Abigail Adams to John Adams
August 23 1780
I could not omit so favourable an opportunity as the present of writing you a line by Mr. Warren who is upon his travells, and tis not unlikely may take France in his way.1
I know the welfare of your family so essential to your happiness, that I would improve every means of assureing you of it, and of communicating to you the pleasure I have had in receiving every Letter you have written since you first left the harbour of Boston. Mine to you have not been so successfull.
Several packets have been sent to Neptune, tho improperly directed, and I Query whether having found his mistake he has had complasance enough to forward them to you. So that you must not charge to me any failure in point of puntuality or attention, but to the avidity of the watery Gods who I really believe have distroyed them—but enough of romance.
You see I am in good Spirits—I can tell you the cause. The Alliance arrived last week and brought me “the Feast of Reason and the flow of Soul.” Assurances too, of the Health of my dear absent Friends. Those only who know by experience what a Seperation is from the tenderest of connextions, can form adequate Ideas of the happiness which even a literary communication affords—
“Heaven first taught Letters for some wretches aid.”
I have written to you and to my dear Sons2 by Capt. Sampson. If Mr. Warren should be the Bearer of this, I need not ask you to love him, his Merrit will ensure him that, and every attention he may stand in need of from one who never suffers the promiseing youth to pass unnoticed by him, more especially one who has a double claim to your Friendship, not only on his own account, but from the long and intimate Friendship which subsists between his worthy parents and the Friend I address—who will be pleased to accept of the tenderest Sentiments of affectionate3 from his
RC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “To His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Paris”; addressed in an unidentified hand: “To His Excellency John Adams Esq: Minister Plenepotentiary Paris”; endorsed in John Thaxter’s hand: “Portia 23d Augst. 1780.”
1. On 16 Aug. a British cartel ship from St. John’s, Newfoundland, bearing American sailors, including some taken in the capture of the Pallas (see above, Winslow Warren to AA, 26 May, note 2), arrived at Boston (Independent Chronicle, 17 Aug.) under a plan devised at St. John’s for the exchange of prisoners. Winslow Warren, remaining at St. John’s as a hostage until the arrival of the exchanged British seamen, sent word of his good treatment and that the possibility of continuing to Holland by way of England was open to him. His parents in a reply to go by the returning ship offered no objection (articles of agreement, 27 July, MHi:Misc. Bound; Mercy Warren to JA, 15 Nov., Warren-Adams Letters description begins Warren-Adams Letters: Being Chiefly a Correspondence among John Adams, Samuel Adams, and James Warren (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, vols. 72–73), Boston, 1917–1925; 2 vols. description ends , 2:145–146; to Winslow Warren, 20 Aug., MHi:Mercy Warren Papers). AA, given notice of the opportunity, such as it was, to send a letter to JA did so here, expressing in the first and last paragraphs her uncertainties about Warren’s plans.
Word that when free Warren would resume his journey did not reach home for another month. Meanwhile, he was given passage on the sloop-of-war Fairy, which sailed on or about 18 Sept. and reached Dartmouth, Eng. ten days later, carrying also the prisonerHenry Laurens (James Warren to W. Warren, 27 Sept.–13 Oct., MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.; Mercy Warren to same, 7 Nov., Jan. 1781, MHi:Mercy Warren Papers; “Narrative of . . . Henry Laurens,” S.C. Hist. Soc., Colls., 1 : 22–23). Warren’s experience in England and on the Continent later is given at p. 359–360, above. If he retained AA’s letter to deliver by hand, it did not reach JA until March 1781 (see AA to JA, 28 May 1781, vol. 4 below).
2. CFA, perplexed by the letter, when publishing it altered silently the date from 1780 to 1778 and substituted “son” for “sons” to accord with JA’s first European mission when only JQA was with him (JA-AA, Familiar Letters description begins Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, during the Revolution. With a Memoir of Mrs. Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, New York, 1876. description ends , p. 340–341).
3. Thus in MS.