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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


This foot note contained in document ADMS-06-01-02-0003
2. When, in preparing his memoir of his father, JQA came upon this letter to Webb, he was so struck by it that he not only quoted the text in full but added two full pages of laudatory commentary; see JA, Works , 1:23–26. In his Diary, JQA was equally laudatory but briefer, and concentrated on one aspect of the letter—the closing passage on friendship—which he felt had been overlooked by others but was the best of all the good things in it. It is “A Letter,” he wrote, “in the Analysis of which I find so much matter for commentary that a sober judgment must be called in to curb enthusiastic admiration. I propose to give the Letter entire, for it is the foot of Hercules. Nothing that my father ever wrote in the subsequent course of his life, bears in more indelible characters the stamp of his genius and of his heart. Webster and Wirt have both spoken of this Letter, with high commendation, but neither of them has noticed the part of it which is most deeply affecting to me—its encomium, tender and sublime, upon friendship. If I should say that the annals of epistolary correspondence cannot furnish a Letter more replete at once with intellect and heart, I should commit no excess.” (Entry of 15 Sept. 1829.)