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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-04-15

Saturday Ap. 15.

Dined with Mr. Brand Hollis in Chesterfield Street.1 His Mantle Trees are ornamented with Antiques. Penates. Little brazen Images of the Gods. Venus, Ceres, Apollo, Minerva &c. Hollis is a Member of the Antiquarian Society. Our Company were Price,2 Kippis, Bridgen, Romilly, and another besides Jefferson, Smith and myself.
1. Thomas Brand (1719–1804), who had in 1774 assumed the name Hollis upon inheriting the estate of Thomas Hollis, the well-known benefactor of Harvard College. Brand Hollis was a wealthy dissenter, political radical, and antiquarian. In July the Adamses were to visit his country seat in Essex (see entries of 2427 July, below), and for some years thereafter they corresponded with him. Some of their letters are printed in John Disney's Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis, Esq., London, 1808, p. 30–40. See also Caroline Robbins, “Thomas Brand Hollis (1719–1804), English Admirer of Franklin and Intimate of John Adams,” Amer. Philos. Soc., Procs., 97 (1953):239–247.
2. Richard Price (1723–1791), of Newington Green, dissenting minister, writer on government and finance, and friend of America (DNB). JA and Price had been correspondents for some years and continued to be so until the latter's death. During their stay in London the Adamses regularly attended Price's religious meeting at Hackney.

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0002-0003

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-04-18

Ap. 18. Tuesday.

Yesterday dined here, Mr. Jefferson, Sir John Sinclair, Mr. Heard, Garter King at Arms, Dr. Price, Mr. Brand Hollis, Mr. Henry Loyd of Boston, Mr. Jennings, Mr. Bridgen, Mr. Vaughan, Mr. Murray,1 Coll. Smith.
1. William Vans Murray (1760–1803), a young Marylander studying at the Middle Temple. He had formed a close friendship with JQA, was liked by all the Adamses, and became a valued political disciple of JA. A Federalist member of Congress, 1791–1797, he was appointed by Washington successor to JQA as minister at The Hague, and it was largely through his efforts, concluding in the Franco-American Convention of Mortefontaine, Sept.-Oct. 1800, that JA as President was able to end the quasi-war with France. See DAB; JQA's anonymous obituary of Murray in the Port Folio, 1st ser., 4:5–6 (7 Jan. 1804); articles by Alexander DeConde on Murray's diplomacy, Md. Hist. Mag., 48: 1–26 (March 1953), and on his Political Sketches, London, 1787 (a work dedicated to JA), MVHR, 41:623–640 (March 1955); and “Letters of William Vans Murray,” ed. W. C. Ford, Amer. Hist. Assoc., Ann. Rpt. for 1912, p. 341–715 (mainly letters to JQA, from the Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-01-03-02-0005-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1786-04-19

London April 19. 1786. Wednesday.

This is the Anniversary of the Battle of Lexington, and of my Reception at the Hague, by their High Mightinesses. This last Event is considered by the Historians, and other Writers and Politicians of England and France as of no Consequence: and Congress and the Citizens of the United States in General concur with them in Sentiment.
{ 189 }
I walked to the Booksellers, Stockdale, Cadel, Dilly, Almon, and met Dr. Priestly for the first Time.1—The Conquest of Canaan, the Vision of Columbus, and the History of the Revolution in S. Carolina, were the Subject. I wrote a Letter to Jn. Luzac, for Dilly.2
This Day I met Dr. Priestly and Mr. Jennings, with the latter of whom I had a long Walk. I spent the Day upon the whole agreably enough. Seeds were sown, this Day, which will grow.3
1. Joseph Priestley (1732–1804), dissenting clergyman, discoverer of oxygen, political radical, and voluminous writer on theology and other subjects (DNB). This was the beginning of a long but not untroubled relationship, for Priestley fled from Birmingham to Pennsylvania in 1794 and his political views and utterances during JA's Presidency led to suggestions that he be deported under the Alien Act—suggestions which JA refused to act on (JA, Works, 9:5–6, 13–14). There is an excellent brief account of their relationship in Haraszti, JA and the Prophets of Progress, ch. 14, which includes JA's marginalia in his own copies of some of Priestley's theological writings.
2. Not found.
3. This must pertain, at least in part, to JA's efforts to arrange for publication in London of the works of the American authors mentioned in the preceding paragraph. On 5 March David Humphreys, a poet himself and a member of the Connecticut circle that included Timothy Dwight and Joel Barlow, had written JA from Paris to say that WSS was bringing to London a printed copy of Dwight's Conquest of Canaan (which had been published at Hartford, 1785) and a MS copy of Barlow's Vision of Columbus (eventually published at Hartford, 1787), which their authors hoped could be published in London (Adams Papers). JA wrote Dwight on 4 April that he knew “of no heroick Poem superior to [The Conquest of Canaan], in any modern Language, excepting always Paradise lost,” but after consulting with Dr. Price and others about the poems he predicted “a cold reception” for them from British publishers and readers (LbC, Adams Papers). On the same day he wrote Barlow in more or less similar terms (LbC, Adams Papers). By one means or another, however, both poems were eventually published in London, Barlow's by Dilly and Stockdale in 1787, and Dwight's by J. Johnson the next year. See Blanck, Bibliog. Amer. Lit., 865, 5040; Sabin 3435, 21548.
At the end of 1785 David Ramsay, a literary physician and a delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina, had published at Trenton his two-volume History of the Revolution of South-Carolina and optimistically sent 1600 copies to Charles Dilly for sale in England. See Ramsay to JA, 23 Dec. 1785 (DSI), and JA's characteristic reply, 9 Feb. 1786 (LbC, Adams Papers). Ramsay later informed JA that Dilly had “declined publishing my history from an apprehension that it would expose him to prosecutions” (14 May 1786, Adams Papers). There were proposals to cut out passages that would give offense in England, but as JA told Ramsay, “your Friends have expressed so much Indignation at them that I hope and believe they will be laid aside, and that by degrees the American Edition may be sold” (1 Aug., LbC, Adams Papers). See, further, Robert L. Brunhouse, “David Ramsay's Publication Problems, 1784–1808,” Bibliog. Soc. Amer., Papers, 39 (1945):51–67.
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/