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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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.
{ 121 }
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.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0065

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-04-11

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

There is at length a Ministry in England composed of Kings Friends and Peoples Men, which will effervesce, and throw out a great deal of fixed Air1 like Potash and Lime Juice. Mr. Laurens and Mr. Hartley2 are to be here in a few days to enter upon the definitive Treaty, but it is now probable there will be a Congress under the Mediation of the two imperial Courts at least respecting the Terms between England and Holland. Whether it will be expected that We should join in the Congress or not, I dont know.3 In any Case I am afraid it will be So long before our Affair is finished that I shall loose the Opportunity of a Spring or Summer Passage home, and a fall Passage is not so Short nor so agreable.
I have ballanced in my own mind, a long time, whether I Should take a Short Excursion to London before my Return. I Should be glad, once, to see that fine Country, but I believe I shall deny myself that Pleasure; Circumstances have placed me in an awkward Situation with regard to England, and I think upon the whole it will be most prudent to avoid it. England is in danger of being a Scaene of Confusion, and whoever shall be Sent there by Congress will not have a very pleasant Residence if he does his Duty. Yet it is in the Eyes of many, the Apple of Paradise. I See Such Symptoms of an { 122 } ardent desire of it, in Several Persons, as make me Smile very often. I wish the Commission which was once given to me and So unaccountably taken away again, had never existed. In that Case I Should never have interfered with the Appetite of any one. And I wish I was now at home, out of the Scramble. I Should not feel very reverential under Such an indignity, Such a Mark of Contempt as the Appointment of another to that Court, while I am in Europe. If I ever merited the Appointment, I have done nothing Since to forfeit it, but on the Contrary have rendered to the Publick Since that time, Such Services as were never rendered by any other Minister in Europe. The most critical, important and decisive Services, as it is in my Power at any time to prove, if Congress have not already Sufficient Proofs of it. The French Minister<s>, who procured the Revocation of my Commission, <are> is now I believe Sorry enough for it. They now see a danger of its falling into hands which they dislike and distrust more than mine, into the Hands of Gentlemen who have passed a great Part of their Lives in England, have numerous Family Connections there as well as other Friendships and Acquaintances. I have fretted and laughed, very sufficiently at the “petite Ruse,” which deprived me of the Feather, but I know it to be a Feather and I will still laugh at it, what ever becomes of it. It Seems as if, We were never to hear from America more. Not one Word, any more than if the Antlantic Islands were again Sunk, as they are fabled to have once sunk and rose again.
My dear Nabbys Felicity is near very near my Heart. I must resign her to your Prudence and the Advice of your Friends. If Coffin is arrived he carried a Present for her.4 I wish I could do more for her, but I cannot, at present.
I am again obliged to have recourse to a Saddle horse. Mr. Jay and I trot about the Environs of Paris, and Speculate about a distant Country where our hearts are. I have been in the former Part of Life so accustomed to riding, that it is become necessary to me. I attribute my Fever, in Part to a too long neglect of this Exercise. Whether I shall ever get rid of the Effects of that Fever I dont know. A Voyage home, a little Repose and rural Exercises may cure me, but I fear a European Life will never do it. My Boys I hope are good. They know not how tenderly they are beloved by their Father.
[signed] J. Adams
1. Carbon dioxide (OED).
2. After Shelburne's fall from power, Britain's new foreign secretary Charles James Fox, replaced Peace Commissioner Richard Oswald with David Hartley (Morris, Peacemakers, p. 426–427).
{ 123 }
3. On 8 Aug., commissioners for Britain, France, Spain and Holland, under the nominal mediation of representatives of the imperial courts of Austria and Russia, met in Paris to settle their final terms for peace. The Americans were not formally invited, but they had signaled their desire not to be involved with the mediators. Britain and Holland only agreed upon preliminary articles of peace on 2 Sept., the day before Britain and the United States signed their definitive peace treaty, and they did not conclude a definitive treaty until May 1784. See Morris, Peacemakers, p. 428, 434; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:100–101, note 2.
4. Dutch cloth, described in JA to AA, 12 Oct., and Charles Storer to AA, 17 Oct. 1782, both above.
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/