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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0072-0002

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1774-02-27

Enclosure: Poem on the Boston Tea Party

Wrote at the Request of A Gentleman who described the Late Glorious Event of sacrificeing several Cargos of tea to the publick Welfare, as a squable among the Celestials of the sea Arising from a scarcity of Nectar and Ambrosia

Bright Phebus Drove his Rapid Car amain,

But Baits his steeds, beyond the Western plain,

Behind a Golden skirte'd Cloud to rest,

Er'e Ebon Night had spread her sable Vest,

And drawn her Curtains or'e the fragrant Vale,

Or Cinthias shadows drest the lonely dale.

The Heroes of the Tuskeraro Tribe,

Who scorn alike, A Fetter, or a Bribe,

In order Range'd, and waiting Freedoms Nod,

To make an off'ring, to the Watry God.

Grey Neptunes Rising, from his sea green Bed,

He Wave'd his Trident or'e his ouzy Head,

Stretching from shore to shore, his Regal Wand,

Bids all the River Deities Attend,

But least Refusal from some distant Dame,

Trytons Hoarse Clarion summon'd them by Name.

In Counsel met, to Adjust affairs of state,

Among their Godships, rose a warm debate,

What luscious Draught, they next shou'd substitute,

That might the palates, of Celestials suit,

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As Nectars stream no more Meandering Rolls,

And Rich Ambrosia, quaff'd in flowing Bowls,

Profusely spent, nor Can Scamanders shore,

Yeald the fair sea Nimphs, one short Banquet more.

The Titans all with one accord Arouse'd,

To travil or'e Columbias Coast, propose'd,

To rob and plunder Ev'ry Neigh'bring Vine,

Regardless of Nemesis sacred shrine,

Nor leave untouch'd the peasants little store,

Or think of Right, while demi Gods have pow'r.

But they on No Alternative agreed,

Nor En'e Great Neptune further Could proceed,

Till Ev'ry Godess of the streams, and Lakes,

And lesser Dieties, of Fens and Brakes,

With all the Nymphs that swim around the Iles,

Deign to give sanction, by approving smiles.

For Females have their Influance over kings,

Nor wives, nor Mistresses, were useless things,

En'e to the Gods, of ancient Homers page.

Nor when in weighty Matters they Engage,

Could they Neglect the sexes sage advice,

And least of all, in any point so nice,

As to Forbid the Choice Ambrosial sip,

And offer Bohea to the rosey Lip.

Proud Amphitrite Rejects it in Disdain,

Refuse'd the Gift, and quits the Wat'ry main,

With servile Proteus laging by her side,

To take Advantage of the shifting tide,

To Catch a smile, or pick up Golden sands,

Either from Plutus, or the Naked strands.

Long practice'd, Easy he assumes the shape,

Of Fox, of panther, Crokedile, or ape,

If tis his Interest, his step dame He'll aid,

One pebble more, and Amphitrites Betray'd.

A Flaming Torch she took in Either Hand,

And as fell Discord Reign'd throughout the Land,

Was well appriz'd, the Centaurs would Conspire,

Resolv'd to set the No'thern World on Fire,

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By scatering the Weeds of Indian shores,

Or Else to lodge them in Pigmalions stores,

But if the Artifice shou'd not succeed,

Then in Revenge Attempt some Bolder deed.

For while old Oceans mighty Billows roar,

Or Foaming surges lash the distant shore,

Shall Godeses Regale like Woodland dames,

First let Chinesean Herbage Feed the Flames.

But all the Neriads Wisper'd Murmers Round,

And Cragy Cliffs Re-echo Back the sound,

Till fair Salacia perch'd upon the Rocks.

The Rival Godess Waves her yellow Locks,

Proclaims that Hyson shall asswage their Grief,

With Choice Sochong, and the imperial Leaf.

The Heroes of the Tuskurarine Race

(Who Neither hold, nor Even wish for place,

While Faction Reigns, and Tyrany presides,

And Base oppression or'e the Virtues Rides,

While Venal Measures dance in silken sails,

And Avarice or'e Earth and sea prevails,

And Luxery creates such mighty Feuds

En'e [in] the Bosoms of the Demi Gods)

Lent their strong arm, in pity to the Fair,

To aid the Bright Salacias Gen'rous Care,

Poure'd a profusion of Delicious teas,

Which Wafte'd by a soft Favonian Breeze,

Supplied the Wa'try Deities in spight,

Of all the Rage, of jealous Amphitrite.

The Fair Salacia Victory, Victry sings

In spite of Heroes, demi Gods, And kings.

She bids Defiance: to the servile train,

The pimps, and sicophants, of G[eorg]es Reign.

The Virtuous Daughters of the Neigh'bring Mead

In Graceful smiles Approve the Glorious deed,

And 'tho the Syrens left their Coral beds,

Just or'e the surface, lifted up their Heads,

And sung soft peans, to the Brave and Fair,

Till almost Caught in the Delusive snare,

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So sink securly in a Golden Dream,

And taste the sweet, innebriateing stream,

Which tho a Repast for the Watry Naiades,

Is Baneful poisen to the Mountain Dryades,

They saw delighted, from the Inland Rocks,

Or'e the Broad deep pour'd out Pandoras Box,

And join Salacias Victory to sing,

Ocean Rebounds, and songs of triumph Ring,

From Southern Lakes, Down to the Nothern Rills,

And spreads Confusion round Neponsit Hills.1

The content of all or some notes that appeared on this page in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Adams Boston.” Enclosure printed herewith.
1. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's home was in Milton among what Mrs. Warren calls the “Neponsit Hills.”

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0073

Author: Smith, Elizabeth (1750-1815)
Author: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1774-03-07

Elizabeth Smith to Abigail Adams

[salute] Dear Sister

I had written to the Deacon before I had received Yours,1 wherein I have your Sanction for it, and I had so far overcome the unconquerable aversion I have hitherto had, to writing on gilt Paper, as to use it for the first time and honour him with it.
When I received the Bundle a Sabbath Eve I imagined it contained a Book, but on losening the string, something dropt which I supposed to be an Inkhorn, opened it with a Jerk, and stabed the shining Weapon among the veins in my wrist.—Judge how I must be surprized?—What thought I, have I done, to deserve this fatal Present.—Pandora's Box, Lucretia's Poignard, and all the direful Events recorded in History, ocasioned by it, rushed with irresistable force into my Mind.
I am so far from desiring the old Proverb may be verified in this Instance, that I intend, rather by a reciprocal interchange of kind Offices, to knit the bands of Friendship more strongly together. But I think I would not express myself, in these Words to him, for the riches of Peru.
{ 104 }
You say you hope to see me in Town soon, and as an Inducement, tell me of killing Eyes, fascinating Tongues, inward greatness, and unaffected Manners. But ought these to allure, or have any effect on One who is enjoined “not to seek Temptation, which to avoid were better.”
Boston you inform me, is an excellent place to quench old Flames, and kindle new ones.—I have none to extinguish; nor can I wish to light up a Flame, or “envy the transported Lover, though blessed with the fullest confidence of his beloved Fair,” while enjoying the tranquil Pleasures of Disinterested Friendship.
You mention the Month of May as being the most dangerous. I know not how it is with others, but all Seasons, and all Months are alike to me. Virtue, good sense, and an amiable Disposition, are Qualities that, wherever they reside, in whatever Sex, in whatever Time, or Object I find them, I admire, esteem, and venerate.
Must one who is naturally of a chearful, and sociable Temper, who lives on the smiles, and pleasant Countenances of Others, be debarred giving the pleasure she receives? Can those who are almost secluded the Company of their own Sex, who wish to draw Instruction from every Fountain, be willing to omit any Opportunity that might afford it? May they not be fond of conversing on what they have read, and on the different Opinions of various Authors, on particular Subjects, without exciting Suspicions in a Family that are dishonourary to both Parties. To avoid these aspersions, is it absolutely necessary to purse up the Mouth, look demure, commence Prude, (which by the way I wonder I have not) keep at a Chimney's length, never suffer oneself to get within the power of attraction, lest Breath's should incorporate and engender Monsters.
To be obliged to behave in this manner, is to commit voilence on an innocent, chearful Disposition, is depriving benevolent Minds of that Source from whence they derive their most permanent Delight.—No, rather let me, conscious of the innocence of my Heart, and the integrity of my Intentions, glide on in the same uniform Course regulating my Conduct, by the same Principles, governing myself by those divine Laws, which I hope will ever influence every action of my Life. May the Law of kindness, and benevolence always be conspicuous in my Behaviour. These are Principles to which I would give full Latitude, and wish to cultivate, and nourish by Exercise till they become a confirmed Habit.
And can a Sister blame me, who is every Day tasting the calm Pleasures, annexed to such a Course of Life.
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Those who are acquainted with me, who know me, cannot but see that every worthy Person, (suffer me to repeat it, and let me beg you my Sister to remember it) of whatever Sex, every Boy, and every well behaved Child are alike the Objects of my Benevolence.
And if there are any Persons so vain, so much more stupid than Idiots as to construe every Smile, and every kind Office into Tokens of particular Affection, they do it at their Peril.—Let them take the Consequences.
I should not have omited acknowledging the receipt of your Letter, and thanking you for your obliging Care of the Correspondence before, if I had not feared I should express more Acrimony than would be consistent with that candid, and gentle Treatment due to a Sister. Nor would I suffer myself to set Pen to Paper, till Reason convinced me, all the Jealousy resulted from an over anxious concern for my Welfare, and Happiness.
You tell me if I cannot comprehend your meaning, it would be a very great Satisfaction to you. You might have enjoyed it, had I received it two Days before. If Mother had not explained the matter I should have been utterly at a loss to have understood your Insinuations.
You cannot think how much I was astonished to be told that I had excited Fears in some of the Family, that had given them a great deal of uneasiness, &c.
As I never entertained the most distant thought of such a thing, it not only grieved, but vexed me to be suspected, and for a while, I was plunged in the Gall of Bitterness.
As I am conscious of having endeavoured to regulate my Behaviour by the dictates of Humanity, Benevolence, and Candour, I sincerely hope I shall continue to act agreeable to them. As a Fellow-creature he demands my Benevolence, as a Person of Virtue, and Good Sense I like to converse with him, as a Gentleman I wish to see him treated with good-manners, and I desire to treat him, and every one else with Politeness. As one residing in the Family he is, (like all the others who behave well) the Object of my regard, and kind Offices. And if I was disposed to charge him with Folly, and Imprudence, I could tell you he has lived in other Families, before he came here.
The alternative for those who reside in this is really very unhappy. If they are wholly unattentive they are called hogish, ill-bred Clowns. If obliging, then they are suspected of having some sinister Views &c. &c.
I do not think there is one in This Family that will pretend they { 106 } ever heard him say any thing which the most jealous Prude could blame, or give them just Grounds to suppose he has any such Design, and as I myself have not the least reason to suspect it, I earnestly pray that I may not alter my Conduct in one single Point, till I am fully convinced my principles are wrong.
As I am very sensible People never had less Cause for their Suspicions, I never felt less inclination to rob them of the pleasure and satisfaction they take in the enjoyment of them. Would it not be cruel to demolish a Structure, because it had got no foundation. But notwithstanding this, I find my Resentment so far exceeds my benevolence, as
To certify all those whom it does, or may concern, that We John Shaw, and Elizabeth Smith have no such Purpose in Our Hearts, as has been unjustly surmised.

[salute] This We do solemnly declare as witness our hand

[signed] John Shaw junr.2
[signed] Elizabeth Smith Junr.
[signed] In presence of William SmithElizabeth Smith
I would have given almost any thing to have had the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing you before you returned to Boston. I wanted to say many things that I cannot write.

[salute] Be so kind as to give my Love to Brother Adams, and the Children, and accept yourself of more than I can express from Your affectionate Sister,

[signed] Betsey Smith
PS Excuse the writing the Candle snaped and greased the paper so, that 'tis impossible to write well. The above attestation will not I fear, be deemed legal, but may be sufficient I hope to satisfy you.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs Abigail Adams at Boston.”
1. AA's letter not having been found, the allusions in the present letter are in part obscure. All that is certain is that AA had rebuked her sister (“unjustly,” Betsy thought) for familiar or flirtatious conduct toward John Shaw.
2. This signature is clipped and mounted in place on the MS. Betsy must have cut it from a letter of Shaw's and placed it here, with or without his knowledge. Furthermore, the names of Betsy's parents at the left, though in seemingly different hands, are probably not actual signatures. All this suggests that the deposition is a joke. But the tone of the letter up to this point is scarcely jocular, and Betsy evidently meant the renunciation to be serious, whatever the form she used to express it to her sister. See, further, AA to Mary (Smith) Cranch, printed under the assigned date of 1774, below.
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, 2018.