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Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) to James Bridge

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00958.04 Author/Creator: Adams, John Quincy (1767-1848) Place Written: Newport, Rhode Island Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 11 September 1789 Pagination: 3 p. ; 20 x 16 cm.

Summary of Content: Adams writes in detail about his journey from Boston to Newport via Providence. He describes his stage coach companions on the way to Providence, expressing a liking for an amiable eighteen year-old named Landman. He comments on Brown University. Adams then derides the music of some of the less genteel people he rode with by boat. Landman introduced Adams to a Mrs. Marchant and her daughters, of whom he was very fond, and spent the evening with, enjoying musical performances. Adams reports that he saw Bridge's friend, W. Amory. Adams will soon sail to New York.

Full Transcript: Newport September 11th. 1789.

I little expected when I left you last Monday to write you from this place, but upon my arrival at Boston, I found the stage, which was ...to go on Wednesday already full and an opportunity presented to come the next morning to Providence. This method was then to all appearance the most expeditious; by the means of John Phillips, to whose friendly exertions I feel myself highly indebted, I procured a loan of money for which I drew an order on my friend, and on Tuesday morning at six o' clock, I left Boston. I had two companions in the stage, a Mr. Wright of North Carolina, a man perhaps of 40, polite and agreeable, but with no particularity of character deserving of remark; and a youth of 18 from Norwich in Connecticut; by the name of Landman; who had been violently smitten the night before by a young Lady in Boston, whose name he would not tell, but whom he described to me as being only 15 years old, living in Cornhill, playing upon the guittar, and wearing her own hair. I am much pleased with this young fellow; His disposition appears to be replete with social feelings; and even the intimacy which in six hours time he contracted with me, was more the effect of an open, unsuspicious amiable temper, which has not yet been check'd by evil experience, those of a wild thoughtless readiness to "palm his entertainment upon each unfledged companion." He has a very good voice, and if not [2] requested to sing, entertains his companions very agreeably, though he refuses as usual upon sollicitation. We slept at Providence Tuesday night, and Wednesday forenoon we employ'd in Strolling about the Town. [T]here are a large number of very handsome houses: that of Mr. Brown might be taken for the residence of a sovereign prince. The college consists of one building perhaps half as long again as Howard Hall. It being now vacation time, we had no opportunity to see the library; but from the size of the apartment which contains it, we judged it must be very small at about noon on Wednesday we came on board a packet, for this place, and although the distance is but 30 miles, we were so becalmed as to make it the next morning 6 o'clock before we got here. [T]here were five women on board, none of them handsome, nor the class which we call genteel people. There was a man of the same description, who accompanied them; and for three hours together we kept him singing. His collection was very numerous but the most insipid I ever heard. There was not a single tolerable song nor one that I ever heard before in the list. - Yet the words, the tunes to which they were set, and the voice and manner of the singer, were so perfectly adapted the one to the other, that taken all together it was no small fund of diversion to me. I slept not a wink, on board the Packet, and yesterday felt rather dull and heavy in the fore part of the day. I went to Mr. Ellery's, but Almy was not at home. In the afternoon I was introduced by young Landman, to Mrs. Marchant and her daughters. Mr. Marchant himself is at New York. The young Ladies are both between fifteen and twenty: play upon the harpsichord and sing to admiration. [3] They are both sensible and agreeable; happily professing the golden mean, between reserve and levity. They are not handsome, but I was never more pleased with two Ladies upon being but once in their Company. - I past [sic] the whole afternoon and evening with them, admired their musical performances, and with their brother accompanied them upon the flute. - I assure you (between ourselves) the comparisons which my mind naturally formed were very much to their advantage. This morning the packet in which I have engaged my passage was to have sailed, but the wind has prevented. Having nothing to do I rambled down on the wharf this forenoon. A sloop from New York, was coming in, and one of the first persons who step'd on the wharf was W. Amory. He only stops to dine; and I have seiz'd this opportunity to give you an account thus circumstantial of my adventures. You will find it tedious, but as it concerns your friend it will not be uninteresting. Tomorrow morning I hope to sail for New York; this wed. the club are to meet, and my mind will be with them. Remember me affectionately to all the members. [F]urthermore you will present my best regards to the lovely circle with whom we were so pleasingly situated the last evening I pass'd at Newbury-Port. To one of them you may say the words with a peculiar emphasis; and I leave it to you to determine which. Above all things do not fail writing me; incolse your Letters under a cover to my father, and send them by the post.
Adieu, Amory is waiting Adams.
See More

People: Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848
Bridge, James, 1765-1834

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentTravelTransportationEducationArt, Music, Theater, and FilmWomen's History

Sub Era: The Early Republic

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