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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0004

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1782-10-08

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Your favour of August 17th2 is just put into my hands with word that Capt. Grinnel is to sail tomorrow, all of a sudden without having been to see me, or warning me of his going. I made a little excursion to Haverhill with our daughter and son Charles which prevented my { 5 } getting my Letters ready. However I am determined not to close my eyes to Night untill I have written to you, and will send Charles of tomorrow morning by sun rise. Mr. Guile3 is come safe and sends me word he will see me tomorrow or next day. I shall be impatient untill he comes. I want to know all about my dear Friend—O! that I could add Companion. Permit me my Dearest Friend to renew that Companionship. My Heart sighs for it. I cannot O! I cannot be reconcild to living as I have done for 3 years past. I am searious. I could be importunate with you. May I? Will you let me try to soften, if I cannot wholy releave you, from your Burden of Cares and perplexities? Shall others for their pleasure hazard, what I cannot have courage to incounter from an affection pure as ever burned in a vestal Heart—Warm and permanant as that which glows in your own dear Bosom. I Hardly think of Enemies of terrors and storms. But I resolve with myself, to do as you wish. If I can add to your Happiness, is it not my duty? If I can soften your Cares, is it not my duty? If I can by a tender attention and assiduity prolong your most valuable Life, is it not my duty? And shall I from Female apprehensions of storms of winds, forego all these Calls? Sacrifice them to my personal ease? Alass I have not even that, for wakeing or sleeping I am ever with you. Yet if you do not consent so much is my Heart intent upon it, that your refusal must be couched in very soft terms, and must pledge yourself to return speedily to me.
Yet my dear sir when I can conquer the too soft sensibility of my Heart; I feel loth you should quit your station untill an Honorable peace is Established, and you have added that to your other Labours. Tis no small satisfaction to me that my country is like to profit so largely by my sacrifices.
I doubt not of your Numerous avocations.4 Yet when you can get time to write to your Friends here, it is of vast service to you. It sets tongues and pens at work. It informs the people of your attention to their Interests, and our negotiations are extolled and our Services are held up to view. I am unfortunate in not having in my possession a News paper to inclose, in which some person, has done justice to your patience, to your perseverance, and held up as far as was prudent the difficulties you have had to encounter.5
I hope you are releaved by my last Letters in some measure from your anxiety about our dear Friend and Brother Cranch. He is recoverd far beyond our expectations; he is for the first time this week attending Court. I am of opinion that his Lungs are affected, and am in terrors for him least he should have a relapse. He owes his Life { 6 } the doctors say under providence, to the incessant, unwearied, indefatigable watchfull care of his wife; who has almost sacrificed her own, to save his Life.—O! my dear Friend, how often is my Heart torn with the Idea, that I have it not in my power, let sickness or misfortune assail you thus to watch round your Bed and soften your repose.
To the Care of a gracious providence I commit you.
Your good Mother went from here this afternoon, and desires her kind Regards to you. Uncle Q[uinc]y send his Love, is always attentive to hear from you. He applied to me a little while ago, to send for 2 yards of green velvet proper for a pulpit cushing with fring and tassels for it or half a pound of green sewing silk. He would have sent the Money, but I refused it, because I knew it would give you pleasure to make this little present to our Church. You will be so good as to order it put up by the next conveyance. The Fire Brand6 is not yet arrived. We are under apprehension for her. We have a large French Fleet in our Harbour, yet are daily insulted by British cruizers. There are several officers who belong to the Fleet who hire rooms in the Town, some of them Men of learning and Character. Several of them have got introduced to me. I treat them with civility, but rather avoid a large acquaintance. I have been on Board one 84 gun ship by the particular invitation of the Captain. Col. Quincy and family accompanied me. This afternoon a Sweed, in the French Service made me a second visit. He speaks english, is a Man of learning and is second in command of the America; which is given by Congress in lieu of the ship which was lost in comeing into the Harbour.7 These Gentry take a good deal of pains to get an introduction here; seem to consider an acquaintance of much more importance to them, than the people who call themselves geenteel, and who compose our Beau Mond, but who have chiefly risen into Notice since you left the Country. As I have not sought their acquaintance, nor ever appeard in publick since your absence, I have not the Honour to be known to many of them—concequently am forgotten or unnoticed by them in all their publick entertainments. Our Allies however recollect that the only Gentleman who is employed abroad in publick Service from this state May probably have a Lady and a daughter, and it may be proper to notice them out of Regard to the Gentlemans publick Character; and accordingly Send out their invitations which I decline and send the daughter. This has been repeatedly the case. I care not a stiver8 as it respects my own country. Mrs. D[an]a is treated in the same Manner, but people who are accustomed to politeness and good Manners { 7 } notice it. The Manners of our Country are so intirely changed from what they were in those days of simplicity when you knew it, that it has nothing of a Republick but the Name. Unless you can keep a publick table and Equipage you are but of very small consideration.
What would You have thought 15 years ago, for young practicioners at the Bar to be setting up their Chariots, to be purchaseing—not paying for—their country seats. P. M——n, B——n H——n,9 riding in their Chariots who were clerks in offices when we removed from Town. Hogarth may exhibit his world topsa turva.10 I am sure I have seen it realized.
Your daughter has been writing to you. Indeed my dear sir you would be proud of her. Not [that] she is like her Mamma. She has a Stat[l]iness in her manners which some misconstrue into pride and haughtyness, but which rather results from a too great reserve; she wants more affability, but she has prudence and discretion beyond her years. She is in her person tall large and Majestick, mammas partialiaty allows her to be a good figure. Her sensibility is not yet sufficiently a wakend to give her Manners that pleasing softness which attracts whilst it is attracted. Her Manners rather forbid all kinds of Intimacy; and awe whilst they command.
Indeed she is not like her Mamma. Had not her Mamma at her age too much sensibility, to be very prudent. It however won a Heart of as much sensibility—but how my pen runs. I never can write you a short Letter. My Charles and Tommy, are fine Boys. My absent one is not forgotten. How does he, I do not hear from him.
Adieu my dear Friend. How much happier should I be to fold you to my Bosom, than to bid you this Languid adieu, with a whole ocean between us. Yet whilst I recall to your mind tender scenes of happier days, I would add a supplication that the day May not be far distant, that shall again renew them to your Ever Ever affectionate []Portia
1 peice of white blond Lace []2 pr Moroco Shoes for Nabby []4 yd Book Muslin thread for working Muslin []6 pr Black Worsted Breaches patterns.
This is written in so much haste that I cannot revise. I took Miss N[abby]s Letter to inclose and found I was mistaken. That it is to Mr. Thaxter11 instead of papa. So I will recall some of my observations about sensibility.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia's Letter. Oct. 8 1782.”
1. This date is probably in error; see note 3.
2. JA wrote two letters on 17 Aug. (vol. 4:364–366). AA seems to be answering the second of the two; note the second and third paragraphs.
3. Benjamin Guild arrived from Amsterdam { 8 } on the Apollo on 9 Oct., and forwarded a packet to AA on that day (Boston Evening Post, 12 Oct.; Richard Cranch to JA, 10 Oct., below).
4. This word is written over another, illegible word.
5. See JA to Richard Cranch, 2 July (vol. 4:339–341) and descriptive note there.
6. A Massachusetts privateer that had carried letters directly to Holland earlier in the year (vol. 4:305, 327, 329, 354, 362, 377).
7. On the America, see JA, Papers, 6:157.
8. A small coin used in the Netherlands, worth about as much as an English penny.
9. Probably Perez Morton and Benjamin Hichborn; see JA, Papers, vols. 3–4; Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 17:36–44, 555–561.
10. AA's reference may be to William Hogarth's work generally rather than to any specific engraving. The social disorder depicted in several of his most celebrated plates, such as “The Election” series (1755–1758), gives some idea of his biting satire. She could, however, have in mind Hogarth's “The Times, Plate 1” (Sept. 1762), which may be the engraving that James Warren connected with the satirist Charles Churchill in terms very similar to AA's remark here. Writing to JA on 13 June 1779 (JA, Papers, 8:93), Warren described Massachusetts' new social order, AA's topic in this passage, as “A World turned Topsy Turvy, beyond the description of Hogarth's humourous pencile of Churchill's Satyr.” “The Times, Plate 1,” however, was not based on a satire by Churchill, and may even have criticized Churchill and his friend, John Wilkes, while praising the Earl of Bute, and attacking William Pitt the Elder for keeping the war with France going in Europe. It did show an England in disorder, in which nearly all social and political leaders were working for the nation's ruin. See DNB (Churchill); Ronald Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times, 2 vols., New Haven, 1971, esp. vol. 2, chap. 27.
11. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0005

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1782-10-09

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam

In receiving the Communication, that the [T]reaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States of America, and the seven United Provinces, was yesterday signed,1 You will at the same Time accept my sincere Congratulations upon this Event. It has been a long, tedious and troublesome Negotiation, and fortunately for our Country in very good Hands. Every Negotiation here takes up so much Time, even upon Matters of no great Pith or Moment. How much then was necessary to the Accomplishment of the great Object in view? The Nature of the Business, almost answers the Question. The dispute between Britain and America was to be laid open, the Progress of it stated, the Resources and Ability of America to defend and secure her Independence against the Force of her Enemies were to be clearly proved, and the Advantages of a friendly Connection between the two Countries were to be shewn in an indisputable manner. These were important Truths, and great Care, prudence and Delicacy were required in unfolding them to the public Eye. Unforeseen Events, that influence and impress the public Mind, were oftentimes occurring, and operated new difficulties to the progress of the Mission, produced Suspicions, or Fears and gave new Life and a { 9 } fresh Recruit of Spirits to busy Anglomany,2 ever employed in strengthening its Party, and in Endeavours to obscure the Light of Truth. Add to all this, the falsehoods and Impositions that circulated from the British Magazine all over Europe. The English spared no Pains and hesitated at no Absurdities nor Impostures however gross and palpable, to work upon the Passions, mislead the Judgments, and pervert any good Dispositions that were manifesting themselves in this Country. There was an Advantage in having the first Intelligence of any Event in America, to avail oneself of the first Impressions. In this the English were successful and any trifling Advantage in no wise affecting the general Issue of the War, was trumpd up by them into a decisive Victory, and a Court Gazette could magnify the contemptible littleness of a Gnat to the Magnitude of a Mountain, till an American Account could furnish a true Medium to view the Affair. These are some of the difficulties, tho' but a few of the whole Number, which have embarrassed and perplexed this Negotiation. However the Dye was cast, and the lucky Number turn'd. Thank God for all things, and especially for that Degree of Faith Patience and Perseverance with which he inspired him, who had the Conduct of this Business. There is no negotiating here without these Virtues. Your dearest Friend has gained himself great Honor, and both his Ability and Firmness have been highly complimented and applauded. Give me Credit, Madam, for writing three sides soberly—more than I expected when I sat down to write. Now I would be saucy if I dare, and make You gay for a few Moments. I could launch into a little domestic History, and tell You the manner in which We live describe Characters &ca. but I must not. If the Letter should be taken the deuce would be played with me. So I must be silent. I shall not return this Season as I expected. I shall make a short Trip to another Country first. You will know the Reason why from your dearest Friend. [ . . . ]3 Tis a better Climate than this.
Gibralter is not yet taken nor will be I believe this Season. What Expence to no Purpose?
What would I give to embrace all the dear Girls? That is if they should be willing. I long to peep in upon them, and participate in the pleasures of their sweet Society.
I hope Master Charles will write to me. Does he want to come [to] Europe again? If he does, tell him he had better stay at home, till he is old enough to come here as Minister plenipo' and then I shall claim { 10 } his Promise of appointing me his Secretary. My Love to him, Miss N[abby] and Tommy and Respects to all friends. With an invariable Respect, Madam, your most humble Servant.
1. This treaty culminated more than two years of diplomatic labors by JA. The climactic event was the Netherlands' decision, on 19 April, to recognize JA as the representative of an independent sovereign nation, an act that JA himself called “a signal Tryumph” for the United States (to AA, 1 July, vol. 4:338). Copies of the treaty, in English and Dutch, are in the Adams Papers, dated 8 October. See Thaxter to JA, 20 April (vol. 4:311–313); JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:3–5, note 1, 8–9, note 1, 16–17, note 2; and Celeste Walker, John Adams & a “signal Tryumph”: The Beginning of 200 Years of American-Dutch Friendship, Massachusetts Historical Society, Picturebook, Boston, 1982.
2. Here, apparently, meaning the effort by English or Dutchmen to advance England's interest in the Netherlands. Thaxter had already used the word “Anglomanes,” in Aug. 1781, to describe Dutchmen sympathetic to England (vol. 4:205). JA quoted a similar use of “Anglomanes” by the Spanish minister to the Netherlands in his 28 April letter to Edmund Jenings (Adams Papers), and again in his 1 July letter to AA (vol. 4:339), and he used “Anglomanie” in his Diary on 5 Oct. 1782 to describe pro-British sentiment in Sweden (Diary and Autobiography, 3:14). For later uses of this word and its variants by Thomas Jefferson and others, see OED.
3. A worn fold in the text has made a sentence of six or seven words illegible. Thaxter was shortly to accompany JA to Paris (JA to AA, 12 Oct., below).
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/