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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 5


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{ 369 }

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0223

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1777-12-24

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Friend

I cannot omit this opportunity of acknowledging the Receipt of your kind Favours of 27 or 28 Novr. I Say one or the other of those days, because although the Letter has no date yet it Says it was written on the Day when a certain Commission was voted me, and both the Commissions are dated the 27, altho the Copy of the Resolution of Congress by which I was appointed is dated the 28.1
I should have wanted no Motives nor Arguments to induce me to accept of this momentous Trust, if I could be sure that the Public would be benifited by it. But when I see, my Brothers at the Bar, here, so easily making Fortunes for themselves and their Families, and when I recollect that for four years I have abandoned myself and mine, and when I see my own Children growing up, in something very like real Want, because I have taken no Care of them, it requires as much Philosophy as I am Master of, to determine to persevere in public Life, and to engage in a new scaene, for which I fear I am, very ill qualified.
However, by the Innuendoes in your Letter, if I cannot do much Good in this new Department, I may possibly do less Harm, than some others.
The Want of a Language for Conversation and Business, is however all the Objection that lies with much Weight upon my Mind: altho I have been not ignorant of the Grammar and Construction of the French Tongue from my Youth, yet I have never aimed at maintaining or even understanding Conversation in it: and this Talent I suppose I am too old to acquire, in any Degree of Perfection. However, I will try and do my best. I will take Books and my whole Time shall be devoted to it. Let me intreat the Benefit of your constant Correspondence, and believe me to be with much Affection your Friend.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “sent.”
1. For Lovell's explanation of the mistake on the date of the commissions (original and duplicate), see Lovell to JA , [post 17 Dec.] (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-05-02-0224

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Roberdeau, Daniel
Date: 1777-12-24

To Daniel Roberdeau

[salute] My dear Friend

Your most friendly and obliging Favour of 28. Novr was never delivered to me, untill the 22d instant, when I returned home { 370 } from a short Excursion upon private Business, almost the only Sample that has fallen to my share for four Years.
Indeed, Sir, I have neglected and abandoned, my own Affairs and the Concerns of my Family So long, to the inexpressible Loss and Injury of both, that I must confess I began to feel a great deal of Joy in the Prospect of returning to my former Course of Life. Your Letter however and the other Dispatches, which accompanied it: have cast a Damp upon me again: They have opened new Prospects before me and have agitated me with new Hopes and Fears.
If I were perfect in the French Language, and could converse in it, with Ease and Propriety, I think I should be happy: But my great Deficiency in this Particular, and the total Impossibility, as I conceive it that a Man after 40 should ever be, a critical Master, of the Pronunciation of any Language, give me great Anxiety.
I shall try the Experiment, however, and if I find any great Inconvenience by which the Public may be likely to suffer I shall ask Leave to return.
I shall devote my Time henceforward, to the Acquisition of a Language, to which I am not a total stranger having, had some Knowledge of the Grammer and Construction of it, early in life, and having practised Reading something in all along, but which however, I never before aimed at learning to Speak.
Be pleased, to make my most friendly Respects to Mrs. Clymer, and Miss Betsy, and to Mr Isaac, Miss Nancy, Polly, and Selina.1 May every Blessing and Prosperity attend you and them, and wherever I may be, let me intreat the Favour of your Correspondence by every opportunity. I am &c.
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “Sent.”
1. Isaac, Nancy, Polly, and Selina were Roberdeau children ( Adams Family Correspondence , 2:373; DAB ).