Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 19 January 1779 Lovell, James AA James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 19 January 1779 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
Jan. 19. 1779

Yes, lovely Portia, you have written to one “who lives in the continual practice of mortification and self denial,” who therefore can and does most “feelingly commiserate your situation.”

I am pleased when You speak of my disinterested attachment to the public weal: for, I know you judge from Sensibilities to which the herd of worldlings are intire strangers. They would stare at your opinion, and gravely ask “what Fortune does he sacrifice.”

I fear not, from you, the tax of vanity when I hope my example may tend to strengthen your Patience. I will fortify my own by looking up to your dearest Friend, whom even the worldling will own to be a striking pattern.

You say 'tis near 11 months since he left Braintree. I find myself relieved by that period from a certain anxiety, which was founded on my tenderness towards your dear Sex that Mr. A's rigid patriotism had overcome. He used, in that Spirit, to contemplate with pleasure, a circumstance in you, the like of which in Mrs. Lovell aggravated my absence from home, exceedingly. In spight therefore of his past reproofs to me, I will take pleasure in your Escape.


You may be assured, dear Lady, that not a line for you has arrived here, or any thing material to the public under your Husband's hand, or I should have communicated both the one, and the other so far as proper, to you speedily.

From the minutes now on my table, I can only mention the Receipt of short letters from him of Apr. 28.1 Aug. 12. 14. 21. Before I seal, I shall be in the Secretary's office, and will add other dates, if I find them. Personally, I have not had a single line of answer, tho my almanac proves I have written 16 or 18 times to him. He is right in his short letters: The quarrels of others are as fiery Beacons to his prudence.

I am sorry you do not see all the papers from this quarter. The vanity of a late Envoy will work its own destruction. His chief antagonist here, tho indiscreet at times, is an overmatch for him in the scribling way.2 The Lees are men of Probity as well as Science; and the advantage of speaking of them behind their backs will not turn out so great as was at first hoped by the Innuendo-Man; so R. H. Lee quaintly terms Mr. Deane.

Arthur Lee has no Commission but what Mr. Adams helped to give him 18. Months ago. There is no particular destination yet made of Mr. A——, but there will be, shortly. I think Party can hurl no Dart against his Honor.

I will communicate to you from time to time any decision interesting to you.

As to our money; 'Till we get a foreign Loan, we can only patch and patch. There is a prospect of our succeeding in Holland. Our Cause gains strength there daily.

I do not think I shall soon be able to help you to flour. But my wishes are on constant watch.

You do not mention the Receipt of either a Scrawl from me of Novr. 14 or a Box sent by one Lusher who is returned hither, though I have not seen him.

As to Mr. Thaxter, I begin to suspect whether I was ever civil to him for one moment. He has never wrote me a single line or sent me a verbal message of Direction where I am to find my Saddle-Bags which I lent him. “There is nothing new under the Sun.” Why then should I be astonished on this Occasion?

“Past 12 o Clock, and a rainy Morning” says the watchman under my Window. Taking his hint, and quitting, for the present, my Converse with Virtue, Sense and Beauty, shall I not find, on my pillow, a Repose sweet as that of a cradled Infant? or, if Fancy will maintain 152her domination jointly with Morpheus, shall I not realize the Slumbers of the Arcadians, and, therein, know myself yr. affectionate Friend,


P.S. I find Aug. 27. Sepr. 11th.

RC (Adams Papers).


Probably a mistake for 25 April 1778. If so, all of the letters from JA to Congress listed here and in Lovell's postscript have been located in some version or other except that of 12 Aug. 1778.


Thomas Paine, who under his famous pen name “Common Sense” vigorously answered Deane and Deane's defenders in a series of communications to the Pennsylvania Packet, 15, 29, 31 Dec. 1778, and 2, 5, 7, 9 Jan. 1779. These are reprinted in the Deane Papers , 3:86–100, 133–136, 209–239. As a result, through the direct intervention of Gérard, the French minister in Philadelphia, Paine lost his post as secretary to the Committee for Foreign Affairs; see same, p. 246–259.

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams, 19 January 1779 Warren, Mercy Otis AA Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams, 19 January 1779 Warren, Mercy Otis Adams, Abigail
Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams
Jan. 19 1779

I Intended writing my Friend Mrs. Adams when Mr. Thaxter Returned but dare say he Gave you a satisfactory Reason why I did not, since which many matters have taken up my time. The Bussy and the Gloomy scenes have Alternately played before me and Commanded my Attention almost Ever since I left your house with a Heart full of anxiety.

I saw my Father no more as my Foreboding Heart presaged. He Breathed his Last sigh And bid Adieu to mortality before I Reached His now Desolate Mansion.

Why was this such a painful Circumstance to me. How Inconsistent, how Irrational are our Wishes. When the saint is on the Threshold of Eternity And His Lord has Commissioned a Messenger to Release him from his Labour, and Bestow the Reward shall we wish a Moments Detention, that we may be permited the painful, the Terefying satisfaction of standing by His Couch, while the trembling Soul is taking Leave of Its shattered tenement, and is looking abroad, amidst the Dark, profound, Etheriel oeconimy, for a New and more permenent Habitation.

My Excellent parent had Long done his Work, and was patiently waiting this important Change. He longed to Depart and to be with Christ, and to unite his song of praise with the seperate spirit of one whose Life was such that her Children Could not be forgiven if they did not Arise and Call her Blessed, so long as Memory is lent them.

Forgive the Fond overflowings of Fillial affection, and I will lead 153you from a subject so unpolite to a more Fashionable theme, to the Disputes of polititions and statsmen. There if any where is Developed the Dark Windings of the Human Heart. How often when they have involved themselves in Guilt, do they send a Hue and Cry for justice to overtake such as are about to Detect them. Perhaps we may soon see the Methods taken to Exculpate the knave 1 were the best Means of Bringing to Light the knavery: and had the Former been silent, the odium of the Latter might have been fixed where it was not due, but by opening a Door for a strict scrutiny I hope truth will be Discovered And punishment and Disgrace will Rest where it ought.

If your Little Good Girl is unhappy she Conceals it from me, for she smiles as if she Enjoyed herself and says plimouth is as pleasant as Either Boston or Braintree. I shall Endeavour to keep her in that sentiment as Long as I Can.

If you hear anything from France we are not so immersed in our own Happiness but what she and I Can Listen with pleasure. Nor would Inteligence from any other quarter be unentertaining handed forward by your pen.

Make my Regards to Mr. Thaxter and to all other Braintree Friends. I will not write what I think of this young Gentleman, but when I see you I will tell you.

It gives me pleasure in such a day as this when Vice is strengthened by Fashion, and Crimes are softned by the appelation of Taste to see any Coming on the stage of action who have understanding and Virtue sufficient to Dare to be Good. But this may be one of the Antiquated Whims of Your undisguized Friend,

Marcia Warren

RC (Adams Papers). Early Tr (MHi:Mercy Warren Letterbook); in an unidentified hand and dated: “Plymouth January 2d. 1779.” Tr was based on a Dft, which may have been dated but is not now to be found. Variations between RC and Tr, though numerous, are disregarded here.


In Tr an asterisk is inserted here and a note appears at the bottom of the page: “Silas Dean's address to the public when under censure of Congress.”