Abigail Adams to John Adams
Boston December 23 1796
my Dearest Friend
I received by the last post Your favours dated 7h 8th & 12 of the present Month together with Pains Letter & the counter part Jasper I tremble when I look forward to the scene opening before Me. My own reflections and Meditations are similar to yours, except that I do contemplate a return to the Bar. Retirement at Peace Feild I think would be a much more Eligible situation than to be fastned up Hand & foot & Tongue to be shot at as our Quincy Lads Do at the poor Geese and Turkies, and like the frog in the fable, sport to the Boys was Death to the frogs.1 Since I came to Town Some curious Annecdotes have to me. Judge Daws after the Election was over, went to visit the Govenour so said the G. To answer their own ends. I Say to answer their own ends Judge. they sit up Your Father and Me Electors in opposition to each other if I had been Elected, I should have Done something that should have cemented the Friendship of my kinsman or severd us for ever. I hope Sir it will make no breach between your Father and Me.2 our Friend Mrs Storer Says that the conduct of the Govenour in erasing his Name from the Law respecting Electors, put her in mind of some lines in a little Book of the Childrens.
There was a Man in Thessaly
and he was wondrous wise
He jump’d into a quickset hedge
and scratchd out both his Eyes
And when he saw his Eyes were out
With all his might & main
He jump’d into another hedge
and scratchd them in again
A Country Man this week who lives about 50 miles back was in Mr N Austins shop, and began to talk with him upon politicks3 why says he, they tell me that mr Adams, tho a Clever Man will not do for President. they say he can’t talk. aya says mr Austin, he can’t talk Nonsence, but Do You or can You believe that a Gentleman who was many Years in the full practise of the Law cannot talk?
Very harmless was that report in comparison of a thousand others which I dare say have come to your Ears. Dr Walter call’d to See me a Day or two since. he Said there were many people in this Town who almost wisht You might not be Elected that they might have you for their Govenour next year.4 to this speach I could make no reply, but bow’d it is considerd here as a Matter Setled that you are Elected, yet no person speaks of it, but what seem to commisirate the station & to be fully sensible of its Dangers and perplexitys
I inclose to you an Aurelias, the reputed Author Young Gardner of Milton it is certain that he corrected the press, and does not deny the Peice. I cannot but suspect however that he has consented to Father it for some other person.5
Tell Mrs otis that her Friends here are well, but in affliction for the sudden Death of Mrs Robbins, Nabby Saltmars that was, who on one Sunday was Married & before a fortnight was a Corpse.6 “O Blindness to the future kindly given”7
Tomorrow I return to Quincy where I hope to hear often from my Dearest Friend to whom I am with the sincerest affection / His
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs A. Decr 23 1796 / ansd. Jan. 3. 1797.”
1. Aesop’s fable “The Boys and the Frogs.”
2. That is, Judge Thomas Dawes Jr. (1757–1825), for whom see CFA, Diary, description begins Diary of Charles Francis Adams, ed. Aïda DiPace Donald, David Donald, Marc Friedlaender, L. H. Butterfield, and others, Cambridge, 1964– . description ends 1:1. Dawes was the son of Col. Thomas Dawes, who had been selected as a Federalist presidential elector for Massachusetts.
3. Presumably Nathaniel Austin (1763–1807), a Charlestown pewtersmith and the husband of AA’s cousin Anna Kent Austin (vol. 7:3; 10:360).
4. Dr. Rev. William Walter (1737–1800), Harvard 1756, had been rector of Trinity Church, Boston, but left the city as a loyalist in 1776. While in London in 1784 making claims for losses during the war, he visited with AA. He returned to Boston in 1791 and served as rector of Christ Church, Boston, from 1792 until his death (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, description begins John Langdon Sibley, Clifford K. Shipton, Conrad Edick Wright, Edward W. Hanson, and others, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– . description ends 14:111–121; vol. 5:372, 377, 384). JA had long been considered a possible future governor of Massachusetts; for a recent comment to that effect, see the Massachusetts Mercury, 1 Nov. 1796.
5. John Gardner was in fact the author of a series of articles appearing under the pseudonym Aurelius, which were published in the Boston Columbian Centinel, 15, 19, 22, 26 Oct., 2, 5 November. He would later compile them into the pamphlet A Brief Consideration of the Important Services … Which Recommend Mr. Adams for the Presidency.
6. Abigail Saltmarsh Robbins (b. 1740) died on 17 Dec., having married James Robbins on 4 Dec. (Boston Columbian Centinel, 7, 21 Dec.).
7. Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, Epistle I, line 85.
8. In a second letter of the same date, AA reported to JA that recent praise for him in the 14 Dec. Boston Columbian Centinel originated in Virginia. She also relayed rumors that Benjamin Hichborn had become a champion of James Monroe (Adams Papers).