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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0223

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1782-06

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

[salute] My Dear Eliza

I have not heard a word from B—1 since Wedensday last. I want much to know how you all do. I wrote you last Saturday. Mrs. Quincy took my letter yesterday.2 Hope you have received it. You will not complain of my not writing you I bleive, my letters can give you little pleasure only as they are dictated by a heart that rearly3 loves you. My affection for you is an inducement for my writing you at this time more particularly. I have my friend been in company with many persons since I have been in town who were formerly acquainted with the gentleman that lately has resided in your family. Every one expresses great surprise at the event, these persons say [that]4 he is practicing upon Chesterfeilds plan, that [he] is the essence and quintessence of artfulness and fear he will in some way or other ingratiate himself into the good opinion of your self. You are not acquainted with his character they say. I have told them I have not a fear about the matter, that I think you are too well gaurded against art in aney shape and that you would despise the attempt, and detest the action. But my friend I dont know but a word by way of caution is nesesary. Perhaps you will laugh at me as I have at others who have made the supposition but I know your heart is at present uncommonly softened by affliction and should he learn your disposition and find a way to sooth your sorrows I will not answer for you, that you will not at least esteem him. His character and his conduct are not deserving the least degree of your friendship and I dare say you will discover it soon if you have not at present. I was told the other day that I could not see him and not become acquainted with him. I am determined to avoid the least degree of acquaintance if anything short of affrontery will answer his whole study, his dissimulation; our sex cannot be too carefull of the characters of the acquaintance we form.5
I passed the day yesterday with Mrs. Mason. She was pleasing and he as agreable as ever. His pappas family dined with us, Mr. Ben Mason and a sister of his.6 He was very particular in his enquireyes about Miss Cranch, whether she was married or like to be. I liked him better than ever I asure you. Indeed my Dear I answer many about { 336 } [you.] “She is a lovely Girl, I was much pleased with her,”7 and the like questions from persons whose esteem is valluable. And those I have to answer you may suppose I ever join them in their opinion. Indeed I do. It would be at the expence of my sincerety was I to join otherwise. But I should not have said aney thing about these things as it is I beleive more agreable to persons to imajine these civil things said of them then to heare them, dont you think so. A lively imagination can embellish to their own satisfaction.—But your heart is too much affected to receive such a letter from aney one as this. I have wished much to hear from your pappa in the week past but the fates have denied me. I will hope he is better, may I not be disappointed. Adeiu till I hear of an opportunity of conveiyance to you.
Wedensday evevening. I have this moment perused your postscript.8 It rearly gave me pleasure as I have not heard one word from you this week. The time has seemed long indeed. I pitty you my Dear. Your benevolence was hurt by being the messenger of an event that gave pain to a friend. Do let me hear from you and answer both of my letters. I intend to write Miss Betsy. My Love ever attends her and every one dese[rving?] it. Beleive me your friend.
Thursday mor[ning]9
[Written lengthwise in margin of first page:] Have you wrote to Mr. Thaxter if you have not there is a vessel going for Amsterdam soon so I was told.
RC (MHi:Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; endorsed: “June—82 AA.” Punctuation has been minimally corrected for clarity, but some passages remain a little ambiguous.
1. Braintree must be meant. From AA2's allusions below, her own letter was unquestionably written from Boston; see note 6.
2. None of the letters here referred to has been found, and Mrs. Quincy is not further identifiable among the many bearing that name.
3. Thus in MS, doubtless for “really.”
4. Here and below, MS is torn.
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.
6. Jonathan Mason Jr. of Boston, on whom see a sketch above, >vol. 1:280, and another in JA, Legal Papers, 1: civ. He had studied law and lived in JA's household in 1775–1776 and became a correspondent and admiring friend of both JA and AA. In 1779 he had married Susan Powell. His father, Jonathan Mason Sr., was a prominent Boston merchant, married to Miriam Clark; see DAB under Jonathan Jr. They had three daughters and also a younger son, Benjamin (Harvard 1779), who practiced medicine and became an honorary M.D. in 1800 (Harvard Quinquennial Cat.).
7. Initial and terminal quotation marks editorially supplied.
8. Not found.
9. Thus in MS, perhaps indicating that the letter was completed and sent off on the day after it was mainly written (Wednesday).

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0224

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1782-07-01

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

Your charming Letters of April 10 and 22d1 were brought me, Yesterday. That of 22d is upon Business. Mr. Hill is paid I hope. I will honour your Bill if you draw. But be cautious—dont trust Money to any Body. You will never have any to lose or to spare. Your Children will want more than you and I shall have for them.
The Letter of the 10 I read over and over without End—and ardently long to be at the blue Hills, there to pass the Remainder of my feeble days. You would be surprised to see your Friend—he is much altered. He is half a Century older and feebler than ever you knew him. The Horse that he mounts every day is of service to his Health and the Air of the Hague is much better than that of Amsterdam, and besides he begins to be a Courtier, and Sups and Visits at Court among Princesses and Princes, Lords and Ladies of various Nations. I assure you it is much wholesomer to be a complaisant, good humoured, contented Courtier, than a Grumbletonian Patriot,2 always whining and snarling.
However I believe my Courtierism will never go any great Lengths. I must be an independent Man, and how to reconcile this to the Character of Courtier is the Question.
{ 338 }
A Line from Unkle Smith of 6. of May3 makes me tremble for my Friend and Brother Cranch! I must hope he is recoverd.
I can tell you no News about Peace. There will be no Seperate Peaces made, not even by Holland—and I cannot think that the present English Ministry are firm enough in their Seats to make a general Peace, as yet.
When shall I go home? If a Peace should be made, you would soon see me.—I have had strong Conflicts within, about resigning all my Employments, as soon as I can send home a Treaty. But I know not what is duty as our Saints say. It is not that my Pride or my Vanity is piqued by the Revocation of my envied Commission. But in such Cases, a Man knows not what Construction to put. Whether it is not intended to make him resign. Heaven knows I never solicited to come to Europe. Heaven knows too what Motive I can have, to banish my self from a Country, which has given me, unequivocal Marks of its4 Affection, Confidence and Esteem, to encounter every Hardship and every danger by Sea and by Land, to ruin my Health, and to suffer every Humiliation and Mortification that human Nature can endure.
What affects me most is the Tryumph given to Wrong against Right, to Vice against Virtue, to Folly vs. Wisdom, to Servility against Independance, to base and vile Intrigue against inflexible Honour and Integrity. This is saying a great deal, but it is saying little more than Congress have said upon their Records, in approving that very Conduct for which I was sacrificed.—I am sometimes afraid that it is betraying the Cause of Independence and Integrity or at least the Dignity, which they ought to maintain, to continue in the service. But on the other Hand I have thought, whether it was not more dangerously betraying this Dignity, to give its Ennemies, perhaps the compleat Tryumph which they wished for and sought but could not obtain.
You will see, the American Cause has had a signal Tryumph in this Country. If this had been the only Action of my Life, it would have been a Life well spent. I see with Smiles and Scorn, little despicable Efforts to deprive me of the Honour of any Merit, in this Negotiation, but I thank God, I have enough to shew. No Negotiation to this or any other Country was every recorded in greater detail, as the World will one day see. The Letters I have written in this Country, are carefully preserved. The Conversations I have had are remembered. The Pamphlets, the Gazettes, in Dutch and French, will shew to Posterity, when it comes to be known what share I have had in them as it will be, it will be seen that the Spanish Ambassador expressed but the litteral Truth,5 when He said
{ 339 }
“Monsieur a frappé la plus grand Coup de tout L'Europe.—Cette Reconnaisance fait un honneur infinie a Monsieur.—C'est lui qui a effraycée et terrassee les Anglomanes. C'est lui qui a rempli cet nation d'Enthusiasm.”—&c.6
Pardon a Vanity, which however is conscious of the Truth, and which has a right to boast, since the most Sordid Arts and the grossest Lies, are invented and propagated, by Means that would disgrace the Devil, to disguise the Truth from the sight of the World. I laugh at this, because I know it to be impossible. Silence!
1. Error by JA for 25 April; see AA's letter of that date, above.
2. That is, as the word suggests, a grumbling patriot or member of the anticourt party. For the origin of this word in 17th-century English politics, see OED.
3. Not found.
4. MS: “his.”
5. JA revised this sentence in the course of writing it, spoiling its structure without losing its meaning.
6. JA relished this praise well enough to convey it, in varying language but always bad French, to others; see, for example, his letter to Edmund Jenings, 28 April (Adams Papers), quoted in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:5. The Spanish minister plenipotentiary at The Hague was Sebastián de Llano y de la Quadra, Conde de Sanafcé and Vizconde de Llano (Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder, 3:435).
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.