Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams, 21 December 1780 Warren, Mercy Otis AA Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams, 21 December 1780 Warren, Mercy Otis Adams, Abigail
Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams
My Dear Mrs. Adams Plimouth Dec. 21 1780

I should have wrote before according to promiss, but have been prevented the use of my Eyes by a Cold fixing there and Even now 42believe I had better not write, but unless I do your Excelency may think it too Great Condesention to inquire after the Cottagers, at Plimouth.

You have spent a week at Boston, and what think you of affairs now. I dare say you have Collected many Curious annecdotes, and have had opportunities of observing much on the Manners, petition,1 inclinations and Adulation of the times.

We have scarcly heard from the Capital since we left it, and so totally secluded is this place from any thing that passes in the rest of the World, that only one Common News paper has found Its way hither since we were at your house. Yet I have more than a Ballance for all the Amusements the City or the Court can give, when my best Friend is my Companion, my Children are well, and Domestic peace reigns under my Roof.

Have you found an opportunity to forward my letter to my son, and do you hear any thing to be Communicated from yours or their Good father.

I forgot to ask when at Braintree why you was so solicitous when at Plimouth for the Copy of a letter to my son on his reading of Chesterfeild. Whither Mrs. Adams had made any use of it, and what, and if she had done with it to return the Manuscript.2

Tomorrow is a sort of Festival in this town.3 I Wish you and yours and some other Choice Friends were hear to make it truly so.

A thousand Reflections might occupy the Mind on this occasion, and then I beleive I must keep them and hasten to shut my Eyes, least I should not be able to read your Epistles which I soon Expect.

Love to My Dear Naby from your assured & affectionate friend, M Warren

A Word or two on Trade and Commerce. Have not sold a single Article nor Can. The town is full of Hank achiefs. 4 Your price is too high. They are dull at a Doller. But shall not sell so without your order. I will send the Apron by Mr. Warren. You need not send the silk till I Call for it. Perhaps I may prefer the taking some other article in Lieu therof.

What did my Freind do with a billet Left to her care for my sister. She never Recevd it.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Abigail Adams Foot of Pens hill Braintree Favd. by Mr. Green.”


Word partly covered by seal.


Mercy Warren's epistolary essay on Lord Chesterfield's letters to his natural son, 24 Dec. 1779, a copy of which re-mains among the Adams Papers. See AA to Mrs. Warren, 28 Feb. and 1 Sept., 43both in vol. 3 above, and, for the publication of the essay in a Boston newspaper, AA to Nathaniel Willis?, ante 4 Jan. 1781, below.


The earliest American annual patriotic “Festival,” Forefathers' Day was celebrated at Plymouth on 22 Dec., beginning in 1769 under the convivial sponsorship of the Old Colony Club. (The Club had a short life, but its role as sponsor was later taken over by the Pilgrim Society.) The date chosen was supposed to be the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims at “Forefathers' Rock” (later called Plymouth Rock), given by William Bradford in his History as 11 Dec. 1620. Forgetting, or not knowing, that the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars in the 17th century was ten rather than eleven days as in the 18th century, the promoters of the celebration made an error of a day (it should have been the 21st), which later occasioned a warm dispute among antiquarians. The records of the Old Colony Club, 1769–1773, are printed in MHS, Procs. , 2d ser., 3 [1886–1887]:382–444. For the dispute over the date, in which JQA found himself somewhat ludicrously involved, see same, vol. 20 [1906–1907]:237–238.


MS torn.

Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams, 21 December 1780 Waterhouse, Benjamin JA Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams, 21 December 1780 Waterhouse, Benjamin Adams, John
Benjamin Waterhouse to John Adams
Respected Sir Leyden 21st. Decemr. 1780

I have the satisfaction of informing you that Mr. Thaxter and your Sons are now settled in their lodgings in the same house with me. I could wish the rooms were better as well as larger, but they think they answer very well, and seem well pleased with their situation. Tomorrow we are to converse with the teacher of Latin and Greek, and to make our terms &c. with him, this person teaches the Sons of the Griffier Fagell 1 and gives great satisfaction. I imagine your eldest must attend him a while before he attends the public lectures on the greek, the master however can judge of that when he examines him. The Christmas vacancy commences this day, but that makes no difference with these private-teachers. I think with Mr. Thaxter and several others that Charles is too young to attend any of the publick lectures yet. The Lectures on Grotius and the Law of nature are what I imagine you wish them to attend, one is given in the forenoon, the other in the afternoon by the same Professor. I am in hopes by Monday next we shall get fairly under:way. The gentlemen came into their lodgings but last night, and to day have been visited by all those gentlemen who call themselves the english-Society only because they speak our languague. The English-clergyman2 came to see us this morning and to tell us how glad he was to have this addition to his little flock. Tomorrow we are invited to Mr. Luzac's,3 and that finishes our visits. I had sent me a day or two since a number of questions concerning this University, they were written at Boston, or Jamaica-plains by I guess Mr. G.4 I have answered them as well as I could and sent them to the gentleman who transmitted them to me, they were dated No-44vember 4th 1780. The history of this University is I find almost too intricate for a stranger to unravell.

I believe Mr. John reather wishes me to propose to you his learning to ride. I can only say I would not have missed those few lessons I have had for ten times the sum they cost me besides the advantages resulting from the exercise, and the company we generally find there; Mr. Luzac and his brother ride twice a week with us, more for exercise than instruction. We pay, for the first 16. Lessons 30. guilders: for every 16. after 20 Guilders; and generally take three lessons a week. I imagine Mr. Thaxter from what he already sees thinks they three can live here for the sum, that it would cost for one at Amsterdam, that may however not be, yet I am confident a person can live here for half the sum he pays at Amsterdam provided he lives and takes his rooms as a student.

Mr. Luzac desires his compliments to you. I am with great respect your friend & Countryman, Benjn. Waterhouse

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Son Excellence Monsieur Adams Ministre Plenipotentiare des Etats Unis de l'Amerique Chez Monsieur Henry Schorn a Amsterdam”; postal marking, stamped(?) in script characters: “Leyden”; endorsed: “Dr. Waterhouse Decr. 21. Leyden,” to which CFA added “1780.”


Hendrik Fagel (1706–1790), griffier (secretary or “graphiary”) of the States General, a leading figure in the Dutch government and at the court of the Stadholder ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 3:390–391). JA was to have important relations with him, not always of the pleasantest sort because Fagel was a strong adherent of the House of Orange and hence of the pro-English party in the Netherlands; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:1, 5, and passim.


William Mitchell; see note 3 on JQA to JA, this date, above.


Jean Luzac (1746–1807), legal and classical scholar, later rector magnificus of the University of Leyden, and for many years editor of Nouvelles extraordinaires de divers endroits, better known as the Gazette de Leyde, a Dutch newspaper with an international circulation. An apostle of the Enlightenment and a deeply interested observer of events in America, Luzac was one of JA's first and firmest friends in the Netherlands, and their friendship long survived JA's mission there. See Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 1:1290–1294; JA, Diary and Autobiography , vols. 2–3 passim. There is extensive correspondence of both JA and JQA with Luzac in the Adams Papers.


Presumably Rev. William Gordon of Jamaica Plain near Boston, on whom see the editorial note and references at 1:229–230.