A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4


Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0104

Author: Cranch, Elizabeth
Author: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1781-05

Elizabeth Cranch to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My Dear Cousin

How shall I excuse myself for my long neglecting to write to you? Should I offer any other apology, than want of proper abilities, it would be false; and should I offer that, which is the only true one, perhaps it might be thought I wished for a compliment. But I had rather my Cousin should have a less favourable opinion of my understanding; than have cause to doubt my regard for him. That regard, joined to your Mama's repeated solicitations and my wishes for that { 147 } improvement, and entertainment, which I shall receive from your letters, have at last encouraged me to write; and if you should read this letter, let it be with the candour of a Friend, not with the scrutinizing eye of a Critick.
It gives me pain to think that we are deprived of so many of your Letters by means of the frequent capture of Vessels. We have not heard from you but once, since you have been in Holland. We are impatient for some news from you; I hope it will not be a great while yet before we shall have it.
I expect to see you at your return, the accomplished gentleman; possessed of all the solidity and resolution of the American, finely polished by the ease, and sprightliness of the French. And may you not be destitute of the greatest of all accomplishments, that which can alone make you amiable, that which constitutes a Good Man; a due regard for Virtue and Religion. I am sensible my dear Cousin that they are words, which are very seldom, if ever, mentioned in the modern Plan, for what is called a Polite Education. But I dare say they are neither new, or unpleasing Sounds to your Ear. From your Papa (who practises them so well), I do not doubt you often receive the rules for attaining both and from your Mama's Letters (if you are so happy as to receive them) you may collect an excellent System of Morality. Your advantages for improvement are much greater than most young Gentlemen who travel; though they are generally provided with a Tutor, he is not their Parent, and cannot be supposed, to feel so interested for their good behaviour. The advice you receive from your Papa, you are sure, is free from all motives, but such as tend to promote your happiness. Let me beg of you my dear Cousin, by all means and as you prize your's, and the happiness of all your dearest Friends, to regulate your conduct by his precepts invariably—but I must stop and beg you to forgive the earnestness of a Friend and desire you not to impute what I have said to arrogance or self-sufficiency, but to the true motives, which were, my ardent desires to promote your good.
I could wish you to make my most respectful regards acceptable to your Papa and Mr. Thaxter, and my Love to my dear little Charles, (if they still remember me) and if amidst many much more important concerns you should think it proper to favour me with some of the productions of your Pen, I should think myself greatly obliged. May not the time be far distant, when you will all return in safety to your Friends, among which number I hope you include her who is sincerely and affectionately Your's,
[signed] E. C.
{ 148 }
Early Tr (Adams Papers), in JQA's hand; at head of text: “1. From Miss E.G.”; see descriptive note on AA2 to JQA, 24 May, above.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0105

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1781-06-16

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Mr. Le Roy the Bearer of this is a native of N. York but has lived nine years in Amsterdam with his Aunt Mrs. Chabanelle, a Lady who with her whole respectable Family, have been vastly civil to me and mine. Our Children have found that House a kind of home. I therefore wish Mr. Le Roy every Respect in America that can be shewn him.1
He wishes to form Mercantile Connections in America and therefore, it might be mutually convenient, for him to see your Unkle Smith and Mr. Cranch.

[salute] With the tenderest affection, to Miss Nabby and Mr. Thomas, I am, yours,

[signed] J. Adams
1. The Adamses had been introduced to the Le Roy-Chabanel circle at Amsterdam at the very outset of their sojourn in the Netherlands. See entries for August and September in JA's Diary and Autobiography, 2:446–447. Jacob Le Roy, a native of Rotterdam, had lived for some time in New York in the mid-18th century, and his son Herman was born there. Herman translated into English the questions submitted to JA by the jurist Hendrik Calkoen that led to JA's first propaganda effort in Amsterdam, eventually published as Twenty-Six Letters, upon Interesting Subjects Respecting the Revolution in America, Written in Holland, in the Year M.DCC.LXXX, London, 1786 (JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot, p. 194; Works, 7:265). Herman returned to America with Gillon in the South Carolina in 1781–1782, and formed successive partnerships in New York City that were long active in developing lands in western New York. The village of Le Roy in Genesee co., N.Y., was named for him. See P. J. van Winter, Het Aandeel van den Amsterdamschen aan den Opbouw van het Amerikaansche Gemeenebest, The Hague, 1927–1933, passim; John Lincklaen, Travels in the Years 1791 and 1792 in Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont, ed. Helen L. Fairchild, N.Y., 1897, p. 141–146; Paul D. Evans, The Holland Land Company (Buffalo Historical Society, Publications, vol. 28), Buffalo, 1924, passim.
JQA's diaries, kept irregularly during 1780 and 1781, show that he and CA were constantly under the care of one or another of the Le Roys and their relative, Mme. V. Chabanel, when not in school or at Leyden.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0106

Author: Lovell, James
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1781-06-16

James Lovell to Abigail Adams

I have already acknowledged the Receipt of your Letter of May 10th covering a Copy of March 17th, and accompanied by one of May 14th.1 I think I told you I would be more particular, at some { 149 } future Day, in considering certain Parts of them. I meant to do it by Cyphers; but the present Opportunity renders that mode needless. Genl. Ward will probably take a safe Road for himself and consequently for my Scrawl.2
“A captured Letter, not to Portia thank Fortune,—published by the Enemy—has made some Talk; let the Writer's Conscience tell him whether any Thing ought to escape his Pen, even to a confidential Friend, that might be just Occasion of Pain to an affectionate Wife.” —“I have not yet seen it, I fear it is not fit I should.”3
As to the Letter Madam, there is one Expression or rather one Mode of Expression that I wish was not there. I am very unwilling that it should be submitted to the Eye of one so very much my Friend as you profess yourself to be. My Enemies are welcome to read it a thousand Times over. It was an unbecoming Levity, and quite unfit for a “Senator.”4 But it is not that which will give Pain to my affectionate Wife. She will be pained with what you would smile at. For she is more apt to fear than to despise the Enmity of Little-GreatFolks. I should have submitted the Letter, however to your severe anti-shandean Criticism, if I had not thought that an angried Few would have wisely kept from saying any Thing about it, rather than to make spiteful Interpretations of Parts that did not refer to themselves purely to vent that Malice which had been put into a State of Fermentation by Jemmy Rivington's marginal Notes upon those Parts which did really appertain to their Worthyships.5 I am persuaded Madam I thus hit upon the authors—original Authors I mean, of those Suggestions which have troubled you. I did not want to aggrivate their Feelings by giving Communications of what I imagined they would chuse to stifle; that is to say the marginal Notes. By Mr. S[amuel] A[dams] I sent to Mr. G[erry] the original Print. I assure you there is only the Levity of an Hieroglyphic instead of the Words at home that I regret.
I must now be very serious. There is in the World, in the Hands of one of my best Friends, a Bond of about 80 Pounds Lawful Money against me, but I have that Amount and more against a Farm mortgaged to me for myself and others, tho' not worth what it is dipped6 for. This is the whole Connexion I have with Money matters, and a poor one it is, except with my Pay for Time and Service as a Delegate, which ceases the day I arrive in Boston, though my Wife and Children will expect to dine the day after and peradventure they will be extravagant enough to expect it the third Day also. I shall not say much about the Probability, that many of those who have dined and supped { 150 } formerly, often, for a Course of years, elegantly both as to the Table and Sideboard, tho not luxuriously, upon the Product of the exemplary Industry of the Usher of a Grammar School, will call to pay their Compliments to the Honorable Delegate of Congress, and wellcome him Home, while He poor Wretch cannot in Return offer them a Glass of small Beer to drink in Case of Thirst.
Do those who condemn my Absence mean to take me into their Stores as a Clerk? Will they risk such a Test of my Desire to live with one of the most faithful endearing Wives within the Circle of my whole Acquaintance, the tender and discrete Mother of my numerous Children, the benevolent Neighbour, the chearful sensible Companion of both Sexes.
“I must return if only for a short Visit.”7 Will they be willing to maint... —But, I shall forget who I am writing to, and shall draw upon myself, and not myself only, a Condemnation of a secret Compact against short Visits.—I am told that a Dollar and an Half per Day is to cloathe me as a Delegate, and to support the Wife and the seven Children of the same Delegate! Some of my Boys however begin to help me.
And now Madam, do not think that this serious Subject shall prevent my taking Occasion to censure your Sophistry in one part of your Letter.8
“What Right has She, who is appropriated, to appear lovely or charming in any Eyes but his whose Property she is?” I answer, all that Right and Title which Virtue inherits above Vice.
“I am persuaded” says a Lady who had seen much of the World, “that a Woman who is determined to place her Happiness in her Husband's Affections, should abandon the extravagant Desire of engaging public Adoration.”
I underscore Part to show that it had nothing to do with your own Question above.
But I go further, and say, that the Lady needed not to travel to get double the Wisdom of what she here discovers. She might have sat in her Chamber and known that a Woman who is determined to place her Happiness in her Husband's affections not only “should” but would abandon “the extravagant” and even any Desire of Engaging “public Adoration.9
“Portia can join with Juba in the Play.” “By Heavens I had rather have that best of Friend's approve my Deeds than Worlds for my Admirers.” In Troth a very pretty Scrap of a Play! but quoted very unseasonably. For let me ask may not those very Deeds be approved { 151 } and the Author of them consequently be admired by Thousands and Tens of Thousands; and has not a Wife, as well as a Maid, a Right thus “to appear lovely and charming to other Eyes than his whose Property she is”? Property! oh the dutch Idea!10
Besides, Madam, your fine tuned Instrument cannot be an american one; it must be english with which we are at War. It cannot be italien, or it would be more sensibly touched by the amiable than by the lovely, the first being of roman and the last of british Extract; but otherwise, critically the same.
My Letter dated April 13. was written the 23.11—The Duke of Leinster not Leominster carried your Letter safely, but she is herself carried into New York.
I begin now to be uneasy about your Goods. Oeconomy has banished all Waggoning almost from this City; and if I send by Water to Trenton I know not the Store Keeper's there, so that I shall run new Risques. Perhaps I may hear from you or Mr. Cranch Tomorrow. I am worried by a Paragraph in one of my Son's Letters which mentions your Good's by Doctor Winship being injured by the Rain. It must have been before Mr. Hughes boxed them; and he mentioned no such Thing to me.
I “have received your Letter of March 2712 (and worse ones too) in that Spirit of Friendship with which they flowed from the Pen of Portia.”13 You see nevertheless that I think it a bad one and it is that Thought which prevents me from following the Dictates of my own Sincerity in subscribing:

[salute] I have not yet worn out the Word Madam

[signed] J L
1. All the letters mentioned are printed above, that of 14 May under the date of AA's draft, 13 May. Lovell had acknowledged receipt of these in his of 29 May, also above.
2. AA acknowledged receipt of the present letter, brought by Maj. Gen. Artemas Ward, in her reply of 14 July, below.
3. Lovell is quoting from AA's letter of 17 March, as he does repeatedly below, not always verbatim and hence sometimes distorting her emphasis if not her meaning.
4. For a nearly complete printed text of Lovell's letter to Elbridge Gerry of 20 Nov. 1780, intercepted and published by the British in Rivington's New York Royal Gazette, 27 Dec. 1780, p. 2, col. 1, see Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 5:451–453. Burnett's text is from the intercepted original in the Sir Henry Clinton Papers in MiU-C, and he locates another MS and another contemporary newspaper printing. He also furnishes excellent explanatory notes on the somewhat cryptic allusions in Lovell's letter to Congressional business, to George Washington, and to John Hancock. But he prints without explaining Lovell's brief paragraph mentioning his wife that had, from what she had heard about it, so perturbed AA and prompted the reproaches in her letter to Lovell of 17 March. This paragraph reads:
{ 152 }
“'Is it not Time to pay a Visit to Mass:'? Does my Wife look as if she wanted a toothless grey headed sciatic Husband near her? I am more Benefit to her at a Distance than in ♂ as the Almanac has it.”
This is “the unbecoming Levity” toward Mrs. Lovell which had caused so much talk and was all that Lovell admitted to AA he regretted coming to light through the interception and publication of his letter. Specifically, as he explains below, he regretted using “an Hieroglyphic” (i.e. “in ♂”) “instead of the Words at home.” With its mixture of learned and sexually suggestive implications, this was a bit of verbal play very typical of Lovell: in astronomy ♂ is the sign for Mars; in biology it is the male principle.
5. Rivington's “marginal Notes” were footnotes appended, not to the text of Lovell's letter to Gerry of 20 Nov. 1780, but to another Lovell letter intercepted at the same time and printed in the same issue of the Royal Gazette (27 Dec. 1780, p. 2, col. 2). This letter was addressed to John Hancock, 21 Nov. 1780; besides dealing with certain financial matters, it tendered Hancock warm congratulations on his recent election as governor under the new Constitution. The printer commented on Lovell's “duplicity of ... heart” in toadying to Hancock, since the two men were known to be political enemies, and cast sundry reflections on Lovell's humble origins and doubtful solvency. It should be observed that, since AA had not seen the newspaper text or notes, Lovell's labored explanation must have been largely meaningless to her, except for the revelation that if he gave up his post (and pay) in Congress he would have no means of supporting his family.
6. See OED under dip, verb, 7b: “To involve in debt or pecuniary liabilities; to mortgage ... (colloq.).”
7. Paraphrased from AA's letter to Lovell of 13 May, above.
8. Of 17 March, to which Lovell now reverts.
9. Opening quotation mark editorially supplied.
10. For AA's disapproving response to this phrase, see her reply of 14 July, below.
11. It is printed above under the corrected date.
12. Error for March 17.
13. Quotation marks as in MS, but the opening quotation mark should in fact precede “in that Spirit.”
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/