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Scotch song, which is a charming one. leaping heart!
I must not write a word to you about politics, because you are a woman.
What an offence have I committed! A woman!
I shall soon make it up. I think women better than men, in general, and I know, that you can keep a secret as well as any man whatever. But the world don't know this. Therefore if I were to write my sentiments to you, and the letter should be caught and hitched into a newspaper, the world would say, I was not to be trusted with a secret.
I never had so much trouble in my life as here, and yet I grow fat. The climate and soil agree with me. So do the cookery and even the manners of the people, of those of them at least that I converse with, churlish republican as some of you on your side the water call me. The English have got at me in their newspapers. They make fine work of me fanatic, bigot, perfect cipher, not one word of the language, awkward figure, uncouth dress, no address, no character, cunning, hard-hearted attorney; but the falsest of it all is, that I am disgusted with the Parisians. Whereas I admire the Parisians prodigiously. They are the happiest people in the world, I believe, and have the best disposition to make others so. If I had your ladyship and our little folks here, and no politics to plague me, and a hundred thousand livres a year rent, I should be the happiest being on earth.
1 Letters of Mrs. Adams, Vol. I. p. 136.
Nay, I believe I could make it do with twenty thousand.
One word of politics. The English reproach the French with gasconade, but I don't believe their whole history could produce so much of it as the English have practised this war. The commissioners' proclamation with its sanction from the ministry and ratification by both houses, I suppose is hereafter to be interpreted like Burgoyne's, "Speaking daggers but using none." They cannot send any considerable reinforcement, nor get an ally in Europe. This, I think, you may depend upon. Their artifice in throwing out such extravagant threats was so gross, that I presume it has not imposed on any. Yet a nation that regarded its character never could have threatened in that manner.
[Passy], 20 February, 1779.
In the margin' are the dates of all the letters I have received from you. I have written you several times
1 25 March. 18 May. 10, 18 June. 10, 21, 25 October. 2, 15 December, 1778. 2, 4 January, 1779. The second in order is the only one printed among the letters of Mrs. Adams, Vol. I. p. 121.
They are almost all lost, I suppose by yours. But you should consider, it is a different thing to have five hundred correspondents and but one. It is a different thing to be under an absolute restraint and under none. It would be an easy thing for me to ruin you and your children by an indiscreet letter, and what is more, it would be easy to throw our country into convulsions. For God's sake never reproach me again with not writing or with writing scrips. Your wounds are too deep. You know not, you feel not the dangers that surround me, nor those that may be brought upon our country. Millions would not tempt me to write you as I used. I have no security that every letter I write you will not be broken open, and copied, and transmitted to Congress and to English newspapers. They would find no treason nor deceit in them, it is true, but they would find weakness and indiscretion, which they would make as ill a use of.
There are spies upon every word I utter, and every syllable I write. Spies planted by the English, spies planted by stockjobbers, spies planted by selfish merchants, and spies planted by envious and malicious politicians. I have been all along aware of this, more or less, but more so now than ever. My life has been often in danger, but I never considered my reputation and character so much in danger as now. I can pass for a fool, but I will not pass for a dishonest or a mercenary man. Be upon your guard, therefore. I must be upon mine, and I will.
[Passy,] 20 February, 1779.
A NEW Commission has arrived by which the Dr.1 is sole minister. Mr. Lee continues commissioner for Spain, but I am reduced to the condition of a private citizen. The Congress have not taken the least notice of me. On the 11th of September they resolved to have one minister only in France. On the 14th they chose the Dr. In October they made out his commission, the Alliance sailed on the 14th January, and in all that interval they never so much as bid me come home, bid me stay, or told me I had done well or done ill. Considering the accusation against Mr. Lee, how unexpected it was, and how groundless it is, I should not be at all surprised if I should see an accusation against me for something or other, I know not what, but I see that all things are possible.
Of all the scenes I ever passed through, this is the most extraordinary. The delirium among Americans here is the most extravagant. All the infernal arts of stockjobbers, all the voracious avarice of merchants have mingled themselves with American politics here, disturbed their operations, distracted our councils, and turned our heads.
2 Made by Silas Deane.
The Congress, I presume, expect that I should come home, and I shall come accordingly. As they have no business for me in Europe, I must contrive to get some for myself at home. Prepare yourself for removing to Boston, into the old house, for there you shall go, and there I will draw writs and deeds, and harangue juries, and be happy.
Passy, 21 February, 1779.
YOURS by Mr. Williams I have received. The little bill must be paid, but I confess it alarms me a little. The expense of my son here is greater than I ever imagined. Although his company is almost all the pleasure I have in life, yet I should not have brought him if I had known the expense. His expenses, together with what you have drawn for, and a little collection of books I have bought, will amount to more than will ever be allowed me. My accounts must not be drawn into intricacy or obscurity. I must not be involved in suspicions of meddling in trade, or any thing else but my proper business.
You complain that I don't write often enough, and that when I do, my letters are too short. If I were to tell you all the tenderness of my heart, I should do nothing but write to you. I beg of you not to be