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JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
AMSTERDAM, Decr. 9, 1780
MY DEAR FRIEND, Your Favours of July II and 19 are before me. They were received at Paris in my absence and it is not long since I received them. I have led such a wandering Life that I have not had Time to answer them, till now.
We expect every day to receive the Lists of the new Administration, the Speech at opening the first General Court, etc. A high regale they will be.
I am of your Mind concerning the Flaggs to England and the Importations from thence. Poor Trumbull and Tyler, as well as Mr. Laurens, will convince our Countrymen, I hope. Great Britain has become literally in the Language of old Authors concerning Atilla, "The Scourge of God and the Plague of Mankind.” She must be abandoned and renounced for-ever. There has been too much weak Communication with them which must be cut off.
I can tell you little News from this Country. The Designs of France and Spain you will learn from others; you cannot have them from me because I know them not. The Design of the Dutch is to keep Peace, if possible. No Resentments of Injuries or Insults, No Regard to national Honour or Dignity will turn them out of their pacific Course. They will lend Money and hire Transports to the English and sell Goods to America and naval Stores to France and Spain; in short, get Money out of all Nations, but go to war with none. They will not lend us any Money, nor do anything to favour us, but get Money out of us, lest England should declare War against them for aiding, abetting and comforting Rebellion, against Treaties which the English have long since declared void, but the Dutch still hold sacred, as their Honour and their Religion.
Such a Nation of Idolaters at the Shrine of Mammon never existed, I believe, before. The English are as great Idolaters, but they have more Gods than one.
The Republick, however, has acceded to the armed Neutrality, and we expect in the Course of five or six Weeks to know the Principles and the System of it, how many Nations have joined
in it, and what we may expect from it. The Principle that free Ships shall make free Goods, will assist us in procuring present Supplies, and will be more useful to America hereafter, when she, as I hope, will be neutral, although other Nations may be at war, than to any nation of Europe. But I don't expect that any sensible Advantage will result from it to us, very soon. The Prince of Orange and the States General will proceed so slowly, not to say will affect so many Delays, that it will be some years before any great Thing will result from it.
My eloquent Friend, the Abby Raynal, whose History you mention, is publishing a new Edition of that work in which he has inserted the compleat History of our Revolution. He says he has mentioned my Name as one of the Characters without which the Revolution would not have been accomplished. At the same time, he says, he has cast some Blame upon me. I told him I was then sure at least of such an Immortality as he wanted who burnt the Temple, but I have promised to attack him if he has abused me. He won't let me see it; perhaps he may alter it and erase my Name. I told him he ought to, if he has ascribed a fifth part of the work to me, as he says has, because 1 it is exactly one three millionth that belongs to me. Be it as it may suum cuique Decus Posteritas expendit. I wish I were at home, that I might do something worthy of History; here I can do nothing. The beauteous olive Branch will never decorate my Brows. I must spend my Life in the Pride, Pomp and Circumstance of glorious War, without sharing any of its Laurels.
My most profound Respect to Mrs. Warren. I dread her History more than that of the Abby. I want to know in what Colours she will draw Brother Lee. He little knew what eyes were upon him. Most affectionately yours.
1 It is exactly
th that belongs to me. Note by JOHN ADAMS.
JOHN ADAMS TO MERCY WARREN
AMSTERDAM, Decr. 9, 1780
MADAME, It is not long since I received your Favour of the 24 of July, and a wandering unsettled Life has prevented me hitherto from answering it. Be assured, Madame, that my Friends are not so good Correspondents as you think them. You may almost always take it for granted that I am uninformed and that every Piece of Information from home will be agreeable and usefull to me. I wish Success to the Act for cutting off, forever, all Communication with England. We shall never have any but such as will be pernicious to us. That unfortunate Nation grows every day more and more inimical to us and to themselves. They have been great and wise, but their Day is past. They will persecute us, as they did our Fathers, and the worst Engine they have to play against us is the Remainders of a Prejudice in their favour.
The Letter, Madame, which you sent me by your Son, I suppose is in the Sea. His Capture is no longer unknown to you. Where he is I know not; I hope in America, exchanged. It would have given me great Pleasure to have contributed somewhat to his Entertainment in Europe. It is not, however, a Country where I should wish the Sons of my Friends, any more than my own, to reside. There are Snares enough for youth every where; but they are fewer in America than here, and American youth discover in Europe, I think, a greater Propensity to Folly and Vice than the Natives. I grow every day more and more wearied and disgusted with Europe, and more and more impatient to return forever to that Country where alone I ever was or shall be happy. Perhaps, however, I may not be so fortunate in crossing the Ocean the fourth time. Perhaps a long Imprisonment, or a Fate more disagreeable, still may be before me. Whatever it may be I shall meet it with Fortitude and comfort myself with the Reflection that no Man ever suffered in a nobler Cause.
There are in my Power means enough for the Pursuits of Pleasure and of Knowledge: but I have not the Inclination to make that Advantage of them which I should have done in earlier Life, before my Soul was bowed down with Care.
I have seen in the Course of the last year a Variety of Kingdoms, Empires and Republicks, and as great a Variety of Religions, and had a fine opportunity of remarking the Effects of them upon human Nature, and indeed upon the very Face of the Earth. And the Result of all has been a stronger Attachment to the Religion and Government of my native Country than ever. I wish every American youth could have borne me Company. He would not afterwards need to swear upon the high Altar Enmity to Britain, nor Friendship to America. It seems to me impossible that Arnold should have been a Traitor if he had ever made the Journey from Ferrol to Amsterdam. How much should we deplore that Spirit of Dissipation, Vanity and Knavery, which infects so many Americans and threatens to ruin our Manners and Liberties in Imitation of the old World.
This to be sure, Madame, is preaching; but it is preaching to a Lady who knows it to be sound doctrine and therefore will not despise the sermon because it contains nothing new. I have the Honour, etc.
JAMES WARREN TO JOHN ADAMS
PLYMOUTH, December 19th, 1780 MY DEAR SIR, Having wrote you so often and so fully, I presume you would readily excuse me if I omitted this Opportunity more especially as I am at a distance from the Capital, and have no certain News to hand you, but that Admiral de Ternay died a few days ago of a fever after a few days Illness, which perhaps may have been occasioned by Chagrin and disappointment. it is also reported here that Cornwallis with 4000 Men have been surrounded by our Troops in Carolina and taken Prisoners. if this should prove true, it will be a great Stroke, and damp the Joy in England on the Acquisition of Charlestown.
Our New Government has been Ushered in with Great Splendor, Balls, Assemblies, Entertainments and Feasts equal to any thing you can tell of in Europe. The silly feelings of Compassion for the distresses of the Country, and the wants and sufferings of the
Army have little to do in the Capital. The whirl of pleasure and amusement has taken into its Vortex the Deacons and the other good People who seldom used to be seen in public but at their Devotions. Whether you will find good Deacon Irs 1 and good Mr. Scol[la]y 2 in the dancing or drawing room at a Game of Whist or leading down a Country Dame is uncertain, but if the present G[overno]r is in office on your return you may possibly find them in one or the other. we are trying to get an Army for the war or three years I hope to succeed. I shall write you more by the next Conveyance permit me to trouble you with the Inclosed Letter, and to ask you to tell me how my Son does, and if his Conduct meets your Approbation. Accept Mrs. Warren's regards, and believe me to be Your Sincere Friend and Humble Servant,
Arthur Lee TO JAMES WARREN
PHILADELPHIA, Decr. 25, 1780
DEAR SIR, This will be deliverd to you by my friend Col. Laurens, who is sent Minister to sollicit immediate aid from the Court of Versailles. It is late, but still it may be of use. I have proposd to Congress the sending a Minister to the Court of Petersburg, as the Power of most influence in the neutral Confederation which Confederation it is probable will greatly influence the terms of a general pacification. Our friend Mr. Dana is accordingly namd Chargé des afaires at that Court: Congress have also adopted another proposition for establishing a Secretary of State for foreign Affairs, but have not yet fixt upon the person. A Committee have reported that Docr. Franklin ought to be recalld. But Congress have not yet determind upon the report, nor do I know what will be their opinion.
I have learnt this day that the Purser of the Alliance 1 deposd, upon Capt. Landais trial that he brought over in the Alliance five hundred pounds worth of Goods on my Account. But he ought to 4 Nathan Blodget.
2 John Scollay.
3 John Laurens.