Archive for the ‘Adams, Abigail’ Category

‘read such parts as you think proper to , , , our Friends”

To end this tale of ABIGAIL ADAMS’s journey by ship from America to London in 1788, here are some of the observations she made upon her arrival. Her husband and son were not there to greet her but friends helped her get settled. She describes her lodgings in the Adelphi Hotel and comments on aspects of life in London. And she finally sends the journal she has been keeping to her sister MARY CRANCH.

Here we have a handsome drawing room Genteely furnished, and a large Lodging room. We are furnished with a cook, chamber maid waiter &c. for 3 Guineys per week—but in this is not included a mouthfull of vituals or drink all of which is to be paid seperately for.
fryday july 24 [23]I have little time for writing now, I have so many visitors. I hardly know how to think myself out of my own Country I see so many Americans about me. . . .
I am not a Little surprized to find dress unless upon publick occasions, so little regarded here. The Gentlemen are very plainly dresst and the Ladies much less so than with us. Tis true you must put a hoop on and have your hair dresst, but a common straw hat, no Cap, with only a ribbon upon the crown, is thought dress sufficient to go into company. Muslins are much in taste, no silks but Lutestrings [light glossy silk] worn but send not to London for any article you want, you may purchase any thing you can Name much lower in Boston. I went yesterday into Cheepside to purchase a few articles, but found every thing higher than in Boston. Silks are in a particular manner so. They say when they are exported there is a draw back* upon them which makes them lower with us. . . .
The city of London is pleasenter than I expected, the Buildings more regular the streets much wider and more Sun shine than I thought to have found, but this they tell me is the pleasentest season to be in the city. At my lodgings I am as quiet as any place in Boston, nor do I feel as if it could be any other place than Boston. . . .
[The women] paint here, near as much as in France, but with more art, the head dress disfigures them in the Eye of an American. I have seen many Ladies; but not one Elegant one since I came; there is not to me that neatness in their appearence which you see in our Ladies.
The American Ladies are much admired here by the Gentlemen, I am told, and in truth I wonder not at it. O my Country; my Country; preserve; preserve the little purity and simplicity of manners you yet possess. Believe me, they are jewells of inestimable value.
The softness peculiarly characteristick of our sex and which is so pleasing to the Gentlemen, is Wholy laid asside here; for the Masculine attire and Manners of Amazonians. . . .
Our ship is not yet got up the Channel. What a time we should have had of it, if we had not landed. . . .
Mr. Smith expects to sail on Monday or twesday, I shall keep open this Letter untill he goes. Let Sister Shaw see it, and read such parts as you think proper to the rest of our Friends, but do not let it go out of your hands. I shall not have time to write to the rest of my Friends, they must not think hardly of me. I could only repeat what I have here written. . . .

* A British import duty on silk that was refunded, in part, for goods that were re-exported to America (OED). Drawbacks had been a standard feature of certain import duties just before the Revolution, notably upon tea.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.]

posted November 9th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Cranch, Mary (Smith),Fashion,London

“then my Lad you Swing”

On route to London from Deal, where the passengers from the ship Active were put ashore, ABIGAIL ADAMS describes an encounter with a highwayman in the journal she is intending to send to her sister MARY CRANCH.

From Chatham we proceeded, on our way as fast as possible wishing to pass Black Heath before dark. Upon this road, a Gentleman alone in a chaise past us, and very soon a coach before us stoped, and there was a hue and cry, a Robbery a Robbery. The Man in the chaise was the person robbed and this in open day with carriages constantly passing. We were not a little allarmed and every one were concealing their money. Every place we past, and every post chaise we met were crying out a Robbery. Where the thing is so common I was Surprized to see such an allarm. The Robber was pursued and taken in about two miles, and we saw the poor wretch gastly and horible, brought along on foot, his horse rode by a person who took him; who also had his pistol. He looked like a youth of 20 only, attempted to lift his hat, and looked Dispair. You can form some Idea of my feelings when they told him aya, you have but a short time, the assise [a circuit court] set next Month, and then my Lad you Swing. Tho every robber may deserve Death yet to exult over the wretched is what our Country is not accustomed to. Long may it be free of such villianies and long may it preserve a commisiration for the wretched.

Abigail is upset over what she perceives as gloating: “aya, you have but a short time”, believing that it is not right to “exult” over another’s death, even over a robber for whom hanging was the punishment. She believes that this does not happen the America. Or perhaps she hopes it does not.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.]

posted November 4th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Cranch, Mary (Smith),Crime and punishment,England

“from Deal to London which is 72 miles”

Though intended to be the account of an ocean voyage by ABIGAIL ADAMS to London in 1788, I can’t resist allowing Abigail to describe the highlights of her journey after the passengers were put ashore at Deal. There she and the other passengers take rooms at an inn and order a chaise for early the next morning. On their way Abigail notes the cultivated fields, the animals, and the “hedg” fences, and, of course, the famous cathedral at Canterbury.

…[W]e rose by 5 and our post Chaise being all at the door we set of[f]. . . . Our first Stage was 18 miles from Deal, to Canteburry where we Breakfasted, the roads are fine, and a stone a Novelty. I do not recollect to have seen one, except the pavements of Canteburry, and other Towns; from Deal to London which is 72 miles; vast Feilds of wheat, oats, english Beans, and the horse Bean, with hops: are the produce of the country through which we past; which is cultivated like a Garden down to the very edges of the road, and what surprized me was, that very little was inclosed within fences. Hedg fence, are almost the only kind you see, no Cattle at large without a herdsman, the oxen are small, but the Cows and Sheep very large, such as I never saw before. When we arrived at the end of our Stage; we discharge the first carriages, call for New ones which will be ready in a few moments after you issue your orders. Call for Breakfast. You have it perhaps in ten moments . . . with the best of attendance and at a reasonable price.
Canteburry is a larger town than Boston, it contains a Number of old Gothick Cathedrals, which are all of stone very heavy, with but few windows which are grated with large Bars of Iron, and look more like jails for criminals, than places designd for the worship of the deity. One would Suppose from the manner in which they are Gaurded, that they apprehended devotion would be stolen. They have a most gloomy appearence and realy made me shudder. The Houses too have a heavy look being chiefly thatched roofs or coverd with crooked brick tile. Now and then you would see upon the road a large woods looking like a Forest, for a whole mile inclosed with a high Brick Wall or cemented stone, an enormous Iron gate would give one a peep as we passt of a large pile of Building, which lookd like the castles of some of the ancient Barons; but as we were strangers in the Country, we could only conjecture what they were, and what they might have been.
We proceeded from Canterburry to Rochester about 15 miles, an other pretty town, not so large as the former, from thence to Chatam where we stoped at a very Elegant Inn to dine. As soon as you drive into the yard you have at these places as many footmen round you as you have Carriages, who with their politest airs take down the step of your Carriage assist you out, inquire if you want fresh horses or carriages; will supply you directly, Sir, is the answer. A well dresst hostess steps forward, making a Lady like appearence and wishes your commands. If you desire a chamber, the Chamber maid attends; you request dinner, say in half an hour, the Bill of Fare is directly brought, you mark what you wish to have, and suppose it to be a variety of fish, fowl, meat, all of which we had, up to 8 different dishes; besides vegetables. The moment the time you stated, is out, you will have your dinner upon table in as Elegant a stile, as at any Gentleman’s table, with your powdered waiters, and the master or Mistress always brings the first Dish upon table themselves. But you must know that travelling in a post Chaise, is what intitles you to all this respect.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.]

posted October 31st, 2019 by Janet, comments (1), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Deal, England,England

“a Wave landed us with the utmost force upon the Beach”

Taking up where we left off….ABIGAIL ADAMS and other passengers from the ship Active have been lowered into a pilot boat which attempts to land at a town named Deal, slightly north of Dover on the English coast: “you must be run right on shore by a wave where a number of Men stand to catch hold of the Boat and draw it up.” Right!!!!

The surf ran six foot high.
But this we did not know untill driven on by a wave, for the pilots eager to get money assured the gentlemen they could land us safe without our being wet, and we saw no prospect of its being better through the day. We accordingly agre’d to go. We were wraped up and lowerd from the ship into the boat; the whole ships crew eager to assist us, the gentlemen attentive and kind as tho we were all Brothers and sisters! We have Spent a month together, and were as happy as the sea would permit us to be. We set of from the vessel now mounting upon the top of a wave high as a steeple, and then so low that the boat was not to be seen. I could keep myself up no other way than as one of the Gentlemen stood braced up against the Boat, fast hold of me and I with both my Arms round him. The other ladies were held, in the same manner whilst every wave gave us a Broad side, and finally a Wave landed us with the utmost force upon the Beach; the Broad Side of the Boat right against the shore, which was oweing to the bad management of the men, and the high Sea.

The next section was written by Abigail to her sister MARY CRANCH from London (ca.July 22). “I will take up the thread where I left it, untill the whole Ball is unwound; every particular will be interesting to my Friends I presume, and to no others expose this incorrect Scral.”

We concequently all pressd upon the side next the Shore to get out as quick as possible, which we need not have done, if we had known what I afterwards found to be the Case, that it was the only way in which we could be landed, and not as I at first supposed oweing to the bad management of the Boatmen; we should have set still for a succession of waves to have carried us up higher, but the roar of them terrified us all, and we expected the next would fill our Boat; so out we sprang as fast as possible sinking every step into the sand, and looking like a parcel of Naiades just rising from the sea. A publick house was fortunately just at hand, into which we thankfully enterd, changed our cloathing, dried ourselves and not being able to procure carriages that Day we engaged them for Six oclock the next morning, and took lodgings . . . there, all of us; ten in Number.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.]

posted October 28th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Cranch, Mary (Smith),Ocean Voyages

“. . . I have Safely landed upon the British coast.”

In July of 1784, ABIGAIL ADAMS was nearly at the end of her journey across the Atlantic to London where she was to join her husband John. As readers who have been following her story will appreciate, it was a fraught passage. The vessel finally arrived in the English Channel where the seas can be rough. Since it could take a long time to reach London by water the decision was made to land at Deal and proceed by coach, via Canterbury, to the city. Unfortunately the town of Deal had no wharf so landing the pilot boat would be difficult, to say the least.

Saturday 17 of julyGive me joy my dear sister, we have sounded to day and found bottom 55 fathom. We have seen through the course of the day 20 different Sail, Spoke with a small Boat, upon a smuggling expedition, which assured us we were within the Channel.
july 18This day four weeks we came on Board, are you not all calculating to day that we are near the land? Happily you are not wrong in your conjectures, I do not dispair of seeing it yet before night, tho our wind is very Small and light. The Captain has just been down to advise us as the vessel is so quiet, to get what things we wish to carry on shore into our small trunks. He hopes to land us at Portsmouth 70 miles distant from London tomorrow or next, day. From thence we are to proceed in post chaises to London. The ship may be a week in the channel before she will be able to get up. . . .
Deal july 20Heaven be praised I have Safely landed upon the British coast. How flattering how smooth the ocean how delightfull was Sunday the 18 of July. We flatterd ourselves with the prospect of a gentle Breeze to carry us on shore at Portsmouth where we agreed to land, as going up the channel always proves tedious, but on sunday Night the wind shifted to the south-west, which upon this coast, is the same with our north East winds: it blew a gale on sunday night on monday and monday night equal to an Equinoctial. We were obliged to carry double reef top sails only, and what added to our misfortune was; that, tho we had made land the day before it was so thick that we could not certainly determine what land it was; it is now twesday and I have slept only four hours since Saturday night, such was the tossing and tumbling in Board our ship. The Captain never left the deck the whole time either to eat or sleep, tho they told me there was no danger, nor do I suppose that there realy was any; as we had sea room enough. Yet the great number of vessels constantly comeing out of the channel and the apprehension of being run down, or being nearer the land than we imagined kept me constantly agitated. Added to this I had a voilent sick head ack. O! what would I have given to have been quiet upon the land. You will hardly wonder then at the joy we felt this day in seeing the cliffs of Dover: Dover castle and town. The wind was in Some measure subsided. It raind, however; and was as squaly as the month of March, the sea ran very high. A pilot boat came on Board at about ten oclock this morning; the Captain came to anchor with his ship in the downs and the little town of Deal lay before us. Some of the Gentlemen talkd of going on shore with the pilot Boat, and sending for us if the wind subsided. The boat was about as large as a Charlstown ferry boat and the distance from the Ship about twice as far as from Boston, to Charlstown. A Shore as bald as Nantasket Beach, no wharf, but you must be run right on shore by a wave where a number of Men stand to catch hold of the Boat and draw it up. The surf ran six foot high.

Read next about the landing.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed September 29, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.]

posted October 26th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Adams, John,Cranch, Mary (Smith),Deal, England,Ocean Voyages

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