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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


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Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0280

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-07-14

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

Your favour of June 13th.1 reached me this Morning. I will endeavour to write intelligibly in answer;—but, alas! I have already fallen into my old track, and must give a note of explanation before I pro• { 374 } ceed further. N.B. The above underscoring means that I love flattery and a flatterer; nay, more, tho it may seem contradictory to the first part of my nota bene, it means that I love Saucyness and a Saucy-box. I think that I have done away all the “enigmatical” part of the word as it respected one particular epistle, and was not written in that honest sense in which I generally make use of it to mark whatever comes to me from the pen of Portia.
I will endeavour to accomplish speedily what you wish in regard to the Balance of long standing in favour of Mr. A.
You will find from the inclosed Gazette the Substance of 3 of Mr. A's Letters received the 10th. of this month. There was another very long one of Apr. 3d. but it contained only what had been before published here respecting the Affairs of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.2—As to what I promised about his former Letters, you afterwards appeared to have had the substance of them so far as related to his travails; and I judged you also got by the Marquis a Knowledge of Mr. A's Situation in France. I will, notwithstanding, catch the Leisure to see whether I can send you any Novelty from them. <Your mention of one of my Letters without date, and at the same time reminding me of such a promise in a late Letter confounds me because I find yours of May 24th. endorsed “recd. June 12—answered 13th.” Mr. A's Letters were read 15 of May.> 3 I have had a good Opportunity of sending to Mr. A. this morning by Mr. Searle a Member of Congress for Pennsylvania and shall in a few days have another by Mr. Laurens, late President. I have forwarded a Commission to him to execute what was entrusted to Mr. L. as to a Loan in Holland4—and another Commission which he is to deliver to Mr. D[ana] for the same Purpose in case of his own Inability upon any Score. The Business was too critical to risque upon Mr. L's safe Passage. The Commissions are only provisory till he or another arrives. Mr. A.s Embassy was considered as too important to be absolutely broken in upon by a decisive order from hence. He signified to me his Readiness to undertake any Thing of public Utility to fill up those Hours of Leisure which british Backwardness towards a Treaty of Pacification might give him.
I think I sent you on the 13th the Orders to Doctr. F[ranklin] to pay Mr. A. and D. their Salaries.
I am called off. I care not what Comments you make upon my general Style and manner if you will only own to me that you do not think me enigmatical when I profess myself Madam, Affectionately your Friend and Servt.,
[signed] JL
{ 375 }
RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed “Gazette” not found.
1. Doubtless her letter drafted and dated 11 June and printed above under that date.
2. Four letters from JA were read in Congress on 10 July; one was dated 3 April, and three were dated 4 April ( JCC , 17:595)||; see JA to the President of Congress, Nos. 34, 35, and 36, all 4 April||. All are present in PCC, No. 84, I, and, as letterbook copies, in the Adams Papers.
3. No fewer than eight letters from JA , dating from 15 Feb. through 4 March, were read in Congress on 15 May ( JCC , 17:428). All are present in PCC, No. 84, I, and, as letterbook copies, in the Adams Papers.
4. James Searle (1733–1797) held a commission for the State of Pennsylvania to borrow £200,000 in Europe and to lay part of it out in military stores in the current fiscal and supply crisis both in that state and in the Continental Army. He sailed in mid-July and arrived in Paris before mid-September, bringing letters of introduction to JA , together with his “provisory” commission and instructions to act for Henry Laurens in negotiating a loan in the Netherlands pending the arrival of Laurens himself. On Searle and his mission see DAB ; Biog. Dir. Cong. ; and especially Mildred E. Lombard, “James Searle: Radical Business Man of the Revolution,” PMHB , 59:284–294 (July 1935). JA 's “new Orders,” voted by Congress on 20 June, are printed in JCC , 17:534–537; they were enclosed in a letter from James Lovell and William Churchill Houston (for the Committee of Foreign Affairs) to JA , 11 July (Adams Papers; text of letter only in JA, Works , 7:217). Searle received little encouragement for his mission from Franklin in Paris and soon followed JA to Amsterdam; see Thaxter to JA , 17 Sept., and JA to Thaxter, 23 Sept.; both below.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0281

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-07-16

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I had just retired to my Chamber and taken up my pen to congratulate you upon the arrival of the Fleet of our Allies at Newport,1 when I was call'd down to receive the most agreable of presents—Letters from my dearest Friend—one Bearing date March 28 by Mr. Izard and one of May 3d, taken out of the post office, but to what port they arrived first I know not. They could not be those by the Fleet, as in these you make mention of Letters which I have not yet received, nor by the Alliance since Mr. Williams sailed 25 days after the Fleet, and she was then in France. A pitty I think that she should stay there when here we are almost destitute, our Navy has been unfortunate indeed!
Am sorry to find that only a few lines have reached you from me. I have written by way of Spain, Holland and Sweden, but not one single direct conveyance have I had to France since you left me. I determine to open a communication by way of Guardoca.2 I wish you would make use of the same conveyance.
This with some others will go Direct to you, by the Mars, Capt. Sampson commander, a state vessel. She will return in the Fall, by her should be glad you would order all the Articles I have written for { 376 } by Mr. Guile, or any other way. So few opportunities offer that my list will contain more articles than I should otherways mention.
What shall I say of our political affairs. Shall I exclaim at measures, now impossible to remedy? No I will hope all from the generous aid of our allies in concert with our own exertions. I am not suddenly elated or depressed. I know America capable of any thing she undertakes with spirit and vigour, “Brave in distress, serene in conquest, drowsy when at rest, is her true characteristick.”3 Yet I deprecate a failure in our present Efforts. The Efforts are great, and we give this Campaign more than half our property to defend the other. He who tarries from the Feild cannot possibly earn sufficient at Home, to reward him who takes it. Yet should Heaven bless our endeavours and Crown this year with the blessings of peace, no exertion will be thought too great, no price of property too dear.
My whole Soul is absorpt in the Idea. The Honour of my dearest Friend, the welfare and happiness of this wide extended Country, ages yet unborn, depend for their happiness and security, upon the able and skillfull, the Honest and upright Discharge of the important trust committed to him. It would not become me to write the full flow of my Heart upon this occasion. My constant petition for him is, that he may so discharge the trust reposed in him, as to merrit the approveing Eye of Heaven, and Peace, Liberty and Safety crown his latest years in his own Native Land.
The Marchioness at the Abbe Reynald is not the only Lady who joins an Aproveing voice to that of her Country, tho at the expence of her present domestick happiness. It is easier to admire virtue, than to practise it, especially the great virtue of self denial. I find but few sympathizing souls. Why should I look for them? since few have any souls but of the sensitive kind. That nearest Allied to my own they have taken from me, and tell me Honour and Fame are a compensation.

“Fame, wealth or Honour—what are ye to Love?”

But hushd be my pen. Let me cast my Eye upon the Letters before me. What is the example? I follow it in silence.
I have repeated to you in former Letters that I had received all your Letters from Spain, unless you wrote by Capt. Trash, who brought me some articles, but no Letters. In a former Letter I wrote you an account of the death of Sister A[dam]s and that she left a poor Babe only 5 days old—a distressd flock of little ones besides. My Father desires to be rememberd to you, but will I fear never again { 377 } see you. He declines daily, has a slow fever hanging about him, which wastes his flesh and spirits. These are tender ties, and how far so ever advanced in life, the affectionate child feels loth to part with the Guide of youth, the kind adviser of riper years, yet the pillows4 must Moulder with time and the fabrick fall to the dust.
Present my complements to Mr. D[an]a. Tell him I have calld upon his Lady, and we enjoyed an afternoon of sweet communion. I find she would not be averse to takeing a voyage should he be continued abroad. She groans most bitterly, and is Irreconcilable to his absence. I am a mere philosopher to her. I am inured, but not hardned to the painfull portion. Shall I live to see it otherways?
Your Letters are always valuable to me, but more particularly so, when they close with an affectionate assurence of regard, which tho I do not doubt, is never repeated without exciteing the tenderest sentiments—and never omitted without pain to the affectionate Bosom of
[signed] Your Portia
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia Letters.—5. 16: 24. July,” to which was later added in CFA 's hand: “1780.”
1. Admiral de Ternay's fleet of about a dozen fighting ships had sailed from Brest on 2 May and arrived at Newport, R.I., 12 July, convoying the transports of Rochambeau's army of some 6,000 men.
2. Gardoqui & Son, merchants at Bilbao in Spain.
3. Another quotation from Paine's “American Crisis, No. IX,” as reprinted in the Continental Journal, 29 June 1780, p. 2, col. 2.
4. That is, pillars. The words seem to have been used more or less interchangeably in New England dialect; see Thaxter to AA , 16 Dec. 1779, above.