Adams Papers

Abigail Adams to Benjamin Waterhouse, 6 October 1782

Abigail Adams to Benjamin Waterhouse

Braintree october 6. 1782

My dear Sir

Your obligeing favour of Sepbr 10th1 was put into my hands the day before I set out upon a journey2 which detained me a fortnight abroad, and prevented my Reply to your kind inquiries after my absent Friends.

I did as you supposed receive Letters by Capt. Grinnel one of which was dated in july;3 but I have the mortification to assure you sir that our common Friend did not then entertain any hopes of a <speedy peace> general peace and a seperate peace he assures me will not be made even by Holland; the Independancy of America has at last triumphd in Holland. You sir will allow me a little vanity and exultation upon this occasion, because you are particularly knowing to the zeal the ardour and the indefatigable Labours of our Friend upon this occasion and will consider them in a light which the envy of some and the malice of others are little disposed to view them in. To express myself in the Language of one to whom you are no stranger, “this Cause has been carried, without Money without Friends, in opposition to mean Intrigues, by the still small voice of Reason and perswasion tryumphant against the uninterrupted opposition of Family connections, court influence and aristocratical despotism.”4 To what ever motives may be asscribed the littel notice taken of an event of so much importance to our country I will not pretend to determine. <Posterity> No doubt my connextion leads me to a more attentive observance of <every> an event which I cannot but consider as reflecting high honour upon the integrity and abilities of a Gentleman of whom from your personal knowledge of him you may well suppose I entertain the <highest> warmest regard and affection. It is no small satisfaction to me that my Country will reap the Benifit of my personal sacrifices, tho they little feel how great they are.

You sir who appear to possess the tender social feelings, and to enter into domestick attachments, can <better> judge <than the most> of the cruel strugle of my Heart <and my affections> in being repeatedly torn from the object of my <early Love> affections; and reconciling my self to <a 3 Years> an already 3 years seperation. Heaven only knows how much longer it is to continue, but were I assured that my Friend would be continued abroad for half that space of time longer—in spight of the Enemy and the uncertain Element, dissagreable as a voyage in Idea appears to me, especially deprived of my companion and protector, I would hazard all in compliance with your advise5 which I assure you has had great weight with me. I wait only for the return of Mr. Thaxter and a more explicit request from Mr. Adams to <deter> put my present intention in execution.

<Have you> I hope you have not formed such Local attachment at Newport as to give up the Idea of a settlement in this vicinity. I cannot account for the Friendly attachment I find within my Heart to a Gentleman <who was so much of a stranger to me> whom I have only once had the pleasure of seeing; but in attributing it to what I really think the [true?] cause, the Superiour merrit of the object.

And the Poet tells us that there is a Natural instinct in <kindred> souls, which lead them to a Friendly union with each other.

I have the pleasure to answer your kind inquiries after the Health of my Friend and Brother Cranch by acquainting you of his recovery to a much better state of Health than <I ever> his Friends ever expected. He requets you to accept his thanks for your remembrance of him and his regards to you. Dr. Tufts also desires to be rememberd to you and wishes for a further acquaintance with you.6

Miss Adams empowers me to say that Dr. Waterhouse stands high in her esteem and she reflects with much pleasure upon the hours she spent in his company and relies upon his promise of bringing her acquainted with his amiable sister7 whom she is prepaird to Love and admire from the Worthy Sample she has already seen of the family. Master Charles presents his affectionate Regards to Dr. Waterhouse whom he both Loves and Reverences. And his Mamma concludes with assurances of the Friendship and Esteem of his Humble servant


Dft (Adams Papers).

1Vol. 4:380.

2To Haverhill, where AA’s sister Elizabeth Shaw lived (AA to JA, 8 Oct., below).

3See JA to AA, 1 July, vol. 4:337–339. Grinnel was captain of the brig Sukey (Ingraham & Bromfield to AA, 1 July, vol. 4:339).

4The passage, with some rearrangement, comes virtually verbatim from JA to AA, 14 May, vol. 4:323.

5See AA’s account of Waterhouse’s visit to Braintree, during which he not only deeply moved her by his account of his visits with JA, JQA, and CA in Europe, but also “wished [her] exceedingly to go to [JA]” (to JA, 5 Aug., vol. 4:358).

6Waterhouse’s extensive medical studies abroad would naturally have been of interest to Dr. Tufts. For an extended sketch of Waterhouse, see vol. 4:32–34.

7Rebecca Waterhouse (1757–1822), Dr. Waterhouse’s only living sibling (George Herbert Waterhouse, “Descendants of Richard Waterhouse of Portsmouth, N.H.,” typescript, on deposit at MBNEH, p. 136–137).

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