A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 8

Docno: ADMS-04-08-02-0124

Author: Callahan, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1788-04-08

John Callahan to Abigail Adams

[salute] Madam—

I had the Honor of Receiving a letter from you yesterday— we have had such—Boysterous weather Since your Departur from here that for 6 days. I had the Pilot on board, & he Would not ventur to moove the Ship: but She is Now in the Downes & will be at Portsmouth the first fair wind: I Shall proceed from here so as to get to Portsmouth before the Ship so that my Departure from here will in some Measure depend upon the winds— I will wate on Mr. Vassel this Evening with your Commands: Mrs. Callahan returns you her most respectfull thanks For your, kind attention, in remembering { 254 } here— please To present our Respects to, his Excellency—& am very Respectfully— / Madam / your most humbl servt.
[signed] John Callahan
Mr. Ward Boylstons: with whom I had the honor dineing with today Desires his most Respectful Compliments to you & his Excellency
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs: Adams” and “To Mrs. Adams—”

Docno: ADMS-04-08-02-0125

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Smith, Abigail Adams
Date: 1788-04-09

Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith

[salute] My Dear Child:

It is now ten days since we left London, and have been waiting at Portsmouth and here for the ship, but cannot yet learn that she has passed Gravesend. The weather is fine, but this waiting is very tedious, in a place where we have no acquaintance, and very little to interest or amuse us.
We took a ride, yesterday, to Newport, the principal town in the island, and visited Carisbrook Castle. This place is famous not only for its antiquity, but for having been used as a prison for Charles the First, who retired to it from Hampton Court as a place of safety, but was afterwards confined there as a prisoner.1 This castle is now in ruins, and no person can give any account of its origin. The first mention of it which history gives, is about the year 530. It was then said to be a place of some strength; its situation is upon a very high eminence, and the mount which supports the citadel must have been an immense labour, as it appears to have been the work of art. The ascent to it is by a flight of four score steps; but then one is amply repaid for the fatigue, as it gives you an extensive view of the town and river of Newport, the harbour of Cowes, Portsmouth, Southampton, and many other adjacent parts.
One of the most curious things in this castle is a well, three hundred feet deep, and so well stoned that the lapse of ages does not seem in the least to have injured it. It is within the castle, under cover, and the woman who conducted us carried a lantern, by which she lighted a large paper and threw into the well, that we might see its depth. She also threw a pin in, the sound of which resounded like a large stone. The water is drawn up by an ass, which walks in a wheel like a turn-spit dog. The whole place is delightful, though in ruins. This island is a beautiful spot, taken all together, very fertile, { 255 } and highly cultivated; but water, and not land, is the object we have now in view, and knowing that we must pass it, renders every delay painful.
I wrote you from London and from Portsmouth, but have not received a single line from you since you left me.2 From Mr. Smith we received letters, whilst he was at Bath, which is the last I heard from you.3 As the wind is so contrary, I shall venture to send this, in expectation that you have not yet sailed, and requesting you to write and direct your letter to the Fountain Inn, Cowes, at Mrs. Symes'.4 Send it by the crossroad post to Southampton, by which means it will reach us. How is my dear sweet boy? I think of him by day, and dream of him by night. O, what a relief would his sportive little pranks have been to me, in the tedious hours of waiting,—waiting for winds, for captain, for vessel. I fear all my patience will be exhausted.
I took only a few books, and a little sewing, all of which were exhausted in one week. We got some little recruit, yesterday, at Newport; but that will soon be out. Let me hear from you, my dear child—how you are like to be accommodated, and the name of the packet and captain. We have written to Callihan, but I know he will take his own time, and at the same time assure you it shall be yours. I think he might get to the Downs, if he would exert himself.
My love to Mr. Smith, and my little charmer. Your father sends his love to you all.
I am, my dear child, most affectionately, / Yours,
[signed] Abigail Adams
MS not found. Printed from AA2, Jour. and Corr., 2:67–69.
1. Carisbrooke Castle, a medieval structure built on the remains of a Roman site, was the seat of government on the Isle of Wight when Charles I fled there in 1647. Probably hoping he could escape from there to France if it became necessary, Charles I was instead held as a prisoner at the castle for nearly a year prior to his execution at Whitehall in Jan. 1649 (Karl Baedeker, Great Britain: Handbook for Travellers, 8th edn., Leipzig, 1927, p. 67; DNB).
2. The London letter has not been found. For the Portsmouth letter, see AA to AA2, 2 April, above.
3. WSS to JA, 28 March (Adams Papers), for which see AA to AA2, 2 April, note 1, above.
4. AA and JA stayed at the Fountain Inn in Cowes from 6 to 20 April, taking trips from there to see other sites on the Isle of Wight. AA described the building in greater detail in the Diary of her return voyage to America, 30 March – 1 May (JA, D&A, 3:212–213).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.