Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8

250 Abigail Adams' Diary of Her Return Voyage to America, 30 March – 1 May 1788 Adams, Abigail
Abigail Adams' Diary of Her Return Voyage to America, 30 March – 1 May 1788

MS (M/AA/1, APM Reel 197). PRINTED: JA, D&A, 3:212–217. AA began her Diary in London on 30 March on the eve of the Adamses' departure first for Portsmouth and then for Cowes, where they were to meet their ship, the Lucretia. AA related the sightseeing they did while waiting two weeks to board the ship—including visits to Carisbrooke Castle and the town of Yarmouth—and also the boredom: “Haveing staid at Portsmouth untill I had read all our Books and done all the Work I had left out, I never before experienced to such a degree what the French term enui.” Finally at sea, AA found her health better than expected, suffering only from “Want of Sleep,” though her maid, Esther Field Briesler, “is very near her Time, in poor Health and distressingly Sea sick.” AA deemed noteworthy a religious service conducted by Rev. John Murray, but otherwise skipped over most of the voyage. Instead, she chose to focus on a summation of her years in Europe: “I do not think the four years I have past abroad the pleasentest part of my Life. Tis Domestick happiness and Rural felicity in the Bosom of my Native Land, that has charms for me. Yet I do not regreet that I made this excursion since it has only more attached me to America.”

Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith, 2 April 1788 Adams, Abigail Smith, Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams to Abigail Adams Smith
Portsmouth Fountain 2d: April 1788 Dear Child

April the 2d: and the anniversary of the birth of my dear Grandson whom I am half distracted to see again, with all his pretty, winning pranks. God bless and preserve the dear boy and grant us all, a happy meeting on the other side the great water.

We left London on Sunday about two o clock, and arrived here on Monday evening, having made a very good exchange of the Bath Hotel for the Fountain. The Bath Hotel is totally changed from what it was when we were there three years ago, even in price, for I think with worse things, it is still more extravagant, but Adieu to that. Just before we set out Col Trumbull brought Mr Smith's letter written at Bath and the two letters of recall. The day after the fair, be sure, they who past and sent them must think so at the time, but this is the way they always have done business. Your papa wrote a letter to Lord C. and enclosed it, and another to the Baron de Nagal.1 I do not think it wholly improbable that by the time Mr Smith gets half way home, he may be appointed to Lisbon. Yet I own this is a circumstance I should not rejoice in, it would distress me to have you so far from me, and then the terrors of the climate would still 251add to my anxiety. But these are mere conjectural evils, of which you Know, I am not very fond, my maxim is rather to enjoy the present, prudently guarding for the future, and thinking with Pope

“What blessings thy free, bounty gives Let me not cast away.”2

We propose going to the Isle of Wight as soon as the wind changes, while it holds as it is at present, the Ship cannot get down, if Callihan was otherwise ready, which I do not believe he is. Sunday next is the day on which the packet is to sail, I think. I wish to hear from you before I leave this place. There are but two days in the week, that the Post goes, from this place to Falmouth, Tuesdays, and Friday's. I shall leave orders, here that the letters may be sent to us, should any come after we have past over. I fear we shall not get away this week, if we do in the next, on my own account I should not care, but every day makes it worse for others.

I hope your throat is quite well, as Mr Smith does not mention it, and my little boys teeth quite through. I dont like the idea that he will quite forget me. We want him here very much to enliven the scene, for it is, you may well suppose solitary enough. Your papa reads Mr Necker's last publication upon the importance of Religious opinions, which he likes very much, and I amuse myself in perusing a book Mr Dilly sent me as a present, called Mentoria, written by a Mrs Murry who is preceptress, to the Princess Amelia.3 The Newspapers tell us, that her majesty is like to add another branch to the Royal line.4

Remember me affectionately to Mr Smith and to my dear Billy. Your papa sends you his blessing.

I am my dear child most affectionately / Yours

A. Adams

Tr in ABA's hand (Adams Papers); notation by CFA: “AA to her daughter Mrs W. S. Smith.”


On 28 March, WSS wrote to JA from Bath, sending him a letter from Henry Remsen Jr. dated 20 Feb., which in turn enclosed a letter from John Jay to JA, 14 Feb., that contained JA's letters of recall from Congress (all Adams Papers). JA in turn sent them to Francis Godolphin Osborne, Lord Carmarthen, British secretary of state for foreign affairs, and Baron van Nagell, the Dutch ambassador. See JA, D&A , 3:210–212, note 2.


Pope, Universal Prayer, lines 17–18.


Jacques Necker, De l'importance des opinions religieuses, London, 1788, is in JA's library at MB ( Catalogue of JA's Library ). AA was reading Ann Murry, Mentoria; or, The Young Ladies Instructor, in Familiar Conversations on Moral and Entertaining Subjects, London, 1787.


This rumor was mistaken. Queen Charlotte gave birth to her last child, Amelia, in 1783.