Adams Family Correspondence, volume 9

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 9 January 1791 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
my dear sister Philadelphia Janry 9th 1791

I received your kind Letter of December 12th with one from my Nephew inclosing 4 Portraits1 I instantly recognized my worthy Brother Cranch and my dear sister together with our venerable uncle Quincy. the other not one of us have skill enough to find out, by which I judge it is not a likness the three first are admirably executed and I have to request that the same hand would take my Mother and send it without letting mr Adams know for whom it is designd. you inquire how I like my situation. I answer you the one I removed from, was in Burks stile, the sublime. this is the Beautifull2 the House is better, that is the work within is superiour. the Architecture of the other House was Grand and the Avenue to it perfectly Romantick. the British Troops rob'd this place of its principal Glory by cutting down all the Trees in front of the House and leaving it wholly Naked. behind the House is a fine Grove; through which is a gravell walk; which must in summer add greatly to the delight of the place. I am told for 8 months this place is delicious. in winter the Roads are bad and we are 2 miles & a half from the city. I have received every attention and politeness from the Gentlemen and Ladies which I could either expect or wish. Living here is more expensive than in N york, Horse keeping in particular, which we sensibly feel, as we are obliged to keep four, for during the sitting of Congress they frequently go six times to the city in the course of the day. we cannot purchase any marketting but by going into the city. we have had very Severe cold weather from the begining of December till the week past; when the snow has chiefly left us I am thinking seriously of making arrangments to come to Braintree early in the spring as the Roads will permit, for it is generally believed that Congress will not sit after march if so I hope to be with you by the last of April or begining of May and as I must leave Brisler and his Family here, I would look out early for some person in his stead. can you inform me where Nathan Tirril is, and whether he was last summer engaged.3 he is a good Hand in a Garden and on many other accounts usefull. there are some articles which I shall want in 180the kitchin way, but it will be time enough to think of these things some months hence

I feel the loss of mrs smith and Family and it pains me daily that I could not have her with me this winter it is in vain to say what we ought to have been able to do, I feel what I cannot do. the Cols Family are all very kind to mrs Smith and treat her like a child, but a Fathers House is still the most desirable place. I hear every week from her. I have John with me a fine Boy he is and the enlivener of the whole Family we are a scatterd family, and I see no prospect of our ever being otherways. mr durant was here last week and said he was going to Boston in order to sail from thence for st croix, the River here being frozen up. I thought the Letter you sent to the care of Thomas would go best & soonest by him, so we gave it to him. Thomas is much better tho he does not yet go out except to ride. I have had a succession of sickness in my Family when we have been well ourselves, our servants have been laid up. when I come to this place again I am determined to bring a decent woman who understands plain cooking with me. Such a vile low tribe, you never was tormented with & I hope never will be. I brought all my servants from N york, cook excepted and, thought I could not be worse of than I had been. I have had in the course of 18 months Seven, and I firmly believe in the whole Number, not a virtuous woman amongst them all; the most of them drunkards. I recruited with a new one last monday, who brought written recommendations with her, and who to all appearence is very capable of her buisness, but on thursday got so drunk that she was carried to Bed, and so indecent, that footman Coachman & all were driven out of the House, concequently she has turnd herself out of doors. we know little of vileness in our state when compared to those cities who have Such Numbers of Foreigners as N york and Philadelphia— I thank you my dear sister for your kind care of your Nephew. he wanted it I believe. he mourns a want of employ, but all young men must have patience, especially in his profession. [“]there is a tide in the affairs of men” our young folks must watch for it.

I would ask dr Rush about a certain affair if I had a short detail of Names circumstances and time. if cousin Lucy thinks it worth her time to give me some account of the affair, I am upon such an intimate footing with the dr since his practise in our Family that I could easily assertain all he knows about it, but the story was so complicated that I am by no means mistress of the Subject.


my Love to mrs Norten & my young Nephew. I anticipate the pleasure of meeting you all. pray heaven nothing may arrise to prevent my realizing the Satisfaction. Let me hear from you as often you can and / believe me at all times most / affectionatly yours

A Adams

RC (MWA:Abigail Adams Letters); addressed by TBA: “Mrs: Mary Cranch / Braintree”; endorsed by Richard Cranch: “Letter from Mrs / A Adams (Pha:) / Jany. 9th. 1791.”


For William Cranch's letter of 11 Dec. 1790, see Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 12 Dec., and note 5, above.


Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, London, 1757.


Nathan Tirrell (ca. 1754–1814) was the second son of Joseph Tirrell of Braintree (Sprague, Braintree Families ).

Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith, 25 January 1791 Adams, Abigail Smith, Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith
My Dear Child, Philadelphia, 25 January, 1791.

You must not flatter yourself with the expectation of hearing from Colonel Smith until the February packet arrives. It is as soon as you ought to think of it. You see by the papers, that a minister is in nomination from England, and Mrs. C—— writes, will come out soon.1 Mrs. P——, from whom I received a letter, writes me by the last packet, that Mr. Friere is certainly appointed from Portugal, and that he only waits for the arrival of Count ———, his successor, in England, before he sails for America. Mrs. P—— likewise communicates the agreeable intelligence of Mr. P——'s having forsaken the bottle, and that the Countess B—— had another child, and was vastly happy, beloved by her dear Count, &c.; all in the true style of Mrs. P——.2 She desires to be kindly remembered to you and the Colonel.

Present me kindly to all my New York friends. That I was attached to that place is most true, and I shall always remember with pleasure the fifteen months passed there; but, if I had you and your family, I could be very well pleased here, for there is an agreeable society and friendliness kept up with all the principal families, who appear to live in great harmony, and we meet at all the parties nearly the same company. To-morrow the President dines with us, the Governor, the Ministers of State, and some Senators.3 Of all the ladies I have seen and conversed with here, Mrs. Powell is the best informed. She is a friendly, affable, good woman, sprightly, full of conversation. There is a Mrs. Allen, who is as well bred a woman as 182I have seen in any country, and has three daughters, who may be styled the three Graces.4

My best respects to your good mamma and family. Tell Mrs. C—— I hope she makes a very obedient wife.5 I am sure she will be a good one. I think I shall see you in April. Why do you say that you feel alone in the world? I used to think that I felt so too; but, when I lost my mother, and afterwards my father, that “alone” appeared to me in a much more formidable light. It was like cutting away the main pillars of a building; and, though no friend can supply the absence of a good husband, yet, whilst our parents live, we cannot feel unprotected. To them we can apply for advice and direction, sure that it will be given with affection and tenderness. We know not what we can do or bear, till called to the trial. I have passed through many painful ones, yet have enjoyed as much happiness through life as usually falls to the lot of mortals; and, when my enjoyments have been damped, curtailed, or molested, it has not been owing to vice, that great disturber of human happiness, but sometimes to folly, in myself or others, or the hand of Providence, which has seen fit to afflict me. I feel grateful for the blessings which surround me, and murmur not at those which are withheld.— But my pen runs on, and my lads, at whose table I write, wonder what mamma can find to write about.

Adieu. My love to the children. From your ever affectionate

A. Adams.

MS not found. Printed from AA, Letters, ed. CFA, 1848, p. 353–355.


The Pennsylvania Mercury reported on 22 Jan. that former New York lieutenant governor and loyalist Andrew Elliot would be named the first British minister to the United States. Elliot was proposed for the post by Henry Dundas but ultimately declined to serve and retired to Scotland (Eugene Devereux, “Andrew Elliot, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of New York,” PMHB , 11:149–150 [July 1887]). The letter from Susanna Clarke Copley has not been found.


João Caballero de Almeida Mello e Castro succeeded Ciprião Ribeiro, Chevalier de Freire, as Portuguese minister to Great Britain ( Repertorium , 3:317). The 2 Nov. 1790 letter from Lucy Ludwell Paradise to AA also mentioned that Paradise's husband, John, “has perfectly broke himself of the love of the Bottle. he leads a regular life, and of Course, enjoys a perfect health.” The letter, however, does not indicate that the Paradises’ daughter, the Countess Barziza, had had a second child (Adams Papers).


Thomas Mifflin served as governor of Pennsylvania from 1790 until 1799 ( DAB ).


Elizabeth Lawrence Allen (1750–1800), daughter of John and Elizabeth Lawrence of Philadelphia and widow of James Allen. She was remarried in June 1791 to John Laurance, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York (Charles P. Keith, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania, Phila., 1883, p. 450–451; New York Daily Advertiser, 3 May 1800).


That is, Belinda Clarkson, sister of WSS.