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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0140

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-09-20

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Dearer if possible than ever; for all the parental props which once sustaind and supported me are fallen! My Father, my Father, where is he? With Humble confidence I can say; he is with the spirits of just Men made perfect, become an inhabitant of that Country, from whose Bourn no traveller returns.1
In my last Letter to you,2 I recollect to have particularly mentiond both our dear and venerable parents. My Father then appeard to sustain his age, with fewer of the infirmities of it, than most aged persons are subject to, his Health, his spirits, and his activity were remarkable. He sat out upon a visit to my sister at Haverhill, and with an intention of carrying our son Charles, who had just recoverd from the Measles: he reachd here for the Night, and tho he complaind of having felt rather unwell for a few days, he spent as pleasent and cheerfull an evening as I had known him for many Years. About midnight, I waked with his calling a servant, and desireing him to rise, upon which I rose, and went into his Chamber, I found him in great distress with the strangery;3 I made every application which I could think of untill morning, but his pain increasing he could neither lie nor set, he insisted upon being carried home. It was with great difficulty to himself, that he reachd his own House, where for 15 days he lived in most exquisite distress, during which time no medicine or outward application procured him relief. He supported himself through his distressing pain, and exemplified that Christian patience and fortitude, which he had, through his whole Life taught to others.

“Here real and, apparent, were the same

We saw the Man, We saw his hold on heaven

A lecture silent, but of sov'reign power!

to vice confusion, but to virtue peace.”

Not a complaint fell from his Lips during his sickness, his reason was clear to the last moment of his Life; every hour of which, he exerted himself, to admonish and warn the youth, who attended round his Bed, intreating them to devote themselves early to their Maker. To them and to others, he was with a most Cheerfull resignation, manifesting the joy and comfort, derived from unfeigned piety; and a Life well Spent; he had a well grounded hope; and his last end was peace.
{ 254 }
His affection towards his children and his grandchildren seemed heightned by the Idea, of parting with them.
O my children, said he, you are so kind and tender, I fear you will make me loth to leave you. Through his sickness he was but once heard to say, that he wished it had pleased God to have spaired his Life longer, and that was, to have seen the return of my dearest Friend; but tell him says he, I hope to meet him in a better world.

“The Sweet remembrance of the just,

Shall flourish when they sleep in dust.”

Sweet indeed, is the remembrance of this my dear parent; and his death bed Scene the greatest consolation for his loss. Painfull as it was, I would not have exchanged it, for the triumph of the Greatest Monarch.

“The Chamber where the good Man meets his Fate

is privileg'd beyond the common walk

of virtuous Life, quite in the verge of Heaven

whatever farce the Boastfull Hero plays,

virtue alone has Majesty in death.”

How trifling, and of how little importance does such a scene, make all the wealth, power and greatness of the world appear. I have; Said my dear parent, made two things the principal Study of my Life, let me injoin the Same upon my Children. I have endeavourd to do all the good I could with the talants committed to me, and to honour God with my substance. Well may his Children rise up; and call him blessed—gratefully acknowledging the hand which bestowed upon them such a parent, doubling their diligence to walk in his Steps. Like good old Jacob, our parent blessed all his of[s]pring,4 may our children never forget the Solemn Scene.

“We gaze'd we wept, mixt tears of greif and joy.”

I know my dear Friend, you will most sensibly feel this bereavement. You have lost one of your firmest Friends, no man could be more delighted, with your successes, or entertaind a higher sense of them, than my dear parent, he knew your Worth, and he honourd it at all times. No man was happier in the sons his daughters had given him,5 two of whom attended him in his last moments, administering to him, those kind offices, which his afflicted daughters could not perform.
{ 255 }

“His God sustaind him in his final hour!

his final hour brought Glory to his God

Mans Glory Heaven vouchsafes to call her own.”

In the midst of my affliction several of your kind Letters6 were brought me. My Heart I hope was not unthankfull to Heaven for the blessing, but my Mind is not sufficiently calm to reply to them. I shall close this and wait a more tranquil hour; how much do I feel the want of the Soothing kindness of the Friend of my Heart. The Idea is too painfull—adieu. Your
[signed] Portia
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia Sept. 20. 1783. ansd. 25. Jan. 1784”; docketed in an unknown hand: “Mrs. AA—Sep—'83.”
1. Shakespeare, Hamlet, III, i, 79–80; “bourn” means “boundaries” or “frontiers” (OED).
2. Of 24 Aug., above.
3. A blockage of the urinary tract (OED).
4. Genesis 48 and 49.
5. That is, Richard Cranch, Rev. John Shaw and JA.
6. Perhaps those mentioned in AA to JA, 19 Oct., below, although she may have received those letters after 20 September.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0141

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-10-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I have had another Fever, which brought me low, but as it has carried off certain Pains and Lamenesses the Relicks of the Amsterdam Distemper, I am perswaded it will do me, much good.
I am going next Week to London, with my son. I may Stay Six Weeks, if nothing from Congress calls me away Sooner.2
I have only to repeat my earnest Request that you and our Daughter would come to me, as soon as possible. The Business that is marked out for Us, will detain me in Europe at least another Year, as I conjecture. You may take the Voyage and Satisfy your Curiosity and return with me. It is not very material, whether you arrive in Nantes, Amsterdam or London—the Distance from Paris is about the Same.
You, once wrote me that Mr. Allen had offered his Place for Sale. Pray what was his Price?3
I Suppose that Bills, upon Europe will now sell for Money or more than Money. If So draw upon me, for what you want, and your Bills shall be paid, upon Sight. I Sent you a little by Mr. Thaxter.
I have particular Reasons for wishing to own that Piece of Land where <>4 Mr. Hancocks House stood and the Addition which has been made to it.5 If Coll. Quincy will Sell it, at any tollerable Price, and you can sell a Bill upon me, for Cash to pay for it, buy it. Pray Dr. Tufts to do it, if you have not time.
{ 256 }
Your Letters by the Way of England have all come to me very regularly and in good order. It is the best Way at present of Writing. You may write however, by the Way of the French Packet from N. York to L'Orient. But Secrets should not be trusted to that Conveyance by you nor me.
The Family affair which has been mentioned in Several of your Letters,6 may be managed very well. The Lady comes to Europe with you. If the Parties preserve their Regard untill they meet again and continue to behave as they ought, they will be still young enough. Lawyers should never marry early. I am quite unqualified to decide upon that matter. To Your Judgment, with the Advice of our Friends, I must leave it. One Thing I know, that Knowledge of the Law comes not by Inspiration, and without painfull and obstinate Study no Man will ever have it. Yours, without Reserve.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “october 14th.”
1. JA moved from Paris on 22 Sept. to live in Auteuil, just west of the city on the right bank of the Seine, near the Bois de Boulogne, as a guest of Thomas Barclay, who was renting a house from the Comte de Rouault. As JA explained in a long and vivid reminiscence published nearly thirty years later in a Boston newspaper, the noise of carriage traffic outside the Hôtel du Roi in Paris, where he was lodging, was so loud and continuous that loss of sleep threatened his recovery from the ravages of a serious fever (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:143 and note 4; and see illustration opposite 3:257). In Aug. 1784, JA rented the same house and brought his family to live there.
2. Despite his program of exercise at Auteuil, JA's health did not improve as rapidly as he hoped, and on the advice of his physician, Sir James Jay, JA decided to take the waters at Bath in England (same). JA, JQA, and their servant Levêque left Auteuil on 20 Oct., and arrived in London the 26th (same, 3:146–148).
3. On the farm of Mr. Alleyne of Braintree, see AA to JA, 17 and 25 March, and 25 April 1782, vol. 4:295–296, 315–316.
4. Six to eight words have been deleted here.
5. The residence of Rev. John Hancock, father of the governor, stood on land that became the property of Col. Josiah Quincy; the house burned down in 1759. JA acquired this property sometime after Col. Quincy's death in March 1784, and he refers to it in his Diary as “the Hancock Cellar.” In 1822 he gave the property with other land to the Town of Quincy in trust for the eventual establishment of a private school to train young men for college. Adams Academy was completed in 1871, constructed on the site of the “cellar.” The building is now the home of the Quincy Historical Society. See AA to JA, 15 March 1784, below; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:111–113, and note 15; 3:249; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy, p. 341–342.
6. Royall Tyler's courtship of AA2.
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/