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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


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Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0197

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1784-06-21

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear Son

I received your Letter of the 15th. on the 18th. and that of the 18th. this moment, and am happy to find that you Spend So much Time and take so much Pleasure in Chancery and Parliament.
Present to Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Whiteford, my Thanks for their Politeness to you.
I want to know if the Books are on their Way. You Should tell me { 351 } Something of them in every Letter untill they are gone off, by Sea or Land.
Your Mothers Voyage is Such an Uncertainty that I would not have you wait longer, than the day you have fixed for your Departure. I know nothing in particular of the Young Gentleman you mention: But my Advice in general is to have a Care of Templars.1 You should remember I have no Secretary or Companion, and I cannot do without you. You may be here in 3 days from London, and if the Ladies arrive you may go again in 3 more, if Mr. Smith goes home.
Mr. Bingham and his Lady have been here and Spent a few Days with me. I introduced them to the Princess of Orange and the young Princess conversed with her, very agreably in English.2 Last Evening came an Invitation to them to sup at Court this night, but they went off on Saturday for Amsterdam.
You have had a Taste of the Eloquence of the Bar and of Parliament: but you will find Livy and Tacitus, more elegant, more profound and Sublime Instructors, as well as Quinctilian Cicero and Demosthenes.
There will be everlastingly a Demades and an Aeschines to plague a Demosthenes.3 Wherever a great able and Upright Man appears, there will be ever a Swarm of little, corrupt, weak or wicked ones, who will find among the People Such Numbers like themselves, as to form a Body capable of obstructing diverting and interrupting him, so that he will be able to serve the publick only now and then and generally by surprize and4 against their Will. Such will be the Fate of Mr. Pitt, if he persevers in the Line of Integrity he has taken.
This however Should not discourage, for Integrity is the only Line in which a Country can be greatly served.

[salute] Your affectionate Father

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr. Adams. June 21. 1784”; docketed, also by JQA : “My Father—21. June 1784.”
1. If JA is expressing a distrust of the law students of the Middle Temple, where William Vans Murray was studying, the origins of that distrust are not known to the editors.
2. JA gives further details on Anne Willing Bingham and the Dutch court in his Diary ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:167).
3. JA inserted “and an Aeschines” above the line. Demosthenes, Athens' greatest orator, was his city's most outspoken opponent of the growing power of Phillip of Macedon, and contended with the Athenian orator Aeschines throughout the 340s B.C. over the most effective policy for maintaining the independence of the Greek city states. The Athenian politician Demades, who was more deeply influenced, and corrupted, by Phillip and his successor, Alexander the Great, than was Aeschines, became an implacable foe of Demosthenes. After Macedon's final triumph over the resistance of the Greek city states in 322 B.C., Demades condemned Demosthenes to death. The great orator, in flight from Athens, then committed suicide (Oxford Classical { 352 } Dictionary). Although JA applies this historical lesson to William Pitt the younger in this paragraph, he sounds like he is remembering his own struggles as a political leader and diplomat.
4. JA inserted “by surprize and” above the line.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0198

Author: Shaw, Elizabeth Smith
Author: Peabody, Elizabeth Smith Shaw
Recipient: Cranch, Mary Smith
Date: 1784-06-26

Elizabeth Smith Shaw to Mary Smith Cranch

[salute] My Dear Sister

Mr. Dodge has just informed me of his design to go to Boston tomorrow, and has kindly offered to convey a Letter. I thank you for Yours,2 and more for the Care of our little Daughter, and for the affection you discover in writing to me so much about her. I find that almost every thing is of importance, that relates to our dear Children. She never lodged out of the House a night in her life without me before now, and I feel that her absence, has touched some maternal strings, that never before were put in motion, though her Father sometimes calls me Pelican, and believes I think but little [but?] about her.3
Indeed my Sister I was glad I left her with you, for though when I got home I was much fatigued with the heat, &c., Susa desired me to let her go the next day which was Saturday to see her Sister. I gave her leave, but was sorry immediately, for it was so near the Sabbath that there was no probability of my procuring any other help. But fortunately for me the Girl that sometimes used to assist me, came home from Election, Just time enough to milk my Cows, that night, though very tired with her little Excursion, which she had made on foot. When I came to over look my family matters, and find how little attention had been paid to my milk, and to every thing else I was determined she should never come into the house to do any more for me. Accordingly when she returned, we told her, we had no further service for her. It was almost ten Clock, and it rained. My heart aked you may believe, but since she had told me that our kindness had been her snare, I hoped the severity of Justice would restore her to a proper state of mind. We have now got rid of root, and branch. I hope this affair will not make me a tyrant to my help.
Mr. Thaxter got here a Friday, will go to Mrs. Wests tomorrow.
Where now is our dear Sister Adams, and our charming Niece, upon the mighty billows! May gentle Zephyrs waft them safely to their distined Shore.
Ah! my Sister my spirit was witness to the parting Scene. I saw all the various passions rioting in my nabby's Face. I saw——I saw the struggle in the Parents Br[eas]t——the <awful> absolute necessi[ty]——
{ 353 }
Eliza and I can dream you know. If Sister is not yet gone she must not know that my Spirit nightly visits her, though I am sure it is no spirit of mine, if it would not gladly calm every anxious thought, and sweetly lull her fears to rest.
It is bed time and I am called, but I must be as good as my word to Billy, for he will ask me in the morning. Billy says “Sister must be a good Girl, and when she comes home not pester him. Please to give my Love to her and tell her I long to kiss her,” and he is not the only one that wants to I can assure him.
I can [ . . . ] [y] more than that [I am?]

[salute] Affectionately

[signed] E S
RC (DLC: Shaw Family Papers); docketed: “Letter from Mrs. E. Shaw. 29 June 1784.” The “29” may be in a later hand. Some loss of text where the seal was torn away.
1. The date assigned is the nearest Saturday—“ Sabbath Eve”—to 29 June, the date in the docketing (which could have been the date on which Mary Cranch received the letter). The letter may, however, be of an earlier Saturday in June; in the sixth paragraph, beginning “Eliza and I can dream. . .,” Elizabeth seems unsure whether AA has yet sailed.
2. Not found.
3. The pelican, in fable and in Christian symbolism, would tear open its breast to feed its young with its blood.
4. In the imagined parting scene here, the “various passions rioting in my nabby's Face” must refer to AA2 's mixed feelings upon leaving Royall Tyler.