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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0117

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1783-07-20

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Amid the numberless letters that you receive from your various and numerous correspondents, can a few lines from your friend afford you any pleasure. Tis perhaps vanity in me to suppose you can receive any satisfaction from my letters, but I assure you if I thought you did not I should not have resumed my pen.—You well know that Nature has given me pride enough to balance all my other qualities, whether tis an advantage or not I have never yet been able to determine.
I should have acknowledged the receipt of your letter by Mr. Shaw,2 ere this time, but the weather for this week past has been so extreme hot that I have not been capable of complying with my own wishes or intentions. Has it been as unfavourable with you, or have you been singularly favourd.
I do not intirly agree with you Eliza. I believe our happiness is in a great measure dependant upon external circumstances. At the same time I think that there are some persons—I hope they are few, that wan[t] every outward event through their lives to prove favourable, either from their natureal unconquerable dispositions, or from habitual uneasiness, would never find any source of happiness pleasure or contentment within themselvs.—Your wishes for the continueance of my health and happiness are gratefully received. My natural disposition will ever lead me to look upon the fairest side of things. Tis no merit. I do not mean to claim any from it. When I look arround me and see numbers of my fellow mortals, equally deserving the blessings and enjoyments of Life with myself, deprived in numberless instances of even the necessarys and conveniences of it, it leads me to reflect { 208 } that it is my Duty not only to feel gratefull, to the Wise disposer of all events, but to express my gratitude by the acknowledgement of my happiness. I am in reality happy my friend. I have ten thousand scources of happiness which others are deprived of. If there is an equal degree of happiness and misery strewd in our path, I sometimes fear least some unforeseen event should deprive me of that degree of contentment and quietude that I now experience. But I will not forebode evil. Twill not lessen the poignancy of the stroke.
Your letters to your friends since you have been at Haverhill, if I may judge from them, bespeak a tranquility of mind which I think is the result of an agreeable situation. I dare say you feel intirely happy. We are apt, perhaps too often, to judge of others by our own feelings. In this instance I acknowledge I do, from my own feelings when I visited my good Aunt, I know yours are not only pleased but happy.
You ask me to give you an account of commencement.3 Indeed my Dear I could wish to comply with all your requests, but I should not give you an agreeable idea of it should I make an attempt, so I think it is best to be silent. I saw many of my friends, and this circumstance pleased me, but such a scene of noise and confusion was no place for me to enjoy their presence. We had an elegent Ball, there was much company, too much to be agreeable and as much confusion as I ever wish to be witness to again, and yet it was executed as well as could be expected. The court house was not an agreeable place for the purpose of danceing. I think you will find out that I was not very much gratified, with my part of the evening. I came away at twelve, prudent Girl was I not, many of the company that I went with stayd till three. No one from Mrs. Danas family except Miss Lidia,4 was there, oweing to a little desinged affront from Mr. Otis. Mr. Hary I mean.
I hope and wish to hear from you soon, my friend. Do not let the multiplicity of your correspondence neglect, the first that you ever had. A tuesday there is to be a little party here. We shall miss you. The Miss Q[uincy], Polly Otis,5 she is to spend the next week with me, Miss Frazier6 and Mr. Head. Louisa has just begun to complain of the symptoms of the measels. We expect Charles will have them this week, he is anxius to return to Haverhill. I wish they were well through them.
We have received no letters from Pappa since you left B[raintree]. Mamma received one from Mr. Thaxter dated in April7—no news of any kind. He does not particularly mention returning. And when are { 209 } we to look for you in Braintree. I do not wish to deprive your Haverhill friends of the pleasure that your presence affords them. But I cannot avoid wishing you to return. I have not yet gained any great degree of disinterestedness, and fear I never shall.
Your Cousin Betsy Palmer has become quite a rambler, goes to Boston every week. I am sincerely glad of it. I hope it will be of advantage to her health and spirits. She was at meeting to day in her quaker coulourd habit. I have not seen her since I came from Haverhill. Tis a strang circumstance. I have this instant recollected it. Present my respect and Love if it will be acceptable to Mr. Shaw and my Aunt. Love to Tommy, if I do not find time to write him. If you will take the trouble you may if you please present my compliments to Miss Peggy White.8—Here is I think a considerable long letter. I hope it will ensure me as long or a longer one in return. Adieu believe me your sincere friend
[signed] Ab. Adams
RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); endorsed: “July-83-AA.”
1. AA2 refers below to AA's receipt of a letter from John Thaxter “dated in April”; AA received that letter, dated 18 April (above), on 20 July (see AA to JA and to Thaxter, both 21 July, both below). AA2's remarks in the second paragraph below suggest that this letter was written several days, and perhaps a week, after her return from Cambridge and Boston to Braintree with AA, ca. 18–20 July.
2. In her letter of 17 July, above, AA2 complained that she had not yet received Elizabeth's letter by their uncle, John Shaw. She may have received this letter from Elizabeth upon her return to Braintree with AA (see AA to JA, 21 July, below).
3. On AA2's immediate reaction to Harvard commencement, and to the announcement of the Otis' ball, described in this paragraph, see her letter to Elizabeth Cranch, 17 July, above.
4. Lydia Dana, sister of Francis, who married Capt. John Hastings in December 1783 (Elizabeth Ellery Dana, The Dana Family in America, Cambridge, 1956, p. 474).
5. Probably Mary Otis, daughter of Ruth Cunningham and the patriot James Otis Jr. (NEHGR, 2:296 [July 1848]).
6. Perhaps a daughter of Moses Frazier, Newburyport merchant (JQA, Diary, 2:337, and note 1). Mr. Head remains unidentified.
7. Dated 18 April, above.
8. The Whites were near neighbors of the Shaws in Haverhill; Peggy was the sister of Leonard, who later became a close friend of JQA's at Harvard (JQA, Diary, 2:passim).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0118

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-07-21

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

I last evening received a Letter from Mr. Thaxter dated in April,1 and Mr. Storer received Letters from his Son, but not a line has yet come to hand from you. I Know not what to think. I should feel more anxious, but Mr. Thaxter mentiond you as well. I fancy you must feel impatient at the delay of your return. I fear you will compleat the four years2 before you reach America. Do not think of a winter voyage, I dread this coast in winter. From a state of our publick { 210 } affairs, the knowledge of which will reach you, if your Friends have written as they promised you will feel, both a wish, and a reluctance at a speedy return.
A Gentleman observed to me the other day, that he believed you had served your Country almost long enough to be forgotten. But it will not be a forgetfulness that will diminish or depreciate your Services, but jealousy and envy of those abilities which have crowned you with Success; the insolence of wealth will endeavour to trample down what it cannot emulate. But it is an observation of Swifts, that persons of transcendent merit force their way in spight of all obsticals, but that those whose merit was of a second third or fourth rate, were seldom able to perform any thing; because the Knaves and dunces of the World, had all the impudence, assiduity, flattery, and servile, compliance, divided among them; which kept them continually in the Way; and engaged every body to become their Solicitors. Swifts observations generally carry a Sting with them—yet he had too much reason for his severity.
There is a position in Machiavel says a late elegant writer that a country should sometimes be without order, and over run with all sorts of calamities, that Men of great Genius may distinguish themselves by restoring it. We certainly see a country sufficiently disorderd, and embarrassed to satisfy any speculator in the utmost wantonness of his imagination. But where and to whom shall we look, for a restoration of internal peace and good order, so necessary for the preservation of that very freedom for which we have so long and so successfully contended.
Tis a long time since I heard from You.3 I flatterd myself that when there was no danger from enemies, that the communication would be much more frequent.
I know but little of the movements of Congress, the States are jealous of their assumeing too great power, and there are certain restless Spirits who keep up the Hue and cry, the impost will not go down in any shape, the treasury has no money, and was obliged to borrow of private persons to pay the last Sessions of the court, the most expensive that we ever had and the least performd. No money has ever been paid upon loan office certificates since France stoped payment.4 Taxes are Still enormous, what becomes of the money I cannot say. The Soldiers have no pay, and every department is crying out—give, give.
I was lately in conversation with Mr. Osgood upon our publick affairs. He told me that the British influence in Congress were all in { 211 } your favour, and that he was certain, they wished to support you—that it was matter of great Speculation among the Gallicians,5 how your aged Colleigue was brought to coinside and act in concert with you. This same Mr. Osgood is a sensible modest Man. When he came from congress, I wished to see him, and he was introduced to me. I made some inquiry of him respecting the situation of my Friend. Ever since that time he has taken it into his head to be vastly civil to me. I told him I wished he would write you a state of publick affairs. He said he had not the honour of being personally known to you. I promised to introduce him to you, and he has promised to write you, if he goes again to Congress, of which he appears at present doubt-full. The House past a most pointed censure upon him by recalling all their Delegates at once, but when they cooled upon reflection, and <when> Mr. Dalton refused they chose Mr. Osgood again. I know I cannot recommend him more, than by saying, he appears to me a second Mr. Gerry.6 Mr. Dalton made me a visit in Boston the other day, told me he had been writing you, was vastly pleased with your Letter to him not long since.7 He became acquainted with Nabby at the assembly, the last winter, and has always been very polite to her. He visited me with a request from his daughter, an agreable young Lady of about 16 that I would let Nabby go and tarry a month with her at his country Seat where the family reside in the summer, and at the same time deliverd a Letter from his Daughter pressing the same request. She became acquainted with Nabby at Haverhill and then insisted upon her making this visit. Mr. Dalton was so polite as to insist upon sending for her when ever she could go. I promised him that as soon as my family got through the Measels which I daily expected them to have, she should go.
I think I feel a greater regard for those persons who Love me for your sake, than I should if they Esteemed me on my own account only. Where is my wanderer, is he not yet arrived. I do not forget him, but am anxious to hear from him. Mrs. Dana too, is desirious of hearing from her long absent Friend. I went to commencment this year at the pressing invitation of my Friends many of whom were there, but I have such unfashonable feelings that I cannot bear to go into publick assemblies. I always find some gentleman who is polite enough to tender me his service, yet I should be pained at receiving that particular attention which every Lady stands in need of when she goes into publick. Besides I have <too> so much pride, that if I cannot go by your side, and be introduced as your companion, I will not go at all.
{ 212 }

[salute] Adieu my Friend. Heaven bless and prosper you is the ardent wish of yours for ever

[signed] Portia
1. Of 18 April, above.
2. Since JA's second departure for Europe, on 15 Nov. 1779.
3. AA had received JA's letter of 28 March by mid-June (AA to Royall Tyler, 14 June; AA to JA, 20 June, both above).
4. France stopped payment of interest on loan office certificates in the spring of 1782 (E. James Ferguson, The Power of the Purse, A History of American Public Finance, 1776–1790, Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 149).
5. Evidently AA's label for the Gallican, or pro-French, faction, composed either of congressmen or of Frenchmen and Americans lobbying Congress.
6. Samuel Osgood of Andover, Mass., like Elbridge Gerry an Essex County man, had entered Congress in June 1781 and was reelected to that body, for a third time, on 9 July (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 7:lxviii; Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 17:412–419).
7. Not found. The latest extant letter from JA to Tristram Dalton known to the editors is of 23 Feb. 1780 (JA, Papers, 8:356). Dalton wrote to JA five times between May 1782 and July 1783 ||: 25 May 1782, 19 July 1782, 26 Oct. 1782, 26 April 1783, 16 July 1783|| (all Adams Papers).
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/