Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, April 1782 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, April 1782 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
Saturday April 1782

Knowing your benevolent heart is ever gratified by hearing of the wellfare of your friends, and feeling a disposition to scrible, you Eliza first claim my attention. I hope ere this your health and spirits are perfectly restored and every one of the family to their usual chearfulness. Do not my Dear Girl dwell too long on the dark side of affairs, it impairs your health and sinks your spirits. Was it in the power of your friend to remove the causes of your anxiety it would be the happiest moment of my Life but alas I feel my inability even to offer that consolation that a sweet but feble friend requires. I will attempt 318to give you some idea of the manner my time has past hear. I arrived late in the afternoon, we were received in the usual manner, some sociable, others reserved. Mamma drank tea and returned home. Some retired for a short time. We chatted and as Yorick somewhere expresses himself in his letters to Eliza (thou was the star that conducted our discourse) for some time, the evening passed in a reserved manner, at ten I retired to my room. Then my friend I more preticularly wished for your company. I was soon lost in sleep and not one idea presented to my imagination till seven in the morning. To day Miss H O and my friend Polly Otis dined here, some other company. Mr. S. Otis and Lady passed the afternoon, our good Cousin O. appears to have obtained as great a share of happiness as I think consistent with the Lot of mortals, may she long continue as pleased as at present she appears to be with her new partner. I must confess I can have no idea that a heart wounded by grief should be healed by aney one event in so short a space of time, perhaps my ideas may be romantick.1

Monday afternoon

I had wrote thus far and laid aside my pen with a secret impulce that I should receive a letter from you on monday but did not beleive you would pass and not ask your friend one word, you were in a hurry and are very excuseable. Your Letter2 gave me the pleasure that I ever feel from hearing from you. I need not add it was great. Your observations are just, but from what cause our attachment increases to a greater degre to those of our friends who have felt the severe hand of affliction I cannot determine. Experience has often convinced me of the truth of the sentiment.—Your anxiety for your parent has been great but what would it have been had you been seperated from the best of parents as is the case of your friend. A wide Atlantick rolls between us and we know not wheather we shall be made happy or miserable by the much wished for inteligence. It is one of the most unhappy situations in Life to be thus seperated from those friends that claim the greatest share of our Love by the ties and bonds of natural affection, and are doubly deserving our hiest esteem by their good conduct through this Life so far as they have past. Their future conduct no one can answer for.

I have given you some idea in what manner my time has past hear. I am sometimes gratified by the company of a friend—the gentlemen you mention are as sociable as usual. Mrs. Warren passesses the happy tallent of ever rendering herself pleasing to all. My happiness is not greatly augmented by this visit neither will it be greatly de-319creased—a proof of the depravity of my taste perhaps you will say. I cannot help it I answer. I veryly beleive I possess too large a share of that same indiference that some persons attribute to me. If I do possess it, it is natureall. This is some consolation I think. Do my Dear put your friend into some way to avoid the appearance of this detested disposition. I have endeavoured all in my power to erase it but find it impossible, perhaps your segasity can point out some remedy. Your benevolence will direct you to give your friend all the assistance you are capable of. I dont know wheather a person who is not possessed of the least degree of it can have aney idea of it.

Adeiu for the present. If I do not see you tomorow I may make some addition to this scroll. It is not necesary you will think ere you have perused half of it. As it is from a friend who sincerely loves you it may perhaps be acceptable.

Yours, A.A.

RC (MHi:Cranch Papers); endorsed: “AA April 1782.” If the “Mrs. W.” referred to in the text was, as conjectured, Mercy (Otis) Warren, this letter was written from the Warrens' home at Milton Hill. AA2's punctuation has been minimally corrected for clarity, particularly by the insertion of periods at the end and capitals at the beginning of sentences.


“Miss H O” is not certainly identifiable. Polly (or Mary) Otis later married Benjamin Lincoln Jr. and still later Professor Henry Ware of Harvard ( Warren-Adams Letters , 2:304; DAB , under Ware). Samuel Allyne Otis had in March of this year married Mary (Smith) Gray, AA's cousin; it was a second marriage for both; see AA to Elizabeth (Smith) Shaw, Feb.–March, above.


Not found.

Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams, 3 May 1782 AA2 JQA Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams, 3 May 1782 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Adams, John Quincy
Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams
Braintree May 3d. 1782

I am conscious my dear Brother that I have appeared deficient in my duty and affection by neglecting to write you often. I have very little encouragement to continue a correspondance without any return from you. I do not believe you deficient in writing; it is a disagreable circumstance that we receive so small a part of the letters that are written. Mamma has receiv'd letters from Pappa and Mr. Thaxter as late as December and from yourself so late as October from Petersbourg. I was not made happy by one line, have you forgot your Sister. No such an idea shall ever dwell in my mind. We lament the loss of the letters, Gillon had in his possession. You will no doubt hear of his conduct ere this reaches you. Charles after many distresses and dangers has safe landed on his native shore. The anxiety we suffered from an apprehension of his danger was great: it is now fully 320recompensed by his safe return to those friends that dearly love him. He was ever a favourite you know, and still continues to possess the amiable qualities that in his younger years gained the affection of his friends. You, my Brother are far, very far removed from your friends and connections: it is a painfull reflection to those that have parted with a son and a Brother. It is not the person that goes abroad in quest of any object whether Knowledge, business, or pleasure that is pained by the seperation. Every object they meet imprints new ideas on their minds; new scenes soon engage their attention, still looking forward they have but little time to reflect on their past time, the pleasure they receive is so much more than a balance for the pain that their time passes in almost an uninterrupted course of happiness. On the contrary the friends they leave are still dwelling on the painfull event that deprived them of much happiness; no pleasing scenes present to the mind, the imagination pained with a repetition of past pleasures and present pains seeks a new source in anticipating future events.

You are I hope sensible of the peculiar advantages you are receiving. Very few at any age of life possess so great a share. It is your own fault if you neglect to make a right improvement of the talents that are put into your hands; your reflections in a future day will be brightened if you can look back on your past conduct conscious of not having deviated from the path of your duty. I will not draw a contrary supposition.

Some persons Lives are scarcely clouded by any event unfavourable to their happiness, fortune seems to court their favour and pour liberally her blessings on their wishes. We see another character struggling with events through life: all their intentions appear to be frustrated, and every wish is clouded by a disappointment. To judge from the few years you have passed in Life the former seems descriptive. But do not be deceived by appearances; she may yet have in store for you, trials and troubles unthought of; neither distress yourself with events that may never take place but learn this necessary lesson neither to be too much elated with prosperity nor depressed with adversity. Could I anticipate your soon return it would give me much pleasure. The pleasure we shall receive from a mutual exchange of friendship and sentiments when the happy period shall arrive will I hope be increased greatly by so long a seperation. I know of no opportunity of conveyance soon, but whenever this reaches you, let it remind you of the pleasure you ever give your Sister by answering her letters. May you my Brother return and answer the expectations 321of your Friends is the sincere wish of your affectionate friend and sister.

Early Tr (Adams Papers), in JQA's hand.