From Francis Dana
St: Petersbourg Augt: 19/30 1782
I received your letter of Aug: 7th. yesterday afternoon, and at the same time the packet you mention. I thank you most cordially for your sentiments upon “something of consequence”: but I am no longer at liberty to pursue a course like that you point out. My la[st] dispatches, which I presume you did not read, tho they came open under your Cover, are clear and decided upon that affair. I am glad of it. They have relieved me from much anxiety.1 By the way the ordinance relative to marine affairs which I am told is enclosed,2 has not accompanied the letter. If it lays with you, pray forward it by the first post, and bear in remembrance my request about your treaty—oblige me if possible—I have not recd. the Genl’s: picture. I wish you had thought to mention by whom you sent it, that I might have made enquiry about it. If Mr: Thaxter shou’d not have sailed, pray beg him without fail, to buy two sets of Nugent’s New Pocket Dictionary French and English printed for J. Ash London 1778. and to present one set to my new correspondent and the other to Mrs: Dana.3 If he shou’d have sailed will you please in my name to present my correspondent with one set by the earliest opportunity. Mrs: D. may wait awhile, she is not so pressed to learn French, and let me know when you send it, or whether M. T. takes them.
Who is your present assistant, I think your letter is not the old hand.4 The enclosed you will be kind enoh to forward by the earliest opportunity. The one you will receive mark’d duplicate, is a copy of it. They must therefore go by different vessels; let this be attended to.
Your slow stepped people have shown the world they can occasionally assume the quick step, especially when they are apprehensive something is to be lost, or in danger of being lost if they dont strike into it. They marched in pretty good time with your Musicians. Now they have got to the Top of the Mountain, they must be allowed some time to take new breath, and to look about them; perhaps the heighth of it has made them a little dizzy when they cast an eye down upon their Flatts. They will soon feel the benefit, it is to be hoped, of a freer air, and acquire a degree of elasticity they have long been wholly unaccustomed to—Health to their Body Politic.
Fox’s system wou’d save the British Nation from destruction: but it hath pleased Heaven to pour down upon their heads a few more vials of wrath, for their abominable abominations.
Adieu my dear Sir. May God defend, save, and prosper our Country.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Dana 19/30 August 1782.” Some loss of text due to wear at the fold.
1. The dispatches included copies of Robert R. Livingston’s letters of 2 March and 22 May, to which Dana replied on the 30th (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, ed. Francis Wharton, Washington, D.C., 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 5:209–213, 436, 679– 680 ; and above). It was the letter of 2 March that relieved Dana’s anxiety, and specifically Livingston’s admonition that “You will continue, I presume, to appear only in a private character, as it would give Congress great pain to see you assume any other without an absolute certainty that you would be received and acknowledged.” Essentially this meant that Dana should do nothing to execute his mission as minister plenipotentiary to Russia, a state of affairs that reflected the longstanding French attitude, expressed by the French minister at Philadelphia in May 1781, that “the appointment of Mr. Dana . . . appears to be at least premature, and the opinion of the council is that this deputy ought not to make any use of his powers at this moment” (same, 4:453). On 10 May, in a letter that he submitted to Congress and enclosed with his of 29 May, Livingston made the prohibition against Dana’s acting even more explicit, and on 27 May, when Congress returned the letter to Livingston, it resolved, “That Mr. Dana be instructed not to present his letters of credence to the Court of Petersburg, until he shall have obtained satisfactory assurances that he will be duly received and recognized in his public character” (same, 5:410–414, 446–447; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford and others, Washington, D.C., 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 22:301).
2. Mentioned in Livingston’s letter of 2 March, it is presumably the 2 Dec. 1781 “ordinance, ascertaining what captures on water shall be lawful” as amended on 26 Feb. 1782 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford and others, Washington, D.C., 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 21:1153–1158; 22:99–100).
3. It is not known whether Thaxter procured copies of Thomas Nugent’s work and sent them on to their intended recipients, but a copy of the 1781 edition of The New Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages (Corrected and Improved) by J. S. Charrier is in JA’s library at MB (Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ).
4. The letter was in Charles Storer’s hand rather than the more familiar one of John Thaxter.