Papers of John Adams, volume 17

398 From Mercy Otis Warren, ca. 4 September 1785 Warren, Mercy Otis Adams, John
From Mercy Otis Warren
Sir Milton [ca. 4] sept 1785 1

The account of your sons arrival you will have from Himself.— the pleasure his Friends receive from his return you will not doubt, and in Every instance where my advice or attention may be Either useful or pleasing be assured I shall treat him as my own, not only from that long Friendship I have felt for his parents Backed by their perticuler request, but from the affection I dare say his amiable manners will Always secure.

That the Dreamers have augured: & the prophets long since foretold Mr Adams would be the first American minister to the Court of Great Britain is not more Certain than the General satisfaction Expressed in the Complition of this event. and though it is a station attended with Difficulty & Fatigue—requiring much Delacacy & address, I have no doubt his abilities & perseverance are adequate to the important trust. Nor will the Train of Emmissaries who delight in mischief affect His Reputation Integrity or Vigalence.— However Variegated in shape, or shaded with such dazzling lights as might put out the Eye of one less firmly attached to the interest of his Country.

Yet there are few Characters so impeccable that their is no danger, of loosing sight of Their patriotism amidst the Golden mists which remarkably pervade a Certain Island. speculatists have observed that this shining Fog, is more or less apt to injure the optics of the Greatest polititians & statsmen. But Neither Balls Nor Birth days or the Nameless Favours that the Dignified splendour of Either sex Can bestow, will I trust influance the probaty of a Gentleman who has Braved the ordeal tryal (even in the purlieus of a Brilliant Court), & that has stood the test for more than seven years amidst jaring Factions on Each side the atlantic that would Equally have rejoiced in his fall.

I Cannot see any thing you sir have to dread from a Late appointment. Nor have I penetration to discover anything pitiable in your situation. as to Envy I Cannot be so Explicit. it is a kind of Canker worm that Generally Crawls round the Loftiest Branches, & grows meagre in the innutritious soil that Genders it. it is a Reptile that may infest but Seldom destroys the Heart of oak. and while you Enjoy the Dignity of office, may self approbation, ever 399Counterballance the Malignancy of Rivalships. These may weaken the Hands, but seldom depress the Heart of true Magnanimity.

Your next question is when shall I again see my Friend Warren in public life. I answer when Republic are Famed for Their Gratitude, & the Multitude learn to Discriminate. when they more Respect Their Real Friends than they admire the populer Demagouge or the luke warm adherents to public liberty, who have sacrificed nothing in the Cause & held the powerful Ballance of Wealth which in all Countrys, outweighs the shining qualities of Honest patriotism, and not before. He has never retreated from the service of his Country. perticuler Circumstance which I dare say mr Adams would have thought weighty, led him at a Certain period to decline several Honorary offices. this his Enemies have industriously improved to prevent his Reelection. While his independency of spirit supported by the Rectitude of his intentions never suffered him to make the smallest Exertions to Counteract. yet Notwithstanding his fondness for private life, if his Country should Ever again require his services Depend upon it he will step forth with the same indefatigable Zeal & Integrity that has hitherto distinguished his Character—

Mr Dana is appointed one of the Judges of the supreme Court. Mr Warren bids me tell you he thinks this the only Circumstance that marks with any degree of Reputation the administration of Hancock.

Mr Gerry will not be Elegable by the Confederation as a Delegate to Congress after November. I wish his Countrymen may never forget his Merits. But if his Happiness depended on Their Favour, probably he might long pursue without Ever overtaking the Phantom. But I have Reason to beleive he means in future to build on the more solid Base of Domestic Felicity—2

I fear your very Elegeble situation at the Court of London will Hush Every Future sigh for the silent Hills in the Neighbourhood of Tremont, and perhaps before you return to your Native Land your Frinds, who now ardently wish for your soceity may stand in the presence of a Monarch Infinitely superior to the Bustling potentates of this Spec. of Creation.—

Shall I ask the Favour of you sir to transmit by some safe Conveyance the Enclosed to your young Friend in lisbon, and shall I ask you if Their is a probability of a treaty with portugal. Nothing would have induced this young Gentleman to have fixed himself in a Country where the Religion the Manners & the Goverment are so 400differant to the liberal Ideas in which he has been Educated, but the promise of a Consuler appointment from many of the most Respectable Members of Congress.3 He has been long kept in suspence Because Congress do not appoint where no treaties are Formed, and perhaps there may yet be time for you to Give a hint in his Favour, if you think his Merits & his Fathers services deserve this small Consideration. I know you must be sensible this uniform patriot has long laboured in the arduous struggle for the liberties of his Country: without any Emolument Either of Honour or profit, to Himself or his Family. a small appointment in a distant Country to an amiable son is a very inadequate compensation for his Fatigues & his sufferings—

You will Excuse this Freedom of Communication from one who / subscribes very Respectfully, / Your Friend & / Humble servant

M Warren

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs Warren / Septr. 1785.” Filmed at Sept. 1785.


The dating of this letter is based on James Warren’s of 4 Sept., above, where he indicated that Mercy Otis Warren had written to JA “lately.”


See Elbridge Gerry’s reference to his desire for “domestic Felicity” in his 25 April letter, above.


This is Winslow Warren. JA received the Warrens’ letters on or about 3 Dec., the date of his letter to Winslow, in which he enclosed Mercy’s letter to her son (LbC, APM Reel 111). Regarding Winslow’s appointment as consul, James Warren had written to Samuel Holten, a Massachusetts member of Congress, on 28 June about Winslow being appointed consul at Lisbon. Holten replied on 18 July that he had conferred with Richard Henry Lee and Gerry about such an appointment, indicating that until Congress completed considering measures proper to be taken regarding trade there would be no consuls appointed (Smith, Letters of Delegates , 22:515). JA wrote to John Jay on 3 Dec. concerning a consular appointment for Winslow (NHi:Gilder Lehrman Coll., on deposit).

From Thomas Barclay, 5 September 1785 Barclay, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Barclay
Dear Sir Paris 5 Sepr. 1785

The Bearer Lieut. Col: Franks waits upon You with some Dispatches from Mr. Jefferson1 on the subject of which I need Not say much, but as M. Jefferson wishes Me to add any thing that occurs relative to the funds Necessary to accomplish the object, I shall just remark, that My Opinion is, the Presents ought Not to be Compleatly prepared untill we have a Certainty that the Treaty may be obtaind— Some preparatory presents doubtless will be wanting, but of what value Cannot be Easily ascertain’d from the Information I am Now Master of— However, to Come as Near the point as I Can, I will suppose Twenty thousand livres laid out in Trinkits may be 401quite sufficient for the present, and that promises for the Remainder being deliver’d with the Treaty signed by You and Mr. Jefferson will answer All our purposes.

With respect to the Expence Attending the Journey from Hence to Morocco, I am as much a stranger to it as You Can be, whatever arises shall be Noted, and I will Account for All the Monies paid away on the Rout, Not by a Detail of Evry livre, which perhaps on a long Journey Can hardly be done, but by keeping an Account of the Distances of the Stages, and the sum paid at each— There will be three of Us, Mr. Franks, My self and a Domestick, we must have four Horses or Mules, and I will provide a light Carriage of four wheels, which I have desired Mr. Franks to procure, if he Can do it without delay, in England— I shall write to Mr. Carmichael at Madrid to be prepared for My Arrival, Yet probably I may be obliged to remain at that place Eight or Ten days, I suppose You will think it Necessary to give Me a Credit on Amsterdam, this alone will be required for I shall have enough to pass My Bills when there is occasion, and shou’d I find the limits of the Credit unequal to the Business I Can at any time Communicate My sentiments—

Mr. Franks will assist You in forwarding the writing, and I Beg You will beleive Me with the Greatest Respect and Esteem / Dear Sir / Your Very obed. / and Most Huml Serv.

Thos Barclay

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr. Adams”; endorsed: “Mr Barclay. 5. Septr. / 1785.”


For the letters carried by David Franks to both JA and AA, see Thomas Jefferson’s letter of 4 Sept., note 2, above.