Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 13 May 1781 JQA JA John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 13 May 1781 Adams, John Quincy Adams, John
John Quincy Adams to John Adams
Honour'd Sir Leyden May 13th 1781

As you may possibly not come here before the 18th I write to know, if I must leave these lodgings at that time, as the month will then be up, and if I stay any longer I must begin another month.

I have finish'd Phaedrus's fables and the lives of Miltiades, Themistocles, Aristides, Pausanias, Cimon, and Lysander; and Am going next upon Alcibiades in Cornelius Nepos, I shall begin upon Alcibiades next.1 I transcribe and learn also a Greek verb through the Active, Passive and Medium Voices every day.

We have no news here, though as you know Sir, this is a barren place for that. Please to write me them if you have any. I saw Mr. Luzac last evening he desires his respects to you.

I am your dutiful Son, John Quincy Adams

P.S. I hope brother Charles has got entirely well. Dr. Waterhouse says he gets flesh. I should be very glad if he would write to me.


RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Adams. Sur Le Keizers Gragt prés du Spiegel Straat à Amsterdam”; endorsed: “J. Q. Adams. May. 13. ans. 14. 1781.”


Cornelius Nepos was a Roman biographical writer in the first century B.C. JQA was doubtless reading some school text of Nepos' De viribus illustribus, of which he acquired his own copy of a Latin and French edition, Paris, 1771, in St. Petersburg later this year ( Catalogue of JQA's Books , p. 114).

John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 14 May 1781 JA JQA John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 14 May 1781 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Amsterdam, May 14. 1781

I received yours of 13 this morning.

If you have not found a convenient Place to remove into, you may continue in your present Lodgings another Month.

I am glad you have finished Phaedrus, and made Such Progress in Nepos, and in Greek.

Amidst your Ardour for Greek and Latin I hope you will not forget your mother Tongue. Read Somewhat in the English Poets every day. You will find them elegant, entertaining and instructive Companions, through your whole Life. In all the Disquisitions you have heard concerning the Happiness of Life, has it ever been recommended to you to read Poetry?

To one who has a Taste, the Poets serve to fill up Time which would otherwise pass in Idleness, Languor, or Vice. You will never be alone, with a Poet in your Poket. You will never have an idle Hour.

How many weary hours have been made alert, how many melancholly ones gay, how many vacant ones useful, to me, in the course of my Life, by this means?

Your Brother grows dayly better but is still weak and pale. He shall write to you, Soon.

Your affectionate Father, J. Adams

RC (Adams Papers).

James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 14 May 1781 Lovell, James AA James Lovell to Abigail Adams, 14 May 1781 Lovell, James Adams, Abigail
James Lovell to Abigail Adams
Noon 14th. of May 1781

By a Letter of the 1st.,1 this Moment received, I find that my amiable and respected Friend is under the mistake of supposing the Enemy in Possession of one of her former which has reached me, and that I have neglected to answer some others. She will know better before this reaches her. The Enemy have the one which attended Mr. 115Cranche's: So that I have no Knowledge of the Mode He or She particularly pointed out for forwarding the Goods in my Possession.2

I have had the Satisfaction of knowing that Mr. Hugh Hughes has well guarded, by boxing, what I committed to Doctor Winship and I have this day desired Mr. Brown, who setts off with a Light Waggon, to take the Box from Mr. Hughes and deliver it to Mrs. Lovell who has my former Directions about the Contents which are for different Persons. I was not able to send by Mr. Brown your large Box or the China. He goes greatly loaded from hence, but as he drops part of his Charge at Head Quarters, he can conveniently take what I have mentioned, at Fishkill, if it has not yet been sent on by the Kindness of Mr. Hughes.

The Enemy have published one Letter from Mr. Adams, dated in December3 and they say they have intercepted a Pacquet from him and Doctor Franklin; but I do not think they say truly. I imagine they have got only that general Letter of News not ordered to be sunk. We have had nothing from Holland a long Time, except something which Mr. Carmichael transmitted in the handwriting of a known Correspondent at the Hague, and which you must have seen republished, I imagine, in your own Gazettes.4

I have endured much Pain lately from a Fall: I shall not soon be free from the ill Effects. But I have been very stoical. For it would have been a Shame to groan at what happened, while I reflected that neither Back nor Limb was broken, nor any Joint absolutely dislocated. Portia will however do me the Justice to think that neither Pain or Affliction shall make me neglect Endeavors to render her Service in finishing the little Business of sending on her Invoices or rather her Goods. I have written for the Invoices agreable to her Hints.

I imagine that some of the Articles supposed missing are in the Band Box, and that Mr. Wibert may find some Things within his Package of Cloth, which was in so good order as not to need opening. I have so thoroughly packed the Case for Transportation, that I do not incline to make a Scrutiny anew of the Contents. Dear Lady, Yrs.,


RC (Adams Papers).


Not found.


These letters have not been found, or at any rate are not identifiable from the allusions made to them here. See also AA to Lovell, 10 May, above.


Probably JA to Samuel Huntington, 28 Dec. 1780, mentioned more specifically in AA to JA, 28 May, below; see note 2 there.


Probably the letters, not specifically identified, from C. W. F. Dumas that were enclosed in William Carmichael to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Madrid, 4 March (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 4:272–273).