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MARTHA WASHINGTON TO MERCY WARREN
MY DEAR MADAM, — I ought to apologise for the interval that has passed between the receipt and acknowledgment of your obliging letter written in March last; but I hardly know what apology will be sufficient to excuse the apparent, though unintentional neglect. I believe the truth is always the best ground for an apology on such occasions. Though I may not have a great deal of business of consequence to do; yet I have a great many avocations of one kind or another which imperceptibly consumes my time, and I know not wheather one's reluctance to writing much, does not increase with one's years. The sevear illness with which the President was attacked some weeks agoe, absorbed every other consideration, in my care and anxiety for him. These reasons, I trust, will have their due weight in your candid mind. During the President's sickness, the kindness which everybody manifested, and the interest which was universally taken in his fate, were really very affecting to me. He seemed less concerned himself as to the event, than perhaps almost any other person in ye United states. Happily he is now perfectly recovered, and I am restored to my ordinary state of tranquility, and usually good flow of spirits. For my part, I contrive to be as happy hear as I could be at any place except Mount Vernon. In truth I should be very ungreatfull if I did not acknowledge that every thing has been done, which politeness, hospitality or friendship could suggest, to make my situation as satisfactory and agreeable as possible. My grand children have likewise good oppertunities for acquiring an useful and accomplished education. In their happiness, my own is, in a great measure, involved. But for the ties of affection which attract me so strongly to my near connection and worthy friends, I should feel myself indeed much weaned from all enjoyments of this transitory life.
If congress should have recess this summer (as it is expected will be the case) I hope to go home to Mount Vernon for a few months; and from that expectation I already derive much comfort. Especially as, I believe, the exercise, relaxation and amuse
ment to be expected from such a journey, will tend very much to confirm the President's health. This is also the opinion of all his Physicians.
In passing down the vale of time, and in journeying through such a mutable world as that in which we are placed, we must expect to meet with a great and continual mixture of afflictions and blessings. This is a mingled cup which an over ruling providence undoubtedly dispences to us for the wisest and best of purposes. And as you justly observe, shall we short-sighted mortals dare to arraign the decrees of eternal wisdom.
That you and yours may always be under the kind protection and guardianship of that providence is the sincere wish of, dear Madam, your affectionate friend and humble Servant
JAMES WINTHROP TO MERCY WARREN
CAMBRIDGE, 13 July, 1790
MADAM, Your very polite letter of 25 May I have been honored with. It was left at my lodgings while I was upon a journey. The flattering attention which you shewed toward an old friend, would have been sufficient of itself, to have engaged me in forwarding the work proposed in the advertisement which inclosed. But before the receit of it I was already engaged, and if a Gentleman of the University had supported it as readily as he promised, we should have had more subscribers in that society. As it is, finding your work in the press, I have returned the paper to the printer with several names in the civil line affixed to it, and some of them I hope you will not be displeased
Your compliments of condolance were very interesting to us all. Madam Winthrop's 1 death we did not generally expect, and for a considerable time did not see the need of it. Her own opinion from the beginning was, that it was her last illness. But You
1 Hannah, daughter of Thomas Fayerweather. She had for a first husband Farr Tolman, and married Professor Winthrop in 1756. Professor Winthrop died May 3, 1779.
know every circumstance, the same chamber, the same bed, every object the same, the age of the patient, and the time of the year being the same as took place with respect to Dr. Winthrop at his death, were all fitted for impressing his widow with the idea of following her husband to his long home. She frequently spoke familiarly of her death, but those around her could [not] join in the conversation. The idea was too painful.
The mansion house is settled upon me. When I shall get into it I do not know. I have lived pretty much by accident till I have turned thirty-eight. It is not I believe the want of that sensibility which induces partial attachments, that has prevented me from a regular manner of life; but it has been the want of funds.
Governor Hancock's disorder tho' not severe seems to be fixed. In the strife of parties it is difficult to know what to believe. I am Madam, with much respect to You and General Warren Your most obedt Servant,
I forgot to mention Major Warren's visit. I got home to dine that day, but did not know of his being in this town till the next morning. My respects to him and his brothers. When is he to do better than I have done? It will take some weeks to abate the gloominess of ideas with regard to the house where my Parents resided; but I hope soon to have the pleasure of waiting on General Warren and Lady there, and their sons as often as they come into this town.
BENJAMIN LINCOLN TO MERCY WARREN
Dear Madam, -This will be given you by my young friend your amiable Son H[enr]y. He returns to you not because he is materially worse than when he left Plymouth but because Docr. Dexter, his Physician, friend, and councillor thinks the business in the office is of such a nature as will endanger the loss of his little remaining health if he pursues it. It is with real regret that I part
with him I want him as a clerk but I want him more as a companion, for I can obtain ten Clerks where I can find one young Gentleman whose mind like his is furnished with useful knowledge and whose disposition is so well calculated to promote the happiness of all connected with him Nothing but a knowledge that our seperation will promote his interest could make the measure tolerable to me My best wishes will always attend him and nothing will make me more happy than having an opportunity really to serve him saving that information by which I should be convinced that his situation in life was so perfectly eligible as to make him independent of any aid from mortals about him.
He will deliver you a copy of my private letter to General Washington there is nothing in it which should recommend it to any saving to the faithful historian whose chief enquiry is for a state of facts. It is a short narrative of an important transaction, the most so to me of any one in which I held part.
Some have thought that the seige should not have been undertaken with so small an allowance of provisions and that I ought not to have retained so large a proportion of officers. Respecting the first I have, I think, explained in the said letter. I detained a larger number of officers than I otherwise should have detained but for the assurance that a very large reinforcement of militia would be sent in to my aid. Had they arrived the experienced officers would have rendered the most important services I was buoyed up from a hope that I should receive the reinforcement untill it was too late to send out the officers. Had they been sent out when the seige first commenced it would have been of the worst consequences not only to the garrison but to the Citizens at large my apprehensions could not have been concealed. However an officer may feel his feelings should be to himself. If you shall wish for a farther state of facts pray point them to him who has the honor of being with esteem and friendship yours sincerely
PLIMOUTH, Sept. 24, 1790
SIR, Though the vice-president of the United States and his lady may have forgotten Mrs. Warren, yet her former friend, Mr. Adams, will accept a small volume from the hand of their sincere and very Humble servant
MERCY WARREN TO JOHN Adams
PLIMOUTH, Sept. 24, 1790
SIR, Though some of my late letters have been received by the minister at War with a silence which perhaps ought to forbid further interruption, yet as I will not suppose it a designed neglect, I ask my friend, General Knox, to accept a small volume lately offered the public by His most Obedient Humble servant, M. WARREN
MERCY WARREN TO HENRY Knox
GEORGE WASHINGTON TO MERCY WARREN
MOUNT VERNON, Novr. 4th, 1790
MADAM,- My engagements since the receipt of your letter of the 12th of Septr., with which I was honored two days ago, have prevented an attentive perusal of the Book1 that accompanied it; but, from the reputation of its Author, from the parts I have read, and from a general idea of the pieces, I am persuaded of its gracious and distinguished reception by the friends of virtue and science.
I desire to assure you of the gratitude with which your Flattering expressions of regard impress me, and of the respectful consideration, with which I have the honor to be, Madam, Your Most Obedt. and Most Hble. Ser.
1 Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous. Boston, 1790. See letter of Washington, June 4, 1790, supra.