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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0237

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1780-03-16

John Quincy Adams to John Adams

My Work for a day.
Make Latin,  
Explain   Cicero  
  Erasmus2  
  Appendix3  
Peirce   Phaedrus.4  
Learn   greek Racines5  
  greek Grammar  
Geography  
geometry  
fractions  
Writing  
Drawing6  
As a young boy can not apply himself to all those Things and keep a remembrance of them all I should desire that you would let me know what of those I must begin upon at first. I am your Dutiful Son,
[signed] John Quincy Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Adams Hotel de Valois Richlieu A Paris,” with sender's address written in JQA's hand across one corner of the cover: “Ecole de Mathematiques.” Postmarked: “16 4e. Lvee. K/EI BANL E/P.D 3S,” the very last element being handwritten, the others stamped; see facsimile of cover reproduced as an illustration in this volume, and the Descriptive List of Illustrations, p. John Quincy Adams Lists His Studies and Seeks His Father's Advice following 212xvii–xviii, above, which attempts an elucidation of these markings of the Petite Poste de { 308 } Paris prior to its attachment to the Grande Poste in July 1780; compare also the postal markings on JQA's letter of 21 March, below. Endorsed: “My Son.” The name “Bethune” appears in John Thaxter's hand on the cover sheet, but this must have been written later for a purpose not now apparent.
1. Date supplied from the postmark (“16”) in combination with JA's reply of 17 March, following.
2. Probably a Latin edition of Erasmus' Colloquia, of which there were many prepared for French students' use from the early 16th century on. Among the many works by Erasmus at MQA, most of them no doubt acquired by JQA, are two editions of the Colloquia, an Elzevir published at Amsterdam, 1679, and a Colloquia selecta familiaris, Paris, 1767, which may have been the copy used by JQA at Passy.
3. JA, who was evidently keeping close track of his sons' studies, gives a fuller title for this work in his reply of the next day. According to JA this was an “Appendix de Diis et Heroibus ethnicis,” or Supplement on the Pagan Gods and Heroes, that is, an account of classical mythology, presumably for young readers. This was a common type of work, but the particular one being studied by JQA, whether a separate publication or part of a Latin reader, has not been identified.
4. That is, “Parse Phaedrus.” The OED records the spellings peirse, parce, and pearce in the 16th and 17th centuries, and there was evidently great variation in pronunciation. The Fables in verse of Phaedrus were a favorite book for beginners in Latin at the end of the 18th century. At MQA is a Latin edition, Paris, 1742; among JQA's books at the Boston Athenaeum are two others, London, 1750, and Paris, 1783, both with JQA's bookplate, but the latter ineligible by date for JQA's use at Passy.
5. “Racines” is the French word for “roots.” Hence: Learn Greek roots.
6. In the MS there follows a crude ornamental design spread across the whole page; see the facsimile John Quincy Adams Lists His Studies and Seeks His Father's Advice following 212illustration in this volume.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0238

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1780-03-17

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear Son

I have received your Letter,1 giving an Account of your Studies for a day. You should have dated your Letter.
Making Latin, construing Cicero, Erasmus, the Appendix de Diis et Heroibus ethnicis, and Phaedrus, are all Exercises proper for the Acquisition of the Latin Tongue; you are constantly employed in learning the Meaning of Latin Words, and the Grammar, the Rhetorick and Criticism of the Roman Authors: These Studies have therefore such a Relation to each other, that I think you would do well to pursue them all, under the Direction of your Master.
The Greek Grammar and the Racines I would not have you omit, upon any Consideration, and I hope your Master will soon put you into the Greek Testament, because the most perfect Models of fine Writing in history, Oratory and Poetry are to be found in the Greek Language.
Writing and Drawing are but Amusements and may serve as Relaxations from your studies.
{ 309 }
As to Geography, Geometry and Fractions I hope your Master will not insist upon your spending much Time upon them at present; because altho they are Useful sciences, and altho all Branches of the Mathematicks, will I hope, sometime or other engage your Attention, as the most profitable and the most satisfactory of all human Knowledge; Yet my Wish at present is that your principal Attention should be directed to the Latin and Greek Tongues, leaving the other studies to be hereafter attained, in your own Country.
I hope soon to hear that you are in Virgil and Tully's orations, or Ovid or Horace or all of them.2

[salute] I am, my dear Child, your affectionate Father,

[signed] John Adams
P.S. The next Time you write to me, I hope you will take more care to write well. Cant you keep a steadier Hand?3
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in JQA's mature hand: “J. Adams. 17. March 1780”; also docketed in an unidentified hand. Tr in CFA's hand (Adams Papers); at head of text: “No. 267,” indicating that the letter was copied for inclusion in JA–AA, Familiar Letters, but in the end it was excluded.
1. Undated, but sent on 16 March, preceding; see the notes there on JA's allusions in this reply.
2. See, further, JA to Pechigny, 16 May, below.
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/