Poor Family Papers, 1791-1921. John and Lucy (Tappan) Pierce. John Pierce to Abiel Aboot, 1794-1817. A-132, folder 3, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

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No. 16. Dorchester, July 1st, 1796.

My dear friend,

In your last, (tho, by the way, I have written since,) you inquire, "Are the days of your ministration at Milton accomplished?" I am now fully prepared to answer the question. And what do you think, it will be? Will you suppose, that your raw inexperienced friend has united that divided, tho respectable town? Or, on the other hand, do you imagine him silenced by a large & formidable opposition? I can hardly tell you, wh is nearer the truth. As you may hear an inperfect account of the affair, &, may wish to ascertain the fact, I will make no other apology for relating it. Sabbath before last the church met & gave me a unanimous call, one only excepted, who stood neuter. He had not objection against the man; but thought it a very unsuitable time to settle a minister. Last Monday the town met, & influenced by the arguments of the aforesaid gentleman, who is a person of influence, one quarter of them non-concurred with the vote of the church. My warmest friends then said, it was best to proceed no further, if they could not be more united. They accordingly reelected their former committee for supplying the pulpit. I was first applied to for continuing longer. It was represented, that the minority sincerly wished it. Indeed, one of them took pains to inform me, that, if I would tarry a little longer, he did not doubt, they would soon be unanimous for settling me; for he had conversed with them, & found them better pleased with me than with any one. &c. &c. &c. As for the present, they would not settle the best man alive. &c. &c. &c. But as passive, as I am, & as few as my pretentions to independence are, I was not to be triffled with in this manner. As soon, as I ascertained the proceedings of the town, I very composedly took my hat, shook off the dust

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of my feet against the place, &, avoiding both friend & foe, travelled directly to Dorchester. There is spunk for you! I should have shewn them the same, 8 weeks ago, if I had not been, like Lord North, unable to forsee events. It is the firm belief of the first character in Milton, that the town will, after a little reflection, be unamimous & generous in their proposals to me. But I am not at liberty. Experience has, I hope, taught me a little wisdom. I could say much more on the subject. But I am sick of it; & have by this time wearied your patience with it. At our next interview, you may recieve all the information you wish. When will that be? When shall you, free from all restraints but such, as delicacy imposes, encompass in your arms that paragon of excellence the divinely. fair E W? Does not your bosom throb at the thought? Or are your affections so platonic, as to value merely the beauties of her mind, & regard with cold indifference her personal charms. But I forbear. "How does my tongue grow wanton in her praise!"

I was yesterday at the Esquire's. The sight of Mrs. H. filled me with trouble. She is more altered, since I last saw her, than the was at that time from perfect health. In my apprehension she is on the very brink of the grave. She may, however, continue a few weeks. Longer than this it would be a miracle for her to survive. Notwithstanding her danger, her good spirits remain, & she even indulges the hope of a partial recovery. The Lord support her! I am fearful, she has too much company. Nearly twenty people were there yesterday. But they have done inviting them. Still the partiality of friends drives them to see her. I hear, you have paid a late visit to D. with your sister. Such friends were no incumberance. I should have been happy to see you. Your dearer self has satified me your your neglect in even to let me know, you were at D. there. See,

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how the dear girl begins already to conceal your errors. Only preach up the doctrine of supererogation, & you may double your offences.

The town talk, indeed, I believe the country talk is at present upon the disgraceful elopement of J. C. Shaw. You have doubtless heard much upon / subject. It would be a little singular, if / reports have not been exaggerated, before reaching H. But lest this should be news to you, I will inform you; that Rev. Mr L. of Cohasset, who was your senior at College, has been convicted of conduct / most astonishing, / most wicked. It is no less, than cohabiting with another man's wife for some years. Indeed, he had not been to in / town but 6 weeks, before he commenced his leud practice. Since that period, he has courted & married an amiable woman, by whom he has had two children. How many innocent characters are involved in this unhappy affair! How will /whole body of / clergy be abused for this shameful cond[ ] [...]one of its hypocritical teachers! What aggravat[ ] [?]ter is, that this / hardened wretch admitted this [ ] partner of his pursuits into / church some time ago, that he might be better enabled to carry on this secret machinations. The circumstance of his discovery detection are too minute to be here mentiond. Suffice it to say, that he was detected, & has run off; that his property is sold, & his wife & children have gone to her father's. This information, you may rely, is authentic. I exchanged with Mr Whitman of Pembroke, / last Sabbath, whose wife is sister to Mrs L. / unhappy sufferer, & who with tears in her eyes related to me every circumstance.

Excuse / carelessness of / writing. My fore finger is sore. Shall you come this way, before com.? If not, you must certainly write to me. My time, till then, will be chiefly devoted to writing / val. I shall wish, at that time, to trade with you for Dobin Rosinante. Whether walking or riding I am &c Philos.

P.S. How does / idea of matrimony strike you? Shall you be tied fast by com.? Mrs H. said softly, that you had better, even if E. was not r[...]d [...] to keep house. I long to see you happy. If that be your conclusion, I may preach for you Sunday after Co[...] as to allow you a little more time to regale yourself. But you will not insist on this as an absolute prom[...]

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No. 16. Dorchester, 1 July, 1796.

{ Stamp} 8 { Stamp}

Rev. Abiel Abbot, Haverhill.

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Dorchester, Nov. 1st 1796.

My dear friend,

You may recollect that, at the beginning of our correspondence, we agreed to lay aside the rules of ceremony & write, as convenience should permit. Still, however, we have usually proceeded on the principles of debt & credit. I heartily wish, our epistorlary commerce may be so improved, that no attention may be paid to the cold formalities of custom. To illustrate my meaning by an example at hand, take this letter. Twice have I written to you, my friend, since you have found opportunity to answer. But I do not hesitate to write even thrice, while I can impute your silence rather to want of conveyance or unavoidable avocations, than to a diminution of friendship. No, my friend, altho your domestic happiness is almost complete, I doubt not you sometimes form resolves to revive our old corrrespondence. I was forcibly struck with your neglect in this particular by a late circumstance. You must know, it is my invariable custom to submit your valuable productions to the inspection of my dear friend Mr Ames. At two of my last visits tho the space between them was unusually protracted, I was unable to produce any new communications.

You startle to hear of domestic happiness almost complete. "Why is it not entire" you are ready to ask. I answer, because you have no young prattlers, who in the language of Homer, είς τα γονατα τȣ πατρος παππα[ ]ȣσς'. Till "a smiling offspring rises round," domestic felicity must be pronounced defective. I can prove this by an argumentum ad hominem. In a former letter I enumerated several ingredients of happiness, which, I supposed you would soon possess. Your reply then was, that a wife was the most im-

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portant; but that children must be added to render the union complete. I have blundered out your sentiment, tho in language far less elegant. Well, my good Sir, I heartily wish you as many children, & as much happiness, as you desire.

Since my last I have preached four Sabbaths at Brookline. I am much pleased with the place. It forms a pleasing contrast to those places, where I last was. The people here are well united in sentiment; I know too much to dictate to their minister his sentiments & his subjects. At least, they are too catholic to adopt such absurdities. People of fortune are crowding into this town, as fast as farms are to be disposed of. It may be called an excellent parish. I am now preaching at Quincy. After a month, I shall return to Brookline. Last Sabbath I had the honor of dining with VicePresident Adams. He appears to enjoy all the happiness of Cincinnatus in his rural retreat. The politics of the day appear to have no impression on his mind. He can regard with equal indifference the spanegyrics of "Aurelius," or the dirty squibs of the lying Chronicle. These are the sentiments of his neighbors with whom he is very familiar & sociable. I confess, I expected to find him a different man from what he appeared. Instead of that forbidding dignity & volubility of tongue, which have by some been ascribed to him, he discovers a pleasing affability; tho he is

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by far less fluent in speech, than I had imagined. But you know his character. I expected the pleasure of seeing Miss B. S. from having heard so much of her. But she was in Boston.

Tomorrow I enter upon the duties of my office. I fear, it will prove toilsome to discharge, them while, at the same time, I am engaged in preaching. This combination of busines will drive me into habits of industry, if any thing will. Expenses are great to prepare for the business. But I do not despair. Economy & frugality will enable me to lay up something. I shall not forget you. Do write to me every opporunity. You shall soon hear again from your

Philos.

P.S. I am ashamed to write you such a letter. But you must take it, as it is. My best wishes & compliments to Mrs A. &c. &c. Suitables to all.

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