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MY DEAR PORTIA,
I WISH you to write me by every opportunity to this place as well as to France. It seems as if I never should get any more letters from America. I have sent you some things by Captain Davis, but he has no arms and I fear they will be lost by capture. I sent things by the Alliance.
The country where I am is the greatest curiosity in the world. This nation is not known any where, not even by its neighbors. The Dutch language is spoken by none but themselves. Therefore they converse with nobody, and nobody converses with them. The English are a great nation, and they despise the Dutch because they are smaller. The French are a greater nation still, and therefore they despise the Dutch because they are still smaller in comparison to them. But I doubt much whether there is any nation of Europe more estimable than the Dutch in proportion. Their industry and economy ought to be examples to the world. They have less ambition, I mean that of conquest and military glory, than their neighbors, but I don t perceive that they have more avarice. And they carry learning and arts, I think, to greater extent. The collections of curiosities, public and private, are innumerable. I am told that Mr. Searle is arrived at Brest ; but I have learned nothing from him as yet, nor do I know his destination. The French and Spanish fleets have made a sweep of sixty upon the English East India and West India fleets. This must have great effects. We are all well. Don t expect peace. The English have not yet forgotten the acquisition of Charles ton, for which they are making the most childish exultations. The new parliament will give ministry a run. Mark my words, you will have no peace but what you give yourselves by destroying, root and branch, all the British force in America. The English cannot bear the thought that France should dictate the terms of peace, as they call it. They say they must make a dishonorable peace now, a shameful peace, a degrading peace. This is worse than death to them, and thus they will go on, until they are forced to sue for a peace still more shameful and humiliating.
- John Adams
- Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume II, 1841