Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams, 24 September 1785 AA2 JQA


Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams, 24 September 1785 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Adams, John Quincy
Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams
No. 7 Saturday Septr. 24th. 1785

Last fryday I closed my Last to you1 and Mr. Storer sailed on Monday from Graves End so that it is now on its way to Greet you with health peace and Contentment I hope. A saturday the 17th. we went to see Mrs. Siddons, in the Character of Desdemona. Altho I saw her under many disadvantages, the part not being such as I shold have chosen, and her present situation2 renders it impossible for her to Play so well, as formerly, yet I think She answered my expectations. I did not go into fits, nor swoon, but I never was so much pleased with any person I ever saw upon any theatre. Her Countenance is certainly expressive of every thing it ought to be and She has the most perfect command of it. Her voice is inexpressibly Swet and harmonious. In Short she approaches nearer to perfection than any Woman I ever saw. Colln. Franks had stayed allmost on purpose to see her 379and was, much Gratified. This is a Curious Genious, I assure you. We saw him in Paris you know, and I recollect you did not approve him.3 He has a great portion of vivacity and appearant good nature, which amused us very much. At breakfast and dinner he kept us all upon the Laugh. Even Pappas Gravity was often amused.

Sunday 18th

In the Morning we went out to hear Dr. Price, at Hackney, the first time since his return from the Country, where he has been for a few weeks. We had four Gentlemen to dine with us, all Americans. A Mr. Beverly from Virgina resembles a little Mr. Short. Mr. Chew, you know his sons in Paris. He is a very great Man in his own opinion and very affectd. I dont like him much. Mr. Waring you know. He took his Leave of us, and sails soon for Carolina. And Mr. Randal who you also know.4 He is quite a favourite with me. I assure you there is something in his manners and behavour that pleases me. I dont mean that he is sans pareil. He proposes going out to New York early in the Spring. He says he thought he shold be the cleaverest fellow in the World, by comeing to Europe but he is monstrously disappointed for he finds no alteration in him self at all, and all he wishes for is to get home.

Monday 19th

Colln. Franks set off for Paris. I had forgot to tell you that a Saturday Eve Pappa received a Letter from Colln. Smith dated at Berlin. He sends your father a Coppy of his Letter to the King of Prussia, and His Majestys answer.5 His Letter was to ask permission to be present at the reveiw, every officer being obliged to have Leave from the King. The King, tells him he shall be very happy to see Monsieur la Colln. Smith at his reveiw, and that the permission he has requested is Granted, that he will Pray the Boon Deiu Prier le Bon Dieu for the health of Monsieur la Colln. Smith, and, that is his answer. The reveiw was to be finished the 20th. We do not expect Monsieur la Colln. Smith home, till the begining of next Month as he is going by way of Paris to Pay his respects to his friend Monsieur le Colln. Humphreys.


Your father dined with the Baron de Lynden, after the Levee, and Mr. Trumble and Copely Spent the Evening with us. Mr. West has lately Gained a Great Prise at a sail of old Pictures, which had lain 380a long time in a picture cleaners Garret. He purchased a picture which to every appearance was a ruind painting, being totally disguised by dirt paint &c. The picture had been ordered to be sold for thirty Gunieas, and if it could not fetch that for fifteen. Mr. West observed some parts of it were well painted and, Gave twenty Guneas, for it but upon having it cleaned it proves to be a Painting of the famous Titian. The subject is the Death of Actaeon, and he has been offered a thosan Gunias for it already. It was formerly in the Collection of King Charles, and it appears very evident that it was purposely disguisd for it is now said to be as perfect as, ever.6


Being the Anniversary of his Majestys Coronation we all went to Court. There was a full drawing room at least I thought it so, for I was excessively fatigued. The King and Quen Prince of Wales, Princess Royal Augusta and Elisabeth were Present. This is such a ridiculous ceremony that I allways feel provoked when I am Present, to see so many, People, waiting in expectation to be spokent to by the Royal Family, and eagerly sollicitous for their Smiles. Ill tell you what—I like the King better than the Queen. At Least he dissembls better. She is a haughty Proud imperious Dame—and I beleive feel excessivly Mortified to see our family at her drawing room, for which reason, I shold choose to go often and once atten for pleasure no one can ever attend, unless it is such a spighfull pleasure as I shold enjoy. Her Countenance is as hard and unfeeling as if Carved out of an oak knot. It nevertheless expresses her sentiments with respect to us, and we may easily see, that She does not forgive us. Peace be with her. I thank Heaven, that I am not dependant upon her frowns or smiles. The Princess Royal is the handsomest of any of the family that I have yet seen. When she smils She is really pretty, but there seems a great vacancy, in her Countenance, and in all the rest of them. The Prince was very well dressed. He is called in general handsome, but it is a tribute that is payd to fashion I am inclined to beleive rather than spoken from sincerity. He is very fat and looks flushd, report says, it is not (with all honourable virtues).

Pappa dined with Lord Carmarthen and in the Eve Mrs. and Miss Paradise made us a visit.

Fryday, 23d

To-day We have been waiting in expectation of receiving Letters from our friends in Boston by Capt. Folgier, who has just arrived. He 381called upon us this afternoon but and brought me one Letter. I received another from Betsy Palmer from Mr. Elworthy and these are all that have yet come to hand.7 Tis as We find our very family had heard of your arrival at New York, and were anxiously expecting to see you hourly. They thought I suppose that the instant you arrived you wold post of to Boston, and they seem as sollicitous for your arrival as if the fate of the Continent depended upon it. Their expectations forerun all reason. I beleive they were tyred a looking for we supposed you not to arrive in Boston before the begining of September, after we heard from you.8

Your reception at New York was such as, I am sure must have been extremely pleasing to you, in particular, “for you know that we all form opinions of Persons according to their Conduct with respect to ourselvs,” is a maxim of yours my Brother and has been a favourite one of mine, also, but I must confess to you that I begin to suspect the Justice of this sentiment. Was the World Honnest, and every one sincere in their proffers of civility Politeness and Friendship, we might have no cause to fear or to arm oursells with such sheilds as suspicion and distrust. But alas it is far other wise.

But I beleive there are many really Honest People remaining. I will not yet turn misanthrop.

Saturday Eve, 24th

This Morning I had set down and given you a detail of matters thus far, intending to send my Letter by Capt. Davis, but your Mamma came in and told me that some body from the City had just told her that Davis had sailed. The Morning was really fine and she proposed going to ride. We dressed and rode to Clapham. The sun shone very pleasant and the Country was beautiful. That rich verdure which I so much admire appeard in full perfection. We first made a visit to Mrs. Smith and Miss Copes, and then to Mrs. Vassall, where we spent an hour. Mrs. V is a little Lofty, but she put on more affability than usual. She is one of those kind of Folks that I should not wish to be mine enemy. The young Ladies, are agreeable enough. There is but one that has any title to beauty and she Miss Margret is really Pretty, but a little possitive. They were all very pleasing this Morning.9

Before we went out Count Sarsfield called on your Pappa and they went together to visit Dr. Price. The Count is generally in the Country but comes occasionally to town. Whenever he is here for a few days, he asks Papa which day it is that he is to be his Guest. You know the 382friendship he professes banishes all kind of ceremony, as it certainly ought. I dont know any Person whose Life is more agreeable than this mans. A fortune sufficient to follow the dictates of his inclination which Leads him to travell, to spend one summer in England a second in Holland a third in Spain if he pleases, and known to all Persons of Rank and Character wherever he goes, and universally respected and beloved.

We returnd home about three oclock. Mr. Tom Boilstone dined with us: would you beleive that he intends going soon to France and proposes spending the Winter there. He says he is very much out of health and he looks so, I think. He only wants to Live ten or fifteen years longer and then he thinks he shall die Content but you may be sure that interest is at the Bottom of this excursion. And he seems as sollicitous to affect his plans of trade as if he was not worth a hundred pounds.10

Pappa received a Packet from Mr. Jay to day, from N York, so late as the 26th of august.11 Now how well may I retalliate complaints that you did not write one line. But I learn from the Papers that the French June Packet12 had a fifty two days passage, and a Vessel1 from this place eight weeks, both of which I suppose had Letters for you. I fear you did not receive them before you set off for Boston. We Mamma received one day this week your Letter by the French July packet,13 which informs us of your arrival. It would have given us great pleasure if we had not have known it three weeks agone.

To day as we were setting at Dinner. We received a Card from Capt. Hay, who has just arrived from the West Indies, and a Present of a Turtle weighing about an hundred weight.14 This came very opportunely as, your father had invited all the Foreign Ministers and my Lord Carmarthen to dine with him next fryday, and such a Dish as this will not be improper, upon such an occasion. I shall not be able to give you any account of the Folks, as your Mamma nor myself shall not be at home upon the occasion. We have a most admirable friend in Exeter. The week before last we received a Basket containing two fine large salmon, directed to Pappa, and the Porter who brought it told us that it came in the stage from Exeter which was all we could find about it, there being no Letter nor any thing but a simple direction to Pappa.

And the Last week a Porter brought a Box, from the same Place under the same direction which upon opening we found to Contain a Dozen Partriges, but no Letter. We have been upon the round of Conjecture and have concluded they must come from Mr. Jack 383Cranch. He does not intend to be known, to be sure. These kind of attentions are very flattering, but the obligation one feels under for them is not very light, especially when one knows of no good way to return them.

The day we had the salmon Colln. Franks dined with us. He drunk the Health of the Doner in a Bumper, and entitled him Fish Monger to the United States of America. It was the finest I ever tasted, and the Partriges were very fine. They are called Game here you know, and the laws are very strict against those persons that buy it. Indeed a Person who purchases Game is subject to a penalty. It often happens that People of whom it is purchased will give information of the purchasers, and the penalty is severe, so that those People who have not Parks, are obliged to receive it throught the Courtesy of their friends, if they have it at all. Pappa says he intends to rally Mr. Jefferson upon the civilities he receives here, but says I must not let Congress know it for they will asseredly Leessen my salary, and to be sure they have no reason to do that.

By the Way I have forgot to tell you that Mr. Jefferson has, changed his Hotell for one, just out of the Barrier at Challiot, near the Champs Elysées, not far from the Spanish Ambassadors. He found his first Hotell too small, and too far from the Pub Walks, of which he is very fond. Petit lives with him and he likes him very much, but Petit would willingly come to London to us, if we would but give Leave. Paulina, soon got into service, and advantageously for herself. The Lady she is with gives her 15 a year. She says however that she should prefer Living with us.

Lamb has at last arrived, but as Mr. Barclay was engaged to go to Moroco, he agrees to go to Algiers, as two a person to each is necessary. Mr. Barclay will I suppose set off soon. Poor Mrs. Barclay, will have another tedious Winter. They have given up their House at Mount Parnassus, and are at Present in an Hotel. Mrs. B. talks of a Convent while Mr. B. is absent. Mrs. Montgomery and her son Bob, have arrived in Paris. Mrs. M. I hear from those who have long known her is as Sprightly as ever but it is thought that she will only be talking of the Education of her son, till he is too oald for to receive an Education. At Present he is under the Care of Mr. Noris who you have not forgot I dare say.16

Colln. Franks says he was at Renelagh17 in the Bois de Bologne, where you may recollect you were with me last summer, the week before he left Paris, and the Queen with Madam Elisabeth and Madame de Paliniach, honourd it with their Presence. Her Maj-384esty has determined to wear none but French Gauze. If you see the English Papers you will see a great deal respecting the Cardinl de Roan, and Madame de la Motte, and some Diamond. That he has been taken up, and Confined is true. It has made much Noise in Paris, but what has been the reall cause, does not appear certain. I wrote you about this in a late Letter.18

Paul Jones, is undertaking a voyage to Kamskatta. The English News Papers say that he is fitting out two Vessels at his own Expence, and that he is enabled to do this by the Prise Money he has lately received. That he has such a project Dr. Bancroft says, who is his friend you know, and he is Enterprising and resolute.19

Thursday septr. 29th sunday septr. 25th

We went out to meeting at Hackney, and had a violent storm to come home in, which continued all day and night.


Mr. Paradise came and spent the Evening. You would be pleased with this Man as a visitor. He is a Member of the royal society, and proposes, to present your father, provided he is first sure of his reception, and he says he has no doubt of it.20 The form of receiving a Member is this. At a meeting of the society, two members offer, any A person they wish to become one, and his Name is hung up, for twelve weeks. At the thirghteenth week they choose by Ballot. All Persons except Crownd heads, Princes and Ambassadors are received in the above manner. The latter may be chosen without hanging twelve weeks. Mr. Paradise, seems to have been acquainted with all the Litterati of his age. He told us this Evening some curious anecdotes of Dr. Johnson. But in the midst of his Conversation Mrs. Wright came in with such a Budget, and wanted so much private confab, which nobody was to hear except your father, not Wives to be admitted She said, that she kept Pappa an hour hearing her Story.


Now what a Chance for making your fortune have you lost young Man. How say you? Is it not to be retreived? No never. Why I'll tell you. Mr. Boilstone is going to France about his Cargo of oil, that he has just received, and by which he hopes to get an admittance into France in future. Now if you was here, from the Natural benevolence of his Character it is easy to suppose that he wold not object to making you a present of half of it, to go with him and assist him by your 385knowledge of the Language, to persuade the Ministers there to receive it in future. But do not distress yourself at having lost this opportunity—because you might not have found him even so genrous as to propose it.

Your Mamma and myself went this Morning to make some visits. 1st. we called upon Madame de Pinto Lady to the Minister from Portugal but according to the fashion she was not at home. We left our Cards and called upon Mrs. Smith a Carolin Lady lately arrived here. She came for her health, is sister to Mr. Rutledge, and her husband Brother to Mr. James Smith, lately gone to France.21 She is not handsome but there is something agreeable in her manners. She is to dine with us next Tuesday. We called upon Mrs. Church and upon Miss Hamilton of whom I spoke to you in a late Letter. She is to dine with us also a tuesday and I will tell you more about her. Mr. Short fell in Love with a picture taken of her, in Philadelphia tho he had never seen the original, and says this was the Love affair that used to trouble him so much last Winter and made him so Melancholy.


You know not how much I wish you were here. We are so inanimate and stupid without you, that I expect you will hear of me from Bedlam next, as a Melancholy Mad one. I declare I wish you had not gone home. Here you have been gone allmost five months and I have not heard from you but once.22 As soon as I find you negligent I promise you I will write no more, and perhaps you may rejoice at my determination. You taxed yourself with my Correspondence upon such terms as I cannot avoid fullfilling. If I tire your patience tell me so, and I shall not continue to. I am really in earnest, for I really fear that you will be sick of my Letters. I have not been more entertained a long time. Count Sarsfeild came an dined with us sans ceremony and he was perfectly unreserved in the afternoon very sociable and entertaining.

Fryday 30th

To day is the important day. I can only give you the names of the Gentlemen expected.23 Mamma and myself are going to spend the day with Mrs. Roggers.

Fryday Eve

We went and found Mrs. Roggers in trouble having lately heard of the account of her Mammas death. She is an excellent little Woman. 386Her kindness and sollicitude to send in all the assistance to her friends that is in her Power must ensure to her the esteem of all who are acquainted with her.

We returned about Nine oclock. The Gentlemen were not all gone. However we did not see them. My Lord Carmarthen told your father he should have been very happy to have dined with the Ladies. Every thing was conducted with propriety and order. Our butler on whom every thing you know depends on such an occasion, is very well acquainted with his business, and gives general sattisfaction. Indeed we at present seem to be well suited with servants. They are all Steady prudent People, which is very essential, you well know, and there is as much harmony as one can expect amongst them. There never will be a perfect agreement unless they are all in one Box.

Saturday october 1st 1785

You have not I dont beleive a finer sun Shine clearer air or more delightfully clear Sky than we have had this day. It has been quite an American day. I have been sitting at my Desk Writing all day, and getting my letters ready for Calliham who dines with us tomorrow, and is to sail the begining of the week. I shall give this and two or three other Letters to his Care.24

About 3 o clock Colln. Franks arrived from Paris again. It was found necessary to make some alteration in the Commissions instructions &c. after Lamb arrived. From Colln. Franks, and other People accounts, he does not appear very well adapted to the business he is going upon they say. He can Speak no Language, for he does not speak even his own English with any degree of propriety, that he seems to have neither knowledge Judgment or Prudence, all of which are very essential for if it should be made Public, it is supposed that the influence of this Country will be made use of to obstruct the making a treaty on any accomodations with those Barbarians. Mr. Jefferson thinks it very necessary that some person should go with Lamb, who can be perfectly confided in and, who possesses what he lacks of qualities for the business. Charles Storer, if he was here would be a likely person, it is thought, as he was willing to go, but this is now impossible. Several persons have been mentiond but no Person applied to as yet. I dont know how it will be determined. Congress seem not to have made a Wise choise in sending him. Your father receivd a Letter under the signature of a Capt. of an American Vessell from Philadelphia from Algiers who had been taken sometimes in July. He at first thought it a forgery but Mr. Jefferson 387has another which he knows comes directly from Algiers, and he thinks that it is without doubt that some Ships have been taken by them.25 The week before last there was a Letter in the News Paper signed by Capt. Truxton, which said that he was taken on the 22d. of July and Carried into Algiers, and that the next day after the date of his Letter they were to be sent to slavery, that Dr. Frankling bore it surprisingly. This Letters in a day or two was proved to be a fogery,26 and indeed there are so many and various means made use of here to deceive and mislead People that we know not what to beleive or when to credid what they had asserted.

Madam de Pinto called upon us just now. She was going to the Play, and could not make us a very long visit. She had never seen Mrs. Siddons. This Eve She appears in the Character a Lady Mackbeth. It is said she appears well in this Character. I wish very much to see her in a Character where she will appear to most advantage.

I requested in my last Letter that you would write us by way of New York, and I must again sollicit you to, for I am sure we shall hear very seldom from Boston, from present appearances at Least. I suppose the Trade will become less and less, while the present measures are held. Your father has laid every thing necessary before Mr. Pit and has had a conference with him. But he has not received a single answer of any kind or notice of them. The King is advised by People of his Party from America to retain his Navigation act, in its full rigeur tho he has been so effectually deceived by following the opinions of this kind of People heretofore. Yet he does not seem to be any more inclined to disbeleive them than ever. What it will all end in we know not. Your Pappa does not expect they will give him any answer till the Parliament set again which is not to be till February, so that nothing can be done till Spring, Should they be disposed to. The American Merchants will be impatient, before that time, but it is not to be avoided they must know if they know any thing. Many will Judge and condemn without proper reflection it is to be expected.

Not knowing when I might meet with so safe a conveyance for your Watch as by Mr. Short, I wrote to him after he went to Holland, and desired him to take it and send it to me from France. I wrote to Miss Dumas, requesting her Mamma to deliver it which She did, but Insisted of having a receipt of Mr. Short.27 Colln. Franks, has brought it to me and I shall wait your orders respecting it. I thought it had as well be in my possession as in Madame Dumas.


Poor Lotter who I beleive is as honnest a fellow as ever Lived, has by the intrigues of this Woman your Dear friend been turned out of the House. By Willinks he had requested to have His Livery in some part of it for taking care of it, and keeping it clean, and your father had given his Consent but this Woman used her influence to get him turnd out, after the Poor fellow had given up his sold some of his things, and had no place to go to.28

Dft (Adams Papers). The text is written on seventeen small pages; the second through the ninth, and the twelfth, are numbered.


Of 26 Aug., above.


AA2 refers to Siddons' pregnancy; see AA2 to JQA, 22 Jan. 1786 (Adams Papers), under “Wedensday” [8 Feb. 1786]. Sarah Kemble Siddons, who married William Siddons in 1773 at age eighteen, had five children ( DNB ).


Nothing further is known about JQA's disapproval of Col. David Franks.


Of these four men, nothing further is known of Mr. Beverly. JQA records seeing Mr. Chew, perhaps Benjamin Chew Jr., and Paul R. Randall, on 11 May, the day before his departure from Auteuil for America. The Benjamin Chew to whom AA2 refers may have been the pre-Revolutionary chief justice of Pennsylvania and loyalist sympathizer, who was sixty-two in 1785. His son Benjamin Chew Jr., age twenty-seven, had been studying law in London for several years, and returned to Philadelphia in 1786. JQA had met Mr. Waring, perhaps Dr. Thomas Waring of South Carolina, in Paris in January (JQA, Diary , 1:265, 216; Thompson Westcott, The Historic Mansions and Buildings of Philadelphia, Phila., 1877, p. 232–235, 248).


See William Stephens Smith to AA, 5 Sept., above.


See Robert C. Alberts, Benjamin West, A Biography, Boston, 1978, p. 185, and notes, p. 444.


The letter delivered by Capt. Folgier has not been identified; the letter from Elizabeth Palmer has not been found. In a letter to AA dated 23 Sept. (Adams Papers), Elizabeth Palmer mentions having been given a letter from AA2 (also not found, but presumably written in late April or early May) by JQA when he visited Braintree.


JQA to AA2, By 25 May, and 17 July, both above.


Margaret Hubbard Vassall was the second wife of Boston's well-known loyalist emigré, William Vassall; her daughters were Margaret, age 24, and twins Ann and Charlotte, age 23 (Edward Doubleday Harris, “The Vassalls of New England,” NEHGR , 17:115–116 [April 1863]; Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 9:349–359).


Boylston was going to France to negotiate a contract to supply American whale oil. On Boylston's sale of oil to the French, see JA to James Bowdoin, 24 March 1786 (MHi: Bowdoin-Temple Papers, now in Winthrop Papers; printed in MHS, Colls., 7th ser., 6 [1907]:92–93).


John Jay's brief letter of 26 Aug. (Adams Papers; also printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 2:383), acknowledged the receipt of JA's letters of 2, 6, and 17 June, which recounted his reception at the British Court.


AA2 inserted “June” above the line; she apparently sent her second, third, and fourth numbered letters to JQA, not found, by the French and English June packet boats to New York.


JQA to AA, 17 July, above.


This small card, in the Adams Papers, reads: “Mr. and Mrs. Hay, present their Compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Adams, and Beg their acceptance of a Turtle. London Street No. 19 Sept. 24.” Someone wrote “Dove” immediately after “Turtle,” in a different shade of ink.


Left blank in MS. Mary Barclay to AA, 5 Sept., above, gives Paulina's wages as 300 livres a year.


Dorcas Armitage Montgomery was a widow from Philadelphia and a friend of the Bache family; her son Robert was about fifteen (Jefferson, Papers , 10:282–283; 13:164–166). JQA met Isaac Norris, an American Quaker who converted to Roman Catholicism, on 17 March, in Paris ( Diary , 1:236).


Ranelagh was a hall for public balls, founded in 1774 on the model of its London namesake. It was located on the west edge of Passy, near the Port de la Muette, a chief 389entrance to the Bois de Boulogne (Larousse, Grand dictionnaire universel ). Madam Elisabeth was the sister of Louis XVI.


AA2 to JQA, 26 Aug., under “Monday 22d Aug. ,” above.


John Paul Jones had joined with the Connecticut-born adventurer John Ledyard to mount an expedition in two French ships, with French crews, to open up the fur trade on the northwest coast of North America. Dr. Edward Bancroft was a financial backer of the venture. Determined opposition from Spain, which regarded the area as its domain, and respect for that claim by France, frustrated the effort, which came to nothing (Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, A Sailor's Biography, Boston, 1959, p. 341–343).

Jones' proposed expedition did not involve the Kamchatka Peninsula on Russia's Pacific coast, but both Jones and Ledyard would be involved in Russia, quite independently, in the next four years, and Kamchatka was a possible supply point for a European expedition heading into the northern Pacific by way of the Indian Ocean. See Morison; Jefferson, Papers , vols. 8 (Jones), 11 and 13 (Ledyard); and DAB .


JQA, and presumably JA, had first visited the Royal Society of London for the Advancement of Natural Science, then quartered in the new Somerset House in the Strand, on 13 Nov. 1783 (JQA, Diary , 1:203, 205). JA was not elected to membership in the Royal Society.


Mary Rutledge Smith's brothers were John and Edward, both of whom JA had met when he first served in Congress in 1774 (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:114, 116, 119). Her husband was Roger Moore Smith, older brother of James Smith (South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 4:41 [Jan. 1903]). In her journal entry for his date, after recording the social calls on Madam de Pinto and Mary Rutledge Smith, AA2 criticized, at some length, the European custom of persons not being at home to unexpected callers ( Jour. and Corr. , [3]:185–186).


AA2 had received JQA's letters of 25 May, and 17 July from John Barker Church on 5 Sept. (AA2 to JQA, 26 Aug., above, under “september 5th. Monday Morning”).


In her journal AA2 gives several names, saying: “The gentlemen who came were the Baron de Nalken, from Sweden; Baron de Lynden, Holland; Baron de H., a German nobleman; the Count de K., Germany; Count de L., Prussia; Conde de L., Venice; Count de W., engaged; Baron de K., engaged; Chavelier del Campo, Spain; Chevalier de Pinto, Portugal; Chavalier de Pollen, disappointed, by hearing of the death of his mistress, the Queen of Sardinia; and several other gentlemen” ( Jour. and Corr. , 3:186).


No other AA2 letters from this period have survived. All of AA's letters to Boston correspondents, from 15 Sept. to 1 Oct., and possibly to 5 Oct., probably went in Capt. Callahan's vessel.


Capt. Richard O'Bryen gave JA and Jefferson the details of two captures by the Algerines, his Daupin of Philadelphia, seized off Portugal on 30 July, and the schooner Maria of Boston, also seized off Portugal, on 24 July. See Richard O'Bryen and others (at “Algir”) to JA, 27 Aug. (Adams Papers); Richard O'Bryen to Thomas Jefferson, 24 Aug., in Jefferson, Papers , 8:440–441; Jefferson to JA, 24 Sept. (first letter), same, 8:542–544; and Jefferson to Richard O'Bryen, 29 Sept., same, 8:567–568.


The Daily Universal Register of 13 Sept. briefly mentioned “the death of ... Doctor Benjamin Franklin, on his way to America.” On 19 Sept. this same paper stated that “the ship London Packet, Capt. Truxon ... on board of which Dr. Franklin embarked as a passenger, had been boarded and taken by an Algerine pirate on the 22d of July.” On 21 Sept. the story was retracted: “The fabricated letter from Capt. Truxtun respecting the capture of Dr. Franklin was a forgery pregnant with the most cruel consequences . . . .” See also the Daily Universal Register, 13 and 14 October.

The Adamses would not likely have been taken in by this report because its fraudulent character was evident in the text itself. On 22 July, the day on which it stated that Capt. Thomas Truxtun's vessel was captured, Franklin was just crossing the Channel from Le Havre to Southampton, and Truxtun had yet to bring his ship to Southampton from London. Franklin boarded this ship at Southampton on 27 July, and Truxtun set sail on the 28th, arriving in Philadelphia on 14 September. The Complete Works of Benjamin Franklin, ed. John Bigelow, N.Y., 1888, 10 vols., 9:261–262; The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert Henry Smyth, N.Y., 1907, 9:365–366, 372, 410–412, 463; Jefferson, Papers , 8:585–586.


No letter from AA2 to William Short or to Nancy Dumas has been found.


The dispute between Christian Lotter 390on one side, and Marie Dumas and the banking firm of Wilhem & Jan Willink & Nicolaas & Jacob van Staphorst on the other, may have begun in the spring of 1785 in an argument over which services were being provided by Lotter, and which by Dumas, in caring for the Hôtel des Etats-Unis at The Hague, of which Lotter was steward and in which he lived with his family. JA remained personally satisfied with Lotter, who in June-July brought to London all JA's belongings remaining at the Hôtel, and through July JA favored allowing Lotter stay at the Hôtel rent free indefinitely, and intended to recommend him to whomever should succeed JA as minister to the Netherlands. But Dumas somehow won this argument, and in September JA, who no longer had need of Letter's services, and who felt he could not justify continuing to pay Lotter a salary when there was no minister resident at the Hôtel, allowed Willink & van Staphorst to settle all wages due to his steward, and to evict him. Lotter was evicted on 26 October. AA2 must have met Lotter when he came to London in early July. See the correspondence between Lotter and JA, and between Willink & van Staphorst and JA, extending from April to Dec. 1785, in the Adams Papers.

Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 25 September 1785 Jefferson, Thomas AA


Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 25 September 1785 Jefferson, Thomas Adams, Abigail
Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams
Dear Madam Paris Sep. 25. 1785

Mr. Short's return the night before last availed me of your favour of Aug. 12. I immediately ordered the shoes you desired which will be ready tomorrow. I am not certain whether this will be in time for the departure of Mr. Barclay or of Colo. Franks, for it is not yet decided which of them goes to London. I have also procured for you three plateaux de dessert with a silvered ballustrade round them, and four figures of Biscuit. The former cost 192 , the latter 12 each, making together 240, livres or 10. Louis. The merchant undertakes to send them by the way of Rouen through the hands of Mr. Garvey and to have them delivered in London.1 There will be some additional expences of packing, transportation and duties here. Those in England I imagine you can save. When I know the amount I will inform you of it, but there will be no occasion to remit it here. With respect to the figures I could only find three of those you named, matched in size. These were Minerva, Diana, and Apollo. I was obliged to add a fourth, unguided by your choice. They offered me a fine Venus; but I thought it out of taste to have two at table at the same time. Paris and Helen were presented. I conceived it would be cruel to remove them from their peculiar shrine. When they shall pass the Atlantic, it will be to sing a requiem over our freedom and happiness. At length a fine Mars was offered, calm, bold, his faulchion not drawn, but ready to be drawn. This will do, thinks I, for the table of the American Minister in London, where those whom it may concern may look and learn that though Wisdom is our guide, and the Song and Chase our supreme delight, yet we offer adoration to that tutelar god also who rocked the cradle of our birth, who has accepted our infant offerings, 391and has shewn himself the patron of our rights and avenger of our wrongs. The groupe then was closed, and your party formed. Envy and malice will never be quiet. I hear it already whispered to you that in admitting Minerva to your table I have departed from the principle which made me reject Venus: in plain English that I have paid a just respect to the daughter but failed to the mother. No Madam, my respect to both is sincere. Wisdom, I know, is social. She seeks her fellows. But Beauty is jealous, and illy bears the presence of a rival.

But, Allons; let us turn over another leaf, and begin the next chapter. I receive by Mr. Short a budget of London papers. They teem with every horror of which nature human nature is capable. Assassinations, suicides, thefts, robberies, and, what is worse than assassination, theft, suicide, or robbery, the blackest slanders! Indeed the man must be of rock, who can stand all this; to Mr. Adams it will be but one victory the more. It would have illy suited me. I do not love difficulties. I am fond of quiet, willing to do my duty, but irritable by slander and apt to be forced by it to abandon my post. These are weaknesses from which reason and your counsels will preserve Mr. Adams. I fancy it must be the quantity of animal food eaten by the English which renders their character insusceptible of civilisation. I suspect it is in their kitchens and not in their churches that their reformation must be worked, and that Missionaries of that description from hence would avail more than those who should endeavor to tame them by precepts of religion or philosophy. But what do the foolish printers of America mean by retailing all this stuff in our papers?2 As if it was not enough to be slandered by one's enemies without circulating the slanders among his friends also.

To shew you how willingly I shall ever receive and execute your commissions, I venture to impose one on you. From what I recollect of the diaper and damask we used to import from England I think they were better and cheaper than here. You are well acquainted with those of both countries. If you are of the same opinion I would trouble you to send me two sets of table cloths and napkins for 20 covers each, by Colo. Franks or Mr. Barclay who will bring them to me. But if you think they can be better got here I would rather avoid the trouble this commission will give. I inclose you a specimen of what is offered me at 100. livres for the table cloth and 12 napkins. I suppose that, of the same quality, a table cloth 2. aunes3 wide and 4. aunes long, and 20 napkins of 1. aune each, would cost 7. guineas.

I shall certainly charge the publick my houserent and court taxes. I shall do more. I shall charge my outfit. Without this I can never get 392out of debt. I think it will be allowed. Congress is too reasonable to expect, where no imprudent expences are incurred, none but those which are required by a decent respect to the mantle with which they cover the public servants, that such expences should be left as a burthen on our private fortunes.

But when writing to you, I fancy myself at Auteuil, and chatter on till the last page of my paper awakes me from my reverie, and tells me it is time to assure you of the sincere respect and esteem with which I have the honour to be Dear Madam Your most obedient & most humble servt.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. The cask of wine at Auteuil, I take chearfully. I suppose the seller will apply to me for the price. Otherwise, as I do not know who he is, I shall not be able to find him out.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Jefferson Sep 25 1785.”


The Jefferson Papers (DLC) contains a receipted invoice from: “Bazin Md. Rue des fossés St. Germain L'auxerois à Paris,” dated 27 September. The invoice includes “1. Service de 3 plateaux a Balustrade et perles de Cuivre argenté garnis de glaces,” at 192 livres, and “4. figures divinites de porcelaine en Biscuit,” at 48 livres. The invoice totaled 264 17s. 6d; the receipt was dated 5 Jan. 1786 (Jefferson, Papers , 8:549, where the location of the receipt is mistakenly given as MHi).


Squibs against JA and the United States from London papers were reprinted in Boston's Continental Journal of 4 August.


The French equivalent of an ell; actual measurement varied from place to place.