Adams Family Correspondence, volume 6

John Quincy Adams to William Cranch, 14 December 1784 JQA Cranch, William John Quincy Adams to William Cranch, 14 December 1784 Adams, John Quincy Cranch, William
John Quincy Adams to William Cranch
Auteuil near Paris December 14. 1784

I have been so much taken up these four or five days, in copying both for my Pappa and Mamma, that I have not been able to write at all for myself. I expected that Mr. Tracey and Mr. Jackson would not leave Paris till next Monday, but I dined with them this day, and they seem determined upon setting out the day after to morrow: I shall see them to morrow for the Last time, and have therefore only this evening and morning for writing.

You can imagine what an addition has been made to my happiness by the arrival of a kind, and tender mother, and of a Sister who fulfills my most sanguine expectations. Yet the desire of returning to America still possesses me. My Country has over me an attractive power which I do not Understand. Indeed I believe that all men have an attachment to their Country, distinct from all other attachments. It is imputed to our fondness for our friends, and relations; yet I am apt to think I should still desire to go home, were all my friends and relations here. I cannot be influenced by my fondness for the Customs and Habits of my Country, for I was so young when I came to Europe, and have been here so long; that I must necessarily have adopted many of their customs.

But I have another Reason, for desiring to return to my native Country. I have been such a wandering being these seven years, that I have never performed any regular course of Studies, and am deficient on many Subjects. I wish very much to have a degree at Harvard, and shall probably not be able to obtain it, unless I spend at least one year there. I therefore have serious thoughts of going in the Spring so as to arrive in May or June; stay a twelve-month at Mr. Shaw's; (who I hope would be as kind to me, as he has been to you and is to my Brothers) and then enter college for the last year, so as to come out with you. I imagine that with steady application I might 33in one year, acquire sufficient proficiency, in all the Sciences necessary, for entering the last year. . .1 however I know not whether I shall do any of these things, for it is still very uncertain whether I shall return next Spring or not.

I have been this day to see one of the greatest curiosities that Paris contains. The abbé L'Epée, Who for many years has made his sole employment, to alleviate, the unhappy fate of that unfortunate class of human beings the Deaf and Dumb.2 He teaches all, indiscriminately, and whoever desires to be instructed in his method, has only to present himself, and not pretend to offer any recompense because that would give offence. Oh! how consoling it must be to these Europeans, that they are able to say that there still are such Characters who devote all their time, to assist the unfortunate! The name of such a man deserves to be transmitted to Posterity, more than all the Kings in Europe. His success has been astonishing, he teaches the deaf and dumb, not only to converse with each other by signs, but to read and write, and comprehend the most abstracted metaphysical Ideas. He has published a book, which contains his complete System. I would send it you, but it is in French, which you do not understand I suppose sufficiently to read it. When the Emperor was here, he went to see the Abbé, and was so pleased with his School, that when he returned to Vienna, he wrote him a very flattering Letter and sent him a gold box, containing a medal with his Picture.

Your Mamma in one of her late Letters3 desired I would get a Violin, for you. Will you accept of that I left at home? My Mamma tells me that Mr. C. Warren had it when she came away; but if he has sailed for Europe, as he intended, he probably left it. I shall never make any use of it, for I have not touched a violin Since I left America: and I fansy I should not be able to get so good a one for you here.

Believe me to be, my Dear Cousin, your sincere Friend

J.Q. Adams

RC (Private owner, N.Y., 1957); addressed: “Mr. William Cranch. Cambridge. Massachusetts”; endorsed: “J.Q.A. Auteuil. Decr. 14 1784.” Printed in the N.Y. Examiner, 20 Dec. 1855. Some damage to the text where the seal was torn away. Missing words supplied from newspaper copy..


Elipses in MS. On JQA's plans to enter Harvard, see Cotton Tufts to JA, 26 Nov., and note 3, above.


The seventy-two year old Charles Michel, Abbé de L'Epée, had just published the third edition of what JQA, below, calls “his complete System”: La veritable manière d'instruire les Sourds et Muets (1784), and was working on a dictionary of manual signs for the use of deaf mutes, which was com-34pleted after his death. The Austrian emperor, Joseph II, sent a cleric who learned L'Epée's system of instruction and returned to Vienna to establish that city's first school for teaching deaf mutes. Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale .


Letter not found.

Katherine Hay to Abigail Adams, 17 December 1784 Hay, Katherine Farnham AA Katherine Hay to Abigail Adams, 17 December 1784 Hay, Katherine Farnham Adams, Abigail
Katherine Hay to Abigail Adams
Beaugancy1 Decer. 17 1784

Permit me My Dear Madam to express my warmest gratitude for your kind attention, in conveying me Intelligence that I am so much Intrested in. Your second letter2 entirely reliev'd my Mind from the anxiety your former letter had excited. I had the pleasure of receiving a packet of letters from America By Capt Scott the Evening before yours of the 10th. instant came to hand. They were replete with every pleasing account that cou'd rejoice my Heart.

I partook of your pleasure and feasted with you, nothing cou'd render the seperation from our friends tolerable but the Aid of pen Ink and paper, and I every Hour of my life Bless the Inventon.

I am now alone my Dear Madam seperated from all that is Dear to me on Earth, Freinds that have my thorough love amity, confidence and esteem, if my Husband cou'd be with me it wou'd in some degree compensate for the loss of such near connexions. But Alass Heaven, has ordain'd otherways, I must live alone the greatest part of my Life, and friends are rare to be found. I do not mean to complain for it is my constant study to Build contentment in my own Breast. And pardon me for naming unavoidable Evils, my feelings overflow'd this instant and it was impossible but to drop some on the paper.

I can give you nothing New and entertaining from hence, my apartment with a constant fire I have made tolerable. And my Cheif employment is my French, which if I attain, I shall think will fully repay me for any inconveniency I may meet with. I am by no means eligibly situated however the Winter will soon pass away and I shall make the Best of it.

I am rejoic'd with the Idea of seeing Mr. Jackson I hope I shall not be disappointed. I often wish I had taken my Winter residence near you, it wou'd have afforded me much pleasure. Your observations are very just in giving the preference to the purity of manners in our Country no Doubt these old Countrys have arriv'd to the highest pitch of improvment and refinement which will excite our admiration, but they too often Sacrafice all the finer feelings of the Soul to fashion Etiquette parade and ceremony. I own my path has been chequer'd with much pleasure since I have been in Europe but 35nothing has charms for me to Balance the delightfull society I left in my own Country. Freindship and sincerity are only knon here by Name. My only fear is on my return I shall find a change in their Manners for travellers too often transplant the follys of other Countrys instead of their Virtues. I have ever been a conformist to fashion because I think it a civility due to a Country from a Stranger, excepting where it interferes with our principles, in that case, we have an undoubted right to dissent without any Breach of politness. In your situation you will find conformity to fashion Necessary, and often convenient, the Multiplicity of Visits that you must receive and repay wou'd be tedious to a degree without the ceremony of a Card.

I was much entertain'd with your description of a Court Introduction. I think you so good at de scribing that I shall be always entertain'd at with any thing you may think worth relating. I find it difficult to write to America from Hence. I will Beg the favour of you to mention that I am well to Mrs. Shaw when you write, she is so near my Mother she can easily acquaint her with it.3

I join with you in wishing for a little more sunshine however I find the weather vastly more agreable than in England. I have as yet enjoy'd my Health exceedingly well and Mrs. Mather I think seems perfectly recover'd.

How do you succeed in your French My Dear Madam I wish to know. My Best respects to Mr. Adams and Family, Mr. and Mrs. Mather Join. Is Mr. Storer in Paris yet? I shall be always happy to hear from you My Dear Madam.

With great esteem your Obliged Freind & Servt.

K Hay

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Madame Madame Adams a la Maison de M. le Comte de Rouhaut á Auteiul près Paris”; stamped: “BEAVGENCY”; endorsed: “Mrs Hay December 17. 1784.” Some loss of text where the seal was cut out.


Katherine Hay had traveled to Beaugency, on the bank of the Loire River near Orleans, in late October with Samuel and Margarette Gerrish Mather. See Katherine Hay to AA, 1 Nov. (Adams Papers).


Not found, but evidently dated 10 Dec. (see the following sentence in the text). AA's first letter to Katherine Hay, also not found, was probably dated ca. 10 November. In it, AA apparently informed Hay that three American ships were missing. Hay was alarmed by this because her brother, William Farnham, had recently sailed for Boston on board Capt. Callahan's packet Gloucester. However, he arrived after a passage of forty days on 23 or 24 Sept. (Katherine Hay to AA, 18 Nov. [Adams Papers]; John J. Currier, History of Newburyport, Mass., Newburyport, 1909, 2:260–261; Independent Chronicle, 30 Sept.).


Sibyll Angier Farnham lived in Newburyport (Vital Records of Newburyport, Mass., Salem, 1911, 2:626; also, Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 10:364–366).