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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


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Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0194

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-12-16

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Last night We all arrived in this Place from Ferrol. The Distance is about twenty miles by Land over high Mountains and bad Roads. You would have been diverted to have seen Us all mounted upon our Mules and marching in Train. From the Mountains We had all along the Prospect of a rich fertile Country, cultivated up to the Tops of the highest Hills and down to the very edge of Water all along the shore.
I made my Visits last night to the Governor of the Province, who resides here and to the Governor of the Town, and was politely received by both.1 I have a long Journey before me of a thousand miles I suppose at least to Paris. Through this Kingdom We shall have bad roads and worse Accommodations, I dont expect to be able to get to Paris in less than thirty days. I shall have an Opportunity of seeing Spain, but it will be at a great Expence. I am advised by every Body to go by Land. The Frigate the Sensible is in so bad Condition as to make it probable she will not be fit to put to Sea in less than three or four Weeks perhaps five or six, and then We should have the storms and Enemies of the Bay of Biscay, to escape, or encounter.
After this wandering Way of Life is passed I hope to return, to my best friend and pass the Remainder of our Days in Quiet.
I cannot learn that G[reat] B[ritain] is yet in Temper to listen to Propositions of Peace, and I dont expect before another Winter to have much to do in my present Capacity.
My tenderest affection to our dear Children, and believe me, ever yours,
[signed] John Adams
1. The governor of Galicia was Don Pedro Martín Cermeño (or Sermeño); see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:409–410, 412. A reproduction of the { 253 } passport he issued to JA and his suite on 18 Dec. will be found in same, facing p. 290. The name of the governor or mayor of La Coruña is given by JA as Patricio O Heir, i.e. O'Hare or O'Hara? (same, p. 412).
The Adamses stayed in La Coruña until the day after Christmas. A “mémoire” of their expenses at an auberge called the Hôtel du Grand Amiral, kept by M. LeBrun, is reproduced in same, facing p. 291.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0195

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-12-16

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

This Afternoon I visited one of the Churches in this place; and casting my Eyes into one Corner of it I spy'd one of the Monks of the Franciscan Order, laid out in a Case, with his Robes on, his Head reclined upon a Pillar,1 his Hands and Fingers embracing each other, and between his Thumbs a Cross. Around the Corpse was eight Candles, four of their largest Sort and four of the common. There was a perfect Blaze around this cold Lump. How long he is to be continued in this Posture, and how he is to be disposed of I should be very happy to be resolved in. This is the Custom of the Country; and it may be a very wise one.
The Churches are cold, damp, dull, gloomy and dark places. They are built of Stone. Their Exterior is very indifferent: but the Altars are superb and magnificent; being richly gilded and decorated. They are always kept open, and there are always more or less of the Devotees there. There is an awful Solemnity in them. The very appearance of the Sculpture and Architecture, the Temperature of the Air, indeed every thing is dismal. The Remains of the Franciscan increased the Gloom and deepened the Horror. You see Crosses wherever you turn your Eyes. They are upon the Roads over the Mountains and in the Valleys. We saw many of them Yesterday in our pilgrimage to this place.
The Charms of My little Friend Charley attract the Attention of every Body. Even his white Locks procure him Notice. He is very well and Master Johnny too. As to the surprizing Genius you mentioned to me—what shall I say of him? Why that I am disappointed egregiously. I see no Originality about him. We are often entertained with his weighty Opinion and Judgment upon Matters. He is very prompt to give his Opinion. He is vain—he is rude—he is impudent. He is troublesome to the last Degree. He tries (I speak Individually) my patience, he has almost battered it down; and at a Time too when every Prop of it ought to be supported. In one Word—he has not the best of Heads, nor the worst of Hearts. He can neither boast of any { 254 } Excellencies of the former, and but few Virtues of the latter. But this by the Bye. Charles has given him some severe Rubs this Evening. I cant deny, that I enjoyed them.2 It is now after one Clock and you will excuse any thing further at present. My Love to Miss Nabby and bid her good By for me if you please, as She was absent when I left B[raintree].
My Love to little Tommy. I will send him a Letter soon.

[salute] With every Sentiment of Respect and Esteem, I have the honor to be your much obliged and most obedt. Servant,

[signed] J.T.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams.”
1. Presumably a New Englandism for “pillow.”
2. The only members of the party to whom these strictures could have been applied by Thaxter would seem to be the boy Samuel Cooper Johonnot and Francis Dana's German servant, J. W. C. Fricke. The difficulty is that there is no evidence that AA knew either of them and thus could have represented either one as “a surprizing Genius.”