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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Little Patriot and Her Papa

By Abigail Adams Smith (1765–1813)

[From Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams. Edited by her Daughter. 1841.]

LONDON, June 1st, 1785. To-day my father went with Lord Carmarthen to the Palace, where he found many gentlemen, known to him before. Lord C. introduced him to his majesty, George III. Papa made his speech when he presented his letter; his majesty was affected, and said, “Sir, your words have been so proper, upon this occasion, that I cannot but say I am gratified that you are the man chosen to be the Minister.”

June 4th. This is the anniversary of his majesty’s birth; consequently there was a Levée at St. James. On this day their majesties speak to every person present. The King speaks first to the Foreign Ministers. He conversed a quarter of an hour with the Spanish Minister, upon music, of which he said he was passionately fond, particularly of Handel’s; he respected the memory of Handel, for he owed to him the greatest happiness of his life, and observed that Handel had said of him when young, “That young man will preserve my music.” My father observed that he had never heard anything like conversation at court before. One of the Ambassadors who had attended at the French court thirty years, said, Monsieur the king’s brother, had asked every time he had been to court, which was generally every Tuesday, “have you come from Paris to-day?” and no other question.

September 2d. About twelve o’clock, Mrs. Smith, from Clapham, and Miss B. called upon us. Mamma was just dressing, so I had to appear. Miss B. began to question me, as to which country I liked best, France or England? I would not give a preference. “But you undoubtedly prefer England to America?” “I must indeed confess, Miss, that I do not at present.” Was it possible! I acknowledged the excellencies of this country. There was more to please and gratify the senses; but I had formed such friendships and attachments in America, as would ever render it dear to me. “But surely, the culture is carried to a much greater degree of perfection here than in America.” “Granted.” “And you must,” said Miss B., very pertly, “find a great difference between America and this country?” “In what, pray, Miss?” said I. “Why, in the general appearance, in the people, their manners, customs, behavior, and in everything.” “Indeed,” said I, “I do not; there is so great a similarity in the manners of the people, in the two countries, that I should take them for one. If anything, I find a greater degree of politeness and civility in America, than in the people of this country. And the lower class of people in America are infinitely superior to the lower class of people here.” Their astonishment was great—was it possible I could think so! Surely the distressing war had been an impediment to all improvement and education. Dr. Bancroft came in, and passed an hour. After he had gone, we had some conversation upon the pictures below. Papa said they were spoiled; he was not at all content with his own, yet thought it the best that had ever been taken of him. No one had yet caught his character. The ruling principles in his moral character, were candor, probity, and decision. I think he discovered more knowledge of himself than usually falls to the lot of man; for, from my own observation, I think these are characteristic of him; and I add another, which is sensibility. I have never discovered a greater portion of candor in any character. I hope if I inherit any of his virtues it may be this; it is a necessary attendant through life. In whatever intercourse we have with society, we find it necessary in a greater or less degree; and in the mind of a woman, I esteem it particularly amiable.