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Abigail Adams to John Adams, 20 December 1795

Abigail Adams to John Adams

Quincy December 20 1795

my Dearest Friend

The Day I wrote you last, I received Your Letter written at Nyork. neither of my Neighbours Black or Beals went yesterday to Town, so that if any Letters came by saturdays post, I must wait till Thursday for them which I do not so well like. I should like You to write me by the Wednesday post, then I should get my Letters of a thursday.

The account you gave me of Charles situation, and increasing buisness was very agreable to me. You did not mention Sally. Gentlemen are not half [so] particular as the Ladies are in their details. I recollect when C. L was minister for foreign affairs, he found fault because you was not Minute enough in your description of the looks, behaviour &c of those with whom Your buisness connected you. accordinly in a Journal you sent, you related Some conversation & Speaches, and even handing Madam La Comtess, to Table.1 I cannot but figure to Myself how immoveabl and like the Marble Medallion You ought to keep Your countanance whilst differing parties address you. the speach of B—— in support of M’s motion, which the centinal informs us Bache has retail’d must have been one trial amongst many others.2 is your Senate Chamber crowded? Parkers politeness is execrated.3 it is imposible for the President to have given a severer rebuke to the Jacobins than he has done, by the particular detail of the flourishing & prosperous state of our Country.

To Virtue only, and her Friends a Friend

Faction beside, May Murmur, or commend

Know all the distant Din, that Fiend can keep

Roll’s over Mount Vernon & but; Sooths my sleep4

those Lines of Pope occurd to me upon reading the Speach fraught with so much benevolence, after all the abuse and Scurility so wantonly display’d by, a Decaying Dying Dying Junto. As I hope they now are, Symptoms of Mortality appear in all their Limbs—

I suppose You take Bach[e’s] paper upon the same principal that You wanted the Chronical, as their is no Wife to prevent it. I should like to see Butlers speach, pray inclose it to me. are the reflections upon Peace by Madam De Stael, to be had here? if so be so kind as to send them—

our people began the buisness you mentiond, but were driven of by bad Weather. We are like to have Snow enough.

adieu Ever Ever yours

A Adams—

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Louisa Catharine Smith: “The Vice President of the / United States / Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Mrs A. Decr. 20 Ansd / 28. 1795.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.

1Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, while serving as secretary for foreign affairs during the early 1780s, complained in a letter to JA of 5 March 1782, “tho’ your letters detail the politicks of the Country, tho’ they very ably explain the nature and general principles of the Government, they leave us in the dark with respect to more important facts.” Livingston continued on at some length enumerating all the details JA had allegedly failed to include in his correspondence with the secretary. JA responded in part to this provocation by sending his “Peace Journal” to Livingston several months later. Excerpts from JA’s Diaries, the Peace Journal included the story of JA’s escorting Anne Viviers, Comtesse de Vergennes, the wife of the French foreign minister, Charles Gravier, Comte de Vergennes, into dinner one evening (JA, Papers description begins Papers of John Adams, ed. Robert J. Taylor, Gregg L. Lint, and others, Cambridge, 1977– . description ends , 12:295–296, 14:xviii–xix; JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:49). AA had received another copy of the Peace Journal, for which see vol. 5:60.

2During the debate over the Senate’s response to George Washington’s address, Pierce Butler spoke in favor of Stevens Thomson Mason’s motion. When the Boston Columbian Centinel, 19 Dec. 1795, reported on that day’s legislative activities, it noted only, “Mr. Butler in a warm speech, (as detailed by Bache) supported Mr. M.’s motion.” Benjamin Franklin Bache had previously published Butler’s speech in full in the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 12 December. See also JA to JQA, 12 Dec., and note 1, above, for more on Bache’s publication of the senatorial debates.

3Josiah Parker had proposed on 9 Dec. in the House of Representatives that, rather than the House prepare an address in response to Washington’s address, a committee “should personally wait on the President, and assure him of the attention of the House, &c.” Parker thought that too much time was wasted first crafting a response then adjourning for the entire House to present its response in person to the president. The motion failed (Annals of Congress, description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States [1789–1824], Washington, D.C., 1834–1856; 42 vols. description ends 4th Cong., 1st sess., p. 128–129).

4“To Virtue only and her Friends a friend, / The world beside may murmur or commend. / Know, all the distant din that world can keep, / Rolls o’er my grotto and but soothes my sleep” (Alexander Pope, “The First Satire of the Second Book of Horace,” lines 121–124).

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