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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 1

To Joseph Greenleaf
RTP Greenleaf, Joseph
Phila. Septr. 23 1751 Sr.,

I am safe arrived at Philada. & in good health as I hope you & yr. Family are. I have been to Mr. Vanderspiegle1 about the Hops & he tells me that they were So bad that he never could sell but one Bagg of them & the Man that bought them is broke. The rest lay by him yet, but are intirely turn'd to chaff. I have not seen them by reason that they are in a143Chamber & the stairs are broke down. He tells me that he will write to you by this Opportunity. I design to go to New York, before I return home. My Duty to Father, Love to yr. Wife & sister & little Nabby. I am yr. Brother, Freind & humble Servt.


LbC ; addressed: To Mr. Joseph Greenleaf Mercht. in Boston Pr. Capt. Mellon."


William Vanderspiegle, a Philadelphia merchant.

To Joseph Palmer and Richard Cranch
RTP Palmer, Joseph Cranch, Richard
Phila. Septr. 26 1751 Gentlemen,

The Bonds of Freindship & tyes of affection require me to inform you (who are able to bear it) of an Enterprize of mine, vizt. I have been for some time determin'd to go thru the Operation of Innoculation, above a week ago I spoke to a Doctr.1 about it who Incouraged me much, by setting the Thing in a Proper Light before me. I have been very Much troubled in getting a place Convenent for the purpose (that which I have hitherto kept not being so) at last I have found a good motherly woman2, acquainted with the Distemper & whose good Caracter I have had universally, Especially from those who have been sick under her Care. Some People think me distracted and non compos & have used their utmost Efforts to discourage me, but having thoroughly weighd & considered the Matter, without being convincd in my Reason that I am in the wrong, the Wreck of Matter and the Couch of Weeks shan't move me. I am entirely easy & unconcernd as to the Conscientious part, I should have been innoculated several Days ago had I not met with difficulty in preparing a place, but shall without something unforeseen happens, enter upon the Business on Monday the 28th instant.3

I doubt not my Freinds that you are Anxious for my welfare in every Respect, as to the Enterprize I am satisfy'd of yr. approbation, from discourse we have heretofore had on the Subject, therefore shall offer nothing at present by way of Excuse.

The Doctor is a very approved Man, and by what I can learn of the Course of the Small Pox here, 'tis common for People to have & not keep their Beds, yea some walk about House. You may depend upon my prudence in using all necessary preparations of Body, & then by the bless-144ing of Providence upon so good a means to have so bad a distemper, I may hope for a gentle Visitation. I am throughly Satisfy'd that yr. Freindship can remain unshaken without afflicting yr. selves more than will do yr. Freind good, but the Constitution of some is such tht. it would be almost an Injury to inform them of this my Undertaking. I need say no more to you being satisfy'd that Prudence will teach you more on this head than my Letter. At present I am wel. That tell my Freinds, & excuse my writing by Reason of Hurry.

My Freinds the Thoughts of Death in Any Vein whatsomever seems terrible Yet come it must. If we estimate fairly we shall find, that taking the Small Pox by itself; there's a much better chance for Life than there is that a man shall arrive to the Age of 17 years in the common course of things. The Proportion arrises much greater in the more advanced years of Life i.e. supposing we allow that to in an too (wch. I believe is the Extent) dies of the Small Pox that has it, well it is observed that 50 in an 100, of Mankind dy before 17 years of Age, then the Proportion is as 10 to 50 or as 1 to 5, that is a man that has the Smal Pox dont run so great a chance of dying by it by 5 Times as he does Every day of dying in the ordinary way. I mention this only to illustrate that I think mankind are very improperly affected with these distempers, imagining that they are in the utmost danger when they are infected with them, whereas in Reality, they are in 5 Times at least as much danger of dying every day of their Lives as they are of the Small Pox alone considered When they have it. If so then let us be alway Ready, we are not alway in the most danger when we see it most, but some times in the least. In this Letter I address my self to Mrs. Palmer also whom I always think worthy my Remembrance. Yr. very Freind & humble Servt.,


LbC ; addressed: "To Messrs. Palmer & Cranch Card Makers in Boston Pr. Capt. Ford."4


Thomas Bond (1712–1784) was a famous Philadelphia physician and founder of the Pennsylvania Hospital, delivering there the first course of clinical lectures given in the United States (DAB).


Mrs. Read was probably Sarah Read (d. 1761), the mother-in-law of Benjamin Franklin. An advertisement in Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette (Aug. 19, 1731) shows that she was then continuing to make and sell her well-known Ointment for the Itch with which she has cured abundance of People in and about this City for many Years past" (Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Leonard W. Labaree et al., eds. [New Haven, 1959- ]. 1:219).


On Sept. 30, 1751, RTP made the following entry in his diary: "A fair day, This day removed my Lodgings to Mrs. Reads in Order to have the Small Pox; This After Noon Dr. Thos. Bond145innoculated me in the Left Arm." Evidences of the smallpox put in an appearance on Oct. 5. On Oct. 12 his diary entry records: "very sore, tho' the Distemper is very light up on me, & also much afflicted with want of Eye Sight, being bereaft thereof by the Purstles pustules; no rest a Nights, my Face Prodigiously Swelled." By Oct. 17 his eyesight began to return. Three additional weeks of pustules, purges, and an occasional blood-letting followed before he was once more able to go visiting. On Nov. 11 he was probably happy to make the following entry: "A fine day. I went abroad to Mr. Franklin's."


Capt. James Ford of the sloop Thomas cleared Philadelphia for Boston this week (Pennsylvania Gazette, Oct. 3, 1751).