November 27

November 27, 1862

Thursday. This is really Thanksgiving day. So by my mistaking Tuesday for it I really have two holidays. The men are ashore for a Thanksgiving sermon. I am taking mine in my bunk. Have less fever but more sore throat.

Warm and pleasant; nothing doing; have been lounging about and resting up; saw guard mounting this morning at the Marine Barracks and also at the post; hope I shan't have to remain here long, it's so dull; shall go to the front in the morning if they will let me.

November 27, 1863

Friday. A sergeant in Company K, 128th, who deserted while we were at Fortress Monroe, has been arrested and sent on here. He is in the Parish Prison, and Ames, who knew him, has gone up to see him. I don't know what they do with such, but from the fact of his being sent on I suppose it will be nothing more than reduced to the ranks.

November Twenty-Seventh

But know, 'twas mine the secret power
That waked thee at the midnight hour
In bleak November's reign:
'Twas I the spell around thee cast,
When thou didst hear the hollow blast
In murmurs tell of pleasures past,
That ne'er would come again.
Washington Allston



239. John Adams

Passy, 27 November, 1778.

Mr. Brown is here, and I cannot miss the opportunity by him to write you a line. I know not how often you receive letters from me, so many are taken or sunk; but I write as often as I can.

I have received some letters from you, which will occasion your name to be classed with Mrs. Macaulay and Madame Dacier, for aught I know. Johnny is very well. Stevens had a fall yesterday, which hurt him a little, but not very badly. He is in a good way this morning. The things inclosed, which were a present to me, you will do as you please with.

Europe is the dullest place in the world. No news but the lies which the emissaries of England are making and spreading in every part. We get no news from Congress, or any part of America. By hints in some letters which I have heard of, I expect the first vessel will bring us news of some new regulations of Congress concerning foreign affairs. It is said that Congress has determined to have but one commissioner at this Court. If this is true, as I suppose it is, as it comes from Mr. Deane, I am uncertain what is to be done with me. It is said that I am to be sent to some other Court, and that the Dr. is to be here alone. If this should be the case, I should be puzzled what to do. The motives of Congress are very good to save expenses, but this motive will not have its effect if I am to be maintained here in idleness, or sent upon my travels to other countries, where I shall not be received, which will be the most painful situation imaginable to me. In this case I should be at a loss whether to return home immediately or wait until I could write to Congress and obtain leave. Some of my friends here are of opinion that I ought not to return without leave. I would not take any step that should give any just cause of offense to Congress or the people. But I cannot eat pensions and sinecures. They would stick in my throat. I wish some honest vessel would arrive and resolve my doubts.

79. Abigail Adams

27 November, 1775.

Colonel Warren returned last week to Plymouth, so that I shall not hear anything from you until he goes back again, which will not be till the last of this month. He damped my spirits greatly by telling me that the Court [117] had prolonged your stay another month. I was pleasing myself with the thought that you would soon be upon your return. It is in vain to repine. I hope the public will reap what I sacrifice.

I wish I knew what mighty things were fabricating. If a form of government is to be established here, what one will be assumed? Will it be left to our Assemblies to choose one? And will not many men have many minds? And shall we not run into dissensions among ourselves?

I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature; and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and, like the grave, cries, "Give, give!" The great fish swallow up the small; and he who is most strenuous for the rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of government. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which human nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances.

The building up a great empire, which was only hinted at by my correspondent, may now, I suppose, be realized even by the unbelievers. Yet, will not ten thousand difficulties arise in the formation of it? The reins of government have been so long slackened, that I fear the people will not quietly submit to those restraints which are necessary for the peace and security of the community. If we separate from Britain, what code of laws will be established? How shall we be governed so as to retain our liberties? Can any government be free which is not administered by general stated laws? Who shall frame these laws? Who will give them force and energy? It is true, your resolutions, as a body, have hitherto had the force of laws; but will they continue to have?

When I consider these things, and the prejudices of people in favor of ancient customs and regulations, I feel anxious for the fate of our monarchy, or democracy, or whatever is to take place. I soon get lost in a labyrinth of perplexities; but, whatever occurs, may justice and righteousness be the stability of our times, and order arise out of confusion. Great difficulties may be surmounted by patience and perseverance.

I believe I have tired you with politics. As to news, we have not any at all. I shudder at the approach of winter, when I think I am to remain desolate.

I must bid you good night; 't is late for me, who am much of an invalid. I was disappointed last week in receiving a packet by the post, and, upon unsealing it, finding only four newspapers. I think you are more cautious than you need be. All letters, I believe, have come safe to hand. I have sixteen from you, and wish I had as many more. Adieu.



[117]The legislative government.