Ten pages into the book My Dearest Friend, a collection of 289 letters sent between John and Abigail Adams, both tears and laughter already abound. Oh to write like this! The following is John’s jovial description of his and his brother’s preparation for the smallpox vaccination, which involved taking Ipichac (an emetic) before they were actually given the disease.
Sunday morning, April 8, 1764, at half past 10.
“The people all gone to Meeting but myself, and companion, who are enjoying a pipe in great tranquility after the operation of our Ipichac. Did you ever see two persons in one room Iphichacuana’d together? (I hope I have not spelled that ineffable word amiss!) I assure you they make merry diversion. We took turns to be sick and to laugh. When my companion was sick I laughed at him, and when I was sick he laughed at me. Once however and only once we were both sick together, and then all laughter and good humor deserted the room. Upon my word we both felt very sober. But all is now easy and agreeable, we have had a breakfast of Pottage without salt, or spice, or butter, as the doctors would have it, and are seated to our pipes and our books, as happily as mortals, preparing for the small pox, can desire.”