Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


Jane's pain continues and is always worse after eating and exercise. Laudanum makes it worse. I don't know what is to be done. Company makes it better.... ...Jane much better in the morning; we hear the song, wherever she is. In half an hour, the pain is so bad that we hear her groans in every room. I believe it will be her death. ‘Tis different from anything I have seen. The cause I don't know. In a few hours, it will leave her well, but weak and low spirited. We have just received an invitation to a ball at Carleton's, Salem....Our father is pleased to have us go. Jane is never unwell from home. I wish more than ever to take her to Salisbury.53 
Louisa did not get her long visit with Jane, but in an era when medical cures included strong emetics,54 Laudanum, blistering and bleeding, Louisa's prescription for Jane, to get her out of her father's house, may have been the best medicine of all.

No one in either branch of her family meant as much to Louisa as her husband, John. Louisa's real family was within her marriage. She was terribly lonely for John and was not convinced that his choice to serve in the Navy was necessary. He had had a private medical practice in Amesbury (a small town contiguous with Salisbury Village) before his marriage, and Louisa, who believed that he was a brilliant doctor, was sure he could have been successful on land. Louisa's letters and diary contain many references to his life at sea being a necessary sacrifice, and a choice made for the good of the family, but when times were hard, her frustration surfaced. Louisa was pregnant when John left for his first cruise, and her letters to him were written as though he knew of the pregnancy. It is not clear whether or not Louisa agreed with John's decision to join the Navy, or simply accepted it. "‘Tis for me you live as you do – ‘Tis for you I will try to live, and hope to live with you."55  In the Spring of 1800, when Warren's birth was imminent, Louisa was afraid. She complained, then apologized, then complained more about being alone. She wrote to John, "I wish from my heart you had made a stand in Newburyport last Autumn. There is now a young Doctor there, doing very well, where I am sure you might have done better."

53. Park, Diary, December 28, 1800; February 9, 1801; February 10, 1801.
54. Emetics are drugs which cause vomiting. Along with Laudanum, emetics were the medications most often mentioned in the diary.
55. Park, to John Park, January 5, 1800.
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