Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams, 22 January 1786 AA2 JQA


Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams, 22 January 1786 Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA) Adams, John Quincy
Abigail Adams 2d to John Quincy Adams
No. 11 Sunday January 22d. 1786

I have taken my pen, to frame an appology to you my Dear Brother. There are so many that offer themselvs to me, that I am almost at a loss, which to avail myself of as most sattisfactory to you—should I tell you that no opportunity of forwarding my Letter to you had been the cause of my silence since the 9th of December1 or that not having received any answer to my many long Letters I had determined to wait till I should hear again from you, or, that time and opportunity had not rendered it possible for me to write, or that my acquaintance had become so numerious and my time so much employd in visitting and festing them that I could find no moment unoccupied enough to collect my scattered ideas and arange them for your perusal. Some of these and many of the Like I could collect and perhaps you might be sattisfied but to none of these causes is my silence to be attributed, but has arrisen, from not knowing how to explain the cause to you, in such a manner as to gaurd you from surprise—and I am even at this moment equally at a loss—so I will enclose you a profile of a friend of your sisters as an introduction to the Gentleman to your acquaintance and perhaps he may tell you the Whole Story.2

My journal has been a little interrupted but I shall indeavour to continue it, as well as relate to you whatever may have passd worth your knowing since my Last. We have formd some new ac-13quaintances, but none that are very interesting. We dined once at a Mr Penns, who was formerly Governor of Pensylvania and who Married a Lady in America.3 She has a sister Miss Masters who Lives with her, that is much celebrated for her beauty, and much admired for her expectations and an American Gentleman told me he thought her the handsomest Women he had sien in England.4 With these prepossessions in her favour, I went into Company where She was. I did not arraign the taste of the Gentleman, but I had sat half an hour before I could be convinced that Miss Masters was present. It is said that She is a fine bold beauty, two ideas that in my mind are incompatiable; I thought this description applicable to her.

But bold her Mien unguarded roved her Eye, and her flushd cheek confessd at nearer view the borrowd blushes of an artfull die.5

I am sure she would not have please your fancy. She is a particular friend of Mrs Binghams and you may judge of her.

Miss Hamilton of whom I have spoken to you,6 was, present at the same time and the contrast much in her favour, but this Lady with all the delicate softness and sweetness of unconscious beauty, will not attract the admiration of your sex, half so much as the other whom I have described to you. It must be acknowledged that your tastes are strongly degenerated. Mr P— seems to affect more roughness of Character than you even find general in this County, but professes to be an American in his principles. Mrs P, as ugly, Masculine and withot one trait of the amiable femal Character. In fine I was dasgusted with their manners, and appearance, and a gentleman observd, to me that he had not heard, such Language, in Thre years, as he had at table in one hour—yet it was polite fashionable and in Short without it they would have thought themselvs unGenteel. The Company were the family we visitted Mr and Mrs Pen, Mrs and Miss Masters Mr Hamilton and Miss H, Mr Chew, Pappa Mamma myself Mr Smith and Mr Humphries.

We have been visitted by a Mrs Lamar7 as an American, and we received an invitation to a small party at her House the week before last. To give you some idea of society here, I will describe this visit, at Eight o clock we went, Mamma myself and Col S. Pappa did not choose to go. The Lady received us at the Doer, inquired after our Health lamented her disappotment in not seeing his Excellency, ordered us a Cup of tea, and askd whether we would play Whist or Commerce.8 In this way She receives the Whole Company, you take 14your seat, drink your tea, and must soon conclude to play either Whisth or Commerce or subject yourself to an inquirey from every person in Company why you do not. I long attemted to plead ignorance of Cards, or of any Game, and in every company but this I have kept to my resolution of not playing, but I found it singular, and if the Company was small the Lady of the House thought herself obliged to set still to keep me company, so this Eve I engaged in Commerce, and fortunately, in this circle of fifty People, got seated at a table with Mr and Ms West9 Miss Hamilton and Mr Smith. In the course of the evening you are offerd cake and lemonade, and at Ten or Eleven your Carriage is announced, you finish your Game, make a curtsey to the Lady of the House and come away, without noticeing any other Person in Company, or perhaps, knowing any creature only you go, with company. This is the manner of visitting, and a most stupid one it is, yet it may be unavoidable. Where one is obliged to have a large acquaintance it is impossible not to mix your Company, and in such numerous circle, any general conversation is impossible. You must get into parties and, where you are all strangers, they must substitute cards for amusement. They do not oblige you to play high, tho every one must play something, half a crown a game is the usual sum, at some Houses Half a Guinea. But young Ladies play Commerce, which is tottally a game of Chance and a most insipid One too. Here you put one two or three shillings to the Pool and run your chance of gaining or loosing. There are no other games, at present fashionable.

This is the most fashionable Way of visitting here for these People who cannot afford to give dinners may make a figure in this way. It costs you only a little Cake and lemonade, fire and Candeles. Your company pays a shilling a Person for the Cards, that is, they who ever Leave a shilling a Person under the candelestick for the Cards, which is a perquisite of the servants who supply them. Custom reconciles any thing in this Way, but to me it appears a most abominable one.10

jany 30th 1786.

More than a week ago, I made an effort to continue my journal, and succeeded thus far when I was interrupted by Madame Binghams being anounced and every day since I have thought of resuming my pen, but waited in hopes to hear from you by the arrival of Young. And to our great joy we received a Number of Letters by his ship, but those which he has in his possession, we have not yet re-15cieved. I have one from you my Dear Brother but it is no latter than the 3d.11 of September and tho I was extremely gratified with it yet I was not sattisfied that there was none Later, and hope yet I shall find one. I will go on with my journal12 till the receipt of Your Letter, and then notice it.

Mr and Mrs Bingham called to pay their respects.13 I allways used to observe in Paris that when this Gentleman had any point to sollicit he allways discovered it by his attention to visit, &c— and from his movements now I judge that he wishes to be presented at Court. They say, they shall go to America in the Month of March. Mr B. called one Morning last week and told us, that Mrs B. was perfectly sattisfied with going, indeed she would not stay if she were to follow her own wishes, that all her ideas were American. This Morning we congratulated her upon, the change of her inclination from last year, but she, denied it all, and declared that necessity was her only motive. They have spent three Months at the Hague and she is very much charmed and delighted with it. To be sure the Publick amusements are not equal to Paris but then there is so much good society, and She so much admired, that it would be ingratitude not to be pleased. He wonders, that Congress shold make so many appointments there, without being sure of there being accepted, thinks it a great disadvantage to our Country, and such is his Patriotism, that were it offered to him, I guess he would not refuse.14

This Evening Mamma, myself, Mr Smith and Mr Humphryes, went to visit Mrs Paradise,15 at one of her Evening parties. There were I believe forty People crouded into two rooms, not too large for a dozen. Ladies and Gentlemen, Stars and Garters, ribbands, and Medals—in Short such a collection as, might be descriptive of the Tower of Babel, for there were some from all Nations English Americans Spanish French Portugeese Polloneesse Venetians Russians, and, the duce knows who. We arrived rather late and had not a choice of seats. I took one next to a Mrs Coswey, an Italian who is rather a singular Character she paintts and her subjects are the most sungular that one can imagine. I saw the last year in the Exbition of painting several of her performances. One was a Dream, another the deludge, the most extreordinary things, that imagination could form.16 She speaks English Italian and French vastly well, it is said, Plays and sings, well, but has nevertheless, the foibles, which attend these accomplishments. I sat by her the Evening and was witness to sollicidute from all most Every Person in the room, to her to Play, and sing, and of her absolute refusall. She was sick had 16a voilent Cold and had not sung for a forght night. At last after every one had given over there sollicitude she, followed her own inclincation and play and sang till she came away. Now I think a Woman is never excuseable for such a Conduct uless like Miss Mayhew,17 she has an ineshaustable fund of Wit and good Humour to display upon the occasion, which this Lady had not. She is one of those soft gentle pretty Women, whose Compliance with the request of the company would please more than her Airs could possibly give her importance. She has Musical parties at her own House on Monday Evenings. We have no acquaintance tho General Pauolia,18 whom you know from report I suppose was there. He appears to be about sixty years of age, light Complexion red Hair, and discovers no simtoms of greatness, or Extraordinary quallities. But were I to attempt to describe the various Characters that were present I shold tire myself, and you also.

When one wishes to see singularity in all its forms it is only necessary to visit this family, for in themselvs they are, extremely so, and we find like all others of their acquaintance that civility is only to be preserved by ceremony and distance.

Monday the 23d.

Pappa and Mr Smith dined at Mr Penns. This was a Political dinner, at the request of, Lord Shelbure who was present with Lord Abingdon. These People you know are supposed to be in the oppossition and this was the day before the meeting of Parliament. I believe Pappa was not extremely sattisfied, with thier sentiments with respect to US at least. He thinks they have no decided system. But this is Politicks.

Tuesday, 24th.

This day the Parliament meets and the King delivered his speach from the Throne. Sir Clement Cottril Domir Dormer Master of the cerimonies, sent your Mamma word that if she wished to see this cerimony he would secure her places. But we had engaged company to dine and feared we should be detaind too late, but we might have gone for his Majesty came out at half after three. Our Company were Mr and Mrs West Mr West Junr19 Mr Trumble, who has finished his battle of Bunkers Hill, and I assure you it is a most terible thing if the expression may be allowed to express, a good performance. I went to see it the other Morning and I was frozen, it is enough to make ones hair to stand on End. The moment of the 17Piece is when General Warren is slain and the scene, is dreadfully beautifull, or rather dreadfully expressive. It is to be engraved, and will secure to him imortal reputation. He is now upon the Dath of Montgomory.20 Mr and Miss Hamilton Miss Hollowell,21 and a Mr Ansty an Englishman, a Lawyer and a Member of Parliament, who is appointed to go out to America to assertain the claims of the Royalists. He was introduced to Pappa by My Lord Carmarthen and Pappa has given him letters to the Governors of all the states, and others to Members of Congress.22 He has calld upon Pappa once before but I did not then see him and today was the first time and without Hessitation I can say that he is the handsomest, politest best bred Englishman I have yet seen. In short I doubted whether he really was an Englishman his manners were perfectly easy and polite and he was the admiration of the Company. I was sorry that I had not any letter written for you to forward by him as he intends visiting Boston soon after his arrival. Your Mamma has written by him to your Aunt Cranch. If I had have thought more of it I would at least have given him a Letter of introduction to you, for I really think him a Phenominon. His family live at Bath and he leaves London on sunday, for thence and goes in the Packet which will sail the first Wedensday in Februry. Mr Humphrys and Mr Smith finishd our circle. These gentlemen however we call a part of our own family for they dine with us, every day when they are not otherwise engaged. I often wish for you my Brother to make a sixth, at Table and in every scene. I miss you and wish for you, but to no purpose. I have not had a game of romps since the 12th of May 23 and doubt whether I ever shall again. We amuse ourselvs with battledoors, Chess, Cards and &c. Mr Humphries is having his last Poem published24 if he should present one to me I shall forward it to you. He says that he likes Engld better than he expected he has met with no incivilities of any kind, and he finds them a civiler People than he expected. He now waits for Mrs Siddons to appear and to hear the debates in Parliament before he makes his exit. Pappa tills him he shall be quite in the deepts when he goes—and sometimes proposes to him in jest that they should go together to Algiers to make a Treaty. Mr Barclays movements are so slow that it does not appear that he will get there before next summer, he was appointed in October, and he had not left Paris the begining of January.25 Lamb and Randall, are I suppose nearly arrived, at Algiers, but from all accounts there does not seem to be much prospect of their succeeding, from the total incapacity of the former. Indeed all who are con-18cernd in the affair, fear that this effort will be inaffectual which is very unfortunate.26 Pappa says, that he suspects that the Emperior of Morroco, will suppose his dignity insulted by receiving only persons deputized by those who Congress Commisioned, and he does not know but he shall have to go himsellf in the spring if this should be the case. I confess I am not sure that he would not go. I have offered to accompany him but you know I did to Madrid,27 but I suspect I shall see no more of the One than the other. This however is entree Nous.

Wedensday 25th

Mamma and myself were out in the Morning to visit Mr Smith at Clapham, whom I have mentioned formerly to you, as an agreeable family who have shown us many civilities.28 We had an invitation to a ball and supper at ther House the last week. Pappa you know, dislikes going himself into such companies and Mamma nor myself do not like to go by ourselvs, so we did not accept the invitation. Mrs Smith was so polite as to request Mamma to put me under her Care, for the Eve, but I thought it best not to go. Mr Humphryes and Mr Smith were there and gave us a very cleaver account of it. The latter does not dance, but Plays, and. On our return we called at Madame Binghams but were not admitted and I suppose were we to go every day in the week it would be the sam thing. They have taken a small House, but by no means, superb, and I suppose do not propose seeing Company at all.

Fryday 27th

Mamma and myself were out all the Morning. We are much engaged at present in preparing our dresses for the Birth day, which has been put off from the 18 of jany, to the 9th of February on account of the long Mourning for the Queens Brother and sister which has kept al London in sable for two Months past.29 The Princess Elizabbeth has been very much indisposed for a long time her Life has been dispaird of but She is better at Present. Appropo I believe I have never yet told you, that the Publick papers have sent the Prince of Whales to sup with us, about 2 Months since.30 And it was believed by many People, some who were acquainted in this family really supposed it. It was I suppose a pareigraph to answer their own Ends. And Mrs Right31 who was not much pleased at it tho She really belived it till we told her the truth, says that the Princes servants did not deny it, and he said himself in Princely Language—Dam it—it is time to go—and be friends—this is entree Nous.

19 image
20 Saturday 28th.

To day your Pappa dined at a Mr Wilmots, one of the Commisioners, to judge of the Claims of the American Refugees.32 Mr Humphryes and Mr Smith dined at Mr Binghams so Mamma and myself were alone, till Even.

Sunday 29th.

We went to Church, and herd an Excellent sermon from Dr Price, upon the chain of Universal being. He tells us, that we all have, good and bad Angells, Gaurding over us, and that all our actions are under their influence and . His system is that that this chain of being also exists from animate matter in gradation up to Man (and which many suppose there stops) goes still further and that Man is only one link, which is persued, to infinite perfection. And I recollect in one of his sermons he has given this sentiment that we have existed before, our present state and that when we make our exit from hence we shall asscend by gradual stages, and become more and more perflect provied we are good and virtuous. These cannot be speculative opinions from him whith which he only amuses, the Minds and pleases the imagination. They must be his real sentiments, or he would not deliver them from the Pulpit.

After we returnd from Church I left a Card with Miss H. Mr Bridgen33 called upon Pappa, and Mr R R Randall Brother to the Gentleman you know.34 As we had engaged a company of Americans to dine to day Pappa askd him to stay which he did. He is not so agreeable as his Brother. Mr Anstly calld this Morn, to take leave of Pappa he expected to have gone before. My former opinion was confirmed of him as much as it could be. Our Company to dine were, Mr Forrest an American Merchant settled here. He was formerly an officer in the Army, where he lost his Leg, but he has got into business and seems to be a worthy Man.35 Dr Bancroft you know. There were four Gentlemen from Carolina, Mr Heyward, Mr Gibbs, Mr Shewbreck and Mr Readhead.36 Mr Murry was invited with Mr Forrest but he has lately been extremely ill and has not recoverd enought to go into Company. The Death of his father has distressed him very much and his Mother is in a Maloncholy state of Mind.37 The former event renders it absolutely necessey for him to go out in the spring. He is now recovering his Health. Did you receive a Letter from him which was enclosed by Charles Storer to my Uncle Tufts or Cranch? It went by a ship, which saild about a week before Lyde. As you have inclosed no letter for him I fear it 21has missd you.38 Most all the Americans, who are here seem to be going in the spring. Mr and Mrs Bingham Mr and Mrs Rucker39 Miss Ransey40 Mr and Miss Hamilton Mr Chew, and indeed most that I am acquainted with, will make theier exit. Some I shall very much regret, and others I shall not think of, at all. There seems to be but little Communication at present between Ouer state and this Country, and Politicians say there will be still less, that the Trade of America is stopd to this Country never to begin again, that France will receive more and more every day. You will hear perhaps, that Mr Boylston has sold his Oil in Paris at a very great advantage 30 per cent clear gain, and that Mr Barret has made a Contract to send so much Oil, and to receive French Goods.41 The Marquis, has his influence and it has had its affect. The Person who has the lighting of the 30 Citties, prefers our Oil to ether Dutch or Any other.42 These are things with which your Father is pleased.

Monday 30th.

This afternoon I received your letter by Young, but I was not a little surprised to find it no later than the 7th of september, and can only account for it by supposing there must be another in Capt Youngs Care.

Tuesday 31st.

Pappa went at three o clock this Morn to the House of Parliament. Mr Wilmot with whom he dined a saturday and who is a member of P— introduced him. He had spoken to Mr Pit and some other Gentlemen, and they were very sivil. The Person on whose particular department it is to admit Gentlemen, said, that sometimes Member of P— introduced Counts and Barons, under the title of Foreign Ministers, which makes him allways carefull, to know who he admited but we all know Mr Adams, and I shall be happy to see him whenever he chooses to come. But the House ajournd, and Pappa got home before four much pleased with the marks of civility shown him. He walkd home with Mr Penn, who is very polite and told Pappa that if we wanted to go to the Play at any time Mrs Pen, would accommodate us, with places, for by some means or other She has so much influence with the Box keepers as to have a Box whenever she pleases. We have been trying for some time to get a Box, but it is impossible unless you bribe the Box keepers, and we have never yet done that. But there are Ladies who go so far as to give twenty Gueaneas a years, as a present to the Box keepers, for 22which they have places whenever they apply. it is not so in F They manage this matter better in France said yorick43—upon some other occasion. A Gentleman may Generally get accommodated with seats. Pappa ges often with Mr Humphries. This Evening he went to Covent Garden to see the Distressd Mother,44 in which Miss Brunton playd. She is a very promising Actress, a little more than seventeen, and for her age really surprizing. I saw her in juliet of Shakespear, and was much pleased, she plays with the greatest judgment.45 I thought She was deficient in sensibility but I am told that She does not in other Characters. She hasnt such a countenance as Mrs siddons but in time she may approach There have appeard several new peices, lately one calld the Heiress, which is said to be written by Genl Burgoine, and Mr Smith says, He has not seen so delicate a Comedy since he has been in England.46 I have not seen it yet.

Wedensday Februry the 1st. 1786.

Mr and Mrs Bingham askd Pappa to present them at Court on the Birth day, but as this is contrary to etiquette, they must be presented this week or stay till the Week after the Birth day. This was not a little disappointment. Last Eve Pappa received a Card from Mr B. telling him that Mrs B. would defer her presentation but that his anxiety was so great to pay his respects to the King that he begd he might be presented to day at the levee insted of Thursday at the drawing room. These were his own words and this Morning by Pappas appointment he called at half past twelve, accompanied by his Dear friend Mr Crawford, with whom they returnd from Paris. When they got to the levee your Pappa says, he teized him till he got him to introduce him to Lord Carmarthen, and in this way it is that he forces himself upon People—ridiculous being.

We dined to day at Mr Copelys, the Company were only Pappa Mamma myself Mr Smith Mr Humphryes Mr and Mrs Roggers. I passd an agreeable day. Mr and Mrs C— look as if bowed down under affliction they lost two Lovely Chrildren, about, two Months since with the inflamatory soar throat.47 No one can wonder at their dejection they seeem to exert themselvs to appear chearfull. We came away at Nine oclock.

Thursday Feb 2d.

Pappa and Mr Smith went to the Drawing room. Mr B. was presented to her Majesty. Mr Crawford went with Mr Bingham and

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Pappa yesterday to the levee, from here in our Carriage, and to day, the papers say Mr Crawford was presented by your Pappa to the King tho he was presented a forghtmight since. The Foreign Ministers were rallying your father about it to day. Mr Eden, is appointed to make Commercial arangments and Treaty with France.48 It is said he is going to Paris soon. The Papers have been full of this matter for this Month, but tis thought that he will meet no better success than Mr Craufurd.49 Tis said he has the sallary of an Ambassador. The Duke of Dorset has returnd to Paris, and tis said that Conpt D'adamah d'Adhémar, is on his rout to London.50

Fryday 3d.

Mamma and myself went down and passd the day with Mrs Roggers. Pappa was going to Parliament and the Gentlemen dined from home.

Saturday 4th.

We were at home all day. We rode in the Park in the Morning the weather was very fine indeed. In the Evening Mr Voss a Virginian51 and Mr Trumble called upon us.

sunday 5.

Pappa and Mamma went to Meeting. I stayd at home to write to you. The Gentlemen dined with us. Mr Brown called in the Evening. Mr Humphryes went to Mrs Paradises. The Baron de Lynden and Mr Duker called upon us. The Baron to invite us to dine on Wedensday with Madame Bingham.

Monday 6th.

We were out in the Morning. Mr S and H dined in the City. In the Evening Mrs and Miss Paradise called upon us, and appeard more ridiculous than ever. The Chavalier Dolombieu, a Knight of the order of Molta who has been here some time and was introduced to Pappa by Mr Jefferson, called and pasd an hour.52 Mr Jefferson, gives him credit for being a sensible Man, but his manners which are all that one can judge from at first do not prejudice in his favour, tho there is nothing particuliarly disagreeable.

Tuesday 7th.

We had a party of Gentlemen and Ladies to dine. Mr and Mrs Pen, Mrs and Miss Masters Mr and Mrs Bingham, Mr Crawford Mr Wilmot Mr Chew. I have described to you already, those of this 25Company who you are not acquainted with. They were singular and extraordinary Characters la tout.


Pappa presented Mr Hamilton and Mr Chew at Court to day. Now the ice is broken I suppose there will be no end—to presentations. We went to dine with the Baron de Lynden at 4 because Mr Hamilton has been so obliging as to offer us seats in a Box he had engaged at Covent Garden. Our Company at dinner were Pappa Mamma myself Mr Smith Mr and Mrs B. an oald German Baron Bowd down under the smiles of fortune, or with age, the Baron seckingdorf, Mons. Jeanneret de Luniac,53 the Baron de Lynden and Mr Duker. The dinner was neat rather than elegant. There was no display of Luxury, except in a Large silver tereen which was very elegant. Madame B. shone away in all her splendor, her dress was that she wore last Winter black and Pink, and I have not seen so elegant a Woman, since I have been in England. A Gentleman who sat next me at table Told me I was in Love with her. O it is true that I never see her without admiration in the highest degree. We being engaged to go to the Play were obliged to leave the Table, at the desert. I was not much gratified with the Play neither. It was the Comedy of the provoked Husband.54 There were two celebrated Actresses apperd, but I was not charmed with them neither.55 Pappa went to see Mrs siddons who made her firt appearance in Tragedy since her Confinement and in Jane Shore, two.56 We could not get a Box, and therefore could not go. Mamma myself and Mr Smith, went to Mr Hamiltons Box, he was there with his Neice.

Dft (Adams Papers); begins on the back of the last page of AA2 to JQA, 5 Dec. 1785 (vol. 6:478; Microfilms, Reel No. 366).


The final dateline of AA2's letter of 5 Dec. 1785, vol. 6:481.


The profile, undoubtedly of WSS, has not been found.


Former Pennsylvania lieutenant governor Richard Penn was elected a member of Parliament in 1784. In 1772, in Philadelphia, he married Mary Masters, daughter of William and Mary Lawrence Masters ( DAB ). From AA2's description of the party (below), Mary Lawrence Masters was living with the Penns in London.


Sarah Masters was roughly 28 years old at the time. She would later marry Turner Camac, an Irishman whom she met on another tour of the British Isles in 1795. They eventually settled in Philadelphia ( PMHB , 8:293, 297–299 [Oct. 1884]; Howard M. Jenkins, The Family of William Penn Founder of Pennsylvania, Phila., 1899, p. 194).


Prodicus of Ceos, The Judgment of Hercules, a Poem, transl. Robert Lowth, Glasgow, 1743, lines 42–44. The poem was reprinted by Robert Dodsley as “The Choice of Hercules” in A Collection of Poems . . . by Several Hands. There is an edition of Dodsley's Collection, 6 vols., London, 177–, with JQA's bookplate, at MQA.


Ann Hamilton and her uncle William Hamilton of Pennsylvania were frequent visitors to the Adams household in London (JA, D&A , 3:184). AA2 first described her to JQA 26in a letter of 4 July 1785 (vol. 6:208).


Possibly the wife of Thomas Lamar, a friend of the artist Benjamin West (Robert C. Alberts, Benjamin West, A Biography, Boston, 1978, p. 65, 72).


A card game with cards face-up on the table, where each player improves their hand by exchanging their cards with those on the table.


Benjamin West and his wife Elizabeth Shewell (Alberts, Benjamin West, p. 64–65).


Gaming and gambling were extremely popular among both men and women in London. Commerce and whist were fairly tame, but fortunes were won and lost playing other, more sophisticated games. The practice of paying for the deck of cards was common, but not universally accepted. Even newspapers were critical of the practice, and in 1794 the London Times called it an “imposition upon hospitality . . . that when one person invites another to partake of the conviviality of his house, he should not lay an impost upon him.” A few years later they called the “extortion” of card money a “shabby genteel custom” that should be abolished (John Ashton, The History of Gambling in England, London, 1898, p. 76–82).


JQA to AA2, 29 Aug. 1785 (vol. 6:317). The last dateline of the letter is actually 7 Sept. (see under “Monday 30th.”).


See under the next dateline, where AA2 picks up her daily journal-style narrative at 23 January.


William, a Philadelphia banker, and his wife Anne saw the Adamses frequently while mixing business and pleasure during a 1784–1786 trip to England and the Continent. Anne Willing Bingham, a renowned beauty, was only a year older than AA2 (see vol. 5:336, 451; JA, D&A , 3:149, 167).


Following JA's appointment as minister to Great Britain on 24 Feb. 1785, Congress selected William Livingston of New Jersey as his successor as minister to the Netherlands. Livingston declined the appointment as did Congress' next choice, John Rutledge of South Carolina. Congress took no further action, leaving JA as minister to both countries until he returned home in 1788 ( JCC , 28:474, 481; 29:497, 654–655).


Lucy Ludwell Paradise, her daughter Lucy, and her husband John frequently entertained the Adamses in their home in Cavendish Square (see vol. 6:208–209, 304–305, 470, 480).


Maria Hadfield Cosway was the daughter of English parents who had settled in Italy. She married Richard Cosway, the famous English miniaturist, in 1781. A painter in her own right and a musician, she exhibited over thirty works at the Royal Academy. The Deluge and Basilaeas's Dream were among the six she showed at the Academy's 1785 exhibition (Jefferson Abroad, ed. Douglas L. Wilson and Lucia Stanton, N.Y., 1999, p. xx; Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts; a Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their Work from its Foundation in 1769 to 1904, 8 vols., London, 1905–1906).


Elizabeth Mayhew of Boston, of whom AA2 wrote, “She has a most strange facinating power over me—I cannot account for it. I only know by experience that it is most true, and, I lament it” (vol. 5:195; see also vol. 3:108, 223).


Pascal Paoli (1725–1807), Corsican general and patriot, helped free the island from Genoese domination during his fourteen years as its ruler. Unable to resist a new Genoese effort to regain control of Corsica with the help of the French military, he sought refuge in England in 1769. JA included Paoli in a possible guest list of “the oddest Collections of Personages that were ever put together” ( DNB ; JA, D&A , 2:381).


Benjamin West Jr. was thirteen years old; possibly AA2 means his older brother, Raphael Lamar West, nineteen (Alberts, Benjamin West, p. 112, 72).


The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, 17 June 1775 by John Trumbull was the first in his series of American historical paintings. See the Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 1, above. The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, 31 December 1775 was completed in June (Theodore Sizer, The Works of Colonel John Trumbull, rev. edn., New Haven, 1967, p. 95, 96, and fig. 145).


Mary Hallowell (b. 1762) was the daughter of Benjamin and Mary Boylston Hallowell (see Elizabeth Storer Smith to AA, 3 Jan., note 3, above; Robert Hallowell Gardiner, Early Recollections, Hallowell, Maine, 1936, p. 4, 11).


John Anstey was appointed by the Loyalist Claims Commissioners in London to gather additional evidence and investigate fraudulent and unsubstantiated claims in the United States. He traveled throughout the U.S. from 1786 to 1788 (Smith, Letters of 27Delegates , 23:243–244). He was a barrister but not a member of Parliament although described as such by both AA2 and JA. JA's letter to the state governors is dated 18 Dec. 1785 (LbC, Adams Papers). JA also wrote on Anstey's behalf on 26 Jan. 1786 to Samuel Adams (NN: George Bancroft Coll.) and John Jay (PCC, No. 84, VI, f. 79–82).


On 12 May 1785 JQA left his family in Paris to return home to continue his education ( Diary , 1:266).


David Humphreys' A Poem on the Happiness of America; Addressed to the Citizens of the United States was published in London (see vol. 6:219 , 223). His previous poems included A Poem, Addressed to the Armies of the United States of America, 1780, and The Glory of America; or, Peace Triumphant over War: A Poem, 1783.


AA2 may have heard about Barclay's slow progress from David Humphreys (Thomas Jefferson to Humphreys, 5 Jan., Jefferson, Papers , 9:152). Barclay left Paris for Spain and Morocco on 15 Jan. but did not reach Cadiz until 9 May, and Morocco on 19 June. He promptly negotiated a treaty of peace and friendship with the emperor and returned to Spain in September. Jefferson approved the treaty on 1 Jan. 1787 in Paris, JA approved it on 25 Jan. in London, and Congress ratified it on 18 July (Jefferson, Papers , 9:234, 539; 10:71, 141, 403; Miller, Treaties , 2:185–227).


John Lamb and Paul R. Randall left Paris for Spain and Algiers in Nov. 1785, arrived in Spain in December, but did not sail for Algiers until March. Randall stayed there only a few days while Lamb remained about a month and had an audience with the dey on 3 April; however, he found the price for ransoming 21 Americans then held captive to be prohibitive and returned to Spain. The United States did not conclude a treaty with Algiers until 1795 (Jefferson, Papers , 9:14, 137, 526, 530, 549–550; Miller, Treaties , 2:275–317).


On 22 Sept. 1784, the American Commissioners (JA, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson) wrote to the Conde de Aranda, Spanish ambassador to France, informing him of their commission to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with Spain. De Aranda responded on 27 Sept., explaining that it was the custom of the Spanish court for such discussions to take place inside the boundaries of one of the countries involved and inquiring whether any of the U.S. commissioners was prepared to travel to Madrid to undertake the negotiations. Because the commissioners expected that negotiations with other maritime powers would occur in Paris, they replied on 28 Oct. that it was impossible to know when any of them would be able make the journey. Perhaps AA2 had offered to accompany JA if he was needed in Madrid ( Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789 , 1:508, 513–515).


William Smith of Clapham, longtime member of the House of Commons, and his wife Frances Coape Smith welcomed the Adamses into their social circle shortly after the family's arrival in London (see vol. 6:305, 311, 361, 381, 479).


While Queen Charlotte was born on 19 May 1744, she traditionally celebrated her birthday on 18 January. The queen's youngest brother, Prince George Augustus of Mecklenburgh-Strelitz, died on 9 Nov. 1785. Her sister-in-law, Princess Charlotte Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt, wife of Prince Charles of Mecklenburgh-Strelitz, died on 12 Dec. 1785 (vol. 6:483; London Chronicle, 20–22, 27–29 Dec. 1785).


The London Chronicle of 6–8 Dec. 1785 printed a false report that the Prince of Wales was “supping” with the Adamses on 6 Dec. (see vol. 6:496–497).


Patience Wright was a frequent visitor at the Adamses' Grosvenor Square home (vol. 6:172, 218 , 306, 384).


In 1782 Lord Shelburne named John Wilmot, a member of the House of Commons, a commissioner to investigate the claims of the American loyalists (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons , 3:645–646).


On Edward Bridgen's friendship with the Adams family, see vol. 5:333 and, JA, Papers , 9:12.


JQA was acquainted with Paul R. Randall in Paris in 1785 (vol. 6:144, 147, 148).


Uriah Forrest of Maryland was serving with the 3d Maryland Regiment when he was wounded and lost a leg at Germantown, 4 Oct. 1777. He resigned from the army in Oct. 1781 (Heitman, Register Continental Army ).


James Heyward (b. 1764) of St. John, Berkeley Parish, traveled extensively in Britain and the rest of Europe after obtaining a large income from his father's estates (James Barnwell Heyward II, Heyward, n.p., 1931, p. 54). Henry Gibbes (b. 1764) of Charlestown was admitted to the Middle Temple in April 281785 (E. Alfred Jones, American Members of the Inns of Court, London, 1924, p. 86). The other two South Carolinians were possibly George Redhead (b. ca. 1749) of Berekeley County and Thomas Shubrick Jr. (b. 1756) (The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. David R. Chesnutt and C. James Taylor, 16 vols., Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003, 11:297, 472).


JQA's friend, William Vans Murray of Cambridge, Md., was the son of Dr. Henry and Rebecca Orrick Murray. He was studying law in London in 1785 when he received the news of the death of his father, from, he later recalled, a “cold hearted lawyer” from home. Murray left the next day to stay with a friend in the country where he “went to bed from which [he] never rose for six weeks.” He returned to the United States in 1787 (Peter P. Hill, William Vans Murray, Federalist Diplomat, Syracuse, N.Y., 1971, p. 1, 3, 7 [where Henry Murray's death date is erroneously given as 1787]; to JQA, 9 Feb. 1801, Adams Papers).


Murray to JQA, 2 Aug. 1785 (Adams Papers). No reply from JQA has been found, and his correspondence with Murray did not resume until 1797, when Murray succeeded JQA as minister to the Netherlands (JQA, Memoirs , 1:189).


John and Jane Marshall Rucker met the Adamses in France. He was a partner of Robert Morris' New York company (JQA, Diary , 1:233 and note 2; M. M. Quaife, ed., “Detroit Biographies: Alexander Macomb,” Burton Historical Collection Leaflet, 10:7 [Nov. 1931]; Recollections of Samuel Breck, ed. H. E. Scudder, Phila., 1877, p. 85, 87).


Betsey Ramsay was the half-sister of Jane Marshall Rucker (Recollections of Samuel Breck, p. 87). She is misidentified in the index to vol. 6.


Thomas Boylston traveled from London to France in 1785 to sell American whale oil. On his 30 percent profit JA wrote, “He is an admirable Patriot when thirty per Cent can be made by Serving his Country” (to Jefferson, 19 Jan. 1786, Jefferson, Papers , 9:183). Nathaniel Barrett, representing American merchants, agreed on a six-year contract to supply oil for 400,000 livres per year with Pierre Tourtille Sangrain, who himself had a contract to supply oil to thirty French cities for fifteen years (vol. 6:388, note 10, 431, 432; Lafayette to JA, 9 Jan., MiU-C: Sydney Papers; Jefferson, Papers , 8:144–145; see also JA to Richard Cranch, 20 March, note 3, below).


In 1785 JA had enlisted the help of Lafayette to explore the possibilities of selling American whale oil in France. Lafayette used his influence with Sangrain to help both Boylston and Barrett. Barrett wrote that the “Marquis de la fayette has been indefatigable in this Business” (to JA, 29 Jan., Adams Papers; Jefferson, Papers , 8:144–145; 9:46).


“They order, said I, this matter better in France,” Parson Yorick's opening observation in Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey.


Ambrose Phillips' tragedy The Distrest Mother was an adaptation of Racine's Andromaque (Margaret Drabble, ed., Oxford Companion to English Literature, 5th edn., N.Y., 1985).


Ann Brunton (b. 1768), eldest child of actor John Brunton, first performed at Covent Garden in 1785, and her first appearance there as Juliet was on 14 Nov. (Phyllis Hartnoll, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Theater, 2d edn., London, 1957; London Stage, 1776–1800 , 2:842).


Gen. John Burgoyne was the author of the newly published The Heiress. See the Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 2, above. JQA read the play in July 1786 ( Diary , 2:65).


Nine-year-old Susanna Copley and her three-year-old brother Jonathan died on 24 Oct. and 3 Nov. 1785, respectively (Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, 2 vols., Cambridge, 1966, 2:317).


William Eden served in 1778 as a member of the Carlisle Peace Commission. A member of Parliament, he was part of the opposition to William Pitt until he changed sides in Dec. 1785 and was promptly named special envoy to France to negotiate a commercial treaty, which was concluded in Sept. (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons ; DNB ).


Eden's predecessor, George Craufurd, had received his instructions in Sept. 1784 to open negotiations for a commercial treaty with France (Jefferson, Papers , 8:363). AA2's sentiments about Eden's potential success closely parallel those expressed by JA in a letter to Jefferson of 19 Jan. (Jefferson, Papers , 9:183).


John Frederick Sackville, 3d duke of Dorset, was British ambassador to France 1783–1789; Jean Balthazar, Comte d'Adhémar, was French ambassador to Great Britain 1783–1787 ( DNB ; Repertorium , 3:118).

29 51.

Otherwise unidentified, Mr. Voss was described by Lucy Ludwell Paradise as “a very amiable honest and good young gentleman and a native of Virginia.” He provided JA with information on the Virginia economy during his time in London and later delivered letters to JA from Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson, Papers , 9:183–184; 10:256, 302).


In Oct. 1785, Jefferson wrote JA a letter of introduction for Déodat Guy Sylvain Tancrède Gratet de Dolomieu, a former French Army officer in America (Jefferson, Papers , 8:585).


AA2 may intend Jeannerat de Dunilar, secretary of the Prussian legation in London since 1772 ( Repertorium , 3:329).


The Provoked Husband, completed by Colley Cibber in 1728, had been started as A Journey to London by John Vanbrugh (d. 1726) ( DNB ).


The two actresses were probably Elizabeth Bannister and Patty Ann Bates ( London Stage, 1776–1800 , 2:860).


Nicholas Rowe's The Tragedy of Jane Shore, based on the life of the mistress of King Edward IV. See also vol. 6:378, 388, for AA2's earlier comment on Sarah Siddons' pregnancy.

Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 26 January 1786 AA Cranch, Mary Smith


Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 26 January 1786 Adams, Abigail Cranch, Mary Smith
Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch
My Dear Sister London Janry 26 1785 i.e. 1786

A mr Anstey who is appointed by the British Goverment to visit the different States; for the purpose of assertaining the claims of the Loyalists, is going out in the Newyork packet. He dinned here on twesday. His manners are much in his favour, he appears well bred sensible and modest, a real Gentleman in his appearence. He was so kind as to offer to take Letters for us. As mr Adams and col Smith have large packets to charge him with I must be modest in mine, and can only write you one Letter. Of this too I must be circumspect, as it is probable it must have a post conveyance from Newyork to Boston.

I know not of any other opportunity whereby I can transmit you a line, to acquaint you that we have past through the Gloomy months of November and December without falling a sacrifice either to the cord, or Bullet, that we have all enjoy'd a comfortable share of Health. For myself I have had fewer headaches and less of the Rheumatisem than last winter.

Your Letters by captain Cushing came safe to hand, but those by Fletcher were drownded, some scattering fragments were however sent us.1 My Friends will wait the return of cushing for answers to their kind Letters. He talks of sailing next month.

The Court and indeed the whole city of London have been two Months in mourning for the Queens Brother and a sister in Law. Tho Cloathed in Sable my mind has not corresponded with my dress untill last week; when I read in a Boston paper an account of the death of my dear and amiable Aunt. From your last letters, I feared the event, but hoped that she would gragele through as winter approachd. The melancholy news afflicted me with that real sor-30row which flows from tender affection; and Sympathetick feelings for those whom she has left to mourn an affectionate wife, a most tender parent; a kind Aunt, and a truly benevolent Friend. Every tie which heretofore endeard the place of my Nativity to me is broken, and I think I should feel more reluctance at visiting it, than any other spot upon the Globe.

“When Heaven would kindly set us free And Earths enchantments end It takes the most effectual way And robs us of our Friends.”2

Poor Lucy has again lost a Mother,3 may she imitate her virtues, which will ever endear to me, her memory.

I fear my dear sister that you will think the time very long before you will get any Letters from us. No opportunity has offerd except by way of Newyork. I wrote one Letter by the last packet, but had my reasons for writing no more.

We have been looking for Capt Young untill we are quite anxious for his fate. I wisht him to arrive before I replied to your Letters. I expect to learn by him what has been said respecting the decision upon a certain affair:4 I suppose it will be the cause of much Speculation and I know that no arguments will now convince the Gentleman that the conduct of the Lady with respect to him, originated and resulted from his neglect of her. The World too I expect will asscribe to her fickleness and perhaps infidility. I know that she does not deserve the censure. I find mr —— is desirious of keeping the matter Secreet. In justice to her character it ought to be known that with respect to him she considers herself perfectly free. I could have wisht that a longer period of time might have elapsed, that the World might have had no shadow for censure. At any rate the Gentleman in America can have no hope left, and I should sincerely rejoice to hear that he was married or upon the point of being so, and let him not asscribe his dissapointment to you, to me, or to any person but himself. He has been too liberal in his censure, he is totally mistaken. You have been as tender as I know you ought to have been. I wish him no harm, but every happiness in his power to obtain. I value his good qualities, and I feel not a little for the Situation in which he has placed himself.

I know I leave you in a puzzel. I cannot be more explicit at present, but rest assured that I have papers in my possession which will convince all concernd, that no dishonorable conduct has been practised.


I hope long before this time mr Storer has reach'd his Friends in Boston. We learn by the Newspapers only of his arrival at Newyork. We wonder he did not write. We mist him much, and the more, because col Smith did not return from his Tour to Berlin Vienna and Paris, till some time in december. Col Humphries came with him from Paris and has been here ever since. Col Humphries is a Gentleman of Learning wit and Humour with a benevolent disposition and a good Heart, united with perhaps the best poetical Genious our Country can boast. I dare say you have seen his poem addrest to the American Army. He is now publishing an other poem here; one of which I will send you by the first opportunity. In short I do not know two Worthyer characters than the two Secretaries of Legation who are very intimate Friends, yet very different in their manners and accomplishments.

You wish to know how I pass my time, my acquaintance my amusements &c.

Those matters I must leave for more direct conveyances. I thank you my dear sister for all your kind attention to my children. I have no anxiety on their account, what I feel arises from a fear of burdening my Friends and not having it in my power to make them compensation. I fear I shall not be able to write only to you, so kindly remember me to all my dear Friends and believe me ever your affectionate Sister


RC (MWA: Abigail Adams Corr.).


The Ceres, Capt. Fletcher, which sailed from Boston in late Oct. 1785, struck the sands near Boulogne, France, on 27 Nov. and was lost (vol. 6:474; Massachusetts Centinel, 1 Feb.).


Edward Young, Resignation in Two Parts, and a Postscript, Part 1, lines 310–313.


In addition to losing her aunt Lucy Quincy Tufts, Lucy Jones also had lost her mother, AA's cousin Anna Tufts Jones, who had died at age thirty in 1774 (Vital Records of Salem, Massachusetts: to the End of the Year 1849, 6 vols., Salem, Mass., 1916–1925, 5:364). Lucy's father, Peter Jones, had died in 1772 (same, p. 365).


AA2's dismissal of Royall Tyler.