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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-07-30

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams


[salute] My Dear Mamma.

I received yesterday your favour of May 25th: not numbered but the fifth that has reached me from you; the four former ones I have acknowledged before.1
The Peace and tranquility of this Country has not hitherto been interrupted since the Revolution, and it is to be hoped that it will continue to be inviolate. The greatest dangers to which it is exposed proceed from the popular Societies, which are very numerous, very restless, and fond of violent measures. They have in several instances already excited popular commotions, but hitherto without the consequences for which they were intended
But as to a free Government, a Government of Laws, or any Government other than that of opinion, that is of parties, it is not to be expected either in France or in this Country. How many more years they will spend in making Constitutions I know not; But that they will never make a Constitution and execute it is evident to every dispassionate observer. It is impossible to say how long an alchymist, will hunt for the philosopher’s stone without being discouraged, but those who imagine he will find it are blessed with a stronger built faith, than has been allotted to me.
In my last Letter I mentioned that we should send you the miniatures by that opportunity. They were not finished however in Season to go by that vessel, and we have now recommended them to the care of Captain Gardner of the Lydia, about to sail from Rotterdam to Boston, and by whose conveyance you will receive this Letter. The pictures are both in one small case, addressed to the care of Mr: Smith.2
The likenesses we think will be satisfactory to you, and the execution, will convince you of the talents of the artist. The only part of your directions which we have been unable to perform is with { 14 } respect to the hair. To have it introduced on the reverse of a bracelet is beyond the skill of a Dutch Jeweler and we were obliged therefore to supersede that part of your orders.
The news of any consequence that are stirring in Europe I generally give in my Letters to my father, and as I write to him by this opportunity, I find I have but a small fund left for your entertainment.3 The essence of our intelligence is that we are well; spending our time as might be expected in Holland, and finding means to be constantly and busily employed though with very little to do.
I request to be remembered as usual affectionately to all our friends at Quincy, Weymouth and Boston, and remain / your dutiful Son
[signed] John Q. Adams.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by TBA: “Mrs: A Adams / Quincy / Near / Boston”; internal address: “Mrs: Adams.”; endorsed: “J Q Adams / july 30 1795.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 128.
1. See vol. 10:442–443.
2. The sloop Lydia, Capt. Gardner, arrived in Boston by 14 Oct. (Boston Columbian Centinel, 14 Oct.) The captain, however, inadvertently sent the portraits on to Nantucket, so AA did not receive them until early December; see AA to TBA, 30 Nov., and to JQA, 5 Dec., both below. For more on these miniature portraits of JQA and TBA, see vol. 10:xii.
3. JQA wrote a lengthy letter to JA on 27 July reporting as usual on the European situation. JQA’s analysis of the state of the Netherlands was of a “Nation in a state of dull tranquility, that is equally barren for narration and for observation,” though he did note that the Dutch continued to debate their new constitution and assembly. The French too had proposed yet another new constitution and governmental structure, about which JQA remained skeptical. Still, he suggested that “the plan contains less of the wild fire than was so liberally scattered through” the previous constitution. In general, he thought the French people tired of revolution and that the counterrevolution in La Vendée remained strong. The British, he noted, “persist with a perseverance which nothing but the national hatred against France could support, in the continuance of the war,” which lacked popular support and was creating a drag on the British economy (Adams Papers). See also JA to JQA, 17 Nov., and notes 1 and 2, below.

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0006

Author: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-08-05

Thomas Boylston Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Mother,

Though it is but a few days since I had the pleasure of writing you, I cannot omit a direct occasion, especially as they occur so seldom, were it merely to repeat the information that no material alteration has taken place in my health or spirits since my last. Indeed I usually find little else to remark, which can be called original after copying three or four sheets of politic’s, the production of another pen, and which usually anticipate all the current news of the times, as well as pretty accurate calculations of the future. My time of writing to my friends in America is after all streams of intelligence { 15 } have been thus drained & exhausted, & when nothing remains but the alternative of dull repetition, or uninteresting comment.
As to Society in Holland—I will make the same remark to you, as I did to one of our Countrymen who asked me—how I found it? I have not yet found it1 all. “I believe you” said he, “for if my observation be accurate, the Hollanders would have required no other barriers against the french Armies for the defence of their Country, had it been as difficult of access, as the inside of their houses.” The Gentleman is a native of a part of our Country, where hospitality, is one of its proverbial characteristics; he might therefore be more readily excused for the seeming asperity of his remark. I cannot go the whole length of my friend the Bostonian, because in reality I have experienced many marks of civility & some of kindness, since I have been in the Country, and though new habits, manners, & customs have usually something forbidding in them to a stranger, time & residence seldom fail to reconcile them to him.
My liesure hours, of which I have not so many as you might conclude, are employed in the acquisition of the french, & dutch languages, or in reading. The french is already tolerably familiar, and I hope the dutch will be so in time—though I should run the hazard of a lock-jaw or an inflamatory sore throat in the acquisition.
The interesting political occurrences of a recent date are detailed by the Minister at full length to my Father; but some yet more recent than the date of his last letter; are the total defeat of the Emigrant expedition in Britanny, by the slaughter or capture of their whole force & Army, announced to the Convention by the Representative Tallien on the anniversary, of the memorable 9. Thermidor. The denunciator of the mighty Tyrant, became the annunciator of this mighty victory, which palsy’s the hopes, & blasts the expectations of so many vasals of Royalty. I use the language of the times—a style less personified, would not become the magnitude of the occasion or the importance of the event. The inauguration of Monsieur as Louis 18—which I erroneously stated in a former letter as an actual coronation, has not procured his acknowledgment by any other power’s than Britain & the Emperor; even the Emperor perhaps ought not to be included as yet, only upon the presumption that the triple Alliance, will take him under protection.2
The other event is the conclusion of a peace with Spain by the french Republic, in a Treaty signed at Basle towards the close of last month. By it, all the territorial conquests made in Spain by the french are to be restored, and in return the Spanish possessions in { 16 } St Domingo are ceded to France—3 Holland as the Ally of France is included in the peace. These two occurrences have again brightened the prospect of our Republican friends, which but a few days past wore a gloomy aspect. Even Paris itself is said to be calm again. The Nubes Volantes4 which so frequently obscure the french horizon, have never yet amounted to total darkness— some propitious breeze may yet spring up to dissipate them; if it were wise to wish, or rather, if it were not vain—who would not say, may the Sun rise no more in crimson blushes upon that mighty Nation.
Our portraits in miniature are sent by this occasion— Perhaps you will discover without my prompting, that the Artist is my particular friend. Though an accidental acquaintance, I have not found him the less deserving of my esteem. His only merit is not that of a good painter— he is a man of taste in litterature also, though his profession leads him to the cultivation of fanciful rather than studied productions; and what is a qualification equally essential to render an acquaintance pleasing— he has an excellent temper & disposition. Though an Englishman by birth & education, he has very few of the foibles, and none of the asperity, attributable to many of his Countrymen. If the pictures reach you safely, I hope you will prize them somewhat the more for the Artists sake.5
Present me in all duty to my Father— I enclose him a duplicate of my Brothers letter by the way of Philadelphia, in lieu of one from myself for this time;6 to all other friends health, friendship & love / from, dear mother / your son
[signed] Thomas B Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs: A— Adams / Quincy / near Boston”; internal address: “Mrs: A Adams,”; endorsed: “T B Adams / August 5 1795.”
1. AA interlined “it at” at this point.
2. See TBA to AA, 12 July, and note 4, above.
3. For the Franco-Spanish treaty, see vol. 10:422.
4. Literally, flying clouds.
5. For Mr. Parker, the painter of miniature portraits of both TBA and JQA, see vol. 10:xii.
6. A Dupl in TBA’s hand of JQA’s 27 July letter to JA, for which see JQA to AA, 30 July, and note 3, above, is in the Adams Papers.
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.