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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


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Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0185

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-12-10

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

I will not omit any opportunity of writing tho ever so great an uncertainty whether it will ever reach your Hand. My Unkle Smith has a vessel bound to Calis,1 he advises me to write, and I most willingly comply tho my Faith in the conveyance is but poor—indeed I have lost my Faith with my Spirits.
My Friends assure me from their observations that you must have had a good passage. God grant it I say, but my fears and anxieties are many—very many. I had a Faith and reliance before that supported me, but now my Heart so misgives me that I cannot find that confidence which I wish for. Your Letter from Cape Ann arrived and cheered my drooping Spirits. Could I hear of your safe arrival, I would try to compose my agitated mind which has horrours both day and night. My dear sons, Little do they know how many veins of their Mothers Heart bled when she parted from them. My delicate Charles, how has he endured the fatigues of his voyage? John is a hardy Sailor, seasoned before, I do not feel so much for him. Your fellow Travellers too I do not forget to think of them. I will not wish myself with you because you say a Lady cannot help being an odious creature at sea, { 243 } and I will not wish myself in any situation that should make me so to you.
Nothing new in the political way but the raising the Seige of Savannah, and being unfortunate.
You will have perticulars no doubt.
Our Friends are all well.
Enclosed are some papers and journals. Mr. Lawrance [Laurens] is appointed to Holland—has not yet given his answer.

[salute] Adieu—ever ever yours,

[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. Paris”; endorsed: “Portia Decr. 10. 1779 ans. 16. March.” For earlier acknowledgments, and for the (missing) enclosures, see note 1.
1. Thus in MS , probably for “Cadiz.” In his first letter to AA after arriving in Paris, JA reported finding the present letter, “which came by your Unkles ship to Cadiz,” awaiting him in Paris (12 Feb. 1780, below). A few days later he wrote her to say that the postage on the accompanying packet of Journals, &c., had cost him 44 livres, and advised against sending large packets (16 Feb. 1780, below). A month later he touched again on the main topic of her letter—her “tender Anxiety” for him (16 March 1780, below).

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0186

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-12-11

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

We have had an Escape again: but are arrived safely in Spain. As the Frigate will probably not get from this place these two Months, I must go by Land to Paris, which I suppose is a Journey of between three and four hundred Leagues. That part of it, which is in Spain is very mountainous. No Post—bad Roads—bad Taverns and very dear. We must ride Mules, Horses not being to be had. I must get some kind of Carriage for the Children, if possible. They are very well. Charles has sustained the Voyage and behaves as well as ever his Brother did. He is much pleased with what he sees. Sammy Cooper too is very well. These young Gentry will give me a vast deal of Trouble, in this unexpected Journey. I have bought a Dictionary and Grammar1 and they are learning the Spanish Language as fast as possible. What could We do, if You and all the family had been with me?
Ferrol is a magnificent Port and Harbour. It is fortified by Nature, by Rows of lofty rocky Mountains on each Side the narrow Entrance of it, and the public Works, the Fortifications, Barracks, Arsenals &c. which are of Stone very like Braintree Stone, exceed any thing I have seen.
I dined the day before Yesterday with Don Joseph Saint Vincent, { 244 } the Lieutenant General of the Marine, who is the Commandant in this Port, with four and twenty French and Spanish Officers. The Difference between Gravity and Gaiety was an amusing Speculation.
Yesterday I dined on Board the Triumphant, an Eighty Gun French Ship commanded by the Chef D'Escadre Mr. Sade, and have engagements for every day for a much longer Time than I shall stay.
The French Consul and Vice Consul have been particularly polite and obliging to me. In short I never was better pleased with a Reception at any place.2
There is no News. Nothing has been done in Europe. England is as insolent in Language as ever, but this is only ridiculous as it is apparently impotent. My Love to Nabby and Tommy. Adieu.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand, signed by JA (Adams Papers); addressed by Thaxter: “Mrs. John Adams Braintree near Boston”; docketed in an unidentified hand. LbC (Adams Papers).
1.
[El Ferrol, 14 Dec. 1779.] I went to a Bookseller and purchased Sobrino's Dictionary in three Volumes in Quarto, and the Grammatica Castellana which is an excellent Spanish Grammar, in their own Tongue, and also a Latin grammar in Spanish, after which Monsr. de Grasse made me a Present of a very handsome Grammar of the Spanish Tongue in French by Sobrino” (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:407–408).
The works by Francisco Sobrino survive at least in part among JA 's books in the Boston Public Library; see Catalogue of JA 's Library , which lists still other Spanish grammars and dictionaries acquired at this or other times.
2. On the persons and events mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:404–405. Both JQA in his Diary and Dana in his Journal of 1779–1780 (MHi) entered numerous details on the Adams party's first days in Spain not recorded by JA .