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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0063

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-04-07

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Tis a long a very long time since I had an opportunity of conveying a single line to you. I have upon many accounts been impatient to do it. I now most sincerely rejoice in the great and important event which sheaths the Hostile Sword and, gives a pleasing presage that our spears may become prunning hooks;1 that the Lust of Man is restrained, or the powers and revenues of kingdoms become inadequate to the purposes of distruction.
I have had the good fortune to receive several Letters from you of late; I thank you for them; they are always too short, but I do not complain knowing the thousand avocations you must have upon your mind and Hands. Yours of December 4th, gave me the highest pleasure.

“And shall I see his face again

And shall I hear him speak”

are Ideas that have taken full possession of my Heart and mind. I had much rather see you in America, than Europe. I well know that real true and substantial happiness depend not upon titles Rank and fortune; the Gay coach, the Brilliant attire; the pomp and Etiquet of Courts; rob, the mind of that placid harmony, that social intercourse which is an Enemy to ceremony. My Ambition, my happiness centers in him; who sighs for domestick enjoyments, amidst all the world calls happiness—who partakes not in the jovial Feast; or joins the Luxurious table, without turning his mind to the plain unadulterated food which covers his own frugal Board, and sighs for the Feast of reason and the flow of <sense> soul.2
Your Letter of Janry. 29 created perturbations, yet allayed anxiety. “Your “Image your “Superscription, Your Emelia3 would tell you, if
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she would venture to write to you upon the subject; that it was not the superficial accomplishments of danceing, singing, and playing; that led her to a favorable opinion of Selim;4 since she knew him not, when those were his favorite amusements—nor has he ever been in the practise of either, since his residence in this Town; even the former Beau, has been converted into the plain dressing Man; and the Gay volatile Youth, appears to become the studious Lawyer. Yet certain reasons which I do not chuse to enumerate here, have led me to put a present period, as far as advise and desires would go, to the Idea of a connection, to extirpate it from the Hearts and minds of either is not I apprehend in my power, voilent opposition never yet served a cause of this nature. Whilst they believe me their best Friend, and see that their Interest is near my Heart, and that my opposition is founded upon rational principals, they submit to my prohibition, earnestly wishing for your return, and more prosperous days; as without your approbation, they never can conceive themselves happy.
I will be more particular by the first direct conveyance. Mr. Guile who kept Sabbeth with me, tells me he has a vessel which will sail tomorrow for Virgina;5 and from thence to Europe, yet he knows not for certain to what part, but as this is the only opportunity since December; I would not let it slip. We are all well, our two Sons go on Monday with Billy Cranch to Haverhill; there to be under the care and tuition of Mr. Shaw who has one in his family which he offers for colledge in july. I have done the best I could with them. They have been without a school ever since janry. I tried Mr. Shutes6 but could not get them in, he having seven in his family; and four more engaged to him. Andover7 was full and so is every other private School. They do not like the thoughts of mammas going a broad, and my little Neice who has lived 5 years with me8 prays that her uncle may return, and hopes he will not send her away when he <returns> comes. This day has been our meeting for the choise of a Governour. The vote in this Town was for Genll. Lincoln. There were proposals of chuseing an absent Man,9 but I discouraged it wherever I heard it mentiond. <We want>
Be kind enough to let the young Gentlemen who reside with you know, that their Friends are well and that I will do myself the pleasure of answering their Letters by the first vessel which sails from this port.

[salute] Adieu and believe me most affectionately and tenderly yours

[signed] Portia
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Mr. Smith10 is to be my Gaurdian and protector if I cross the Atlantick. He comes whether I do or not. Emelia has spent the winter in Boston,11 during that time it has been currently reported that preliminary articles were setled between this gentleman and her. She took no pains to discountanance this report—but alass her Heart is drawn an other way—and Mr. S. never entertaind an Idea of the kind.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To His Excellency John Adams Minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America to the United Provinces—at the Hague or Paris”; endorsed: “Portia April 7. 1783.”
1. Micah 4:3.
2. Alexander Pope, Satires . . . of Horace, “The First Satire of the Second Book,” line 128. AA quotes this line again on 7 May and 20 Nov., below.
3. AA is paraphrasing JA's greeting to AA2 in his 29 Jan. letter to AA, above.
4. Royall Tyler. AA's reason for giving him the name of a Moorish or an Asian youth, popularized in two or more quite different eighteenth-century English stories, is unclear. See E. Cobham Brewer, The Reader's Handbook, London, 1902.
5. It may have been Benjamin Guild's vessel that carried Chandler Robbins Jr. on his longdelayed trip to Europe; see AA2 to JA, 10 May, below. On Guild, see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 22 Dec. 1782], note 9, above.
6. Rev. Daniel Shute, pastor at Hingham, and friend of the Adamses from the 1760s (vol. 3:272, and note 5; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:278).
7. Phillips Academy, founded in 1778 and legally incorporated in 1780, enrolled twentyeight students in 1782, and thirty-five in 1783. They varied widely in age, but many were at the age of CA (12) and TBA (10). See Biographical Catalogue of the Trustees, Teachers and Students of Phillips Academy Andover, Andover, Mass., 1903.
8. Louisa Catharine Smith.
9. JA himself. In 1783, as in each year since 1780, John Hancock easily defeated his opponents, including James Bowdoin and Gen. Benjamin Lincoln of Hingham. See AA to JA, 7 May, below, and William M. Fowler Jr., The Baron of Beacon Hill, A Biography of John Hancock, Boston, 1980, p. 255.
10. William Smith, son of Isaac Smith Sr. and cousin of AA. Smith married Hannah Carter in 1787 (JQA, Diary, 2:288).
11. See AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 18 Jan.] and [ca. 27 Jan.], both above.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0064

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-04-07

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

It is now compleatly five Years, Since I first arrived in Europe, and in all that time I was never more impatient to hear from you and from America in General, than I am now and have been for some months. Not a Word, Since the Beginning of January, except a Line from your Unckle, and Scarcely any Thing Since the 26 of Oct. when I arrived in Paris.1 I have no intimation of the Arrival of my Dutch Treaties,2 four of which I put on board 4 different Vessells at Amsterdam in October. No News of Coffins Arrival who carried You, the richest Present I ever sent you from Europe.3 No News of the Reception of the Peace. No Acceptance of my Resignation. And what { 120 } is worse Still there is no Ministry in England,4 and consequently We cannot finish the definitive Treaty, and consequently I cant come home without Leave. This Life of a Spider is very unpleasant. I have been all Winter upon Tenter Hooks. Indeed I fear, We shall have no Arrivals before June or the latter End of May. If so my Fidgets must continue two months longer.
If Miss Nabby Should, be disgusted with Europe as much as I am she would repent of her Rashness in ever thinking of coming here. I hope a Commission will arrive with the first ships, to make a Treaty of Commerce with G. Britain. We have lost an admirable Opportunity of making the best Treaty for the Publick, by the Revocation of mine without sending another. Some Persons Suppose, that such a Commission will arrive to me, others to Mr. Laurens others to Dr. Franklin, others to Mr. Jay, others that Mr. A. Lee will come others that Mr. Izard will be the Man, and some that Mr. Jefferson. Of all these Persons I think myself the least likely. But still it is possible and it is certain that Congress will commit a Mistake, by appointing any other.5 But the same Influence which led them into the first Error, may continue them in it. Supposing a Commission should come to me, I am frightened at the Thought of it. How will the King and the Courtiers the City and the Country look at me? What Prospect can I have of a tollerable Life there? I shall be Slandered and plagued there, more than in France. It is a Sad Thing that Simple Integrity should have so many Ennemies in this World, without deserving one. In the Case Supposed I must go to London and reconnoitre—see how the Land lies and the faces look, before you think of coming to me. I will not stay there, to be plagued. One may soon judge. If I should find a decent Reception and a Prospect of living comfortably a Year or two there I will write for you. All this is you see upon a supposition which is improbable. It would be infinitely more agreable to my own heart to come home and quit Europe forever. At home I can take Care of my Children, to give them Education and put them into Business. If I should remain abrod my Children must suffer for it and be neglected. But in all Events I will not stay in Holland, the Air of which is totally inconsistent with my Health. I have tried it, very sufficiently. I can never be well nor enjoy myself there. In other respects I like that Country very well.
John has been taken much notice of, in his Journey from Petersbourg by Ambassadors and other People of Rank who write much in his favour, both for Prudence and Knowledge.6

[salute] Adieu my dear friend Adieu.

[signed] J.A.
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This will go by Mrs. Izard, who is about embarking from Bourdeaux for Philadelphia with her Family.
1. “Since the Beginning of January” could refer either to the dateline of letters sent to JA or to the date he last received letters. As far as the editors know, AA wrote on 10 Jan., above, which JA had probably not yet received, and not again until 7 April, immediately above. In late Jan., JA had received letters from AA dated 25 Oct., 13 Nov., and 23 Dec. 1782, all above (JA to AA, 22 and 29 Jan. above). The last known letters from AA's uncles are from Isaac Smith Sr., 9 Oct. 1782 (Adams Papers), and from Cotton Tufts, 10 Oct., above.
2. See JA to AA, 28 March, note 2, John Thaxter to AA, 9 Oct. 1782, note 1, and JA to AA, 12 Oct. 1782, note 2, all above.
3. The expensive cloth mentioned in JA to AA, 12 Oct. 1782, above. It was carried by Capt. Alexander Coffin (Charles Storer to AA, 17 Oct. 1782, above).
4. See John Thaxter to AA, 28 March, and note 2, above.
5. See JA to AA, 29 Jan., note 1.
6. In response to his letters of inquiry after JQA's whereabouts that he sent northward in early February (see JA to AA, 4 Feb., note 5, above), JA received several replies in March. Two from Dumas, 18 and 28 March (both Adams Papers) relayed the favorable impressions that JQA had made on several important persons at Copenhagen and Hamburg. A 28 Feb. letter from Mr. Brandenburg of Stockholm (Adams Papers), sent independently of JA's inquiries, concurred in this judgment of young JQA.
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/