Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams, 7 January 1787 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch AA Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams, 7 January 1787 Cranch, Elizabeth Norton, Elizabeth Cranch Adams, Abigail
Elizabeth Cranch to Abigail Adams
Braintree Jany. 7th. 1787

I have not wrote you my dear Aunt for a long time, much too long I confess; and even now those motives which have prevented, continue in force: A barreness of Subject is of all preventives the most dissagreable and I find it is like to prevail and increase in me daily; motives however more powerful have overcome this; and I am induced to write—tho—I triffle.

Love, gratitude and esteem, I feel; You cannot doubt it; elaborate expressions of each of these affections of my mind, might prove a copious subject, and the goodness amiableness and many excellent virtues, which excite them, might if represented in their full perfection, adorn the purest Page, and give a fair example of female excellence. But there is a certain delicate sensibility which recoils at the direct commendations of its virtues, tho conscious of meriting them. And perhaps an endeavour, to immitate, and implant them; is a more flattering, and at the same time more delicate, and a worthier acknowledgement of them.

I have now to thank you for your last Letter of July 18th. and for the Book accompanying of it. I had not by any means, an adequate idea of the perfection to which they had brought the art of ornamenting their farms and grounds in England; I think they must be enchantingly beautiful; I felt when I had finished it, as if I almost regretted having read it: for having never before had Ideas of such perfection, in my mind, wherewith to compare what I saw, I could think these beautiful and they satisfied me; but now my standard is altered, and all appear uncouth and imperfect; I am wishing to alter this, pull down that, build up another, cut down this tree, and have an immediate spontaneous growth on that hill, turn the course of a rivulet, widen a brook, and a thousand other whims and impossibilities are coming into my mind, every time I look abroad; but alas all in vain! However perhaps possessing them, I might not be happier than now. I cannot help wishing to see those delightful places; even this must be denyed me. This however teaches me, what many, many, of the events of Life are constantly instructing me in, that my happiness depends more upon bounding my desires and wishes 427than in seeking earnestly to gratify them. Dissapointment is written upon many a Page of my Life; and strange as it may seem, experience had not made me wise èno', to prevent its appearing a conspicuous character in some of the latest.

Perhaps in this state of existance, our human faculties cannot attain to strength sufficient to enable us to repel the force of dissapointment; but in aid of their weakness, Religion offers powerful assistance, and Resignation her lenient balm. These can calm the tumult of the mind when dissapointment has broken in upon its fondest hopes and destroy'd its long concerted schemes of happiness; these can make us look beyond the present and give a firm assurance to the wounded heart, that almighty Goodness, “Scourges in mercy, and corrects in Love.” Firmly perswaded of this, we may yet rejoice; contentment may preside at the heart and Gratitude for many present blessings, overcome all too anxious regret for past misfortunes.1

It is with real pleasure that I hear of my Cousins present happiness; long may she injoy it uninterruptedly; long may she live unhurt by numerous sarrounding evils; may each revolving year add to her blessings and her virtues; She does not, cannot know how much I love her, distance and absence prevent, and will I fear prevent my giving her any personal assurances of it; I hope she feels most perfectly assured of my regard, esteem and friendship; I could not be happy should there rest upon her mind any bias that had induced her ever to distrust either.

Your Sons are at present most amiable Youths; each display their growing virtues by a pleasing variety of effects. They all enjoy fine health and appear happy. Cousin John deprives us of the pleasure of his company this Vacancy, and devotes himself intirely to the Muses; he courts their patronage most assiduously, and I presume will be their favourite, and their Glory. Charles is also pursuing the same path with all the Loves and Graces in his train. Thomas is very good; his temper and disposition excellent; his faculties and capacitys are just expanding, before the invigorating rays of Science, and I doubt not the future fruit will amply repay the present culture.

I must beg you to present my most respectful regards to my Uncle—to Mr and Mrs Smith my Love, I intend writing her by the next Vessel. I am sure you will do me the justice to believe me with every sentiment of affection & the warmest gratitude your Neice

E Cranch

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Mrs Adams. Grosvenor-Square Westminster.”; endorsed: “E Cranch's Letter Janry 7th.” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.


Cranch had recently learned of the death of Thomas Perkins, whom she had hoped to marry. See Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA, 1 Nov. 1786, above.

John Adams to Charles Adams, 10 January 1787 JA Adams, Charles John Adams to Charles Adams, 10 January 1787 Adams, John Adams, Charles
John Adams to Charles Adams
My Dr. Charles Jany. 10. 87

I have recieved with pleasure your letter of the 22d. of octr.1 and agree with you that the times are such as to make it difficult for a young Gentleman, to determine upon a Profession, yet there is no reason to be discouraged, The Prospect will brighten. I have so well grounded a Veneration for the Law, that I shall never discourage any of my sons from pursuing the study of it, if their Genius and disposition incline them in favour of it. You should well consider that it is an arduous, studious and labourious course of Life, and will require the exertion of all your faculties. Think of it well enquire maturely and decide for yourself, if your final resolution should be in favour of it, I will do my utmost to assist you in your Preparations and Progress, if my Life should be spared. I hope you will apply yourself to your Studies and Business, and have less interruption from public avocations than your father has had. A Lawyer, who confines himself to his practice and is careful to preserve his honor Intigrity, Humanity, Decency, and Delicacy, may be as happy and useful a Citizen as any in society. But ambition will be his ruin. Launching into public Life even from Patriotism, will destroy his happiness, and not probably increase his real usefulness.

My Love to your worthy Brothers, and believe me anxious for the good Behaivour as well as success of all of you. Yours affect. J. A.

LbC in WSS's hand (Adams Papers).


Not found.

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 10 January 1787 JA JQA John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 10 January 1787 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Grosvenor Square Jan 10. 1787

I am much obliged to you for the Copy of your Dialogue, which does you honour. I am the more pleased to learn that you are to col-429lect the Mathematical Theses, as the Same part fell to my Share in the Year 1755.1

Your Reasons for preferring Newbury Port to Boston for the Study of the Law are judicious, and discover an Attention and a Consideration, which give sure Presages of your future Success. You must take Some opportunity to pay your Respects to Mr Parsons, and know his Terms; or pray Dr Tufts to write to him. It will be of great Importance, to your happiness to get into his Family, to board, if that be possible. But if it is not, you must pay a particular Attention to this point, in the Choice of a Situation and a Family to board in. I am very happy to hear that your Brother Thomas, behaves as well as his elder Brothers, and that all three are irreproachable. May you all continue, in a virtuous Course, and be happy. You must all attend to your health. All depends upon that. I found it difficult to persuade you, while in Europe, to take your fresh Air, and active Exercise regularly.

When you come into a Lawyers office, you will find it more necessary Still. At present, Attendance on Prayers, Recitations and public Exhibitions, and the Amusements of Conversation with your fellow Students, are instead of Exercise. But when you come to pore alone over Law, which is not very entertaining, you will find a difference.

But at all times and in all Places, above all Things, preserve the Sentiments and the delicate sensibilities of youth, throughout your whole Life. Honour and Integrity, Humanity and Modesty are natural to Man. Let not the Commerce of the World, ever wear them out or blunt the Edge of your sensibility of them.

Libertatem, Amicitiam, Fidem, praecipua humani animi bona, retinebis. According to your Friend Tacitus.2 Riches and Grandeur are empty Baubles: but the moral Sentiments must be your Companions every hour of your Life: and infallibly your constant Comforters, or Tormentors. Consult your own heart, consult Experience, and History and they will all concur, with this Advice of your affectionate Father

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers).


For JQA's mathematical theses, part of the Harvard commencement exercises for 1787, see his Diary , 2:xii, 82–83, 256257 (illustration). While JA left no record of his own mathematical theses for the 1755 Harvard commencement, he did record several mathematical exercises in his Diary; in his Autobiography, he further recalled his strong interest and ability in mathematics while at Harvard and his delight in teaching JQA mathematics in France in 1784 ( D&A , 1:32, 107–108 , 126–127 (entries for 28 and 29 May 1760), 177–178; 3:260, 262).

430 2.

A paraphrase of Tacitus, Histories, Book 1.15, lines 22–24: You will hold liberty, friendship, and fidelity as the highest goods of the human soul.