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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0082

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-05-10

Abigail Adams 2d to John Adams

No opportunity of writing has pressented since I was so happy as to receive two excellnt letters from my Dear Pappa, neither of them of a date later than actober.1 Not a vessell has sailed for Europe these many months. All the return that it is in my power to make, is to indeavour to assure you Sir that I feel a greater degree of gratitude for all your favours, than it is possible for me to express. It is the foundation of virtue, and I hope is fully impressed on my heart.
I assure you my Dear Sir that I have suffered, not a little mortification, whenever I reflected that I have requested a favour of you that your heart and judgment did not readily assent to grant.2 Twas not that your refusal pained me, but the consciousness that there was an impropriety, in my soliciting whatever you should consider incompattiable to comply with. It has rendered me so througherly dissatisfied with my own oppinion and judgment, that I shall for the future take care to avoid the possibility of erring in a similar <situa• { 156 } tion> manner and shall feel doubly gratified by the receipt of aney favour unsollicited.
Whatever Books my Dear Sir you think proper to recommend to me, I shall receive with particular pleasure, those of your choice, cannot fail, to gratify your Daughter. I have not that taste for history which I wish and which might be greatly advantagous, but I hope it is yet to be acquired.
Permit me my Dear pappa to join the general voice in addressing my congratulations on your late happy success in your publick station. None I believe refuse to acknowledge and express the gratified that is due to those who have been immediately instrumental in accomplishing this great event, altho many persons do not appear gratified with it. It does not so intirely coincide with their own interest, as they wish, and this principle of selfinterest is too often the governing power of the mind. It is upon the same motive that I am so intirely gratified, by it—as it leads me to look forward with pleasure to your return. I hope the period is not far distant. Yet I still have an ardent desire to cross the atlantick, it is quite as powerfull as ever. Was you to continue abroad I should not feel contented with the distant prospect I have had of it for these few years, past.
I wrote you last December by Mr. Robbins3 a young gentleman who was for some time an instructor to my Brothers. He has been detained all Winter in Virginia and I suppose my letter will never reach you.
It seems almost an age since we have received aney direct accounts from my Brother John. I feel at times as if we were growing into Life strangers to each other. It is a painfull reflection to my mind. I hope he has not lost in aney degree his affection for his friends, or the remembrance of them. His advantages are great, and I flatter myself that his improvements in every thing necessary, and usefull, will be in proportion.
I hope my Dear Sir that you will receive this; before you leave Europe. It will remind you of a Daughter who derives her happiness from the anticipation of y[our] return, who is ever solicitious of your remembra[nce] and whose greatest pleassure is in subscribing yours Dutif[ully] and affectionately,
[signed] A Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency John Adams, Minister Plenipotentiary from the United states of America residing at Paris”; endorsed: “Miss Nabby May. 10. 1783 ansd Aug. 14.” Some damage to the text where the seal was removed.
1. Probably those of 26 Sept. 1782(vol. 4:383–384), and 16 Oct. 1782, above.
2. AA2 had apparently asked JA for a book that he thought was somehow improper or { 157 } frivolous (JA to AA2, 26 Sept. 1782, vol. 4:383–384).
3. Not found; see AA to Chandler Robbins Jr., [ca. 10 Jan.], note 1, and AA to JA, 7 April, note 5, both above.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0083

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1783-05-10

Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams

Where, or in what part of the world to address you, my dear brother, I do not at present know; but I can no longer restrain my pen. It is a long, very long time, since we have had any accounts from you; not a line has your sister received since you left her, now more than three years.2 Is it right, my brother? Have you not written her once? I will hope you have not been unmindful. Have you not almost forgot your friends, and do you not feel forgotten by them? Indeed, it sometimes seems to me as if you were lost. But I hope the period is not far distant when we shall all meet, and this long absence will lead us to enjoy the moment with a pleasure known only to those who have felt the pain of a long separation. We now live in expectation of papa's returning in the course of the summer, an event that is looked forward to with pleasure by many; may no unforeseen event blast the pleasing prospect. Our brothers are gone from home to school under the care of Mr. Shaw. Mamma considered it most for their advantage; we find their absence very disagreeable. Our whole family at present consists of only five; we are indeed quite lonely. Charles was just become an agreeable companion; he is a sweet little fellow, I assure you. Tom is something of a rogue, but will not be the less worthy in future, I dare say. You, my brother, have become so great a traveller that much is expected from you. I hope to see you return every thing we wish you, and I dare flatter myself I shall not be disappointed. You will have acquired a store, a useful store of knowledge, from which will result a great advantage to yourself, and improvement to your friends. You must remember that we expect to reap the first of your advantages, in some degree, and you must not, when you return, refuse to gratify that desire of information which we all possess, and which, if directed aright, may be made the foundation of great improvement. You have a sister who looks forward to your return with feelings that 'tis not in the power of words to describe; she anticipates a pleasure that is only to be felt; you have but one. I never knew the blessing; but in my brothers shall have the want fully compensated. There is no higher pleasure, no greater { 158 } happiness, than a family bound by the ties of love, and cemented by the bonds of affection, where each for the other feels more than for himself, and where the chief end and aim is to render each other happy: this I wish may be our situation; it will; and the advantages arising will be mutual. I cannot bear the idea of growing into life strangers to each other; this may, in some degree, be avoided by writing to and for each other. Let me solicit you not to continue thus silent. If you are to be from us, write constantly; let no opportunity escape you. I will be punctual in future, I assure you. You have before you an admirable example of attention and every other quality that appears amiable and engaging in a brother,—I mean in Mr. Storer,—he is considered as the criterion by all his friends and acquaintances. He will feel fully rewarded by the opinion that is entertained of him. I hope you keep a journal, 'tis a practice I have often heard highly recommended by papa3 and mamma, as greatly advantageous. Yours, my brother, may be replete with events. You have become acquainted with countries and characters which, I doubt not, you have made your observations upon, and that will give you pleasure to peruse in a future day, when you can only look back to the scenes you have passed as something you cannot realize, and will give pleasure and satisfaction to any one who feels that attachment for you that would lead them to feel interested in every event of your life. Here I could point out many. Your sister, I hope, will be the first in your mind; she feels greatly interested in your present and future welfare; and she hopes to see you exhibit such a character in life as she shall feel happy in acknowledging as her brother. If you possess the same degree of regard for her that she feels towards you, you will not receive amiss any thing her heart dictates.
This goes by a vessel from Providence to England; I hope You will receive it in Paris or Amsterdam. In whatever country it reaches you, let it remind you of one whose chief happiness is in hearing from those absent persons in whose esteem she claims some small share, and who ever feels happy in subscribing herself

[salute] Your affectionate sister,

[signed] A. Adams
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:24–27.)
1. This conjectural date is assigned from the date of AA2 to JA, immediately above. AA2 probably sent both letters to Europe with AA to JA, 7 May, above.
2. The only surviving JQA letter to AA2 before this date was written 27 Sept. 1778 (vol. 3:93–94); but see vol. 4:126–127, and note 1. AA2 had written JQA on 24 May 1781 and 3 May 1782 (vol. 4:126–127, 319–321).
3. See JA to AA2, 17 [27?] July 1784, below.
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.