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. 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.)
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.