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people gaping and stareing, pale and trembling asked me, "What I thought of the News," my invariable Answer was, "The worse, the better."
Nothing ever did arrouse this People, but the last and extreamest expression and Exertion of the Contempt, the Malice and Vengeance of Great Britain, and this, in my Opinion We shall soon see and feel.
My Son, just beginning to be convalescent from a very severe and dangerous Sickness which has reduced him very low, has gone to Rhode Island for his health. your invariable Friend
MERCY WARREN TO JOHN ADAMS
PLYMOUTH, July 10, 1814
It is very many days since I addressed a line to any of my Quincy friends, and as I think I have been sometime in arrears for a very agreeable Letter from the late President, my first attention is due to him. I am quickened to discharge this obligation from having recently heard by my sister Otis that your health is declining. The years you have counted up admonish that the harbingers of dissolution are drawing near after three score and ten. Yet I most sincerely hope that the life of a Gentleman who acted so great a part in a revolution that astonished the world and lived to set his seal to an honorable peace after a desolating war, `may be spared to see peace again restored to the United States, notwithstanding the severe threats of our old inveterate enemy.
I should like very much to hear your observations on the gloomy aspect of the times. I am disposed to ask you very many questions which a Letter cannot contain. I sit in my elbow chair in the old corner and were you and Mrs. Adams and Mrs. Warren again to meet there before we meet in the eternal world, I think the conversation of this trio would be neither unpleasing nor unprofitable. What think you, Sir, of a little jaunt to Plymouth in company with Mrs. Adams and my sweet Caroline? The ride might
contribute to your health and to that of my long tried friend, your excellent partner. I am told that my amiable young friend just mentioned contemplates a distant residence from that of her Grand-Parents. I expect to see her before she spreads her wings for the Southward. I cannot close this without inquiring when and what you hear from the Ambassador at the Court of Petersburg? My next question, Sir, you may deem impertinent. Do you remember who was the author of a little pamphlet entitled the Group? To your hand it was committed by the writer. You brought it forward to the public eye. I will therefore give you my reason for naming it now. A friend of mine who lately visited the Athenæum saw it among a bundle of pamphlets with a high encomium on the Author who, he asserted, was Mr. Samuel Barrett. You can, if you please, give a written testimony contradictory of this false assertion.
You and Mr. Gerry are the only surviving Gentlemen that I recollect, who know anything of the character, the manners, the movements, and a thousand circumstances that took place and occupied the attention of the Patriots who struggled and suffered in the cause of their Country from 1765 to 1783, when the instrument of Independence signed by yourself and others was acknowledged by foreign nations.
Am I mistaken when I observe that the generations of men which have since arisen have been too notoriously negligent in their enquiries relative to the principles and the foundation of the rights and liberties acquired by the labours and blood of their Ancestors, that with few exceptions they appear a very ignorant and narrow minded people. I forbear to say more on this or any other subject, lest I should trespass on your patience. With the most cordial wishes for the restoration of your health and my affectionate regards to Mrs. Adams, to Susan, Caroline and others of your family, subscribes respectfully your Friend and Humble Servant 1
I The entire letter is in the writing of her son. On July 15 John Adams replied and the letter is in Writings of John Adams, x. 98. A second letter from Mrs. Warren, August 4, 1814, is in 5 Collections, IV. 509, and was the last letter she wrote to Mr. Adams. She died October 19, 1814.
JOHN ADAMS TO MERCY Warren
QUINCY, August 17, 1814 DEARMADAM,-Ihave certified in the book in the Athenæum that certain knowledge, The Group was written by Mrs. Warren. Your polite invitation to Plymouth is esteemed as an effusion of friendship, ancient and modern: but three score and nineteen years have reduced me to the situation, the temper and humor of Mr. Selden, who Clarendon says, would not have slept out of his own bed for any office the King could have given him.
The difference of Character and Conduct in New England for the last fifty years is not so great in reality as in appearance.
The Tories had the ascendancy from 1761 to 1775 and then 1775 and 1776 scarcely turned the majority. Through the whole Revolution the Tories sat on our skirts and were a dead weight, obstructing and embarrassing all our Efforts. They have now the entire dominion of the five states of New England. Stonington, however, appears to have shaken off their yoke, and New York is setting a good Example.
Could you have believed forty years ago that in so short a time Plymouth, Duxbury and Boston, would have been rivalled and exceeded by New York in Patriotism, Fortitude and Courage?
I do not consider the peace in Europe as yet concluded. The great questions of the Liberty of the Scheldt, of Ostend, Nieuport, Bruges, etc., are still to be discussed in a Congress of Ambassadors at Vienna, and other questions too numerous to be mentioned. The War between Protestantism and Catholicism lasted thirty years, i. e., from 1618 to 1648. The War between Republicanism and Despotism has already reached thirty-nine years. The religious war is not yet ended. When the political war will terminate must be left to him who rules the armies of Heaven. In one thing I am clear. If the war continues between Great Britain and the United States, as I believe it will, it will soon rekindle the flames in Europe..
The alarm in Plymouth had no share in their [the children's] early return to the mansion of your old Friend