John Adams to Abigail Adams
Passy Decr. 10 1778
My dearest Friend
It is now my Turn to complain. Last night We had great Packetts from the Council,1 but no Line from you. If Vessells sail from Boston, within four Leagues of you, without your Knowledge, is it to be wondered that Vessells 500 Miles from me should sail without mine. What is more striking, altho our P[lymouth] Friend had just received a Letter from me, I have no Line from him. We are not yet so happy, as to learn from Congress, what they have done upon foreign Affairs. We expect Intelligence every Moment—I hope it will arrive, before the Fleet of Merchant Vessells sails, which is going out, that I may be able to inform you, how I shall be disposed of.
We are now inquisitive to know where Clinton is gone, and D’Estaing. It is given out in England that Clinton is gone to Carolina. The British Fleet in Europe makes but a poor Figure. Their Privateers have taken a great many Prizes, but the Kings ships come off, second best.
You wish you had ventured with me—I wish you was here—no I dont, I wish I was there. But I assure you I know not how you could have lived thro the Voyage. I often asked myself, what should I do if a certain Lady was with me. You can have no Adequate Idea of our Voyage.
Did I ever tell you that Governor Wentworth made me a Visit to clear up his Character. He declared to me upon his Honour, that he never wrote the Letters that were published in his Name, and that he never directly nor indirectly, had any Concern in Counterfeiting Continental Bills or New Hampshire Bills, or any other Paper Money. He desired me to let Mr. Apthorp know that he was well. I since hear, he has got a Pension of 500 a Year. A poor Pittance for a Governor to live on in London—especially with his Extravagant Humour.2 You are studying French I hope. Oh that I had studyed it, you know when.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. One of the “great Packetts” from the Massachusetts Council was doubtless “One hundred Copies of an Act intitled ’An Act to prevent the return to this State of certain Persons named and described and others who have left the same and joined our inveterate and Cruel Enemies’” (Deputy Secretary John Avery to Franklin, Lee, and JA, 23 Oct. 1778, PPAmP).
2. John Wentworth (1737–1820), JA’s Harvard classmate and the last royal governor of New Hampshire, had fled to Nova Scotia and then to England; in the preceding May JA had encountered him at the Comédie Francaise in Paris; see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:308; 4:85. At least one of “the Letters that were published in Wentworth’s Name,” dated 17 Jan. 1777 at his winter quarters in Flatbush, Long Island, and directed to his sister, has been published in full in the Provincial Papers: Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New Hampshire, Concord and Nashua, 1867–1944, 7:394–395. In publishing an extract of it in his biographical sketch of Wentworth, Mr. Shipton has said: “Intercepted, this letter was published throughout the United States, and did much to ruin Wentworth’s reputation” (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– . description ends , 13:671). The counterfeiting charge stemmed from a published confession of a convicted counterfeiter in the Continental Journal, 9 Oct. 1777, accusing Wentworth while in Newport, R.I., of being “the fount from which counterfeit currency was flooding the insurgent colonies” (same).
“Mr. Apthorp” was James Apthorp (1731–1799), a Braintree loyalist who had married Sarah Wentworth, a sister of Wentworth’s wife (and cousin), Frances; see vol. 2:267, above; John Wentworth, The Wentworth Genealogy: English and American, Boston, 1878, 1:317–318, 519–520.