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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0028

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1782-12-19

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Yesterday, my Dear Eliza, I came here to pass a few days with our friend. I found her much indisposed.2 She is better to day, and has flattered me by saying, my company has been of service, to her. I wish I could feel conscious that this is not the result of her complasance.
You are now seated in Boston—agreeably—I hope. You aught to be happy, for to deprive your friends of so great a degree of pleasure, as your absence does, and yourself decrease in happiness—is a disagreeable consideration, to each, jointly and seperately. Dont you think so. Should the passing moment be made more agreeable, to you, we shall not repine, but submit for your sake. Betsy Palmer received your letter this morn. Unkind Girl you are, to deprive us all, the pleasure of hearing it, how mortifying.
Mr. Palmer goes to town tomorrow, and will I suppose hand you this. Accept it my Dear as a proof of the affection, and remembrance, of your friend, but not as proof of her tallent, at letter writing, as I should be loth it should be received in that light, tho it may be my vanity, that suggests to me, I can ever exceed this, poor scrale.
I have been recollecting, and do not think of aney news, to tell you. Tis determined, I suppose you know it, that Mr. Robbins, is to leave us, this week. I am sorry, are not you. The boys lament it greatly. I believe it is in that sphere he shines. Last saturday mornings production, I am not at present at liberty to send you.3 Next time you hear from me you shall have it.
Eliza4 says—“give my love to Betsy Cranch. Tell her I thank her for her letter—and by the next opportunity she may expect an answer.” { 50 } It might be proper, perhaps, for me to answer the letter5 I last received from you. I do not feel very capable of it at present. I have read it again—but can only thank you for it. I have had two or three disputes, about you, within this week. Do tell me if I have had the wrong or the right side of the question. Some person, or persons have asserted, that they knew you had, a little attachment for the amiable youth, you write so favourably of, that, to present appearances, it is [increasing?], and to what it will arrive at we know not, but hope, end favourably to ye both. Now remember, I have opposed the subject, and have not joined with the oppinion. But let me tell you my Eliza that I cannot but believe there is;—no small foundation, for the supposition. You know I dare say the state of your own heart, and are the only proper judge, how great a degree of esteem, of friendship—of Love—you find existing in your own breast. If the Dear youth has gained, a place in your susceptible heart, the seat of goodness, of benivolence and every worthy sentiment, I believe I may venture to say, there is a mutual esteem. Sure I am I wish it, you know my oppinion of him. Time will improve him, and render him, I hope, as great as he is at present amiable. You are both my friends—and I wish you both, truly happy.6
This unsullied sheet of paper, was laid before me. Two sides I have filled, with such a parcell of nonsense as I am ashaimed of. Do my Dear if you should receive it, peruse it, and commit it to the flames, and you shall receive my sincere thanks.
Next week I believe I shall [be] at Milton.7 Perhaps upon that Mount of knowledge, your friend may receive some inspiration, which, you now perceive is absolutely necessary. Do keep a journal while you are absent from us, and do me the favour of a perusal of it. I admire bargains and will propose one to you. Write freely the occura[nces] and feelings of the every day. I will do the same and at the end of every week, exchange—our productions. I will promise no eye but my own shall see a line of the matter, unless you say you had rather it should be communicated. You shall make the same to me. My only fear is that instead of wishing you to return I shall wish you to continue absent.
I feel so conscious that every word of this will add so much to your pleasure—that I will offer no apology, for thus intruding upon your attention. Good night my friend, sweet sleep and pleasing dreams attend you. Write me soon. Present my every sentiment that had aught to be exprest, where they are due. My Love to Nancy Quincy, and Maria Storer,8 to Betsy Otis. Much believe thine
[signed] Amelia
{ 51 }
RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Elizabeth Cranch Boston to be left at Smiths, D—r”; endorsed: “AA Dec 1782.” Also on the address sheet, but folded under when mailed, in a different ink but possibly AA2's hand: “Love”; “manna” [mama?]; and “Miss Betsey.” Some damage to the text from blotted penstrokes, folds, and worn edges.
1. AA2's reference, below, to Mr. Robbins' departure “this week”; the docketing of “Dec 1782”; and AA's entrusting Robbins with a letter to JA on 10 Jan. 1783, below, all point to the last Thursday in December, the 26th. But AA2's statement, also below, that she intended to visit the Warrens at Milton “next week”; her statements, in an undated Jan. 1783 letter to Elizabeth Cranch, written on a Saturday from Milton, below, that she had been there for one week, and that Mr. Robbins “is going to sail for France next fryday”; and AA's statement in her 10 Jan. letter to JA, that AA2 was then at home, suggest a date for this letter of 19 Dec.; and for AA's letter from Milton the date of 4 Jan. 1783, where the editors have placed it.
2. AA2 probably refers to Mary Cranch Palmer, Richard Cranch's sister; she lived with her husband, Gen. Joseph Palmer, and two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, in Braintree's Germantown section. AA2 describes Mrs. Palmer's ailments in her [ca. 22 Dec. 1782] letter to Elizabeth Cranch, below. The Palmers are fully identified in vol. 1:18, note 8.
3. The editors have not deciphered this reference. It could refer to some journal or occasional account that AA2 was keeping. Her first known journal covered the period Aug. 1784–Nov. 1787, and is often cited below.
4. Elizabeth Palmer; the editors have punctuated the quotation.
5. Not found. No letters from Elizabeth Cranch to AA2 are extant. Many of the letters inherited from AA2 by her daughter, Caroline Amelia Smith de Windt were probably destroyed in the fire that consumed the family home at Fishkill, N.Y. in 1862, some years after Mrs. de Windt's death. See vol. 1:xxx and note 22.
6. The youth who had allegedly turned Elizabeth Cranch's head has not been identified. He could have been Henry Warren, son of James and Mercy Warren, whom Betsy had recently visited in Milton, or some youth in Boston, where she was currently visiting (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [9 Nov.], above, and [ca. 22 Dec.], below). He could also have been any one of a number of Braintree youths, perhaps even Royall Tyler Jr., who boarded with the Cranches, and whom AA saw as courting AA2 (AA to JA, 23 Dec., below). It is worth noting here that in the very month that AA writes to JA about AA2's growing attraction to Tyler, AA2 writes only of her cousin's supposed affair of the heart.
7. In Jan. 1781, Gen. James Warren had bought the late Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's country home on Milton (or Neponset) Hill, and the Warrens spent much time there until 1788, when they returned permanently to Plymouth.
8. The youngest daughter of Col. Josiah Quincy, just Elizabeth Cranch's age (vol. 2:48, note 5); and Charles Storer's sister Mary (Storer to AA, 17 Oct., note 4, above).

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0029

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1782-12-22

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Yesterday my Dear Eliza I returned from G[ermantown] and this morning, it being our usual post day, I received your letter2 and take the earlyest opportunity to acknowledge and answer it. Your late excursion <to Boston> has given you spirits. I was not conscious that my letter breathed more of friendship, or of Love, than usual, the most reasonable construction I can put upon, this curious rant of yours, is, that your own feelings are so greatly influenced by this said { 52 } soft awakening passion, that in your eyes, all your acquaintance are in the same net with yourself. O Betsy I who have thus defended you in this matter am now inclined to believe I have been deceived.3 Your usual susceptibility and softness of disposition, has led me to believe, that you only esteemed, where I now am fully convinced you love. Ah my Dear your letter <convinces> confesses, that a spark is struck, and against all your efforts it will kindle, and soon, too soon, for your peace of mind, it will burst forth into a flame. And then my Dear should it not be returned, O Dreadfull thought will you anticipate it.
Upon my word I think you have paid this said gentleman a most extravegant compliment, were he to hear it he might be more than obliged to you. Fortune and Beauty to have aney weight in a good mind, O Eliza this seems but an evasion, if it is meant as more, I should suppose your late excursion to, that detestable town has affected your sentiments. I would not by aney means have you give place, to those romantick sentiments of Love that you talk about, they are very daingerous I am told. I would advise you to consult, prudence, discretion, reason caution and all the discretionary powers, that ever influenced wisdom, or indifferance—ere you harbour aney other ideas than those of meere cold indifferent esteem.
You was never more extravegantly mistaken, my friend. Your Amelia is the same cold indifferent Girl she ever was, she knows not the person on earth that she could talk or write <about> so romantickly upon. I'll certainly become your pupill, do indeavour to diffuse into me a little of your susceptibility. I long to be in Love, it must be a strang feeling, seems to me.
I have sometimes been at a loss to know whether I have a heart or not, but at last have made this conclusion, that in the days of my very youth I was deprived of it. I believe I then used to have what are stiled the symtoms of this passion, you may remember I was remarkable for my blushing diffidence. I guess those were the days of my weakness.
I am going to pass next week at Milton, I intend to use all my art, to become your rival. You are sufficiently conscious of your superior merit, I suppose, even to think it in the power of your indifferent Cousin, to make aney impression on the heart of the agreeable H[enr]y.4 Now should I make an attempt, and succeed, how I should triumpth. You will venture me, I am inclined to think, he is so far taken in the snare, as to render him indifferent to the whole sex, excepting——excepting———What in the name of wonder are these { 53 } three blank lines for, does the Girl mean to make trial of my curiosity. If you dont unravel this, dark sentence, I will make you pay for it, you may depend upon it.
Two sides of a large sheet of paper filled with nonsence is sufficient at one time, for sunday eve too. I will now attempt to answer your more important inquiries. Your Aunt5 has lost the sight of one eye intirely, the other is affected. I hope, and fear, for her. Your Cousin Pollys spirits are better than usual, I think she talks of makeing an excursion up in town, and after that to the City.6 Your Uncle7 health is mending I believe. When I behold this Man, who was once the enlivener of every scene, whose countenance diffused joy and happiness around him, now strugling with misfortune, it casts a veil oer every sprightly idea.
Madam Paine has returned, she was at meeting to day and is as usual.
I saw Miss Beckey at work upon a something intended for her gown, but not knowing it was the matter nearest her heart, I did not feel interested particularly in it.
I have given as good an account as is in my power of Amelias heart. Whenever I hear from it I will communicate, to you, what ever is communicable.
When I proposed your keeping a journal, I did not wish a meere account of every visit you paid or received, or of every pretty face, and beautifull silk that presented, to you, but an account of those scenes wherein you feel interested, dressed in your language and sentiment, I thought might have afforded me some pleasure. If you will not comply, you shall be exempd from seeing, the diary of a week, that is to come from the entertaining pens of Miss Quincy8 and Miss Adams, some few weeks hence, when they take, the places of your Ladyship and Nannette. What a loss will you meet with. For your own future improvement, I would advise you to comply, altho you should not succeed to our expectations, and your own wishes. I make no pretents to disinterested benevolence. It was determined here the other evening, by a wise head that Love was founded in self interest and had that powerfull motive for its foundation. This is only my sentiments, you know, in other words. Do you recollect the variation of our sentiments, the eve you passt here with Mr. Guild,9 you do I dare say. You are tired of this scrale ere this, I will wish you a good night. Write me soon, very soon, <and> present a profusion of regards to all my friends and believe me thine Amelia.
{ 54 }
RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch. Boston”; endorsed: “AA Dec 1782.” The endorsement is lightly lined through in pencil.
1. This date is derived from the conjectural date of AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 19 Dec.], note 1, above.
2. Not found.
3. In the left margin in AA2's hand, beginning about opposite “Your late excursion,” and running to a point opposite “I have been deceived,” appears: “silence does not give con[sen]t.
4. Henry Warren; see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [9 Nov.], and note 2, and AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 19 Dec.], and note 6, both above.
5. Mary Cranch Palmer; see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 19 Dec.], note 2, above.
6. That is, Mary (Polly) Palmer planned a trip from Germantown to Braintree, about three miles, and later to Boston.
7. Gen. Joseph Palmer.
8. Either Ann (Nancy) Quincy, whom AA2 mentions in her letter to Elizabeth Cranch of [ca. 19 Dec.] and note 8, above, or her older half-sister Elizabeth (Betsy) Quincy, whom AA2 mentions as an intimate friend in a Jan. 1783 letter to Elizabeth Cranch (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers).
9. When Benjamin Guild returned to Boston from Europe in early October, AA expected him to visit her shortly (see AA to JA, 8 Oct. and note 3, and Richard Cranch to JA, 10 Oct., both above). In 1784, Guild married Elizabeth Quincy.
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/