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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


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Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0233

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-03-15

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

On Monday Morning I had the Honor to go with his Excellency and Mr. D[ana] to breakfast with the celebrated Abbè Reynald,1 in Com• { 303 } pany with a large Collection of Nobility and Gentry of both Sexes. In opening upon this Company, (which was unexpected to poor me) I felt all that irksome Discomposure and painful Confusion, which so respectable an Assembly of Strangers could produce in one accustomed to humble Life and simple Manners. In this unhappy Predicament I made as respectful a Bow, as Nature, untutored in the Art of Conges, and Confusion would permit. It was a Devoir of Respect unaccompanied with Ease—the latter never was or can be an Accomplishment of mine. I was however soon relieved from this disagreeable Situation, by the Vivacity and repeated Salutations of the venerable Abbey. The Reciprocal Salutations between the Abbey and Ladies formed an Intercourse among them too partial to be highly pleasing to one, who for the first Time had the Mortification to see a Monopoly of Salutations. Who would not have wished to have possessed the pre-eminent Priviledge of being an Abbey? Who would not have readily become a Subject of so tender and pleasant an Administration as that of being saluted by so beautiful Ladies.—But I have done on this Head.
Not long after Breakfast the Abbey introduced to his Excellency a Countess or Marchioness, who had expressed a great desire to see the Man, who had taken so able a part in bringing about a Revolution, which She approv'd. The Beauty, the Softness, the Delicacy and the Ease of this Lady were striking. Do you approve of the Revolution says the Abbey? Yes answerd the Lady.—You therefore, subjoined the Abbey, approve of his Excellency.—Oui Monsieur, replied the Lady.—I thanked her silently and cordially for this Testimony to the Merit of the Man I love, esteem and respect, as I did many other Ladies, to whom the same Questions were put, and to which the same Answers were given. The Abbey observed that the Name of his Excellency would be respected for ever.—Yes, replied he, if the Abbey Reynald should insert the Name in his celebrated Works. This Compliment the Abbey felt most sensibly.
After passing an agreeable Morning at the Abbey's we went to Mr. Grand's where we dined and where I had the Honor of being introduced to Madam Grand and Mademoiselle Labhar her Niece. Madam Grand is a worthy and respectable Character. Mademoiselle her Niece, is a pretty young Lady, has great Vivacity, a fine blooming Countenance, and a fortune of £800 sterling [a] Year. She is a fine Girl.
The Seal that I have chosen for my Letters may appear curious.2 It is not an emblem of my past Life, nor do I think it emblematical of the future. The Motto is “bonne Moisson.” I was not born with a Silver Spoon in my Mouth, nor have I ever reapt Harvests, nor do I wish { 304 } to reap any, but two—viz., the one a decent and comfortable Subsistence, the other the Happiness, Comforts and Enjoyments of a tender Partner, with whom I may share in the pleasures of the first.
Your dear Sons dined with Us to day. They are in good Health, and live happily at the Pension.
My Respects, Duty and Compliments where due if you please.

[salute] I have the Honor to be, with the most perfect Esteem and Respect, your most obedient & very humble Servant.

1. Guillaume Thomas François, Abbé Raynal (1713–1796), author of one of the most popular works of the French Enlightenment, Histoire philosophique et politique des établissemens et du commerce des Européens dans les deux Indes, Amsterdam, 1770, which was frequently reissued and widely read in translation as well as in French (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ). For surviving copies of this and other works by Raynal owned by JA , see Catalogue of JA 's Library . JA 's first impressions of Raynal, highly favorable, are recorded in diary entries of Feb. 1779; see Diary and Autobiography , 2:344.
2. No example of this seal has as yet been found.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0234

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-03-16

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Portia

I have never answered your Letter of the 8th. of June,1 that I remember, and there is nothing in it that requires a particular Answer but it affects me, with a Pleasure and a Tenderness and an Anxiety and a Pain, that I cannot describe to you, as all your Letters ever did and ever will, that describe your own sentiments and your own Distresses as well as those of our Country. They are the Delight of my Soul.
Captain Bartlet, who is escaped from an English Prison, will carry this.2 He will dine with me today, with Captain Nathaniel Cutting,3 and another American, but are in such Haste and going off this Afternoon, so that I have no time to be particular only to say, that my fine Boys are well and behave well, which will give Joy to your Heart as it does to mine.
Remember me to your father and my Mother, to your two dear Pledges, and to all Friends. Thaxter learns french fast. He is very clever.
Captain Chevagne, who ceases not to sing the high Praises of Boston and Braintree, writes me his desire that I would present his Respects to you, and to tell you that he hopes one day to carry me back, to you.
{ 305 }
No News, since the Dismal Tales of Rodneys League with old Harry, for one would think nothing less would have given him so much Luck, but his Friend will leave him in the Lurch.
Pray give me, in all your Letters, the Price currant.
1. 8 June 1779, above; see note 6 there.
2. Probably Nicholas Bartlett Jr., master of the brigantine Favorite, who had been captured in April 1778 ( Mass. Soldiers and Sailors ).
3. Of Brookline, Mass., a ship captain who was long in the employ of Nathaniel Tracy of Newburyport and who, after a wandering life both by land and sea, was for many years to hold a minor post in the War Department in Washington, where he died about 1822 (Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd, 9:352; MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 12 [1871–1873]:60–67).