Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams, 23 September 1787 Cranch, Elizabeth Adams, Abigail
Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams
Braintree Septr. 23d. 1787—

A Letter from my dear Aunt Adams recievd last July remains unanswered;1 I am almost ashamed to reccollect it; but for a long time indisposition tottally prevented my using my pen at all: it was under absolute prohibition— within these few weeks my health seems mending—& possibly I may injoy a comfortable degree of it this winter: the pleasing hope of your return in the Spring, which I now permit myself to cherish will I am sure have a great influence upon my body & mind— it will sofiten the dreary storms of december & shorten the duration of the rigorous Season; I have not one object in view which appears to me of half the importance—or that promises half the pleasure which your safe return will afford; my heart bounds at the idea, & my fancy portrays innumerable scenes of happiness in which I may be a participater, they are not illuminated by one ray of Splendour, but appear only enlightened by the mild radience of pure affection & Friendship—shall we not in reallity enjoy them? I am sincerely afflicted at your indisposition: with what ready assiduity of affection would I have attended you could I have been with you: & only have felt as if discharging a part of a debt which I had long ago contracted; in kind:— You can never know my dear Aunt how severely we have felt your absence; not all our other friends could possibly supply your place: tho absent, you make us feel your goodness continually, & your kindness to myself in particular demands much more than bare acknowledgements; at present they are all I can return—some future time may perhaps give me oppertunity of making some more suitable—


Congratulations may seem almost unseasonable by the time you recieve this upon the birth of your grandson: but I do really rejoice with you all—at the event; My Cousins happiness has I dare say recievd a large augmentation, & the exercise of maternal affection under all its different modifications will prove to her a constant source of delight: now will she find her own improvements of most essential service, when she finds it necessary “to rear the tender thought & teach the young Idea how to shoot—”2 her own plans of education used to be perfectly rational—& if she can practise as well as she used to theorise—she will make an excellent Mother— I find she follows the examples of most Matrons—in laying aside the pen as not a utensil pertaining to domestick Life: but from her good Mamas example she may surely learn that the use of it is not by any means incompatible with the full performance of every domestick duty— I shall certainly give her a hint of it soon— You do not even mention her return with you; I suppose we may surely expect her—& must she live at N—York? cannot Colln. Smith make it as advantageous to take up his abode in N—England?— You cannot surely part with her—so far!

My Cousin John, Mama has I suppose informed you—has fixd down in Newbury—& my Brother at Boston. they have both conducted so well thus far as to recieve universal praise & esteem— To tell you the satisfaction we all feel in consequence of it—would be unnecessary— My younger Cousins I hope will merit equal applause: Charles is a very lovely youth—& if Minerva will spread her shield as a defence from Cupids arrow—he will be safe—but Charles says “O Cousin Betsey! such heavenly Eyes; such lovely Hair—such a beautiful mouth—& above all such goodness—so amiable— Miss F—— is a most charming Girl—[”] Alas poor Charles! Cousin Betsey very gravely advises him to ward off the shafts of beauty at present— & only sollicit the smiles of the Muses—but this is the cold precept of 24— One thing however secures my lovely Cousin, the impresssions are not so deep—but that Novelty can efface them—& another observation—I have lately met with—& believe it generally true—of Beauty—”that its Caprice is a natural antidote to its poison—”3 & more especially—it may happen so of the Beauty of 14— My Cousin Thomas said to me the other day with his usual plainess of expression—speaking of the disadvantage of having too much society with young Ladies in the years devoted to study— “for my part I dont care a sixpence about them all—& dont think I shall ever be in Love—” I belive he spoke the truth entirely—& mereley as a matter of 170 amusement, the Gun & Ball have infinitely greater charms for him than— the most finshd face & form—& after qualifying & mollifying, his protestation, a little, I told him it had my entire approbation—

I am particularly obliged to you for [the] Books upon gardning— but my poor Garden makes but a s[. . .] I am however pleas'd with each individual flower—& watch with unremmiting care its rinnging—budding, blowing & decline—taken all together—they boast not of any beauty in appearance or disposition— Our Garden is & ought to be for use—a few little beds & borders are all which I call mine— when you leave England—if you should bring some flowers seeds from your Garden there—they may perhaps produce you some flowers here— those you sent me from France—many of them would not grow here—some I have now—& they have encreasd abundantly—Tommorrow My Sister & myself intend to go to Cambridge—to attend an exhibition the next Day—in which my Cousin Charles has a part— he has had one public performance before in which tis said he display'd many real graces of Oratory— Adieu my dear Madam—& present my best regards to my Uncle—& Mr & Mrs Smith—& believe most affectionately / Your Neice

E. Cranch—

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Adams— / Grosvenor—square.”; endorsed: “E Cranch— / Septr. 25. 1787.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


AA to Elizabeth Cranch, 18 July 1786, vol. 7:256–259.


James Thomson, The Seasons: Spring, lines 1152–1153.


“An antidote in female caprice lies / (Kind Heaven!) against the poison of their eyes” (Edward Young, Love of Fame, the Universal Passion. Satire V. On Women, lines 448–449).

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 23 September 1787 Cranch, Mary Smith Adams, Abigail
Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams
Braintree September 23d. 1787 My dear Sister

I wrote to you about three weeks since thinking clallahan would sail immediatly but he is not yet gone & I find Folger will go before him—but my Letters will be old unless I add a short one now— I was not a little dissapointed by not receiving a Line by the Last vessel which arriv'd Doctor Tufts receiv'd one from you & he got it before those you sent by the way of new york1 He will tell you about the Purchase he has made of Mr Borlands Estate for you—we think you have an excellent bargain. I am rejoic'd that you will have a house big enough to hold your self & Friends when they visit you—you must make a square house of it— It will take one large room to hold Mr Adams Books If you make it with Alcoves like the college Library 171it will make a beautiful appearence— We are amuseing ourselves with the alterations which it is probable you will make. I have seen your Mother Hall this Day—she is well & looks I tell her several years younger for the prospect she has of having you so near her. She wishes you here now nine months are nine years to one at her time of Life— you will have very agreable neighbours in Mr Woodwards Family, Doctor chancys Daughter Mrs Adams is a pritty sociable woman.2 she Boards with them—but you have met with a real Loss in the Death of Mr Alleyne—He possess'd a most benevolent heart, never meant to injure any one & always rejoice'd to do good & make his fellow creatures happy— He dy'd going from Wilmington to charlestown—was out but four days— we have not yet heard his dissorder you know what a Family of Love they were & will not wonder that they are greatly afflected Mr Abel tells me the House & Farm must be sold immediately. I wish you had it—& we that which you have bought. We should be just near enough together then— as to the Estate we live upon I know not whether it will ever be sold—it is going to ruin fast It is not yet determin'd yet who it belongs to

We have not heard one word from your son JQA since he went to Newbury— your other sons were well yesterday Lucy & Billy went to see them & carry them some clean Linnin There is to be a publick Exebition next Teusday cousin charles is to speak a Dialogue with a Mr Emmerson of concord—who looks much like him & is his bosom Friend—3 My nephew was much affected yesterday by the rustication of one of his class Lucy said he look'd as if he had shed tears— & I suppose he had— He was his chum the Freshman year—& study'd with him at Mr Shaws— He is a youth of great spirits—& one would have suppos'd they would have preserv'd him from so mean an action as stealing from any one especially his classmates— What could tempt him to this vice I cannot conceive. His Father is the richest man in Bradford & he an only child—but the old man lives very mean & is very close The young man spoke very handsomely before the governer—of the college denys the fact although the goods were found lock'd up in his chest— I am griev'd for him. He is a fine genious & has naturally a good disposition4

uncle Smith remains much in the same state he was when I wrote before his Leg grows better—but his other complaints are not remov'd—

you have sent for the height of your Rooms but paper for rooms the Doctor says are so well made here that he thinks you will not attempt to bring any—


The report of Mr Adams returning soon has set the tools of the present administration spiting like so many Cats but I know he will not care for them

our Friend Mrs Russel remains very low & Nancy Sever is worse than her sister—5

I wish you would make a very particular inqueery how the gloscesshire [Che]ese is made—in what manner they prepair the Roun[ds—]how they give the yellow colour to the cheese you kn[ow ou]r procss in making cheese, discover if you can every var[iat]ion from our method— My cheeses look finely this summer & some of them want nothing but the colour inside to make them every way as good as English ones— I have not had more than four cows this summer & I think I have seven hundred weight of cheese—& I have made all the butter we have eat. We have had a large Family all summer—some of sister Smiths children have been with me ever since May Cousin Ebbit cranch & Eliza Bond have been with us six weeks— mr cranch has been at home all summer & is turnd quite a Farmer— by this account of our Family you will not suppos—we have been very Idle this season—

Doctor Tufts will transmit you our commencment accounts—I believe you will not think we were very extravagant—& yet I assure you we had enough of every thing & it was all very good—& every body seem'd pleas'd—

I have had no occation to advance any money for your sons Pockit expences. Doctor Tufts has given them quite as much as has been necessary for them— too much would be a great injury to their studys— The prudence of your eldest son might have been trusted with thousands—

When I think of your return I rejoice with trembling may god protect you & return you safe to your native country & to your affectionate sister

old Mrs Thayer is upon her annual visit to this Parish she is eighty nine years old she hopes “she shall live to see dear Madam Adams return[”]6

Mary Cranch

RC (Adams Papers); addressed by Elizabeth Cranch: “Mrs Adams— / Grosvenersquare—”; endorsed: “Mrs Cranch / Septr. 23. 1787.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


AA to Cotton Tufts, 1 July, above.


Likely the family of Joseph Woodward, for whom see vol. 7:397. Sarah Chauncy Adams (1733–1799), wife of Amos, was the daughter of Rev. Charles Chauncy of Boston ( Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 6:441; 13:183, 185).


William Emerson (1769–1811), Harvard 1731789, father of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, later served as pastor of the First Church of Boston (Lemuel Shattuck, History of the Town of Concord: Earliest Settlement to 1832 and of Other Towns, Boston, 1835, p. 250).


Samuel Walker, Harvard 1790, eventually confessed to the theft and was allowed to return the following year (JQA, Diary , 2:294, note 3).


Sarah Sever Russell (1757–1787) died in Boston on 24 November. Her sister Ann (Nancy) Warren Sever (1763–1788) died of consumption in Kingston in Jan. 1788 ( NEHGR , 26:309, 311 [July 1872]; Vital Records of Kingston, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850, Boston, 1911, p. 379).


Sarah Thayer lived to the age of 103, dying in Nov. 1800 (Boston Columbian Centinel, 22 Nov. 1800). See also Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 1 Nov. 1789, below.