Abigail Smith to John Adams
Weymouth Sepbr. th 12 1763
You was pleas’d to say that the receipt of a letter from your Diana always gave you pleasure. Whether this was designed for a complement, (a commodity I acknowledg that you very seldom deal in) or as a real truth, you best know. Yet if I was to judge of a certain persons Heart, by what upon the like occasion passess through a cabinet of my own, I should be apt to suspect it as a truth. And why may I not? when I have often been tempted to believe; that they were both cast in the same mould, only with this difference, that yours was made, with a harder mettle, and therefore is less liable to an impression. Whether they have both an eaquil quantity of Steel, I have not yet been able to discover, but do not imagine they are either of them deficient. Supposing only this difference, I do not see, why the same cause may not produce the same Effect in both, tho perhaps not eaquil in degree.
But after all, notwithstanding we are told that the giver is more blessed than the receiver I must confess that I am not of so generous a disposition, in this case, as to give without wishing for a return.
Have you heard the News? that two Apparitions were seen one evening this week hovering about this house,1 which very much resembled you and a Cousin of yours.2 How it should ever enter into the head of an Apparition to assume a form like yours, I cannot devise. When I was told of it I could scarcly believe it, yet I could not declare the contrary, for I did not see it, and therefore had not that demonstration which generally convinces me, that you are not a Ghost.
The original design of this letter was to tell you, that I would next week be your fellow traveler provided I shall not be any encumberance to you, for I have too much pride to be a clog to any body.3 You are to determine that point. For your—
P S Pappa says he should be very much obliged to Your Cousin if he would preach for him tomorrow and if not to morrow next Sunday. Please to present my complements to him and tell him by complying with this request he will oblige many others besides my pappa, and especially his Humble Servant,
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mr. John Adams—Braintree pr favour Dr Tufts.”
1. That is, AA’s birthplace in Weymouth, the parsonage of her father, Rev. William Smith (1707–1783), Harvard 1725, who had been settled in the First or North Parish of Weymouth since 1734. The house, built about 1685 by one of Smith’s predecessors, Rev. Samuel Torrey, and the parsonage lands were for decades before and after Smith’s purchase in 1738 bitterly contested in litigation between the North and South Parishes. As late as 1761 JA was consulted as counsel for the North Parish and gave his opinion on what had long been known as the “Weymouth Case”; see his Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 1:202. Between 1738 and 1824 the parsonage was successively owned by three generations of the Smith family. At his death in 1783 Parson Smith left the house to his daughter Mary (Smith) Cranch, and the Cranches sold it in 1788 to the young minister of the North Parish, Rev. Jacob Norton, who became their son-in-law the following year by his marriage to Elizabeth Cranch. Notes and documentation on the complete history of the parsonage are being assembled in the Adams Papers Editorial Files for possible use in a fuller note elsewhere in this edition. See, further, Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates description begins John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– description ends , 7:588–591; Weymouth Hist. Soc., History of Weymouth, Massachusetts, Weymouth, 1923, 1:223–232; “Diaries of Rev. William Smith and Dr. Cotton Tufts, 1738–1784,” MHS, Procs. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 42 (1908–1909) :444–470; MS Records of the North Parish of Weymouth (microfilm in MHi); and the Diary of Margaret Hazlitt, a one-time occupant (MS in DeU).
2. Zabdiel Adams (1739–1801), Harvard 1759, later minister at Lunenburg, Mass., was a double first cousin of JA. See Adams Genealogy.
3. It is not known where JA went on this trip, though quite possibly to Worcester court. AA accompanied him and wrote an account of the trip in a letter to Hannah (Storer) Green (on whom see the following letter) that is unfortunately missing. In a letter to AA from Boston, 23 Nov. 1763 (Adams Papers), Mrs. Green made these revealing comments on New England manners of the period:
“Now I shall proceed upon your former Letter, wherein you give an account of your journey. I could not help laughing at the gaiety of your fancy, in supposing that there was any resemblance between that and Matrimony; I’m sure it would have been very distastfull to me to have been jumbled into Married Life—aye and to you too for there it ought to be[a] smooth road, if no where else.
“You ask me whether I do not wish it was well over with you? Indeed I do; for upon my word, I know of nothing more irksome than being just at the door of Bliss, and not being in a capacity to enter; and where every ill natured person (I will call them so for they deserve it) are passing some rude unpolished joke upon th[em. They may ca]ll it wit, if they please, but I think it bears the name of shocking indecency: I’ve experienced it, and it galls me every time I think of it; but I desire to be thankfull that it is over with me, and that I am now happily rewarded, for what I then suffer’d. What surprises me most, is, that any one who has been in the same situation, should be so inhuman as to inflict a punishment, for no crime, upon their fellow creatures, and they must know it to be such if they had any feeling when they were married, and ’tis more than probable that they had; however I hope your wedding-day will not be productive of such indelicacies; but that it may come full fraught with permanent Blessings; and that you and Lysander may for a long series of revolving time, share all those transports, my fond heart experiences, till both grown old in bliss, you soar together to the realms of glory—which is the sincere wish of, Your Affectionate Friend Caliope.”