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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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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.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0067

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-04-16

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

It Seems as if Providence had ordered many Things for the last Months, in Such a manner as to put my Patience and Resignation to the Tryal. I dont know whether Jobs Tryals were more Severe. 1. Mr. John who was to have been at the Hague by Christmas has been detained at Stockholm, Copenhagen and Hamborough at which last Place he was on the 4. of this month, you may imagine my Anxiety about him. 2. Your Letters concerning Miss N. have given me as much Concern as they ought—not knowing the Character2 nor what to advise, but feeling all a Fathers Tenderness, longing to be at home that I might enquire and consider and take the Care I ought. 3. The Uncertain State of Things in England, leaving me idle, with nothing to do but Think of my Situation. 4. The Want of Intelligence from America, in Answer to the most important Dispatches both to the public and to me which ever crossed the seas, not one Word yet. 5. Standing here in Relation with two Personages at least in whom I can have no Confidence.3 Mr. Jay has been my only Consolation. In him I have found a Friend to his Country, without Alloy. I shall never forget him, nor cease to love him, while I live. He has been happier than I, having his Family with him, no Anxiety for his Children, and his Lady with him, to keep Up his Spirits. His Happiness in this particular, has made me more unhappy for what I know under the Seperation from mine.
In answer to one of your Letters,4 I assure you that all the Money { 125 } I advanced to the Prisoners in England was out of my own Pocket. I had at that time no Public Money in my Power. So that it may be paid to you if it is ever paid at all.
I am afraid that all the Money you have laid out in Vermont Lands is lost.5 You can ill afford it, I assure you. You are destined to be poor in your old Age, and therefore the more perfectly you reconcile your self to the Thought of it the better. Your Children have no Resource but in their own Labour. They will have this Advantage, they may labour a little for themselves, more than their Father could ever do, without betraying Trusts which it was his duty to Accept.

[salute] Adieu my dearest Frd Adieu.

1. No evidence survives to suggest whether this letter or the one immediately following was composed first.
2. Royall Tyler.
3. Probably Benjamin Franklin and either Henry Laurens or the Comte de Vergennes.
4. That of 25 Oct. 1782, above; see note 8.
5. The editors are unaware of any information JA had in 1783 that AA 's Vermont investment was unsound, although he was cool toward the idea from his first knowledge of it. See JA to AA , 12 Oct. 1782, note 6, above.