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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0141

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-10-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have had another Fever, which brought me low, but as it has carried off certain Pains and Lamenesses the Relicks of the Amsterdam Distemper, I am perswaded it will do me, much good.
I am going next Week to London, with my son. I may Stay Six Weeks, if nothing from Congress calls me away Sooner.2
I have only to repeat my earnest Request that you and our Daughter would come to me, as soon as possible. The Business that is marked out for Us, will detain me in Europe at least another Year, as I conjecture. You may take the Voyage and Satisfy your Curiosity and return with me. It is not very material, whether you arrive in Nantes, Amsterdam or London—the Distance from Paris is about the Same.
You, once wrote me that Mr. Allen had offered his Place for Sale. Pray what was his Price?3
I Suppose that Bills, upon Europe will now sell for Money or more than Money. If So draw upon me, for what you want, and your Bills shall be paid, upon Sight. I Sent you a little by Mr. Thaxter.
I have particular Reasons for wishing to own that Piece of Land where <> 4 Mr. Hancocks House stood and the Addition which has been made to it.5 If Coll. Quincy will Sell it, at any tollerable Price, and you can sell a Bill upon me, for Cash to pay for it, buy it. Pray Dr. Tufts to do it, if you have not time.
{ 256 }
Your Letters by the Way of England have all come to me very regularly and in good order. It is the best Way at present of Writing. You may write however, by the Way of the French Packet from N. York to L'Orient. But Secrets should not be trusted to that Conveyance by you nor me.
The Family affair which has been mentioned in Several of your Letters,6 may be managed very well. The Lady comes to Europe with you. If the Parties preserve their Regard untill they meet again and continue to behave as they ought, they will be still young enough. Lawyers should never marry early. I am quite unqualified to decide upon that matter. To Your Judgment, with the Advice of our Friends, I must leave it. One Thing I know, that Knowledge of the Law comes not by Inspiration, and without painfull and obstinate Study no Man will ever have it. Yours, without Reserve.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “october 14th.”
1. JA moved from Paris on 22 Sept. to live in Auteuil, just west of the city on the right bank of the Seine, near the Bois de Boulogne, as a guest of Thomas Barclay, who was renting a house from the Comte de Rouault. As JA explained in a long and vivid reminiscence published nearly thirty years later in a Boston newspaper, the noise of carriage traffic outside the Hôtel du Roi in Paris, where he was lodging, was so loud and continuous that loss of sleep threatened his recovery from the ravages of a serious fever (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:143 and note 4; and see illustration opposite 3:257). In Aug. 1784, JA rented the same house and brought his family to live there.
2. Despite his program of exercise at Auteuil, JA 's health did not improve as rapidly as he hoped, and on the advice of his physician, Sir James Jay, JA decided to take the waters at Bath in England (same). JA , JQA , and their servant Levêque left Auteuil on 20 Oct., and arrived in London the 26th (same, 3:146–148).
3. On the farm of Mr. Alleyne of Braintree, see AA to JA , 17 and 25 March, and 25 April 1782, vol. 4:295–296, 315–316.
4. Six to eight words have been deleted here.
5. The residence of Rev. John Hancock, father of the governor, stood on land that became the property of Col. Josiah Quincy; the house burned down in 1759. JA acquired this property sometime after Col. Quincy's death in March 1784, and he refers to it in his Diary as “the Hancock Cellar.” In 1822 he gave the property with other land to the Town of Quincy in trust for the eventual establishment of a private school to train young men for college. Adams Academy was completed in 1871, constructed on the site of the “cellar.” The building is now the home of the Quincy Historical Society. See AA to JA , 15 March 1784, below; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:111–113, and note 15; 3:249; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 341–342.
6. Royall Tyler's courtship of AA2 .

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0142

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1783-10-15

Abigail Adams to Elbridge Gerry

[salute] Dear Sir

Your obligeing favour was handed me from Mr. Guild,1 at a time when I was engaged in the Melancholy office, of attending the dieing Bed, of a dear, and venerable parent.
I need ask no further excuse of you for omiting a speedy replie, { 257 } and thanking you for your kind attention to me. Neither the contents of your Letter; or the extracts inclosed, were unexpected to me; from many of Mr. Adam'es Letters, I have been fully satisfied, that the gentleman who wrote the Letter, you inclosed, in conjunction with the Count,2 were determined if possible, to get so troublesome, and watchfull an inspector, of their conduct, and views removed out of their way, and if this could not be Effected; at least attempt to ruin his usefullness. The latter I presume is out of their power. The former, I know not whether I should be very much their Enemy if they accomplished. Tho it would mortify me to have the faithfull Services of my Friend undervalued, or depreciated by their influence, yet I so sincerely wish his return; that I should receive that for good; which might be meant for evil.
Seriously Sir; the state of Mr. Adams'es Health is such, that I suffer, every anxiety on account of it. The Fever he had two years ago in Amsterdam, left him with many disorders, amongst which; he complains of the scurvy, a swelling of his legs, a weakness of his joints, lowness of spirits. A voyage might do much towards restoreing him to Health, but without that, and a little of my good Nursing, I fear he will fall a sacrifice to perplexities and anxieties of mind, added to his bodily infirmities.
Amongst many observations which my Freind makes, in his late Letters respecting our Country, I transcribe the following, “our Country will be envied, our Liberty will be envied, our virtues will be envied. Deep and subtle Systems of corruption, hard to prove, impossible to detect, will be practised to Sap and undermine Us, and the few who penetrate them; will be called Suspicious, envious, restless, turbulant, ambitious; will be hated, unpopular and unhappy.”3 This Sir, it is to be a real patriot. How much courage perserverence and fortitude are necessary to compleat the Character? In this age of the world, that Man has an awfull Lot, who dares to “Love his Country and be poor.”4
If any thing offers at Congress respecting my Friend, I will thank you to let me know it. You may relie upon it sir, that no use will be made of it; but such as you permit. If you have received publick dispatches, and they are of a Similar nature with private Letters, they are filled with complaints and anxieties, ariseing from want of intelligence.
Genll. Warren has a large number of Letters supposing him a Member of Congress; the contents of which I hope he will transmit to you. They were written for his information, supposing him a { 258 } Member of that body, and knowing him to be an unshaken Friend to his Country.
If any Letters should arrive for me I will thank you sir if you will forward them. Mr. Adams'es Letters are not calculated for the post office, many of them being written upon very thick paper and under two and sometimes 3 covers. Tis true he franks them according to a resolve of Congress which passt Soon after he went abroad, but the post master insists that, Congress by putting the post office upon its former establishment superseded that Resolve.5 You would oblige me sir, by informing me whether it is realy so or not. I am the rather led to this inquiry, from a demand which Genll. Warren had, the other day for postage, for a Letter which was from a Member of Congress.

[salute] Be pleased to present my respectfull Regards to Dr. Lee, and to Mr. Osgood, for whom I have a high Esteem, and believe me dear Sir your Friend & humble servant

[signed] Abigail Adams
RC (Private owner, Boston, 1956).
1. Gerry to AA , 18 Sept., above, which AA could hardly have received much before 25 Sept., despite her comment here.
2. Vergennes; “the gentleman who wrote the Letter” is Franklin.
3. JA to AA , 16 April, second letter of this date, above.
4. JA , same letter, above, quotes this line from Alexander Pope, “On His Grotto at Twickenham.”
5. Congress resolved on 28 Dec. 1779 that letters to and from the Commissioners abroad should be free of postage charges, but the ordinance to regulate the post office adopted on 18 Oct. 1782 limited free letters to those sent on public business. On 28 Feb. 1783, Congress made it clear that the franking privilege was not to cover private letters sent along with public ones ( JCC , 15:1415; 23:670–678; 24:156–157). But see Gerry to AA , 6 Nov., below.