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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-04-09-02-0250

Author: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1793-06-11

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Sister—

I am extremely sorry to hear, that you have had another attack of your ague, since Cousin Betsy left you— I hope you are in the use of every probable means for your releif, & restoration to Health— That glow in your features, which I have contemplated with so much satisfaction, I should be grieved to see injured by Sickness, or any disaster— But you my dear Sister have a double Security—Nature & Grace have both conspired in your favour—For that Beauty which depends principally upon the Mind,—upon the Divinity that stirs within cannot easily be defaced by Time, Sickness, or any accidenttal Circumstance—
I am very glad you was so kind as to let Cousin Betsy have your Horse & Chaise to make a visit to her Mother— you was mistaken if you thought I was unwilling, to have her go,— To tarry with her, was what I thought would be prejudicial to her health— But I have { 437 } wanted all this Spring to have gone, & to have taken Betsy with me, to see my unhappy sick Sister—who has no relation, or connection but ourselves, to visit, or befriend her—
I am very sorry Cousin Polly has not receivd a Letter I sent to her by my Cousins—1 It was designed to encourage in her filial piety, approving, of her readiness to quit her business, though in a very fine way—& shewing the benifit which I supposed would be derived from her attending upon her Mother, rather than any one else— I know it is a hard, & tedious Task, for so young a Daughter— Yet I seldom knew an absolute necessity for firmness, strength of mind, & the exercise of great Virtues but that they came obedient to the call—were ready attendants upon the Summons—
Happy for us that it is so— The belief of it, has kept many a one, from sinking under the weight of Affliction—
The weekly Papers are filled with accounts of the Commotions which have taken place in almost every part of Europe France exhibits to our view a Scene too Shocking, & too full of horror for the tender Mind to dwell upon— Is anything more to be deprecated than a civil War? What bloody Scenes—what murders, & massacres—What want of publick Confidence?— The smiling Sycophant to Day,—Tomorrow the cruel Assasin—Nothing to designate the Friend, from the bitter Enemy— Can anything be more dreadful than such intestene Convulsions—such publick Factions, & all the Evils of Pandora's Box, & ten thousand more if possible, are in thy horrid Train— Let me turn from it—& with Gratitude reflect upon the Goodness of that Being, who when we had every thing to Fear, has caused us so soon to sit down in peace, enjoying the rich Blessings of a wise & good Government—& may he who holds the hearts of all in his hands, long continue Men of Wisdom, & Virtue to guide & direct the publick Weal—
I have not yet heard of Mrs Smiths being at Quincy— I hope you will all favour me with a visit—
If you please you may tell Celia that I had rather not take a Child so far off— It must be attended with inconveniences— I am obliged to hire a Spinner half the year—& we cannot afford to multiply our Family without profit— If Mr Shaw could take Scholars, the profits of which would furnish us with cloathing, I would never turn the Wheel again for I perfectly hate the work, in a place where we are obligd to see so much company, & then I would take a little Girl immediately—& keep Betsy Quincy wholly to sewing.— She might do as much again, if I had any new work for her to do— Cousin Lucy is { 438 } a lovely woman, & makes us too—too short a visit to your affectionate Sister
[signed] E Shaw—
1. Probably Mary Smith, daughter of Catharine Salmon and William Smith Jr.

Docno: ADMS-04-09-02-0251

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Date: 1793-06-23

John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

[salute] My dear Brother.

I have received your Letter containing the orders upon the branch bank, and also that with the bill of lading of 3 barrels;1 I ought to have written you this information a post or two ago, but some business, more indolence, and most of all forgetfulness was the occasion of my omission.
I suppose you will soon commence Attorney, and I understand you have some thoughts of retiring into one of the back Counties of Pensylvania, to commence practice. let me know what your intentions are, and when you expect to commence your career— I am not quite in statu quo I have a sort of Pisgah-sight2 of future milk and honey—but not yet much enjoyment of it in person.
I have an Oration to deliver on the 4th: of next month, as you know I have written and committed it to memory, and am thoroughly disgusted with it.— While I was writing I thought myself quite brilliant as I advanced; and was pleasing myself with future applauses at almost every sentence that issued from my pen— Now, it appears to me a mass of dull common-place, composed of stale facts, hacknied sentiments, veteran similies, and trite allusions, with scarce a single gleam of originality shooting through the solid darkness of the composition.— The humble merits of the average of similar performances, are now my greatest consolation— However indifferent my execution, I shall not easily place myself in a style of inferiority upon comparison.
The most extraordinary intelligence, which I have to convey, is that the wise and learned Judge & Professor Wilson, has fallen most lamentably in love with a young Lady in this town, under twenty; by the name of Gray. He came, he saw, and was overcome. The gentle Celadon, was smitten at meeting with a first sight love—unable to contain his amorous pain, he breathed his sighs about the Streets; and even when seated on the bench of Justice, he seemed as if teeming with some woful ballad to his mistress eye-brow.— He obtained an introduction to the Lady, and at the second interview { 439 } proposed his lowly person and his agreeable family to her acceptance; a circumstance very favourable to the success of his pretensions, is that he came in a very handsome chariot and four. In short his attractions were so powerful, that the Lady actually has the subject under consideration, and unless the Judge should prove as fickle as he is amorous and repent his precipitate impetuosity so far as to withdraw his proposal, You will no doubt soon behold in the persons of these well assorted lovers a new edition of January and May.— Methinks I see you stare at the perusal of this intelligence, and conclude that I am attempting to amuse you, with a bore; no such thing. it is the plain and simple truth, that I tell—and if you are in the habit of seeing the Miss Breck's as frequently, as your wishes must direct you to see them, you may inform them, that their friend and mine, Miss Hannah Gray, has made so profound an impression upon the Heart of judge Wilson, and received in return an impression so profound upon her own, that in all probability they will soon see her at Philadelphia, the happy consort of the happy judge.3
Cupid himself must laugh at his own absurdity, in producing such an Union; but he must sigh to reflect that without the soft persuasion of a deity who has supplanted him in the breast of modern beauty, he could not have succeeded to render the man ridiculous & the woman contemptible upon the subject of politics I wish not to enter; they would lead me too far; and they are at this time unpleasant beyond the common proportion.— I enclose a few lines written upon some of the insolence proceeding from your shoe-black of the Muses, who thinks himself a poet because he knows himself a lyar.—4 They are only for your perusal, and have never been seen by any other person [. . . .] Write me what you think of the point in the four concluding [verses The] sarcasm appeared severe to the parental partiality of the author; but who can be admitted as the judge of his own composition.
I remain your cordial friend & affectionate brother.
[signed] J. Q. A.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr: Thomas B. Adams / Philadelphia.”; endorsed: “J Q A / June 23— 93—”; notation: “Due Cook 16 cents / gon out of town.” Some loss of text due to a torn manuscript.
1. Not found.
2. “A faint view or glimpse of something unobtainable or distant” (OED).
3. Judge James Wilson, age fifty, married nineteen-year-old Hannah Gray of Boston on 19 Sept. (DAB). Celadon, from James Thomson's The Seasons, refers to any “lady-love” (Brewer, Reader's Handbook).
4. Not found.
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, 2018.