Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 August 1782 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 August 1782 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend The Hague, ca. 15 August 1782 1

Mr. Thaxter is getting better and Mr. Charles Storer is now with me, and We may be all now said to be pretty well. Our northern Friends are well too.

You will hear a great deal about Peace, but dont trust to it. Remember what I have often said “We shall not be able to obtain Peace, while our Ennemies have New York and Charlestown or either of them.” I know the Character and Sentiments of the King of England, and while he can hold a Post in the United States, he will have it in his Power to make the People of England believe that the People of America love him and them, and keep up their hopes of some turn of Affairs in their favour.

Lord Shelburnes System is equivocal. Fox has seized the right Idea. But the former will run down the latter for sometime. Yet the Plan of the latter must finally prevail. It is deeply laid and well digested. If he has Perseverance he will be the Man to make Peace.

By frequent Exercise on Horseback and great Care, I seem to have recovered my Health, strength and Spirits beyond my Expectations. And if the Company of Princes and Princesses, Dukes and Dutchesses, Comtes and Comptesses could make me happy, I might easily be so— but my Admired Princess is at the blue Hills, where all my Ambition and all my Wishes tend.


I know not the Reason but there is some Strange Attraction between the North Parish in Braintree and my Heart. It is a remarkable Spot. It has vomited Forth more Fire than Mount Etna. It has produced three mortals, Hancock and two Adams's, who have, with the best Intentions in the World, set the World in a blaze. I say two Adams's because the Head of the Senate2 sprung from thence as his father was born there.—Glorious however as the flame is, I wish I could put it out.—Some People say I was born for such Times. It is true I was born to be in such times but was not made for them. They affect too tenderly my Heart.

I love the People where I am. They have Faults but they have deep Wisdom and great Virtues—and they love America, and will be her everlasting Friend, I think. I would do a great deal to serve this nation, I own.

If Spain should acknowledge Us as I think she will soon, the two great Branches of the House of Bourbon, Holland and America, will form a PHALANX which will not easily be shaken. I hope and believe We shall continue Friends. If We do, whenever England makes Peace She will be afraid to quarrell with Us, how much soever she may hate Us. And I think the other Powers of Europe too will prefer our Friendship to our Enmity, and will choose to excuse Us from meddling in future Wars. This is the Object of all my Wishes and the End of all my Politicks. To this End and for this Reason I look upon my success in Holland as the happiest Event, and the greatest Action of my Life past or future. I think that no Opportunity will present itself for a Century to come, for Striking a Stroke so critical and of so extensive Importance, in the political system of America. How critical it has been few Persons know. It has hung upon a Thread, a Hair, a silken Fibre. Its Consequences will not be all developed for Centuries. I know there are those 3 who represent it a Thing of Course and of trifling moment. But they have not seen the Diary of Mr. Van berckel,4 nor mine, nor the Minutes of the Cabinets of Orange and Brunswick. Nor have they seen the History of future Wars in Europe. A future War in Europe will shew the Importance, of the American Negotiation in Holland.—Be discreet in the Use you make of this. Be cautious. I want to know how our Success here is relished with you.

Adieu, tenderly Adieu.

RC (Adams Papers); undated, but see note 1.


AA's acknowledgment of this undated letter in hers to JA of 13–25 Nov. (Adams Papers) infers that it was written at “about the same time” as JA's first and second two letters to her of 17 Aug., both below. Internal evidence, such as the 362news of Thaxter's convalescence and Charles Storer's presence in JA's household, supports her inference. But we may infer further that it slightly predated JA's first and second two letters of the 17th or he would have mentioned in it, as he did in both of those, his concern over the severity of Richard Cranch's renewed illness, news of which did not reach The Hague until 16 or 17 August.


Samuel Adams, currently president of the Massachusetts Senate.


Editorially supplied for a word missing in MS.


Engelbert François van Berckel (1726–1796), first pensionary of Amsterdam, long an advocate of closer Dutch-American relations, sponsor of the abortive Lee-de Neufville treaty of 1778, and as warm a friend of JA as his official station permitted. See Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 4:109–111; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:447–449, 452–453, 455. His brother, Pieter Johan van Berckel, was to become the first Netherlands minister to the United States.

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 16 August 1782 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 16 August 1782 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam Hague 16th. August 1782

I am to express my Acknowledgments to You for your kind favor of the 17th. June last, with which I was honoured this day. I expressed my Chagrin in not recieving a Letter by the Firebrand in mine of the 27th. July, which accompanies this. Little did I think that in that moment the tender sympathetic Heart of Portia was sharing, and participating in the Cares and Agonies of her dear Sister, who was waiting in aweful Suspense the Issue of her dear Mr. Cranch's Illness. We know not yet the Event, but hope that the Change was favorable. The Gazette of July 1st. makes no mention of his Death, and We flatter ourselves still with Hopes of his Recovery. May he who directs righteously all Events graciously grant it, and continue him still in Existence for the sake of his Family and Mankind. He is indeed an Ornament to human Nature, and has discharged the Duties of his several Relations in Life with a Fidelity that will ever distinguish his Character and point him out as an illustrious Pattern and Example to those, who wish to be great and good. My Heart bled at the pathetic Recital You gave me of his Sickness; and who is there that knows the Man that can withhold the sympathetic Tear? I venerate his Character, for he is indeed a venerable Man. I am impatient and tremble at the Idea of recieving the next Letter from home. May kind Heaven be propitious.

August 18th.

My Situation in this place is on many accounts more eligible than that at Amsterdam was. The Air is purer and We are much nearer the Sea. But You tell me, Madam, I sigh for America. It is true indeed, and so I should if I dwelt in any Paradise that Nature or Art has formed in the old World. I am not homesick neither for I should 363be happy (had I the means) to pass two Years in France before my Return, to see a little the face of that Kingdom and to acquire more perfectly the Language. I should be happy to a certain degree I mean. However this cannot take place, and I must run the hazard of a British Prison sooner or later. I perfectly agree with You, Madam, that it is better to become a Captive in America than a Captive in a British Prison. The former Captivity I have been long accustomed to and am perfectly reconciled to it. I love the Toils the busy God has made. They are the first Webs which gently hold the willing Swain. I wish extremely to be fixed down in some reputable business but I fear it will be a long time first. Patience however sufficient unto the day is &c. I am a Batchelor to day, I may be tomorrow, and shall be I believe ten Year hence. If I do not cease to be tormented with Reveries, Visions and Dreams about this said subject of Matrimony, I shall be a Batchelor from Choice. I have been in the fidgets this Week past with a confounded Dream about being married and my Wife having three Children at a Birth, all born crying and yelping as if possessed. I cried out, oh Lord deliver from this Bondage thy miserable ruined Servant. Twice before I have dreamt of being connected with two young Ladies I love and esteem very much—as often repented and wept bitterly. I have almost taken the Vow of Celibacy, and nobody would care for that I believe. I fancy these are hints (pretty broad ones too) to remain even as I am. I intend to consult St. Paul upon the Matter and make up Judgment after a full hearing on both sides. You see what Sylphs are about me.

As to the dear Girls for whom I have expressed a particular Regard, I am very sorry that no young Gentlemen are to be found to their Taste. They are indeed virtuous and deserving, and merit Partners of the same Character. They possess all the Virtues and Accomplishments necessary in that Relation of Life, and whoever renders himself agreable to either cannot be otherwise than happy. I had thought the amiable Sally already connected. She is another of the deserving ones, and I wish her most sincerely happily fixed.


Mr. Guild, who takes my Letters, has just arrived here, and leaves me but little time to add: I hope he will be more fortunate this Passage.

I am not able to write all my friends by this Opportunity. I have not as yet Strength sufficient. The repeated Attacks of the Fever have weakend my Nerves, but I shall soon get over that.


Mr. Guild will be able to give You so good an Account of Politicks as to render it unnecessary for me to say any thing. The English are as much disposed to tricking and Chicane as ever. They want Peace, but have either not Virtue, Honor or Sense enough to make it. The American Pill is yet a little unpalatable. It will however go down in time. Patience, Perseverance and Firmness are the only requisites.

My Friend Storer is with me at present, which makes me very happy. He means to remain here sometime, and is learning French—is very well. Please to remember me to all Friends—to the dear Girls particularly. I long to embrace them.

I have the honor to be, with an invariable Respect & Esteem, Madam, your most Ob. & M. H. S., J.T.

RC (Adams Papers).