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MY DEAR CAROLINE,
Your neat, pretty letter, looking small, but containing much, reached me this day. I have a good mind to give you the journal of the day.
Six o'clock. Rose, and, in imitation of his Britannic Majesty, kindled my own fire. Went to the stairs, as usual, to summon George and Charles. Returned to my chamber, dressed myself. No one stirred. Called a second time, with voice a little raised. Seven o'clock. Blockheads not out of bed. Girls in motion. Mean, when I hire another man-servant, that he shall come for one call.
Eight o'clock. Fires made, Breakfast prepared. L in Boston. Mrs. A. at the tea-board.
Forgot the sausages. Susan's recollection brought them upon the table.
Enter Ann. " Ma'am, the man is come with coal." " Go, call George to assist him." [Exit Ann.
Enter Charles. " Mr. B is come with cheese, turnips, &c. Where are they to be put ? " " I will attend to him myself." [Exit Charles.
Just seated at the table again.
Enter George with " Ma'am, here is a man with drove of pigs." A consultation is held upon this important subject, the result of which is the purchase of two spotted swine.
Nine o'clock. Enter Nathaniel, from the upper house, with a message for sundries ; and black Thomas's daughter, for sundries. Attended to all these concerns. A little out of sorts that I could not finish my breakfast. Note ; never to be incommoded with trifles.
Enter George Adams, from the post-office, a large packet from Russia, and from the valley also. Avaunt, all cares, I put you all aside, and thus I find good news from a far country, children, grandchildren all well. I had no expectation of hearing from Russia this winter, and the pleasure was the greater to obtain letters of so recent a date, and to learn that the family were all in health. For this blessing give I thanks.
At twelve o'clock, by a previous engagement, I was to call at Mr. G 's, for cousin B. Smith to accompany me to the bridge at Quincy-port, being the first clay of passing it. The day was pleasant ; the scenery delightful. Passed both bridges, and entered Hingham. Returned before three o'clock. Dined and, At five, went to Mr. T. G 's, with your grandfather ; the third visit he has made with us in the week ; and let me whisper to you he played at whist with Mr. J. G , who was as readv and accurate as though he had both eyes to see with. Returned.
At nine, sat down and wrote a letter.
At eleven, retired to bed. We do not so every week. I tell it you as one of the marvels of the ageBy all this, you will learn that grandmother has got rid of her croaking, and that grandfather is in good health, and that both of us are as tranquil as that bald old fellow, called Time, will let us be.
And here I was interrupted in my narrative.
I re-assume my pen upon the 22d of November, being this day sixty-eight years old. How many reflections occur to me upon this anniversary !
What have I done for myself or others in this long period of my sojourn, that I can look back upon with pleasure, or reflect upon with approbation ? Many, very many follies and errors of judgment and conduct rise up before me, and ask forgiveness of that Being, who seeth into the secret recesses of the heart, and from whom nothing is hidden. I think I may with truth say, that in no period of my life have the vile passions had control over me. I bear no enmity to any human being ; but, alas ! as Mrs. Placid said to her friend, by which of thy good works wouldst thou be willing to be judged ? I do not believe, with some divines, that all our good works are but as filthy rags ; the example which our great Master has set before us, of purity, benevolence, obedience, submission and humility, are virtues which, if faithfully practised, will find their reward ; or why has he pronounced so many benedictions upon them in his sermon on the mount ? I would ask with the poet,
" Is not virtue in mankind The nutriment that feeds the mind ? Then who, with reason, can pretend That all effects of virtue end ? "
I am one of those who are willing to rejoice always. My disposition and habits are not of the gloomy kind. I believe that " to enjoy is to obey."
(t Yet not to Earth's contracted span,
Thy goodness let me bound ; Or think thee Lord alone of man,
Whilst thousand worlds are round."
I have many more subjects, dear Caroline, which I want to write to you upon,
Yesterday was our Thanksgiving day. In our own way, and with tempers suited to the occasio: .. we gave thanks for those blessings which we felt had been granted to us in the year past, for the restoration and recovery from dangerous sickness of members of our own family ; and, although in one instance we had been called to weep, in many others we had cause of rejoicing. We were in health ; we had good news from a far country ; we had food and raiment, and we still enjoyed liberty, and our rulers were men of our own election, and removable by the people. Dear Caroline, I have trespassed upon you. I will close by saying, that your uncle and aunt, with their three children, your aunt Smith, George and John Adams, with our own family, made the joyful group. We remembered the absent, and sent our wishes to Russia and the valley ; but wishes were empty. No, they bore upon their wings blessings, a portion of which were for my dear Caroline,
From her affectionate grandmother,
- Abigail Adams
- Letters of Mrs. Adams, The Wife of John Adams With an Introductory Memoir by Her Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume II, 1840