Okay okay, I know it’s not a “photo”. But this artifact is so cool I just had to post it. Continuing my research on Madam Pheobe Foxcroft Phillips, here is a letter from her to her future husband, Samuel Phillips. While Samuel was living in Cambridge, he became “intimately acquainted” with Pheobe. Ms. Foxcroft had a lot going for her; she was pretty, smart, and came from a noble family. One thing stood in the way, however: her age. Pheobe was 9 years older than Samuel, thus Sam’s parents said they could not marry. In a sick rebellion, Samuel fell ill after he graduated from Harvard. In the hospital, he admitted to his doctor that it wasn’t just a physical illness that kept him bedridden. Samuel was sick from disappointment. The doctor spoke to the parents, and they granted their permission for the marriage. Samuel miraculously got better and the two married in 1773.
They went on to have two sons together, John and Samuel Jr. Samuel Jr. died at age 14 of fever. Samuel Sr. loved his wife. Their contrasting personalities made them a great couple. Pheobe was young in every way. She was energetic, lively, and extravagant, while Sam was quiet and economical. Sometimes he proved to be passionate under his composed mask, as demonstrated by his illness. For their 12th anniversary, Samuel presented his wife with verses from Benjamin Franklin:
Of their Chloes and Phillises poets may prate,
I sing my plain country Joan,
Now twelve years my wife, still the Joy of my Life,
Blest day when I made her my own.
In peace and good order my Household she keeps,
Right careful to save what I gain;
Yet cheerfully spends, and smiles on the friends
I’ve the pleasure to entertain.
Am I laden with care, she takes off a large share
That the Burden ne’er makes me to reel;
Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife,
Quite doubles the pleasure I feel.
Was the fairest young princess with millions in purse
To be had in exchange for my Joan,
She cou’d not be a better wife, might be a worse, —
I’ll cling to my lovely old Joan.
So what is the picture above? This is a letter written by Pheobe to Samuel before they were married. It was written on September 19th, 1768. She seems to be saying that she can’t wait to see him. She knows he is visiting her area soon, and she would clear her engagements to be with him. It sounds like she needs him to do something, like visit or talk to his family. Although I can’t read most of the script, I picked out a few phrases that were just beautiful (the ___ represents words I can’t read):
“…may you experience no misfortune but by a ___ uniform ___ of virtue may you gain admittance to ___ mansions where trouble never enters.”
“I long’d to ___ after you…”
This letter was amazing… I can’t believe we have such old documents right here in Blanchard House!
Go read last week’s post to see more on Pheobe. Here’s my source for the info, again: http://www.pa59ers.com/map/key/history/062.html