Adams Family Correspondence, volume 7

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 7 May 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith AA Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams, 7 May 1786 Cranch, Mary Smith Adams, Abigail
Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams
My Dear Sister Braintree May 7th 1786

Yes my dear Sister I have thought it very long since I have receiv'd a Letter from you and thought it very Strange that you should not write me one line by the January Pacquit when mr cranch receiv'd one from mr Adams.1 You say you wrote but one Letter by it, but do not tell me who it was too none of your Friends here have receiv'd any, and mr King directed a number of other pioples to mr cranchs care. I have a suspician it was to mr T——l——r, but I have not heard a word about it.2 Pray tell me who it was too? You Surely did not call the three Lines you inclos'd in the Bundle of news papers a Letter.3 Your Letter by the Febry. Pacquit came last evening by the Post.4 Mr King could not find a Private hand to send it by, and truly my Sister, it contains wonderful things. A few more dashes and marks under names would have render'd it more intiligible. I cannot help thinking that mr —— has receiv'd its counterpart, for last evening he came home before nine, and went immidiately to Bed. He seldom 161comes home till after we are abed. I was Saying yesterday morning to Betsy, that nothing would afford me more pleasure than to hear that a cousin of hers was married to a worthy american who would come and settle among us. You have mention'd three in your Letter. If I am to guess among those, I Should Say that Colln H——m——s is the favor'd Man. Eliza says “no. He has been with you but a month!–what then.” This is not their first acquaintance. She recolects a mr murray of whom you have given a fine character and whose Letters to Cousin JQA 5 She has seen and admir'd. I hope you do not design to keep us in this Suspence long. It is now very generally known that my Niece has dismiss'd mr T and what it is for, and such universal rejoicing I beleive there never was before upon such an occation. I have thought it my duty to let it be known that she was not influenc'd to do it by any of her Friends, but that his neglect of her had open'd her eyes and made her think with the rest of the World that he was not calculated to make her so happy as she once thought he was. I want to know what Letters were pick'd up from Fletchers wreck.6 I thought I had not sent one by him. Young and he or cushing Sail'd So near together that I do not know whether some of my Letters might not be put aboard the ceres. Mr T writ by one of them. If you know what, I wish you would tell me. I know he was jealous of us at that time, but without a cause. He in general denys his being dismiss'd. Says there has been some little misunderstanding between them, that some Fiend or other on this side the water has occation'd it. That as soon as he gets his mills going and his Business into good order, he Shall visit you, and shall Settle the matter in half an hour. But what does He mean by keeping the things and Letters She desir'd him to deliver to Doctor Tufts?7 Will he wish to keep and wear the Picture when the origanal is in the possession of another?

I have written you largly by capn. Calhahan and hope they will reach you Safe but we have many fears about him. His vessel was So crank when She went out that many have thought she would overset if She Should meet with a heavey storm. The importance of Doctor Gordons History may save it. He and his History are on board. His Lady8 is with him also, and several other Ladies. Your Sons were well a few days ago. The two colegians spent an agreable vacancy here, for us it was so and I hope for themselves. They look'd very happy. I had miss N Marsh here all the time to help us. It is no small job to keep three Such Lads in repair. Eliza says she is sure she came home in the right time to make Gowns and wastcoats 162for them. Cousin charles must be equipt for the expiration of his Freshmanship. I have got him a Gown too. I was determin'd to please my Fancy if it could be done in Boston and I have done it. I hope he will think it as handsome as I do.

Mr Evans was married last thursday. He set out on monday for Philadelphia upon a visit to his Friends. His Lady goes with him. He will return to his charge in about two months.9

I hope you will not forget to send some linnen both course and fine for your sons. Charles Storer is going to Settle at the eastward there is nothing to be done at Boston to any purpose. We have not had a line from mr Perkins Since the Letter I mention'd to you last Fall.10 Mr Storer had some thoughts of going to Kentucky some time past, but he has alter'd his plan. He is indeed a fine youth. I could have wisht to have keept him among us. I do not recollect the Poem address'd to our army which you mention but I will inquir for it.11 Pray send me any thing that you approve of. We Want Something new. We go out but Seldom and want Something to vary our scene. Mr —— is nothing to us, he Sleeps here and that is all. My dear Niece need not fear that the world will charge her with fickleness or infidelity. Mrs P——l——r may and will I know.12 She means well but is not always judicious. I wish cousin to be very cautious in writing to her.

I long to have cushing come in. We begin to be anxious about him. We are all well, your Mother Hall and Brothers Family also. Our children will write as soon as they recieve Letters. What is the reason that cousin Nabby has not written to any of us for so long a time. Tell Ester13 her Freinds are in general Well. Ned Baxters wife has been sick but is better. Yours affectionatly

M Cranch

RC (Adams Papers.)


Probably JA to Richard Cranch, 12 Dec. 1785 (LbC, Adams Papers).


AA wrote to Royall Tyler in December (not found). See AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 13 June 1786, below.


AA to Richard Cranch, 23 Dec. 1785 (not found). Cranch acknowledges its receipt in his letter to AA of 13 April 1786, above.


Of 26 Jan., above.


William Vans Murray to JQA, 2 Aug. 1785 (Adams Papers).


JQA's letter to AA2 of 20–28 Aug. 1785 was rescued from the water (vol. 6:287–292).


Cotton Tufts had been asked to collect a miniature of AA2 and the letters she sent to Royall Tyler (vol. 6:285, 287).


Elizabeth Field Gordon, sister of London apothecary John Field ( DAB , William Gordon).


Rev. Israel Evans and Huldah Kent were married 2 May in Charlestown by Rev. Joseph Eckley of Boston's Old South Church (Boston, 30th Report, p. 78; Massachusetts Centinel, 6 May; Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit , 2:137–140).


Thomas Perkins of Bridgewater, Harvard 1779, tutored the Adams and Cranch children in the early 1780s. Perkins settled in western Virginia, now Kentucky, and prac-163ticed law (vol. 4:309). Perkins wrote to Elizabeth Cranch on 1 March 1785, a letter which was subsequently published anonymously in The Boston Magazine, Sept. 1785, p. 342–345 (Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 14 Aug. 1785, vol. 6:268–275).


David Humphreys, A Poem, Addressed to the Armies of the United States of America. See AA to Mary Smith Cranch, 26 Jan., above.


Elizabeth Hunt Palmer.


Esther Field, AA's servant.

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 May 1786 JQA AA John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 15 May 1786 Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abigail
John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams
My Dear Mamma Cambridge May 15th 1786. Monday

Several months have again elapsed, since, I wrote you,1 but I shall henceforth, be able to spare more Time, than I could since I went to Haverhill before this. There is now neither the Necessity, nor indeed the possibility, for me to keep as close, as I was in the Winter. I was obliged in the Course of 6 months, to go through the studies, which are perform'd here, in 2 years and 9 months. So different had my Studies been, from those, at this Place, that I had not before last October look'd into a book, that I was examined in except Horace. Had I arrived here 3 months earlier, it would have been easier to enter into the Class, which graduates next Commencement, than it has been to enter the one I am in. This would have advanced me, one year, but there are a number of public exercices here, that I should not have performed and which I think may be advantageous. Such is speaking in the Chapel, before all the Classes; which I shall have to do in my turn 4 or 5 times, before we leave College. Such also, are the forensic disputations, one of which we are to have tomorrow. A Question is given out by the Tutor in metaphysics, for the whole Class to dispute upon; they alternately affirm or deny the Question; and, write each, two or three pages, for or against it, which is read in the Chapel before the Tutor, who finally gives his opinion concerning the Question. We have two or three of these Questions every Quarter; that for tomorrow is, Whether the immortality of the human Soul is probable from natural Reason. It comes in Course, for me, to affirm; and in this Case, it makes the task much easier. But It so happens, that whatever the Question may be, I must support it; I shall send a Copy of my Piece, to my Father, although I doubt it will scarcely be worth reading.2

You will be perhaps desirous to know, how I am pleased with my Situation, how I like my fellow Students, and what acquaintances I have formed. I am very well pleased, as to the first matter. There are a few inconveniences, and some necessary loss of Time, that I must be subjected to; but I never was able any where to Study, more 164agreeably, and with so little interruption, (excepting the exercices of the College) as I am here. I cannot now attend so much to any particular branch, as I have done formerly. The languages, natural Philosophy, mathematics, and metaphysics; all together, will employ any one sufficiently, without making a rapid progress in either of them. We are now attending a Course of Lectures upon experimental Philosophy, by Mr. Williams. They will be finished by the 21st: of June, when the Senior Sophister Class, leave College; they will consist of 24 Lectures, 9 of which we have already had. As to the Students, I find, a confused medley of good, bad, and indifferent. There is but little intercourse, between the Classes. I am acquainted with very few of the other Classes. I know all, that belong to my own. I have endeavoured to find out those, that have the best Reputation, both, as Students, and moral Characters. Those will be my Companions; and fortunately I am left to my choice, for we are not obliged to associate with those, who are dissolute or negligent. These two Qualities I perceive most commonly go together: the instances, are very rare, where a person of a loose Character, makes any figure as a Scholar.

Friday. May 19th:3

I received your favour of March 20th: the day before yesterday, and I receiv'd a hint of a certain Circumstance, by a Letter from Aunt Cranch, to my Cousin, at the same Time. I do not know, that ever in my Life, I felt so much anxiety, and impatience, as I have, from that Time, till this Afternoon, when your's of Feby. 16th: was delivered into my hands, with my Sister's Diary to Feby. 15th: nor did I ever feel such strange Sensations, as at reading the first Page of my Sister's Letter, where in the most delicate, manner possible, she inform'd me of the Connection. I laid it down immediately, and for 5 minutes, I was in such a Confusion of thoughts, as berieved me of almost every feeling. It would be as impossible for me now to account for my Situation, as it was then to form an Idea. I could not read a word further there, and I took up your's, in which I found an ample account of the affair, and indeed, as you observed the Contrast was striking. Surely, if there is a providence, that directs the affairs of mankind, it prompted your Voyage to Europe. I intended in this Letter to have given you an account of the late Conduct of a certain person, but we may now throw a veil over the errors of a Man, whose folly, has deprived him, of the Advantages which Nature, with a liberal hand, had bestow'd upon him. The Gentleman, 165you mention, enjoys a Reputation, which has always commanded my Respect; I wish henceforth to esteem him as a friend, and cherish him as a brother: as Circumstances have prevented me, from enjoying a personal acquaintance with him, his connection, with a Sister, as dear to me as my Life, and the Opinion of my Parents, will stand in lieu of it. Will you be so kind, as to remember me affectionately to him? The Books I have not received, nor any Letter from my Sister, by Lyde, or Cushing, who both arrived, last Tuesday.

I believe you have Reason, to think it fortunate for me, that I did, not go to London. Your description of Miss Hamilton, and that of my Sister, who mentions her in almost every Letter I have received, since their first acquaintance, are almost enough, to raise a Romantic, Knight Errant flame; what then would have been the Consequence, had I seen her often; but what with a little Resolution, and some good luck, your young Hercules, has till now escaped, the darts of the blind Deity: and will be for 15 months very secure: there is now no Lady, with whom I am acquainted around here, that I consider, as dangerous; Study is my mistress, and my endeavours will be to

“Listen to no female, but the Muse.”

By the bye, you know I am now and then addicted to the rage of rhyming. I shall enclose to my Sister a short speciman, of my loss of Time in that way. If your candour and indulgence, is such, as to think it worth crossing the Atlantic I shall be fully satisfied.4

But it is now midnight, and I must be up by 6. and this as well as my Paper bids me, come to the Conclusion of my Letter; my Duty to my Father. I fear I shall not get a Letter for him by this opportunity. Your dutiful Son.

J. Q. Adams

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “J Q Adams May 15 1786.”


JQA to AA, 28 Dec. 1785 (vol. 6:503–506).


JQA copied his essay into his Diary on the date of its presentation ( Diary , 2:32–34). No other copy has been found, but this may have been the “Dialogue” for which JA thanked JQA in his letter on 10 Jan. 1787, below.


JQA probably started the continuation of the letter on the 18th, because he received AA's letter of 20 March (above) on 16 May and both AA's letter of 16 Feb. (above) and AA2's letter No. 11 ending on 15 Feb. (not found) on the 18th (same, 2:35).


Possibly “An Epistle to Delia,” a poem by JQA, which he completed on 12 Dec. 1785 (M/JQA/28, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 223). Delia was the name JQA gave to Anna (Nancy) Hazen, a young woman who lived with the Shaws for over a year, and for whom JQA briefly had formed an attachment (vol. 5:473, 476; JQA, Diary , 1:321, 400–401; 2:96). AA2 acknowledges seeing the verses to Delia in her letter of 22 July, below.