Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 20 November 1785 Jefferson, Thomas AA Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 20 November 1785 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, Abigail
Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams
Dear Madam Paris Nov. 20. 1785

I have been honoured with your two letters of Octob. 19. and 25. by Mr. Fox and Doctor Rodgers since the date of my last.1 I am to thank you for your state of Stanhope's case. It has enabled me to speak of that transaction with a confidence of which I should other-463wise have been deprived by the different state of it in the public papers and the want of information from America. I have even endeavored to get it printed in a public paper to counteract the impressions of the London papers and Mercure de France. I do not yet know however whether it will be admitted.2—Your letter to Mr. Williamos3 I immediately sent to him. The illness which had long confined him, proved in the end to be mortal. He died about ten days ago.

Mr. Adams's letter of the 4th. instant4 informs me that Mr. Preston had at length found my letter to him. I hope he has also found, or that he will in time find that which I took the liberty of writing to you. It was to pray you to order me a dozen shirts, of exactly the quality of the one sent, to be made in London. I gave for that 10tt 10s. the aune, and wished to be able to judge of the comparative prices in the two countries. The several commissions you have been so good as to execute for me, with what Mr. Adams has paid for insuring Houdon's life leave me considerably in your debt. As I shall not get so good an opportunity of making a remittance, as by Colo. Smith, I trouble him with thirty two Louis for you. This I expect may place us in the neighborhood of a balance. What it is exactly I do not know. I will trouble you to give me notice when you receive your plateaux de dessert, because I told the marchand I would not pay him till you had received them; he having undertaken to send them. I give you so much trouble that unless you find some means of employing me for yourself in return I shall retain an unpleasant load on my mind. Indeed I am sensible this balance will always be against me, as I want more from London than you will do from Paris. True generosity therefore will induce you to give me opportunities of returning your obligations.

Business being now got through I congratulate you on the return of Colo. Smith.5 I congratulate you still more however on the extreme worth of his character, which was so interesting an object in a person connected in office so nearly with your family. I had never before had an opportunity of being acquainted with him. Your knowlege of him will enable you to judge of the advantageous impressions which his head, his heart, and his manners will have made on me.

I begin to feel very sensibly the effect of the derangement of the French packets. My intelligence from America lately has become more defective than it formerly was. The proceedings of Congress and of the assemblies there this winter will be very interesting.

The death of the Duc d'Orleans has darkened much the court and 464city. All is sable. No doubt this is a perfect representation of their feelings, and particularly of those of the D. de Chartres to whom an additional revenue of four millions will be a paultry solace for his loss.6 News from Madrid give much to fear for the life of the only son of the Prince of Asturias.7

Colo. Humphries comes to take a view of London. I should be gratified also with such a trip, of which the pleasure of seeing your family would make a great part. But I foresee no circumstances which could justify, much less call for, such an excursion. Be so good as to present my respects to Miss Adams and to be assured yourself of the sincerity of the esteem with which I have the honour to be Dear Madam.

Your most obedient & most humble servt.

Th: Jefferson

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jefferson Nov 20. 1785.”


Of 11 Oct., above.


See AA2 to JQA, 18 Oct., note 16, and AA to Jefferson, 19 Oct., and note 5, above.


Not found; AA mentions it in her letter to Jefferson of 25 Oct., above.


Jefferson, Papers , 9:10–11.


The date of Smith's arrival in Paris is not known; he had departed from Vienna on his return journey on 26 Oct. (AA to William Stephens Smith, 13 Aug., note 1, above).


Louis Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, died on 18 Nov., and was succeeded to the title by his son Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc de Chartres. The successor was guillotined in 1793, but his son survived to become King Louis Philippe in 1830. Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale .


The source of Jefferson's information was William Carmichael's letter of 6 Nov., which he received on the 20th (Jefferson, Papers , 9:23–24). Ferdinand, son of Charles, Prince of Asturias, an infant just past his first birthday, survived. His father became King Charles IV of Spain in 1788, and young Ferdinand succeeded to the title Prince of Asturias the next year. Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale .

Charles Storer to Abigail Adams 2d, 21 November 1785 Storer, Charles AA2 Charles Storer to Abigail Adams 2d, 21 November 1785 Storer, Charles Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Charles Storer to Abigail Adams 2d
New-York, November 21st, 1785

My word I mean always to keep, Amelia, so I write you from this place, though my letter may be barren of subjects to entertain or interest you. One thing, however, there is, which I hope, and am willing to be sure, is not indifferent to you, and that is the information of our safe arrival here. It is a matter of no little joy and satisfaction to me, be assured; your participation, as it will prove your friendship, will be no small addition to it.

Seven long weeks were we upon the ocean, during all which time the winds seemed to have conspired against us, yet one week ashore quite effaced the past trouble; so soon are our griefs forgot when their object ceases to be present; not so with our friends, Amelia. The sweetest ingredient of happiness is the esteem we bear them. This is 465a sentiment we can reflect ever upon with pleasure: nor can absence, or distance, pain, or sorrow, deprive us of it. The first part of my voyage, I felt forcibly the attraction of Europe, and many a thought centered there. In the mid-ocean, view me, on a balance, duty and affection in equipoise; still a little further and home preponderated. That moment gave birth to feelings exquisitely pleasing, and every thought came crowded with satisfaction. The nearer I approach, my impatience (as gravity increases the rapidity of a body the nearer it comes to the earth, in falling) increases. Yet, Amelia, great as my pleasure is on this occasion, I am not unmindful of those friends in Europe, who in their turns now are absent. I feel my heart dilated; my feelings expand, so as to embrace you all. Peace and happiness be with you. Remember Eugenio, and be assured in so doing you add much to his happiness in return.

Perhaps you little think, that you are much the subject of conversation here. There are many ladies who envy you your present situation. “Is not Miss A. very handsome?” says one. Yes, madame, she is called the American beauty. “She must be very accomplished; she has every opportunity she could wish to improve herself; the best of masters; the best of every thing.” Ah! Amelia, I could not say much on the score of masters; but such qualifications of the mind and heart, as I knew you possessed, and which, seriously considered, are the best accomplishments; these I assured the many inquirers Miss A. was eminent for. You will not be angry with me for this; for what I said was only what I could say with justice. Going abroad, I find, gives one some consequence. When you return you must, therefore, prepare to be looked up to as a pattern for every thing. I advise you now, then, to learn a little assurance; that reliance on yourself that can only make you independant of others. But I beg pardon for dictating to you thus.

A Preliminary, Amelia, though here at the close of my letter. There is a certain gentleman1 in your family, who I imagine, may be inquisitive in regard to our correspondence; my request is—but without telling him so—that he be not permitted to know what I write.

Adieu! Yours,


MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr. , 2:38–40.)


This would appear to be a reference to William Stephens Smith.