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John Adams to George Washington Adams and John Adams 2d, page 2
3 May 1815


conduct of the Understanding. You will there find better Advice than I can give you.

     I wish you to have each a Pencil Book, always in your Pockett, by which you may minute on the Spot any remarkable thing you may See or hear. A pocket Ink horn, any cheap thing of the kind, and a Sheet or two of paper, ought always to be about you. A Journal; a Diary is indispensible. "Studium Sine Calamo, Somnium." Without a minute Diary, your Travels, will be no better than the flight of Birds, through the Air. They will leave no trace behind them. Whatever you write preserve. I have burned, Bushells of my Silly notes, in fitts of Impatience and humiliation, which I would now give anything to recover. "These fair Creature are thyself." And would be more useful and influential in Self Examination than all the Sermons of the Clergy.

     Enter into no disputes, upon public affairs, national or European. Say you are too young, too inexperienced, too little read, and too ill informed, to hazard your Judgment on any of these great Things. Leave to your Father the Interests and honor of your Country. There they will be Safe. Be not provoked by any misrepresentations of your Country. This is a hard Lesson but you must learn it.

     Write to me my dear Boys by every Ship. While my heart beats it will be anxious for your good Behaviour and consequent happy and useful Lives.

John Adams


  

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