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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 10


Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0281

Author: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-06-13

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Sister—

I should be unpardonable if I neglected this Opportunity of writing to you by a private hand, & returning my grateful acknowledgements to my dear Brother Adams & you, for all your kindness—but alas! how inadequate are words to express the feelings of my heart. Upon those occasions I think it my duty to trace mercy’s to there great Source, & look up to heaven with thankfulness that I, & my Children are not left friendless; silently imploring the richest of its Blessings for my Benefactors—
I know your compassionate heart will be grieved to see from whence this Letter is dated— I came to Dr Welsh’s the day week you left me, expecting to spend a day, or two, & then return to Haverhill with my dear little Girl, in the Stage— but O my Sister I was taken sick the next day, & continued much worse than when at your House—till Sabbath Evening. I took nothing but flour milk porrage, & Laudinum at night; the Dr said nature would have its cource, & restringents were of no service—but I really thought it would swiftly carry me down the stream of time, & that I should never see you more, & you may well think what were the Objects of my tenderest Care— poor things thought I, what will become of you—for though your Mother has Enjoyed but feeble health, yet you will miss her when gone— It is an heart sinking disorder— I hope I shall not suffer with it again— I feel very weak, but am geting better as fast as I can— I have sent Abby Adams home in the Stage by Miss Betsy Harrod,1 & Mr Abbot is to come for me next Tuesday— I pray I may not be dissappointed—but patience must have its perfect work— I think sometimes, if I had less sensibility, I should enjoy better health—but I have naturally A cheerfull temper, which I find to be a most Excellent counterballance—against the ineviatable evils of Life—
Sister Cranch is this week again confined by Sister Smith, I fear she will never be able to keep her in the House— I am distressed for her, & the dear Children, I most tenderly compasionate— I very much fear she will come to an untimely end—& watching is but of little service— they will Elude the strictest care, when once the dreadful Idea is infused—
I am glad to hear you have suffered no more upon your Journey you had two hot Days, but upon the whole never finer weather— I long to have Mr Adams read Mr Dwights late Poem— I think it is { 448 } dedicated to him, & has great merit— He has a predilection for his native State, as all great Folks have— in him we deem it just—for it has certainly produced more literary characters than any other— Some parts of it are so descriptive, that if you had the Poem in your carriage, while passing through the well cultivated fields of Connetticut, I think your mind must be absorbed, & ravished with the beautious Scenes, & the justness of his Portrait—2
Before this reaches you, I hope you will have embraced your dear Daughter, & her Children, & are happily enjoying the Society of her amiable family— Please to kiss the sweet Children & tell them Aunt Shaw loves them, for their mothers sake, & wishes she had something to send them—
Dr Welsh & Lady present their regards, & believe me to be with the greatest affection, your ever grateful Sister
[signed] Elizabeth Shaw—
PS— Your Last Letter dwells forcibly upon my mind— the injunctions conincide exactly with my own sentiments, & though I would have no one think I am waiting yet I am willing to say, I am trusting, & that I will assent to whatever my best Friends shall think right, but cannot be precipitated into a State, which shall not appear to be for the interest of my Children— I would act for them, more than for myself— The attention, & disinterestedness of one, really distresses me, he has called at the House every week, since my absence—3
Sophocles being asked what harm, he would wish his enemy, answered, that he might love where he was not liked—4 but I would have said, that they might be beloved by those whom they respected, & esteemed, but could not make those returns which were wished for greater harm cannot befall a person of benevolence, & exquisite sensibility—
I think it is much best (at lest for the present) for me to sit solotary, & like the plaintive Dove in the Song, which so much affected me, coo—coo—coo—alone—& think more of an heavenly paradise, than of an earthly dwelling—5
I should not do justice to our amiable Louisa if I did not tell you she was one of the best of Nurses, for all those Daughters excell in their attention— they present every wish, that is in their power—& I think happy will be those gentlemen who obtain them—6
Dr Welsh & his wife have treated me with fraternal Affection, it is impossble for anybody to be kinder—
{ 449 }
Time, Experience, & a refined companion rubs of all the rough edges, & discovers the intrinsic value within—
Mr Shaw always enjoyed good health, yet no man was ever kinder to others in Sickness. I shall feel the want of his tender care in returning home— he would watched my countenance, & gone softly over every stone—
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Louisa Catharine Smith: “Mrs Abigail Adams / at Col’l William S Smith’s Courtland Street / New york”; endorsed by WSS: “Mrs E Shaw / June 13th 1795.”
1. Elizabeth Marston Harrod (1776–1862) was a younger sister of AHA (John Harvey Treat, The Treat Family: A Genealogy of Trott, Tratt, and Treat, Salem, 1893, p. 270).
2. Rev. Timothy Dwight’s Greenfield Hill: A Poem, in Seven Parts, N.Y., 1794, Evans, No. 26925, extols the beauty and development of the land surrounding his home on Greenfield Hill in the town of Fairfield, Connecticut. With a bird’s-eye view of the “loveliest village of the west” (Part II, line 1), Dwight describes the landscape: “Unnumber’d farms salute the cheerful eye; / Contracted there to little gardens; here outspread / Spacious, with pastures, fields, and meadows rich; / Where the young wheat it’s glowing green displays, / Or the dark soil bespeaks the recent plough, / Or flocks and herds along the lawn disport” (Part I, lines 23–28). Dedicated to JA, “This Poem is inscribed with Sentiments of the highest Respect for his Private Character, and for the important Services he has rendered his Country.”
3. Although Elizabeth Smith Shaw was also courted by Isaac Smith Jr., her more persistent suitor was Rev. Stephen Peabody of Atkinson, N.H., whom she married on 8 Dec. (Shaw to AA and Mary Smith Cranch, 24 Sept., Adams Papers; William C. Todd, “Rev. Stephen Peabody and Wife, of Atkinson, New Hampshire,” NEHGR, 48:179 [April 1894]).
4. Rather than Sophocles, Shaw appears to be referencing the discourse on justice attributed to Socrates by Plato in Book I of The Republic.
5. Shaw began the postscript at the bottom of the second page, continued it at the bottom of the third page, and after this point completed it at the top of the third page.
6. Of the three daughters of Catharine Louisa Salmon and William Smith Jr., only Elizabeth married. On 15 Nov. 1798 she wed Boston upholsterer James H. Foster (AA to JQA, 15 Nov., Adams Papers; Boston Columbian Centinel, 17 Nov.).

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0282

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-06-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

It is painfull to feel an Impulse to write when there is nothing to Say. I write merely to let you know that I am alive and not Sick.— The Weather has been cold for several days which is more tolerable at least to me, than the heat which We Suffered for a day or two the Beginning of the Week past.
The new French Minister is arrived. Whether he has any Budget to disclose has not yet appeared.
Mr Jay is in fine Spirits and his health improves. I should Suppose he will remain here till the Fate of his Treaty is determined, which We hope, with some doubts however, will happen before the { 450 } End of this Week. 29 Senators attended Yesterday and the 30th is expected tomorrow. We shall meet for the future at an earlier hour in the Morning. The Deliberations have been temperate, grave, decent, and wise, hitherto and the Results judicious.1
I have recd but one Letter from you— I am anxious to hear further from Johnny Smith: whether he is better or not.2
My Absence from home at this season would be less distressing or rather less insipid, if my Presence here was more necessary, or indeed of any Utility: but to the Mortification of Seperation from my family and affairs at a time when they would be most agreable to me, is added the Consciousness that I can do no good to others any more than to myself. I have no Voice, and although the fate of the Treaty will not be justly imputable to me in any degree, yet there is reason to expect that many will suspect me, and other charge me, with a greater share of it that would belong to me if I had a Voice. All these Things terrify me little.—
A Mr Millar, a son of a Professor Millar of Glasgow known by his “Historical View of the English Government” last night brought me a Letter of Introduction & Recommendation from Dr Kippis who desires his “Sincere Respects to every Part of my Family” “In the Midst of the Desolations of Europe, he rejoices in the Prosperity of America and in the Wisdom and Moderation of its two chief Governors”—so much for Compliment.3
Moderation however is approved only by the Moderate who are commonly but a few. The many commonly delight in something more piquant and lively.
I am, with desires rather immoderate / to be going home with you, yours forever
[signed] J. A
Yesterday I dined at Mr Bingham’s with a large Company— While at Table a servant came to me with a Message from Mr Law who desired to speak with me in the Antechamber— I went out to him and found that he wanted to enquire of me concerning a young Lady of amiable manners and elegant Education whom Mr Law and Mr Greenleaf had found in Maryland in great distress and a little disarranged and brought with them to Philadelphia. she is connected with the Families of Col Orne and Col Lee of Marblehead. I knew nothing of her—4 Governor Bradford Says she has been Some Weeks in Rhode Island.5 I Sent Mr Law to Mr Cabot.
Mr Brown came in Yesterday— He keeps with all the Horses at { 451 } The Rising sun, between the 4th & 5th mile Stone in the Country, at Mr John Doves—6 His Horses are in fine order.— But I shall not be in a Condition to Use them this Week I fear.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs A”; endorsed: “June 14 1795.” The postscript was filmed separately at 15 June 1795.
1. By the minimum two-thirds margin of twenty to ten, the Senate voted to consent to the ratification of all but one article of the Jay Treaty on 24 June. The Senate adjourned two days later. The section of the treaty deemed too detrimental to American interests was Art. 12, which opened the West Indies to American trade vessels of seventy tons burden or less but restricted the reexportation of cotton and other important trade goods (Annals of Congress, 3d Cong., special sess., p. 859, 862–863, 868; Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism, N.Y., 1993, p. 409, 412–413).
2. AA to JA, 10 June, above.
3. John Craig Millar (1760–1796) was the son of John Millar (1735–1801), a respected law professor at the University of Glasgow and author of An Historical View of the English Government: From the Settlement of the Saxons in Britain to the Accession of the House of Stewart, London, 1787. Also a lawyer, the younger Millar immigrated to the United States in 1795, where he secured work as a clerk in the state department before his sudden death in 1796 (DNB; Jefferson, Papers, 28:407).
Millar’s letter of introduction from Andrew Kippis was dated 10 March 1795 (Adams Papers). JA’s response, apparently of 14 June, has not been found.
4. The young lady could be a number of women among the interrelated families of Col. Azor Orne and Col. William R. Lee, who had both served in the Revolutionary War and were successful merchants in Marblehead (JA, Papers, 3:48; Thomas Amory Lee, Colonel William Raymond Lee of the Revolution, Salem, 1917, p. 7–8, 19).
5. William Bradford (1729–1808), who had been a doctor before becoming a lawyer and politician, served as Rhode Island’s deputy governor between 1775 and 1778. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1793 and served until 1797 (Biog. Dir. Cong.).
6. John Dover (1754–1821), who rose to the rank of colonel in the Philadelphia militia during the Revolution, had been the proprietor of the Rising Sun Tavern, approximately four miles outside the city at the junction of the Old York and Germantown Roads. By 1795 Dover had relocated to nearby Frankford (W. A. Newman Dorland and others, “The Second Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry,” PMHB, 45:285–286 [1921]; 52:380 [1928]; Philadelphia Gazette, 20 March 1795).
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, 2017.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/