Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams, 5 December 1784 Shaw, Elizabeth Smith Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw AA Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams, 5 December 1784 Shaw, Elizabeth Smith Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw Adams, Abigail
Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams
My Ever dear Sister Haverhill Dec. 5 1784

I have not seen your Letter to Sister Cranch1 as yet, and cannot tell how you like your present Situation—the People—their Language—11nor their manners. But I suppose all “is sweet” now the dear chosen Partner is by. I think I will not allow Cousin Nabby to be a proper Judge. She will pardon me I hope. She views things through an unpleasing medium—she neither feels, nor wishes to be interested in the Objects arround her.2 Mr. Thaxter says she cannot be more disgusted with European manners than he was at first, but before he returnd they became familar, and much more agreeable to him. What will not Use, and Custom do?

Your Sons enjoy a fine state of Health, and are very happy in an addition to their Uncles Scholars, a Samuel Walker of Bradford—a very clever obliging Lad, he has a something that seems as if he was Billy Cranch, he is very attentive to all of us, which I did not expect, considering he never was used to polite Company. But there is a natural Benevolence in some tempers, and they cannot help being polite—for Politeness is nothing more, than acquired benevolence, displaying itself under certain modifications.

There is a Mr. Le Blanch, who keeps a dancing School in Madam Bernards House. He has 1 and 20 Scholars, and your two Sons, and Betsy Smith attend him upon tuesday in the afternoon, and Wednesday in the forenoon. I thought it would be a fine Opportunity for Your Children, which you would rejoice in, and so we ventured to send them, but not without consulting Dr. Tufts upon it.3 The Charge is 2 Dollars entrance and five Dollars a quarter, he will keep two quarters.

Mrs. Marsh is confined, poor Lady, with a bad humour in her Legs. Judge Seargants Family are well. Miss Peggy White seems more chearful, and composed—I hope will soon recover. But how are her Parents dissappointed, how are their pleasing prospects of their Daughters usefulness dashed to pieces. When I was at Braintree I went to see your Mother Adams. She wept plentifully at the mention of her absent Children, fears she shall never live to see you all again.

Write to me my dear Sister as often as You can. If it is but a line it will do me good. Mr. Shaw desires you would accept his most affectionate Regards. If you should have an Opportunity to procure me some Lace I wish you would not forget it. I fear you will not be able to read this wretched scrawl, but it must go, for Mr. Thaxter sups here this Eve upon the remainder of Thansgiving Pyes, and tomorrow he is going upon a visit to his Friends at Hingham and will take this with him. May it have a safe, and speedy conveyance, to a beloved sister, from a most affectionate One

Eliza Shaw 12

Our best regards attend Mr. Adams, Yourself—Your Son and Daughter. Betsy Smith, my little ones send their duty to Aunt, and thank her for their Book.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs Abigail Adams”; endorsed: “Mrs Shaw December 5 1784.”


Of 5 Sept. , above.


Elizabeth Shaw refers to a letter from AA2 to her that has not been found; writing to Mary Cranch on 23 28 Nov. (DLC: Shaw Family Papers), she remarks: “I have no Letter from AA , but one from Cousin Nabby, and by that I find she is greatly dissatisfied with France—and with the People she finds there.” For AA2's first reactions to France, see her letters to Elizabeth Cranch and Lucy Cranch, both 4 Sept., above.


See Cotton Tufts to AA, 1 Dec., above.

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 6 December 1784 Cranch, Mary Smith AA Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 6 December 1784 Cranch, Mary Smith Adams, Abigail
Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams
Dear Sister Braintree December 6th 1784

I yet do not know that you have receiv'd one of the many Letters I have sent you but hope you have all. I too well know the pleasure of receiving intelligance from my absent Friends, to let one vessail Sail without carring Some Token of Sisterly remembrance from me if I know of the oppertunity Soon enough. I have not an Idea that I shall inhance the value of my Letters, by withholding them. I will never dissapoint the Freind I Love in this way.1 If Scott is arriv'd I hope you have all receiv'd Letters which will give you pleassure, and Some of them by there quallity as well as quantity make up for all Seeming—omissions.2 I have my Dear Sister receiv'd your Letter Dated September 5th and most heartily long to Strole with you in your Beautiful Garden, but I do not fancy your House Grand as it is, nor your Pack of Servants nor the Company of your French Ladies, if they are all Such as you have describ'd one of them, but I do not believe they are. It would be very unfair to form a judgment of the American Ladies by an Aunt Edwards who's manners was She in France would be much Like the Ladys you Saw at the Doctors, and we know Mrs. Edwards is not a bad woman.3

Billy has receiv'd a Letter from Cousin John4 giving him Some hopes that he may yet be his Class-mate. He will answer his quistions. The Governors of the College have voted to receive him into any Class that he shall be found quallified for, and in consideration of the great Services Mr. Adams has done his Country will admit him without the Custumary Fees. Give my most Tender and affectionate Love to him and tell him he will be receiv'd by his uncle and aunt Cranch with an affection truly Parental, and Shall not want for any 13attention that we can give him and that he will only leave one Sister to gain two.

Old Coll. Thayer has lost his wife, and a dreadful loss it is to the whole Family.5 Doctor Fogg was married about a month ago.6

Has any Body told you that Mrs. Otis is like to increase—! Tis true I assure you.7

Poor Mr. Palmers Family are likely to be greatly distress'd I fear. Germantown has Shifted owners till the Whole of it with all the Building is fallen into the Hands of Major Swan and Mr. Parkers Creditors, and is now to be sold. What will become of them I know not. We are greatly distress'd about them.8

I fear this will be the last letter I shall be able to send you this winter. I hear of no more vessails for Europe till Spring. We are in dayly expectation of Some from you. I wish you was in London, we hear much oftener. I had a Letter from Sister Shaw last Week.9 She had recover'd her Health finely, She Says. The children were all well. They have a dancing School at Haverhill. Your Sons are Figuring away I hear. Mr. Shaw has Sent Betsy Smith to it. This will please her mama. Lincoln Friends were all well last week.

Present my best wishes to Mr. Adams and my dear Cousins and accept the warmest affection of your Sister Mary Cranch

Your Mother Hall and Brother Adams's Family are well. I was there last week.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed, probably by Elizabeth Cranch: “Mrs Abigail Adams”; and possibly by Royall Tyler: “Auteul, pres de Paris. Pr. favr. of Mons. de Valnais”; endorsed: “Mrs Cranch December 26 1784.” AA's endorsement is misdated; the dateline clearly reads “December 6th.”


Given her emphasis upon the initial “I” in the first of these two sentences, Mary Cranch may intend here a reflection upon Royall Tyler, who wrote few letters to AA2 after her departure for Europe.


Capt. Scott took Mary Cranch's letters of 3 and 10 Oct., and perhaps those by Elizabeth Cranch, 26 Sept., and by Joseph Palmer, 29 Sept., all above.


Perhaps their aunt, Sarah Smith Edwards (1704–1775), although Mary Cranch's use of the present tense makes this quite uncertain.


Not found.


Rebecca Miller Thayer died on 3 Dec. ( Braintree Town Records , p. 816, 865).


Dr. Daniel Fogg married Susannah Thayer on 29 Oct. (same, p. 868).


Mary Cranch here repeats the news she had reported on 3 Oct., above.


Gen. Joseph Palmer had fallen deeply into debt by this date, and by 1786 he had left Germantown for Charlestown and then Dorchester. He soon established a successful salt works on Boston Neck to replace the numerous manufactories that he had had to abandon in Germantown—of glass, chocolate, and spermaceti candles, as well as salt—but his health was broken and he was unable to recoup his losses before his death in 1788 ( DAB ; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 486–490).


Elizabeth Shaw to Mary Cranch, 23 28] Nov. (DLC: Shaw Family Papers).