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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0198

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1777-06-02

John Adams to Abigail Adams

Artillery Election!—I wish I was at it, or near it.
Yours of the 18th. reached me this Morning. The Cause that Letters are so long in travelling, is that there is but one Post in a Week who goes from hence to Peeks Kill, altho there are two that go from thence to Boston.
Riding every day, has made me better than I was, altho I am not yet quite well. I am determined to continue this Practice, which is very necessary for me.
I rejoice to find, that the Town have had the Wisdom to send but one Rep[resentative]. The House last Year was too numerous and unwieldy. The Expence was too great. I suppose you will have a Constitution formed this Year. Who will be the Moses, the Lycurgus, the Solon? Or have you a score or two of such? Whoever they may be and whatever Form may be adopted, I am perswaded there is among the Mass of our People a Fund of Wisdom, Integrity and Humanity, which will preserve their Happiness, in a tolerable Measure.
If the Enemy come to Boston again, fly with your little ones all of them to Philadelphia. But they will scarcely get to Boston, this Campaign.
I admire your Sentiments concerning Revenge.
Revenge, in ancient Days, you will see it through the whole Roman History, was esteemed a generous, and an heroic Passion. Nothing was too good for a Friend or too bad for an Enemy. Hatred and Malice, without Limits, against an Enemy, was indulged, was justified, and no Cruelty was thought unwarrantable.
Our Saviour taught the Immorality of Revenge, and the moral Duty of forgiving Injuries, and even the Duty of loving Enemies. Nothing can shew the amiable, the moral, and divine Excellency of these Christian Doctrines in a stronger Point of Light, than the Characters and Conduct of Marius and Sylla, Caesar, Pompey, Anthony and Augustus, among innumerable others.
Retaliation, we must practice, in some Instances, in order to make our barbarous Foes respect in some degree the Rights of Humanity. But this will never be done without the most palpable Necessity.
The Apprehension of Retaliation alone, will restrain them from Cruelties which would disgrace Savages.
To omit it then would be cruelty to ourselves, our Officers and Men.
We are amused here with Reports of Troops removing from R. { 254 } Island, N. York, Staten Island &c.—Waggons, Boats, Bridges &c. prepared—two old Indiamen cutt down into floating Batteries mounting 32 Guns sent round into Delaware R[iver] &c. &c.1 But I heed it no more, than the whistling of the Zephyrs. In short I had rather they should come to Philadelphia than not. It would purify this City of its Dross. Either the Furnace of Affliction would refine it of its Impurities, or it would be purged yet so as by fire.2
This Town has been a dead Weight, upon Us—it would be a dead Weight also upon the Enemy. The Mules here would plague them more than all their Money.3
1. For Gen. Howe's plans and the movements and countermovements of British and American forces in New Jersey during June, see the succinct and excellent narrative in Leonard Lundin, Cockpit of the Revolution: The War for Independence in New Jersey, Princeton, 1940, p. 313–326, and the map in same, facing p. 6.
2. Thus in MS, though the sense is apparently defective.
3. Thus in MS. Possibly JA's meaning is: “The Mules here [i.e. the Quakers, who continued willing to accept British money, but not inflated American money, for provisions] would plague them more than all their [the British army's] Money [would help them].” But this may be too ingenious an explanation.

Docno: ADMS-04-02-02-0199

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1777-06-02

John Quincy Adams to John Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

I Love to recieve Letters very well much better than I love to write them, I make but a poor figure at Composition my head is much too fickle, my Thoughts are running after birds eggs play and trifles, till I get vexd with my Self, Mamma has a troublesome task to keep me Steady, and I own I am ashamed of myself. I Have but Just entered the 3d volume of Smollet1 tho I had designed to have got it Half through by this time. I have determined this week to be more diligent as Mr. Thaxter will be absent at Court, and I cannot persue my other Studies I have Set myself a Stent, and determine to read the 3d volume Half out, If I can but keep my resolution I will write again at the end of the week, and give a better account of myself. I wish sir you would give me Some instructions with regard to my time and advise me how to proportion my Studies and my Play, in writing and I will keep them by me and endeavour to follow them I am dear Sir with a present determination of growing better yours,
[signed] John Quincy Adams
PS Sir if you will be So good as to favour me with a Blank book I { 255 } will transcribe the most remarkable occurances I mett with in my reading which will Serve to fix them upon my mind.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams esq Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Mr. J. Q. Adams.” The writer's punctuation has been left unaltered.
1. JA's copy of Tobias Smollett's A Complete History of England . . ., 16 vols., London, 1758–1765, is in the Boston Public Library and is described in Catalogue of JA's Library. See, further, JQA's letter to his father of 8 June, below, and the Some Books the Adamses Read during the Revolution facing 263Descriptive List of Illustrations in the present volume.
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, 2018.