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HAZARD TO S. A. OTIS.*
PHILADELPHIA, October 12, 1793.
DEAR SIR, — Last week I received yours of the 6th inst. Yes, sir, here I am, with my family, in the midst of disease and death, which will, no doubt, surprize many; but Divine Providence had placed me in such a situation that it appeared evidently to be my duty to remain in town. This point being settled, I had no difficulty in determining what to do. I have always found the path of duty to be the way of safety; and, whilst I know that I walk in it, I can cheerfully commit all events to the Great Disposer of them.
I proposed to Mrs. Hazard to retire with the children to the country; but, considering all circumstances, she concluded that her situation would be certainly more comfortable, and perhaps equally safe, in the city as out of it. Going out of town was, at least, going away from the best medical help, and from a thousand conveniences, and perhaps necessaries, in sickness, which the city only affords, and I was to be left behind, so she concluded to remain with me.
We have had our share of the disorder, but it has been very moderate, compared with the sufferings of others. I am recovered. Mrs. Hazard is so well as to be about house; and were it not for her assiduity in administering to the necessities of others, and her consequent fatigue, she would be quite well by this time. Our daughter is sick, but not dangerously ill. A young woman who has lived with us a number of years, and a servant woman, have been very ill, but appear to be on the recovery. A German servant whom we lately purchased, and has been
*This letter is preserved among this correspondence in a copy made by Dr.
sick, we sent to the hospital at Bush Hill, and have had him restored to us in health.
We have had one death in our family, an old female, in her 73d year. She was warmly attached to me from my infancy; and, as the family she boarded with had removed into the country, I took her into mine, and had to perform the last act of friendship for her two days ago. Here you have a particular history of my family, so perhaps than would be justifiable, had I not two friends in view to whom it will be interesting, and to whom I request you particularly to communicate it: they are the Rev. Dr. Belknap, near Liberty Stump, and the Rev. Mr. Morse, of Charlestown.
Robert Heysham has been slightly disordered, but is among the living, and the fat, and, no doubt, will attend to your house: the situation of my own puts it out of my power.
Dr. Hutchinson, Mr. Sergeant, the lawyer, Mrs. Keppele, the Vice-president's landlady, the Rev. Dr. Rogers's wife, and the Rev. Dr. Sproat's eldest son and youngest daughter, are dead. Colonel Pickering buried a son yesterday, and Pelatiah Webster buried his wife the day before. Samuel Emery and wife are at Wilmington, Delaware, and were well a day or two ago. Now I have told you about everybody of your acquaintance that I can recollect.
I hardly know what to say about "the state of the disorder." It does not appear to abate, and I do not think it increases. My physician, Dr. Hodge, whom I think a judicious man, says that, since the disorder first began, it has altered its appearance four different times. He points out particulars, but I cannot recollect them. I think he says its malignancy is greater at present than it was lately. It is curious to see the diversity of opinion among the learned, both with respect to the disorder itself and the mode of treatment. It is distressing, too; for people are
perplexed to know which of them to trust. I believe that no particular fixed mode is right, but that predominant symptoms must direct the mode of treatment in all cases. In some, plentiful evacuations, by bleeding, &c., are necessary; in others, they must be fatal. In some, they are necessary at first; but, as soon as the disorder is checked, the nurse, the butcher, and the cook ought to be called to the aid of the physician.
Do you see Brown's paper? Rush has published a nostrum in it. He prescribes that, and bleeding, in all cases, and boasts lustily of his success. At the same time, it is a fact that he has lost three of his apprentices, and his sister, out of his own family. He is a perfect Sangrado, and would order blood enough to be drawn to fill Mambrino's helmet, with as little ceremony as a mosquito would fill himself upon your leg. He was called to a friend of mine, and directed 12 or 15 ounces of blood to be drawn, and one of his powders to be taken. It was done. The next day, 8 or 10 ounces, and another powder. It was done. The 3d day, more bleeding and purging. The patient, having felt his own pulse, objected against bleeding, as unnecessary. The Dr. pronounced "this opinion one of the most dangerous symptoms in the case; the disorder was extremely insidious; the case extremely critical; not a moment to be lost; send for the bleeder directly. In the mean time, take this pill; and, if that does not operate in one hour, take this. You must be glystered to-day; but, if you are not bled to-day, I shall not be surprized to hear that you are dead to-morrow." The patient declared he would lose no more blood; the Dr. declared he would no longer consider him as his patient, left him to die, and the man got well. I am told he took some bark, to strengthen his stomach; drank a little good wine, extraordinary, to enrich his remaining blood; and ate nourishing food in small quantities, but frequently.
Good nursing is a capital article, but hard to be got, people's fears are so much alarmed. An idea prevails that negroes will not take the disorder, and they go out nursing; but they charge four dollars per day for their services, and do very little for their money. As they have board and every thing found them, I do not know but their pay is as high as the members of Congress. I hope cold weather, rain, and frost will render them unnecessary by and by; but I fear we must keep them till then.
The public affairs are a little deranged at present, but I suppose will be all in order against the meeting of Congress. You see I take it for granted that Congress is to meet. I was going to say, so many members have shewn that they fear neither God nor man, that I suppose they will be under no apprehension from sickness; but, considering that I am writing to a Secretary, this may be thought severe therefore, I omit it, and only hope there will be no sickness then, to prevent their meeting. If there should be (provided it is not too bad), maybe Drs. Shippen and Kuhn may be here to help them, though their fears have made them fugitives at present.
May you never want their aid!
Insurance business still goes on, but not as it did before the sickness attacked the city. However, there is no reason yet to despair of a good dividend next January. I hear of no losses worth mentioning. Remember me to any of my friends you meet with, and believe me to be EBEN. HAZARD.
SAMUEL A. OTIS, Esq., Boston.
HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
PHILADELPHIA, October 30, 1793.
MY DEAR FRIEND, Yours of the 23d inst. is just received, and affords me much pleasure. I am happy to find that my letter to Mr. Otis has, as I intended, given my friends an account of our situation, and relieved them from anxiety. To remove from the city, or not, was early a question in my mind; but, upon thinking over all circumstances, and especially how much depended on me respecting the Insurance Office, I felt it to be my duty to remain in the city, and determined accordingly. I have not been out at all, and Mrs. H. would not leave me, so we all took our chance together. We have nearly all been sick, and I may almost say, all got well. A young woman in the house is so well that this is the third day of her coming downstairs; and I expect a servant boy down tomorrow or the next day. Our youngest child and a servant girl have not had the disorder. Though we have had eight sick, we have great reason to be thankful that we have lost none, except an old lady of 73 years of age, while in some families that number has died.
[The accounts of the disorder and its effects which I have seen published were not to be depended on. It is astonishing to me that any person in this city could write such palpable untruths as some of them contain. Mr. Carey has published in our newspapers what he calls "a desultory account of the yellow fever," &c., which I believe is as good as can yet be given, and which you will probably see; but I am informed that a very accurate one is in hand, which will contain a variety of curious particulars. It seems to be pretty well ascertained that the disorder was imported; and, from the best accounts, upwards of 3,000 persons have fallen victims to it. Through deaths and removals, our city wears a gloomy appearance, in