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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0246

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1776-04-13

Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Dear Marcia

I Received a few lines1 from you more than a week ago, and determined to have replied immediately to them, but tho you will scarcly believe me, I have never found an opportunity to take up my pen till this moment, which is ten oClock Saturday evening; tis true I have wrote several evenings since, but only to my Nearest Friend, and he has chid me for my delays, delays of which I have not been guilty, but the Letters have not reachd him. I miss'd the very kind care of my much valued Friend2 greatly in that respect.
Your freedom in detaining the pamphlets was very agreable to me, it assurd me that Marcia made no Stranger of her Friend; and judging by her own Heart, knew that any entertainment or pleasure of her Friends contributed to her happiness.
I find myself dear Marcia, not only doubled in Wedlock but multiplied in cares to which I know myself uneaquel, in the Education of my little flock I stand in need of the constant assistance of my Better half.3
I can not do them the justice I wish to, from the multiplicity of other concerns which devolve upon me in consequence of the continued absence of my associate.
I find it necessary not only to pay attention to my own in door domestick affairs, but to every thing without, about our little farm &c. The Man upon whom I used to place dependance was taken sick last winter and left us. I have not been able to supply his place—therefore am obliged to direct what I fear I do not properly understand. Frugality, Industery and ecconomy are the Lessons of the day—at least they must be so for me or my small Boat will suffer shipwreck.
{ 378 }
I have been much gratified with the respect shewn to the remains of our worthy Friend. I hope and believe that the orator excerted himself upon the occasion—he had a fine field to display himself in.

O pardon me, thou bleeding peice of Earth!

That I am meek and gentle with these Butchers

Thou art the Ruins of as brave a Man

As ever live'd in the tide of times;

Woe to [the] hand that shed this costly Blood

Over thy Wounds now do I prophesy,

(Which like dumb mouths, do ope their Ruby lips

To beg the voice and utterance of a Tongue)

A curse shall light upon that line of Men

Domestick fury and firce civil Strife

Shall cumber all the parts of Brittain.

Shakspear

But where do I ramble. You inquire for inteligence. I immagine you have the same that I have. I have more news papers than Letters. My Last containd an account of the Death of Governor Ward of Road Island with the small pox, “an amiable and sensible Man, a stedfast Friend to his Country upon very pure principals.”
I hope you will fullfill your promise of writing me a long Letter. How do you like Mrs. Washington. Any other person you have seen, and noticed should be glad of your opinion. I love characters drawn by your pen.—When do you think of returning? Suppose you have not ventured into Boston. I dare not tho I have a great desire to look at it.
My affectionate Regards (Shall I use that word) to the Coll. from his and your assured Friend,
[signed] Portia
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To Mrs Mercy Warren Watertown”; docketed in two later hands: “Mrs. Adams. Apr: 1776 No 7.”
1. Not found.
2. James Warren, who had usually seen to the forwarding of AA's letters.
3. AA's ambiguous punctuation has been preserved. Full stop after “uneaquel” or after “flock”?

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0247

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-04-14

Abigail Adams to John Adams

I have misst my Good Friend Col. W[arre]n from Watertown in the conveyance of my Letters; you make no mention of more than one, write me how many you have had and what the dates were. I wrote { 379 } you upon the 17 of March.1 Perticuliars it was not then posible to obtain; and after that I thought every pen would be imployed in writing to you a much more accurate account than I could give you.
The Fleet lay in the Road allmost a fortnight after the Town was evacuated; in that time Major Tuper came with a Body of Men to G[e]r[man]t[ow]n and procured two Lighters, (one of them was that of which you are part owner) and fitted them with every sort of combustable Matters, Hand Grenades &c. in order to set fire to the Fleet, but the very day he was ready they saild and it was said that they had inteligence from Boston of the design. However he carried the Lighters up to Town for the next Fleet that appears.
Fort Hill is a fortifying I suppose in the best Manner, committes have been appointed to survey the Islands &c. but we are scanty of Men, tis said we have not more than 2000 Effective Men left, and the General thought it necessary to take the Heavy cannon with him. We have many peices spiked up which they are imployed in cleaning, about an 100 peices I have heard was left at the Castle with their trunnels broke or spiked. The Castle you have no doubt heard was burnt by the Troops before they saild, and an attempt made to blow up the walls in which however they did not succeed any further than to shatter them.
There are so many things necessary to be done that I suppose Buisness moves slowly. At present we all seem to be so happy and so tranquil, that I sometimes think we want another Fleet to give some energy and spirit to our motions. But there has been a great overturn and people seem to be hardly recoverd from their amazement. Many Building[s] in Town sustaind great damages more perticuliarly at the South end, the Furniture of many houses was carried of or broken in peices. Dr. Gardiner left all his furniture and Medicine valued tis said at 400 Sterling. Dr. Loyd is still in Town, Dr. Whitworth too, both ought to be transported.2 Mr. Goldwait [is] in Town [and] all the Records of which he had the care safe, tho it seems part of them were carried into Boston. All the papers relating to the probate courts are missing.3 Mr. Lovel and all the prisoners taken at the Charlstown Battle are carried of. The Bells are all in Town, never were taken down. The officers and Tories have lived a life of Dissipation. Inclosed is a prologue of Burgoines, with a parody written in Boston soon after it was acted.—Burgoine is a Better poet than Soldier.4
As to goods of any kind, we cannot tell what quantity there is. Only two or three Shops open. Goods at a most extravagant price—all the better to promote Manufactures.
The small pox prevents my going to Town; several have broke out { 380 } with it in the Army since they went into Boston. I cannot help wishing that it would spread.5 I think the Country is in more danger than ever. I am anxious about it. If it should spread there is but one thing would prevent my going down to our own House and having it with all our children and I dont know but I should be tempted to run you in debt for it.
There is talk of raising an other Regiment. If they should I fear we shall suffer in our Husbandery. Labour is very high. I cannot hire a Man for six months under 20 pounds Lawfull money.
The Works upon the Neck are levelling. We keep Guards upon the Shoars yet.—Manly has taken a vessel Load of Tories. Among them is Black the Scotchman and Brasen head Jackson, Hill the Baker &c. What can be done with them. I think they ought to be transported to England. I would advertize for tory transports.
Hanover has made large quantities of salt peter.
This week we are to hold court here, but I do not imagine any thing will be done.
I have a Letter from you the 29 of March. Tis said there is one from Mr. Gerry the 3 of April acquainting us with your opening trade. Who is the writer of Common Sense, of Cato, of Casandra?6
I wish you would according to promise write me an account of Lord Sterling. We know nothing about him here.
All the Tories look crest fallen. Several deserters from on board the commodore['s] ship say that tis very sickly on board. We have only that and two or 3 cutters beside's.7 We fear that a Brig laiden with 70 tons of powder which saild from Newbury port has fallen into the enemys hands upon her return.
Pray continue to write me by every opportunity, the writing Books were very acceptable presents.
I rejoice in the Southern Victorys. The oration was a very elegant performance, but not without much Art—a few Strokes which to me injure the performance.8
I know not any thing further which I ought to say but that I am most affectionately Yours.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. In Philadelphia To the care of Col: Warren”; endorsed: “Ap. 14.” The stated enclosures were not received by JA; see note 4.
1. 16–18 March, above.
2. James Lloyd Sr. (1728–1810), of whom there is an account in Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, vol. 12 (in press, 1962); and Miles Whitworth Sr., who is mentioned under his son's name in Jones, Loyalists of Mass., p. 295.
3. AA's carelessness in the foregoing passage leaves her meaning a little uncertain. Ezekiel Goldthwait (1710– { 381 } 1782) was, among other things, clerk of the Suffolk Inferior Court of Common Pleas; there is an account of him and of what happened, so far as known, to the court records during the siege of Boston, by John Noble, Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns., 5 (1902):5–26.
4. JA said in his reply of 28 April, below, that the enclosures were not with the letter when he received it. On Burgoyne's efforts in drama writing during the siege of Boston, among others The Blockade of Boston, acted in January and parodied as The Blockheads, or The Affrighted Officers, see Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, 3:93, 161–162, with references there.
5. So that the town authorities would permit inoculation.
6. JA answered these questions in his reply of 28 April, below.
7. Meaning British ships left behind to divert troop and supply vessels that might have sailed from England. This squadron, under Capt. Francis Banks in the Renown, patrolled Nantasket Roads and the lower harbor until mid-June (French, First Year, p. 672, 682–683). See Mary Palmer to JA, 15–17 June, below.
8. William Smith's Oration on Montgomery, Perez Morton's more recent Oration on Warren, or some other?
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/