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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0122

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-07-29

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

Mr. Adams having taken a Journey to Holland for three or four Weeks, and there being nothing of consequence to do in his Absence, Mr. Storer and myself thought it an exceeding good opportunity of executing our Project of a Voyage to this place, for the sake of the Sea Bath. We arrived here on the 27th. instant, after a delightfully fatiguing Journey. We passed thro' the Province of Normandy, which is extremely fertile, producing Grains of all kinds in Abundance, Cyder &c. The People are very hardy and laborious, and the fine Crops on the Earth seemed to have amply rewarded their Labors. The Women in general are not handsome. And one sees no where in Europe the common Women so handsome and well made as in America. This Class of Women in Europe are much accustomed to all kinds of farming business from their Infancy almost, and are obliged to be out basking and baking in the Sun and employed in the severest parts of the Labors of a Farm. Whether this accounts for the difference, I know not, or what physical Reason there may be for it. That there is a difference every American, that travels with his Eyes open, must observe. They seemed contented and happy, which are the most principal Objects. There are some of them that are very smart, and parry rude questions with great dexterity. We had one in the Diligence (a travelling Carriage in this Country holding 6. or 8. persons), who was a mere Country Girl. As there were a Number of young fellows in the Carriage, and Miss looked very clean, neat and tidy, it was natural to ask her some questions. She behaved with vast propriety, was modest, sensible and reserved. Obliged often to answer questions, and as often to be silent. Her Repartees confounded a Gentleman in the Carriage to a great degree, tho' he did not feel them as a Man of Sensibility, and indeed if he had been one he would not have asked some questions that he put. I admired her Character very much, as a discreet prudent Girl, who spoke without fear, or Confusion, yet modestly. Most of the young Girls of our Country are timid, and frightened, if a Stranger interrogates them. In this Country, there { 220 } is a confident Assurance and a possession of self without pertness, impertinence or impudence. I dont mean always, but the Country Girls in general have the former without the latter. I have mentioned our Miss as one Example. And I should have been very sorry to have lost her Company, if one of our rude Companions had been out of the Carriage. However She rode but a little ways with us, and then left us. I might as well have said nothing about the matter, as I have said nothing of the Conversation. But as it was rather curious and connected with what ought to be omitted, I may as well be silent. She was not handsome, but charming, and I shall always love and esteem her even upon so short an Acquaintance.
I write in great haste, and shall not have time to write to my other friends, if I have any, as I very much doubt; and perhaps this may be an unwelcome Letter to your Ladyship.
Mr. Storer has Packet after Packet, but I am either forgotten or neglected.
You will please to forward the inclosed Letters. My Sister is well catechised in my Letter, if She takes it seriously.1
My Respects to all Friends if you please, and particular Regards to your Family.

[salute] With great Esteem and Respect, I have the honor to be, Madam, your most obedient and most humble Servant

[signed] J Thaxter Junr.
1. Letter not found, but “My Sister” must be Celia Thaxter, John Thaxter's oldest sister (1749–1829), to whom he wrote at least twelve extant letters from Europe, 1780–1783, and another twelve from Haverhill, 1784–1791. He also addressed three extant letters to his sisters collectively. MHi: Thaxter Papers; History of Hingham, 3:232–233.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0123

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-07-30

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Honoured Mamma

Altho' I have already written you by Mr. Brush who will probably deliver this to you; yet I cannot help writing a few more Lines to justify myself with you, from a reproach; the Idea of which I cannot bear. If the Northern Regions have frozen up that Quick and Lively Imagination, which you are please to say, used to be agreeable to my Friends, they have most certainly not chilled my affection, but have if possible augmented my Love for my Friends, and my reverence for the dearest and most honoured, of mothers. I must beg your pardon for having scratch'd out of your letter these words, to be forgotten by my Son,1 for I could not bear to think that such an Idea should ever { 221 } have entered the mind of my ever honoured Mamma. I should certainly have written oftener to you while I was in Russia than I did. But there were no vessels which sail'd from there, directly for America, and we had very few private opportunities to forward letters here; so we were obliged to send them by the post which was not only a very expensive manner; but the letters would have been all opened for in that Country, not a letter passes, the Contents of which, are not known at the Post Office, and they take so little pains to hide it, that I have receiv'd several Letters, the seals of which were broken, and the Letters open. If you complain, they will tell you that they know nothing about it, and that they suppose the rubbing of the letters have broken the seals: and one does not Love to have the Letters he writes seen by every body. But I used to write you by every private opportunity: I suppose the greatest part of my Letters failed, for I wrote several times to you, and to my other friends, and you mentioned having receiv'd but one letter from me since I left Amsterdam.

[salute] I am your most dutiful and Affectionate Son.

[signed] J. Q. Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. A. Adams. Braintree Massachusetts Bay.”
1. See AA to JQA, 13 Nov. 1782, note 2, 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/