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MR. LOTHROP called here this evening, and brought me yours of the 1st of October ; a day which will ever be remembered by me, for it was the most distressing one I ever experienced. That morning I rose, and went into my mother's room, not apprehending her so near her exit ; went to her bed with a cup of tea in my hand, and raised her head to give it to her. She swallowed a few drops, gasped, and fell back upon her pillow, opening her eyes with a look that pierced my heart, and which I shall never forget ; it was the eagerness of a last look ;
" And O, the last sad silence of a friend."
Yet she lived till five o'clock that day, but I could not be with her. My dear father prayed twice be side her bed that day. God Almighty was with him and supported him that day, and enabled him to go through the services of it. It was his communion day ; he had there a tender scene to pass through, a young granddaughter, Betsey Cranch, joining herself to the church, and a beloved wife dying, to pray for. Weeping children, weeping and mourning Parishioners all round him, for every eye streamed, his own heart almost bursting as he spoke. How painful is the recollection, and yet how pleasing !
I know I wound your heart. Why should I? Ought I to give relief to my own by paining yours?
"Yet the grief, that cannot speak, Whispers the o erfraught heart, and bids it burst."
My pen is always freer than my tongue. I have written many things to you that I suppose I never could have talked. My heart is made tender by repeated affliction ; it never was a hard heart. The death of Patty came very near me, having lived four years with me under my care. I hope it will make me more continually mindful and watchful of all those who are still committed to my charge. T is a great trust ; I daily feel more and more of the weight and importance of it, and of my own inability. I wish I could have more of the assistance of my dearest friend, but these perilous times swallow him up.
Mr. Lothrop has given me this account of the demand upon Falmouth. A man-of-war and two tenders went down, and sent to the inhabitants to demand their arms, and require them to stand neuter. They required time to consider ; they had until nine o'clock the next day, which time they employed in removing the women, children, and the rest of their most valuable effects, out of danger, when they sent their answer in the negative. Upon this, the enemy began a cannonade, and were continuing it when the express came away. Hitchbourne and another gentleman got out of town in a small boat, one of the foggy nights we have had this week. I have not heard what intelligence he brings. Another person says, that Howe enlarged all the prisoners but Lovell and he would not come out.
I have since seen the Paraphrase, as it is called; but t'is as low as the mock oration, though no reflection upon your private character, further than immoderately whipping your scholars when you kept school ; a crime any one will acquit you of who knows you. As a specimen of the wit and humor it contained, I will give you the title. "A Paraphrase upon the Second Epistle of John the Roundhead, to James, the Prolocutor of the Rump Parliament. Dear Devil," &c. J had it, but it was when I was in so much distress that I cared nothing about it. I will mention, when I see you, the foolish conjectures of some, who want always to be finding out something extraordinary in whatever happens.
I hope to hear often from you, which is all the alleviation I have in your absence, and is, next to seeing you, the greatest comfort of your
- Abigail Adams