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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0210

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1784-07-26

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Your Letter of the 23d. has made me the happiest Man upon Earth. I am twenty Years younger than I was Yesterday. It is a cruel Mortification to me that I cannot go to meet you in London, but there are a Variety of Reasons decisive against it, which I will communicate to you here. Meantime, I Send you a son who is the greatest Traveller, of his Age, and without Partiality, I think as promising and manly a youth as is in the World.
He will purchase a Coach, in which We four must travel to Paris. Let it be large and Strong, with an Imperial,1 and Accommodations for travelling. I wish you to See the Hague before you go to France. The Season is beautifull both here and in England. The Journey here will be pleasant excepting an Hour or two of Sea sickness between Harwich and Helvoet Sluis. You may come conveniently with your two Children and your Maid, in the Coach, and your Man may ride on Horseback, or in the Stage Coach.
I can give you no Council, about Cloaths. Mr. Puller will furnish the Money you want, upon your Order or Receipt. Expences I know will be high but they must be born, and as to Cloaths for yourself and Daughter, I beg you to do what is proper let the Expence be what it will.
{ 400 }
Every Hour to me will be a Day, but dont you hurry, or fatigue or disquiet yourself upon the Journey. Be carefull of your Health.
After Spending a Week or two here, you will have to set out with me to France, but there are no Seas between, a good Road a fine season and We will make moderate Journeys and See the Curiosities of Several Cities in our Way—Utrecht, Breda, Antwerp, Brussells &c &c.
It is the first Time in Europe that I looked forward to a Journey with Pleasure. Now, I promise myself a great deal. I think it lucky that I am to go to Paris where you will have an opportunity to see that City, to acquire its Language &c. It will be more agreable to you to be there, than here perhaps for some time.
For my own Part I think myself made for this World.2 But this very Idea makes me feel for a young Pair who have lately seperated. If my Consent only is Wanting they shall be asunder no longer than they choose. But We must consult upon Plans about this. They have discovered a Prudence. Let this Prudence continue and All will be right by and by.

[salute] Yours with more Ardor than ever.

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in JQA 's hand: “Mr. Adams July 26th. 1784.”
1. A box or trunk for luggage attached to or fitted onto the roof of a coach ( OED ); JA describes its use upon his first mention of purchasing a coach, in his letter to William Smith Jr., 19 July ( LbC , Adams Papers).
2. The text was omitted from this point to the end of the paragraph in JA, Letters, ed. CFA, 2:107.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0211

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1784-07-27

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

[salute] My Dear Daughter:

With the tenderest emotions of a father's heart, I congratulate you on your agreeable voyage, and happy arrival; and hope that your journeys in Europe, and your returning voyage to your own country, will be equally prosperous.
At your age, travels are pleasing and instructive. But that you may be able to derive the full benefit from them, let me recommend to you to keep a journal.
I have never had influence enough with your brother to prevail upon him to attend to this exercise, as pleasant as it is useful. But the punishment of this negligence is certain; if he lives sixty years, he will spend them all in continual repentance, and self-reproaches. A regular journal of his travels would be very valuable.2
{ 401 }
I cannot reproach myself, because my eyes have made it impracticable.3 With the utmost difficulty have I performed the writing, which my public duty required of me; and I may add, that my head and heart have been so occupied with necessary business, that objects of curiosity, and even the fine arts, had few attractions for me.
Your case and that of your brother are very different. In travelling with me, through the Dutch and Austrian Low Countries to France, you will have a great opportunity.4
In London you see one of those enormous masses of human nature, which exhibit to view its utmost extremes of grandeur and littleness, of virtues and vices, of wisdom and folly. In Paris you will see another; and all along between them, are countries and cities which will deserve your attention.
I need not say to you, that the end of travel, as well as study, is not the simple gratification of curiosity, or to enable one to shine in conversation, but to make us wiser and better.
The British Museum, Sir Ashton Lever's Museum, Wedgwood's Manufactory of Earthen Ware, Parker's Manufactory of Glass, I saw with great pleasure. You cannot see Mrs. Siddons, as she is absent. Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Church you should see.5
But I presume you will not be long in England after your brother's arrival.

[salute] Hasten, my dear girl, as much as you can with prudence, to your affectionate father,

[signed] John Adams
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 1:3–5.)
1. The date is likely a printing or transcription error. JA did not know of AA2 's arrival in London, on 20 July, until he received AA 's letter of 23 July, which he answered on the 26th (both above).
2. For JA 's first known exhortation to JQA to keep a diary, in 1778, and JQA 's initially sporadic but often successful attempts to do so, from Nov. 1779 through Dec. 1783, see vol. 3:92–93, 224, note 1, 400, 425, note 1; JQA, Diary , 1:xxxvii–xli. On 8 Aug., after an eightmonth hiatus, JQA resumed his Diary, and after another lapse in the fall, he began keeping it regularly in Jan. 1785.
3. JA had complained of inflamed eyes and weak vision since 1774. See vol. 2:163, 243; vol. 4:37, 45; JA, Papers , 2:200, 404; 3:11, 49, 87; 4:413.
4. Compare JA 's attitude here toward his own duty to perform “necessary business,” and his belief that AA2 and JQA had much greater cultural opportunities than he did, with his earlier celebrated observation that he “must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy . . . . in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine” (to AA , [post 12 May 1780] , vol. 3:342).