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Worthington June 30th 1775

Sir,
Your Letter bearing Date the 26th of this Instant Just came to Hand, am very sorry you
think me the cause of Spreading that Infectious Dicease of Small Pox, and that you cast such Reflections which are unbecoming the Gentn It is very true when I went after my Coat I lodged at your House
who made my Bed I Know nothing about, But this Sir I must let you know in Justification of my
Conduct , I had been out of the Pest House a week before I went after my Coat & was Sufficiently Cleansed when I did come out as was that by the Inoculator, I came out on Thursday, the next
Week on Wednesday I shifted my cloaths again & washed ye Second time after which Mrs Eager made
my Bed, on Friday after ye Day on which I went to Belcher I shifted my Cloathss again, I went
from Belcher home to my Fathers my Sisters made the Bed on wch I lay ye Ensuing Evening
after I came from your House ; Do you suppose Sir I would give it to my Fathers family
if I would to yours as you have sufficiently hinted in your Letter , which I think is as cruel &
ungenerous as the Grave--- Sir from what is said above, do not you think Mrs Eager who made
my Bed three Nights before I was at your House as likely if not moreso to take ye Infection as
your Granddaughter, or my Sisters who made it after I came from your House, I am very
sorry your Granddaughter has taken the Disease & that you have been Exposed to it, my Conduct
in going to Belcher is not such a Wonderfull Strange thing as you Imagine & When I was
Inoculated it was this Motive of Self Preservation , not with a design of Spreading it as you in
your Christian Uncharitableness suppose; the Regard I have for my fellow Creatures is as great
as yours I must think unless you have some Passion more Operative than that of Charity,
Sir I am willing to leave it with Mrs Eager with whom I board, whether I was not as careful
as a person possibly could be after I came home; If I know my own Heart I would not give
ye Small Pox willingly to any person for three Times fifty Pounds, no not to my worst Enemy

As to the Quality of my Coat whether Old or New I must be so Impudent as to tell
you it is none of your Business if I thoít was proper to go after it; as to what you write about Doctr Pynchon I do not agree with him, The Doct.r is a Gentn I never had but little personal acquaintance with But ye Opinion I Entertain of him from ye Character he sustains is great, and ye Gentn I esteem
to whom I desire you to give my Compliments & let him know that I really think it
Impossible for me to have communicated the Disease at that Time or a Number of Days
Before_ As to the Coat I am sorry to see you so anxious, it looks as if you was too much
troubled about it; And as to my paying Part, I have only this to observe that there was once
a Wholesome Law that where a trepass was committed & it was proved upon ye Person there the
Trepasser was to make good the Damage--You lastly observe & say that it would have been
as well for ye World for me to have followed some other Profession, I cannot say but it would
for I am an Unexperienced Person in ye Business ; But pray Sir how does that concern you
I canít see unless your Benevolence extendth itself as far to ye Western part of ye World
as ye Eastern__As to my giving you ye Small Pox I am not troubled , for I cannot think I did
or was capable of doing it Do, think you keep a publick house & Exercise a little of that
Charity which is the fulfilling of the Law & youíll Oblige
your Abused H Servt

Elihu Ashley

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Elihu Ashley wrote this letter, dated June 30, 1775, to an innkeeper, Capt. Nathaniel Dwight, in Belchertown, Massachusetts, about what Ashley believed to be a false charge. Dr. Ashley was recently vaccinated for smallpox in a Worthington, Massachusetts, "pest house" and soon after stayed in an inn in the town of Belchertown. The innkeeper accused Ashley of spreading the disease and Ashley wrote an angry reply.

 

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Letter to Nathaniel Dwight from Dr. Elihu Ashley

author   Dr. Elihu Ashley (1750-1817)
date   Jun 30, 1775
location   Worthington, Massachusetts
height   12.5"
width   7.5"
process/materials   manuscript, paper, ink
item type   Personal Documents/Letter
accession #   #L99.170


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See Also...

Pages from Journal of Dr. Elihu Ashley

Letter to Dr. Elihu Ashley

High Chest of Drawers


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