Mercy Otis Warren to Abigail Adams
Plimouth March 15 1779
If anything would awake the sleeping Muses or Call Back the Wandering Deities the Imagery of this Delightful Morn (when the hand of Nature has Decorated Every twig with spangles of peculiar Brilioncy) joined with the Repeated Request of my friend would not fail to do it. The subject you point out1 Requires Heroics. But Alas, Clio is Deaf, perhaps irrecoverably stunned till the Noise of War shall Cease. The Harmony of Calliope suffers by the jaring of patriots, and Melpomene is starved amidst the General Cry for Bread.
In short, I believe the sacred Nine sickened by the unpromissing aspect of this Decayed Village (once the Asylum of piety) And Grown weary of their old friend, sensible they had heretofore made a Lodgment in an unthrifty soil, have bid an Everlasting Adieu. And as their Ladyships have taken Wing (probably in pursuit of some more happy Clime,) I hope they will not Rest till they light on the Head of some Votive Genius whose productions will do honour to the Admired Train, as well as to the Cold Regions of the North.
But if they should ever Condescend again to make a Temporary Visit to one almost secluded from society (Which Brightens the Ideas and Gives a polish to Expression) you may depend upon it your abscent partner will not be forgot. But at present you must be Content to Let me tell you in plain prose that I think him Honest, that if by Living among the Refinements of politions and Courtiers his Integrity should be undermined, or his taste perverted, my Motto to Every Character in Future shall be, That Man is all a Lye.
I Return you a Letter with thanks for the perusal. Wish if proper you would forward some others when you send for your Daughter who I Really Love, and Love her the more the Longer she Resides with me.2
In future I shall Call her my Naby and Back my Claim with the promiss of her papah to whom I shall appeal if you Monopolize too much.
You do not tell me why you was so Confident I had a Letter from France. Depend upon it you shall see it when I have. I think I might Expect two or three in a Year if it was only a Complementary Return for the Many Visits made A Lady, by a Gentleman with Regard to whom were it in my power, I should Discover perhaps too much of the spirit of the times, by Engrosing his hours wholly to myself, and to a Number of amiable youth, but he is impeled by a Coincidence of Circumstance to a style of Life not agreable to his taste. Call me Miserly if you please, Yet I am sensible you Can you May3 feelingly join with me and the Bonny Scotch Lass, and Warble the Mournful Chorus from Morn to Eve.
Theres Little pleasure in the Rooms
When my Good Mans awaw.
I shall Return a Number of Letters with a Manuscript Volum by Miss N[abb]y.4 It has been an agreable Entertainment to me, and when you Come to Plimouth which I hope Will be within a few weeks I shall Endeavour to make all the Retaliation in my power.
You ask what I think of the Late Dispute among the higher powers of America. I know Little of it Except what is in the public papers, where I think may be Discovered the precipitation and timidity of Guilt in a Certain Indiscreet writer.5 Yet I Like not the Expression of Englifyed Americans which I saw droped from a pen I View in a very different Light.6
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs. Adams Braintre.” Tr (MHi:Mercy Warren Letterbook;) in an unidentified hand and doubtless copied from Mrs. Warren’s (missing) draft. RC and Tr frequently differ in phrasing, but only two conspicuous differences in actual substance have been recorded here; see notes 2 and 5. Enclosed letter may have been JA to AA, 6 Nov. 1778, printed above; see note 6 below.
2. The three paragraphs that follow in the text (not counting the poetical quotation) do not appear in Tr and so must have been added after Mrs. Warren’s draft was completed.
3. Thus in MS. Probably “you Can” was meant to be struck out.
4. None of these items is identifiable.
5. Silas Deane. From this point, Tr continues—and concludes—as follows:
“But it is not unusual in the infancy of states, for some of the most unworthy characters to justle themselves by fortunate accidents into the most capital departments of office:—and when by their atrocious conduct, they have thrown every thing into confusion, they make efforts to escape punishment and often impeach the most worthy, and cast an odium on the best concerted plans. I think time must unravel some misteries which authority at present thinks best should be hushed in silence.
“To your second question I answer, there is no calculating on the termination of military rencountres, yet, I do not fear much from the sword of Britain. I believe her to be more haughty than powerful, and more malevolent than politic, and that she will endeavour to do much by intrigue.
“Heaven will restrain the arms and defeat the councels of a corrupt Court, but not for our sakes. The Lord of the universe will disappoint the projects of our foe, to carry on the system of his own government: and while he protects, will chastise us if necessary, and will punish an ungrateful people, in ways more analegous to the usual doings of providence, than to suffer a new formed nation to be trodden down e’er it arrives to maturity.
“America is a theatre just erected—the drama is here but begun, while the actors of the old world have run through every species of pride, luxury, venality, and vice—their characters will become less interesting, and the western wilds which for ages have been little known, may exhibit those striking traits of wisdom, and grandeur and magnificence, which the Divine oeconomist may have reserved to crown the closing scene. Yet,