Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 27 July 1782 Thaxter, John AA John Thaxter to Abigail Adams, 27 July 1782 Thaxter, John Adams, Abigail
John Thaxter to Abigail Adams
Madam The Hague 27th. July 1782

Soon after writing You at Amsterdam,1 I was unfortunate enough to have a Relapse, after I thought that the Fever had entirely quitted me. I was confined there about a fortnight, and then came to this place. I am at present perfectly recovered I hope—for another Turn would fret me out of Existence, which would be no great loss except to my “fair American,” who might whimper and sigh a day or two perhaps, but it would be soon over: whereas if She should put on Mortality and discharge the last great debt, I should get a broken Heart by it I suppose, be tormented a Year or two with ridiculous Visions and Spectres, and be ready every two or three days to commit some act of Violence upon my Life out of mere Despair. I pray therefore She may live, if it is only to save me all this Trouble; as it is I have Torment enough, being twenty or thirty times a day disturbed with her Image passing across the Brain.—This is not to be remedied.

I was much disappointed in not being honored with a Line from You by Return of Trowbridge in the Firebrand. Not a single Letter by this Vessel, tho' directly for this Country. However, Patience as 355the Dutch say—a heavenly Balm for every Wound. I am much in the Practice of this Virtue. I hope I am not forgotten.

You will see by the Date of this, that We are removed from Amsterdam here into the Hotel des Etats Unis. Mr. Dumas, with his Wife and Daughter, are in our Family. Madam Dumas takes exceeding good Care of the House and I hope will save much Expence. She is a great Ceconomist. Her Daughter is a very pretty young Lady of about 16 or 17. Years old,2 and I am very well satisfied that She makes a part of the Family, being no Enemy to the fair Sex. I hope it will be unnecessary to make any Apology here to my “fair American,” or any Protestations to cure any little troublesome Jealousies that may spring up on Account of my being under the same Roof with this young Lady. I mentioned the young Lady's age on purpose to keep my lovely American quiet. She will see I am old enough to be her Father. Pray tell my Flame to make herself quite easy.—But I beg Pardon, Madam, for taking up so much of your time with these Trifles.

The World is in all the Anxiety of earnest Expectation, all on Tiptoe, for News from the combined Fleet. Lord Howe is out with the English Channel Fleet, and an Action is momently expected, tho' the combined Fleet is much superior. The Dutch Fleet is in the North Sea. It is expected the Jamaica and other merchant fleets will fall into the Hands of the French and Spaniards or the Dutch. God grant it, and if a Naval Battle takes place, Success to our Friends and Allies. Fox, Burke, and another of the new Ministry have quitted Administration, because the System they agreed to pursue, and upon which their Administration was founded has been departed from and a new one adopted. Fox is for granting absolute, unequivocal and unconditional Independence to America. Shelburne, who has become first Lord of the Treasury since the Death of the Marquis of Rockingham, is for making the Acknowledgment of our Independence a Condition of Peace, which is tantamount to declaring, We will not acknowledge it at all, for he knows a Condition of this Nature would involve Us in a seperate distinct Negotiation, contrary to good Faith and solem Treaties not only, but repugnant to our Interest. And this is Shelburne's rascally design, to detach Us from France, which would be seperating our Interests from those of the belligerent Powers. The King is determined not to grant unconditional Independence to America, but with his Crown and Life. Bravo.—America is ready to meet the Monster on that Ground. We do not stand in need of his Acknowledgment to make Us independent. The Work is done, and 356he will sacrifice a tottering Crown and forfeited Life to no purpose. Shelburne, infamously deserting his Colleagues, has become the Premier upon Condition of supporting the King in this mad Project. Is there not some chosen Curse, some hidden Thunder &c.? Fox has taken his stand upon the only foundation that can save his Country. If he is not under the Influence of unwarrantable Ambition or mean Jealousy, but has adopted his plan upon mature Reflection and a Conviction of its Utility, and pursues it with firmness and Resolution, he may be as illustrious a Character in the British Annals as a Pitt. But it is Time for another Revolution in that Country, and to add another Martyr to the Rubric, and a few more Ornaments to Tyburn. The Liberties of the Kingdom are gone past Redemption if some bold Spirit does not check this formidable Combination against their freedom.

Remember me, if You please, dutifully and respectfully where due. My most affectionate Regards to the fair of my Acquaintance. Miss Nabby, Masters Charley and Thommy claim the Remembrance and Affection of him who has the honor to be, with the most perfect Esteem & Respect, Madam, your most Ob. & most Hble. Servt., J North3

RC (Adams Papers).


Thaxter to AA, 23 June, above.


Little is known of Mile. Dumas except that her father refers to her as Nancy and that she had a talent for composing patriotic verse, specimens of which were sent to JA by Dumas, 28 March 1783 (Adams Papers).


Thaxter apparently first signed his letter “North Common,” a pseudonym he had occasionally used before in writing AA, then crossed out “Common” and prefixed the initial “J.”

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 5 August 1782 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 5 August 1782 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
My dearest Friend August 5th 1782

I know not any pleasure equal to that which arises from feeding the Hungry, cloathing the Naked and making the poor prisoners Heart sing for Joy. All the Honours which your Country has conferd upon you has never excited in my mind half the Satisfaction which your Benevolent exertions and generous aid to the poor prisoners which I recommended to you, has given me. I am sorry not to have learnt any thing from your own pen with regard to them, but they have not been deficient in manifesting their gratitude to you, and making mention of your kindness, to their Friends here by every opportunity, nor could I help feeling the Lamentation of a Milton prisoner to his Friends, that it was his misfortune not to be a Brain-357tree Man. Your Benevolence would lead you to do all in your power for the releaf of all those unhappy persons who are in confinement, yet those who were your towns Men and Neighbours have a particular claim to your attention.1 I expect a Letter to inclose from the Father of Lewis Glover. If you could forward it to him they will consider it as an additional favour and further let them know that all their Friends are well, which I suppose may be done through the commissary of prisoners. They frequently send Letters to their Friends here, but how I know not.

I yesterday saw Mr. Foster, as I hope he will tell you in a months time, I gave him Letters which he has promised to deliver safe. You so seldom acknowledge the recept of any Letters from me, that but for many of the vessels arriveing safe, I should suppose they never reachd you. There are Letters in Boston from Mr. Ingraham I am told so late as May, by the Ship Thomas from Nants. How happy would it have made me to have learnt by a line from you that you was well. What greater hazard would your Letters meet with by way of France than mine, especially coverd to the Consul Le Etomb.

You will find in one of the Letters a memmorandom for i.e. from Mrs. Warren the articles of china which she has mentiond she supposes may be purchased for 20 dollors.2 I think she must be mistaken. She has given a different direction as you will see per the inclosed. I should like to prog 3 a little too if I thought you could afford it. I will not disown having already done it in some things, but tis but a little. I sent for a compleat set of china for a dining table some time ago, I know not whether you received the Letter and if you did whether you will know what a set is. Now I take it to consist in a doz. of dishes 6 different sizes, 3 doz. of table flat plates and 2 of Soup, 6 pudding dishes, 2 pr. Butter Boats, to which I should like 2 pr. of double flint cut Salts—all to set my table “neat and trim” when dear Collin returns.4 Perhaps you are house keeper enough allready to know what is necessary but I fancy you must have been often imposed upon before you got your Learning. They tell me you have purchased a House at the Hague and some have gone so far as to say you have sent for all your family. I wish you were with your family. I hear Mrs. Jay5 is unhappy. Is Mrs. Adams happy? No. Is Mrs. Dana happy? The world say she is, but I believe she would say no. She is younger than Mrs. Adams and does not think it so necessary to domesticate herself6 nor has she learnt a lesson the World will soon teach her.

Thus far I wrote with an intention of sending by the Amsterdam 358vessel, but she has given me the slip. I laid by my paper but tho I do not know of a present opportunity I feel a new Inducement to write. Dr. Waterhouse yesterday made me a visit. He tells me he has written to you by the late vessel7 so it will be unnecessary for me to say any Thing concerning his Situation. The pleasure which I received from his company and conversation was next to that of seeing my dear absent Friend. He has lived in so much Friendship and intimacy with you, with Mr. Thaxter and my dear Boys, related so many anecdotes, appeard to enter into all your feelings even of the tender domestick kind that he attached me more to him in a few hours than he could otherways have done in half a year, tho his manners are of that frank, open, unreserved kind which are universally pleasing. He wished me exceedingly to go to you. He was sure it was necessary to your happiness and he could see no prospect of a peace. Even if one took place you certainly was the most suteable Man to reside at the Hague, the Dutch had a Friendship for you and a confidence in you, you was on every account the best calculated to do essential Service to your country there. Your character was high throughout Europe, even the tories respected it, but you was not happy abroad. You sighd for domestick tranquility, you longed for the peacefull shades of Brain tree and the kind softning fostering care of Portia.

Thus did this gentleman run on whilst I had not a wish to stop the musick of his tongue for the sweetest of all praise is that which is given to those we best love. Had my dear Friend been half as earnest with me to have taken passage with him as this Gentleman has been that I should go to him, he would have prevaild over my aversion to the Sea. But great as I feel the Sacrifice is I believe he8 judged best that I should remain where I am.

But will you can you think of remaining abroad? Should a peace take place I could not forgive you half a years longer absence. O there are hours, days and weeks when I would not paint to you all my feelings—for I would not make you more unhappy. I would not wander from room to room without a Heart and Soul at Home or feel myself deserted, unprotected, unassisted, uncounseld.—I begin to think there is a moral evil in this Seperation, for when we pledged ourselves to each other did not the holy ceremony close with, “What God has joined Let no Man put assunder.” Can it be a voluntary seperation? I feel that it is not.9

Dft (Adams Papers); possibly incomplete; written (as stated within) on more than one day, but closing date is not determinable. Neither enclosure in (missing) RC has been found.

359 1.

For JA's “Benevolent exertions” in behalf of captured Braintree seamen, see above, AA to JA, 9 Dec. 1781, and note 3 there.


Enclosure in AA to JA, 17–18 July above.


See OED under Prog, verb, 2, obsolete except in dialect: “To poke about for anything that may be picked up or laid hold of; ... to forage ...; also to solicit, to beg.”


“When dear Collin returns”—from a Scottish song—alluding of course to JA's prospective return.


Sarah (Livingston) Jay had accompanied her husband on his long and dangerous voyage to Spain in 1779–1780, had shared his diplomatic frustrations there, and had borne him a daughter in 1780 that died three weeks after birth. See Monaghan, John Jay , and Morris, Peacemakers .


Here AA heavily inked out four lines in Dft. Their content can be sufficiently reconstructed to suggest that she blotted them after conveying their sense in a briefer and better way in the last paragraph of Dft:

“Critical as the Situation of a Lady is separated from the dear two or three words Protecter of her Life and honour my course two or three words that in every Step I have looked on all sides and steared clear of one word; sentence may be unfinished.”


Letter not found.


That is, JA.


Text of Dft does not fill the page, and there is no leavetaking; so Dft may be incomplete. From JA's answer of 16 Oct. 1782 (Adams Papers) to AA's letters of 3 and 5 Sept., both below, it would appear that he did not receive the present letter.