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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0078

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1783-04-29

Abigail Adams to John Thaxter

I am largely indebted to you my much valued correspondent for many Letters received in the last four months, to not one of which have I been able to send you a line in return; no vessels have gone from this Quarter since december last.1
I join my congratulations with every real Friend of America upon the safe and Honorable peace obtaind for our Country, thanks be to Heaven, and to the firmness, wisdom and integrity of our negotiaters. I “persue the triumph, and partake the Gale”2 with a satisfaction that neither the envy of some, or the Secret malice of others can rob me of. Do you recollect a Letter of Plinys to Hispulla which you will find in the 7 volume of the Spectator?3 Tis expressive of what I have often felt, to that I refer you for a true disscription4 of an affectionate Wife participating in the Glory and Reputation of her Husband.
Last Evening Your favour of November 205 was deliverd me, and have I really puzzeld you? Are you anxious to know who the Eliza is that wore your Minature? As I have obtaind my end; which was to teaze you a little, in return for your Ideal Fair American;6 I will state facts. Your sisters had sent to Eliza C[ranc]h Your minature to shew to me, and she put it upon her Neck, no further do you mind: and came to see if I knew it, I catcht the opportunity of requiteing you in your own way. I know not whether any of your Female acquaintance after Your comments: which I realy think just, would wear your portrait, but I know several who have Friendship enough for you, to retain you in their Hearts.
I do not see why a subject which appears from all your Letters to { 149 } have taken such a full possession of your mind, should <appear> become to you so impracticable. Return with peace to your Native Land, set yourself down with a fixed resolution to persue your profession; and I dare say success will crown your endeavours. There is more good to be done in Life, says a judicious observer of Humane Nature, by obstinate diligence and perseverence, than most people seem aware of. The Ant and Bee are but little and weak animals; and yet, by constant application they do wonders.7 It is an observation of Plinys that no Mans abilities are so remarkably shining, as not to stand in need, of a proper opportunity, a patron, and even the praises of a Friend to recommend them to the Notice of the World. Your merit I dare say has secured to you the two latter, nor need you dispair of the former, when you return to a Country you have already done honour to.
Heaven has yet in store for you some sweet female companion to smooth the Rugged road of Life,8 and sweeten the bitter cup—indeed you shall not live single. The greatest Authority pronnounced that it was not good for Man to be alone.9
Your Hingham Friends are all well and expect your return with impatience. I cannot tell you much News of the domestick kind. Some persons say that your Friend Mr. Guild is taken with the Quincy, I hope he will do well—tho it is a Mortal complaint.10 With Regard to my comeing to Europe, Mr. A—s Letter of Febry 18 is so explicit with regard to his return that I shall not attempt it, even tho Congress appoint him to the Court of Britain, which tis said will be done.11 Mr. Smith has been waiting to know whether I should go or not, as he has been kind enough to offer me his protection. Common Fame gave him to me for a son12 this last winter, who then so proper to conduct the Mother and daughter abroad in the absence of the Father. Tis true he was politely attentive to Emelia this winter, gave her a ticket to the assembly and attended her there through the Season; which you know is sufficient for the world to unite them for life. Mr. Smith is a Gentleman of a Fair and amiable character and I sincerely wish him happily connected altho his attempts have never yet been successfull, by no means equal to his merit.—Adieu I am hurried to death to close, here is a messenger for my Letter now; I have not time to give it a Second perusal so excuse every inaccuracy and belive me most affectionately your Friend.13
[signed] Portia
RC (MB); addressed: “To Mr John Thaxter Paris”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams 29th. April 1783. Recd. 26. August 1783.” Dft (Adams Papers); written at the bottom of the reverse side, in AA's hand: “prussia.” The Dft was written on one half of a large sheet { 150 } of paper that JA had used as a cover for letters that he sent to AA, and it shows faded seal markings; AA used the other half to draft her 28 April letter to JA, above. Major variants between the RC and the Dft are indicated in the notes.
1. The draft is more specific: “no vessels have gone from this Quarter to any part of Europe since the Iris saild in december last.” Since AA's last letter to Thaxter, 26 Oct. 1782, above, Thaxter had written ten letters to AA; all appear above.
2. Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, epistle IV, line 386.
3. The Spectator, London, 1767, 7:207–208 (the conclusion of The Spectator, No. 525, 1 Nov. 1712). Pliny the Younger wrote to Hispulla, his wife's aunt, to thank her for the excellent education she had given her niece, and to tell her how devoted his wife was to him, and what pleasure she took in every aspect of his career as a lawyer, writer, and public official.
4. In the draft, AA wrote and then struck out: “of the pleasure and satisfaction with which,” and replaced it with the text in the recipient's copy.
5. This is the letter begun on 19 Nov. 1782, above, which Thaxter finished on 20 November.
6. The draft reads: “your fair American, whom I rather suspect is merely Ideal.”
7. This and the preceding sentence are not in the draft.
8. In the draft these words follow: “may she never be called to the trials of Seperation which have torn so often torn the Heart of Your Friend.” The rest of the sentence in the recipient's copy and the sentence that follows there are not in the draft.
9. Genesis 2:18.
10. In place of this final clause, the draft has “constant application and attendance may have a good Effect.” Benjamin Guild would marry Elizabeth Quincy, daughter of Col. Josiah Quincy, in May 1784.
11. In the draft AA is less decided: “I am at a loss what to determine with regard to comeing abroad even tho Mr. Adams should be detained an other year. I shall better be able to judge when I hear from congress.” The draft was apparently composed before 29 April, when AA reported to JA that she had received his 18 Feb. letter the previous evening (to JA, 28 April, postscript, above), and perhaps on or before 27 April, when AA2 mentioned AA's receipt of an 18 Feb. letter (AA2 to Thaxter, 27 April, above; see AA to JA, 28 April, note 19, above). AA's statement here that she would not attempt to cross the Atlantic even if Congress should appoint JA minister to Great Britain contradicts her 28 April letter to JA, and its 29 April postscript, above, as well as the drafts of both that letter and the present one.
12. That is, a son-in-law; see AA to JA, 7 April, above. If William Smith, AA's cousin and son of Isaac Smith Sr., really did court AA2, he seems to have made little impression on her.
13. The draft continues: “An other opportunity will soon offer when I shall write you again. I must close now or I shall not have leisure to reply to Mr. Storer's polite and Friendly epistles—continue to write whilst you tarry abroad to your sincerely affectionate Friend.”
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/