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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0125

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1783-08-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

[salute] My Dear Daughter

I have received your affectionate letter of the 10th of May, with great pleasure, and another from your mother of the 28th and 29th of April, which by mistake I omitted to mention in my letter to her to-day. Your education and your welfare, my dear child, are very near my heart; and nothing in this life would contribute so much to my happiness, next to the company of your mother, as yours. I have reason to say this by the experience I have had of the society of your brother, whom I brought with me from the Hague. He is grown to be a man, and the world says they should take him for my younger brother, if they did not know him to be my son. I have great satisfaction in his behaviour, as well as in the improvements he has made in his travels, and the reputation he has left behind him wherever he has been. He is very studious and delights in nothing but books, which alarms me for his health; because, like me, he is naturally inclined to be fat. His knowledge and his judgment are so far beyond his years, as to be admired by all who have conversed with him. I lament, however, that he could not have his education at Harvard College, where his brothers shall have theirs, if Providence shall afford me the means of supporting the expense of it. If my superiors shall permit me to come home, I hope it will be soon; if they mean I should stay abroad, I am not able to say what I shall do, until I { 224 } know in what capacity. One thing is certain, that I will not live long without my family, and another is equally so, that I can never consent to see my wife and children croaking with me like frogs in the Fens of Holland, and burning and shivering alternately with fevers, as Mr. Tha[xt]er, Charles, Stephen[s], and myself have done: your brother John alone had the happiness to escape, but I was afraid to trust him long amidst those pestilential steams.
You have reason to wish for a taste for history, which is as entertaining and instructive to the female as to the male sex. My advice to you would be to read the history of your own country, which although it may not afford so splendid objects as some others, before the commencement of the late war, yet since that period, it is the most interesting chapter in the history of the world, and before that period is intensely affecting to every native American. You will find among your own ancestors, by your mother's side at least, characters which deserve your attention. It is by the female world, that the greatest and best characters among men are formed. I have long been of this opinion to such a degree, that when I hear of an extraordinary man, good or bad, I naturally, or habitually inquire who was his mother? There can be nothing in life more honourable for a woman, than to contribute by her virtues, her advice, her example, or her address, to the formation of an husband, a brother, or a son, to be useful to the world.
Heaven has blessed you, my daughter, with an understanding and a consideration, that is not found every day among young women, and with a mother who is an ornament to her sex. You will take care that you preserve your own character, and that you persevere in a course of conduct, worthy of the example that is every day before you. With the most fervent wishes for your happiness, I am your affectionate father,
[signed] John Adams
MS not found. Printed from (AA2, Jour. and Corr., 1:202–204.)
1. The date is corrected from JA to AA, 14 Aug., above (see the opening sentence of the present letter).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0126

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1783-08-20
Date: 1783-08-29

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Why my Dear Eliza have I not had the pleasure of hearing from you but once in an absence of two months. Is this right Betsy? I have been half of a mind to believe that you had ceaced to wish to hear { 225 } from me—the idea has given me pain. Surely you received a letter by Mr. Shaw at commencement, and I have wrote you since.1 I cannot say that you have certainly received that but methinks you might have devoted one hour, even had it have been 'the sixth' to your friend.
I must acknowledge that at times I have felt greived by your inattention—perhaps you thought me void of those feelings that would create unpleasing sensations by a neglect of friendship.
We have had such a profusion of folks here for these some weeks that it has been absolutely out of my power to write at all. Betsy Otis spent a forghtnight with me. Polly is here at present. Mrs. Dana and Miss Elery2 spend this week with us. We have all passed this afternoon with your Mamma and sister. We all regreted the absence of my Cousin. This Eve we have had a disagreeable scene. It has thundered and lightened exceedingly. You know my natureal insensibility or from some cause quite simular, I am not at all affected by it. Nancy Elery is much affected. Poor Polly Otis feels from it severely. She is a girl of sensibility gentleness and softness natureally, and affliction has increased her amiability. The scenes of this Eve, have recalled to her mind that period, which time has not so far effaced as to permit her to reflect upon without very painfull sensations, it is a painfull remembrance and she must often be called to the reflections by causes unavoidable.3
The little Dr.4 who seems to be the subject of many of your late letters, has I fancy by the charms of musick quite enchanted my friend.

“Musick the fiercest greifs can charm

And pains severest rage disarm.”5

Dont you know Eliza that tis daingerous to give way to such enchantment—and do you recollect that Haverhill is a fortunate situation for Laidys, who declare they risk to be connected before two and twenty.
The first part of this letter Elisa was wrote almost a forghtnight passt. No opportunity of conveyance has presented, and I have been in hopes that I should have it soon in my power to acknowledge the receipt of at least a line from you. I hear dayly of your letters to various persons, but have the mortifycation not to hear of any for myself. I came over here to spend a week with Polly Otis, before she goes into town.6 Charles and Harry are both gone to reside in Boston. We feel their absence—as you may well suppose. Harry comes a { 226 } saturdays and spends the sunday with us. He retains his sprightliness, and has increasd in volubility greatly I assure you. His spirits are raised by his prospect of business and he can scarce contain himself. Charles has been gone but a week. He is a more sedate young Man. You know they are both good amiable and agreeable at all times—tho I must confess I am more pleased with the dignity, and delicacy, of Charles, than with all the sprightliness and airryness of his Brother Harry. Winslow is hourly expected to return. When he arrives we shall see an extrordinary.
At last my friend I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of a letter from you7—a pleasure I have long and ardently wished. Last Eve on my return from Milton, your letter was handed me. From your own feelings, you may judge of the pleasure that I received from this event. Indeed my Dear after so long a silence once more to receive the product of your pen was a pleasure, that I cannot pretend to describe. You may see by various dates of my letter that I have not been unmindfull of you. Charles sets out tomorow. He is all impatience to return to his studys and discovers a disposition that will ever be of advantage through life to him.
You have drawn a sweet picture Eliza of your visit, but to whom it was, you thought it was unnecessary for me to know, I suppose. If the agreeable couple are not indebted to your imagination for the embellishment of the scene, I imagine they are happy.
Have you concluded to spend the next winter in your present situation, or do you think of favouring your friends in this part of the World with your presence. I assure you we are almost impatient to see you, and flater ourselvs with the prospect.
Let me hear from you soon. Remember me to all who think of me. Present my love regards and respects to Uncle and Aunt Shaw. My Love to Tommy and Billy. And believe me your affectionate Cousin and friend
[signed] A Adams
RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); endorsed: “August 20 83 AA.”
1. Letters of 17 July, and [post 20] July, both above.
2. Nancy Ellery, sister of Elizabeth Ellery Dana (AA to JA, 24 Aug., below).
3. Mary (Polly) Otis was the younger daughter of the patriot orator James Otis Jr., who had been struck dead by lightning on 23 May (see John Thaxter to JA, 12 Aug., Adams Papers; Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 11:277–286).
4. Not identified; see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 July, above.
5. Alexander Pope, “Ode for Music on St. Cecilia's Day,” lines 118–119; Pope has “grief” { 227 } in line 118, and “Fate's,” not “pains,” in line 119.
6. Polly Otis was visiting her aunt, Mercy Otis Warren, and her cousins Charles and Henry (Harry) Warren, and eagerly awaited the return of her cousin Winslow Warren from Europe.
7. Not found.
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/