Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams, 24 April 1786 AA JQA


Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams, 24 April 1786 Adams, Abigail Adams, John Quincy
Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear son London April 24 1786

Your Father and Col Smith are gone to Night to Covent Garden theatre to See the School for Scandle represented, it being a Benifit Night, no places for Ladies who would not lavish Guineys.1 Now as I can See it at any other time at a common price I did not think it worth my while to gratify my curiosity at the expence of my purse, tho it is one of the best modern plays which has appeard upon the Stage. Scandle is the fort of this nation and a school in which they have arrived at great experience. That and lyeing make the greater part of their daily publications, as their numerous gazets fully testify.

I thank you for the entertainment afforded me in the perusal of your journal to your sister,2 which is always pleasent till I get to the last page. There indeed I experience some regreet, from its finishing.

I presume from your Aunt Shaws Letter,3 that this will find you at Cambridge. I hope you will not be obliged to such late and close 146application, as you have follow'd through the last six Months. Your Health may suffer by it.

You will receive some letters from me which give you a state of the Situation and prospects of your sister that will I hope occasion you less anxiety, than what you have heitherto experienced upon her account. I think however that they would be better off, if they were to postpone their union to an other Year, for as the Play Says, “marriage is chargable,”4 and we cannot do for them what we should be glad too. Such is the continued Parsimony of . . .5 I Sometimes think we should do better at Home, yet fear for my poor Lads whose education is very near my Heart, and who knowing the circumstances of their Parents will study economy in all their movements. I hope you will gaurd your Brother against that pernicious vice of gameing, too much practised at the university.

I would not let mr Jenks return without a few lines from me tho I have written You largly very lately. Your Friend Murry dined with us last week and always mentions you with regard. I think he is consumptive, he looks misirably. You must correct as you read, or be so intent upon the matter, as to neglect the manner. Col Humphries is returnd to America in the April Packet which was to sail on the 15th. Mr and Mrs Rogers are also on board the Same vessel. If you want any thing I can supply you with, let me know. I have Sent you some shirts by captain Cushing.

Your sister who is writing at the same table with me, is filling up page after page and I suppose tells you all the News of the day.6 Mr Jefferson has made us a fine visit, but leaves us on wednesday. After the Birth day7 we are to Set out upon some excursions into the Country; which will probably find us some entertainment. My Love to your Brother. I shall not have time to write him now, as tomorrow I am engaged with company, and it is now Eleven oclock. Your Letter to your Sister8 came to day noon. We found it upon the table when we returnd from a ride which we had been taking. Not a line for Mamma! Yours


RC (Adams Papers).


Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal was actually performed at Drury Lane, for the benefit of Anna Maria Crouch, the noted actress and singer (Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, 24 April; DNB ).


The most recent JQA letter received by AA2 was that of 1 Oct. 1785 (vol. 6:398–406).


Probably Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA2, 14 Feb., above.


Thomas Otway, Venice Preserved, Act II, scene ii.


Thus in MS. AA certainly must mean Congress.


AA2's letter No. 13 has not been found. See AA2 to JQA, 25 April, below.

147 7.

The celebration of George III's birthday took place on 5 June (London Gazette, 3–6 June).


JQA to AA2, 26 Oct. 1785 (vol. 6:442–445).

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 24 April 1786 AA Cranch, Mary Smith


Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 24 April 1786 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
My dear sister Grosvenor Square London April 24 1786

Captain Cushing is arrived. Mr Adams this day received Some letters by the post, and Nabby got one from her Aunt shaw and an other from her Brother.1 This was a little mortifying I own, not that others were happy, but that I was dissapointed, but I do not give over, some passenger has them I Say or else the vessel saild, and has left my Letters behind. Why I am Sure my Sister Cranch has written to me if nobody else has, she has never faild me yet; so I comfort myself that they will be here in a day or two, but not soon enough I fear to replie to them by mr Jenks who leaves London tomorrow. He is hurried away by the sudden elopement of several american Merchants as they call'd themselves, some call them Swindlers. They are persons unknown to me, of whom I never heard till there failure. The odium brought upon the American Character by such conduct cannot be defended. It is really painfull living in this Country at this time, because there is but too much foundation for many of their reproaches against our Country. There does not appear any symptom of a political change in the sentiments of this people, or their Rulers, they say Congress has no power and that the States can not unite. They depend upon our continuing their dupes, and we appear I think quite enough disposed to be so.

I have written to you by way of New York, by mrs Hay and by captain Cushing and Lyde, all of which I hope will go safe and the little articles I sent you and my other Friends. I wish I could communicate to you and Mrs Shaw a little of that which Shylock was so determined to take from poor Bassiano Antonio; you should have it too from next my Heart, and having bestowed some pounds I should move nimbler and feel lighter. Tis true I enjoy good Health, but am larger than both my sisters compounded. Mr Adams too keeps pace with me, and if one Horse had to carry us, I should pitty the poor Beast, but your Neice is moulded into a shape as Slender as a Grey hound, and is not be sure more than half as large as she was when she first left America. The Spring is advancing and I begin to walk so that I hope excercise will be of service to me. I wish I could transport my dear cousins in a Baloon. Betsy should go to Stow with 148me and to Hagly and the Leasows, which I hope to see in the course of the summer, and Lucy should go to Devonshire with me.2 I may feel lonely, tho in this great city; should col S. insist upon being married this Summer, and go to Housekeeping as he talks, but I advise him not to be hasty. They will find marriage very chargeable. I should not feel anxious for them in America with half his sallery, but it will require Economy here to live upon it. The servants that one is obliged to keep in Europe who live in publick Characters, are the greatest moths one can conceive of, and in spight of all your caution will run you in debt.

I want to hear how you all do, and what you are about. You would Smile if you was to See me questioning the Captains of vessels who come from America and particularly those who come from Boston. They are generally very intelligent Men. I learn how the bridge goes on,3 what new houses are building, what the trade is to this place, and that, how the Trees flourish in the common, and whether you are growing more frugal or more Luxurious. I make it a rule when a vessel arrives from Boston to send a card to the Captain to come and dine with us, whether I know him or not. Some who are not acquainted feel a diffidence at comeing without an introduction or an invitation. Captain Young dined with us yesterday. Tis a feast to me when I can set them talking about the Country, and learn as I frequently do, pleasing things with respect to its husbandry and fishery; its trade is at present in a cloud, but I hope it will be dispelld in time to their advantage. When a people once become Luxurious nothing but dire necessity will ever bring them to their senses. I do not believe that ever any people made a greater Show, with less capitals than my dear mistaken countrymen have done. I thought them rich, I thought it was all their own, but how many now, not only upon your side the Water, but upon this, are eating the Bread of Sorrow, or what is worse, having none to eat, of any kind. Not a House here which has been connected with the American trade, but what are in the utmost distress. Our Countrymen owe Millions here. Can you believe it? Alass it is a miserable truth, and much of this debt has been contracted for mere gew-Gaws and triffels. I am sometimes apt to think that the more strictly this Country addheres to her present system, the better it will prove for ours in the end. You will easily discern that I cannot copy so excuse all inaccurices, and do not read any part of my letter to any one who may feel pained by the observations. Love to all friends from your ever affectionate


RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.); addressed by WSS: “Mrs. Mary Cranch Braintree Boston Hon'd by. Mr. Jenks.”


Elizabeth Smith Shaw to AA2, 14 Feb., above, and JQA to AA2, 26 Oct. 1785, vol. 6:442–445.


JA and Jefferson visited Stowe, Hagley Hall, and The Leasowes on their garden tour in early April, see JA to AA, 5 April, and note 1, above. Devonshire was the home of Richard Cranch's family.


The Charlestown, or Charles River, Bridge, the first bridge connecting Boston and Charlestown, opened on 17 June. See the Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 6, above.