A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0219

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1782-06-17

Abigail Adams to John Thaxter

[salute] My dear Sir

I had no intention that the Fire Brand should sail without my replying to your repeated kind favours; I have been happy in receiving several Letters from You; the intrinsick value of which lead me most pathetically to mourn the loss of those which have failed.
The time which I meant to have appropriated in writing to you, was most melancholy employed in attending the sick and I feared dying Bed of our dear and worthy Friend Mr. Cranch who was seized with a repeated Sickness, before he had recoverd his Strength from a former illness—by which means the vessel sailed without a line to testify the sense I had of your goodness. It will greatly aflict you I know to hear, that this worthy Friend of ours, is in so great a decline as to Baffel the Art of the physicians, and to have the most allarming Symptoms of a speedy dissolution. Your sympathetick Heart will enter into the Distresses of a family for whom you have ever entertaind an affectionate Regard. They are great indeed. Heaven support them through them all.
{ 330 }
“When Heaven would kindly set us free
And Earths enchantments end
It takes the most Effectual way
And robs us of our Friends.”
I hope my dear Sir that your situation is more agreable by this time, and that your residence is at the Hague rather than in Amsterdam. But you sigh for America. You had better become a Captive in America, than an American Captive in any of the British dominions. A British prison has many horrors, their tender mercies are cruelties. The advantages to be derived by a return, in the present State of things will hardly compensate the risk. The young Gentlemen of the present day scarcly know what to do with themselves. Trade is so hazardous having no protection, and Money so scarce that there is little encouragement in that Branch. Our Staple, our fishery, we possess not, and we have no other. Divinity, you know what encouragement that meets with, and have no appetite to become a preacher. Phisick, that swarms—we have been Blessed with a large portion of Health throughout the State, and have had but small employ for the faculty. Law, upon that you fix your Eye. Some get Bread, some have made fortunes, but that time is passed away with the destruction of our Navy. But methinks I hear you say, I am spending the best of my days, I am advanceing towards 30, I could wish to settle down in my own Country in some reputable Buisness, this I shall have to do when ever I return. How can I connect myself untill this is done, and a Batchelor I do not wish to live. All the dear Girls for whom I have a Friendship will get married—even my fair American does not know how highly I value her.—Softly Sir, and I will tell you for your consolation, not one of all the number for whom you have particularly expressd a regard, have the least present prospect of being united—even your Sally is far distant from the Alter, and the triumvirate of Betsys are yet single, the solitary Hannah has lost her Grandmamma and Aunt, her cousin is gone to Barbados, and she still wears the appearence of a young Nun. The widowed Betsy is a widow still.
Matrimony is not in vogue here. We have Ladies, but not a gentleman in the whole Town, and the young Gentlemen of the present day, are not intirely to the taste of those Ladies who value a virtuous Character. Licentiousness and freedom of Manners are predominate. Rosseau observes, that the manner of thinking among Men in a great measure depends upon the taste of the Ladies. If this is true, the manners of the present day are no complement upon the fair Sex. The { 331 } Manners of the two Sexes, I believe keep pace with each other; and in proportion as the Men grow regardless of character, the women neglect the Duties of their Sex. Of how much importance then are Manners to a young [Esquire?]. Tis Luxery my dear Sir which ruins and depraves our Manners. We are ready imitators of the Nations with which we are connected, and it is much to be feared if the days of American simplicity and virtue are not already passed.
Fordyce, to whom our Sex are much indebted for the justice he has done them, observes that the company of virtuous and well bred women is the best School for Learning the most proper demeanor, the easiest turn of thought and expression and right habits of the best kind, that the most honorable the most Moral the most conscientious Men, are in general those who have the greatest regard for women of reputation and talents.1
I have nothing new to write you of the political kind, but what will be old e'er it reaches you.
We mourn the naval defeat of our Allies, and dispise the offers of the British Cabinet. Infamy and disgrace be their portion and the inheritance of their childrens children.—I fear the fate of this Letter. Scarcly any thing can pass we are so infested with British cruizers.

[salute] Should it find its way to you receive it with the affectionate Regard and Sisterly Love of

[signed] Portia
RC (MB): addressed: “To John Thaxter Esqr Amsterdam or the Hague”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams 17. June 1782. Recd, in August & Answered.”
1. AA earlier cited with commendation James Fordyce's Sermons to Young Women (vol. 1:61–62, above), of which a copy of the 4th edn., 2 vols., London, 1767, is in MQA. Fordyce also published The Character and Conduct of the Female Sex, London, 1776.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0220

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cranch, Richard
Date: 1782-06-17

John Adams to Richard Cranch

“I can tell you no secrets about Peace—a Mr. Forth, a Mr. Aswald [Oswald] and a Mr. Greenville1 have been at Paris, to sound the Dispositions, but I cannot learn that they have sufficient Powers, or that they have made any serious Propositions. The work of Peace is very difficult to accomplish. The pretentions of so many Nations, are to be adjusted, that my Hopes are faint. It serves the Stocks to keep up the Talk, but I fear the English Nation is not yet sufficiently humbled, to satisfy Spain, Holland, France, the armed Neutrality and America.
{ 332 }
“Pray how is the News received of the new Alliance with the Dutch? —Is it represented as of no Importance? At least it will be allow'd of importance to prevent this Nation from taking Part against us. Their Fleet would have been much more powerfull against us than it is for us. As it is, it makes a Diversion in our favour.
“We shall however feel the Benefit of this new Connection in every part of the World. I hope the World will one Day see, when my Head shall be in the Dust, the Measures that have been taken to accomplish it, and the Intrigues from England, Russia, Denmark &c. &c. &c. to prevent it—I should be very sorry to add—but “Suum cuique Decus Posteritas rependit.”2
“It is a Protestant, a Republican and a commercial Nation. The Hand of Providence was never more visible, than in bringing this Business to a Conclusion. A number of Circumstances have conspired, in a very remarkable manner. We shall see the Consequences of it, which will not soon come to an End.—Men and Nations have Reason to seek Assistance sometimes against the extravagant Pretensions of Friends, as well as against the Malice of Enemies. While we stood acknowledged only by one Power, a Branch of the House of Bourbon and a Catholick, we stood exposed to the Jealousy of the Enemies of that House and that Faith. This Passion will be at least diminished by this Alliance. It is our Policy to seek and obtain the Friendship of all the Powers of Europe if possible; by which means we may be neutral. We may even keep England in Awe and at Peace with us by this means but by no other. I confess it is the Object I have had most at Heart; and, it being accomplished, I wish most ardently to come home.
“I have been desired to write a Word concerning Mr. Amory. He has lived long at Brussells and wishes to return; I have never seen him, but I believe if any one has a Claim, it is he. You know his amiable Character, and that he was never properly a Tory. He was rather a moderate Whig. I cannot advise in this matter, but I really wish he could be admitted. He has not done any thing I believe against us“.3
Early Tr (MHi:Smith-Carter Papers); in the hand of Richard Cranch and captioned by him: “Extract of a Letter dated at the Hague June 17th 1782.” Obviously prepared by Cranch for newspaper publication, but no printing has been found. Cf. below, JA to Cranch, 2 July, esp. the descriptive note there.
1. Nathaniel Parker Forth, Richard Oswald, and Thomas Grenville. For their various quasi-official and official roles in opening peace negotiations, see Morris, Peacemakers, passim.
2. Posterity allows every man his true value. Tacitus, Annales, IV, 35.
3. John Amory (1728–1803), mem• { 333 } ber of a well-known mercantile family in Boston, went to England in 1774, ostensibly on business, but his wife dying and he lingering there, he was proscribed as a loyalist refugee. During the war, however, he moved to Brussels, returned to America at the close of it, after some difficulties was restored to citizenship in Massachusetts, and died a wealthy man. See Gertrude E. Meredith, The Descendants of Hugh Amory, London, 1901; Sabine, Loyalists, 1:162–163.
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/