John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 2 December 1781

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Amsterdam, 2 December, 1781.

MY DEAREST FRIEKD,

YOUR favors of September 29 and October 21 are before me. I avoided saying any thing about Charles to save you the anxiety, which I fear you will now feel in its greatest severity, a long time. I thought he would go directly home in a short passage in the best opportunity which would probably ever present. But I am disappointed. Charles is at Bilboa with Major Jackson and Colonel Trumbull, who take the best care of his education, as well as his health and behavior. They are to go hence with Captain Hill in a good vessel of twenty guns. Charles's health was so much affected by this tainted atmosphere, and he had set his heart so much upon going home with Gil- Ion, that it would have broken it to have refused him. I desire I may never again have the weakness to bring a child to Europe. They are infinitely better at home. We have all been sick here, myself, Mr. Thaxter, Stevens and another servant, but are all better. Mr. Thaxter's indisposition has been slight and short, mine and Stevens's long and severe.

I beg you would not flatter yourself with hopes of peace. There will be no such thing for several years. Don t distress yourself neither about any malicious attempts to injure me in the estimation of my country men. Let them take their course and go the length of their tether. They will never hurt your husband, whose character is fortified with a shield of innocence and honor ten thousand fold stronger than brass or iron. The contemptible essays made by you know whom will only tend to his own confusion. My letters have shown them their own ignorance, a sight they could not bear. Say as little about it as I do. It has already brought them into the true system, and that system is triumphant. I laugh and will laugh before all posterity at their impotent rage and envy. They could not help blushing themselves if they were to review their conduct.

Dear Tom, thy letter does thee much honor. Thy brother Charles shall teach thee French and Dutch at home. I wish I could get time to correspond with thee and thy sister more regularly, but I cannot. I must trust Providence and thine excellent mamma for the education of my children. Mr. Dana and our son are well at Petersburg. Hayden has some things for you. I hope he is arrived. I am sorry to learn you have a sum of paper. How could you be so imprudent ? You must be frugal, I assure you. Your children will be poorly off. I can but barely live in the manner that is indispensably demanded of me by every body. Living is dear indeed here. My children will not be so well left by their father as he was by his. They will be infected with the examples and habits and tastes for expensive living without the means. He was not. My children shall never have the smallest soil of dishonor or disgrace brought upon them by their father, no, not to please ministers, kings or nations. At the expense of a little of this, my children might perhaps ride at their ease through life, but dearly as I love them, they shall live in the service of their country, in her navy, her army, or even out of either in the extremest degree of poverty, before I will depart in the smallest iota from my sentiments of honor and delicacy ; for I, even I, have sentiments of delicacy as exquisite as the proudest minister that ever served a monarch. They may not be exactly like those of some ministers. I beg you would excuse me to my dear friends, to whom I cannot write so often as I wish. I have in dispensable duties which take up all my time, and re quire more than I have.

General Washington has done me great honor and much public service by sending me authentic ac counts of his own and General Greene's last great actions. They are in the way to negotiate peace. It lies wholly with them. No other ministers but they and their colleagues in the army can accomplish the great event.

I am keeping house, but I want a housekeeper. What a fine affair it would be, if we could flit across the Atlantic as they say the angels do, from planet to planet ! I would dart to Penn's hill and bring you over on my wings ; but, alas, we must keep house separately for some time. But one thing I am determined on. If God should please to restore me once more to your fireside, I will never again leave it without your ladyship's company no, not even to go to Congress at Philadelphia, and there I am determined to go, if I can make interest enough to get chosen, when ever I return. I would give a million sterling that you were here ; and I could afford it as well as Great Britain can the thirty millions she must spend, the ensuing year, to complete her own ruin.

Farewell, farewell.

Author:
John Adams

Source:
Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume II, 1841