Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 8 October 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith AA Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 8 October 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith Adams, Abigail
Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams
Dear Sister Braintree october 8th 1786

I last evening receiv'd your kind Letter by the Way of new york and most heartily congratulate you upon the marriage of your only Daughter. It is a very desirable thing to see our children happily Settled in the world. Your anxietys for my dear Niece for several years have been very many and great. They are I hope now all at an end, at least of such a kind. No state is exempt from troubles, and those which our children suffer are keenly felt by a tender Parent. The character you have given of coll. Smith Seems to insure her from any but what are unavoidable in the happiest marriages. They have my warmest wishes for their Happiness and prosperity. I do not wonder you felt agitated at giving your Daughter away. I think I Should tremble at such an event as much as I did when I gave myself away. My dear neice must have discover'd the difference between a real and feign'd attachment, though her good nature and delicacy may have prevented her making the comparison, but if I am to believe a Lady where —— Boarded last Fall his was real also. His mortification and rage were real I believe. I never doubted it. She veryly thought he would have gone distracted.” “He put no Such airs on here, he too well knew we were not to be deceiv'd. 1 We were us'd to call things by their right names. The violent Passion which he put himself into, the day you left us, excited no emotion in the beholders, but contempt. It procur'd him no pity, no gentle soothings from the girls. They knew not how to adminster comfort to a Person Who could thro himself upon the Floor—upon the couch—and upon the chairs, and bawl like a great Boy who had misbehav'd and was oblig'd to go to school without his dinner. Never did I see JQA laugh in such a manner as when he was told of this scene. Meeting with Such unfeeling companions then, he had no incouragment to seek consolations from them again. Both your and our Family are represented as treating him very ill. “If he was to blame for neglecting her so long he wrote her a long letter in vindication of himself,” and at my expence as well as that of others of her correspondence who never mention'd his name said I.” “Why he thought somebody must have been enjuring him so She never 355would have treated him in such a manner only for not writing to her.” That was not all, and he knows it.” “Well he has Suffer'd for it I am sure, poor creature. He had nobody but me to open his mind too,” and happy had it been for you and yours if he had not open'd so much of it to you unhappy woman I could have said. “She has not better'd herself by what I can hear: my Brother and Sister know him, and say he is a man of no abilities and is of no profession and in any thing will not bear a comparison with.” “I hope not in good truth, was what I thought.” I said I knew him not, but I had receiv'd a good character of him from every one I had inquir'd of, who did, that he had been long enough in your Family for mr Adams to form an opinion of him and I believ'd he Was as capable of forming a Judgment of his character and his abilities as any one She had receiv'd her inteligence from: and that you were Satisfied as to both. How could She talk thus to me about Persons one of Whom I have reason to think, She had better never Seen.2 I hope the coll will come and give them the lie. When you lay all three of my Letters together you will think of the Pupil of Pleasure, of Philip Sedley3 and be thankful. Is it not astonishing that he should be continu'd in the Family and no notice taken? Some think it is not because, tis not severly felt, but that he is so unhappily circumstanced that he cannot resent it, and some say they have made a bargain.4 I could give you some curious annecdotes of last Winters gallantry in this Town: I did hint it then I was affraid to do more. A Friend interposed and in some measure Sav'd her character.

I long my dear sister to have you return, but where we shall be I know not. This House is upon Sale and whether we shall purchase it or not is uncertain. We cannot unless we can get what is due to us from the publick, or Sell our estate at weymouth. Mr Evans has alter'd his mind and will not settle at Weymouth. After accepting their call he told them he must go to Phylidelphia to get a certificate of his ordination and a dismission from the Presbitiary. When he return'd he said he could not be sittled so Soon as he expected, as the body would not sit till october. They look'd upon him notwithstanding as their minister, and expected he would Stay with them at least part of his time. Instead of which he never has above three or four days excepting Sundays and above half his time has sent other persons in his room. He would not even stay to visit the sick when they had notis nor attend a funereal. They complain'd he resented it, and has ask'd leave to withdraw his consent which they will grant. I have thought ever since he return'd that he wish'd to be 356disingag'd and was trying to find some pretence to ask for a dismission. I know not what he has in view, but this I am Sure of, that he will hurt his character by it. He desir'd to have our House ready for him by July. Mr Hagglet5 who was a very good Tenant left it and now we cannot find any body to take it. I wish it was in Braintree—Poor Weymouth has again to seek a Pastor, but it is not their fault.

Captain Barnard is arriv'd and brought us Some magazines for which I thank you, but no letters. Callahan is not yet arriv'd. I hope for some by him. You have sent an April magazine twice and no July one except one of the Fashens, which we did not need: for would you believe it if I were to tell you the Fashions had arriv'd before it? To what a Pitch of Folly have we arriv'd, they are study'd as a Science. Your Mother Hall and Brothers Family are well. Madam Quincy and daughter and all your Nieghbours also. Uncle Quincy cannot be perswaid'd out. Mr wibird is well and Still lives in the Worst House in Braintree. Betsy is at Bridgwater Plymouth &c upon a visit. Lucy is at newbury Port. I wish you had one of them with you, or rather I wish you would come home and let us be all together here. Our dear Sons are an honour to us, they are well, but what shall we do with them when they come out of college? We have each of us one which we must think of Something for. The Law was what they both thought of, but unless we have more peace among us they had better take their axe and clear new Land. They are good Lads and I hope will never want Bread.

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs Cranch 8 ocbr 1786.”


While trying to clarify her meaning here, Cranch may have neglected to cross out two of the quotation marks. Her use of quotation marks throughout the remainder of the paragraph is irregular.


This extended passage of quoted dialogue conveys the heated exchange between Cranch and Elizabeth Hunt Palmer that took place at Mrs. Palmer's Boston home about 9 September. See Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 24 and 28 Sept., both above.


Philip Sedley, the title character of Samuel Jackson Pratt's The Pupil of Pleasure, 1778, employs dissimulation, hypocrisy, and a pleasing façade to increase his personal profit and pleasure, the consequences of which introduce greater sorrow and vice into the community.


A reference to Joseph Pearse Palmer's poor financial situation and Royall Tyler's status as a boarder in his home.


For Rev. William Hazlitt, see vol. 5:480–481.

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 9 October 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith AA Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 9 October 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith Adams, Abigail
Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams
My dear Sister Braintree october 9th 1786

As I was seting quite alone this evening somebody came in from Boston with a Hankerchief full of Letters from you my dear, dear 357Sister. The Girls are neither of them at home, but I have ventur'd to open their Pacquits also, and a hearty laugh I have had at the extravagant Figures you have sent. Yes my sister our Ladies are foolish enough to deserve some of the ridicule. Those unnatural protuberences are daily encreasing and it was but last evening that mr Cranch was Saying to me that they had the appearence of deformity and always gave him pain.

I have no language that will express half what I feel for your generous kindness to me and my dear Girls. We have it not in our power to return it in kind, but I have a heartfelt satisfaction in thinking that we have one way left to express our gratitude more substantially than by mear words. I feel a pleasure in thinking that if you could look in upon your sons you would not think that a mamas or sisters care was wanting in any one instance. I cannot always command cash to do for them just as I would, this is all my difficulty. I always long to have you with us when we are all together in their vacancy's you have no Idea how pleasent it, is. There commons are good but the variety is small, you would laugh to see them attacking a large whartleberry Pudding and a good Family Apple Pye. I have prepar'd half a Bussel of dry'd whartleberrys against their winter vacancy. In a former Letter I mention'd the Exibition in which our sons bore a part, but I forgot to tell you that your son charles exhibite'd the Handsomest Face in the chapple without appearing in the least conscious of it. He is really too handsome. He will Soon steal the heart of every Girl Who sees him. He is as Soft and amiable in his manners as he is beautiful in his Person.

The children will want some Bandino Hankerchefs soon. I have taken all yours except the three best. I wish you would let me know at what price you can have them, they are so high here 8 shillings a peice that I cannot get them.

I thank you my dear sister for giving me so circumstantial an account, of the change of my Nieces affairs. I took perticular notice at the time of your writing it, of the Question she ask you “whither you thought a certain Gentleman of her acquaintanc was a man of honour.” We talk'd about it, and suppos'd that something of the kind had taken place, which really had. I never supposs'd but what she had acted properly, but the world knowing so little of the matter as they have, had it been any other person but mr T would have censur'd her greatly, but he is daily making her conduct appear diferent and there is now no way left for revenge but to represent the coll. as a man greatly his inferior.


No no my sister, I have no inclination to laugh at you for being greatly affected at parting or being parted from: had I been with you, I should have only mingled a few Tears with yours. I have not forgot the many I shed in private before I got a thorough weaning, and yet you well know, no one could have a more tender or affectionate companion than your Sisters.

Your Letter to this disturber of the peace of Familys is just what I could have wish'd. Oh my sister you do not half know him yet, he will not long have any thing to do with Braintree I believe. I should not wonder if he should pack up and go to new york. I hope he will pay us first.

What should you think if you should pick up a Letter from a married Lady, whose Husband is absent, directed to a gentleman, with such sentences as these in it, “I am distress'd, distress'd by many causes, what can we do. I know you would help me if you could. Come to me immediately.”—“Oh think of me, and think of your Self.”1—It alarm'd me. It was misterious, but is no longer so—what will or can be done I know not. I was yesterday at Germantown. They seem all of them to be very Sensible of the Injury that has been done, the Family. It is a serious affair to break up such a large one, besides the disgrace which will forever attend even the Innocent ones of it. A man looks very Silly with a pair of horns stuck in his Front—and yet to suffer the enemy of ones peace to be under the same roof and to See—dividing her leering (I will not say tender) looks between himself and her Paramour is too much for Human nature to bear.

Both Barnard and Callahan have had very long Passages, 60 days each. You must have receiuv'd Several Letters from me since they sail'd. I wrote in July and in think in August but as I take no copys I cannot tell exactly. Whenever there is a vessal going I always feel as if I must keep writing till the last moment.

Why my dear sister will you make the tokens of your Love to us so expencive to you. There must be some things which in your station will be useless to you, which would appear very handsome upon us, and would never be the less acceptable for haveing been worn by a sister or Aunt. I wish you could See my Satten Quilt. Betsy drew it, and we quilted it our selves and a Beautiful piece of work it is. It is often affront'd by being pronounc'd as handsome as any English one. I wish your Petticoat merchant had offer'd you a Blue mode in stead of a pink because your Nieces quilted each of them a Pink mode the Fall you left us, but this you did not know. 359They will try to Change it for a Blue. We are going this morning to your House to see that all is safe. We have had some difficulty to keep Pheby from admiting Stragling Negros lodging and staying in the House sometimes three or four days together. I have forbid her doing it, and the Doctor did so also, but there have been poor objects who have work'd upon her compassion sometimes. Mr Ts negro who I told you was like to have a child, was put there (and wood and provision promiss'd if She would keep her), by mr v——s——y. Mr T did not chuse to appear in it himself. She was not a good Girl, and I did not think, your things safe. Pheby told them that we had forbid her sleeping again in the House, “keep her conceal'd was the answer.” This rais'd me, and I talk to mr T about sending such creatures thire, for this was not the first he had sent. He deny'd it, but look'd guilty enough. She went of att last, and poor Pheby got nothing for all her trouble.

I wish I could step into your carriag this affernoon and make mr and mrs Smith a visit. Pray give my love to them, and tell them that nothing but the distance has prevented me. May this distance soon be shortend prays your ever affectionate Sister,


RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mrs Cranch ocbr 9 1786.”


Cranch evidently quotes from a letter that Elizabeth Hunt Palmer sent to Royall Tyler.