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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0120

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-07-23

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Honoured Mamma

It is indeed a long time since I have receiv'd any Letters from my friends in America, and I must own I have been a little behind hand within these two years; in writing to them.1 However, I hope they will consider that I have been all that time, almost at the world's end, or to make the best of it, in such an out of the-way place, as made it very inconvenient for me to write: But I should think myself deficient in my duty, if I should let pass the present opportunity; without giving you some account of my travels, since I left Mr. Dana.
I Set off, from Petersbourg the 19/30 of last October,2 in company With Count Greco an Italian gentleman with whom I was acquainted, at that place: and on account of the badness of the roads and weather; and of our having a great number of considerable water passages, which had began to freeze over, did not arrive in Stockholm, the capital of Sweeden untill the 25th. of November. The distance is about 800 English Miles. I stay'd at Stockholm about 6 weeks and was much pleas'd with the polite manner in which the people of the
{ 215 } { 216 }
Country treat strangers. Sweeden is the country in Europe which pleases me the most. That is; of those I have seen. Because their manners resemble more those of my own Country, than any I have seen. The King3 is a Man of great Abilities. In the Space of one day from being <one of> the most dependent, he rendered himself one of the most absolute Monarchs of Europe. But he is extremely popular, and has persuaded his people that they are free; and that he has only restor'd them their ancient constitution. They think they are free, and are therefore happy. However in the interior parts of the Kingdom he has lost a little of his Popularity because he has laid some heavy taxes upon Brandy, and some other articles.
I Left Stockholm the 31st. of December and was obliged to stop at a small town call[ed] Norrkiöping at about 120 miles from Stockholm, for a fortnight, because of a very heavy fall of Snow which happen'd just at that time; I stopp'd also about 3. weeks at Gottenburg, and arriv'd at Copenhagen, the Capital of Denmark (it is about 600. miles from Stockholm) the 15th. of February of the present year. I found there Count Greco who had taken a different road from Stockholm. He had taken a place in a vessel which was to sail three days after my arrival, for Kiel a town in Germany near Hamborough: not to lose the opportunity I took a place in the same vessel, but after having waited three weeks for a Good wind The harbour froze up and we were obliged after all to go to Hamborough by Land. The people in Denmark treat strangers with a great deal of Politeness and Civility, but not with the same open-heartedness, which they do in Sweeden. The government is entirely Monarchical. But it astonishes me, that <mankind> a whole people can place at the Head of their goverment such a Man as the king of Denmark because his father was a king. The hereditary prince it seems is at least possess'd of common sense, and is regarded in the Country as a prodigy, as he indeed is, if he is compared to his father.4
I arrived at Hamborough (which is about 300 English Miles from Copenhagen) a the 11th. of March. I stay'd there near a Month: it is a large city; quite commercial, and will I dare say, carry on hereafter a great deal of Trade with America. But its commerce is somewhat restrain'd because it is surrounded by the Dominions of the King of Denmark, and of the Elector of Hanover.5 The Danes have built a town, at about a quarter of a Mile from Hamborough, which is become now its rival in commerce, the Hamburgers have named this Place Al-te-na, which signifies, much too near as indeed it is for their commercial interests.
{ 217 }
The [last]6 city where I made any stay before I arriv'd at Amsterdam was Bremen which is another commercial Republic but the city is much smaller than Hamborough. It was anciently one of the Hanseatic league; and has been in a much more flourishing condition than it is at present. There are at Bremen some publick cellars, which are famous. I drank there some Rhenish wine about 160. Years old. I stay'd only four days at Bremen and arriv'd at Amsterdam the 15th. and at this Place the 21st. of April, and here I have been ever since.7 Hamborough is about 450 English Miles from this Place.
Last night, at about 11. o'clock, Pappa arrived here from Paris all alone, only accompanied by a Servant; he intends to return to Paris in about three weeks.
I hope, Charles, and Tommy are both well, and my dear Sister, who has been very obliging within these three years. I have receiv'd already from her two letters.8 I should take it as a great favour if she would favour me with some more; I have quite left off criticizing, especially upon faults in Language at least untill I shall be my self less faulty in this respect.

[salute] I am your most dutiful, and affectionate Son.

[signed] J. Q. Adams
1. JQA's only extant letters to America written between his departure for Russia in July 1781 and his return to Holland in April 1783 were one to AA of 23 Oct. 1781, and one to Elizabeth Cranch of 17 March 1782 (vol. 4:233–234, 297–299); but see his statement about lost correspondence in his letter to AA of 30 July, below. His only regular correspondents during these two years were JA and John Thaxter.
2. Compare the following account of JQA's journey with JQA, Diary, 1:153–174; and JQA to JA, 1 Feb., 20 Feb., 12 March, and 22 April, all above.
3. Gustavus III, King of Sweden from 1771 to 1792; the constitutional coup to which JQA refers below occurred over several days, 18–21 Aug. 1772, with the critical seizure of power on the 19th (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
4. Christian VII of Denmark (1766–1808), son of Frederick V (1746–1766), was mentally troubled and increasingly incompetent. His only son, born in 1768, took control of the government in a bloodless coup in 1784, the year following JQA's visit, and served as regent until his father's death, when he became Frederick VI (1808–1839). Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale.
5. The Elector of Hanover was George III, King of England.
6. The text here was lost by the removal of the seal.
7. JQA had taken short trips to Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Delft since his return to The Hague in April (Diary, 1:174–175).
8. That is, two letters since he had set out for Russia in 1781: those of 3 May 1782 (vol. 4:319–321), and of [ca. 10] May 1783, 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/