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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0144

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-28

John Adams to Abigail Adams

I suppose I must write every day, in order to keep or rather to restore good Humour, whether I have any thing to say or not.1
The Scaffold is cutt away, and I am left kicking and sprawling in the Mire, I think. It is hardly a state of Disgrace that I am in but rather of total Neglect and Contempt. The humane People about me, feel for my situation they say: But I feel for my Countrys situation. If I had deserved such Treatment, I should have deserved to be told so at least, and then I should have known my Duty.
After sending orders to me at five hundred Miles distance which I neither solicited, nor expected nor desired, to go to Europe through the Gulf Stream, through Thunder and Lightning, through three successive storms, and three successive Squadrons of British Men of War, { 182 } if I had committed any Crime which deserved to hang me up in a Gibet in the Face of all Europe, I think I ought to have been told what it was—or if I had proved myself totally insignificant, I think I ought to have been called away at least from a Place, where I might remain a Monument of the Want of Discernment in sending me here.
I have given Notice here and written to Congress, of my Intentions to return, by the first good Opportunity, unless I should receive other orders before my Embarkation, orders that I can execute with Honour and some Prospect of Advantage to the Public.—You know probably before now what orders if any are sent me. If none or such as I cannot observe you may expect to see me in June or July. If otherwise I know not when.
1. This day JA wrote her twice, and the order in which the two letters are printed here ||(the second letter following)|| is merely the editors' guess.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0145

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1779-02-28

John Adams to Abigail Adams

This Day, the Chevalier D'Arcy, his Lady, and Niece, Mr. Le Roy and his Lady, dined here. These Gentlemen are two Members of the Academy of Sciences.1
Now are you the wiser for all this? Shall I enter into a Description of their Dress—of the Compliments—of the Turns of Conversation—and all that.
For mercy Sake dont exact of me that I should be a Boy, till I am Seventy Years of Age. This Kind of Correspondance will do for young Gentlemen and Ladies under 20, and might possibly be pardonable till 25—provided all was Peace and Prosperity. But old Men, born down with Years and Cares, can no more amuse themselves with such Things than with Toys, Marbles and Whirligigs.
If I ever had any Wit it is all evaporated—if I ever had any Imagination it is all quenched.
Pray consider your Age, and the Gravity of your Character, the Mother of Six Children—one of them grown up, who ought never to be out of your sight, nor ever to have an Example of Indiscretion set before her.
I believe I am grown more austere, severe, rigid, and miserable than ever I was.—I have seen more Occasion perhaps.2
{ 183 }
1. Patrick d'Arcy (1725–1779), Irishborn military engineer who served in the French army; and Jean Baptiste Leroy (d. 1800), French physicist, author, and intimate friend of Franklin. They were currently engaged in electrical experiments that interested Franklin. See Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale, under the names of both men, and see also Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:54.
2. The final punctuation mark may have been intended for a comma instead of a period, and the text ends at the foot of the first page of a four-page sheet. JA may, therefore, have intended to continue the sentence and the letter, or he may have simply broken off in disgust.
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/