done. I had no Pain in my Back, none in my side, none in my Head. None in my Bones or Limbs, no reching or vomiting or sickness. A short shivering Fit, and a succeeding hot glowing Fit, a Want of Appetite, and a general Languor, were all the symptoms that { 40 } ushered into the World, all the small Pox, that I can boast of, which are about Eight or Ten, (for I have not yet counted them exactly) two of which only are in my Face, the rest scattered at Random over my Limbs and Body. They fill very finely and regularly, and I am as well, tho not so strong, as ever I was in my Life. My Appetite has returned, and is quick enough and I am returning gradually to my former Method of Living.
Very nearly the same may be said of my Brother excepting that, he looks leaner than I, and that he had more sickness and Head Ach about the Time of the Eruption than I.
Such We have Reason to be thankful has been our Felicity. And that of Deacon Palmers Children has been, nearly the same. But others in the same House have not been so happy—pretty high Fevers, and severe Pains, and a pretty Plentiful Eruption has been the Portion of Three at last2 of our Companions. I join with you sincerely in your Lamentation that you were not inoculated. I wish to God the Dr. would sett up an Hospital at Germantown, and inoculate you. I will come and nurse you, nay I will go with you to the Castle or to Point Shirley, or any where and attend you. You say rightly safety there is not, and I say, safety there never will be. And Parents must be lost in Avarice or Blindness, who restrain their Children.
I believe there will be Efforts to introduce Inoculation at Germantown, by Drs. Lord and Church.
However, be carefull of taking the Infection unawares. For all the Mountains of Peru or Mexico I would not, that this Letter or any other Instrument should convey the Infection to you at unawares.

[salute] I hope soon to see you, mean time write as often as possible to yrs.,

[signed] John Adams
P.S. Dont conclude from any Thing I have written that I think Inoculation a light matter.—A long and total Abstinence from every Thing in Nature that has any Taste, Two heavy Vomits, one heavy Cathartick, four and twenty Mercurial and Antimonial Pills, and Three Weeks close Confinement to an House, are, according to my Estimation of Things, no small matters.—However, who would not chearfully submit to them rather than pass his whole Life in continual Fears, in subjection, under Bondage.
Sylvia and Myra send Compliments.
RC (Adams Papers); Tr (Adams Papers, Lb/JA/26); in hand of William Cranch Greenleaf, doubtless made in 1829 for JQA. RC lacks any indication of addressee, and Tr has at foot of text: “To Richard Cranch Germantown.” { 41 } But the editors believe that the original letter was addressed to AA and that the identification of the addressee as Cranch in LbC is a faulty and not uncharacteristic conjecture by JQA. It will be noted that AA's letter which follows appears clearly to be in reply to the present letter.
1. No letter to JA dated 25 April 1764 has been found.
2. Thus in MS, but JA may have meant “least.”

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0032

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1764-04-30

Abigail Smith to John Adams

[salute] Dear Lysander

Your Friendly Epistle reach'd me a fryday morning, it came like an Infernal Mesenger, thro fire and Brimstone, Yet it brought me tidings of great joy. With gratitude may this month be ever rememberd by Diana. You have been peculiarly favourd, and may be numberd with those who have had the distemper lightest. What would I give that I was as well thro it. I thank you for your offerd Service, but you know that I am not permitted to enjoy the benifit of it.
Yesterday the Dr.1 returnd to our no small Satisfaction. I think there is but one person upon Earth, the Sight of whom would have more rejoiced me. But “not Sight alone would please.” It would therefore be adviseable to keep at an unseeable distance till any approach would not endanger.
I was yesterday at the Meeting of a Gentleman and his Lady. Cloathe[s] all shifted—no danger—and no fear. A how do ye, and a how do ye, was exchanged between them, a Smile, and a good naturd look. Upon my word I believe they were glad to see each other. A tender meeting. I was affected with it. And thought whether Lysander, under like circumstances could thus coldly meet his Diana, and whether Diana could with no more Emotion receive Lysander. What think you. I dare answer for a different meeting on her part were She under no restraint. When may that meeting be? Hear you have sent for your Horse, the Doctor tells me that you rode out a friday, do not venture abroad too soon, very bad winds for invalids tho I hear you stand it like an oak.—O by the way you have not told me that insinuation to my disadvantage which you promised me. Now methinks I see you criticizeing—What upon Earth is the Girl after. Where is the connexion between my standing the distemper like an oak, and an insinuation to her disadvantage?—Why I did not expect that a short sighted mortal would comprehend it, it was a Complex Idea if I may so express myself. And in my mind there was a great connexion. I will show you how it came about. “I did expect this purgation of { 42 } Lysander would have set us on a level and have renderd him a Sociable creature, but Ill Luck, he stands it like an oak, and is as haughty as ever.” Now mentioning one part of this Sentance, brought to mind the accusation of haughtiness, and your faults naturally lead me to think of my own. But here look yee. I have more than insinuations against you. “An intolerable forbiding expecting Silence, which lays such a restraint upon but moderate Modesty that tis imposible for a Stranger to be tranquil in your presence.” What say you to that charge? Deny it not, for by experience I know it to be true. Yes to this day I feel a greater restraint in your Company, than in that of allmost any other person on Earth, but thought I had reasons by myself to account for it, and knew not that others were affected in the same manner till a late complaint was enterd against you. Is there any thing austere in your countanance? Indeed I cannot recollect any thing. Yet when I have been most pained I have throughly studied it, but never could discover one trace of the severe. Must it not then be something in Behaviour, (ask Silvia, (not Arpasia for these are not her complaints) what it is) else why should not I feel as great restraint when I write. But to go on, “Why did he read Grandison, the very reverse in practice. Sir Charles call'd forth every one's excellencies, but never was a thought born in Lysanders presence.”2 Unsociable Being, is an other charge. Bid a Lady hold her Tongue when she was tenderly inquireing after your wellfare, why that sounds like want of Breeding. It looks not like Lysander for it wears the face of ingratitude.—I expect you [to] clear up these matters, without being in the least saucy.
As to the charge of Haughtiness I am certain that is a mistake, for if I know any thing of Lysander, he has as little of that in his disposition, as he has of Ill nature. But for Saucyness no Mortal can match him, no not even His
[signed] Diana
N.B. Remember me to Silvia and Myra.
Shall I hear from you by Mr. Ayers. If not do not fail writing by the Doctor who will be in Town a thursday. If he brings a letter suppose he will smoke it too, you understand me.
Yours unfeignedly,
[signed] A Smith
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr. att Boston pr favour Mr Ayers.”
1. Cotton Tufts, who is also, of course, the “Gentleman” alluded to in the following paragraph.
2. Closing quotation mark supplied.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/