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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0136

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-16

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

Though I have this day for the first time received a Letter from your husband, yet I feel chagrined at not having had one inclosed for you. { 172 } I had promised myself the pleasure of being instrumental to your happiness in that way, frequently. He dates from Passy Decr. 6th.1 and acknowledges the Receipt of an official Letter from Me of Octr. 122 but says not a syllable of having touched a single one of all my private Addresses to him. He is not lengthy. Some parts are confidential and not interesting to you as his Wife. Other Parts, tho confidential also, are not indifferent in a domestic view. On the footing therefore of a past promise I copy them. “Mr. D. and others have written in a manner which makes it expected that one will be left alone here. But what is to be done with the other two is left to conjecture. If I am recalled, I shall have nothing to do but get home if I can. If I am appointed to another Court I shall be in some perplexity; because I see no probability of being received at present. However, I can digest nothing till I have the premises.”—“The King's Speech I have already sent to Congress by several Opportunities. You will see he dreads the great armament of other powers, in the plural. He must mean Holland and Spain. You will see also that the Opposition is more strong than it ever was before, in both Houses. I will omit no opportunity of sending the other papers with the debates as they come, and I pray they may go safe. But immense Numbers of our Dispatches are sunk in the Sea. I beg of you to write as often as possible to John Adams.”
None of the Papers he mentions have come to hand. The Perplexity he apprehends will I know for certain lessen every hour. You will hear much talk of great Secrets which Congress keep to themselves. It is true that some Circumstances respecting Alliances are and ought to be concealed but the News papers will give you the main Parts of what we know in Regard to Friendships for us and Disappointments for Gr. Britain.
But, I quit these Topics, and return to Mr. A——. His Namesake here wrote some time ago on the subject of a new destination for him3 and several of my Letters are on their passage tending in their contents to make him rest satisfied till he receives our final Adjustments of who and where.

[salute] With a terrible Head Ach but a sound and affectionate Heart I bid you Good Night.

[signed] JL
1. LbC, Adams Papers. Lovell's quotation below of about half of JA's letter is sufficiently accurate.
2. Lovell, for the Committee for Foreign Affairs, to the American Commissioners (PPAmP: Franklin Papers; printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:781).
3.
“It is not yet determind how you will be disposed of; but as Congress entertain great Expectations from your Services, you may depend upon Employ• { 173 } ment being allotted for you somehow. The critical Situation of the Powers of Europe in general, makes it somewhat difficult for us to determine, to which of them to make our Addresses at present. . . . Holland, whose Policy is always to be at Peace, may be open for a Negociation; and in my Opinion, we ought to take the earliest Opportunity to tempt her” (Samuel Adams to JA, 25 Oct. 1778, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0137

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-19

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have written three Answers to yours of January 4. This is the fourth. The Three first I have burned. In one I was melancholly, in another angry, and in the third merry—but either would have given you more Pain than Pleasure. I have gone through with several others of your Letters in the same manner. They are Admirably written, but there is such a Strain of Unhappiness and Complaint in them, as has made me very uneasy.—This last goes farther than any other, and contains an Expression which allarms me indeed, and convinces me, either that some infernal has whispered in your Ear Insinuations, or that you have forgotten the unalterable Tenderness of my Heart.1
This Letter is an Additional Motive with me to come home. It is Time.—I have written as often as I could. I want to write you every day but I cannot—I have too much to say: but have good Reasons for saying nothing. Is it necessary that I should make Protestations that I am, with an Heart as pure as Gold or Aether,2 forever yours.
1. At the close of her letter of 2 Jan., above, AA twitted JA on the infrequency and brevity of his letters to her and threatened to follow his example; at the same time she expressed the hope that Captain Ober, momentarily expected in “the publick packet” from France, would bring letters that would assuage her disappointment. This, however, did not happen, and on 4 Jan. she addressed JA “in a Strain of Unhappiness and Complaint” stronger than anything she had said earlier on his seeming neglect of her. Her letter has not survived, although it is acknowledged here, again in JA's first letter of 20 Feb., following, and is mentioned in JQA's letter to his mother of 20 Feb., below.
2. Thus apparently in MS, though partly overwritten. Early meanings of the word ether (commonly spelled aether) included: “The clear sky; the upper regions of space beyond the clouds”; and “the element breathed by the gods” (OED).

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0138

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-20

John Adams to Abigail Adams

March 25  
June 10  
June 18  
May 18  
Octr.   10  
  21  
  25  
Decr.   2  
  15.  
Jany.   2 1779  
  4.  
In the Margin are the Dates of all the Letters I have received from you. I have written you, several Times { 174 } that Number—they are allmost all lost, I suppose by yours.1
But you should consider, it is a different Thing to have five hundred Correspondents and but one. It is a different Thing to be under an Absolute Restraint and under none. It would be an easy Thing for me to ruin you and your Children by an indiscreet Letter—and what is more it would be easy, to throw our Country into Convulsions.—For Gods sake never reproach me again with not writing or with Writing Scrips. Your Wounds are too deep.
You know not—you feel not—the dangers that surround me, nor those that may be brought upon our Country.
Millions would not tempt me to write to you as I used. I have no security that every Letter I write you will not be broken open and copied and transmitted to Congress and to English News Papers. They would find no Treason nor Deceipt in them it is true, but they would find Weakness and Indiscretion, which they would make as ill an Use of.
There are Spies upon every Word I utter, and every Syllable I write—Spies planted by the English—Spies planted by Stockjobbers—Spies planted by selfish Merchants—and Spies planted by envious and malicious Politicians.
I have been all along aware of this, more or less, but more so now than ever.
My Life has been often in danger, but I never considered my Reputation and Character so much in danger as now.
I can pass for a Fool, but I will not pass for a dishonest or a mercenary Man.
Be upon your Guard therefore—I must be upon mine—And I will.
1. JA reports in the margin of his letter the receipt of eleven letters from AA during his year's absence. Four of these have not survived in any version known to the editors: 25 March, 10 Oct., 2 Dec. 1778, and 4 Jan. 1779. Three others have been found only as drafts: 21, 25 Oct., and 15 Dec. 1778 (all printed above, but the last under the date of its presumed draft, 13 Dec.). The other four survive as recipients' copies: 18 May, 10, 18 June 1778, and 2 Jan. 1779 (all printed above). JA failed, however, to list AA's letter of 29 Sept. 1778, which he had acknowledged in his to her of 2 Dec. and which is printed above from an undated draft under the date he furnished in his acknowledgment. Apparently he had not yet received hers of 27 Dec. 1778, above—a circumstance that is a little puzzling because it seems to have been sent by the same conveyance, the Alliance frigate, which had brought him AA's letter of 13 (or 15) Dec. 1778. Besides the letters here enumerated, AA had sent to JA during this period four other letters, at the very least, which he { 175 } had not received but which are printed above (the earliest of them in vol. 2) from her drafts, in some cases with supplied or approximate dates, as follows: 8 March, 30 June, ca. 15 July, and 12–23 Nov. 1778. (A letter printed in JA-AA, Familiar Letters, p. 340–341, under the incorrect date of 23 Aug. 1778, is printed below under its correct date of 23 Aug. 1780.)
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/