Adams Family Correspondence, volume 5

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 30 December 1782 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 30 December 1782 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
My dearest Friend December 30. 1782

Altho I wrote you a very long Letter no longer ago than this day week;1 which went under convoy of the French Fleet, I cannot omit any opportunity which presents of telling you what I know always makes you happy—that I am well that our children are so, and the rest of our Friends. Uninteresting as this is to the rest of the World; it is sweet musick to those who Love and are beloved. I know nothing which could make me happier than such an assureance from you; which I daily hope and pray for.

It is now a long time since I heard from you; the Fate of Gibralter is determined so much against my hopes that I now dispair of a speedy peace; and the Idea of seeing you is, blended with so many vissisitudes and events, with such a contingency of circumstances that I lose sight of you in the throng. I feel in a state of suspence—and am at a loss for your determination with regard to comeing to you. I am determined to be content whatever it may be, because I know it will be the result of Love; and affection. In my last I wrote you many domestick occurrences. I hope you will receive it. Some of them I feel too much Interested in, wholy to omit here. In that I mentiond to you that I was apprehensive there was a connection forming in our family, and that I felt at a loss how to conduct in it. There is setled in this Town a young Gentleman whose Father and family you knew. He was too young when you resided here to be known to you. His Name is Tyler. He studied Law with Mr. Dana upon his comeing out of colledge, but upon Mr. Danas going to congress he finished his studies with Mr. Anger. His Father died when he was a minor and left him, or there rather fell to him a handsome Estate, his Father dieing without a will and his mother insisting upon the elder Brothers2 giving up his right by Birth to a double portion; the Estate was equally divided. His Mother has in possession a handsome paternal Estate which fell to her by her Father. I believe she did not injure herself by her second connection. But his patrimony as he often expresses it has been his Bane, for with a disposition naturally volatile and gay; an easy address, an agreable person he became the favorite of the Gay and Fair—and dissipated that time which he should have employed in distinguishing himself in his profession; in a round of pleasure and amusements; yet not withstanding all these temptations 62and allurement to vice, the world accuse him not of more than Gayety and volatility. His improvements in knowledge and literature shew that he has applied a considerable share of his time to study. About 18 months ago he made an excursion to Falmouth with an intention of setling there, but his ambition and Genious could not brook a retirement like that, and he returnd and was advised by his Friends to make trial of this Town for his residence. He accordingly came, askd the opinion of the principal families here; who could not give him much encouragement. He applied to Mr. Cranch for lodgings and office, both of which he obtained there; and has conducted with great steadiness and application ever since he has resided there. Possesst with popular talants he has gained the Esteem and Buisness of the Town, which is daily encreasing. If he is steady he will shine in his profession. His disposition appears exceedingly amiable—his attractions perhaps too powerfull even to a young Lady possesst with as much apparent coldness and indifference as ever you saw in one character, and with such a reserve as has many a time awed to the greatest distance the least approach towards her. I cannot however help noticeing the very particular attention and regard of this Gentleman towards her, and that it daily becomes more pleasing to her.

I have been more particular in my Letter which I hope you will receive before this as it went a week ago; I there mentiond that he had opend his mind to me; declared his attachment, but asked for my countanence no further than he should in future merit it. He has in some measure laid a state of his affairs before me. His interest sufferd to an amazeing degree by the paper currency—and he foolishly squanderd too much of it away during the thoughtless part of his life. He is trying to purchase a Farm in Town, he meant to have purchased Mr. Borlands3 if it had been sold—but I rather think it will not. If he should obtain the regard of the Lady he wishes for, I suppose he would think himself authorized to address you; but at present he is in a state of suspence. I mentiond in my last that I would inclose a little poetick Scrap4 which attended a Heart of Ice one very cold morning this winter, and which accidentially fell into my hand; I asked him for a copy, after some hesitation he complied without an Idea of what I meant to do with it. Possibly it may draw you a moment from the depths of politicks to family Scenes, where I feel the want more than ever of your advise and direction. Merit I know will ever be the first consideration with you. This Gentleman well knows that he has no fortune to expect here, should he be admitted to a con-63nection. My Letter is calld for. In haste I must conclude it with the constant assureance of my most affectionate regard. Yours ever Ever yours.


RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Portia Decr. 30. 1782.”


On 23 Dec., above.


John Steele Tyler, on whom see vol. 3:328, note 1.


The Vassall-Borland property. Later purchased by JA and AA, it came in time to be called the Old House, for it was home to four generations of Adamses. It is now federally owned and open to the public as the Adams National Historic Site. For more detail, see vol. 1:219, note 4, and vol. 3:264–266, note 3.


See AA to JA, 23 Dec., and note 9, above.

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 4 January 1783 AA2 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch, 4 January 1783 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch
Milton saturday Morning ca. 4 Jan. 1783 1

Your wishes for my happiness, my Dear Eliza, demand my thanks. Wishing, this power of the mind, if it originates from the heart, are as emblems of it, they shew us either the benevolence or depravity of it, and as such claim our return. Your solicitation to know the cause why I am not rearly happy2 demands that confidence I have ever felt in my friend, tho I have sometimes been led to think it was not mutual. It is not, indeed it is not in so great a degree as I wish, you are reserved to your Amelia. Reserve begets reserve, this leads each to the complaint. Can the tender, the gentle Eliza whose soul is formed for domestick felicity, think, that the cause I gave her for not feeling happy “was the result of an imagination too prone to throw too great a shade upon the picture”;3—can she wonder at the cause. A heart of Adamant 4 when seperated from a parrent and Brother who claims its tenderest affections, could not know happiness. My friends, my acquaintances tell me I aught to be happy. I indeavour to appear so, it would be wrong to wear a sorrowfull countenance, it would give them pain and embitter the Life of a Mamma who feels too much to be happy at all times. I do not talk upon the subject, but there is not a day passes over my Life but this subject occupys my thoughts, and disbelieve it if you please, I can seldom reflect upon it without tears. Perhaps I am now happier than I deserve, I feel that I have many enjoy many blessings and many pleasures that others are deprived of, and I hope I am not ungratefull. I believe that were a few of my, perhaps imginary, wishes granted, I should enjoy too much pleasure. We need not fear too great a share of happiness, in this varied scene of Life. Those to whom fortune and fate are most favourable have some wishes ungratified. It is best—It is right.


Why did you not answer my letter. Those fair black lines again, not replyed to—are you not ashaimed of yourself so to puzzel—me. Shall I tell you what Mrs. Warren said to your letter. Yes, for I will not raise your curiosity, and not gratify it. I read it to her as an amusement, and apologized for it. She approved me and observed that I should not have done my friend justice had I not communcated it. She is very unwell yet, has not been out to day. I hope your Pappa will call to day on his way home, shall trouble him with a large packquet to my friends, you will be so good as to deliver them. Miss Betsy Palmer I hear is with you, make my todays Love to her. I wrote my last nights to her myself. Lucy5 I hear is gone to Boston, she stopped in the yard. I did not see her, or hear of it till evening.

So Mr. Robbin's is going to sail for France next fryday. His Pappa was here yesterday, he goes with Mr. Micheal6 and family. I wish him well I am sure, who could do otherwise. He is worthy and merits the good wishes of every one that knows him.

Mrs. Warren has had letters from her son Winslow,7 has not my Mamma received letters from pappa. Mr. Warren writes he was in France, in Paris I mean.

What were George's8 answers to the questions you put to him he will not tell me himself, he is conscious they were not intirely just—I suppose.

Tis a week to day since I left home, all the variety I have had is from one room to another, but it, is upon Milton hill, and every one is pleased here.

Tis almost one o clock, I must bid you adieu. My respects and Love wherever they may be acceptable. Answer my last letter. And accept the affection of Amelia.

RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; endorsed: “Jan—83 AA.”


On this date, see AA AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, ca. 19 Dec. 1782, note 1, above.


The specific cause of this solicitation is unknown to the editors. For AA2's recent expressions of unhappiness, see her letters of 9 Nov. , and ca. 22 Dec. 1782 , above.


AA2 is presumably quoting from a letter from Elizabeth Cranch; unfortunately, none are extant.


Of a diamond-like or hard steel material ( OED ).


Lucy Cranch, Betsy's younger sister; see vol. 1:63.


Called Mitchel in AA to JA, 10 Jan., below. On the long delay in Robbins' departure for Europe, see AA to Robbins, 10 Jan., note 1, below.


James and Mercy Warren's second son; see vol. 3:359–360, notes 1 and 2.


The Warren's fifth son, age seventeen.