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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0078

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1778-09-27

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] Honoured Mamma

My Pappa enjoins it upon me to keep a journal, or a diary, of the Events that happen to me, and of objects that I See, and of Characters that I converse with from day, to day, and altho I am Convinced of the utility, importance, & necessity, of this Exercise, yet I have not patience, & perseverance, enough to do it so Constantly as I ought. My Pappa who takes a great deal of Pains to put me in the right way, has also advised me to Preserve Copies of all my letters, & has given me a Convenient Blank Book for this end; and altho I shall have the mortification a few years hence, to read a great deal of my Childish nonsense, yet I shall have the Pleasure, & advantage, of Remarking the several steps, by which I shall have advanced, in taste, judgment, & knowledge.1 a journal Book & a letter Book of a Lad of Eleven years old, Cannot be expected to Contain much of Science, Litterature, arts, wisdom, or wit, yet it may Serve to perpetuate many observations that I may make, & may hereafter help me to recolect both persons, & { 93 } things, that would other ways escape my memory. I have been to see the Palace & gardens of Versailles, the Military scholl at Paris, the hospital of Invalids, the hospital of Foundling Children, the Church of Notre Dame, the Heights of Calvare, of Montmartre, of Minemontan, & other scenes of Magnificense, in & about Paris, which if I had written down in a diary, or a Letter Book, would give me at this time much Pleasure to revise, & would enable me hereafter to Entertain my Freinds, but I have neglected it & therefore, can now only resolve to be more thoughtful, & Industrious, for the Future & to encourage me in this resolution & enable me to keep it with more ease & advantage my father has given me hopes of a Present of a Pencil & Pencil Book in which I can make notes upon the spot to be Transfered afterwards in my Diary & my Letters this will give me great Pleasure both because it will be a sure means of improvement to myself & enable me to be more entertain[in]g to you.

[salute] I am my ever honoured & revered Mamma your Dutiful & affectionate Son

[signed] John Quincy Adams
RC and LbC (Adams Papers); aside from better paragraphing in LbC, the differences between the two texts are negligible. Text is given here in literal style.
1. JQA's earliest surviving diary (D/JQA/1) was begun on 12 Nov. 1779, the day he left Braintree for Boston to board the French frigate La Sensible for his second voyage to Europe. But he had begun a letterbook some months before he wrote the present letter; see above, JQA to TBA, 29 May, note 1.

Docno: ADMS-04-03-02-0079

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail (daughter of JA and AA)
Date: 1778-09-27

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams 2d

[salute] My Dear sister

it is some time since I wrote you a Letter & if I should neglect it a great while longer you would have no right to complain because you have been negligent in writing to me. however I think I will not take advantage of you.
But what Subject Shall I write you upon as you have now the honour to be miss in <her> your teens1 I suppose you begin to look about the world for Diversion if you was here you would have a surfeit of them the number of <them> gay amusements in this Country is Litterally infinite & therefore it would be impracticable to give you a List of them there is however but one sort of them that I care for and that is calld by the general name of Spectacles. these I like very well but Pappa wont let me go to them so often as I wish he lets me go now and then especially if there happens to be a tragedy of { 94 } Corneille Racine or Voltaire I have been twice to the opera & several times to the Italien Comedy but I have been oftenest to the French Comedy the others have a great deal of musick and dancing which are sprightly and agreable enough but the language the wit the passions the sentiments the oratory the poetry the manners and morals are at the French Comedy.
If you will promiss to learn French I will in some future letters give you an account of <one> some of them but Remember it is upon Condition that you will learn french2

[salute] I am &c.

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “to my sister.” Text is given here in literal style.
1. Miss in Her Teens is the title of a comedy by David Garrick, produced at Covent Garden and published in 1747.
2. Here follows nearly a whole line heavily scored out in the letterbook, probably at the time the letter was entered because the writer decided not to pursue the subject. The first few words scored out are: “which may be done by”; remainder illegible.
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/