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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0127

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-08-20

Richard Cranch to John Adams

[salute] My Dear Brother

This will be convey'd to you by the Honble. Natl. Gorham Esqr. our late Speaker, who return'd this Summer from Congress in which he has Serv'd this Commonwealth as a Delegate, with great Ability and Honour. I hope he will, if possible, have a personal Interview with you, as he can doubtless throw much Light on many of the Transactions of that Body. The special Purpose for which Mr. Gorham now goes to Europe, is, to solicit Donations for the distressed Inhabitants of his native Town of Charlestown. You are well acquainted with the uncommon Sufferings that worthy Community has undergone by having all their Houses burnt, and a great part of their Moveables, by the British Army; and then forced to retire almost naked, and destitute, to every part of the State where any Provision could be made for their Support, either by private Charity, or by the Publick permitting them to be entertained for the present as the Poor of the Towns to which they were sent.1
In this unhappy Condition most of the Inhabitants of Charlestown have remained ever since the time when that wanton Violence took place. Some of the former Inhabitants of that Town who yet retain some Property, have formed the laudable design of assisting in rebuilding the Town on a much more regular and elegant Plan than it stood on before it was burnt. An Act of the General Court has pass'd to enable them to lay out the new Streets commodiously and regularly, according to a Plan exhibited to the Legislature.2 The Honble. Mr. James Russell is among the foremost (notwithstanding his great Age)3 to bring forward the Rebuilding of the Town, and has earnestly requested his old Friend, our Father Smith, to write to you on the Subject. Father says he cannot write to you at present but wishes me to write.4 He says his Friend Mr. Russell is so engaged in raising up Charlestown (like the Phoenix from its Ashes) that he has scarce another Object on Earth for which he wishes to live.
The Plan, therefore, on which the Honble. Mr. Gorham now comes to Europe, is, to solicit Benefactions from the Rich and Generous, to assist the Poor of Charlestown (many of whome yet retain the { 228 } small Spots of Ground on which their former Houses stood) in erecting such necessary Buildings, in the room of those that were burnt, as may enable them to return to their native Place, and enjoy with some degree of Independence, the common Blessings of Providence.
The manner in which you may best give Assistance in the prosecution of such a Plan, must be left entirely to your Prudence and Wisdom: But it is thought that the high Character you have so deservedly acquired both in Europe and America, would give great weight and encouragement to the Undertaking if it should meet with your approbation.
You know the Interest that Father Smith and the whole Family take in the Rebuilding of their native Town—it would be peculiarly pleasing to them if any thing of this sort should take place.
I wrote you the 26th. of June by Cousin Wm. Smith, who sail'd for London in Capt. Callahan; and two Letters of the 18th. of July, by Mr. Ben. Austin, who sail'd for London in Capt. Love, by him I sent you two Pamphlets containing some late Transactions of Congress—which I hope are come to hand. Your Mother and your Lady and Family are all well. Master Charles is just got well of the Meazels, he has had them favourably. Master Tommy was not at home, so that he has not catch'd them. The Ladies Adams, Dana, Warren, Quincy &c. drank Tea at our [House?] last Monday, all well, and wishing for your Re[turn] to crown the other Blessings of Peace, in the procuring of which you have born so essential a Part. My Family and all our Connections are as well as usual, and desire to be remember'd to you. I am, with the highest Esteem, your affectionate Brother
[signed] Richard Cranch
Please to present my kindest Regards to your Son and to our worthy Friends Thaxter and Storer, and let them know that their Friends are all well. Your Lady has received your Letters of the 20th. and 30th. of May.
The Ship Lady Ann, Capt. Richard Chapman arriv'd here last Saturday Night, by which I rec'd a Letter from Mr. Eyma fils of Amsterdam, by which I perceive that he has sent me a considerable Consignment thro' your recommendation, for which I thank you. You may please to inform him that I shall take the utmost care of his Interest, and make Sale of them as quick as possible. The Goods are not yet come on shore. I shall write him very particularly as soon as I have examined the Goods. Adieu.
{ 229 }
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To His Excellency John Adams Esqr. Minister from the United States of America at Paris”; endorsed by JQA: “Mr. Cranch. Boston. Augt. 20th. 1783.” The cutting out of the seal caused the loss of two words of text.
1. The burning of Charlestown occurred during the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. Only a few buildings escaped the flames; estimates placed the number of houses destroyed at 400 and property loss at over £115,000. After the British evacuated Boston, the residents began slowly to return, but rebuilding did not begin in earnest until 1783. Nathaniel Gorham had been involved in relief efforts for Charlestown since 1777, when he had presented a petition to Congress for that purpose. See vol. 2:214, and note 1, 240; JA, Papers, 5:198–199; Richard Frothingham Jr., The History of Charlestown, Massachusetts, Boston, 1845, p. 367–368; Souvenir of the 50th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown, 1893, p. 8–9.
2. This act was dated 30 Oct. 1781 (Private and Special Statutes of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from . . . 1780 to 1805, 3 vols., Boston, 1805, 1:21–24).
3. James Russell, age sixty-eight in 1783, was a representative from 1746 to 1759, a member of the Council, 1759–1771, and a superior court justice from 1771 until the Revolution (Thomas Bellows Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Boston, 1879, 2:831, 832; William Davis, History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts, Boston, 1900, p. 141).
4. Rev. William Smith, AA's father, was born in Charlestown in 1707, and joined the First Church there before graduating from Harvard in 1725 (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 7:588). It may have been failing health that prevented Smith from writing to JA; he would die on 17 Sept. (AA to JA, 20 Sept., below).
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/