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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0003

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Waterhouse, Benjamin
Date: 1782-10-06

Abigail Adams to Benjamin Waterhouse

[salute] My dear Sir

Your obligeing favour of Sepbr 10th1 was put into my hands the day before I set out upon a journey2 which detained me a fortnight { 3 } abroad, and prevented my Reply to your kind inquiries after my absent Friends.
I did as you supposed receive Letters by Capt. Grinnel one of which was dated in july;3 but I have the mortification to assure you sir that our common Friend did not then entertain any hopes of a <speedy peace> general peace and a seperate peace he assures me will not be made even by Holland; the Independancy of America has at last triumphd in Holland. You sir will allow me a little vanity and exultation upon this occasion, because you are particularly knowing to the zeal the ardour and the indefatigable Labours of our Friend upon this occasion and will consider them in a light which the envy of some and the malice of others are little disposed to view them in. To express myself in the Language of one to whom you are no stranger, “this Cause has been carried, without Money without Friends, in opposition to mean Intrigues, by the still small voice of Reason and perswasion tryumphant against the uninterrupted opposition of Family connections, court influence and aristocratical despotism.”4 To what ever motives may be asscribed the littel notice taken of an event of so much importance to our country I will not pretend to determine. <Posterity> No doubt my connextion leads me to a more attentive observance of <every> an event which I cannot but consider as reflecting high honour upon the integrity and abilities of a Gentleman of whom from your personal knowledge of him you may well suppose I entertain the <highest> warmest regard and affection. It is no small satisfaction to me that my Country will reap the Benifit of my personal sacrifices, tho they little feel how great they are.
You sir who appear to possess the tender social feelings, and to enter into domestick attachments, can <better> judge <than the most> of the cruel strugle of my Heart <and my affections> in being repeatedly torn from the object of my <early Love> affections; and reconciling my self to <a 3 Years> an already 3 years seperation. Heaven only knows how much longer it is to continue, but were I assured that my Friend would be continued abroad for half that space of time longer—in spight of the Enemy and the uncertain Element, dissagreable as a voyage in Idea appears to me, especially deprived of my companion and protector, I would hazard all in compliance with your advise5 which I assure you has had great weight with me. I wait only for the return of Mr. Thaxter and a more explicit request from Mr. Adams to <deter> put my present intention in execution.
<Have you> I hope you have not formed such Local attachment at { 4 } Newport as to give up the Idea of a settlement in this vicinity. I cannot account for the Friendly attachment I find within my Heart to a Gentleman <who was so much of a stranger to me> whom I have only once had the pleasure of seeing; but in attributing it to what I really think the [true?] cause, the Superiour merrit of the object.
And the Poet tells us that there is a Natural instinct in <kindred> souls, which lead them to a Friendly union with each other.
I have the pleasure to answer your kind inquiries after the Health of my Friend and Brother Cranch by acquainting you of his recovery to a much better state of Health than <I ever> his Friends ever expected. He requets you to accept his thanks for your remembrance of him and his regards to you. Dr. Tufts also desires to be rememberd to you and wishes for a further acquaintance with you.6
Miss Adams empowers me to say that Dr. Waterhouse stands high in her esteem and she reflects with much pleasure upon the hours she spent in his company and relies upon his promise of bringing her acquainted with his amiable sister7 whom she is prepaird to Love and admire from the Worthy Sample she has already seen of the family. Master Charles presents his affectionate Regards to Dr. Waterhouse whom he both Loves and Reverences. And his Mamma concludes with assurances of the Friendship and Esteem of his Humble servant
[signed] AA
1. Vol. 4:380.
2. To Haverhill, where AA 's sister Elizabeth Shaw lived ( AA to JA , 8 Oct., below).
3. See JA to AA , 1 July, vol. 4:337–339. Grinnel was captain of the brig Sukey (Ingraham & Bromfield to AA , 1 July, vol. 4:339).
4. The passage, with some rearrangement, comes virtually verbatim from JA to AA , 14 May, vol. 4:323.
5. See AA 's account of Waterhouse's visit to Braintree, during which he not only deeply moved her by his account of his visits with JA , JQA , and CA in Europe, but also “wished [her] exceedingly to go to [ JA ]” (to JA , 5 Aug., vol. 4:358).
6. Waterhouse's extensive medical studies abroad would naturally have been of interest to Dr. Tufts. For an extended sketch of Waterhouse, see vol. 4:32–34.
7. Rebecca Waterhouse (1757–1822), Dr. Waterhouse's only living sibling (George Herbert Waterhouse, “Descendants of Richard Waterhouse of Portsmouth, N.H.,” typescript, on deposit at MBNEH, p. 136–137).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0004

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-08

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Your favour of August 17th2 is just put into my hands with word that Capt. Grinnel is to sail tomorrow, all of a sudden without having been to see me, or warning me of his going. I made a little excursion to Haverhill with our daughter and son Charles which prevented my { 5 } getting my Letters ready. However I am determined not to close my eyes to Night untill I have written to you, and will send Charles of tomorrow morning by sun rise. Mr. Guile3 is come safe and sends me word he will see me tomorrow or next day. I shall be impatient untill he comes. I want to know all about my dear Friend—O! that I could add Companion. Permit me my Dearest Friend to renew that Companionship. My Heart sighs for it. I cannot O! I cannot be reconcild to living as I have done for 3 years past. I am searious. I could be importunate with you. May I? Will you let me try to soften, if I cannot wholy releave you, from your Burden of Cares and perplexities? Shall others for their pleasure hazard, what I cannot have courage to incounter from an affection pure as ever burned in a vestal Heart—Warm and permanant as that which glows in your own dear Bosom. I Hardly think of Enemies of terrors and storms. But I resolve with myself, to do as you wish. If I can add to your Happiness, is it not my duty? If I can soften your Cares, is it not my duty? If I can by a tender attention and assiduity prolong your most valuable Life, is it not my duty? And shall I from Female apprehensions of storms of winds, forego all these Calls? Sacrifice them to my personal ease? Alass I have not even that, for wakeing or sleeping I am ever with you. Yet if you do not consent so much is my Heart intent upon it, that your refusal must be couched in very soft terms, and must pledge yourself to return speedily to me.
Yet my dear sir when I can conquer the too soft sensibility of my Heart; I feel loth you should quit your station untill an Honorable peace is Established, and you have added that to your other Labours. Tis no small satisfaction to me that my country is like to profit so largely by my sacrifices.
I doubt not of your Numerous avocations.4 Yet when you can get time to write to your Friends here, it is of vast service to you. It sets tongues and pens at work. It informs the people of your attention to their Interests, and our negotiations are extolled and our Services are held up to view. I am unfortunate in not having in my possession a News paper to inclose, in which some person, has done justice to your patience, to your perseverance, and held up as far as was prudent the difficulties you have had to encounter.5
I hope you are releaved by my last Letters in some measure from your anxiety about our dear Friend and Brother Cranch. He is recoverd far beyond our expectations; he is for the first time this week attending Court. I am of opinion that his Lungs are affected, and am in terrors for him least he should have a relapse. He owes his Life { 6 } the doctors say under providence, to the incessant, unwearied, indefatigable watchfull care of his wife; who has almost sacrificed her own, to save his Life.—O! my dear Friend, how often is my Heart torn with the Idea, that I have it not in my power, let sickness or misfortune assail you thus to watch round your Bed and soften your repose.
To the Care of a gracious providence I commit you.
Your good Mother went from here this afternoon, and desires her kind Regards to you. Uncle Q[uinc]y send his Love, is always attentive to hear from you. He applied to me a little while ago, to send for 2 yards of green velvet proper for a pulpit cushing with fring and tassels for it or half a pound of green sewing silk. He would have sent the Money, but I refused it, because I knew it would give you pleasure to make this little present to our Church. You will be so good as to order it put up by the next conveyance. The Fire Brand6 is not yet arrived. We are under apprehension for her. We have a large French Fleet in our Harbour, yet are daily insulted by British cruizers. There are several officers who belong to the Fleet who hire rooms in the Town, some of them Men of learning and Character. Several of them have got introduced to me. I treat them with civility, but rather avoid a large acquaintance. I have been on Board one 84 gun ship by the particular invitation of the Captain. Col. Quincy and family accompanied me. This afternoon a Sweed, in the French Service made me a second visit. He speaks english, is a Man of learning and is second in command of the America; which is given by Congress in lieu of the ship which was lost in comeing into the Harbour.7 These Gentry take a good deal of pains to get an introduction here; seem to consider an acquaintance of much more importance to them, than the people who call themselves geenteel, and who compose our Beau Mond, but who have chiefly risen into Notice since you left the Country. As I have not sought their acquaintance, nor ever appeard in publick since your absence, I have not the Honour to be known to many of them—concequently am forgotten or unnoticed by them in all their publick entertainments. Our Allies however recollect that the only Gentleman who is employed abroad in publick Service from this state May probably have a Lady and a daughter, and it may be proper to notice them out of Regard to the Gentlemans publick Character; and accordingly Send out their invitations which I decline and send the daughter. This has been repeatedly the case. I care not a stiver8 as it respects my own country. Mrs. D[an]a is treated in the same Manner, but people who are accustomed to politeness and good Manners { 7 } notice it. The Manners of our Country are so intirely changed from what they were in those days of simplicity when you knew it, that it has nothing of a Republick but the Name. Unless you can keep a publick table and Equipage you are but of very small consideration.
What would You have thought 15 years ago, for young practicioners at the Bar to be setting up their Chariots, to be purchaseing—not paying for—their country seats. P. M——n, B——n H——n,9 riding in their Chariots who were clerks in offices when we removed from Town. Hogarth may exhibit his world topsa turva.10 I am sure I have seen it realized.
Your daughter has been writing to you. Indeed my dear sir you would be proud of her. Not [that] she is like her Mamma. She has a Stat[l]iness in her manners which some misconstrue into pride and haughtyness, but which rather results from a too great reserve; she wants more affability, but she has prudence and discretion beyond her years. She is in her person tall large and Majestick, mammas partialiaty allows her to be a good figure. Her sensibility is not yet sufficiently a wakend to give her Manners that pleasing softness which attracts whilst it is attracted. Her Manners rather forbid all kinds of Intimacy; and awe whilst they command.
Indeed she is not like her Mamma. Had not her Mamma at her age too much sensibility, to be very prudent. It however won a Heart of as much sensibility—but how my pen runs. I never can write you a short Letter. My Charles and Tommy, are fine Boys. My absent one is not forgotten. How does he, I do not hear from him.
Adieu my dear Friend. How much happier should I be to fold you to my Bosom, than to bid you this Languid adieu, with a whole ocean between us. Yet whilst I recall to your mind tender scenes of happier days, I would add a supplication that the day May not be far distant, that shall again renew them to your Ever Ever affectionate [] Portia
1 peice of white blond Lace [] 2 pr Moroco Shoes for Nabby [] 4 yd Book Muslin thread for working Muslin [] 6 pr Black Worsted Breaches patterns.
This is written in so much haste that I cannot revise. I took Miss N[abby]s Letter to inclose and found I was mistaken. That it is to Mr. Thaxter11 instead of papa. So I will recall some of my observations about sensibility.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia's Letter. Oct. 8 1782.”
1. This date is probably in error; see note 3.
2. JA wrote two letters on 17 Aug. (vol. 4:364–366). AA seems to be answering the second of the two; note the second and third paragraphs.
3. Benjamin Guild arrived from Amsterdam { 8 } on the Apollo on 9 Oct., and forwarded a packet to AA on that day (Boston Evening Post, 12 Oct.; Richard Cranch to JA , 10 Oct., below).
4. This word is written over another, illegible word.
5. See JA to Richard Cranch, 2 July (vol. 4:339–341) and descriptive note there.
6. A Massachusetts privateer that had carried letters directly to Holland earlier in the year (vol. 4:305, 327, 329, 354, 362, 377).
7. On the America, see JA, Papers , 6:157.
8. A small coin used in the Netherlands, worth about as much as an English penny.
9. Probably Perez Morton and Benjamin Hichborn; see JA, Papers , vols. 3–4; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 17:36–44, 555–561.
10. AA 's reference may be to William Hogarth's work generally rather than to any specific engraving. The social disorder depicted in several of his most celebrated plates, such as “The Election” series (1755–1758), gives some idea of his biting satire. She could, however, have in mind Hogarth's “The Times, Plate 1” (Sept. 1762), which may be the engraving that James Warren connected with the satirist Charles Churchill in terms very similar to AA 's remark here. Writing to JA on 13 June 1779 (JA, Papers , 8:93), Warren described Massachusetts' new social order, AA 's topic in this passage, as “A World turned Topsy Turvy, beyond the description of Hogarth's humourous pencile of Churchill's Satyr.” “The Times, Plate 1,” however, was not based on a satire by Churchill, and may even have criticized Churchill and his friend, John Wilkes, while praising the Earl of Bute, and attacking William Pitt the Elder for keeping the war with France going in Europe. It did show an England in disorder, in which nearly all social and political leaders were working for the nation's ruin. See DNB (Churchill); Ronald Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times, 2 vols., New Haven, 1971, esp. vol. 2, chap. 27.
11. Not found.