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JOHN ADAMS TO MERCY WARREN
PHILADELPHIA, Decr. 26, 1790
MADAM, Yesterday I had the Pleasure of receiving your favour of September the twenty fourth, with an elegant Copy of your Poems dramatic and miscellaneous; for both which I pray you to accept my best Thanks. It is but a few days since We received three other Copies addressed to me, but without a Letter or any other indication from whom or whence they came. As We were subscribers for the Publication, these might come from some Bookseller who in due time, will produce his Account which We shall be ready with pleasure to discharge. If they came from you, Madam, We are so much the more obliged and thankful to you: and shall hereafter receive from a Bookseller those for which We subscribed. All will not be too many, and We shall know very well how to dispose of them with Pleasure and Advantage.
The Poems are not all of them new to me, by whom some of them have been read and esteemed some years ago. However foolishly some European Writers may have sported with American Reputation for Genius, Literature and Science: I know not where they will find a female Poet of their own to prefer to the ingenious Author of these Compositions.
I am ignorant, Madam, of any foundation you may have for the Distinction you make between The Vice President and Mr. Adams, or for an insinuation that either may have forgotten Mrs. Warren since Mrs. Warren is certainly indebted to The Vice President and Mr. Adams in Partnership for the last Letter.
Be pleased, Madam, to present my respectful Regards to General Warren and all Friends. With great Esteem I have the Honour to be, Madam your most obedient and most humble Servant,
MERCY WARREN TO JOHN ADams
SIR, An unsealed letter from you came to my hand this day. for the letter I thank you, as it contained expressions of regard and esteem which I have been used to receive from your pen. for the manner I own myself at a loss.
Does not an unsealed letter from you, sir, appear like a diminution of that confidential intercourse that long subsisted and conveyed warm from the heart the strong expressions of friendship in many a close sealed packet.
Was you, sir, apprehensive that your own reputation might suffer by an attention to any one of a family you "had been used to hear spoken off with respect and affection by all," unless the public first inspected the correspondence. Yet perhaps you might mean to do me honour by letting the world see your polite encomium on a late publication.
Indeed I feel myself flattered by the Compliment and yet more by its being in the stile of my old friend.
I acknowledge I stand indebted to the vice president for one letter before his of the 26 December.
But you must permit me to say some expressions in that letter appeared so irreconcilable with former sentiment that I was impeled much against my inclination to consider it as forbiding any further interruption.
Delicate friendship, conscious of its own disinterested attachment, is easily wounded. I might, perhaps, feel too sensibly some former impressions that may hereafter be explained. but I can never tax myself with a voluntary neglect of punctuallity or the want of attention in any other instance towards a friend I thought unimpressable by the Ebullitions of party or political malice.1
I In a brief note of February 14, Mr. Adams stated that the unsealed letter was unintentional and due to carelessness on the part of the secretary. He prepared a letter of the same date which was not sent. It opened with an explanation of the absence of sealing and continued: "Neither 'the ebullitions of party nor political malice' have made any impressions on me. The expressions you allude to were the result of very sober reflection upon facts proved to me by the testimony of many witnesses of unquestionable veracity, among whom were not a few of the best friends General Warren ever had in his life. A civil war, Madam, is in my opinion a very serious thing. This Country has once at least
A copy of the work you informed me you had just received I forwarded immediately on publication. I know not what should thus long have retarded its passage. Nor can I inform you, sir, from whom you received three other volumes. But could I have supposed, as you obligingly intimate, that you could have disposed of so many with pleasure and advantage they should have been much at your service from the hand of the author.
Mr. Warren returns both friendly and respectful regards. You will present me also to Mrs. Adams. I am, Respected sir, with sincere esteem your most Obedient and Humble servant M. WARREN
ALEXANDER HAMILTON TO MERCY WARREN
PHILADELPHIA, July 1, 1791
MADAM, — In making you, thus late, my acknowledgements for the honor you did me, by presenting me with a volume of your poems, I dare not attempt an apology for the delay. I can only throw myself upon your clemency for a pardon.
I have not however been equally delinquent towards the work itself, which I have read, more than once, with great interest. It is certain that in the Ladies of Castille,1 the sex will find a new occasion of triumph. Not being a poet myself, I am in the less danger of feeling mortification at the idea, that in the career of dramatic composition at least, female genius in the United States has outstripped the Male. With great consideration and esteem I have the honor to be, Madam, Your most obedt and humble Servant, A. HAMILTON
been within a hair's breadth of a very bloody one, nor is it likely to be soon so secure against the probability of another as I wish it. There is more than one among those persons whom twenty years ago I counted among my friends who are not so explicit and decided as I presume to think they ought to be in favor of those principles and measures which appear to me indispensable to preserve the liberty, peace and safety of this people. As long as this indecision remains, it is impossible there should be the same confidence between them and me which there was once. The affection for them which I once had will never be forgotten, nor can it ever be destroyed; but confidence can never be the same without the same foundation for it."— ADAMS MSS.
I A tragedy in five acts, written in 1783-1784, at the request of a "young gentleman in Europe" her son, Winslow.
JAMES WINTHROP TO MERCY WARREN
CAMBRIDGE, 3 Aug., 1791
MADAM, I send the two first Volumes of Gibbons' continuation, the whole work not being at home. You will see that all the answers which the first part produced have not tamed him on the subject of Christianity. Besides some gross allusions he takes every opportunity to exalt the character of the heathen or mahometan princes who discovered any appearance of virtue; not considering that under our system every man almost has more virtue than the saints of the infidels, if such an expression is not an absurdity.
I have several times since my return mentioned in company Mrs. Macaulay's answer to Burke,' but cannot find that any copies of it are abroad, except yours. This I a little wonder at, considering the eminence of the writer and the value of the work. For clear, comprehensive reasoning I think it a capital performance, tho' it has not Paine's zeal. I have read Burke but it is a dreadful heavy work. He spends his whole force in proving the inefficiency of experiments in France that have succeeded in America. It is true that in both countries the establishments are new, and require vigilance to guard them against the attempts of those who are still attached to hereditary distinctions. But every day will add strength to systems that are right, while errors will gradually wear out. . . .
HENRY KNOX TO MERCY WARREN
PHILADELPHIA, 12 Jany., 1792
MADAM, - Although I duly received your favor of the 12th of last month, yet my anxiety for your grief has prevented until now my writing to you.
In such a case it is only for a parent to feel a parent's woe.2
I It was published, anonymously, in 1790, being in the form of a letter addressed to the Earl of Stanhope.
2 Her son George Warren died in Maine.
Although consolations might be offered to alleviate your afflictions, yet it is fairly presumed that minds elevated and improved as yours and that of General Warren's, have on so dreadful an occasion had recourse to the proper and only sources of comfort. Great father of spirits, how severe the Agony of a tender parent on such a loss! I cannot dwell on the theme!
Permit me only to add, my ardent prayer, that your farther continuance here, may as much as possible be an anticipation of the happiness destined hereafter to reward the good.
I am madam with sentiments of entire cordiality and respect Your and General Warren's sincere friend and very humble Servant,
MRS. JUDITH Sargent MURRAY TO MERCY WARREN BOSTON, FRANKLIN PLACE, March 4th, 1796 RESPECTED MADAM, Although I cannot boast the honor of a personal acquaintance with you, yet having repeatedly perused, with highly zested pleasure, the volume with which you have obliged the world, I trace in that invaluable publication, amid the brilliant manifestations of Genius so conspicuously displayed therein, unequivocal demonstration of a mind fraught with a sufficient degree of candour, and benevolence, to embolden a more humble Adventurer in the Career of fame, to solicit your sanction to an attempt, originating in an ardent solicitude to please, and cherished, and matured, by the emulative glow, so frequently enkindled by great examples. When the Virtues are combined with talents, admiration is then the growth of Reason, and justice delighteth to entwine for the brow of merit, thus established, her ever blooming chaplets. Yes, honored Lady, It is most true To lead the envied way is thine." But, tracing thy splendid footsteps, the daughters of Columbia become ambitious of some reflected ray, by which to point the lengthening view, with such wide expansion out spread before them; and the literary Votaress, aspiring to distinction, will ambitiously seek to authorize her pre