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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0034

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1764-05-04

Abigail Smith to John Adams

[salute] My ——

Your desire that I would write every Opportunity is punctually observed by me, And I comply with your request, altho I have nothing more to say than How do ye? and when will you return? These questions perhaps may appear trifling to others, yet to me they are matters of the highest importance.
The Doctor just now sent me your Epistle, and word, that tho he had smoked it, yet he had not read a line. Very Good!
I greatly rejoice to find you are so comfortable, as well as the rest of my Friends. Myra I hear is to return next week, and will not Lysander too? Yet do not, till you can come with the greatest Safety. For should I see thee,
{ 44 }

“Were I imprison'd e'an in paridice

I should leap the crystal walls.”

Did not you receive a Letter this week by Mr. Ayers? You make no mention of it, tho suppose You had not time, will you be so kind as to write by him tomorrow? For all those pleasureable Sensations, which you were pleas'd to say, a Letter from your Diana gave you, are enjoyed by her when Lysander favours her with an Epistle, and in as much greater a degree, as his are more worthy than hers. Yet tho he exceeds her there, he cannot in a tenderer affection than that which is borne him by his
[signed] A. Smith
This Letter has been very unlucky haveing mist two Opportunities. I sent it by 5 oclock yesterday morn to Mr. Ayers, but he went by light.1 I then sent it to Germantown, but the Deacon was gone half an hour before it reachd there; I hear of an other tomorrow morning so will can2 try again. I heard to day that your Brother was expected home last Night, and you tomorrow.
If you come I know it will not be long, You will see your
[signed] A Smith
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esq Boston Pr favour Mr Allen To be left at Capt. Cunninghams.”
1. Thus in MS . Perhaps meaning by dawn.
2. Thus in MS .

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0035

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1764-05-07

John Adams to Abigail Smith

I promised you, Sometime agone, a Catalogue of your Faults, Imperfections, Defects, or whatever you please to call them. I feel at present, pretty much at Leisure, and in a very suitable Frame of Mind to perform my Promise. But I must caution you, before I proceed to recollect yourself, and instead of being vexed or fretted or thrown into a Passion, to resolve upon a Reformation—for this is my sincere Aim, in laying before you, this Picture of yourself.
In the first Place, then, give me leave to say, you have been extreamly negligent, in attending so little to Cards. You have very litle Inclination, to that noble and elegant Diversion, and whenever you have taken an Hand you have held it but aukwardly and played it, with a very uncourtly, and indifferent, Air. Now I have Confidence enough { 45 } in your good sense, to rely upon it, you will for the future endeavour to make a better Figure in this elegant and necessary Accomplishment.
Another Thing, which ought to be mentioned, and by all means amended, is, the Effect of a Country Life and Education, I mean, a certain Modesty, sensibility, Bashfulness, call it by which of these Names you will, that enkindles Blushes forsooth at every Violation of Decency, in Company, and lays a most insupportable Constraint on the freedom of Behaviour. Thanks to the late Refinements of modern manners, Hypocrisy, superstition, and Formality have lost all Reputation in the World and the utmost sublimation of Politeness and Gentility lies, in Ease, and Freedom, or in other Words in a natural Air and Behaviour, and in expressing a satisfaction at whatever is suggested and prompted by Nature, which the aforesaid Violations of Decency, most certainly are.
In the Third Place, you could never yet be prevail'd on to learn to sing. This I take very soberly to be an Imperfection of the most moment of any. An Ear for Musick would be a source of much Pleasure, and a Voice and skill, would be a private solitary Amusement, of great Value when no other could be had. You must have remarked an Example of this in Mrs. Cranch, who must in all probability have been deafened to Death with the Cries of her Betcy,1 if she had not drowned them in Musick of her own.
In the Fourth Place you very often hang your Head like a Bulrush. You do not sit, erected as you ought, by which Means, it happens that you appear too short for a Beauty, and the Company looses the sweet smiles of that Countenance and the bright sparkles of those Eyes.—This Fault is the Effect and Consequence of another, still more inexcusable in a Lady. I mean an Habit of Reading, Writing and Thinking. But both the Cause and the Effect ought to be repented and amended as soon as possible.
Another Fault, which seems to have been obstinately persisted in, after frequent Remonstrances, Advices and Admonitions of your Friends, is that of sitting with the Leggs across. This ruins the figure and the Air, this injures the Health. And springs I fear from the former source vizt. too much Thinking.—These Things ought not to be!
A sixth Imperfection is that of Walking, with the Toes bending inward. This Imperfection is commonly called Parrot-toed, I think, I know not for what Reason. But it gives an Idea, the reverse of a bold and noble Air, the Reverse of the stately strutt, and the sublime Deportment.
{ 46 }
Thus have I given a faithful Portraiture of all the Spotts, I have hitherto discerned in this Luminary. Have not regarded Order, but have painted them as they arose in my Memory. Near Three Weeks have I conned and studied for more, but more are not to be discovered. All the rest is bright and luminous.
Having finished the Picture I finish my Letter, lest while I am recounting Faults, I should commit the greatest in a Letter, that of tedious and excessive Length. There's a prettily turned Conclusion for You! from yr.
[signed] Lysander
1. Elizabeth, eldest child of Richard and Mary (Smith) Cranch, was born 20 Nov. 1763; she married Rev. Jacob Norton in 1789 and died in 1811. See Adams Genealogy.