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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0048

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-02-01

John Thaxter to John Adams

[salute] Sir

I have waited on Mr. Luzac with the Crisis, who is much obliged to You for it, and will either translate it into Dutch or French, as shall be most agreable to You, and as soon as possible. You will be so good as to acquaint me, which of the two Languages is your Choice.1
I waited a few days agone on the Rector Magnificus with Charley, and was informed by him, that his Matriculation was consented to by the Curators.2
The Letter You was so kind to forward me, was from America, dated the 1st. and 16th. of September. I am at a loss how it came, as I hear of no Arrival.
It seems rather difficult to determine upon the various News from the Southward. The American Papers and Accounts differ exceedingly from the English. One knows not what to make of such Contradictions. If it [is] News fabricated by any of our Countrymen, I am very sorry—they are Spots and Blemishes in a good Cause, and such a Species of Aid as our Cause does not require.
The young Gentlemen are well and desire their Duty to You.

[salute] I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most humble Servant,

[signed] J. Thaxter
1. In a letter from Brussels, 28 Jan. (Adams Papers), William Lee wrote JA: “I send you a Crisis which perhaps you may think worth being translated and publish'd in Holland.” This was quite possibly Thomas Paine's The Crisis Extraordinary, published in Philadelphia in Oct. 1780 (Evans 16918), but no Dutch or French translation published in the Netherlands has been found.
2. During a visit to his sons in Leyden early in January, JA recorded that JQA was approved for matriculation (he and John Thaxter were formally admitted on 10 Jan.), but that “Charles was found to be too young, none under twelve Years of Age being admitted” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:452). In his letter { 74 } to JA of 23 Jan. (above), Thaxter reported that he would wait again upon the Rector to obtain special consent, and on 11 Feb. he wrote JA (letter below) that this had been done and CA had matriculated on 29 January.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0049

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-02-03

John Quincy Adams to John Adams

[salute] Hond. Sir

I yesterday received your's of the 31st of Jany. in whic you desir'd me to write you a few lines now and then to inform you of my progress in Literature. I have just finish'd Copying a Treatise upon Greek by Mr. Hemsterhuis which our master has been so good as to lend me. It is very rare and there are but very few exemples of it here, and I believe that you would be very much pleas'd with it.1
I should be very much obliged to you if you would send me The Vocabulary of Words of the same terminations in French, English, and dutch, which Mr. Searle had.
I am very impatient to see Pope's works. I should be very glad also to see my old acquaintance.
Our master desires me to send his respects to you.

[salute] I am your most dutiful Son,

[signed] John Quincy Adams
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in an unidentified hand: “A Monsieur Monsieur Adams: chez Monsieur Hendrik Schorn Sur l'agter burgwal by de hoogestraat a Amsterdam”; docketed in John Thaxter's hand: “Johnny 3d. Feby. 1781.”
1. This, though attributed to Professor Hemsterhuis, may in fact be a MS in 104 folios that remains among JQA's papers entitled “Dictata Celeberrimi Valckenarii ad Analogiam Linguae Graecae” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel 217). JQA dated his copy at the head “January 21st. 81,” and at the end “January 31st. 81.” It seems doubtful that he was copying still another treatise on Greek at the very same time.

Docno: ADMS-04-04-02-0050

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1781-02-05

Abigail Adams to John Thaxter

[salute] My dear Sir

I have not had the pleasure of a line from you since your arrival in Holland. I fear I have lost Letters by a missing vessel call'd the Fame, if so I regret the loss of much pleasure and entertainment, which your pen always affords me. I flatter myself you will continue to pay a particular regard to my amusement, by a recital of whatever you meet with worthy of communication.
Rousseau some where observes, “that Science in general may be considerd as a coin of great value, but of use to the possessor only in as much as it is communicated.” His maxim is founded upon a liberal and social plan, which might be improved to the advantage of the { 75 } Fair Sex to whom little indulgence is shewn in this way. Possess'd at least with an equal share of curiosity with the other sex, little or no care is taken to turn it into a channel of usefull knowledge, or literary endowments.
In America we have heretofore had so little connextion with other countries, and so few Ladies have a taste for Historick knowledge, that even their own Country was not much known to them untill the present revolution, which [is]1 become so interesting, that few I hope remain Ignorant of the principals which led our Ancestors to seek an asylum in the uncultivated wilds of America, nor the dangers which they encounterd in rearing the wilderness into a fruitfull Feild, that they might transmit to us their posterity those treasures, which we find worth our contending for in Blood, against that very Nation whose former userpations peopled America. From this contention we are become connected with other climes, who have discoverd themselves as Friendly, as Britain was Hostile. We therefore feel ourselves Interested in a knowledge of their customs, Manners, Laws, and Goverments. It is not very probable that many of our American Ladies will ever become travellers, yet judgeing of others by myself, we could wish to obtain from those Gentlemen who have that priviledge, and who are capable of observation, a recital of them.
Tho it is a path which has been repeatedly trod, it ought not to discourage a Gentleman of penetration through apprehension that he can observe nothing New. Sir William Temple observes “that Mankind are a various creature,” that at different periods they differ, from themselves, as much as they do from other Nations.
This you may easily see, by turning your Eye towards a Nation which not half a century ago was famed for her justice, Humanity, Bravery, and her Equitable Goverment—but now! how Arbitary, How cruel, how venal, how prostitute! Other Nations who have not experienced a like misirable change may not furnish so horrid a tale to the Historick page, yet they are ever changeing for the better or worse, and will supply something new in Science, Arts, or Arm's to a critical observer.
I do not remember to have read any History of the united provinces, except Sir William Temples, and that written a Century ago.2 From his account of the Genious and Manners of the people at that period, I should suppose they had made great improvements of every kind. A writer observes that

“Their much Loved wealth imparts

convenience, plenty, Elegance and Arts.”

{ 76 }
Sir William observes in his day and a more modern writer confirms the observation upon the manners of the people, that they are not airy enough for joy, nor warm enough for Love—a fine climate for a young fellow to repair to after having been an Inhabitant of Paris for twelve months.
But as an Inhabitant of a climate where all the softer passions dwell, where they are born of Honour, nursed by virtue, and united by Liberty, I would not wish to exchange it for a Mexico or Peru, if they possesssd the temperature of the united provinces. For Sir William observes that he never knew a man amongst them, that he thought at Heart in Love, or susceptable of the passion—and what is still more incredible—a woman that seem'd at all to care, whether they were so, or not.
Horrid Horrid place! What defy the power of the sex at this rate? Rob us of more than half our talents. Never never will we become inhabitants of such a frigid country, where Mercury the patron of Merchandize and the God of Gain, by inventing Contracts, weights and measures, and teaching the Arts of Buying and Selling and Trafficking, has formed a League against Cupid and the Graces.
I hope to forward this to you by the Alliance, in which Col. Laurence has taken passage. I knew not that she was designed for Europe till a few days ago, and she is now expected to sail the first fair wind.
Present my complements to Mr. Dana. How will he relish the cold Regions of the North? If he goes3 to Russia, tell him I shall ask permission to become one of his correspondents. I have not heard from Mrs. Dana, since his appointment, but fear she will be in affliction about it. Every body seems to think that they have a better right to our Husbands, than their partners, and monopolize them accordingly without asking our consent.—This too in a land of Liberty.—O! for absolute power. I would soon be the mistress of mine.4 I am apprehensive for his Health in Holland. Those sudden changes to which the climate is subject will not suit his constitution. I hope their will be no necessity of his resideing there longer than the winter. If you should find his Health impaired I beg of you to urge his return to Paris.
As to politics, they are a subject that I am not in a humour to write about at present, so refer you to other correspondents. Not that they are less interesting—they are too much so to be lightly considerd. If I had reflected upon them when I first began my Letter, it would have imbibed a tincture of Depression from them.
{ 77 }
The young Ladies of your acquaintance remember you with affection, especially the Fair American who is much gratified at your residence in Holland, where she is not like (from the character of the Ladies) to meet a Rival. She is not quite so secure at Paris, tho she builds some security upon the difficulty of forming an acquaintance with unmarried Females, and she has too much reliance upon your honour, to suppose you would form any other.

[salute] I hope you received a large packet sent by Capt. Trash to Bilboa, from your affectionate Friend,

[signed] Portia
RC (MB); addressed: “To Mr. John Thaxter Amsterdam”; endorsed: “Mrs. Adams 5th. Feby. 1781 Recd. 7th. April.” Dft (Adams Papers); without date; text incomplete; docketed on face by JA in old age: “A A. to J Thaxter.” LbC (Adams Papers); dated “december 1780”; text incomplete. The date of Dec. 1780 at head of LbC is questionable. Although Dft could have been begun in that month and some part of LbC entered, AA's allusions to the respective missions of John Laurens and Francis Dana strongly suggest that she was writing in the middle of or late in Jan. 1781. The order of composing the three versions seems to have been: (1) Dft, which may at one time have been more complete (see note 4 below); (2) LbC, which elaborates in substance and improves in phrasing on Dft; and (3) RC, which on the whole continues the elaboration and improvement.
1. Supplied from LbC.
2. Temple's Observations upon the United Provinces of the Netherlands, London, 1672, a work which JA characterized as “elegant and entertaining, but very brief and general” (to AA, 21 July 1777; vol. 2:286>, above).
3. LbC ends abruptly here, although the next-to-last paragraph below, on “The young Ladies of your acquaintance,” had been incorporated in LbC text following the paragraph above that ends “against Cupid and the Graces.”
4. Dft ends here, at the foot of a single sheet folded into four pages; a further page or two of Dft may therefore have been written but later have become separated and lost.
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.