Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

389 Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 9 July 1784 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 9 July 1784 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
No. 1 On board Ship July 9th. 1784

My Dear Eliza will be one of the first to inquire after the welfare of her friend. Nor shall she be the last unanswered. Thus far we have proceeded on our voyage with as good weather and in as good health as we could expect. We find many things disagreeable and many inconveniencies, which might have been remedied had we have known them. Others that are the necessary attendants of a sea Life which I assure you exceeds my expectations, in the disagreeable. Were I to give you an account of our passengers at this moment, I should not, perhaps do them the justice that they deserve—for I am a little out of humour with some of them. They are sivil—indeed—most of them. Mr. Green—who you had the felicity of seeing at Uncle Smith the morning we met, there, you may possibly recolect the first impression that I received, and I assure you that it has been gradually increasing in the same stile. If you had the same idea of Mr. Anger as I have, you would receive a just idea of this Man. In person, Manners, and disposition, he is the most exact resemblance, that it would be possible to draw. Judge you, how agreeable he is to me.1 The rest of our shipmates are tolerably agreeable. Dr. Clark has been a counterpoise to them all. To him we are indebted, for every sivility and attention that it is in the power of Man to offer. It seems as if he was providentially sent with us. Had we searched the whole circle of our acquaintance—or indeed the Whole State of Massachusets, this should have been the person that we should have made choice of. We have wanted his assistance in the line of his profession, and have received it, not as confering a favour but as contributing to our happiness. His humanity and benevolence would lead him to aleviate the distresses of every situation and every station of Life.

The first week we were sea sick the greater part of the time, and I assure it exceeds every idea that I had formed. Ester remained sick longer than any of us, but has now quite recovered. Briesler was very sick for a few days. That we were deprived of both their services, Job Feild, supplied the place of both and I think I never knew so good a nurse, as a Man. The gruel that Job made had a relish that no one else could give it. It seemed like being at home almost, to have so many of our own people about us. We have quite recovered any return of this disagreeable complaint.


My friends will I doubt not judge that the new scenes that are presenting to me, will furnish me with many and copious subjects for letters. Let me assure them that, a life on Ship board, has so little variety and so few anecdotes Worth relating that I fear they will all be disappointed, oweing to the expectation they have formed. Observations on the weather and wind with the variation of the compass, and a few of the like remarks, make the importance, and variety, of a sea Life. Tis these little circumstances represented in an interesting manner that render them pleasing. I can only lament that it is not my talent.

Remember me Eliza to all my friends, every one of whom will claim an additional share of my remembrance, to My Grand Mamma in particular if I should not have time to write after my arrival. It is not in my power to particularize every one. To Lucy I shall write as soon as an opportunity presents. My Love to her, to your Brother, respects to your Pappa and Mamma, and believe me your friend

A Adams

RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch. Braintree”; endorsed: “NA july 9 1784 Ship board”; docketed in another hand: “Letter from Miss A Adams to Miss Eliza Cranch. On board Ship July 9 1784.”


See AA's equally negative description of Mr. Green, in which she refers to AA2's comparison of Green to Oakes Angier, under “Fryday 16 July” in her letter of 6 July to Mary Cranch, above.

Abigail Adams to Royall Tyler, 10 July 1784 AA Tyler, Royall Abigail Adams to Royall Tyler, 10 July 1784 Adams, Abigail Tyler, Royall
Abigail Adams to Royall Tyler
Dear sir On Board ship Active Latitude of 47–25 Longitude 261 July 10 1784

As well in compliance with your request, as to gratify my own inclination I take my pen after 3 weeks absence to inquire after you: you have been frequently in my thoughts during this interval, and I have traced you in my imagination, Sometimes in one Situation, and sometimes in an other. I have fanci'd you riseing with the morning sun, “And Springing from the bed of Sloth enjoying, The cool, the fragrant, and the Silent hour To meditation due, and sacred song.”

From thence I have followed you to your professional employment, investigating the principals upon which the Law of Nature and Nations is founded, with pleasure have I seen your delight in the 391company, and Society, of Grotius, Puffendorf, Bacon, Vatel and numerous other writers calculated to inform the mind and instruct the judgment; not Superficially skimming, the surface which in every science Serves only to bewilder the understanding and creat pedants in literature, but resolving by a close and Steady application to become master of the Subject in which you engage. A want of learning is not so much to be dreaded, as errors and false judgment. Reflection is a pole Star which will point to truth; and the consideration of what you ought wish to be, will make you what you ought to be. True greatness has its seat in the heart, it must be Elevated by asspiring to great things and by dairing to think yourself capable of them.

Upon all occasions I have deliverd my sentiments to you with freedom; and shall continue to do; but it remains with you to give them energy and force. Your favorite Rochefoucault observes we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct.2 If I could I would kindle in your Breast a spirit, of emulation, and ambition, that should enable you to shine with distinguished Brightness as a deep thinker a close reasoner an eloquent Speaker, but above all a Man of the strickest honour and integrity, for without these, the former would be only of temporary duration and the fame acquired by them would be like a faint metor gliding through the Sky, shedding only a trancient light, whilst the latter like the fixed stars never change their place but shine on to endless duration; here let me add the sentiments of a celebrated writer,

“Take care to have sentiments and thoughts worthy of you, virtue raises the dignity of Man, and vice degrades him. If one was unhappy enough to want an honest Heart, one ought for ones own Interest to correct it; nothing makes a Man truly valuable but his Heart, and nothing but that can make him happy, since our happiness depends only on the nature of our inclinations. If they are such as lead us to triffling passions, we shall be the Sport of their vain attachments. They offer us flowers, but says Montaign, always mistrust the treachery of your pleasures.”

And why all this grave advice my dear Madam to one who so well knows his duty? Aya my dear sir who of us practise so well as we know? Nobody take a reproof so kindly as he who deserves most to be commended; we are always in want of a Friend who will deal plainly and gently with us. “Be to our faults a little blind, be to our virtues ever kind.”3

Having followed you through some of your persuits by a parrelel 392of opinion I conceive you interested in my happiness and Success. You have I doubt not traversed the Latitudes and Longitudes of my European voyage, now passing Cape Sable then the Grand Banks and next in succession near the Western Islands where I now am. Hitherto our voyage has been fortunate and the weather in general favourable. We were most severely afflicted with sea sickness for 8 or ten days. Many circumstances contributed to keep up the disorder, which might have been prevented by a cleaner ship and better accommodations; but custom which reconciles us to many untoward events, has renderd our habitation more tolerable, and some alterations for the better which have taken place in the oconomy of our dwelling, with the hopes of a speedy releasment from it serve to keep us in tolerable Spirits. I cannot think however that the ocean is an Element that a Lady can delight in; or that any thing less than necessity would tempt one to cross it. Considering we have a number of passengers brought together by chance rather than inclination, I esteem myself very happy in the collection; all of them married Gentlemen except one, and he said to be engaged: they are very civil and polite endeavouring all in their power to render the passage agreeable and pleasent to us. From Dr. Clark we have received every attention of a Gentleman and physician, both of which we stood in need of. The necessary forms of previous acquaintance we have not felt the want of been banished by the Benevolence of his disposition has banished ceremony and his Brotherly kindness, in short I believe he merits the Eulogyum of the most politely attentive married Gentleman I have known. Mr. Foster is a Gentleman whose manners are soft modest and pleasing. They all know what belongs to the decorum of Gentlemen and practise accordingly.

The Ships company is as peaceable and quiet as a private family, and Capt. Lyde the more he is known, will be the more valued. He has not all the polish of a fine Gentleman, but he has that which is more valuable to his passengers, a strikt attention to his Ship and a Humanity and kindness which his countanance does not promise.

Pray how does Braintree look, is the Season favourable? On ship Board we are almost frozen; the old camblet cloak is of Emminant Service upon deck to wrap round us, and our Baize gowns are rather thin without the addition of a cloak. Has not habit led you to visit the cottage altho deserted? Recalling to your rembrance what it once was; I have vanity enough to commisirate all your Situations, and Benevolence enough to wish my place happily supplied by pleasures from some other Scource.


Remember me kindly and affectionately to all our Braintree Friends, to my Neighbours each one by Name, and be assured you have a share and that not a small one in the affectionate Regards of

A Adams

Dft (Adams Papers); marked on the back, in AA's hand: “To Royall Tyler Esqr.” RC not found.


If both this position and that heading the letter from AA to Mary Cranch, 6 July, above, are correct, the Active had by 10 July sailed northwest to a position about 200 miles north, and 100 miles west of its position on 6 July. This could have happened if the ship was taking a long tack in the face of steady winds from the northeast.


One of the over five hundred Maxims of François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, published in various editions during his life, beginning in 1665, and long after his death in 1680. JA bought a Paris 1777 edition in 1780. See Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ; Catalogue of JA's Library .


Opening quotation mark supplied. The sentence is adapted from Matthew Prior's “An English Padlock,” lines 79–80.