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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0087

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1783-05-18

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

You may well Suppose that I am not very easy when you are informed that We have no News from America, and that the definitive Treaty is neither Signed, or likely to be Signed very Soon. Mr. Hartley it is true is here and is well disposed to finish, with Liberality and { 162 } with dispatch: but he must wait for orders at every Step, and his principals are either not firm in their Places or not decided in their System: So that it is impossible to foresee, when the End will be. I hope the first Ships will bring me, my Quietus. If my Resignation is accepted, I do not yet despair of embarking in the Month of June. If it is not, I must wait for a Fall Passage, which will be much less agreable. I am at Sea and must wait the Motions of Winds and currents.
What I most dread is, that my Resignation will not be accepted, in which Case I shall be necessitated either to go home without Leave, or Stay in Europe in a ridiculous state of Torture. This last I will not long submit too. I have already contracted in Holland, Disorders which will perhaps never leave me, and the poisonous Steams of that Country, are utterly inconsistent with my Health, besides it is a Place where I can do no good; for which Reasons I am unalterably determined not to remain there.
To send another to England and oblige me to remain in Holland would be a Piece of Tyranny; and a Slight and an affront to me which I will not bear at all Events. To take the Conduct of a publick affair from a Man who has, made Voyages and Journeys run Risques and made Sacrifices, in the discharge of his Duty and brought it almost to a Conclusion, is regarded by every Man, who knows any Thing of human Feelings, as a most invidious Injustice. And whoever is the sordid Crawler to swallow it, I am not.
Our Son is at the Hague in good health, and pursuing his Studies. I hope, our other Children are well. I hear Coffin is arrived and I hope what he had for you and my other Nabby were satisfactory.1

[salute] Yours for ever

[signed] John Adams
1. “Other” is inserted above the line. For Coffin's cargo, see JA to AA, 7 April and note 3, above.

Docno: ADMS-04-05-02-0088

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1783-05-19

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] My dear son

I am glad to learn, by your Favour of the 12th, that you have begun to translate Suetonius. This is a very proper book to teach you to love your Country and her Laws. Do you translate it into French or English?
You Should always have a Book of Amusement, to read, along with { 163 } your Severe Studies and laborious Exercises. I should not advise you to take these Books always from the shelf of Plays and Romances, nor yet from that of History. I Should recommend to you Books of Morals, as the most constant Companions, of your Hours of Relaxation, through the whole Course of your Life. There is in Barbeyrac's Writings, an History of the Rise and Progress of the science of Morality which I would have you read with Care, early in Life. It is printed with his Puffendorf I think in English.1
The Writings of Clark, Cudworth, Hutchinson, Butler, Woolaston,2 and many Sermons, upon Morals subjects will be worth your Attention, as well as Cicero Seneca &c.
I cannot enlarge, because the Post is on the Point of departing.

[salute] Your affectionate Father

[signed] John Adams
RC (Adams Papers); marked in JA's hand at the bottom of the second page: “Mr Dumas.” The notation may have indicated this brief letter's enclosure in JA to Dumas, 19 May LbC, (Adams Papers).
1. Jean Barbeyrac, An Historical and Critical Account of the Science of Morality . . ., transl. by “Mr. Carew of Lincoln's Inn,” appeared as a preface to Samuel Pufendorf 's Of the Law of Nature and Nations, London, 1729, which Barbeyrac annotated (Catalogue of JA's Library).
2. All of these writers based morality on reasoning, whether psychological or philosophical. Samuel Clarke, Francis Hutcheson, and Joseph Butler are extracted or cited in JA's Literary Commonplace Book of 1755–1756 (JA, Papers, 1:9, 10). Ralph Cudworth, a seventeenth-century professor of Hebrew and one of the Cambridge Platonists, is best known for his The True Intellectual System of the Universe: wherein All the Reason and Philosophy of Atheism Is Confuted, and Its Impossibility Demonstrated (1678). William Wollaston became famous for his Religion and Nature Delineated (1724), which sold ten thousand copies soon after its publication. Wollaston offered an intellectual basis for morality by deducing it “from logical necessity.” All of these writers appear in DNB, and all except Wollaston are represented in JA's library, although the edition of Clarke is of a later date than this letter (Catalogue of JA's Library).
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/