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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0065

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-04-11

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

There is at length a Ministry in England composed of Kings Friends and Peoples Men, which will effervesce, and throw out a great deal of fixed Air1 like Potash and Lime Juice. Mr. Laurens and Mr. Hartley2 are to be here in a few days to enter upon the definitive Treaty, but it is now probable there will be a Congress under the Mediation of the two imperial Courts at least respecting the Terms between England and Holland. Whether it will be expected that We should join in the Congress or not, I dont know.3 In any Case I am afraid it will be So long before our Affair is finished that I shall loose the Opportunity of a Spring or Summer Passage home, and a fall Passage is not so Short nor so agreable.
I have ballanced in my own mind, a long time, whether I Should take a Short Excursion to London before my Return. I Should be glad, once, to see that fine Country, but I believe I shall deny myself that Pleasure; Circumstances have placed me in an awkward Situation with regard to England, and I think upon the whole it will be most prudent to avoid it. England is in danger of being a Scaene of Confusion, and whoever shall be Sent there by Congress will not have a very pleasant Residence if he does his Duty. Yet it is in the Eyes of many, the Apple of Paradise. I See Such Symptoms of an { 122 } ardent desire of it, in Several Persons, as make me Smile very often. I wish the Commission which was once given to me and So unaccountably taken away again, had never existed. In that Case I Should never have interfered with the Appetite of any one. And I wish I was now at home, out of the Scramble. I Should not feel very reverential under Such an indignity, Such a Mark of Contempt as the Appointment of another to that Court, while I am in Europe. If I ever merited the Appointment, I have done nothing Since to forfeit it, but on the Contrary have rendered to the Publick Since that time, Such Services as were never rendered by any other Minister in Europe. The most critical, important and decisive Services, as it is in my Power at any time to prove, if Congress have not already Sufficient Proofs of it. The French Minister<s>, who procured the Revocation of my Commission, <are> is now I believe Sorry enough for it. They now see a danger of its falling into hands which they dislike and distrust more than mine, into the Hands of Gentlemen who have passed a great Part of their Lives in England, have numerous Family Connections there as well as other Friendships and Acquaintances. I have fretted and laughed, very sufficiently at the “petite Ruse,” which deprived me of the Feather, but I know it to be a Feather and I will still laugh at it, what ever becomes of it. It Seems as if, We were never to hear from America more. Not one Word, any more than if the Antlantic Islands were again Sunk, as they are fabled to have once sunk and rose again.
My dear Nabbys Felicity is near very near my Heart. I must resign her to your Prudence and the Advice of your Friends. If Coffin is arrived he carried a Present for her.4 I wish I could do more for her, but I cannot, at present.
I am again obliged to have recourse to a Saddle horse. Mr. Jay and I trot about the Environs of Paris, and Speculate about a distant Country where our hearts are. I have been in the former Part of Life so accustomed to riding, that it is become necessary to me. I attribute my Fever, in Part to a too long neglect of this Exercise. Whether I shall ever get rid of the Effects of that Fever I dont know. A Voyage home, a little Repose and rural Exercises may cure me, but I fear a European Life will never do it. My Boys I hope are good. They know not how tenderly they are beloved by their Father.
[signed] J. Adams
1. Carbon dioxide ( OED ).
2. After Shelburne's fall from power, Britain's new foreign secretary Charles James Fox, replaced Peace Commissioner Richard Oswald with David Hartley (Morris, Peacemakers , p. 426–427).
{ 123 }
3. On 8 Aug., commissioners for Britain, France, Spain and Holland, under the nominal mediation of representatives of the imperial courts of Austria and Russia, met in Paris to settle their final terms for peace. The Americans were not formally invited, but they had signaled their desire not to be involved with the mediators. Britain and Holland only agreed upon preliminary articles of peace on 2 Sept., the day before Britain and the United States signed their definitive peace treaty, and they did not conclude a definitive treaty until May 1784. See Morris, Peacemakers , p. 428, 434; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:100–101, note 2.
4. Dutch cloth, described in JA to AA , 12 Oct., and Charles Storer to AA , 17 Oct. 1782, both above.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0066

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1783-04-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

[salute] My dear daughter

By this time, I hope, your inclination to travel has abated, and the prospect of peace has made you more contented with your native country. You little know the difficulties of a voyage to Europe, even in time of profound peace. The elements are as unstable in peace as in war, and a sea life is never at first agreeable, nor ever without danger. In foreign countries few persons preserve their health; the difference of climate, of air, of manner of life, seldom fail to occasion revolutions in the constitution and produce disorders, very often violent, dangerous and fatal ones. Those who escape have a seasoning. Besides, the polite life in Europe is such an insipid round of head-dressing and play, as I hope will never be agreeable to you—or rather I hope you will detest it as beneath the character of a rational being, and inconsistent with the indispensable duties of life, those of a daughter, wife, or mother, and even those of a sister, friend, or neighbour.
Policy, which is but another word for imposture in these countries, encourages every species of frivolity and dissipation on purpose to divert people from reading and thinking. But in our country every encouragement ought to be given to reading and thinking, and, therefore, diversions should be very sparingly indulged.
You are now of an age, my dear, to think of your future prospects in life, and your disposition is more thoughtful and discreet than is common. I need not advise you to distinguish between virtues and amusements, between talents and fancy.
Your country is young, and advancing with more rapid strides than any people ever took before. She will have occasion for great abilities and virtues to conduct her affairs with wisdom and success. Your sex must preserve their virtue and discretion, or their brothers, husbands, and sons will soon lose theirs. The morals of our country are a sacred { 124 } deposit, and let every youth, of either sex, beware that no part of the guilt of betraying it belongs to him.
Look not for fortune, honours, or amusements, these are all but trash. Look for the virtues of good citizens and good men; with these the others will do little good or no harm; without them they are nothing but vexation and a scourge.
I please myself with the fond hope of conversing with you soon at home. Your brother was at Hambourg on the 4th of April, but I hope is at the Hague by this time.1

[salute] Your affectionate father,

[signed] John Adams
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 2:22–24.)
1. JA had probably received the letters from Lagau, and from Parish & Thomson, both dated 4 April, at Hamburg (both Adams Papers), by this date, informing him that JQA was still in that city but would leave soon.