Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 26 January 1786 AA Cranch, Mary Smith Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 26 January 1786 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
My Dear Sister London Janry 26 1785 i.e. 1786

A mr Anstey who is appointed by the British Goverment to visit the different States; for the purpose of assertaining the claims of the Loyalists, is going out in the Newyork packet. He dinned here on twesday. His manners are much in his favour, he appears well bred sensible and modest, a real Gentleman in his appearence. He was so kind as to offer to take Letters for us. As mr Adams and col Smith have large packets to charge him with I must be modest in mine, and can only write you one Letter. Of this too I must be circumspect, as it is probable it must have a post conveyance from Newyork to Boston.

I know not of any other opportunity whereby I can transmit you a line, to acquaint you that we have past through the Gloomy months of November and December without falling a sacrifice either to the cord, or Bullet, that we have all enjoy'd a comfortable share of Health. For myself I have had fewer headaches and less of the Rheumatisem than last winter.

Your Letters by captain Cushing came safe to hand, but those by Fletcher were drownded, some scattering fragments were however sent us.1 My Friends will wait the return of cushing for answers to their kind Letters. He talks of sailing next month.

The Court and indeed the whole city of London have been two Months in mourning for the Queens Brother and a sister in Law. Tho Cloathed in Sable my mind has not corresponded with my dress untill last week; when I read in a Boston paper an account of the death of my dear and amiable Aunt. From your last letters, I feared the event, but hoped that she would gragele through as winter approachd. The melancholy news afflicted me with that real sor-30row which flows from tender affection; and Sympathetick feelings for those whom she has left to mourn an affectionate wife, a most tender parent; a kind Aunt, and a truly benevolent Friend. Every tie which heretofore endeard the place of my Nativity to me is broken, and I think I should feel more reluctance at visiting it, than any other spot upon the Globe.

“When Heaven would kindly set us free And Earths enchantments end It takes the most effectual way And robs us of our Friends.”2

Poor Lucy has again lost a Mother,3 may she imitate her virtues, which will ever endear to me, her memory.

I fear my dear sister that you will think the time very long before you will get any Letters from us. No opportunity has offerd except by way of Newyork. I wrote one Letter by the last packet, but had my reasons for writing no more.

We have been looking for Capt Young untill we are quite anxious for his fate. I wisht him to arrive before I replied to your Letters. I expect to learn by him what has been said respecting the decision upon a certain affair:4 I suppose it will be the cause of much Speculation and I know that no arguments will now convince the Gentleman that the conduct of the Lady with respect to him, originated and resulted from his neglect of her. The World too I expect will asscribe to her fickleness and perhaps infidility. I know that she does not deserve the censure. I find mr —— is desirious of keeping the matter Secreet. In justice to her character it ought to be known that with respect to him she considers herself perfectly free. I could have wisht that a longer period of time might have elapsed, that the World might have had no shadow for censure. At any rate the Gentleman in America can have no hope left, and I should sincerely rejoice to hear that he was married or upon the point of being so, and let him not asscribe his dissapointment to you, to me, or to any person but himself. He has been too liberal in his censure, he is totally mistaken. You have been as tender as I know you ought to have been. I wish him no harm, but every happiness in his power to obtain. I value his good qualities, and I feel not a little for the Situation in which he has placed himself.

I know I leave you in a puzzel. I cannot be more explicit at present, but rest assured that I have papers in my possession which will convince all concernd, that no dishonorable conduct has been practised.


I hope long before this time mr Storer has reach'd his Friends in Boston. We learn by the Newspapers only of his arrival at Newyork. We wonder he did not write. We mist him much, and the more, because col Smith did not return from his Tour to Berlin Vienna and Paris, till some time in december. Col Humphries came with him from Paris and has been here ever since. Col Humphries is a Gentleman of Learning wit and Humour with a benevolent disposition and a good Heart, united with perhaps the best poetical Genious our Country can boast. I dare say you have seen his poem addrest to the American Army. He is now publishing an other poem here; one of which I will send you by the first opportunity. In short I do not know two Worthyer characters than the two Secretaries of Legation who are very intimate Friends, yet very different in their manners and accomplishments.

You wish to know how I pass my time, my acquaintance my amusements &c.

Those matters I must leave for more direct conveyances. I thank you my dear sister for all your kind attention to my children. I have no anxiety on their account, what I feel arises from a fear of burdening my Friends and not having it in my power to make them compensation. I fear I shall not be able to write only to you, so kindly remember me to all my dear Friends and believe me ever your affectionate Sister


RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.).


The Ceres, Capt. Fletcher, which sailed from Boston in late Oct. 1785, struck the sands near Boulogne, France, on 27 Nov. and was lost (vol. 6:474; Massachusetts Centinel, 1 Feb.).


Edward Young, Resignation in Two Parts, and a Postscript, Part 1, lines 310–313.


In addition to losing her aunt Lucy Quincy Tufts, Lucy Jones also had lost her mother, AA's cousin Anna Tufts Jones, who had died at age thirty in 1774 (Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts: to the End of the Year 1849, 6 vols., Salem, Mass., 1916–1925, 5:364). Lucy's father, Peter Jones, had died in 1772 (same, p. 365).


AA2's dismissal of Royall Tyler.

John Quincy Adams to William Cranch, 6 February 1786 JQA Cranch, William John Quincy Adams to William Cranch, 6 February 1786 Adams, John Quincy Cranch, William
John Quincy Adams to William Cranch
My dear Friend Haverhill Feby: 6. 1786

Although I have been writing a long Letter to Charles,1 I still must find something to say to you, as I believe, I am in your debt. I hope however you will not stand upon ceremonies, but write whenever you can. Your benevolence will induce you to take the will for the deed, if I am not quite so punctual, as I should wish to be. I have just this moment shook hands with one Mr. Xenophon, that 32put out a book once, consarning history. I have finished four books, and shall therefore have nothing more to do with him here.2 I got through the first book of the Iliad, three or four days, after you left us, and shall attempt the second, tomorrow, I wish you would inform me exactly where you are, and where you suppose, you may be at the end of the ensuing Quarter. I think you said you had just begun the sixth book, do you think, you shall more than go through it? If not I hope to be up with you, by that time. But above all, be kind enough to remember, and enquire of Mr: Williams, whether he begins his Lecture, in March, or not till the end of the spring Vacancy.3

Sister Eliza came from Master White's last Thursday, and we shall now be favoured with her Company, during the remainder of her stay here; our friend Leonard, will carry you a letter from her.4

The nearer we approach to any thing we desire, the greater is our impatience, to obtain it. I think more and more every day of being with you, and am pleased to see the time continually shortening. I had almost said like a certain gentleman expert in similies, that to be with you is as necessary to my Nature as a ——.5

On Wednesday the 15th: day of February, of the current year 1786, do you William Cranch, between the hours of 8 and 10, in the Evening, write me a Letter, in which you will in a rational, Philosiphical, and Mathematical, (ay and a Logical) manner, prove that the green ends of asparagus, were designed by Nature, to be eat by man; and mind, upon what foundation your System shall stand, for as I mean to oppose it, with all the zeal, that the importance of the matter requires; I shall take every possible advantage, to support my plan: which is that the white ends were designed by nature for the food of man. However if you are of my opinion, I would not force you to maintain the Contrary; because I always stand up for Liberty of Conscience, and I exhort you, in the discussion of this Question, to be cool; because, violence never can do good to any System, upon a contested point. I might enlarge upon this subject, but will wait for your answer, first.

I intend to fill this page, before I close this Sentimental, poetical, and affecting Letter of mine, and I have been rubbing my skull to bring something out of it; but it tells me, it has nothing to say, and that I must e'en close the Letter, as I have carried it on, without the help of the brain.

You will write back by the first opportunity, and tell me how all the folks in Braintree &c do; and especially, that sweet gentleman, 33who expressed so much indignation, to think a youth who had made the tour of Europe, should study closely after returning.

Have you look'd into that piece of Poetry put out some time ago by one Cleanthes. If you have let us hear how he talks in English.6 Thy loving friend


RC (privately owned, 1957); addressed: “Mr: William Cranch Cambridge. favd: by Mr: White.”; endorsed: “JQA. Feby. 6. 1786 Haverhill.”


Not found.


JQA began Xenophon's Cyropaedia, a historical novel in eight books, in Nov. 1785 ( Diary , 1:363).


Samuel Williams, Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural and Experimental Philosophy at Harvard College, offered a lecture course on experimental philosophy (physics) annually (same, 2:ix–x , 11).


Elizabeth Cranch had been visiting Peggy White in Haverhill since Oct. 1785. Her brother Leonard White was a student at Harvard (vol. 5:209; 6:421).


Thus in MS.


The first entry in M/JQA/28 is “A Translation of Cleanthes, his hymn to Jupiter” completed by JQA on 1 Nov. 1784 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 223). See also vol. 6:448, 450, for JQA's previous correspondence with Cranch about the hymn.