A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 12


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0106

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1781-12-26

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

Your favour of the 24 was brought to me last night. It is true that I am not quite recovered of my Illness, I have Weaknesses and a { 159 } Lameness that is new to me. Ill Health is no Novelty to me, but Disobedience in my Legs and Feet, was unknown to me, untill I had the late Fever. I walk, however every day and find that I grow better, though but slowly.
Laurens has most certainly an honest soul. I think he must have his Liberty e’er long. Congress have it in their Power to imprison a whole Army, and Surely there is no stronger Reason for confining Mr L. than Mr Lovell or Gen. Lee.1
The Hymn to Ceres, I bought Sometime ago at Leyden, and have hunted for it every where in order to Send it you. But it is lost. I have not yet found it in this Town, will procure it, as soon as I can. I sent the 1st Vol of Pol. Holl. by Dr Dexter, and will send 2d Vol as soon as it is finished.
The Dutch will not accept the Mediation of Russia, but upon two preliminary’s 1. The Enjoyment of all the Rights of the maritime Neutrality. 2d a compleat Indemnification, for all the Losses, Sustained in the War. The English will never agree to either. So this little Bubble will burst like the great one of Vienna. But when will the Powers, leave off, this boyish Sport of blowing Bubbles with Tobacco Pipes and soap suds?
You Say the most violent Englishmen are exceedingly dejected: So, I am told they are here. They look as malicious as the Devil. But why do they not quit the Career, in which they will never find an End of their Mortifications?—a Career in which every Appearance of success, is a Misfortune and every Signal Defeat a Blessing?
It is no such Miracle. There are in England and Scotland five Millions and an half of Inhabitants—there are in the United States, four Millions. The former were at the Commencement of the War 140 Millions in Debt the latter not a farthing. The former were undone with Luxury and Corruption the later not quite. There is no Marvel therefore, in the Issue, They should have considered these Things twenty years ago, but they would not. G. Britain carries on the War, and pays her Interest and maintains her Govt at an Expence of <ten or fifteen> 25 or 30 Millions a Year America does not Spend two. This cannot last always. But many Reasons might be given in support of this opinion that the longer it lasts the better it will be for America in the End. If the Lion is killed Young Hercules will have the Skin. He does not want it however because he can be warm and comfortable without it.

[salute] With great Respect, I have the Honour to be, &c

[signed] J. Adams
{ 160 }
1. For another comparison between Henry Laurens’ situation and the earlier captures and exchanges of James Lovell and Gen. Charles Lee, see JA to Thomas Digges, 14 Oct. 1780 (vol. 10:266–267).

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0107

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Neufville, Jean de, & Fils (business)
Date: 1781-12-26

To Jean de Neufville & Fils

[salute] Gentlemen

I recieved the Letter with which You honored me yesterday.1
Mr. Barclay’s Office gives him full Authority in the Affair of the Goods, and his Abilities and Experience enable him to do every thing that can be done: so that I shall with great pleasure leave the whole affair to him, ready however at all times to render him any service in my power.
It gives me great pleasure to learn that the affair is in a way to be settled. Mr. Barclay has written to his Exy. Dr. Franklin, and his Representation will be more proper and more effectual than any thing could have been from me. My own Sentiments concerning the Bills I had sometime ago written to his Excelly., and he has recieved them.

[salute] I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Gentlemen, your most obedient & humble Servant

LbC in John Thaxter’s hand (Adams Papers).
1. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-12-02-0108

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Searle, James
Date: 1781-12-26

To James Searle

[salute] Dr Sir

Your two favours of Decr 3 and that of December 14, are before me.2 Mr Barclay is arrived, to my great Relief: His office and Character as well as your Recommendations entitle him to every Respect and Civility from me.
You favour from L’orient I answered, and transmitted under Cover to Mr Cummings, Some Dispatches from Gover Read. I condole with you, under the Loss of Mrs Searle:3 But Such is the Constitution of the World, and Under the Loss of Friends Fortunes, &c all We have to do is to Submit. Your Resolution to Spend the Remainder of your Days in Europe, may not prove to be a Law of the Medes,4 whether, however in Europe or America, I wish you success and Prosperity.
{ 161 }
Mr Bondfield has acted hitherto, for the Public at Bourdeaux, and has ever behaved well, as far as I have known. I Suppose that he will expect to be continued in the Service and to be Vice Consul or Consul, if Congress should appoint Such an officer for that Place. But perhaps Congress will, not appoint any but the Consul General and leave him to employ Such Persons as his Agents in other Cities as he pleases.
The Secretaryship for the Mission to Versailles, I am convinced will never be filled up, while the present Minister lives, unless it should be with the young Gentleman.5 The Commission for Peace is new modelled. The Ministers to Versailles and Madrid, Mr Laurens in the Tower and Mr Jefferson in America, are added in the new Commission: and there is no Secretary appointed. Mr Dana, is Still at Liberty to Act in it, in certain Circumstances, which however will not happen, because the Commission itself will not be called to Act a long time.
Portugal is but an English Colony, and never in my opinion will have any Thing to do with america while the War lasts. Thus you See, that I have no great Expectations, of your Succeeding in any Thing of a public Nature in Europe at present. Your Wish to be Vice Consul or Consul in Case another Should be appointed, is modest enough to be sure but you know that Congress have always many applications, and they weigh the Pretensions of all, very carefully. Your appointment would be very agreable to me, but all I can do in it, is to mention it to some of my friends. <But you know that my particular Friends in Congress are influenced by nobody, and no Consideration but the public good.>
As to your Sic Vos non Vobis Vellera fertis oves.6 It is true that I am a sheep and that I have been fleeced, but it gives me some Pleasure to reflect that my wool makes others warm. No I had rather Say I am a Bird, that my feathers have been plucked and worn as ornaments by others. Let them have the Plumage if they will it is but a Geugaw. However away with all this. It would be more just to say that We are all too much Addicted to disputing for the Feathers before We are quite in Possession of the Bird.
What do you mean by Ebenezer Kennersley?7 I dont Understand you. Your Sprightly Wit is a Proof to me that your Health is better, and it has a friendly effect upon mine.

[salute] I am with much Esteem, your Frd & hul sert

{ 162 }
1. The recipient’s copy of this letter was intercepted when the brig Betsey, bound from Nantes to Philadelphia, was captured and taken into New York (New York Royal Gazette, 3 July 1782). The letter was printed in the Royal Gazette of 10 July. A copy of the letter as reprinted in the Philadelphia Freeman’s Journal, 7 Aug., is in the Adams Papers (filmed at 30 April 1782, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 356). When JA published this letter in the Boston Patriot, 12 Sept. 1810, he noted, “this insignificant letter was intercepted by the enemy, and the ministry thought fit to print it in the newspapers; no doubt with the generous design of exciting miffs among Americans. Among those seized at St. Eustatia were some of more importance, but those they carefully suppressed.”
2. Neither of these letters has been found.
3. Ann Smith Searle died on 23 Sept. (Pennsylvania Gazette, 17 Oct.).
4. JA may be referring to Daniel, 6:15, “Know, O king, that the law of the Medes and Persians is, That no decree or statute which the king establisheth may be changed”; but similar statements appear in Daniel, 6:8, 12, and Esther, 1:19.
5. William Temple Franklin.
6. That is, you sheep have fleeces not for yourselves (attributed to Virgil).
7. Presumably Rev. Ebenezer Kinnersley, Baptist minister and Franklin’s friend and associate in his electrical experiments ( DAB ; Franklin, Papers , 4:192). Without Searle’s letter, the meaning remains unclear.