Abigail Adams to John Adams
London may 29 1787
my dearest Friend
I received mr Cuttings Letter on Monday morning, and was glad to find you had stoped Short of Hardwick. I prognosticated from the wind on saturday that you made your passage by nine or ten on sunday morning. I commisirated your sickness, and that I might feelingly sympathize with you, used mr Hollis’s prescription yesterday morning, finding a return of some of my former complaints. the effect proved the necessity of the application. I hope you will be benifited by your journey, but the weather here is not favourable, cold & sour. I fancy it is not mended [by] passing over Stagnant waters & meddows— your companion [ho]wever, will I hope exhilarate your spirits by the brilliancy of his fancy. Neptune & the Naides cannot be invoked in vain in their own particular element.
inclosed you will find a Letter which came last evening. I do not Suppose you can do any thing yet it may be proper you should know the unfortunate Situation of the gentleman.1 Nothing new has transpired since you left us except the Bill which has past making four free ports in the west Indies, Kingstone in Jamaica, St Georges in Grenada, Rosea in Dominica, Nassau in New providence, but till we see the Bill it will be uncertain what benefit America can derive from it.2
The prince of Wales is seazid with a voilent fever occasiond by over heating himself in dancing at the Dutchess of Gordons Ball on fryday evening last.3
Mrs Smith & I are quite solitary and should be more so, if it was not for the young one. to day we shall have company.
Mrs Smith Sends Duty to you & compliments to mr Cutting. the little fellow smiles assent.
Let me hear from you by the next post. I shall be anxious to know how you got over, as well as the state of your Health, in which no one can be equally interested with your ever affectionate
compliments to mr Cutting & thanks for his Letter—
Since writing the above the inclosed Letter has come in4
RC (Adams Papers); addressed by AA2: “His Excellency / John Adams Esquire / Minister Plenipotentiary &ca / To the care of Messrs: Willinks / Amsterdam”; endorsed: “mrs A May 29th / 1787.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. Probably Richard Swanwick to JA, 17 May (Adams Papers), who wrote regarding the imprisonment of Thomas Barclay at Bordeaux for the personal debt he had incurred while acting as U.S. consul to France. Swanwick was a native of Great Britain who came to Pennsylvania with his family in the early 1770s. His son John became a Pennsylvania congressman and successful merchant as a partner in the firm of Willing, Morris & Swanwick of Philadelphia, while his father held a minor office for the British. Richard later returned to Great Britain seeking compensation for his property losses (ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement. description ends ; John Swanwick to JA, 18 July 1786, Adams Papers). See also JA, D&A description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:120; AA to JA, 7 June, below.
2. “An Act for Allowing the Importation and Exportation of Certain Goods, Wares and Merchandize . . . under Certain Regulations and Restrictions” was passed by the House of Lords on 28 May. The act expanded the original free port act of 1766 that had opened a limited number of British West Indies ports to foreign vessels for the purpose of importing raw materials not produced in Britain and providing markets for British manufactures. The 1787 act addressed the United States’ transformation from British colony to foreign power by excluding American vessels from trading in free ports (London Gazette, 26–29 May; Frances Armytage, The Free Port System in the British West Indies: A Study in Commercial Policy, 1766–1822, N.Y., 1953, p. 53–60).
3. The prince’s illness, the result of vigorous dancing at a ball hosted by Jane Gordon, Dutchess of Gordon (1749?–1812), was widely reported in the London press (DNB; description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1901; repr. Oxford, 1959–1960; 21 vols. plus supplements. description ends Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, 28 May).
4. WSS to JA, 19 May (Adams Papers), which also deals with the Barclay situation.