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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 6


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Docno: ADMS-04-06-02-0121

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Cranch, Mary Smith
Date: 1785-09-30

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

[salute] My dear sister

Your kind Letters of July and August are before me.1 I thank you most sincerely for the particular manner in which you write; I go along with you, and take an interest in every transaction which concerns those I love. And I enjoy more pleasure from those imaginary Scenes, than I do from the drawing room at St. James's. In one I feel my self your Friend and equal, in the other I know I am looked down upon with a sovereign pride, and the Smile of Royalty is bestowed as a mighty Boon. As such however I cannot receive it. I know it is due to my Country, and I consider myself as complimenting the Power before which I appear, as much as I am complimented by being noticed by it. With these Ideas you may be sure my countanance will never wear that suppliant appearence which begs for notice. Consequently I never expect to be a Court favourite, nor would I ever again set my foot there, if the Etiquette of my Country did not require it. But whilst I am in a publick Character I must submit to the penalty, for such I shall ever esteem it.2 You will naturally suppose { 393 } that I have lately been much fatigued. This is very true. I attended the Drawing room last week upon the Aniversary of the Coronation of their Majesties. The Company were very Brilliant, and her Majesty was stiff with Diamonds. The three eldest Princesses and the Prince of Wales were present.3 His Highness lookt much better than when I saw him before. He is a stout well made Man, and would look very well; if he had not sacrificed so much to Bacchus. The Princess Elizabeth I never saw before, she is about 15, a short clumsy Miss, and would not be thought Handsome if she was not a Princess. The whole family have one complexion; and all inclined to corpulent, I should know them in any part of the world.
Not with standing the English boast so much of their Beauties, I do not think they have really so much of it, as you will find amongst the same proportion of people in America. It is true that their complexions are undoubtedly fairer than the French, and in general their figure is good. Of this they make the best. But I have not seen a Lady in England who can bear a comparison with Mrs. Bingham Mrs. Platt4 and a Miss Hamilton who is a Philadelphia young Lady. Amongst the most celebrated of their Beauties stands the Dutchess of Devonshire,5 who is Masculine in her appearence. Lady Salsbury is small and geenteel, but her complexion is bad, and Lady Talbot is not a Mrs. Bingham, who taken all together is the finest woman I ever saw. The intelligence of her countanance, or rather I ought to say animation, the Elegance of her form, and the affability of her Manners, converts you into admiration, and one has only to lament too much dissapation and frivolity of amusement, which has weand her from her Native Country; and given her a passion and thirst after all the Luxeries of Europe.
The finest English woman I have seen is the eldest daughter of Mr. Dana, Brother to our Mr. Dana. He resides in the Country, but was in London with two of his daughters when I first came here.6 I saw her first at Raneleigh. I was struck with her appearence and endeavourd to find who she was, for she appeard like Calipso amongst her Nymphs, delicate and modest. She was easily known from the crowd as a stranger. I had not long admired her; before she was brought by her Father and introduced to me, after which she made me a visit, with her sister, who was much out of Health, at the same time that she has the best title of any English woman I have seen to the rank of Divinity. I would not have it forgotten that her Father is an American, and as he was remarkably handsome no doubt she owes a large share of her Beauty to him.
{ 394 }
Since I took my pen I have received from Mrs. Rogers acquainting me with the death of her Mamma. I feard as much from what Mrs. Copely told me the week before.7
I dread to hear from my dear Aunt least the same melancholy tidings should reach me with respect to her. She is at the same critical period of life which proved fatal to Mrs. Broomfeild.8 I will however hope that she may yet be spaired to her Friends. Tho her Health would never permit her to engage in the active buisness of her family, she was attentive to the interest and welfare of every individual of it. Like Sarah she was always to be found in her tent.9 A more benevolent Heart never inhabited a Humane Breast. It was well matched and seconded in a partner equally Benevolent and humane, who has shared with us our former Griefs and will find us equally sympathetick towards himself should so great a misfortune attend him as I fear. Indeed I know not how to take my pen to write to him. I do not wonder that your Heart was affected or your spirits low under the apprehension of losing one so deservedly dear to us all. Should this ornament be broken from the original building it will be an other memento to us of the frailty of the whole, and that duration depends not upon age. Yet who would desire to stand the last naked Pillar of the whole? I believe our social affections strengthen by age. As those objects and amusement which gratified our Youthfull Years lose their relish, the social converse and society of Friends becomes more necessary.

Needfull auxiliars are our Friends to give

To social Man true realish of himself.

But I must close, as I am going to day to dine with my Friend Mrs. Rogers, where I have given myself an invitation, the occasion of which I will reserve for the Subject of an other Letter and subscribe affectionately Yours
[signed] A A
RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.); addressed in an unknown hand: “Mrs. Mary Cranch Braintree Massachusetts.”
1. The only extant letter that fits this description is Mary Cranch to AA , 19 July, above, which she finished on 7 August.
2. A caret appears in the MS immediately following this sentence, but no text that might be inserted appears in the letter.
3. Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Augusta Sophia, and Elizabeth, and George, Prince of Wales, later George IV.
4. Probably Abigail Pyncheon Platt of NewYork City and New Haven, Conn., who had spent some time in Europe with her husband ( NEHGR , 38:47 [Jan. 1884]; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:302; JQA, Diary , 1:306, and note 1).
5. Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, daughter of John Spencer, first earl Spencer, and wife of the fifth duke of Devonshire, was twentyeight in 1785. She made a great impression on English society more by the force of her per• { 395 } sonality and her broad cultural and political interests than by her beauty, which several observers praised rather modestly. See DNB .
6. Francis Dana's elder brother Edmund had sailed to England shortly after his graduation from Harvard in 1759, married Helen, daughter of Charles Kinnaird, sixth baron Kinnaird, in 1765, and taken holy orders in 1769. After 1774 he was vicar at Wroxeter, near Shrewsbury in Shropshire. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Caroline, was eighteen, and his second daughter, Frances Johnstone, nearly seventeen when AA met them. Sibley's Harvard Graduates , 14:414–418; Elizabeth Ellery Dana, The Dana Family in America, Cambridge, 1956, p. 484–485.
7. This paragraph is omitted in AA, Letters, ed. CFA. Hannah Clarke Bromfield of Boston and Harvard, Mass., step-mother of AA 's dear friend Abigail Bromfield Rogers, died on 17 August (Daniel Denison Slade, “Bromfield Family,” NEHGR , 26:38–42 [Jan. 1872]).
8. Lucy Quincy Tufts would die at fifty-five in October; Hannah Clarke Bromfield was sixty-one at her death. See AA2 to JQA , 24 Sept., under ““Fryday Eve,” above; vol. 4:348, note 1.
9. See Genesis 18:9.

Docno: ADMS-04-06-02-0122

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Cranch, Mary Smith
Date: 1785-10-01

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

[salute] My dear sister

I told you in my last, that I was going to dine with my Friend Mrs. Rogers. You must know that yesterday the whole Diplomatick Choir dinned here, that is his Lordship the Marquiss of Carmarthan and all the Foreign Ministers 15 in all,1 and to day the Newspapers proclaim it. I believe they have as many Spies here as the Police of France. Upon these occasions no Ladies are admitted, so I wrote a card and beg'd a dinner for myself and Daughter of Mrs. Rogers where I know I am always welcome.
It is customary to send out cards of invitation ten days before hand. Our cards were gone out, and as good luck would have it, Captain Hay returnd from the West Indies and presented us with a noble Turtle weighing a hundred and 14 pounds which was drest upon this occasion. Tho it gave us a good deal of pain to receive so valuable a present from them; yet we could not refuse it without affronting them, and it certainly happend at a most fortunate time. On tuesday they and a Number of our American Friends and some of our English Friends, for I assure you we have a chosen few of that number, are to dine with us.
This afternoon I have had a visit from Madam Pinto, the Lady of the Portugal Minister. They have all visited now, and I have returnd their visits, but this is the only Lady that I have seen. She speaks english tolerabely and appears an agreeable woman. She has lately returnd to this Country from whence she has been 5 years absent. The Chevelier de Pinto has been Minister here for many years.2 Some years hence it may be a pleasure to reside here in the Character of American Minister, but with the present sallery and the present { 396 } temper of the English no one need to envy the embassy. There would soon be fine work if any notice was taken of their Bilingsgate and abuse, but all their arrows rebound and fall Harmless to the ground. Amidst all their falshoods, they have never insinuated a Lisp against the private Character of the American Minister, nor in his publick Line charged him with either want of abilities honour or integrity. The whole venom has been leveld against poor America, and every effort to make her appear ridiculous in the Eyes of the Nation. How would they exult if they could lay hold of any circumstance in Either of our Characters to make us appear ridiculous.
I received a Letter to day from Mr. Jefferson who writes me; that he had just received a parcel of English Newspapers. They “teem says he with every horrour of which nature is capable; assassination Suicide thefts robberies, and what is worse than thefts Murder and robbery, the blackest Slanders! Indeed the Man must be of rock who can stand all this. To Mr. Adams it will be but one victory the more. It would [have] illy suited me. I do not love difficulties, I am fond of quiet, willing to do my duty, but irritable by slander and apt to be forced by it to abandon my post. I fancy says he it must be the quantity of Animal food eaten by the English which renders their Character unsusceptible of civilisation. I suspect that it is in their kitchens and not in their Churches, that their reformation must be worked, and that missionaries from hence would avail more than those who should Endevour to tame them by precepts of Religion or Philosophy.”3
But he adds, what do the foolish Printers of America mean by retailing all this Stuff in our Papers, as if it was not enough to be slandered by ones Enemies without circulating the Slanders amongst ones Friends too?
I could tell Mr. Jefferson that I doubt not that there are persons in America equally gratified with them as the english, and that from a spirit of envy. But these open attacks are nothing to the secret and subtle Enemies Mr. A. has had heretofore to encounter. In Mr. Jefferson he has a firm and faithfull Friend, with whom he can consult and advise, and as each of them have no object but the good of their Country in view, they have an unlimited confidence in each other, and they have only to lament that the Channel divides their more frequent intercourse.
You ask me whether I must tarry out three years?4 Heaven only knows what may be the result of one if any probabity appears of accomplishing any thing. Tis likely we may tarry. I am sure that it { 397 } will be a Labour if not of Love yet of much perplexity, and difficulty. The immense debt due from the Mercantile part of America to this Country, sours this people beyond measure and greatly distresses thousands who never were or ever will be Polititians. The Manufactures who supplied the Merchants, and depend upon them for remittances, indeed I pitty their situation. At the same time I think our Countrymen greatly to blame for getting a credit, that many of them have taken no Pains to preserve, but who have thoughtlessly rioted upon the Property of others.
And this amongst other things makes our Situation dissagreeable and the Path very difficult for negotiation.5
You make an other inquiry too, how your Neice will like to tarry. I can assure you, and all those whom it ever concernd that I have not seen her half so happy and contented since she left America, as she has been for six weeks past,6 and I am persuaded she has no particular attachment there more than we all have in common. The last vessels brought her no Letters but from a female Friend or two. A few lines only have found their way across the vast ocean since last December, and them through the utmost hazard of Barbarians Algerines &c. Who would dare to trust a Letter? But enough I will say nothing, as she wishes every delicacy may be used with respect to a Person whom once we thought better of. But you cannot wonder that she rather wishes to remain some time in Europe than for a speedy return.
Your Nephew you have had with you before now. As he did not arrive soon enough for commencment, he wished to see many Person in New York to whom he had Letters, and as he received much civility there, he did not leave it so suddenly as his Nothern Friends expected. He had permission to remain there a fortnight or more as he found it proper and convenient. I believe he is fully sensible of the necessity of oconomy. I never saw any inclination in him to unnecessary expence. He was my Book keeper all the time I resided at Auteuil and perfectly knows what our expences were; he will be very sensible they are not lessned by our residence in London, where we are more exposed to Company, and obliged to an attendance at Court. It mortifies me that I have it not in my Power to send amongst my Friends many things which I should rejoice to, as there are now so many articles restricted. If any particular thing is wanted by you or yours which I can put into the private trunk of a Captain, let me know it, and you shall have it.
I would have you write me by way of New York during the winter. Cover your Letters either to Mr. King or Gerry; which address will { 398 } Frank them to New York and they will forward them to me. I shall take the same method; as it is not likely any other opportunitys but by the Pacquet will offer. My Paper calls upon me to subscribe your affectionate Sister
[signed] A A
RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.).
1. See the list of guests in AA2 to JQA , 24 Sept., note 23, above.
2. Luiz Pinto de Balsamão had represented Portugal since 1774 (Repertorium der diplamatischen Vertreter aller Länder, 3:317).
3. In this and the following paragraph AA quotes from Jefferson's letter of 25 Sept., above.
4. See Mary Cranch to AA , 19 July, above, under “August 1d.”
5. All the text from this point to the signature is omitted from AA, Letters ed. CFA.
6. That is, since she had written a note to Royall Tyler, [ca. 11 Aug.] , above, terminating their relationship.