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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0165

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1784-01-25

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I was much disappointed, on the Arrival of Mr. Temple in London, at not finding a Letter from you, but last Week at Amsterdam, I had the Happiness to receive your kind favours of Sept. 20. and Oct. 19. Mr. Trumbull is not arrived.2
The Loss of my kind Father, has very tenderly affected me, but I hope, with full Confidence to meet him in a better World. My ever honoured Mother I still hope to see in this. I feel for you, as I know how justly dear [to] you, your father was.
You have Seen, before now Mr. Thaxter and I hope Mr. Dana. The Determinations of Congress, upon the Arrival of the definitive Treaty, will be your best Guide for your own Conduct. You will juge best from thence whether it is worth your while to come to The Hague or to Europe. If Congress <sh> would determine to continue me in Europe, I must intreat you to come to me, for I assure you, my Happiness depends so much upon it, that I am determined, if you decline coming to me, to come to you. If Miss Nabby is attached, to Braintre, and you think, upon Advizing with your Friends, her Object worthy, marry her if you will and leave her with her Companion3 in your own House, Office, Furniture Farm and all. H[is] Profession is, the very one, I wish. His Connection[s] are respectable, and if he has Sown his will [wild] Oats and will Study, and mind his Business, he is all I want.
I must at present leave all to your Judgment. If you think it not advizeable to come to Europe, I will come to you, although I should be Sorry, to break away and return, without Permission from Congress. I should not care, a Farthing my self whether it were in England or Holland, if I could preserve my Health, which I should hope to do with my Family in a settled Way of Life, for I am determined, not to venture in future upon Such Journeys and Wanderings as have heretofore been necessary, and have done me so much harm. Somewhere or other, I am determined to have a regular Habitation and Settled Abode.
John is a great Comfort to me. He is every Thing you could wish { 302 } him. Wholly devoted to his studies he has made a Progress, which gives me intire Satisfaction. Miss N[abby']s Friend must rise very early or he will be soon overtaken by her worthy Brother. In the Course of two or three Years, John must go home, and go into some Office, and if he should have a Brother in Law of sufficient Merit, why should he wish for any other Master? These Things are but Speculations. Miss hopes I shall approve of her Taste.4 I can Scarcely think it possible for me to disapprove, of her final Judgment formed with deliberation, upon any Thing which so deeply concerns her whole Happiness. But she will listen to the Advice of her Mother Grandmother, and her Aunts, in whose Wisdom I have great Confidence.
The next Dispatches from Congress, and from you, after Mr. Thaxters Arrival will determine me and I shall write you more fully.
I have enjoyed better Health, Since my Fever last Septr. at Paris. I got poisoned at Amsterdam with the Steams of the Canals, and bad Water in the Cisterns, and my Constitution has been labouring, these two or three Years to throw it off. Two violent Fevers, have not been Sufficient, wholly to relieve me, but the last has made me better. I am cured of the Imprudence of living in a great City in hot Weather.

[salute] Adieu my dearest Friend. Adieu.5

RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “ JA to AA Jan 25 1784.” Some damage to the text through wear on the margin.
1. For JA and JQA 's difficult journey from London to The Hague in January, see JA to Richard Cranch, 3 April, and note 3, below.
2. This sentence appears to have been inserted at the end of the paragraph. On John Trumbull, see AA to JA , 11 Nov. 1783, above. Either that letter arrived in The Hague after JA began this letter, or JA had heard of Trumbull's plan to return to Europe from another correspondent.
3. Royall Tyler.
4. This may refer to a lost AA2 letter to JA , but the editors have found no letter, to any person, in which AA2 even mentions Royall Tyler until her letter to him of [ca. 11 Aug. 1785] , below, terminating their relationship.
5. The lack of an endorsement by AA , and AA 's insistance, in several letters through late May, below, that she had received no letters from JA dated after Nov. 1783, suggest that she may not have received this letter before sailing to England in June. This is the last extant letter from JA to AA written before her departure from Boston.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0166

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1784-02-11

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Two days only are wanting to campleat six years since my dearest Friend first crost the Atlantick. But three months of the Six Years have been Spent in America. The airy delusive phantom Hope, how has she eluded my prospects. And my expectations of your return { 303 } from month to month, have vanished “like the baseless Fabrick of a vision.”1
You invite me to you, you call me to follow you, the most earnest wish of my soul is to be with you—but you can scarcly form an Idea of the conflict of my mind. It appears to me such an enterprize, the ocean so formidable, the quitting my habitation and my Country, leaving my Children, my Friends, with the Idea that prehaps I may never see them again, without my Husband to console and comfort me under these apprehensions—indeed my dear Friend there are hours when I feel unequal to the trial. But on the other hand I console myself with the Idea of being joyfully and tenderly received by the best of Husbands and Friends, and of meeting a dear and long absent Son. But the difference is; my fears, and anxieties, are present; my hopes, and expectations, distant.
But avaunt ye Idle Specters, the desires and requests of my Friend are a Law to me. I will sacrifice my present feelings and hope for a blessing in persuit of my duty.
I have already arranged all my family affairs in such a way that I hope nothing will suffer by my absence. I have determined to put into this House <my> Pheby,2 to whom my Father gave freedom, by his Will, and the income of a hundred a year during her Life. The Children furnished her to house keeping, and she has ever since lived by herself, untill a fortnight ago, she took unto her self a Husband in the person of Mr. Abdee whom you know. As there was no setled minister in Weymouth I gave them the liberty of celebrating their nuptials here, which they did much to their satisfaction.
I proposed to her taking care of this House and furniture in my absence. The trust is very flattering to her, and both her Husband and She Seem pleased with it. I have no doubt of their care and faithfullness, and prefer them to any other family. The Farm I continue to let to our old tennant, as no one thinks I shall supply myself better.3
I am lucky too in being able to supply myself with an honest faithfull Man Servant. I do not know but you may recollect him, John Brisler, who was brought up in the family of Genll. Palmer, has since lived with Col. Quincy and is recommended by both families as a virtuous Steady frugal fellow, with a mind much above the vulgar, very handy and attentive. For a maid servant I hope to have a Sister of his, who formerly lived with Mrs. Trott, who gives her a good character.4 It gave me some pain to refuse the offerd service of an old servant who had lived 7 years with me, and who was married from { 304 } here, as I wrote you some time ago.5 Both she and her Husband solicited to go, but I could not think it convenient as Babies might be very inconvenient at Sea, tho they offerd to leave it at Nurse if I would consent to their going, but tho I felt gratified at their regard for me I could not think it would answer. On many accounts a Brother and sister are to be prefered. This far have I proceeded but I know not yet what Ship, or what month or what port I shall embark for, I rather think for England.
I wrote you largely by Capt. Love, who saild for England 3 weeks ago. By him I mentiond a set of Bills which I expected to draw in favour of Uncle Smith for 200 dollors. He did not send me the Bills untill yesterday. Instead of 60 pounds Lawfull, he requested me to sign a Bill for 60 Sterling, as that was just the sum he wanted, and that it would oblige him. I have accordingly drawn for that;6 as I supposed it would not make any great odds with you; whether I drew now; or a month hence, as I suppose I shall have occasion before I embark. You will be so kind as to honour the Bill.
I have not heard from you since Mr. Robbins arrived. I long to hear how your Health is. Heaven preserve and perfect it. Col. Quincy lies very dangerously ill of the same disorder which proved fatal to my dear and honourd parent. The dr is apprehensive that it will put a period to his life in a few days.7
Your Honourd Mother is as well as usual. The thoughts of my going away is a great Grief to her, but I shall leave her with a particular request to my sister Cranch, to pay the same attention to her during her Life, which I have done, and to supply my place to her in sickness and Health.
However kind sons may be disposed to be, they cannot be daughters to a Mother. I hope I shall not leave any thing undone which I ought to do. I would endeavour in the discharge of my duty towards her, to merit from her the same testimony which my own parent gave me, that I was a good kind considerate child as ever a parent had. However undeserving I may have been of this testimony, it is a dear and valuable Legacy to me and will I hope pruve a stimulous to me, to endeavour after those virtues which the affection and partiality of a parent asscribed to me.
Our sons are well. I hope your young companion is so too. If I should not now be able to write to him, please to tell him I am not unmindfull of him.
I have been to day to spend a few Hours with our good Uncle Quincy,8 who keeps much confined a winters and says he misses my { 305 } two Boys almost as much as I do; for they were very fond of visiting him, and used to go as often as once a week when they lived at home.

[salute] There is nothing stiring in the political world. The Cincinati makes a Bustle, and will I think be crushed in its Birth.9—Adieu my dearest Friend. Yours most affectionately

[signed] A.A
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia. 11. Feb. 1784.”
1. Shakespeare, The Tempest, IV, i, 151.
2. For this arrangement, see AA to Cotton Tufts, 18 June, below. On the slave, or “servant,” Phoebe, see vol. 2:346, 382; her intended marriage in 1777 to a Mr. Bristol, a free black of Boston, mentioned there, apparently never occurred. See also Rev. William Smith's will, 12 Sept. 1783, above.
3. AA began looking for a tenant for the family farm in March 1778, immediately after JA 's first departure for Europe. It is not known when she found one, but in Nov. 1780 she wrote to JA that her “Tenants” threatened to quit the farm because they could not support themselves, given the rising taxes that AA was forced to pay. In 1784–1785 AA 's tenant was Matthew Pratt. See vol. 2:407–408; 4:15; AA to Cotton Tufts, 18 June, below; Cotton Tufts to JA , with enclosed account, 10 Aug. 1785, below.
4. AA did take John Briesler to England, but not his sister. In her place she took Esther Field, daughter of a Braintree neighbor. AA 's observation, below, that on “many accounts a Brother and Sister are to be preferred,” stated a reasonable precaution. John Briesler and Esther Field married in London while serving the Adamses, and Esther gave birth to a daughter on 28 May 1788 on shipboard, as the Brieslers were returning with AA and JA to America. The Brieslers continued to serve the Adamses into the 1790s. JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:154–158, 212–215, and note 7, 226–247 passim.
5. AA mentioned Jane Glover's upcoming marriage to Bryant Newcomb in her letter to JA of 20 June 1783, above.
6. AA drew this bill on Isaac Smith Sr. on 6 February. On 10 May, JA directed AA 's cousin William Smith, who had received the bill from his father, to cash it at C. & R. Puller, Broadstreet Buildings, London, adding that his Amsterdam bankers, the Willinks and van Staphorsts, would cover it ( LbC , Adams Papers). On AA 's decision to purchase land with this sum, see AA to JA , 7 and 27 Dec. 1783, above.
7. Col. Josiah Quincy died on 3 March ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 8:475). AA 's father had died of the strangury, a blockage of the urinary tract ( AA to JA , 20 Sept. 1783, above).
8. Norton Quincy, of Mt. Wollaston in Braintree.
9. AA 's prediction of the rapid demise of the new Society of the Cincinnati (founded in May 1783) proved too optimistic. See John Thaxter to JA , 19 Jan. (Adams Papers), and discussions of the Society's character and future by JA and AA in 1785, below.