Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820

Judith Sargent Murray's Letter 778

Abigail Adams

John Adams
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In this letter, Judith describes her attempts to secure a position for her cousin, Epes Sargent of Hampstead, New Hampshire, in the Adams Administration, John Adams's approval of her book, The Gleaner, and what people in Boston thought of Abigail Adams as president (scroll down to the bottom).

Letter 778 To Mr S— of Hampstead
Gloucester October 2d 1798

My Dear Sir

I regard the presence of your good, and worthy son, among my small
circle of friends in this place, as a singular felicity [—] it seems,
in a commanding view, to unite Gloucester, and Hampstead, it recalls
past times, and giving me to inmingle them with the present, produces
an effect, in which those sombre pleasures most congenial with my
nature, and habits, are predominant.

I am continued here beyond expectation — the destroying angel still
hovers over Boston, and the positive injunctions of Mr Murray were
interposed to forbid my return — Did I possess a pair of wings I would
again shape my course to Hampstead, and perhaps I might there occupy a
place at your fire side during many weeks [—] you will judge of my
anxiety on the present occasion, but I am solicitous to suppress, or
command my feelings — My wishes to see you, Mrs Sargent, and your young
folks receive from every visit additional energy — when many revolving
weeks shall have elapsed, they will in some measure yield to necessity,
their favours will experience abatement, and although my attachment
will remain undiminished, I shall become less impatient — such is the
well ordered pliability of humanity — or such, at least, is the stuff
of which my accomplished mind is constituted — nor do I suppose its
composition is singular —

I am fond of reiterating, by reflection, the serene pleasures I
partook at Hampstead — How does the power the recollecting, retracing,
and comparing, ennoble the creative Man — Catharine is the daughter of
sympathy — her conjectures have their foundation in truth — nor, while
memory remains, do I conceive it possible I can behold the annual
return of those days, on which the demise of my excellent took place,
unmasked by the tear of selfish regret — accept my gratitude for the
sympathy you express — to know, and to esteem you, appears to me
synonimous — I rejoice in the convalescence of you[r] amiable
Companion, may heaven confirm, and continue her invaluable health — My
heart acknowledges the justice of your ideas of attachment to my
kindred — pity it is, that my ardent feelings relative to them, are not
more effectual to their emolument — your liberal wishes for me, are
abundantly reciprocated, and although I am rich only in association,
yet I have frequently the felicity to look with unwavering confidence
to that august source of every good, who can, and will, endow both you
and me, with every requisite which shall be needful for us in time, and
in eternity.

A particular account of Julia Maria, whom Mrs Sargent and you have the
goodness to regard with parental affection, and also of our connexions
in this pace, you will doubtless receive from my Cousin Charles — they
Commission me to return, with their tender remembrance — cordial thanks
for you[r] kind recollection of them —

I have perfect confidence that it will give you pleasure to learn,
that our mortgage is fully paid — that we have taken up the policy of
insurance, the bond, and the deed and that legal quit claim is given —
which quit claim is recorded — with reference to the mortgage deed — in
the public register — and, I have also to add, and that I now stand
indebted to my Printers, for my late publication, no more than sixty

I am apprehensive you will pronounce me too precipitate, in the steps
I have taken, relative to the business which we contemplate during my
abode at Hampstead — but conceiving that the revolution of a day might
put my wishes in my power, or place them beyond my reach — I delayed
not to make my representation — and I addressed the President upon the
subject, previous to my quitting Boston — As it is highly proper you
should be apprized of the steps I have taken, at the risk even of your
displeasure I inclose you a copy of my letter — — — Mr Murray —
agreeably to the proposal contained in my address, has waited upon our
illustrious President, unfortunately Mr Adams was then very ill — yet
Mr M— was received graciously — the receipt of my letter was
acknowledged — much conversation passed upon you — the President
observed that he had some recollection of your person, and he assured
Mr M— that he had made a minute of your name, pretensions, and place of
abode — he desired Mr M— to inform me, that he was more pleased with my
address, than with any he had received, that he found it more difficult
to answer — that however he had not relinquished the design of
responding, and that when he could please himself, his answer should be
handed me — He also spoke most favourably of the Gleaner, than it
becomes me to relate — all which, you will allow, was very courtly —
And now, my dear Sir, permit me to observe, Mr George Cabot is your
particular friend — Mr Mason also — these gentlemen are in the habits
of intimacy with the President — and were they made acquainted with
your views, and wishes, they would doubtless afford you essential aid
in this business — It is rational to suppose that Mrs Peabody possesses
some influence over the mind of Mrs Adams, and so great is the
ascendancy which Mrs Adams preserves over the movements of the
President, that he takes no important step without counseling her — Mr
Kirkland, a respectable Clergyman in Boston, and formerly a classmate
of John Quincy Adams jun.— our present Ambassador at the court of
Berlin — had once the privilege of passing the vacation holy days at
the seat of the President, when the principal pleasure of the young
students, were derived from purusing the excellent letters, written by
the President, to his Lady, before their mingling hearts had obtained
the marriage sanction — and in those letters, the then advocate,
circumstantially related his views, the motives of his actions, the
theme of his pleadings, and a variety of judicial proceedings,
dictating copiously upon every measure, and soliciting her
animadversions and advice — the presumption raised from this fact is,
that he conceived her a valuable auxiliary — and it is confidently
asserted that every transaction of his administration is now laid
before her — she is not only his bosom friend, but his aid and his
Councellor in every emergency — and such are the energies of her mind,
as to place her title to the unbounded confidence of her illustrious
husband, beyond all controversy — several Gentlemen in Boston, whose
character, and influence, are high in the political world — declare
that was the President called out of time, they should rather see Mrs
Adams in the Presidential chair than any other character now existing
in America —

No, my dear Sir, these observations are not altogether digressions —
it is of importance to secure the influence of such a Lady as Mrs Adams
— Mrs Peabody is the sister of Mrs Adams — she has free access to her —
you are in the good graces of Mrs Peabody — and in this line the
application already made, might be essentially enforced.
Am I regarded as officious? — let the deep interest which I take in
this business — let my attachment to you, and yours, plead my apology
Should you disapprove any part of my letter to the President, you will
not forget that as a female my temerity, and folly of every
description, will be indulgently tolerated — — —

Remember me to every individual of the dear family — let me see them
in Boston as soon as salubrity is restored to our atmosphere, and
accept the affectionate salutations of your sincerely attached friend —


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