Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 16 January 1783 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 16 January 1783 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
1. Madam Paris 16th. Jany. 1783

About three weeks agone, I forwarded a packet of Letters to Mr. Cranch, inclosing one to him—the first since I have been in Europe, that I ever transmitted to America without a line to your Ladyship. I must confess the packet seemed incomplete—a want of time rendered it so. I am persuaded that my Punishment will far surpass your disappointment. However to avoid a similar Misfortune again, I intend this for the first Letter of my next Packet.

Since the Signature of the Preliminaries between England and America, the other Negociations seem to train on very heavily—at least I am not sure they advance with the Rapidity so much wished for by many, and dreaded by others. Indeed we have very little Information of the State or Progress of the other Negociations. If they were very forward, it is natural to conclude that some hint would be given of it. Parliament will meet the 21st. instant. Much is expected from their coming together. Perhaps something may be collected of what has been going forward in the Cabinet in their Recess. France and Spain have their Agents or Commissioners in England to transact their respective Concerns. Their continued Residence in London gives some ground to hope that their Negociations will terminate happily. But nothing conclusive can be drawn from this Circumstance, because a trivial Occurrence may snap asunder a Negotiation of the greatest “Pith and Moment.” To pacify an angry irritated World, to calm the Passions of Man and of Nations, are Objects worthy of him, whose Perfections exempt him from the frailties of Humanity. Negociations that succeed long Wars are but too often so many Histories of the depraved State of Mankind—Pictures of Avarice, Ambition, Pride, Baseness, Impotence &c. To correct, modify and arrange these disorderly Passions in a regular subordination to the great Objects of the Negociation, is a Task of Magnitude and Importance, and worthy of the best of Men, directed by Wisdom from above. How glorious an Employment is it, to be instrumental in giving Peace to a divided distracted World? What a Scope for the Exercise of those feelings that do honor to human Nature? What an Occupation for a Heart susceptible of Benevolence and of Philanthropy! But there are but few who experience these Sensations. The Business of Nations 72is conducted upon different Principles. Arts, Intrigues, and Subterfuges but too commonly take the place of Candor, good faith and plain dealing, and private Views require the Sacrifice of public Good. Ah! the divine Science of Politicks, puzzled in Mazes, not less mysterious than the mysterious Mysteries with which designing ambitious Priests have entangled and clouded a plain Religion. However as each successive Generation is to be wiser than the preceeding one, perhaps the World will be enlightened a little, before the Millenium, or that light which we read is to be accompanied with a Heat that will leave no Traces of the Wisdom of any Age.

But seriously speaking this Negociation stagnates Business. The Merchants know not how to conduct themselves in these days of Suspense. War Price and Peace Price for their Merchandizes is a Matter that deserves their Attention. The Freight and Insurance have been very high. They are still so. Indeed they know not whether to ship or not. I wish the Powers would declare their Intentions. One asks for a hint, and another for hint, of what is going forward. I dont understand this hinting work. A Hint would be just as serviceable as plain english—but so long as it is not plain English, nothing secret is communicated. A comical doctrine this. If one was to hint without design the wrong way, and any Mischief should befal the Person hinted to, I am inclined to think the Hinter, would reap a Harvest of Reproaches in plain English, without the disguise of a Hint. Thus much for the Doctrine of Hints. I am far from thinking it a sound one.

I have not heard from Mr. Dana since Novr. last. He was then well. I fancy Master John has nearly arrived by this in Holland.1 I will give You the earliest Intelligence of his Arrival. Remember me, if You please, as due, and believe me to be ever, with the greatest Respect, Madam your most obedient and most humble Servant.


RC (Adams Papers).


JQA did not in fact reach Holland until April. See JA to AA, 4 Dec. 1782, note 2, above; and JQA to JA, 1 Feb., below.

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 18 January 1783 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 18 January 1783 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
Saturday Evening ca. 18 January 1783 1

Your letter2 my Dear Eliza was this day handed me by your Mamma. I Love her much, Eliza, but wish you would just give her a hint, and 73tell her from me that I hope she say to no one Else, what she, does to me. I should be very sorry if I thought she did.

And now to your letter. If my last convinced you, that no doubts existed in my mind, of your friendship, it had its intended effect.3 I am sorry to hear you met with such a cold reception, in assending the mount.4 Dare say it was oweing to the coldness of the weather, and had you have made an entrance, you would I doubt not, have been cordially welcomed. Next weak I hear you intend an excursion to Bridgewater.5 I wish you an agreeable time of it, and as much pleasure, as your imagination has, presented to you. You are to be deprived of one of the agreeable party I hear. Why is it, I wonder. Will she not yeald to the persuasive voice of Eloquence, that will be tendered to her by all her friends.

Do you wish to hear, of me, as well as from me. I mean do you wish to know how, my time passes. You do and I will tell you, as I have nothing more important to relate. The most agreeable day I have spent since I have been in town, was last Wedensday at Mr. Storers. The Ladies you have no acquaintance with except Miss Mayhew.6 She was not so sociable as I have sometimes seen her, has been very much indisposed, not the less agreeable tho. Dr. Waterhous made an agreeable part of the circle. You know him, it is not therefore necessary that I should represent to you aney part of his behavour. Twas all pleasing. I suppose I must mention Mr. Guild, too, as he made a one of us, but he is quite out of my Books. This is but one proof of the fickeleness of your friend, so say nothing about it. When I see a wise and a sensible Man, (appear at least) affected in his Manners and behavour, I cannot help, feeling a much less esteem for him. From this it arises, tis a reasonable cause, but however I do not wish to give it, to aney others than my friends. They have a right to know the cause of the change of my opinions, and judgement. If they are right, they will approve; if wrong, condemn, and this leads me to alter them. Do you know my friend that the only instances I even thought you deficient in your friendship for me, was, you never told me my faults. I have often felt, that I have done wrong, in the presence of my Eliza. I have equally felt that she noticed it but I never yet recollect that you reminded me of them, or indeavoured to amend, me, (but by your example). It is said that it has a greater effect than precept. In many instances I believe it just, but when both are united, they inforce each other.

I have sometimes felt as if, you were conscious of the rectitude 74and propriety of your own behavour, and this gave you a superiority, which I have ever, granted you in my mind, and heart, whether you have felt it or not. Your humility I suppose will not lead you to confess it.

I took my pen with an intention of writing only a few lines. Indeed, when I sat down I had but little to say, but thus I have scribled. Accept it with the affection with which it is writen and believe me, thy friend sincerely.


RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; endorsed: “Jan.—83 AA.”


This letter was written in Boston, probably at the home of Samuel Allyne Otis, where AA2 was apparently visiting (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, ca. 27 Jan. , below). Its most probable date is either 18 or 25 Jan. (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, ca. 11 Jan., above, note 1); the former seems more likely since in her letter of ca. 27 Jan. , below, AA2 tells Betsy that she should have replied to her “long ere this.”


Not found.


This may refer to another, quite brief Jan. 1783 letter in the C. P. Cranch Papers that begins “The letter my Dear Eliza that you put in my hand yesterday Morning,” in which AA2 refutes Elizabeth Cranch's doubts of sincerity in their friendship.


Mount Pleasant, mentioned in AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, ca. 11 Jan. , and note 5, above.


Perhaps with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Smith Shaw and Rev. John Shaw, to visit Shaw's father, Rev. John Shaw of Bridgewater ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 8:627–629).


Perhaps Elizabeth Mayhew; see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 July, below.