A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0095

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, Charles
Date: 1781-05-26

Abigail Adams to Charles Adams

[salute] My dear Charles

I am sometimes affraid my dear Boy that you will be spoilt by being a favorite. Praise is a Dangerous Sweet unless properly tempered. If it does not make you arrogant, assuming and self sufficient, but on the contrary fires your Breast with Emulation to become still more worthy and engageing, it may not opperate to your Disadvantage. But if ever you feel your Little Bosom swell with pride and begin to think yourself better than others; you will then become less worthy, and loose those Qualities which now make you valuable. Worthy and amiable as I hope you are, there are still imperfections enough [in] every Humane Being to excite Humility, rather than pride.
If you have made some small attainments in knowledge, yet when you look forward to the immense sum; of which you are still Ignorant, you will find your own, but as a grain of sand, a drop, to the ocean.
{ 136 }
If you look into your own Heart, and mind, you will find those amiable Qualities, for which you are beloved and esteemed, to result rather from habit and constitution, than from any solid, and setled principal. But it remains with you to Establish, and confirm that by choise and principal which has hitherto been a natural impulse.
Be modest, be diffident, be circumspect, kind and obligeing. These are Qualities which render youth engageing, and will flourish like a natural plant; in every clime.
I long to receive Letters from you. To hear of your Health and that of your dear pappas, would give me a pleasure that I have not experienced for 8 months.
O My dear children, when shall I fold you to my Bosom again? God only knows and in his own time will I hope return you safe to the Arms of your ever affectionate Mother,
[signed] A Adams

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0096

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1781-05-26

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear John

I hope this Letter will be more fortunate than yours have been of late. I know you must have written many times since I had the pleasure of receiving a line from you, for this month completes a year since the date of your last Letter.1
Not a line from you or my dear Charles since you arrived in Holland, where I suppose you still are.
I never was more anxious to hear yet not a single vessel arrives from that port, tho several are looked for.
I hope my dear Boy that the universal neatness and Cleanliness, of the people where you reside, will cure you of all your slovenly tricks, and that you will learn from them industery, oconomy and frugality.2
I would recommend it to you to become acquainted with the History of their Country; in many respects it is similar to the Revolution of your own. Tyranny and oppresion were the original causes of the revoult of both Countries. It is from a wide and extensive view of mankind that a just and true Estimate can be formed of the powers of Humane Nature. She appears enobled or deformed, as Religion, Goverment, Laws and custom Guide or direct her.
Firce, rude, and savage in the uncultivated desert, Gloomy, Bigoted and Superstitious where Truth is veiled in obscurity and mistery. Ductile, pliant, Elegant and refined—you have seen her in that dress, { 137 } as well as the active, Bold, hardy and intrepid Garb of your own Country.
Inquire of the Historick page and let your own observations second the inquiry, whence arrises this difference? And when compared, learn to cultivate those dispositions and to practise those Virtues which tend most to the Benifit and happiness of Mankind.
The Great Author of our Religion frequently inculcates universal Benevolence and taught us both by precept and example when he promulgated peace and good will to Man, a doctrine very different from that which actuates the Hostile invaders, and the cruel ravagers of mighty kingdoms and Nations.
I hope you will be very particular when you write, and let me know how you have past your time in the course of the year past.
Your favourable account of your Brother gave me great pleasure—not only as it convinced me that he continues to cultivate that agreable disposition of mind and heart, which so greatly endeared him to his Friends here, but as it was a proof of the Brotherly Love and affection of a son, not less dear to his Parents.
Your Brother Tommy has been very sick with the Rhumatism, taken by going too early into water, by which means he lost the use of his Limbs and a fever ensued. He has however happily recoverd, and learnt wisdom I hope by his sufferings. He hopes soon to write you a Letter. He has a good school and is attentive to his Books.3 I shall write to your Brother, so shall only add the sincere wishes for your improvement and happiness of your ever affectionate Mother,
[signed] A A
RC (Adams Papers). Early Tr (Adams Papers), in JQA's hand; at head of text: “1. From my Mother”', see descriptive note on AA2 to JQA, 24 May, above.
1. This reference to JQA's “last Letter,” written at least a year earlier, is too vague to permit identification. From AA's allusion below to JQA's “favourable account” of CA, it would appear that a letter from JQA to AA written in the spring of 1780 is missing.
2. The foregoing paragraph was silently omitted by CFA when he first printed this letter, in AA, Letters, 1848, and again later in JA-AA, Familiar Letters.
3. Preceding three sentences were silently omitted by CFA in printing this letter in the editions named in note 2.
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.