Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Quincy Adams to Lucy Cranch, 1 June 1778 JQA Cranch, Lucy Greenleaf, Lucy Cranch John Quincy Adams to Lucy Cranch, 1 June 1778 Adams, John Quincy Cranch, Lucy Greenleaf, Lucy Cranch
John Quincy Adams to Lucy Cranch
Paris june the 1st 1778

I having wrote Twice to your brother1 & not having yet wrote to you I now take a pen into my hand to write a few Lines to you to inform you of a Little excursion I took last.2 Mr. Lee his nephew My Pappa & I went to the theatre Calld the Italien Comedy where we had the women & the Secrets of which we See but very Little the next was Silvain in which the Scene represented on one side an old house & the other a row of trees the next was Calld the nymphs of diana in which the scene represented a beautiful place in Which Stood a Statue and in the middle of the Stage a Block for another Statue & all the actresses had on white Silk gowns with Part of them dragging behind them on the ground with a case of quivers at their Backs.3 I am &c.


LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “To my Cousin Lucy.” Text is given in literal style.


Only the immediately preceding letter from JQA to his cousin William Cranch, Lucy's brother, has been found.


That is, “last week”?


The dramatic pieces seen by JQA at the Comédie Italienne may be identified as follows: Les femmes et le secret, a comedy by Antoine François Quétant, 1767; Silvain, a comedy by Jean François Marmontel, 1770; and Les nymphes de Diane, a comic opera by Charles Simon Favart, 1747 (Clarence D. Brenner, A Bibliographical List of Plays in the French Language, 1700–1789, Berkeley, 1947, Nos. 10294, 8868, 6292).

James Warren to Abigail Adams, 2 June 1778 Warren, James AA James Warren to Abigail Adams, 2 June 1778 Warren, James Adams, Abigail
James Warren to Abigail Adams
Madam Boston June 2. 1778

A Vessel is designed for France in two or three days1 which will be A very good Opportunity for A Conveyance of Letters to Mr. Adams who I hope and beleive is safe Arrived in France Notwithstanding the Report that lately prevailed here. I hope the first Arrivals will shew that my Faith is well grounded and true. Any Letters you shall send to my Care shall be sent forward in the most Careful Manner.

I am in Haste Madm. Your Most Humbe. Servt., J Warren

RC (Adams Papers.)


“Agreeable to the Directions of the Honble. Marine Committee, We have provided the Scooner Dispatch, Corbin Barns Master, for the purpose of Conveying to you some Packetts of Great Importance; which are to be forwarded to you through the Council of this State” (James Warren and John Deshon to the American Commissioners at Paris, Navy Board, Eastern Department, Boston, 8 June 1778, PPAmP:Franklin Papers).

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 June 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 June 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passi June 3 17781

On the 13 of Feb. I left you. It is now the 3d. of June, and I have not received a Line, nor heard a Word, directly nor indirectly, concerning you since my departure. This is a Situation of Mind, in which I never was before, and I assure you I feel a great deal of Anxiety at it: yet I do not wonder at it, because I suppose few Vessels have sailed from Boston since ours.

I have shipped for you, the Articles you requested, and the black Cloth for your Father, to whom present my most affectionate and dutiful Respects. Captain Tucker, if he should not be unlucky, will give you an Account of your Things.2

It would be endless to attempt a Description of this Country. It is one great Garden. Nature and Art have conspired to render every 32Thing here delightful. Religion and Government, you will say ought to be excepted.—With all my Heart.—But these are no Afflictions to me, because I have well fixed it in my Mind as a Principle, that every Nation has a Right to that Religion and Government, which it chooses, and as long as any People please themselves in these great Points, I am determined they shall not displease me.

There is so much danger that my Letter may fall into malicious Hands, that I should not choose to be too free in my Observations upon the Customs and Manners of this People. But thus much I may say with Truth and without offence, that there is no People in the World, who take so much Pains to please, nor any whose Endeavours in this Way, have more success. Their Arts, Manners, Taste and Language are more respected in Europe than those of any other Nation. Luxury, dissipation, and Effeminacy, are pretty nearly at the same degree of Excess here, and in every other Part of Europe. The great Cardinal Virtue of Temperance, however, I believe flourishes here more than in any other Part of Europe.

My dear Country men! how shall I perswade you, to avoid the Plague of Europe? Luxury has as many and as bewitching Charms, on your Side of the Ocean as on this—and Luxury, wherever she goes, effaces from human Nature the Image of the Divinity. If I had Power I would forever banish and exclude from America, all Gold, silver, precious stones, Alabaster, Marble, Silk, Velvet and Lace.

Oh the Tyrant! the American Ladies would say! What!—Ay, my dear Girls, these Passions of yours, which are so easily allarmed, and others of my own sex which are exactly like them, have done and will do the Work of Tyrants in all Ages. Tyrants different from me, whose Power has banished, not Gold indeed, but other Things of greater Value, Wisdom, Virtue3 and Liberty. My Son and Servant4 are well. I am, with an Ardour that Words have not Power to express, yours,

John Adams

RC and LbC (Adams Papers.) Only one of a number of small variations between the two extant texts has been recorded below.


With this letter JA resumed his practice, discontinued a year earlier with his letter to AA of 25 May 1777 (vol. 2, above), of drafting his letters to his wife and retaining the drafts in a letterbook. His retained copy of the present letter is the first entry in Lb/JA/7 (Microfilms, Reel No. 95), a folio volume purchased from the stationer Cabaret, “Au Griffon Rue de Bussy”; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:327, 343, and a reproduction of Cabaret's large and elegant trade card in same, facing p. 291. JA kept up this private letterbook, but quite fitfully, until Feb. 1779. Many years later, in 1809, and more intensively in 1813–1814, he turned it over to his amanuenses, who filled up its blank pages with copies of JA's outgoing letters.

33 2.

These “Things” for JA's family had been furnished by John Bondfield, U.S. commercial agent at Bordeaux, and were sent by Capt. Samuel Tucker in the Boston, which sailed a few days later and arrived at Portsmouth, N.H., on 15 October. See JA to Bondfield of the present date (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:126); an entry dated 25 May in JA's Personal Receipts and Expenditures (same, 2:329); JA to Tucker, 29 April (MH:Tucker Papers, printed in Sheppard, Tucker , p. 91–92); AA to JA, printed under the assigned date of 21 Oct., below, acknowledging receipt of the present letter.


In LbC the word “Happiness” is added here. Its omission in RC may have been inadvertent.


Joseph Stephens (or Stevens), who served JA in Europe from 1778 to 1783; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:274 and passim.