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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0039

Author: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1783-01-18

Abigail Adams 2d to Elizabeth Cranch

Your letter2 my Dear Eliza was this day handed me by your Mamma. I Love her much, Eliza, but wish you would just give her a hint, and { 73 } tell her from me that I hope she say to no one Else, what she, does to me. I should be very sorry if I thought she did.
And now to your letter. If my last convinced you, that no doubts existed in my mind, of your friendship, it had its intended effect.3 I am sorry to hear you met with such a cold reception, in assending the mount.4 Dare say it was oweing to the coldness of the weather, and had you have made an entrance, you would I doubt not, have been cordially welcomed. Next weak I hear you intend an excursion to Bridgewater.5 I wish you an agreeable time of it, and as much pleasure, as your imaginatio[n] has, presented to you. You are to be deprived of one of the agreeable party I hear. Why is it, I wonder. Will she not yeald to the persuasive voice of Eloquence, that will be tendered to her by all her friends.
Do you wish to hear, of me, as well as from me. I mean do you wish to know how, my time passes. You do and I will tell you, as I have nothing more important to relate. The most agreeable day I have spent since I have been in town, was last Wedensday at Mr. Storers. The Ladies you have no acquaintance with except Miss Mayhew.6 She was not so sociable as I have sometimes seen her, has been very much indisposed, not the less agreeable tho. Dr. Waterhous made an agreeable part of the circle. You know him, it is not therefore necessary that I should represent to you aney part of his behavour. Twas all pleasing. I suppose I must mention Mr. Guild, too, as he mad[e] a one of us, but he is quite out of my Books. This is but one proof of the fickeleness of your friend, so say nothing about it. When I see a wise and a sensible Man, (appear at least) affected in his Manners and behavour, I cannot help, feeling a much less esteem for him. From this it arises, tis a reasonable cause, but however I do not wish to give it, to aney others than my friends. They have a right to know the cause of the change of my opinions, and judgement. If they are right, they will approve; if wrong, condemn, and this leads me to alter them. Do you know my friend that the only instances I even thought you deficient in your friendship for me, was, you never told me my faults. I have often felt, that I have done wrong, in the presence of my Eliza. I have equally felt that she noticed it but I never yet recollect that you reminded me of them, or indeavoured to amend, me, (but by your example). It is said that it has a greater effect than precept. In many instances I believe it just, but when both are united, they inforce each other.
I have sometimes felt as if, you were conscious of the rectitude { 74 } and propriety of y[our] own behavour, and this gave you a superiority, which I have ever, granted you in my mind, and heart, whether you have felt it or not. Your humility I suppose will not lead you to confess it.
I took my pen with an intention of writing only a few lines. Indeed, when I sat down I had but little to say, but thus I have scribled. Accept it with the affection with which it is writen and believe me, thy friend sincerely.
[signed] Amelia
RC (MHi: C. P. Cranch Papers); addressed: “Miss Eliza Cranch Braintree”; endorsed: “Jan.—83 AA.”
1. This letter was written in Boston, probably at the home of Samuel Allyne Otis, where AA2 was apparently visiting (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 27 Jan.], below). Its most probable date is either 18 or 25 Jan. (see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 11 Jan.], above, note 1); the former seems more likely since in her letter of [ca. 27 Jan.], below, AA2 tells Betsy that she should have replied to her “long ere this.”
2. Not found.
3. This may refer to another, quite brief Jan. 1783 letter in the C. P. Cranch Papers that begins “The letter my Dear Eliza that you put in my hand yesterday Morning,” in which AA2 refutes Elizabeth Cranch's doubts of sincerity in their friendship.
4. Mount Pleasant, mentioned in AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, [ca. 11 Jan.], and note 5, above.
5. Perhaps with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Smith Shaw and Rev. John Shaw, to visit Shaw's father, Rev. John Shaw of Bridgewater (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 8:627–629).
6. Perhaps Elizabeth Mayhew; see AA2 to Elizabeth Cranch, 1 July, below.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0040

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1783-01-22

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

The Preliminaries of Peace and an Armistice, were Signed at Versailles on the 20 and on the 21. We went again to pay our Respects to the King and Royal Family upon the Occasion. Mr. Jay was gone upon a little Excursion to Normandie and Mr. Laurens was gone to Bath, both for their health, so that the signature was made by Mr. Franklin and me.1 I want an Excursion too.
Thus drops the Curtain upon this mighty Trajedy. It has unravelled itself happily for Us. And Heaven be praised. Some of our dearest Interests have been saved, thro many dangers. I have no News from my son, Since the 8th. december, when he was at Stockholm,2 but hope every hour to hear of his Arrival at the Hague.
I hope to receive the Acceptance of my Resignation So as to come home in the Spring Ships.3
I had written thus far when yours of 23 decr. was brought in.4 Its Contents have awakened all my sensibility, and shew in a stronger Light than ever the Necessity of my coming home. I confess I dont { 75 } like the Subject at all. My Child is too young for such Thoughts, and I dont like your Word “Dissipation” at all. I dont know what it means, it may mean every Thing. There is not Modesty and Diffidence enough in the Traits you Send me. My Child is a Model, as you represent her and as I know her, and is not to be the Prize, I hope of any, even reformed Rake. A Lawyer would be my Choice, but it must be a Lawyer who spends his Midnights as well as Evenings at his Age over his Books not at any Ladys Fire side. I Should have thought you had seen enough to be more upon your Guard than to write Billets upon such a subject to such a youth. A Youth who has been giddy enough to Spend his Fortune or half his Fortune in Gaieties, is not the Youth for me, Let his Person, Family, Connections and Taste for Poetry be what they will. I am not looking out for a Poet, nor a Professor of belle Letters.
In the Name of all that is tender dont criticise Your Daughter for those qualities which are her greatest Glory her Reserve, and her Prudence which I am amazed to hear you call Want of Sensibility. The more Silent She is in Company, the better for me in exact Proportion and I would have this observed as a Rule by the Mother as well as the Daughter.
You know moreover or ought to know my utter Inability to do any Thing for my Children, and you know the long dependence of young Gentlemen of the most promising Talents and obstinate Industry, at the Bar. My Children will have nothing but their Liberty and the Right to catch Fish, on the Banks of Newfoundland. This is all the Fortune that I have been able to make for myself or them.
I know not however, enough of this subject to decide any Thing. Is he a Speaker at the Bar? If not he will never be any Thing. But above all I positively forbid, any Connection between my Daughter and any Youth upon Earth, who does not totally eradicate every Taste for Gaiety and Expence. I never knew one who had it and indulged it, but what was made a Rascall by it, sooner or later.
This Youth has had a Brother in Europe, and a detestible Specimen he exhibited. Their Father had not all those nice sentiments which I wish, although an Honourable Man.5
I think he and you have both advanced too fast, and I should advise both to retreat. Your Family as well as mine6 have had too much Cause to rue, the Qualities which by your own Account have been in him. And if they were ever in him they are not yet out.
This is too Serious a Subject, to equivocate about. I dont like this method of Courting Mothers. There is something too fantastical and { 76 } affected in all this Business for me. It is not nature, modest, virtuous, noble nature. The Simplicity of Nature is the best Rule with me to Judge of every Thing, in Love as well as State and War.
This is all between you and me.7
I would give the World to be with you Tomorrow. But there is a vast Ocean. No Ennemies. But I have not yet Leave from my Masters. I dont love to go home in a Miff, Pet or Passion nor with an ill Grace, but I hope Soon to have leave. I can never Stay in Holland—the Air of that Country chills every drop of Blood in My Veins. If I were to stay in Europe another Year I would insist upon your coming with your daughter but this is not to be and I will come home to you.

[salute] Adieu ah ah Adieu.

1. The document was the “Declarations for Suspension of Arms and Cessation of Hostilities” between the United States and Great Britain (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:108–110), which JA signed first, as his commission to negotiate peace preceded that of Franklin. Letterbook copies of this document are in the Adams Papers. The Americans signed the “Declarations” on 20 Jan., immediately after the signing of preliminary articles of peace between Great Britain, France, and Spain. See Morris, Peacemakers, p. 408–409, and 541, note 92.
2. In his letter to JQA of 18 Feb., below, JA says that he had learned of JQA's arrival in Stockholm “only by the public Papers.” JQA's letter of 1 Feb., below, is the first he is known to have written to JA since 6 Sept. 1782 (vol. 4:378).
3. See JA to AA, 4 Dec. 1782, note 1, above.
4. This paragraph is written in a different ink, and opens in much smaller, more compressed characters then the preceding paragraphs. As JA writes on, however, he soon returns to his usual handwriting style.
5. JA had met John Steele Tyler in Europe in June 1780 (see vol. 3:328, note 1). On Royall Tyler Sr., see Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 11:313–318; and JA, Earliest Diary, p. 22.
6. JA could be referring to AA's wastrel brother, William Smith, but the reference to his own family is obscure.
7. JA's disapproval of AA's estimation of Royall Tyler and of her conduct with respect to relations between Tyler and AA2 is the harshest among JA's letters to AA that survive. In later letters JA gradually softened his tone in discussing Tyler, and within a year he accepted Tyler as a suitor to AA2.
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/