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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0118

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-07-21

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

I last evening received a Letter from Mr. Thaxter dated in April,1 and Mr. Storer received Letters from his Son, but not a line has yet come to hand from you. I Know not what to think. I should feel more anxious, but Mr. Thaxter mentiond you as well. I fancy you must feel impatient at the delay of your return. I fear you will compleat the four years2 before you reach America. Do not think of a winter voyage, I dread this coast in winter. From a state of our publick { 210 } affairs, the knowledge of which will reach you, if your Friends have written as they promised you will feel, both a wish, and a reluctance at a speedy return.
A Gentleman observed to me the other day, that he believed you had served your Country almost long enough to be forgotten. But it will not be a forgetfulness that will diminish or depreciate your Services, but jealousy and envy of those abilities which have crowned you with Success; the insolence of wealth will endeavour to trample down what it cannot emulate. But it is an observation of Swifts, that persons of transcendent merit force their way in spight of all obsticals, but that those whose merit was of a second third or fourth rate, were seldom able to perform any thing; because the Knaves and dunces of the World, had all the impudence, assiduity, flattery, and servile, compliance, divided among them; which kept them continually in the Way; and engaged every body to become their Solicitors. Swifts observations generally carry a Sting with them—yet he had too much reason for his severity.
There is a position in Machiavel says a late elegant writer that a country should sometimes be without order, and over run with all sorts of calamities, that Men of great Genius may distinguish themselves by restoring it. We certainly see a country sufficiently disorderd, and embarrassed to satisfy any speculator in the utmost wantonness of his imagination. But where and to whom shall we look, for a restoration of internal peace and good order, so necessary for the preservation of that very freedom for which we have so long and so successfully contended.
Tis a long time since I heard from You.3 I flatterd myself that when there was no danger from enemies, that the communication would be much more frequent.
I know but little of the movements of Congress, the States are jealous of their assumeing too great power, and there are certain restless Spirits who keep up the Hue and cry, the impost will not go down in any shape, the treasury has no money, and was obliged to borrow of private persons to pay the last Sessions of the court, the most expensive that we ever had and the least performd. No money has ever been paid upon loan office certificates since France stoped payment.4 Taxes are Still enormous, what becomes of the money I cannot say. The Soldiers have no pay, and every department is crying out—give, give.
I was lately in conversation with Mr. Osgood upon our publick affairs. He told me that the British influence in Congress were all in { 211 } your favour, and that he was certain, they wished to support you—that it was matter of great Speculation among the Gallicians,5 how your aged Colleigue was brought to coinside and act in concert with you. This same Mr. Osgood is a sensible modest Man. When he came from congress, I wished to see him, and he was introduced to me. I made some inquiry of him respecting the situation of my Friend. Ever since that time he has taken it into his head to be vastly civil to me. I told him I wished he would write you a state of publick affairs. He said he had not the honour of being personally known to you. I promised to introduce him to you, and he has promised to write you, if he goes again to Congress, of which he appears at present doubt-full. The House past a most pointed censure upon him by recalling all their Delegates at once, but when they cooled upon reflection, and <when> Mr. Dalton refused they chose Mr. Osgood again. I know I cannot recommend him more, than by saying, he appears to me a second Mr. Gerry.6 Mr. Dalton made me a visit in Boston the other day, told me he had been writing you, was vastly pleased with your Letter to him not long since.7 He became acquainted with Nabby at the assembly, the last winter, and has always been very polite to her. He visited me with a request from his daughter, an agreable young Lady of about 16 that I would let Nabby go and tarry a month with her at his country Seat where the family reside in the summer, and at the same time deliverd a Letter from his Daughter pressing the same request. She became acquainted with Nabby at Haverhill and then insisted upon her making this visit. Mr. Dalton was so polite as to insist upon sending for her when ever she could go. I promised him that as soon as my family got through the Measels which I daily expected them to have, she should go.
I think I feel a greater regard for those persons who Love me for your sake, than I should if they Esteemed me on my own account only. Where is my wanderer, is he not yet arrived. I do not forget him, but am anxious to hear from him. Mrs. Dana too, is desirious of hearing from her long absent Friend. I went to commencment this year at the pressing invitation of my Friends many of whom were there, but I have such unfashonable feelings that I cannot bear to go into publick assemblies. I always find some gentleman who is polite enough to tender me his service, yet I should be pained at receiving that particular attention which every Lady stands in need of when she goes into publick. Besides I have <too> so much pride, that if I cannot go by your side, and be introduced as your companion, I will not go at all.
{ 212 }

[salute] Adieu my Friend. Heaven bless and prosper you is the ardent wish of yours for ever

[signed] Portia
1. Of 18 April, above.
2. Since JA's second departure for Europe, on 15 Nov. 1779.
3. AA had received JA's letter of 28 March by mid-June (AA to Royall Tyler, 14 June; AA to JA, 20 June, both above).
4. France stopped payment of interest on loan office certificates in the spring of 1782 (E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse, A History of American Public Finance, 1776–1790, Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 149).
5. Evidently AA's label for the Gallican, or pro-French, faction, composed either of congressmen or of Frenchmen and Americans lobbying Congress.
6. Samuel Osgood of Andover, Mass., like Elbridge Gerry an Essex County man, had entered Congress in June 1781 and was reelected to that body, for a third time, on 9 July (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 7:lxviii; Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 17:412–419).
7. Not found. The latest extant letter from JA to Tristram Dalton known to the editors is of 23 Feb. 1780 (JA, Papers, 8:356). Dalton wrote to JA five times between May 1782 and July 1783 ||: 25 May 1782, 19 July 1782, 26 Oct. 1782, 26 April 1783, 16 July 1783|| (all Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0119

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1783-07-21

Abigail Adams to John Thaxter

[salute] My dear Sir

I almost fear I shall be too late for the Vessel which is about to sail for England. I did not know of it untill a few days ago, and then I was absent from Home. I have been to Cambridge to visit my sister Dana. Mr. Storers and Mr. Allen Otis'es sons took their degree and made a large commencment as it is call'd. From both these families I received invitations. Emelia was urgent with me to go, and my Friend Mrs. Dana's repeated invitation, prevaild upon me to accept, accordingly I went. I attended the forenoon Service, it was said to be the largest the most splendid and Brilliant assembly which has appeard there for many years. The young Gentlemen who received their degrees exhibited to great acceptance. In a particular manner Mr. Gorge Storer who deliverd a lattin oration, and altho I could not understand the language, yet his voice and action did him Credit. Mr. Otis'es oration was in english, a Celebration of independance and peace, the freedom [of] Republicks and the Nature of Government. It was a sensible, elegant and well adapted performance, deliverd with much Decency and Spirit, and procured him a universal Clap. He is a polite, accomplished young fellow, and much too handsome. I know not a finer person. Aya my young Friend, beware, beware, or that address and Beauty will prove your bane, the Calipsoes are laying Snares for You. Would you be truly great, court no Mistress but Science and no companion at your early age, but Learning. I own I could scarcly help envying his Father, his feelings { 213 } upon that day. Were this a Son of mine, how would my Heart dilate and beat with joy, at the same time it would rejoice with trembling. There were a Number of dialogues upon various subjects. Whether a Monarchical or a Republican Goverment was most condusive to the happiness of mankind, whether a publick or private Education was most benificial to the morals of youth, whether a larger portion of happiness or misiry fell to the Lot of Man. There were many good speakers and sensible observations upon both sides of the Questions. The President1 conducted with great dignity through all the Services of the Day. After the young Gentlemen had performed their parts, he rose and made a very pathetick address to them. He observed to them, that they were going out into the World, steping upon the stage of action under greater advantages than any of their predecessors—at a time when their Country was emanicipated from the chains of thraldom, and ranked among the Nations of the earth—at a time when the blessings of peace encompassed the land—and under an Excellunt form of goverment, which it became their Duty to support and mantain to transmit to posterity those blessings which their Fathers had so dearly purchased for them. He advised them to frugality industery and oconomy, but above all things a due regard to the Supreem Being, as the foundation and Scource of all their happiness. The croud was so great, that I had no inclination to attend the afternoon service. There was an oration deliverd upon Law and an other upon phisick. On thursday evening Mr. Otis gave a Splendid Ball at the Court House, and a cold collation, but as I never attend any of these amusements, I must refer you to Emelias pen for the account of it.2
Your obliging favour of April 18 reachd me last evening, unaccompanied by a single line from Mr. Adams, the reason of which I cannot define. Nor did you make any mention of my Wandering Son, of whose arrival at the Hague or Paris, I have not yet been informd. I have not received a line from him for 18 months,3 nor has Mrs. Dana heard from Petersburgh since Jan'y last. I have formed no expectations of the return of all my dear Friends untill fall of the year, I hope it will not be deferd untill late in the Season. From your last letter, I am happy to find, that you are still in a climate, more favorable to Health than Holland, and if my Friends must be detained abroad, I had rather hear of them at Paris than else where.
I hate to touch upon our publick affairs. Many of Mr. A's Friends have written largely to him upon the Subject, and to him I must refer you. I should feel easier if I could fully believe, an observation of a { 214 } Gentleman who is acquainted with publick affairs tho not a present actor—the Ship is safe says he, but the pilots will have a tough time. I rejoice that they have obliged me to become only a passenger.
Your Friends at Hingham are all well. I shall not be able to acquaint them of this opportunity. Tis said your two youngest sisters are going to change their state, tho not both of them their Names.4
Remember me kindly to Mr. Storer. I wrote you by Mr. Smith who saild a fortnight ago. The young Gentlemen are very fond of a trip across the Atlantick. A dozen I am told are going [passe]ngers in this vessel. Adieu my Worthy Friend. Continue to write me by every opportunity so long as you continue abroad. Yours affectionately
[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mr John Thaxter Paris”; docketed by JA in a late hand: “AA 83.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed. Thaxter's departure for the United States in September accounts for JA's docketing of this letter and its presence in the Adams Papers.
1. Joseph Willard, president of Harvard College from 1781 to 1804.
2. AA2 gives a brief account of the Otis ball in her letter to Elizabeth Cranch of [post 20] July, above. No extant AA2 letter to Thaxter descibes this event.
3. See JQA to AA, 23 July, and note 1, below.
4. Lucy Thaxter married John Cushing in 1785; Anna Thaxter married Thomas Thaxter in 1786 (History of Hingham, 3:233).
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/