A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0257

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-05-12

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

On the 10th. of this Month I had the pleasure of recieving Letters { 340 } from Hingham dated in February, which informed me of the Health of all Friends at both my dear Homes. They contain the first News I have recieved of the Kind. They gave me Relief from a Burden of Anxiety I had been under respecting the Severity of the Winter there.
I have also Letters from Braintree, which inform me, that a Marriage (that most honorable and most happy of States on this Side that great Society above) is on foot between Miss B[etsy] P[a]l[me]r and Mr. N. Cranch.1 I rejoice with the most unfeigned Sincerity in the Information. But there is a Circumstance accompanying this Hint, which is not more novel than extraordinary. It is this—that this is the fruit and Result of ten Years Courtship, Love, &c. Ten Years—ten years!! It is a long Time indeed. I fell into a Soliloquy upon reading it: but it was a short and pleasing one. I am too well acquainted, with the Intrigues and Finesse of some Characters, to hesitate one Moment in judging of the End and Object of giving to this Transaction so early a date. A Concurrence of Hints and Circumstances previous to my departure, tho' artfully enveloped, and hidden in the Shades of Intrigue, did not escape my Observation. This last Circumstance of ten Years, this pure vestal flame of Love of ten Years Duration and Growth is a master piece of Policy, and is fraught with this twofold Advantage, that as it does honor to their Invention, so it acquits me indirectly if not immediately, of all Culpability, even if my Conduct had been subject to Reprehension, which I absolutely deny. But I forbear any further Animadversions—they may have the Air of Vanity, perhaps of Truth. You will judge charitably and candidly, who are acquaintainted with the Rise, Progress, different Stages, forms and Appearances as well as Conclusion of this Matter so far as it respects me personally. It is no small Happiness to me to stand acquitted of any fault in this affair, by so respectable a Friend and Character as You Madam. Injurious Imputations would have fallen upon me, if You had not interposed. Happy am I in so able and so worthy an Advocate, but still more happy in a Consciousness of my entire Innocence.
Je vous prie, Madame, que vous voulez me faites de l'honneur presenter mes Respects a Madame C[ranch] et souhaiter Madame C. beaucoup de joie en mon parti, if She is married.—You will pardon, Madam, my writing thus freely to You on this Subject. Tis from a Conviction of your full Acquaintance of all the Circumstances in which I am in any Way connected. I could wish to talk one hour—and to write three—but the least said is best.
Give me leave to intreat You, Madam, not to let any Eye run over this Scroll but yours—not even Miss Nabby's, who from her very inti• { 341 } mate Connection with Miss B.P. or Mrs. Cranch that it is now possibly, may mention these Observations to her; tho' perhaps with no Intention to injure me, yet it may have a contrary Effect, and it would give me pain to be the Occasion of ill will. You will oblige me much if You will be so good as to commit it to flames.
P.S. Tho' my Head and Heart have been for many years running upon Courtship and Matrimony, and more especially since the ten Years Affair, I had like to have forgot to enquire after the Weymouth Match. I wish it more success than I did another made there in the same House.2 Much Joy if married. What a miserable, forlorn Wretch I am, who have been fixed as Fate in my Affection and Choice for a long while, should be condemned to find the Grapes sour all my Life, whilst all my Cotemparies are settling down in Life in the most respectable and happy Connections. But so it is. But this is wild Talk, and perhaps there is more advanced than can be proved. I know not how it is. However no Body is the wiser or better for my affection, for nobody knows it but myself, and perhaps not even myself. I will rattle no longer. There is Jargon and Contradiction enough indeed in so few Lines.

[salute] I am very respectfully your most obedient Servant,

[signed] J.T.
1. See, however, Richard Cranch's letter to JA of 26 April, above, in which Nathaniel Cranch's sudden death is reported. The hints in Thaxter's “Observations” that follow are too cryptic for interpretation, although their general drift suggests that he had at one time considered himself, or been considered by others, a suitor for Betsy Palmer.
2. The editors have not identified the persons concerned in these two Weymouth matches.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0258

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-05-12

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Portia

The inclosed Dialogue in the Shades was written by Mr. Edmund Jennings now residing at Brussells, a Native of Maryland. I will send you the Rest when I can get it.2
How I lament the Loss of my Packets by Austin! There were I suppose Letters from Congress of great Importance to me. I know not what I shall do without them. I suppose there was Authority to draw &c. Mr. T[haxter]'s Letter from his father, hints that Mr. L.3 is coming here. This will be excellent.
Since my Arrival this time I have driven about Paris, more than I { 342 } did before. The rural Scenes around this Town are charming. The public Walks, Gardens, &c. are extreamly beautifull. The Gardens of the Palais Royal, the Gardens of the Tuilleries, are very fine. The Place de Louis 15, the Place Vendome or Place de Louis 14, the Place victoire, the Place royal, are fine Squares, ornamented with very magnificent statues. I wish I had time to describe these objects to you in a manner, that I should have done, 25 Years ago, but my Head is too full of Schemes and my Heart of Anxiety to use Expressions borrowed from you know whom.
To take a Walk in the Gardens of the Palace of the Tuilleries, and describe the Statues there, all in marble, in which the ancient Divinities and Heroes are represented with exquisite Art, would be a very pleasant Amusement, and instructive Entertainment, improving in History, Mythology, Poetry, as well as in Statuary. Another Walk in the Gardens of Versailles, would be usefull and agreable.—But to observe these Objects with Taste and describe them so as to be understood, would require more time and thought than I can possibly Spare. It is not indeed the fine Arts, which our Country requires. The Usefull, the mechanic Arts, are those which We have occasion for in a young Country, as yet simple and not far advanced in Luxury, altho perhaps much too far for her Age and Character.
I could fill Volumes with Descriptions of Temples and Palaces, Paintings, Sculptures, Tapestry, Porcelaine, &c. &c. &c.—if I could have time. But I could not do this without neglecting my duty.—The Science of Government it is my Duty to study, more than all other Sciences: the Art of Legislation and Administration and Negotiation, ought to take Place, indeed to exclude in a manner all other Arts.—I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.4

[salute] Adieu.

RC (Adams Papers). For the enclosed newspaper piece by Edmund Jenings, which has not been found, see note 2.
1. It is difficult to date this letter with precision but not at all difficult to date it within a day or two of its composition. It must have been written after JA 's letter to AA of 12 May, above, which reported the capture of Jonathan Loring Austin and the loss of the letters he was bringing JA from America—a loss plaintively mentioned again in the present letter. It was very probably written before JA 's letter to AA of 15 May, below, because it mentions incidents that occurred { 343 } earlier in May, for example JA 's receipt of Jenings' “Dialogue” (see the following note) and Thaxter's receipt of letters from Hingham, which Thaxter's letter to AA of 12 May, preceding, states he received on the 10th.
2. The editors have not seen this political piece. The “first part” was sent by its author, Edmund Jenings (1731–1819), to JA on 2 May (letter in Adams Papers, enclosure missing) as printed in a recent but unidentified London newspaper; it was warmly acknowledged in JA 's reply of 6 May ( LbC , Adams Papers). In a dispatch dated 27 May, JA told President Huntington: “Among the English Papers, which I enclose to Congress, will be found a Dialogue in the Shades between the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Chatham and Mr. Charles York—it was written by Edmund Jennings Esqr. of Maryland, now residing at Brussells, a Gentleman of Merit” (PCC, No. 84, II, without the newspaper in question; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 3:735).
As for Jenings, a Marylander long resident in London who played an obscure but interesting and controversial part in the international intrigues of the day, see a biographical note in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:355–356, and numerous mentions of him in that work.
3. Henry Laurens?
4. For an attempt to put the foregoing celebrated passage in the context of JA 's general view of the fine arts, see the Foreword to Oliver, Portraits of JA and AA , p. xii–xvi. See also the Introduction to the present volume.