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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 7


Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0076

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Thaxter, John
Date: 1786-06-02

John Adams to John Thaxter Jr.

[salute] Dear Sir

Yours of 22. Jan.1 reached me, but yesterday. You would have entertained and obliged me, by an account of Grumblections and Prognostications, one wants them sometimes. They are of use, They sometimes enlighten and often fortify.
Give yourself no anxious moments about me nor my Mission, confine your anxiety wholly at home. My Mission will never be worth a groat to my Country unless it should be by persuading her to do her Duty, by fullfilling the treaty of Peace and preserving her faith. Much is well said, lately in favour of keeping faith with public Creditors abroad and at home, but nothing or very Little has appeared to excite a regard to the sacred faith of treaties solemnly sworn before the holy trinity. Britain it is true is as culpable, but this is no excuse for us.
As to me personally you know that success does me no more good than no success, I get nothing by it but abuse and I could get no more than abuse by ill success or no success. This will not abate however my Industry or Zeal to do all in my power.
I will stake all my Credit on this, that Britain will never fulfill the treaty, on her part unless we fulfill it on ours, nor open her Colonies in the W. Indies or the Continent to our Commerce, untill we shew that we have sense and spirit enough and are a Nation. The Burthen of Proof all now lies upon my Countrymen, the Labouring oar is in their Hands, and there is nothing that I can do but wait patiently and obey orders.
The Measures taking in America to promote and improve agricul• { 210 } ture and Manufactures, do honor to the Understandings of the People and will have lasting good effect.
Let us for mercy sake be independent of the world for ships and Arms.
Let us discover too the important Mathematical Demonstration, that it is a saving to pay two hundred thousand pounds sterling, for a perpetual Peace with the five Nations of Turks, rather than to pay two hundred thousand pounds a Year, to more cruel Turks at Loyds Coffee House for insurance. Let us learn too that our trade with spain and Portugul and up the straights is worth something to add to the tribute at Loyds. When are you to be married? Do you get money fast enough. Yours
[signed] J. A.
LbC in WSS's hand (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-04-07-02-0077

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Tufts, Cotton
Date: 1786-06-02

John Adams to Cotton Tufts

[salute] Dear sir

I am proud to learn by your Letter of 13. April1 that I am so rich at the University. If Thomas gets in, I shall be still happier. The Expence will be considerable, and your Draughts shall be honoured for the necessary.
A Year will soon be about, and what are We to do then with John? What Lawyer shall We desire to take him, in Town or Country? and what Sum must be given with him? and what will his Board and Cloathing cost? and where shall We get Money to pay all these Expences. Shall I come home and take all my Boys into my own office? I was once thought to have a tolerable Knack at making Lawyers, and now could Save a large sum by it. I am afraid I shall not get it done so cheap as I used to do it.
I dont see, why I should stay here, unless there should be a Change in the sentiments and Conduct of my fellow Citizens. There are however some Appearances of an approaching Change.2
Dr Gordons Language is decent and friendly as far as I have heard. I believe the Suspicion of him that appears to have taken Place in America is needless. What Profit he will make of his History I know not. It is a story that nobody here loves to read. Indeed, neither History nor Poetry, or any Thing but Painting and Musick, Balls and Spectacles, are in vogue. Reading is out of Fashion, and Philosophy itself has become a Fop gambolling in a Balloon, “idling { 211 } in the wanton summers Air,” like the Gossamour, so light is Vanity.3 Herschell indeed with his new Glass, has discovered the most magnificent Spectacle that ever was seen or imagined, and I suppose it is chiefly as a Spectacle that his Discovery is admired. If all those Single double, tripple quadruple Worlds are peopled as fully as every leaf and drop is in this, what a merry Company there is of Us, in the Universe?4 All fellow Creatures Insects Animalcules and all. Why are We keept so unacquainted with each other? I fancy We shall know each other better, and shall see that even Cards and Routs, dancing Dogs, learned Piggs,5 scientific Birds &c are not so despicable Things as We in our wonderful Wisdom sometimes think them.
The Bishop of Landaff, has made the Trees, not walk, but feel and think, and why should We not at once settle it that every Attom, thinks and feels?6 An universe tremblingly alive all over.
The more We pursue these Speculations the higher Sense We shall have of the Father, and Master of all, and the firmer Expectation that all which now Appears irregular will be found to be Design. But where have I rambled? Your Fnd
[signed] John Adams
RC (PHi: Society Collection).
1. To AA, above.
2. JA had received reports that New York, the only remaining state to approve the Continental impost, was considering its adoption, and that an interstate commercial convention was planned for Annapolis in September (from Charles Storer, 7 April; from Elbridge Gerry, 12 April; both Adams Papers).
3. Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene vi, lines 18–19: “A lover may bestride the gossamer / That idles in the wanton summer air.”
4. Astronomer Sir William Herschel (1738–1822), who developed and built increasingly larger telescopes (up to forty feet in length), discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 and recently had completed Catalogue of Double Stars, Catalogue of One Thousand New Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, and On the Construction of the Heavens, which contained the first approximately accurate model of the Milky Way (DNB).
5. For AA2's reference to performing dogs, “the Learned Pig,” and other animal acts presented in London, see vol. 6:220 .
6. Richard Watson (1737–1816), bishop of Llandaff since 1782, was formerly professor of chemistry at Cambridge. JA's library includes Watson's Chemical Essays, 3d edn., 4 vols. of 5, London, 1784–1786, and A Collection of Theological Tracts, Cambridge, 1785 (DNB; Catalogue of JA's Library). Watson's Chemical Essays was one of the first “popular” chemistry texts, selling over 2,000 copies in five years. His work discussed at length how flora and fauna respond to their environment, thus inspiring JA's comments that trees might “feel and think” (4:preface).
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/