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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0225

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Quincy, Anna
Date: 1784-09-04

Abigail Adams to Anna Quincy

[salute] Madam

It was not untill yesterday that I had the Honour of your Letter1 inquireing into the Character of Capt. Lyde, and I embrace the earliest moment Madam to inform you that Cap. Lyde has the Character of a man of Honour and integrity. Tho a perfect stranger to me untill a few Weeks before I embarked on board his ship, he treated me with great kindness and attention. And altho a rough son of Neptune in his outward appearence he really possesses a native Benevolence and goodness of heart, and is one of the most attentive and carefull seamen that perhaps ever traversed the ocean having made 43 voyages without ever having met with any dangerous accident. I could add many things more in favour of Cap. Lyde, but fear I shall increase your regreet at missing a passage with him, as he expects to sail in a very few days for America. And if you should not { 427 } meet with any favourable opportunity of embarking this Month, I could not advice any Lady to make a voyage to America later. The passages at this season are frequently long stormy and Boisterous, our Coast a very dangerous one in the winter season, the Spring passages are generally much quicker and less hazardous. But I have myself too great an aversion to the Sea to advise with that judgment which you may meet with from more adventurous persons. For this purpose Madam give me leave to introduce to you, <the> Jonathan Jackson Esqr. an American Gentleman now in London, and a Relation of yours being immediately descended from a sisters of your kinsmans the Honbl. Edmund Quincy.2 This Gentleman is possessd of a most amiable disposition, is in high credit and esteem in his own Country, and respected where ever he is known. As this Gentleman is in the Mercantile line, he is perfectly acquainted with the American Captains vessels &c and will take pleasure I dare answer for him in rendering you any Service or advise <you> respecting your voyage to America. I inclose to you his address in London. When ever you embark Madam be pleased to accept my good wishes for your prosperous voyage and Safe arrival in a Country very dear to me, and not the less so I assure you for having visited some part of Europe. My Country can not Boast that extensive cultivation or that refinement in arts and Manners which old and more luxurious kingdoms and empires have arrived at, but you will find amongst the people of America a sincerity hospitality and benevolence of disposition which are rarely <to be met with> exceeded abroad. A Lady possesst with Miss Quincys accomplishments and good Sense cannot fail of Friends and admirers in America, connected too by name and Blood with a respectable family many Branches of which do honour to it.
I thank you Madam for your kind inquiries after my Health and that of my daughters which have not Sufferd by a change of climate.
The polite terms in which you are pleased to mention the publick Services of my best Friend demand my acknowledment. Nothing will give him more pleasure than promoteing harmony and the mutual advantages of both Countries. For this purpose he has incessantly Laboured for ten years past, sacrificeing his private enjoyments and domestick happiness of which he is very fond, to the publick demand. The success which has crowned his negotiations will ever be a source of pleasure to his family, and real and permanant happiness to his Country, to which he hopes to return with his family in the course of a Year or two, there to pass the remainder of his days in peace and tranquility.
{ 428 }

[salute] Be assured Madam I am with sentiments of Esteem Your Humble servant

[signed] A Adams
1. Of 14 Aug. (Adams Papers). Anna Quincy lived in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the county from which the Quincys had emigrated to Massachusetts in the 1630s. She had recently received a letter, brought to England by AA, from her “worthy Kinsman Mr. Edmund Quincy,” that evidently encouraged her to visit America. In both the 14 Aug. letter, and her 25 Sept. reply to AA (Adams Papers), Anna refers to her “return to America,” but it is not known when her earlier visit had occurred, and AA was under the impression that Anna had never crossed the ocean.
2. Jackson was the son of Edward Jackson and Dorothy Quincy, sister of Edmund Quincy.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0226

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1784-09-04

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Here my Dear Eliza is your friend placed in a little village two or three miles from Paris, unknowing and unknown to every person around her except our own family. Without a friend a companion, or an acquaintance of my own sex. In this may I expect to spend the next Winter, retired, within myself, and my chamber, studiously indeavouring, to gain a knowledge of the French Language which I assure you I find not a very easy matter.
There are at Present fewer American Ladies here than for some years past. Ladies of our own Country are the only ones with whom we can with pleasure or satisfaction have any society with. We have become acquainted with Mrs. Volnay,2 and find her an agreeable Woman. Mrs. Hay dined with us yesterday, with another American Lady. She intends to spend the Winter in France, but not near us3—which I regret very much. We should find so agreeable a Woman quite an acquisition.
Were I to attempt giving you my real opinion or a just description of this Country and of the City of Paris in particular I am sure you would not believe it. The people are I believe, the dirtiest creatures in the Human race. Paris has been stiled a beautifull City, perhaps it is judged by the strict rules of—architecture and proportion—but it strikes the eye as very far from beautifull. The streets are very narrow in general, and the buildings amaizing high, all built of stone, and which was once white but by the smoke and dirt they have acquired, a very disagreeable appearance. The publick building[s] are I believe more elegant than in London. I was last Eve at the French Comedy4 which is a most beautifull building without, and within it is the most { 429 } elegant perhaps in the World. But as a City I do not think that Paris in point of beauty and elegance, will bear a comparison with London.
The appearance of the lower class of people, is of a heavy leaden kind of creatures, whose greatest art and what indeed is most attended to by almost all classes is to cheat you of as much as they possibly can, in which they succeed with strangers, much to their own satisfaction.
I shall learn to prize my own Country above all others. If there is not so much elegance and beauty and so many sources of amusement and entertainment, there is what to every honest and virtuous mind will be far preferable, a sincerity, and benevolence which must be prized above every other consideration. Even those who do not possess it admire it in others. I do not see an American that does not ardently wish to return to their Country. Of this I am sure, that it is the first wish of my heart, and <only> not three months absent. At the end of twelve months I shall be quite satisfied with Europe, and impatient to return home.
No arrivals from America since I received yours5 by Mr. Tracy's Ship. I am impatient to hear, from my friends. If they knew what a pleasure and satisfaction they would confer upon me sure I am that they would never permit a Ship to sail without letters. You must remember that I have a dozen Correspondents, and you have to write only to one, and that one feels more interested than ever in every circumstance that may affect her friends. Tell me all about our circle, and what each have done and are doing, who is married and who Dead the two important periods you know. Our friend Miss J—is perhaps by this Mrs. R—. Ah Eliza I shall set down the day as Julia says, and leave its property [it properly?] blank. Time will fill it up. Sincerely do I wish her happy. Perhaps you have by this heard as much of the matter as I did before I left Boston. Interested friends should be very cautious that their influence does not lead them to advise to too great a sacrifise.
How is Nannett—on the high road. I shall be disappointed if I do not hear she is—from my observations when I last saw her. Oh that I could as easily transport myself in reality as I do in idea, amidst you all, you would indeed see a happy Girl if I could. But alas, I have long to sacrifise at the shrine of patience till my own will be quite exhausted I believe.
Remember me affectionately to your family—all of them. To your sister I shall write, from your Brother I shall be happy to hear. When { 430 } I set down to write to my friends, and in idea place myself amongst them, I say to myself surely it is impossible that we are indeed so far seperated.

[salute] Remember me to every one who take the pains to inquire or feels interested enough to think of your friend

[signed] A Adams
RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch. Braintree”; endorsed: “Auteiul. AA. Sepr. 4. 1784”; and docketed in another hand: “Letter from Miss A. Adams to Miss Eliz. Cranch France Sepr. 4. 1784.”
1. On 17 Aug., the Adamses “removed to Auteuil . . . at the House of the Comte de Rouault, opposite the Conduit. The House, the Garden, the Situation near the Bois de Boulogne, elevated above the River Seine and the low Grounds, and distant from the putrid Streets of Paris, is the best I could wish for” (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:171). Auteuil was then a village on the right bank of the Seine, about four miles west of Paris, and one mile south of Passy, where Benjamin Franklin had lived since 1777, and where Franklin, Jefferson, and JA regularly conducted their business during the Adams' stay in Auteuil. Boileau, Molière, and several other distinguished French authors had established country villas at Auteuil in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. JA and JQA had stayed at the Comte de Rouault's house from 22 Sept. to 20 Oct. 1783, while JA was recuperating from a serious illness, at the invitation of its tenant, Thomas Barclay, the U.S. consul general in France, and Barclay arranged JA's rental of the house in 1784.
The Adamses lived in the Hôtel de Rouault, a large, elegant structure built early in the century, from 17 Aug. 1784 to 20 May 1785, when they departed for London. The house is fully described in AA's letters of September and December, below. It is effectively illustrated with photographs taken in the 1940s in Rice, The Adams Family in Auteuil; and in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:xi–xii, and opposite p. 257 (photograph ca. 1920). Further information on the Adams' stay in Auteuil and their activities in Paris is in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:120, note 1, 143–146, 171–178; JQA, Diary, 1:209–266; and AA2, Jour. and Corr., 1:14–78.
2. Eunice Quincy Valnais. Eunice Quincy, a distant cousin of AA2, had married Joseph de Valnais, the French consul in Boston, in 1781 (JQA, Diary, 1:210, note 1; AA to Mercy Warren, 5 Sept., below).
3. Katharine Hay was traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Mather of Boston, and would spend the winter in Beaugency, fifteen miles southwest of Orleans and about eighty miles southwest of Paris (JQA, Diary, 1:210, and note 2; Katharine Hay to AA, 1 Nov., Adams Papers; Hay to AA, 17 Dec., and 7 March 1785, both below).
4. AA2 went with JQA; the play was Le mariage de Figaro (JQA, Diary, 1:210). The Comédie Française opened its new theater, the largest in Paris (1900 seats) in 1782, at what became the Place de l'Odéon. Highly successful in the 1780s, when the Adamses and Thomas Jefferson frequently attended its productions, the theater became politically factionalized during the French Revolution, and the building was destroyed by fire in 1807. The present Théâtre de l'Odéon was built on the site in 1819. Larousse, Grand dictionnaire universel.
5. Not found, but see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 30 July, above.
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/