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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0129

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1777-03-16

John Adams to Abigail Adams

The Spring advances, very rapidly, and all Nature will soon be cloathed in her gayest Robes. The green Grass, which begins to shew { 176 } itself, here, and there, revives in my longing Imagination my little Farm, and its dear Inhabitants. What Pleasures has not this vile War deprived me of? I want to wander, in my Meadows, to ramble over my Mountains, and to sit in Solitude, or with her who has all my Heart, by the side of the Brooks. These beautifull Scaenes would contribute more to my Happiness, than the sublime ones which surround me.
I begin to suspect that I have not much of the Grand in my Composition. The Pride and Pomp of War, the continual Sound of Drums and Fifes as well played, as any in the World, the Prancings and Tramplings of the Light Horse numbers of whom are paraded in the Streets every day, have no Charms for me. I long for rural and domestic scaenes, for the warbling of Birds and the Prattle of my Children.—Dont you think I am somewhat poetical this morning, for one of my Years, and considering the Gravity, and Insipidity of my Employment.—As much as I converse with Sages and Heroes, they have very little of my Love or Admiration. I should prefer the Delights of a Garden to the Dominion of a World. I have nothing of Caesars Greatness in my soul. Power has not my Wishes in her Train. The Gods, by granting me Health, and Peace and Competence, the Society of my Family and Friends, the Perusal of my Books, and the Enjoyment of my Farm and Garden, would make me as happy as my Nature and State will bear.
Of that Ambition which has Power for its Object, I dont believe I have a Spark in my Heart. . . .1 There [are] other Kinds of Ambition of which I have a great deal.2
I am now situated, in a pleasant Part of the Town, in Walnutt Street, in the south side of it, between second and third Streets, at the House of Mr. Duncan, a Gentleman from Boston, who has a Wife and three Children.3 It is an agreable Family. General Wolcott of Connecticutt, and Coll. Whipple of Portsmouth, are with me in the same House. Mr. Adams has removed to Mrs. Cheasmans [Cheesman's], in fourth Street near the Corner of Markett Street, where he has a curious Group of Company consisting of Characters as opposite, as North and South. Ingersol, the Stamp man and Judge of Admiralty, Sherman, an old Puritan, as honest as an Angell and as <stanch as a blood Hound> firm <as a Rock> in the Cause of American Independence, as Mount Atlass, and Coll. Thornton, as droll and funny as Tristram Shandy. Between the Fun of Thornton, the Gravity of Sherman, and the formal Toryism of Ingersol, Adams will have a curious Life of it. The Landlady too who has buried four Husbands, one Tailor, two shoemakers and Gilbert Tenant [Tennent], and still is ready for a { 177 } fifth, and well deserves him too, will add to the Entertainment.—Gerry and Lovell are yet at Miss Leonards, under the Auspices of Mrs. Yard.
Mr. Hancock has taken an House in Chesnutt Street, near the Corner of fourth Street near the State House.
We this day received Letters from Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane.4 I am not at Liberty to mention particulars. But in general the Intelligence is very agreable. I am now convinced, there will be a general War.
LbC (Adams Papers). Though RC is missing (and was missing when CFA first printed this letter, in JA, Letters, Boston, 1841, 1:195–197), its receipt was acknowledged by AA in hers to JA of 17 April, below.
1. Suspension points in MS.
2. At this point, in the space between paragraphs in LbC, JA later made the following revealing insertion: “Note. Literary and Professional, I suppose.—But is not the Heart deceitfull above all Things? April 9. 1776.” There can be no doubt that JA meant to date the insertion 9 April 1777. The handwriting is precisely the same as in the main text (though the ink varies slightly in color); and since JA did not take this letterbook abroad with him, he could not have had access to it on any later 9th of April for more than a decade.
3. In JA's Account with Massachusetts as a delegate to Congress in 1777, his Philadelphia landlord is called Capt. Robert Duncan (Diary and Autobiography, 2:255, 262).
4. Franklin's letter was to Pres. Hancock, was dated at Nantes, 8 Dec. 1776, and reported his arrival there; it was read in Congress on 19 March (JCC, 7:184), and is printed in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:221–222. Silas Deane wrote numerous letters home from Paris in late November and early December; probably the one alluded to here was that of 28 Nov., printed in same, p. 196–200; see JCC, 7:186.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0130

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1777-03-16

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear Son

There is an observation, which I wish you to make very early in Life because it may be usefull to you, when you grow up. It is this, that a Taste for Literature and a Turn for Business, united in the same Person, never fails to make a great Man. A Taste for Literature, includes the Love of Science and the fine Arts. A Turn for Business, comprehends Industry and Application as well as a faculty of conversing with Men, and managing Affairs.
I hope you will keep these two Objects in View all your Lifetime. As you will not have Property to enable you to pursue your Learning alone, you must apply yourself to Business to procure you the Means of subsistance. But you will find Learning of the utmost Importance to { 178 } you in Business, as well as the most ingenious and elegant Entertainment, of your Life.
You must acquire the Art of mixing Study with Business and even with your Pleasures and Diversions.—Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit utile dulci.—There is a Bone for you to pick. Ask Mr. Thaxter, after giving my Love to him, to help you Parse this latin Line. Take it Word by Word, and be able when I come home to give me the Construction of the Line, and the Parsing of every Word in it.—I am your affectionate Father.
LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “J.Q.A.”
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.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/