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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4


This foot note contained in document ADMS-04-04-02-0223
5. This extraordinary passage, veiled though it is and without a name mentioned, introduces a figure who was to play an important and dramatic role— though in the eyes of the Adamses a discreditable one—in the domestic history of the Adamses over the next several years. “[T]he gentleman that lately has resided in your family” and is said by AA2 to be “practicing upon Chesterfeilds plan” of artful “dissimulation” among the young ladies of Braintree and Boston, can only be Royall Tyler, who, according to AA 's letter to JA , 23 Dec. 1782 (Adams Papers), had been lodging for the last nine months at the Cranches' home in Braintree.
Royall Tyler (1757–1826), author of The Contrast (1787), the first American comedy produced on an American stage, became a well-known figure in American letters and later the chief justice of Vermont. See DAB and G. Thomas Tanselle, Royall Tyler, Cambridge, 1967, which is the first book-length biography and which treats in detail the checkered ro• { 337 } mance between AA2 and Tyler. A summary treatment of that suppressed chapter in Adams family history, based largely on unpublished material in the Adams Papers, was furnished a year earlier by the Adams editors in the introduction to The Earliest Diary of John Adams, the MS of which was discovered in 1965 in the Royall Tyler Collection, long closed to researchers, in the Vermont Historical Society; see JA, Earliest Diary , p. 14, 16–32,.
Many letters to be included in the next volume of the Adams Family Correspondence develop this story and exhibit most of the major and some of the minor members of the Adams-Cranch circle in characteristic roles. Tyler's courtship of AA2 had a definite part in the Adams ladies' subsequent voyage to Europe. What is most remarkable in light of AA2 's impressions of Tyler as given in the present letter is that six months or so later AA was warmly pressing Tyler's suit upon a daughter who overcame her own doubts very reluctantly.