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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 7

Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0081

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Cranch, Mary Smith
Date: 1786-06-13

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch

[salute] My Dear Sister

Any agitation of mind, either painfull or pleasureable always drives slumber from my Eyes. Such was my Situation last Night; when I gave my only daughter, and your Neice to the man of her choice, a Gentleman esteemed by all who know him, and equally beloved by his1 Friends and acquaintance. A Man of strict honour, unblemish'd reputation and Morals, Brave modest and delicate, and whose study through life will be I doubt not, to make her whom he has chosen for his companion happy. Yet Satisfied as I am with the person, the event is too Solemn and important not to feel an agitation upon the occasion, equal to what I experienced for myself, when my own lot was cast. God bless them, and make them as happy through Life as their Parents have heitherto been.
When I wrote you last I informd you that the marriage would be in the course of a Month or two,2 but it was hastned on account of the Bishop of St Asaph going into the Country, and the ceremony can be performd but in two ways in this Country, either by regular publication, or a licence Speicial from the arch Bishop of Canteburry. A Licence from him dispences with going to Church, but they { 218 } are only granted to Members of Parliament, and the Nobility. When col Smith applied, the arch Bishop said it was a new case, (for you know we are considerd as foreigners) and he wisht to ask advice upon it. The next Day he wrote a very polite Letter and said that considering mr Adams's Station, he had thought proper to grant the Licence,3 and mentiond in a friendly stile the forms which it was necessary for col Smith to go through previous to it. And as the Lady was not 21 a Notary publick must wait upon mr Adams for an attestation of his consent. All forms being compleated, the Bishop of Saint Asaph, and the Clerk of St Gorges Parish in which we live; yesterday afternoon being sunday, performd the ceremony in presence of mr, mrs and Miss Copley, mr Parker of Watertown whom you know, and Col Forest, two intimate Friends of col Smiths.4 It was the wish and desire of both mr Smith and your Neice, to have as few persons present as with any decency could be. I really felt for her because upon this occasion, however affectionate a Parent may feel a companion of their own Sex and age must be preferable. Miss Hamilton the only Young Lady with Whom she was intimate, was gone to America, and next to her the amiable Mrs Rogers, but both were gone. Mr and Mrs Copley were the next persons with whom we were intimate, each of them of delicate manners, and worthy good people. The ceremony has some things which would be better left out; and the Bishop was so liberal as to omit the grosest, for which we thankd him in our Hearts.
In what a World do we live, and how Strange are the visisitudes? Who that had told your Neice two years ago, that an English Bishop should marry her, and that to a Gentleman whom she had then never seen; who of us would have credited it? Had Such an Idea been Started, she would never have consented to have come abroad, but the Book of futurity is wisely closed from our Eyes. When the ceremony was over, the good Bishop came to me and told me that he had never married a couple with more pleasure in his life, for he was pleas'd to add, that from the knowledge he had of the Parties, he never saw a better prospect of happiness. Heaven grant that his words may be prophetick. Think of Dr Bartlets Character, and you will know the Bishops. He is a fine portly looking Man, mild in his manners and Speach, with a Grace and dignity becomeing his Character. The arch Bishop is a still finer looking Man.
I feel a pleasure in thinking that the person who has now become one of our family, is one whom all my Friends will receive a Satisfaction in owning and being acquainted with. Tell my cousins Betsy
{ 219 } { 220 }
and Lucy, that they would Love him for that manly tenderness, that real and unaffected delicacy both of Mind and Manners which his every sentiment and action discovers.
On Saturday night Some evil Spright sent mr T. to visit me in a dreem. I have felt for him I own, and if he really had any regard for the person whom he profest so much,5 he must be chagrined. Sure I am that his conduct in neglecting to write to her as he did for months and Months together, was no evidence of regard or attachment. Yet I have repeatedly heard her tell him, that she would erase from her Heart and mind every sentiment of affection how Strong so ever, if she was conscious that it was not returnd and that She was incapable of loveing the Man, who did not Love her. And Such has been the conduct of mr T. Since her absence, that I hope every step she has taken with respect to him, will justify her conduct both in the Sight of God and Man.6
Much and many Months did she suffer before She brought herself to renounce him for ever, but having finally done it, she has never put pen to paper since. When she received a Letter from him this last fall,7 it was before she had given any incouragement to col S. and during his absence, she laid the Letter before her Father and beggd him to advise her, if upon perusing it he considerd it as a satisfactory justification, she would receive it as such. May he never know or feel, half the Misiry She sufferd for many days. Upon perusing the Letter mr A. was much affected. I read it—but I knew the Hyena too well, I knew his cant and grimace, I had been too often the dupe of it myself. I then thought it my duty to lay before mr A. Some letters from you, which he had never seen and he returnd the Letter of mr T's to your Neice and told her the Man was unworthy of her, and advised her not to write him a line. At the same time he thought it proper that I should write to him. I did so by the same conveyance which carried some letters and News papers in December.8 Since which not a line has come from him, and I hope never will again.
I wish I Could send a Balloon for one of my Neices. I shall want a female companion Sadly. My desires will daily increase to return to Braintree. We shall take a journey soon and then the young folks go to Housekeeping in wimpole Street.9 I have made them agree to Dine every day with us, so that only occasionally will they be obliged to keep a table by themselves.10 Adieu my dear Sister there are parts of this Letter which you will keep to yourself. There is one ceremony which they have got to go through at Court, which is a { 221 } presentation to their Majesties upon their marriage. This is always practised.
Mr and Mrs Smith present their regards to all their Friends and mine. We hope for an arrival from Boston daily, this Letter col Smith Sends for me by way of Newyork. I hope all the vessels which have saild from hence have arrived safe, if So you will find that I have not been unmindfull of you. Ever yours
[signed] A A
RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.). Dft (Adams Papers).
1. In the DftAA wrote “her.”
2. AA's last letter to Cranch was on 25 May (2d letter), above. She last mentioned AA2's marriage in her letter of 21 May, above.
3. In the DftAA further explained that “considering the Station of a foreign minister who takes Rank of all the Bishops in the Kingdom, he very politely granted the licence.” John Moore (1730–1805) was archbishop of Canterbury from 1783 to 1805 (DNB).
4. AA2 and WSS were married on Sunday, 11 June, Jonathan Shipley, the bishop of St. Asaph, officiating. The entry in the marriage register reads: “William Stephens Smith, Esqr., B[atchelor], and Abigail Adams, S[pinster], a minor. By Sp[ecial] Lic[ense] Abp. Canty. in the dwelling-house of her father his Excellency John Adams in Grosvenor Sq. by 'J. St. Asaph.'” The witnesses were John Adams, Uriah Forrest, Daniel Parker, and John Singleton Copley (John H. Chapman, ed., The Register Book of Marriages belonging to the Parish of St. George, Hanover Square, in the County of Middlesex, 4 vols., London, 1886–1897, 1:389).
Daniel Parker of Watertown, Mass., was a merchant and former army contractor, currently living in Europe (Doc. Hist. Ratif. Const., 7:1591).
5. In the DftAA wrote “professt to Love.”
6. In the DftAA included the observation that AA2 had “the free consent of her parents and an approving world upon her conduct, than their reluctant apprehensive disapproving assent.”
7. Not found.
8. Not found.
9. Between 20 and 24 June the Adamses traveled to Portsmouth, viewing Painshill, the estate of Charles Hamilton, deceased, near Cobham in Surrey on the 21st, and Windsor as they returned (JA, D&A, 3:191). See AA's comments on these sites in her letters to Elizabeth and Lucy Cranch, 18 and 20 July, respectively, both below. AA2 and WSS left Grosvenor Square for Wimpole Street on 30 June (same, 3:191).
10. In the DftAA noted that Wimpole Street was “not far from Grosvenor Square,” and conceded that “I know it is most for the happiness of families to live by themselves. I have not therefore opposed their remove.”

Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0082

Author: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Author: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1786-06-18

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Sister

Your Letter March 24th.1 by Capt Cushing, with the Apron, came safe to Hand 2 Days after his Arrival at Boston. Lyde, and Cushing got in the same Day. Mrs Hays Baggage could not be broke till she came from Newyork, so that I did not get that Token, and Expression of your Love, and kindness, till a fortnight after.2
I cannot think what is become of a Letter I sent you last November,3 giving you an account of my Fall Visitation.—Of my Dear Aunts Tufts's Sickness, and of her christian Resignation, and Death.—I { 222 } sent it to Boston, and cannot tell you what Capt. it went by, accompanied with one for my Neice.4 If you had received it, you would not have enquired whether the things you sent me were safe. For in that I acknowledged the Receipt, and presented my Childrens thanks to their good Aunt; for they think you are very good indeed to remember them.
My dear Sister your kindness oppresses me, I know that not any thing new is purchased for your Sons, and I cannot bear to think you should do it for me, perhaps there may sometimes be things that with you are out of Date, which if they are not in too high a Stile, may be of great service to me, and will not be valued the less by your Sister, for there dear Owner's sake. Mr Isaac Smith supplies the Pulpit at Weymouth, for Mr Evans, who married our Cousin Hulda Kent upon a Thursday and the next monday, they set of upon a Tour to new York, Philadelphia, &cc. Mr Smith purposed an exchange with Mr Shaw the last Sabbath in May, which was very agreeable, as we wished to visit our Friends. Accordingly we took Betsy Quincy,5 and journed on till we came to Cambridge. At the University we stoped, and spent an agreeable hour with our foster Sons. There was a Paragraph in your Letter by Capt Cushing that I received a week before, that surprised me, or rather excited my Curiosity. I thought of a Mr Murry, Col. Smith, and Col. Humphries. Did you think we should not want to know the Name of this favoured youth? or did you think we were high priests this year, and could divine? I did not know but you sent me that Phamplet of Col. Humphries, to anounce, and deleniate the Man. But of Mr JQA, I demanded immediate Satisfaction which was readily complied with by puting your Letter into my Hands, which informed him of the Rise and progress of this late Attachment. Love founded in virtue, and approved by Reason, must rise, or fall in proportion as the Object is deserving.6 However she may be represented to the World, in my view she stands free from the charge of Fickleness, and Inconstancy. For what affection can withstand the force of continued, studied neglect.
I consider the human Mind something like a musical Instrument, where if any of the Notes are silent, or out of tune, it produces a vacuum, a discord, which interrupts the harmony of the whole Machine. So the Mind when once touched by the tender Passion of Love, and set to a certain number of Ideas, will never after be in Unison, unless it find some Object capable of vibrating those delicate Keys. And experience informs us, that it does not require so great an Artist to put an Instrument in Tune, as it did at first to form one.
{ 223 }
We pursued our Course from Cambridge, to Milton where we stoped, and drank Tea, with General Warren and, Lady. It was here, that I was first informed of my Neices Marriage.7 And as I had but just heard of the Choice, it rather hurried my Spirits, and I could not but consider the News as premature, and without sufficient foundation, to announce a matter of so much Importance, as it must really be to Mr T——. I found the Story was spread far, and wide, and I could see no person, but what would accost me—“Your Neice is married then, what will Mr. T—— do, and say.” You, who know Mankind, and particular Persons so well, can easily imagine what each one will say. I heard but one person say they were sorry, and they gave this reason, “that now he would direct his distructive Course, and disturb some other peaceful Family.” I could not but recollect that Line in Young,

Poor is the friendless Master of the World.”8

Yet the Man has a Capacity that would ensure him buisiness, and Talents, which if Virtue was their Basis, would endear him to the whole World.
I felt—I cannot tell you how for him. He came home late, and rose by day light—and avoided us, as he would a Pestilence.9 Mr Shaw sought for him at Mrs Vesseys, at Mr Thayers, at the windmill, but all in vain. I cannot bear to see a person unhappy, even though I know it is the inevitable Consequence of evil, and wrong Conduct. I never could triumph over a dissappointed Person, but whether he is really so, I cannot tell. But some tenderness is always due, to those who have ever expressed regard, and have been esteemed by us. The least said, I verrily believe is best. I know my Neice must feel happy in her Choice, as she has now the sanction of both Parents. I have enquired, and his Character is good here. William Smith is a Name, which from my earliest Infancy, I have been taught to revere, and love. It is the Name of my only Son. Your Daughter now ties my affections, with more than a threefold Cord. May they for Days, and years to come dwell together as “the pleasant Roe and as the loving Hind.”10 But when—O when shall I see you all again. Your Son Thomas is in good health, grows tall and thin. I hardly think he will enter the University this year. I have taken for him the light silk Camblet Coat, and have provided a Taylor in the house, I can have greater prudence used, and the things done to suit me better, than if I put them out.

[salute] Adieu—ever yours

[signed] E S
{ 224 }
Write often, and scrible you always please your Sister. You will excuse my not coppying. I hope you will be able to read.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand: “Mrs Shaw June 18. 1786.”
1. Possibly an error for AA's letter of 4 March, above.
2. Katherine Hay carried a piece of silk from AA for Elizabeth Shaw (AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 15 March, above).
3. Of 6 Nov. 1785 (vol. 6:451–454).
4. To AA2, 19 Nov. (vol. 6:459–462).
5. Elizabeth Shaw's daughter.
6. AA to JQA, 16 Feb., above.
7. The news probably came from the Cranch family, who misunderstood a visiting card from the William Smiths of Clapham, which was enclosed in a package from AA. See Elizabeth Cranch to AA, 20 May, and note 4, above.
8. Young, Night Thoughts, Night II, line 571.
9. The Shaws were visiting the Cranches, where Royall Tyler had been boarding.
10. An allusion to Proverbs, 5:19.
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, 2018.