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thought you might wish to know. Four or five sheets of paper, written to you by the last mail, were destroyed when the vessel was taken. Duplicates are my aversion, though I believe I should set a value upon them, if I were to receive them from a certain friend'; a friend who never was deficient in testifying his regard and affection to his
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Sunday Evening, 27 December, 1778. How lonely are my days? how solitary are my nights ? secluded from all society but my two little boys and my domestics. By the mountains of snow which surround me, I could almost fancy myself in Greenland. We have had four of the coldest days I ever knew, and they were followed by the severest snow-storm I ever remember. The wind, blowing like a hurricane for fifteen or twenty hours, rendered it impossible for man or beast to live abroad, and has blocked up the roads so that they are impassable. A week ago I parted with my daughter, at the request of our Plymouth friends, to spend a month with them; so that I am solitary indeed.
Can the best of friends recollect, that for fourteen years past I have not spent a whole winter alone.
1 It is proper to remark here, that the inattention which called forth these complaints was only apparent, and caused by the capture of nearly all the vessels which brought letters.
Some part of the dismal season has heretofore been mitigated and softened by the social converse and participation of the friend of my youth.
How insupportable the idea, that three thousand miles and the vast ocean now divide us! but divide only our persons, for the heart of my friend is in the bosom of his partner. More than half a score of years has so riveted it there, that the fabric which contains it must crumble into dust ere the particles can be separated; for
“in one fate, our hearts, our fortunes, And our beings blend.”
I cannot describe to you how much I was affected the other day with a Scotch song, which was sung to me by a young lady in order to divert a melancholy hour ; but it had quite a different effect, and the native simplicity of it had all the power of a wellwrought tragedy. When I could conquer my sensibility I begged the song, and Master Charles has learned it, and consoles his mamma by singing it to her. I will enclose it to you.
It has beauties in it to me, which an indifferent person would not feel perhaps.
“ His very foot has music in't,
How oft has my heart danced to the sound of that music?
“ And shall I see his face again ?
Gracious Heaven! hear and answer my daily petition, by banishing all my grief.
I am sometimes quite discouraged from writing. So
many vessels are taken, that there is little chance of a letter's reaching your hands. That I meet with so few returns, is a circumstance that lies heavy at
If this finds its way to you, it will go by the Alliance. By her I have written before. She has not yet sailed, and I love to amuse myself with my pen, and pour out some of the tender sentiments of a heart overflowing with affection, not for the eye of a cruel enemy, who, no doubt, would ridicule every humane and social sentiment, long ago grown callous to the finer sensibilities, but for the sympathetic heart that beats in unison with
TO JOHN ADAMS.
20 March, 1779. MY DEAREST FRIEND, Your favor of December 9th, came to hand this evening from Philadelphia. By the same post I received a letter from Mr. Lovell, transcribing some passages from one of the same date to him, and the only one, he says, which he has received since your absence, and his pocket book proves, that he has written eighteen different times; yet possibly you may have received as few from him. The watery world alone can boast of large packets received ;- a
discouraging thought when I take my pen. Yet I will not be discouraged. I will persist in writing, though but one in ten should reach you. I have been impatient for an opportunity, none having offered since January, when the Alliance sailed, which, my presaging mind assures me, will arrive safe in France, and I hope will return as safely.
Accept my thanks for the care you take of me, in so kindly providing for me the articles you mention. Should they arrive safe, they will be a great assistance to me. The safest way, you tell me, of supplying my wants, is by drafts; but I cannot get hard money for bills. You had as good tell me to procure diamonds for them; and, when bills will fetch but five for one, hard money will exchange ten, which I think is very provoking; and I must give at the rate of ten, and sometimes twenty, for one, for every article I purchase. I blush whilst I give you a price current; - all butcher's meat from a dollar to eight shillings per pound; corn twenty-five dollars, rye thirty, per bushel ; flour fifty pounds per hundred; potatoes ten dollars per bushel ; butter twelve shillings a pound, cheese eight; sugar twelve shil. lings a pound ; molasses twelve dollars per gallon; labor six and eight dollars a day; a common cow, from sixty to seventy pounds; and all English goods in proportion. This is our present situation. risk to send me any thing across the water, I know; yet, if one in three arrives, I should be a gainer. I have studied, and do study, every method of economy
It is a
in my power; otherwise a mint of money would not support a family. I could not board our two sons under forty dollars per week apiece at a school. I therefore thought it most prudent to request Mr. Thaxter to look after them, giving him his board and the use of the office, which he readily accepted, and, having passed the winter with me, will continue through the summer, as I see no probability of the times speedily growing better.
We have had much talk of peace through the mediation of Spain, and great news from Spain, and a thousand reports, as various as the persons who tell them ; yet I believe slowly, and rely more upon the information of my friend, than on all the whole legion of stories which rise with the sun, and set as soon. Respecting Georgia,' other friends have written you. I shall add nothing of my own, but that I believe it will finally be a fortunate event to us.
Our vessels have been fortunate in making prizes, though many were taken in the fall of the
year. have been greatly distressed for [want of] grain. I scarcely know the looks or taste of biscuit or flour for this four months ; yet thousands have been much worse off, having no grain of any sort.
The great commotion raised here by Mr. Deane has sunk into contempt for his character; and it would be better for him to leave a country, which is now supposed to have been injured by him.
1 The descent of the British, under General Prevost and Colonel Campbell, upon Georgia.