John Adams to Abigail Adams
Passy Feb. 13 1779
My dearest Friend
Yours of 15 Decr.1 was sent me Yesterday by the Marquiss whose Praises are celebrated in all the Letters from America. You must be content to receive a short Letter, because I have not Time now to write a long one.—I have lost many of your Letters, which are invaluable to me, and you have lost a vast Number of mine. Barns, Niles, and many other Vessells are lost.
I have received Intelligence2 much more agreable, than that of a removal to Holland, I mean that of being reduced to a private Citizen which gives me more Pleasure, than you can imagine. I shall therefore soon present before you, your own good Man.3 Happy—happy indeed shall I be, once more to see our Fireside.
I have written before to Mrs. Warren and shall write again now.4
Dr. J. is transcribing your scotch song,5 which is a charming one. Oh my leaping Heart.
I must not write a Word to you about Politicks, because you are a Woman.
What an offence have I committed?—a Woman!
I shall soon make it up. I think Women better than Men in General, and I know that you can keep a Secret as well as any Man whatever. But the World dont know this. Therefore if I were to write any Secrets to you and the letter should be caught, and hitched into a Newspaper, the World would say, I was not to be trusted with a Secret.
I never had so much Trouble in my Life, as here, yet I grow fat. The Climate and soil agree with me—so do the Cookery and even the Manners of the People, of those of them at least that I converse with, Churlish Republican, as some of you, on your side the Water call me. The English have got at me in their News Papers. They make fine Work of me—fanatic—Bigot—perfect Cypher—not one Word of the Language—aukward Figure—uncouth dress—no Address—No Character—cunning hard headed Attorney. But the falsest of it all is, that I am disgusted with the Parisians—Whereas I declare I admire the Parisians prodigiously. They are the happiest People in the World, I believe, and have the best Disposition to make others so.
If I had your Ladyship and our little folks here, and no Politicks to plague me and an hundred Thousand Livres a Year Rent, I should be the happiest Being on Earth—nay I believe I could make it do with twenty Thousand.
One word of Politicks—The English reproach the French with Gasconade, but I dont believe their whole History could produce so much of it as the English have practised this War.
The Commissioners Proclamation, with its sanction from the Ministry and Ratification by both Houses,6 I suppose is hereafter to be interpreted like Burgoines—Speaking Daggers, but using none. They cannot send any considerable Reinforcement, nor get an Ally in Europe—this I think you may depend upon. Their Artifice in throwing out such extravagant Threats, was so gross, that I presume it has not imposed on any. Yet a Nation that regarded its Character never could have threatned in that manner.
RC (Adams Papers).
2. This “Intelligence” had reached JA on 12 Feb.; see entry of that date in his Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:353–354, and see also JA to AA, 27 Nov. 1778, above, and note 4 there.
3. Perhaps used with the force of a single word, “Goodman,” q.v. in OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends : “The master or male head of a household,” “A householder in relation to his wife.”
4. JA to Mercy Warren, 18 Dec. 1778 (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.; LbC, Adams Papers, printed in JA, Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 9:474–476, under the wrong date of 15 Dec.) It does not appear that JA kept his pledge to write Mrs. Warren again in February.
5. See above, AA to JA, 27 Dec. 1778. JA clearly wrote “Dr. J.” in MS, but this must have been a slip for “Dr. F.,” i.e. Franklin, whose fondness for the “simple traditional airs of Scotland” is well known and has been pleasantly described and documented in Claude-Anne Lopez, MonCher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris, New Haven, 1966, p. 22, 34–35, 68, 290.
6. On 3 Oct. 1778 the Carlisle conciliatory commission issued at New York a Manifesto and Proclamation addressed to Congress, the state assemblies, and Americans at large, threatening sanguinary consequences if they continued in revolt against Great Britain and in alliance with France. For the text of the Manifesto (Evans description begins Charles Evans and others, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America 1639–1800, Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends 15832) and the debates in Parliament over its substance, considered by the whig opposition as exceeding the commission’s instructions, see Parliamentary Hist. description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London: Hansard, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends , 19:1388–1402; 20:1–46.