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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0063

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1773-07-16

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Madam

The kind reception I met with at your House, and the Hospitality with which you entertained me, demands my gratefull acknowledgment. By requesting a correspondence you have kindly given me an opportunity to thank you for the happy Hours I enjoyed whilst at your House. Thus imbolden'd I venture to stretch my pinions, and tho like the timorous Bird I fail in the attempt and tumble to the ground yet sure the Effort is laudable, nor will I suffer my pride, (which is greatly increased since my more intimate acquaintance with you) to debar me the pleasure, and improvement I promise myself from this correspondence tho I suffer by the comparison.
I Had a very Hot and unplesent ride the afternoon I left your House. I arrived at my own habitation on Monday, and found my family well. Since my return we have had several fine showers which have, I hope extended, as far as Eel river, and watered with their blessings every sod and plant belonging to my much valued Friends. Air, Sun, and Water, the common blessings of Heaven; we receive as our just due, and too seldom acknowledg our obligations to the Father of the rain; and the Gracious dispencer of every good and perfect gift, yet if but for a very little while these blessings are withheld, or spairingly dealt out to us, we then soon discover how weak, how little and how blind, we are.
When I was at Plymouth Madam you may remember I mentiond { 85 } Mrs. Seymore upon Education,1 and upon your expressing a desire to see it, I promised to send it you. I now take the earlyest opportunity to comply with your request. Not from an opinion that you stand in need of such an assistant, but that you may give me your Sentiments upon this Book, and tell me whether it corresponds with the plan you have prescribed to yourself and in which you have so happily succeeded. I am sensible I have an important trust committed to me; and tho I feel my self very uneaquel to it, tis still incumbent upon me to discharge it in the best manner I am capable of. I was really so well pleased with your little offspring, that I must beg the favour of you to communicate to me the happy Art of “rearing the tender thought, teaching the young Idea how to shoot, and pouring fresh instruction o'er the Mind.” May the Natural Benevolence of your Heart, prompt you to assist a young and almost inexperienced Mother in this Arduous Buisness, that the tender twigs alloted to my care, may be so cultivated as to do honour to their parents and prove blessing[s] to the riseing generation. When I saw the happy fruits of your attention in your well ordered family, I felt a Sort of Emulation glowing in my Bosom, to imitate the

“Parent who vast pleasure find's

In forming of her childrens minds

In midst of whom with vast delight

She passes many a winters Night

Mingles in every play to find

What Bias Nature gave the mind

Resolving thence to take her aim

To guide them to the realms of fame

And wisely make those realms the way

To those of everlasting day.

Each Boisterous passion to controul

And early Humanize the Soul

In simple tales beside the fire,

The noblest Notions to inspire.

Her offspring conscious of her care

Transported hang around her chair.”

I must beg your pardon for thus detaining you. I have so long neglected my pen that I am conscious I shall make but a poor figure. To your Friendship and candour I commit this, and would only add my regards to Coll. Warren from his and your obliged Friend & Humble Servant,
[signed] Abigail Adams
{ 86 }
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “Mrs. Adams No 1 July 1773.”
1. Juliana Seymour, On the Management and Education of Children: A Series of Letters Written to a Niece, London, 1754.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0064

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1773-07-25

Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dear Mrs. Adams

I shall pass over in silence the Complementary introduction to your Letter, not because these Expressions of Esteem are frequently words of Course without any other design but to Convey an Idea of politeness as the Characteristick of the person the most Lavish therein. But in you I Consider anything of the kind as the Natural result of a Friendly heart dispose'd to think well of all those who have not been Guilty of any remarkable instance of depravity to Create disgust.
It Gives me no small satisfaction to be assured by you that your Late Visit was agreable and sincerely Wish it may be in such a degree as to induce you to repeat what will always give me pleasure. I hope the intemperate heat of the season was not Detremental to the Health of Either of our Friends, for whom I was much concernd after you left us, and as the gentle showers of the afternoon Extended to the River, as you kindly wishd, so I hope they shed there benign influence over the mountains and Valleys of Scadden.1
I am obliged to you for the ingenious Mrs. Seymours treatise on Education, but am alarm'd at the Reasons you Give for sending it, and the demands you make in return. In the first place my oppinion of a work which I suppose is Generally admired I think is of very Little Consequence, and in the next you ask assistance and advice in the mighty task of cultivating the minds and planting the seeds of Virtue in the infant Bosom, from one who is yet looking abroad for Every foreign aid to Enable her to the discharge of a duty that is of the utmost importance to society though for a Number of Years it is almost wholly left to our uninstructed sex.
You ask if the sentiments of this Lady coincide with the Rules perscribed myself in the Regulation of my Little flock and to answer you ingeneously I must acknowledge I fall so far short of the Methods I heretofore Laid down as the Rule of my Conduct that I dispaire of Reaching those more perfect plans Exibited by superior Hands. Much less shall I presume to dictate to those who have had Equal advantages with myself and who I think Likly to make a much better improvment thereof. I shall Esteem it a happiness indeed if I can acquit myself of the important Charge (by providence devovled on Every Mother), to { 87 } the approbation of the judicious Observer of Life, but a much more noble pleasure is the Conscious satisfaction of having Exerted our utmost Efforts to rear the tender plant and Early impress the youthful mind, with such sentiments that if properly Cultivated when they go out of our hands they may become useful in their several departments on the present theatre of action, and happy forever when the immortal mind shall be introduced into more Enlarged and Glorious scenes.
But before I quit this subject I would ask if you do not think Generosity of sentiment as it is mention'd in the ninth Letter of the above treatise too Comprehensive a term to be given as the first principle to be impress'd on the infant mind. This temper doubtless includes many other Virtues but does it argue an invariable Attachment to truth. I have ever thought a careful Attention to fix a sacred regard to Veracity in the Bosom of Youth the surest Gaurd to Virtue, and the most powerful Barrier against the sallies of Vice through Every future period of Life. I cannot but think it is of much the most importance of any single principle in the Early Culture, for when it has taken deep root it usually produces not only Generosity of mind but a train of other Exelent qualities. And when I find a heart that will on no terms deviate from the Law of truth I do not much fear its Course will Ever Run very Eccentrick from the path of Rectitude, provided we can obtain any degree of that Childs Confidence: A point at which I think Every mother should aim.
If I am wrong I Call not only on you but on my Friend Mr. Adams to tell me wherin. And I think I have a Claim to his Oppinion as he has Given me a Daughter for whose instruction and improvment I wish for Every advantage to her preceptress.
Tell him that as I have heretofore been Exposed to his observation without my knowledge or Consent I am now Emboldend to write anything that occurs fearless of his penetrating Eye, but not from a Less opinion of his judgment or a greater of his Candour, but from that Confidence in his Friendship that secures me from Censure.

[salute] I subscribe with Great regard both his & your unfeigned Friend & Humble servant,

[signed] Mercy Warren
1. A local name, variously spelled, for what was then the South Precinct of Braintree and is now Randolph, Mass.