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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0233

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1784-09-05

Abigail Adams 2d to Mercy Otis Warren

I should have availed myself, Madam, of your permission to write you, ere this, had an opportunity presented. I now have the pleasure to present myself to you from Auteuil, a few miles from Paris, where we are, and expect to reside some time. Mr. Charles is ere this, I hope, quite recovered from his indisposition, and that health smiles again through your habitation.
I had the pleasure of seeing your son Winslow when in London. He was well, and left the city for Lisbon while we were there. Mamma was very unfortunate in the letters which you entrusted to her care for him. In the purtubation of spirits at leaving her friends, she put them in the pocket of the chaise, and unfortunately forgot them, nor did she recollect them till we had been a week or two at sea.1
I hear you inquire, Madam, how I am pleased with this European world; whether my expectations, imagination, and taste, are gratified; and how the variety of objects which are presented to my view, impress my mind. All these questions I can answer, but in a manner, perhaps, that may surprise you, or lead you to think me very unobserving, and possessed of an uncultivated taste, which has received very little improvement by visiting Europe.
In viewing objects at a distance, we see them through a false medium. As we approach, the disguise wears away, and we often find ourselves disappointed. I have indeed found this observation to be just. The contrast is by no means so remarkable between America and Europe, as is generally supposed. I am happy to assure you, that I give the preference to my own country, and believe I ever shall. In England the similarity is much greater to our own country, than here, and on that account I found it more agreeable. There is the appearance of greater wealth, as is very natural to imagine; but I have seen nothing that bears any proportion to my ideas of elegance, either in their houses,—especially in this country,—or in the appearance of the people.
This day we dined with Madame le Grand, the lady from whom mamma formerly received a letter.2 It is, I believe, an agreeable family. { 454 } After dinner it was proposed to go and see the Dauphin, whose palace was but a little distance from the house.3 However ridiculous I might think it to pay so much obeisance to this infant, I joined the company. The Palace is by no means an elegant building. There was a garden before it, surrounded by an open fence, and guards placed all around. The Dauphin was playing in the garden, and four ladies attending him. He is a pretty, sprightly child. We had the honour of seeing him, and paying him the compliment of a bow or a courtesy. He was amusing himself with as much ease as any other child of his age would have been. There were, I believe, a thousand persons crowding to take a view of this child, and from them he received every mark of respect and reverence that it was in their power to present. The gardens are only open on Sunday, and no one has an opportunity, on any other day, to see this representative of despotism and monarchy. One cannot but regret, that any people should, either from necessity or choice, be led to pay so much obeisance to a being who may rule them with a sceptre of iron.
Will you permit me, Madam, to hope for the pleasure of hearing from you? It will, I assure you, confer happiness, and shall be esteemed a favour by your young friend,
[signed] A. Adams
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:30–32.)
1. See AA to Mary Cranch, 6 July, above, under “July 7th.”
2. For references to the lost correspondence between Madam Grand and AA, 1778–1780, see vol. 4.
3. Louis Joseph Xavier François, heir to the French throne, was born 22 Oct. 1781, and died on 4 June 1789. The Adamses saw the dauphin at the Château de la Muette, a royal hunting lodge in the Bois de Boulogne (JQA, Diary, 1:211, and note 2).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0234

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tufts, Cotton
Date: 1784-09-05

John Adams to Cotton Tufts

[salute] My dear Friend

I am here, happily Settled with my Family and I feel more at home, than I have ever done in Europe.
I have not time to enlarge, as Mr. Tracy who takes this, is upon his Return to London.
The Pasture you mention,1 rocky and bushy as it is, I should be glad to purchase, and if you can, I wish you to buy it for me and draw upon me for the Money, and if you know of any Salt Marsh or Woodland to be Sold in Braintree, buy it for me and draw for the Money to be paid in London, Amsterdam or Paris, at your Pleasure.
{ 455 }
Or you may purchase Ves[e]ys dry Plain, near me, and draw in the same manner.2 But dont lay out more than Three hundred Pounds Sterling in this manner, at least dont draw upon me, for more than that Sum, unless you Should purchase both Veseys and Verchilds, for I have little Money to Spare, and am not likely to have more.
If all the Fishes in the Sea, all the Deers in the Forrests and all the Beavers in the Swamps Should furnish me a few Bitts of Marsh and Lotts of Wood, a quarter Part as much as my Profession would have furnished my Family, if I had let the Fishes Deers and Beavers, all go to the Devil together, I shall think myself well off, and be thought by others too well, miserable bes[otted?] human Kind, loading with their Rewards those who betray them and Starving without Mercy those who Sacrifice themselves for their Service!3
Pardon this Misanthropic Ejaculation at a Time when I assure you, I think myself one of the happiest Men in the World. If I had been less happy I should not have been So Saucy.

[salute] My best Regards to Uncle Quincy Your Lady and Son, and believe me forever your Friend

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honorable Cotton Tufts Esqr Weymouth”; notation by Nathaniel Tracy: “London Sept 16. 84 Rec & forwarded by Your most obedt Sev N Tracy”; endorsed: “Hon John Adams Esq Paris. Sept. 1784 recd. Nov.” Some damage to the text where the seal was partially torn away.
1. See Tufts to JA, 3 July, and note 1, above.
2. In her letter to Tufts, 8 Sept., below, AA criticizes this tract of land and dissents from JA's wish to buy it.
3. JA refers to his successful efforts, in the recent peace negotiations with Great Britain, to secure access to the northeastern fishing grounds and the northern and western game and fur bearing forests for America, at the expense of his profitable legal career. Those rewarded for trying to betray America's interests in the negotiations were presumably Benjamin Franklin, the Comte de Vergennes, and their allies, as JA had come to believe from 1780 to 1783; and Congress, by cutting back JA's salary, was “Starving [him] without Mercy.” See AA to Mary Cranch, [5 Sept.], and note 6, 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, 2018.