Adams Family Correspondence, volume 1

John Adams to Abigail Smith

Abigail Smith to John Adams

John Adams to Abigail Smith, 14 April 1764 JA AA


John Adams to Abigail Smith, 14 April 1764 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Smith
Saturday. Two O Clock 14 April 1764

The Deacon and his Three Children are arrivd and the Operation has been performed, and all well. And now our Hospital is full. There are Ten, of Us, under this Roof, now expecting to be sick. One, of Us, Mr. Wheat, begins to complain of a Pain Under his Arm and in his Knees, and about his Back, so that We expect within a few Hours to see the Course of the Eruption and of the fever that preeceeds and accompanies it.

Your Friends, Miss Paine1 and Miss Nicholson2 have been here, and are gone. I delivered your Letters. Arpasia asked me, if you was five feet and six Inches tall? I replyd I had not taken Measure as Yet. You know the Meaning of this Question. She is neither Tall, nor short, 30neither lean nor fat—pitted with the small Pox—a fine Bloom. Features somewhat like Esther Quincy's.3 An Eye, that indicates not only Vivacity, but Fire—not only Resolution, but Intrepidity. (Scandal protect me, Candor forgive me.) I cannot say that the Kindness, the softness, the Tenderness, that constitutes the Characteristick Excellence of your sex, and for the Want of which no Abilities can atone, are very conspicuous Either in her Face, Air or Behaviour.

Is it not insufferable thus to remark on a Lady whose face I have once only and then but just seen and with whom I have only exchangd two or three Words? Shes a Buxom Lass however, and I own I longed for a Game of Romps with her, and should infallibly have taken one, only I thought the Dress I was in, the Air I had breathd and especially the Medicine I had taken, would not very greatly please a Lady, a stranger, of much Delicacy. Poll. Palmer and I shall unquestionably go to romping very soon.

Perkins, Sprague4 and Lord, are the Physicians that attend this House. Each has a few Particulars in Point of Diet, in which he differs from the others, and Each has Pills and Powders, different from the others to administer, different at least in size, and shape and Colour. I like my own vastly the best, tho Dr. Lord is really a Man of sense.

I fear I must write less than I have done. The Drs. dont approve it. They will allow of nothing scarcly but the Card Table, Chequer Bord, Flute, Violin, and singing, unless, Tittle Tattle, Roll and Tumble, shuttle Cock &c.

Pray write as often as you can to yr. John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “For Miss Abigail Smith Weymouth.”


Eunice Paine (1733–1803), sister of JA's friend and rival at the bar Robert Treat Paine. She never married and for years led a somewhat peripatetic life in the homes of her friends. In the Cranch-Palmer-Smith circle of female correspondents she used the fanciful name “Silvia,” and it is by that name that JA alludes to her in several letters that follow. (Eunice had evidently had the smallpox and, since she was staying in Boston, frequently visited the Palmer girls at the Cunninghams.) Some of her letters are published in Ralph Davol, Two Men of Taunton, Taunton, 1912; more will appear in the forthcoming collection of Paine Papers in preparation by Stephen T. Riley for the Massachusetts Historical Society.


“Arpasia,” described below. See a note on her under AA to JA, 12 April, above.


Esther (1738–1810), daughter of Justice Edmund Quincy; she and Jonathan Sewall (1728–1796) had filed marriage intentions in January of this year (Boston Record Commissioners, 30th Report, p. 422). See Adams Genealogy.


John Sprague (1718–1797), Harvard 1737, of Boston and later of Dedham (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 10:240–243).