Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 February 1779 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 28 February 1779 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Feb. 28. 1779

This Day, the Chevalier D'Arcy, his Lady, and Niece, Mr. Le Roy and his Lady, dined here. These Gentlemen are two Members of the Academy of Sciences.1

Now are you the wiser for all this? Shall I enter into a Description of their Dress—of the Compliments—of the Turns of Conversation—and all that.

For mercy Sake dont exact of me that I should be a Boy, till I am Seventy Years of Age. This Kind of Correspondance will do for young Gentlemen and Ladies under 20, and might possibly be pardonable till 25—provided all was Peace and Prosperity. But old Men, born down with Years and Cares, can no more amuse themselves with such Things than with Toys, Marbles and Whirligigs.

If I ever had any Wit it is all evaporated—if I ever had any Imagination it is all quenched.

Pray consider your Age, and the Gravity of your Character, the Mother of Six Children—one of them grown up, who ought never to be out of your sight, nor ever to have an Example of Indiscretion set before her.

I believe I am grown more austere, severe, rigid, and miserable than ever I was.—I have seen more Occasion perhaps.2

RC (Adams Papers).

183 1.

Patrick d'Arcy (1725–1779), Irishborn military engineer who served in the French army; and Jean Baptiste Leroy (d. 1800), French physicist, author, and intimate friend of Franklin. They were currently engaged in electrical experiments that interested Franklin. See Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale , under the names of both men, and see also Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S. , 2:54.


The final punctuation mark may have been intended for a comma instead of a period, and the text ends at the foot of the first page of a four-page sheet. JA may, therefore, have intended to continue the sentence and the letter, or he may have simply broken off in disgust.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, February 1779 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, February 1779 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Passy, February? 1779 1

You are uneasy that I dont write enough. I understand you. You want me to unravel to you all the Mysteries of the Politicks of Europe, and all the Intrigues of Courts. This would make Madam a Lady of Consequence no doubt and enable her to shine in a Circle of Politicians of Either sex.—But in the first Place I dont understand them—in the next if I did I would give the English Leave to laugh or swear as much as they pleased if they should catch me in such a folly as that of Writing it, to your Ladyship.

There has been too much of that heretofore. No more—dont you know that there are eagle Eyes, and eager Ears about you, to catch any Thing improper from me, or from you. Read the Journal de Paris and be easy.

RC? (Adams Papers). The MS has the appearance of being a recipient's copy, and though undated was bound up in the family papers between JA's letters to AA of 26 and 27 Feb., above. But it could have been sent as a postscript to any one of several of JA's letters written during this month; or perhaps, having been written in an even crosser mood than the others in this sequence, it may not have been sent at all. Since no acknowledgments have been found and the letters themselves bear neither endorsements nor docketings, there is, in fact, nothing to prove that any of JA's scolding letters in February were sent or received.


If this is in fact JA's last letter to AA in February, it is his last to her until he wrote three on the same day from Lorient, 14 May, q.v. below. On 3 March he took leave of the French ministry at Versailles; on the 8th he and JQA left Passy for Nantes, where they arrived on the 12th, expecting to sail to America on the Alliance, Capt. Pierre Landais. But the ship was in disrepair at Brest, whither JA went to arrange for an exchange of British prisoners that were aboard. The negotiation became protracted, and the Adamses could not board Alliance until 22 April, at St. Nazaire. There, and at Nantes and Lorient again, JA had a lengthy and “triste sejour” after learning that the ship was to be detained by request of the French government and that he and his son were to sail in a French frigate, La Sensible, in company with the new French minister to the United States, La Luzerne, whose preparations were tedious. La Sensible finally sailed from Lorient on 17 June. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:354–381.