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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0196

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Cranch, Elizabeth
Recipient: Norton, Elizabeth Cranch
Date: 1782-03-17

John Quincy Adams to Elizabeth Cranch

[salute] My dear Cousin

Some days agone I received a letter from you dated May last. The true reason why I have not written to you since I have been in Europe, is, that as you expect that my letters would be very entertaining, by the variety of the subjects, that I have had to write upon, I do not wish to disappoint you by writing letters that would give you no pleasure. But as you have begun, I can no longer excuse myself, and must do as well as I can.
I am at present distant 2000 of our miles from my father, but my being with Mr. D[ana] compensates if any thing can, for my loss.
Perhaps you would be glad to hear something about this country; I will give you briefly what I know about it.
The Empire of Russia is supposed to be the largest in the world but it was formerly of no consideration in Europe. It was indeed plunged into the lowest degree of barbarism, when Peter the first { 298 } very justly surnamed the Great came to the throne. He was born in 1672. At twenty five years of age he went into Holland to the village of Saardam, and there enrolled himself as a common ship-carpenter, until he had learned the art of ship-building. He applied himself by turns to every sort of the mechanicks, and in the mean time reformed his country. The following is an eulogy of this prince by Thomson in his Winter.

“What cannot active government perform,

New moulding man? wide stretching from these shores

A people savage from remotest time.

A huge, neglected empire, ONE VAST MIND

By heaven inspired from Gothic darkness call'd.

Immortal Peter! first of Monarchs! He

His stubborn country tamed, her rocks, her fens;

Her floods, her seas, her ill submitting sons;

And while the fierce Barbarian he subdued,

To more exalted soul he rais'd the Man.

Ye shades of antient heroes, ye who toil'd

Thro' long successive ages to build up

A labouring plan of state, behold at once

The wonder done! behold the matchless prince!

Who left his native throne where reign'd till then

A mighty shadow of unreal power;

Who greatly spurn'd the slothful pomp of courts;

And roaming every land, in every port

His sceptre laid aside, with glorious hand

Unwearied, plying the mechanic tool,

Gather'd the seeds of trade, of useful arts

Of civil wisdom, and of martial skill.

Charg'd with the stores of Europe, home he goes!

Then cities rise amid th'illumined wastes

O'er joyless desarts smiles the rural reign;

Far distant flood to flood is social joined,

Th'astonished Euxine hears the Baltick roar,

Proud navies ride on seas that never foam'd

With daring keel before; and armies stretch

Each way their dazzling files, repressing here

The frantic Alexander of the North,

And awing there stern Othman's shrinking sons.

Sloth flies the land, and ignorance, and vice

Of old dishonour proud: it glows around. { 299 }

Taught by the ROYAL HAND that rous'd the whole,

One scene of arts, of arms, of rising trade:

For what his wisdom plann'd and power enforc'd

More potent still, his great example shew'd.1

The famous Voltaire has written a history of the Empire of Russia, under Peter the great, which altho' it is very partial towards this country, yet it is well worth reading, as it gives an idea of what, that extraordinary prince was.
Please to present my best respects to your Pappa and Mamma and love to your brother and sister.

[salute] I am your affectionate Cousin.

LbC (Adams Papers); at head of text: “I. To Miss. E.C.”
1. A celebrated passage (lines 950–987) from “Winter,” the first-written but last-placed section of James Thomson's perdurably popular poem The Seasons (1726–1730).

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0197

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1782-03-18

John Quincy Adams to John Thaxter

[salute] Mon cher Monsieur

Monsieur Faleisen1 qui vous remettra ceci se proposant de partir aujourd'hui pour Amsterdam, nous a offert de prendre des lettres, mais comme il part tout subitement je n'ai que le tems de vous ecrire quelques mots, en vous priant de vouloir bien prendre soin de la lettre ci incluse.
Mais a propos, puisque j'y suis je vais vous raconter un petit voiage que nous avons fait dernierement; Il y a eu Samedi huit jours que plusieurs Messieurs et une Dame de notre connaissance, Mr. D[ana] et votre serviteur partimes de St. Petersbourg sur le Golfe de Cronstadt en trois traineaux pour Cronstadt, nous fumes une heure et cinquante cinq minutes en chemin, depuis onze heures moins vingt minutes jusques è un heure moins vingt cinq minutes; la distance est de 28 wersts ce qui fait 20 Milles d'Angleterre; nous dinames a Cronstadt, et nous allames voir le port, &c. mais en hiver il n'y a jamais grande chose è voir lè. Aprés diné è cinq heures et cinq minutes nous quittames Cronstadt et nous allames è Oranienbaum, ou nous arrivames en trente cinq minutes de terns le passage est de neuf wersts ou 6 1/2 Milles Anglais; Nous passames la nuit è Oranienbaum, et le matin suivant nous fumes voir le palais qui est lè. Aprés diné nous partimes d'Oranienbaum pour Peterhoff qui en est eloigné de 7 wersts ou 5 Milles. Nous mimes 35 minutes è ce trajet parceque nous le { 300 } fimes sur la terre et non pas sur le Golfe comme le jour d'avant. Arrivés è Peterhoff nous vimes le palais qui y est. Ces Palais sont asséz magnifiques mais on n'y trouve rien d'extraordinaire. Enfin A quatre heures nous partimes de Peterhoff encore sur le Golfe et nous arrivames è St. Petersbourg, qui en est eloigne de vingt-sept wersts, en une heure et trois quarts de terns.2

[salute] Je n'ai plus de terns pour écrire, ainsi je finirai en vous assurant que je suis vôtre trés humble et trés obéissant serviteur.

P.S. Faites bien mes respects s'il vous plait è Madame Chabanel et a toute sa famille.
LbC (Adams Papers). Enclosure may have been the (missing) RC of JQA to Elizabeth Cranch, preceding, sent to Amsterdam for forwarding to America.
1. This name appears as “Felleisen” in JQA's Diary entry of 18 March and again in JQA's letter to JA, 20/31 March, below. He is not further identified.
2. JQA furnished a similarly prosy account of this outing in his Diary entries for 910 March. The lady in the party was Mme. Peyron, wife of the Swedish consul in St. Petersburg, who was himself in the company.
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.