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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0304

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1780-09-19

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

A few days since I had the honor of a letter from Mr. A., who I have the pleasure to inform You is well with his two Sons.1 Mr. Dana is gone also to Amsterdam—he left Paris the 12th instant. What his Object is I know not—his determination was sudden and unexpected, and occasioned by the Arrival of Mr. Searle, but this by the bye.
I am left here of Course a miserable, solitary lonely Being, altho' in this gay City—a situation very embarrassing and disagreable to me. I sincerely wish for their return, and flatter myself that the Time is not far distant.
Was I not one of the soberest and steadiest of all the five and twenty's in the World, I should run wild in this Climate of Amusement. As a kind of Consolation in my Solitude, I have got a Limner to sketch my Phiz. It is rather a silent Companion, but perhaps as proper a one as I ought to have at present.2
Master John and I have commenced smart Correspondents. He sends me now and then small portions of his Journal which is very judiciously written. Master Charles and I have just opened—I have wrote him,3 but have not recieved his Answer. They are indeed both fine young Gentlemen and conduct themselves with great propriety. Charles will be loved every where—his delicacy and sensibility always charm. He is beloved I find at the Pension by his Schoolmates which is a happy Circumstance for him and his Brother, who is also highly esteemed there. I have great satisfaction in assuring You of these facts, for I well know how interested and tender a part You take in every thing that respects them, and the Pleasure it will give You to hear of their good Conduct.
Mr. Searle brought a most pleasing, charming Account of our public Affairs, which made him a most welcome visitor. The original Spirit seems to have revived—may the English feel its Energy. The loss of Charlestown may prove great gain. The English made a great handle of this Acquisition and their Adherents have endeavoured to cast “Shadows, Clouds and darkness” upon our prospect, but the flames of Springfield and Tarry Town have dissipated them. The burning of Villages (tho' distressing to Individuals) has no bad effect upon the Confederacy at large. It rouses up a spirit of Indignation and Resentment, and kindles a flame pure in its birth, rapid in its growth and terrible in its Consequences.
There is nothing too absurd and ridiculous for them to publish, and { 419 } to make believed. They have killed the Chevalier de la Luzerne in a Mob at Philadelphia, made the french Fleet take possession of Rhode Island in the name of the King of France, turned this same Chevalier (whom they destroyed long ago at Philadelphia) out of Boston in Consequence of it, killed Genl. Washington forty times over and defeated his Army as often, taken N. Carolina and Virginia, all the World running voluntarily to their King's Standard, and a vast abundance more of the same kind of Flummery, Nonsense, Contradictions and Inconsistencies. It was high diversion to read the Court Gazette after the loss of the East and West India fleets. The Turnings, the twistings, the Comparison of one Event with another, diminishing their losses, running parallels, &c. &c. was a rich repast for an American.
Much Duty, and respect where due. Much Love to the young Ladies, a few of whom I wish were here to keep House for me.
With great respect, I have the Honor to be, Madam, your most obedient humble Servant.
1. JA's letter has not been found.
2. From letters to his family it appears that Thaxter not only had a portrait painted but a miniature later executed from it. After many delays and with frequent disclaimers of vanity, he subsequently sent both home to Hingham. The miniature was apparently lost in transit; the portrait may survive but has thus far eluded the editors' searches. See Thaxter to his sister Celia, 21 Dec. 1780; 1 April, 24 May 1781; 27 July, 9 Oct., 25 Nov. 1782; 7 Feb. 1783 (MHi:Thaxter Papers).
3. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0305

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-09-19

John Thaxter to John Adams

[salute] Sir

This Evening Capt. Simeon Sampson of the State Ship Mars of 20 Guns arrived here, and delivered me a large Budget of Letters for You and Mr. Dana. According to your direction, I opened your's, and read them excepting Mrs. A[dams'] which I had no business to read. Postage for her Letters you will never think dear, I therefore have forwarded them with the highest satisfaction. I have the honor of a most excellent Letter from her1—indeed She never writes otherwise than well. It is a Correspondence not more honorable than instructive to me.
There are two Letters from Genl. Warren, one from I. Smith Esq., one from Dr. Tufts, one from R. H. Lee Esqr. of the 7th. May, one from Dr. Gordon, one from Mr. Vernon, one from Tristram Dalton Esqr. and one from Ellis Gray Esqr. all dated about the middle of July last.2
{ 420 }
With Mr. Dalton's Letter is a large bundle of Papers respecting the Brigantine the Fair Play, which was sunk by a Battery on the Island of Guadaloupe. The Papers relative to this Case are very numerous, and I have not as yet read them. In his letter to You, he states the facts concisely—that the King had ordered a reparation from the Chest at Guadaloupe, that the order had been evaded there, altho' repeated applications had been made: that as an Excuse it was alledged that the Chest was empty, and was therefore recommended to apply to the Minister of the King, to obtain an order for payment in France. He requests your assistance in the Business, if You have a spare moment. There is a letter to Dr. Franklin from the same Gentleman in the same Budget—it is open.3 I pray your direction in the matter, whether to deliver it now or wait your return. If the Letter is delivered, the Papers may be required also. There is a letter to Mr. Gerard in the same budget, directed to Mr. Dana's Care, which he is to deliver if he thinks proper—it is also open.
Mr. Gray has had a Vessel condemned at Martinico. The Judge, he says, declares in his decree of condemnation Vessel and Cargo to be Dutch Property, but that the Vessel was navigated by Englishmen. This is absolutely denied, and Capt. Andrews has appealed, and is coming to France by the Way of Holland to support his Appeal. Mr. Gray requests your Assistance; with what propriety is not my business to determine. Mr. Andrews must have arrived at Holland by this, as he sailed the beginning of July.
In one of Genl. W[arren's] letters, he complains much of English Goods arriving by permit, that Duncan and Mitchel had arrived with a Cargo, thinks it ought to be publickly avowed or discountenanced, and that it will not leave a very agreable impression upon our new Connections.
Captain Sampson is much embarrassed by not finding Mr. Austin here. In Case of Mr. Austin's Absence he was instructed to apply to You, and in your Absence to Mr. Dana. He desired me to read his private instructions, which I did, and find by them he is ordered not [to] exceed six weeks stay in France. His Ship wants cleaning, his Men money &c. &c. It is absolutely necessary that Mr. Austin return without loss of time to Paris, and the Captain has desired me to acquaint him with it, or at least to request the favour of You, Sir, to do it. The Captain says he has wrote to Mr. Austin, and upon the presumption that he will return immediately, I shall not forward the Councils dispatches to him, lest he should set off before they could reach there.
If I have managed these dispatches and Letters to your satisfaction, { 421 } Sir, I shall think myself happy. The business was novel, and can make no other Apology for any Error in it, than having conducted it to the best of my knowledge.
I have opened none of Mr. Dana's letters, not having permission for that purpose. They are somewhat bulky and heavy—if he thinks proper to have them forwarded, I shall readily comply.
The best news from home is, that the Spirit of 1775 is revived. The loss of Charlestown has roused up every body—Genl. W[arren] writes We are likely to have a fine Army. There is a large bundle of Newspapers, but have not yet read them.
My respects to Mr. Dana and love to the young Masters.

[salute] I have the Honor to be with perfect respect, Sir, your Excellency's most obedient and humble Servant,

[signed] J. Thaxter Junr.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “M. Thaxter,” to which CFA later added “19 Sept. 1780.”
1. AA to Thaxter, 21 July, above.
2. Most of the letters mentioned are in the Adams Papers: from James Warren, 11, 19 July (both printed in Warren-Adams Letters, 2:134–137); from Cotton Tufts, 25 July (printed above); from R. H. Lee, 7 May (printed in R. H. Lee, Letters, ed. Ballagh, 2:182–184); from Rev. William Gordon, 22 July (printed in MHS, Procs., 63 [1929–1930]:436–438); from William Vernon, 22 July; and from Ellis Gray, 25 July. Those from Isaac Smith Sr. and Tristram Dalton have not been found.
Tristram Dalton (1738–1817), a Harvard classmate of JA and later a U.S. Senator, was at this time a Newburyport merchant and shipowner and a member of the General Court (JA, Diary and Autobiography, passim; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:569–578; Benjamin W. Labaree, Patriots and Partisans . . ., Cambridge, 1962, p. 210–211 and passim).
Ellis Gray (1740–1781) was a Boston merchant whose family was related by marriage to the family of Isaac Smith Sr. (AA to JA, 20–22 Oct. 1777, vol. 2, above; Thwing Cat., MHi).
3. Dalton to Franklin, 22 July 1780, respecting the loss of the brigantine Fair Play (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S, 2:273).
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/