A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0140

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1781-09-04

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

Supposing Col. Laurens to have arrived at Rh. Island, I was greatly chagrined when he told me he had no Letters for you; and I was searching his papers to pick from them all the Comfort I could, to be transmitted to Braintree, when I found he had landed at Boston and had sent you a Message of what Satisfaction he could furnish relative to your dear Partner and your Children. What I told you from Mason was indubitably true being all in the Train of natural Consequence to what is now communicated to us.2
We are, at this present Writing, in high Glee with our General in the City and the french Troops encamped on the Commons, and with the Log Book of a Vessel this Afternoon, putting the highest probability of compleat Success upon the present military Movements.3 I want only my Spectacles which are left at the State House to make me quite happy by enabling me to prosecute the pleasing Task of Correspondence with one of the ——est and ——est and ——est Women. I am sure Madam there is nothing of Flattery or improper Affection in those half written Epithets though they partake of the superlative Degree. I am equally sure that the Spirit of Misinterpretation of any one of your Circle can find no Malice there: It is impossible for a single Heart in this City to feel malicious while the Bells are so sweetly chiming—always however excepting the Hearts of the Tories.
[signed] JL
Your Letter of July 20 / Aug. 6 reached me yesterday.
1. Date corrected from internal evidence and the sequence of AA-Lovell letters and replies.
2. See Lovell's (intercepted) letter to AA of 24 Aug., above.
3. Rochambeau's army, together with a part of Washington's army, marched through Philadelphia on their progress south to Yorktown on 3 to 5 September. For the excitement this martial display stirred in that city see letters in Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 6:205–207.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0141

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1781-09-12

Abigail Adams to James Lovell

I cannot swallow your prohibition with a good grace and yet I am glad I know the real cause of Marias Silence to my repeated invitation.1 On one account I could have wished that the Letter containing the conference between Portia and Cornelia might not have been com• { 209 } municated.2 Portia is loth that Maria should be witness to the freedom of her pen least unknowing to all the circumstances which have calld it forth she should judge hardly of her intentions.—Of her Friend she is not affraid, yet when she sees him so nearly touched she feels both pain and pleasure. In the anxiety he discovers, he gives full proof of the Sincerity of his attachment where alone it is due, and if he feels a pain let it serve to Gaurd his words and actions with the Strictest Scrutiny. The unhappy of every denomination have a claim upon a Benevolent Heart—yet I know not, if that very principal which leads us to sympathize with the afflicted may not so deeply Interest a Generous mind, as to be miscontrued by a world too apt to judge more by outward appearance than to trace the real Source from whence they Spring.
I had no thoughts of entering deeply or so seriously into matters which personally so little concernd me as I find I have insensibly been drawn into, but if you have no other cause for uneasyness than what has fallen from my pen let not that wound you. You have sometimes given a latitude to your pen which I thought exceptionable and I have ever told you so with the fredom of a Friend. At the same time I could not hear unkind or injurious reflections and insinuations without hinting them to you—and wishing you to remove one great cause from whence I supposed them to arise. But no intimation could have possibly escaped me where I know you to repose your utmost confidence. Maria therefore might have visited B——n3 unpoisoned even by Cornelia who is not a resident here and who had she been would not have wounded her. But to be very sincere Sir I do not think female Slander has been the busyest—you might possibly find it in the city where you reside. I wish to close a subject upon which too much has prehaps been already written by one who has no other claim to attention than Friendship may demand and who thinks too favourably of the party to give credit to more than a degree of imprudence. If I was possessd of Parissian delicacy I might notice your consequences, but as I am not I can only advise to discretion.4
I freely own I should have been made misirable for a time under certain circumstances. Too great anxiety put a period to the existance of one at the very time you have hinted at and came nigh finishing the other.
Heaven only knows what might have been the concequences under a still greater degree of anxiety.
Are you very sick?—poor Maria—how anxious must She feel. Why did you not leave that pestilential air before this Sickly Season. You { 210 } have scarcly ever escaped—why will you not learn prudence? Have you a good Nurse? You ought to have. I know from the Benevolence of your own Heart you would make a good one. Gladly would Portia administer to your relief were you within her reach. Tis due to the Friendly hand which neither pain or Sickness could ever restrain from affording ease and satisfaction to a mind possibly too anxious—and it has done so in the assureances given that no ill will presided in your assembly whose measures have lately given me pain. For myself I have little ambition or pride—for my Husband I freely own I have much. With him this rustick cottage would yeald me all that high fancy forms or lavish hearts could wish—Truth Goodness honour Harmony and Love—Retirement rural quiet Friendship Books—ease and alternate Labour—usefull life—progressive Virtue, and approveing Heaven.
But [since]5 the stormy Scenes of life have disturbed this peacefull tranquility and calld him forth a principal actor upon the Stage, my ambition is that he exhibits there a character which shall do Honour to his country whilst he secures to it Freedom, independance, and fame. And whilst he is invariably persueing its best Interest divested as I know him to be of self Interested views and private Emolument, Gaurd and protect his Honour ye who ought to be a terror to evil doers and a praise to those who do well.
You will have received Col. Laurence [John Laurens] before this reaches you. I was much dissapointed in not hearing from his transatlantick Excellency as the British call him by Col. Laurence. I hope however that congress have dispatches from him. Mr. L[aurenc]e is a Gentleman of so much dispatch that I had no opportunity to see him. We have some curious publications in our papers since his arrival which I believe with discretion.
I hope he has succeeded well, if he has not I dare say it has not been oweing to want of zeal, firmness or industry. If any thing is communicable I hope you will be well enough to let me hear from you. I shall be very anxious till I do for I assure you I feel much Interested in your Health and happiness a large share of which is most sincerely wished you by your ever affectionate Friend,
[signed] Portia
Dft (Adams Papers); without indication of addressee; docketed by CFA at head of text with date only.
1. see Lovell to AA, 17 July, above.
2. AA to Lovell, 23 June, above.
3. Thus in MS, but AA must have meant Braintree, where this letter was written, not Boston, where Mrs. Lovell lived.
4. This and what follows in the next two brief paragraphs is cryptic but apparently echoes sentiments in the first paragraph of Lovell to AA, 10 Aug., above.
5. Word editorially supplied.
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.