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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0199

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

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear John

There is no Accomplishment, more usefull or reputable, or which conduces more to the Happiness of Life, to a Man of Business or of Leisure, than the Art of writing Letters. Symplicity, Ease, Familiarity and Perspicuity, comprehend all the necessary Rules. But these are not acquired without Attention and Study. The Habit you now form will go with you through Life. Spare no Pains then to begin well. Never write in haste. Suffer no careless Scroll ever to go out of your hand. Take time to think, even upon the most trifling Card. Turn your Thoughts in your Mind, and vary your Phrases and the order of your Words, that a Taste and Judgment may appear, even in the most ordinary Composition. I cannot offer you my Example, with my Precept.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr. Adams. June 1784”; docketed, also by JQA : “My Father—June 1784.” On the third page of the letter, at the top, JQA wrote at a somewhat later time: “Very good advice, and easily comprehended.” At the bottom of the page, JQA wrote in quotation marks, also in a somewhat later hand: “Nothing has so much influence over the human heart as the voice of undoubted friendship; { 354 } we know that our friend may possibly be mistaken, but we are certain he can never deceive us; we may differ from him in opinion, but we can never treat his <unself> counsels with contempt.”

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0200

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1784-07-03

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dearest Friend

From the first of April to this time, I have been in constant and anxious Expectation of hearing of your Arrival in London. Your Letters encouraged me to hope and expect it, otherwise I should have been with you at Braintree before now. I still expect to hear of your arrival every moment, but as your last letters by Mr. Warren1 expressed a doubt, it is possible, even that this Letter may find you in America. If it does, I shall leave it to your discretion, to embark or not, if you embark, burn the inclosed.2 But notwithstanding that you will probably have to return again to America in the Spring with me, if you do not embark, send the enclosed on to the President of Congress, and I will be at home as soon as I can. But I fear it will not be before the Spring, perhaps not before June or July; if you conclude to come to me, you may marry your Daughter beforehand if you will and bring her Husband with her. If you do not come, you may still marry your Daughter if you think proper.
My own Opinion is, you had better Stay. I will come home, and make my Hill shine as bright as General Warren's, and leave Politicks to those who understand them better and delight in them more, Breed my Boys, to the Bar and to Business, and My Girls too, and live and die in primaeval simplicity and Innocence. You may depend upon it, I will not be jockied again. Yours &c.
LbC in JQA 's hand (Adams Papers). RC and its enclosure (see note 2) not found. It is not certain that AA ever received, or indeed that JA ever sent this letter and its enclosure.
1. AA to JA , 12 April, and AA to JQA , 25 April, both above, brought by Winslow Warren to London, in Capt. Callahan's ship.
2. In the letter to the president of Congress (Thomas Mifflin) of the same date ( LbC , Adams Papers), which he may have enclosed with an RC of this letter to AA , JA expressed his doubt whether Congress still wanted him to negotiate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, since he had never received a commission for this task. He then repeated his desire to return to America and requested a letter of recall, which was required for decency's sake in taking leave of the States General of the Netherlands. He concluded: “it is my unalterable Resolution, not to remain in Europe, consuming in vain but unavoidable Ostentation, the Labour of my fellow Citizens, any longer than I can see a Probability of being of some use to them.” It appears almost certain that this letter never reached Congress.
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