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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0040

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-01-22

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

The Preliminaries of Peace and an Armistice, were Signed at Versailles on the 20 and on the 21. We went again to pay our Respects to the King and Royal Family upon the Occasion. Mr. Jay was gone upon a little Excursion to Normandie and Mr. Laurens was gone to Bath, both for their health, so that the signature was made by Mr. Franklin and me.1 I want an Excursion too.
Thus drops the Curtain upon this mighty Trajedy. It has unravelled itself happily for Us. And Heaven be praised. Some of our dearest Interests have been saved, thro many dangers. I have no News from my son, Since the 8th. december, when he was at Stockholm,2 but hope every hour to hear of his Arrival at the Hague.
I hope to receive the Acceptance of my Resignation So as to come home in the Spring Ships.3
I had written thus far when yours of 23 decr. was brought in.4 Its Contents have awakened all my sensibility, and shew in a stronger Light than ever the Necessity of my coming home. I confess I dont { 75 } like the Subject at all. My Child is too young for such Thoughts, and I dont like your Word “Dissipation” at all. I dont know what it means, it may mean every Thing. There is not Modesty and Diffidence enough in the Traits you Send me. My Child is a Model, as you represent her and as I know her, and is not to be the Prize, I hope of any, even reformed Rake. A Lawyer would be my Choice, but it must be a Lawyer who spends his Midnights as well as Evenings at his Age over his Books not at any Ladys Fire side. I Should have thought you had seen enough to be more upon your Guard than to write Billets upon such a subject to such a youth. A Youth who has been giddy enough to Spend his Fortune or half his Fortune in Gaieties, is not the Youth for me, Let his Person, Family, Connections and Taste for Poetry be what they will. I am not looking out for a Poet, nor a Professor of belle Letters.
In the Name of all that is tender dont criticise Your Daughter for those qualities which are her greatest Glory her Reserve, and her Prudence which I am amazed to hear you call Want of Sensibility. The more Silent She is in Company, the better for me in exact Proportion and I would have this observed as a Rule by the Mother as well as the Daughter.
You know moreover or ought to know my utter Inability to do any Thing for my Children, and you know the long dependence of young Gentlemen of the most promising Talents and obstinate Industry, at the Bar. My Children will have nothing but their Liberty and the Right to catch Fish, on the Banks of Newfoundland. This is all the Fortune that I have been able to make for myself or them.
I know not however, enough of this subject to decide any Thing. Is he a Speaker at the Bar? If not he will never be any Thing. But above all I positively forbid, any Connection between my Daughter and any Youth upon Earth, who does not totally eradicate every Taste for Gaiety and Expence. I never knew one who had it and indulged it, but what was made a Rascall by it, sooner or later.
This Youth has had a Brother in Europe, and a detestible Specimen he exhibited. Their Father had not all those nice sentiments which I wish, although an Honourable Man.5
I think he and you have both advanced too fast, and I should advise both to retreat. Your Family as well as mine6 have had too much Cause to rue, the Qualities which by your own Account have been in him. And if they were ever in him they are not yet out.
This is too Serious a Subject, to equivocate about. I dont like this method of Courting Mothers. There is something too fantastical and { 76 } affected in all this Business for me. It is not nature, modest, virtuous, noble nature. The Simplicity of Nature is the best Rule with me to Judge of every Thing, in Love as well as State and War.
This is all between you and me.7
I would give the World to be with you Tomorrow. But there is a vast Ocean. No Ennemies. But I have not yet Leave from my Masters. I dont love to go home in a Miff, Pet or Passion nor with an ill Grace, but I hope Soon to have leave. I can never Stay in Holland—the Air of that Country chills every drop of Blood in My Veins. If I were to stay in Europe another Year I would insist upon your coming with your daughter but this is not to be and I will come home to you.

[salute] Adieu ah ah Adieu.

1. The document was the “Declarations for Suspension of Arms and Cessation of Hostilities” between the United States and Great Britain (Miller, ed., Treaties , 2:108–110), which JA signed first, as his commission to negotiate peace preceded that of Franklin. Letterbook copies of this document are in the Adams Papers. The Americans signed the “Declarations” on 20 Jan., immediately after the signing of preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain, France, and Spain. See Morris, Peacemakers , p. 408–409, and 541, note 92.
2. In his letter to JQA of 18 Feb., below, JA says that he had learned of JQA 's arrival in Stockholm “only by the public Papers.” JQA 's letter of 1 Feb., below, is the first he is known to have written to JA since 6 Sept. 1782 (vol. 4:378).
3. See JA to AA , 4 Dec. 1782, note 1, above.
4. This paragraph is written in a different ink, and opens in much smaller, more compressed characters then the preceding paragraphs. As JA writes on, however, he soon returns to his usual handwriting style.
5. JA had met John Steele Tyler in Europe in June 1780 (see vol. 3:328, note 1). On Royall Tyler Sr., see Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 11:313–318; and JA, Earliest Diary , p. 22.
6. JA could be referring to AA 's wastrel brother, William Smith, but the reference to his own family is obscure.
7. JA 's disapproval of AA 's estimation of Royall Tyler and of her conduct with respect to relations between Tyler and AA2 is the harshest among JA 's letters to AA that survive. In later letters JA gradually softened his tone in discussing Tyler, and within a year he accepted Tyler as a suitor to AA2 .

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0041

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-01-22

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

2.

[salute] Madam

I little expected, when writing to You on the 16th. instant, to have so soon congratulated You upon the Signature of the Preliminaries of Peace between France, Spain and England, and upon a Signature of an Armistice by the Ministers of those three Powers together with those of America. This Business was accomplished on the 20th. instant at Versailles, and is the Occasion of my addressing myself to { 77 } You so soon after my Letter of the 16th, and of offering You my sincere Congratulations on so important a Change. I had no Idea that the War was so near closing. The definitive Treaty will doubtless soon be arranged and finished,1 and Mankind be permitted to enjoy a Pause of Calm and Tranquility. I will not add on this head, as the Affair will be laid open to the World, and You may perhaps recieve Information before this reaches You. You will have more particular Intelligence from another Quarter. At least I presume Mr. Adams will write You an Account of it.
Your dearest Friend recieved this Morning your Letter by the Iris Frigate, which arrived in 16. days from Boston.2 A most remarkable Passage. I recieved by this Opportunity a few Lines from my Friend Alleyne.3 Not a single Letter besides from Braintree. Not a Scratch of a Pen from Hingham. Perhaps those, whom I once thought my Friends think one Letter enough for me, or one too many. If this is their Idea, I will be very cautious how I trouble them with Letters again. All I desire is, that they will cross me out of their Books and Memories, that all Correspondence, Connection and Remembrance may be at an End. I am much obliged to them for the Letters they formerly wrote, and thus take my Leave of them. For after I dispatch this Packet, I will take good Care not to make another in a hurry. I will join them in a mutual forgetfulness. I am almost affronted or quite.4
Mr. A. has this moment informed me, that You have a Mr. Tyler at present in Braintree, and that he is an Attorney. I believe I have a slight Acquaintance with him, if it is the same that studied with Mr. Dana. And also that this young Gentleman has taken a Fancy to Miss Nabby. This is News. He has shewn an admirable good Taste and Judgment in his Choice, and if he possesses the Art of rendering himself agreable to so accomplished a young Lady, he will be happy indeed. Whatever part She may take in this Affair, or may have taken, I am persuaded will display a proof of her Discretion and good Sense, and meet with the Consent and Approbation of her Parents. In wishing very sincerely the Prosperity and Happiness of every Branch of your Family, I cannot but wish her's, and whenever She or the young Gentlemen shall be connected in Life, the Regard Esteem and Affection, with which their amiable Qualities and my long residence in the same Family with them have inspired me, lead me earnestly to desire, that their Connections may be agreable and happy to them, and perfectly conformable to the Wishes of their Parents. There, Madam, is the plain Language of an old Batchelor, who, tho' a { 78 } Batchelor and a determined one, makes a point of encouraging Matrimony. I hope the Ladies will give me Credit for this.
Having passed the Period, at which I should have rejoiced to have found myself in the pleasing and tender Relation of Husband, and having maturely reflected on what I concieve will be my future Life, I abandon this kind of Union to those who have not reached, or have passed my Age, and pray that their Happiness may equal, nay surpass, my Respect for the Sanctity of their Engagements.
You will perhaps think my System of Batchelorism ideal and visionary—the effect of a Revery—and laugh at it. (I am luckily at a good distance, for I would not wish to be lectured on this Head.) Quite the contrary. With my Eyes wide open, with the Faculties of my Mind, (never very bright by the way) and the Movements of my Heart in regular good Order, I have taken my Resolution. But should You think me serious, You will do me the Justice to believe, that no Change of Country, Situation or Mode of Life, have operated this Revolution in me. Nor that, by living in the Atmosphere of Libertinism, where Matrimony and its Engagements are not too much respected, my Determination has been founded in a Contempt of this State; nor that it has originated from disappointed Love. No, Madam, I respect and revere the Connubial State. And did I feel at this Moment the least disappointment in Love, I would frankly confess it to You, tell the Name of my Sweetheart, that of my Rival, and indeed the whole Story. You should be the last Person from whom I would conceal it. But not being a Lover, I can have no Rival and consequently no Disappointment in so tender an Affair, as that of Love. I am quite independent in this Respect. But I beg Pardon, Madam, for trespassing so long upon your Patience. I hardly know when to stop my Pen, when I am upon this Subject. But I see I have written enough. And will quit it.
We have no Account yet of Master John's Arrival. As he travelled with a Sweedish Gentleman, and had Letters of Recommendation from the Sweedish Minister at Petersbourg,5 and others Persons of Distinction there, he will return under great Advantages, and perhaps spend more time on the Road, than he otherwise would have done.

[salute] With perfect Respect, I have the honor to be, madam, your most ob. hble Servt.

[signed] J.T.
1. JA concurred in this expectation; writing to Secretary Livingston on 22 Jan., he anticipated that “the definitive treaty will be signed . . . in six weeks or two months at farthest, I suppose” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 6:226).
{ 79 }
2. AA to JA , 23 Dec. 1782, above.
3. Probably Abel Alleyne of Braintree (vol. 4:262; Braintree Town Records , p. 888).
4. See Thaxter to AA , 30 Jan., below.
5. A Mr. Gummer traveled along the same route as JQA from St. Petersburg as far as Abo in Finland, but evidently in a different coach. Gustaf Baron von Albedhyll, Sweden's chargé d'affaires in Russia, entrusted letters to JQA to carry to Stockholm (JQA, Diary , 1:150, 153–159).