A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0011

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1756-10

From Richard Cranch

[salute] My worthy Friend

Tho' I acknowledge that one ought never to be asham'd to speak the truth; yet I find my self much inclin'd to it, when I'm about to tell you that I have two of your very kind and ingenious Letters1 by me unanswer'd. I assure you sir, that my neglect arises not from any want of esteem for my Friend, but (to tell another ungratefull truth) from downright dullness; I must wait with patience for lucid intervalls, and can truly say to you, as Boileau did to his Friend—“Apollon est pour moi &c.” “Apollo is to me a fickle Deity, and grants me not the favour which he affords to you, of a constant audience. I must wait for favourable moments &c.”
You complain to me of the lonely, unsocial Life you Lead: (which is indeed an undesirable state): But while your tho'ts rove with such ease and regularity thro' the whole Creation, discovering the beauties in the natural, and the nice connections in the moral world, the want of Society seems in a great measure removed, tho' it must be confess'd there is something malancholly even in the most extensive knowledge without agreeable Society. I have therefore often admir'd that saying of Archytas2 (Vizt.) That tho' a man were admitted into Heaven to view the wonderful Fabrick of the World, and the beauty of the Starrs, yet what would otherwise be Rapture and Extasie, would be but a malancholy Amazement if he had not a Friend to communicate it to.
You are pleas'd to ask my advice with respect to your intended study of the Law; to which I answer, that I am heartily sorry the difficulties attending the preaching the truths of Xty. [Christianity] in their native simplicity are so great as in any measure to deterr you from that more noble employment of delivering captive minds from their Shackles, and re-instating them in that liberty with which Christ has made 'em free. Will you urge the numbers who oppose the truth, and the strong prejudices of those you shall have to encounter, as arguments against the undertaking? I shall answer in your own excellent words on another occation—That “the General who with a small { 24 } Army in a disadvantageous posture engages an Enemy who is more numerous, and better scituated, tho' he is defeated on the whole, yet if he bravely struggles for victory, and makes his retreat with dignity, receives the thanks and the Plaudits of his Country.” So should Truth under your conduct fail of an entire victory, yet the brave efforts which I am perswaded you can make would not only entitle you to the praises of every lover of Truth and liberty, but what is of infinitely greater importance will ensure to you the plaudit of your Creator. I therefore on the whole wish you might finally settle in the Ministry; for what will become of Christianity amongst us if almost every accomplish'd mind and great Genious refuses to inlist in its Cause? Shall we any longer be surpriz'd to find immorality, and consequently Infidelity prevail, when Christian Societies have scarce a Pastor who can or dares give a “Reason of the Hope that is in them?”
This my Friend is my present opinion; but should you see sufficient reason to turn your studies to the Law, I don't doubt but that your great genious will soon overcome the difficulties you mention in your last Letter, and make you shine at the Barr; had I not tho't your capacity equal to that or any other of the Learned professions, I should not have urg'd you to the Ministry, well knowing that that Profession has Fools enough already.
Dft (Adams Papers); at head of text in Cranch's hand: “Rough Coppy of a Letr. to John Adams. Octr. 1756.” Tr of same (Adams Papers), in T. B. Adams Jr.'s hand, Lb/JA/26 (Microfilms, Reel No. 114), probably copied in 1829. Dft is much corrected, but none of the corrections seems significant enough to record.
1. 29 Aug. and 18 Oct., both above.
2. Fourth-century B.C. Greek mathematician and philosopher of the Pythagorean school.

Docno: ADMS-06-01-02-0012

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Wentworth, John
Date: 1758-04-12

To John Wentworth

Te Deum &c., I have resigned my school, I have almost recovered my Health, I have received a letter from my Friend,1 and am scarce able to say it is the kindest Smile of Heaven. But dear Jack I will tell you the Truth for once which our Tribe you know is not very apt to do—when I first read your Letter I resolved very nearly to drop the correspondence. My Vanity could not bear to be feasted with such a variety of the greatest delicacies, by a Friend whom Poverty disables me to entertain with any better fare, than lean Beef and Small Beer. { 25 } On a second Reflection, however, I found my naughty appetite so keen for your Dainties, that Vanity and Envy must go a foot.
You have quite mistaken the Case2 of my Indisposition. Far from disordering my Constitution by Study, by raising Ideas in my mind, by worshipping in the temple of knowledge, or by any of the [blank in printed text] Practices which you talk of so finely, I should have forgotten that I had a mind and that there is a Temple of Knowledge, if your letters and the letters of Some other Friends, did not recall them sometimes to my memory3 my Thoughts are intent on Oxen and Land and money and Stonewall and War, in short on every Thing, but the Things you mention.
I thank you for the amorous Vines4 you sent me and in Return having none of the Kind, will send you, a little warlike Intelligence. My Lord Loudoun in his late Journey from Hartford to Boston did this Country and indeed this Town the Honor of passing through it.5 But it happened unluckily that the Snow in this Country was so deep, and the Roads so little broke that his Lordships Chariot could not pass.6
MS not found. Reprinted from an incomplete text in (NEHGR, 5:414/7 (Oct. 1851)), with an introductory note which reads as follows: “We are indebted to the Hon. John Wentworth, of Chicago, Illinois, for the two following letters of John Adams to his classmate, the last Governor John Wentworth. The originals of these letters, now in the hands of Col. Wentworth, were presented to him by the celebrated authoress, Mrs. Catherine Frances Gore, of London, England, the Executrix of the will of her mother's cousin, Charles Mary Wentworth, who died at Kingsand, Davenport, England, April 10th, 1844. He was the only child of the last Gov. Wentworth.” (The other letter from JA to Wentworth printed in NEHGR is that which appears below under the assigned date of Oct. 1758.)
1. Letter not found.
2. An error for “Cause”?
3. Thus in printed text. JA probably intended a full stop here and a new sentence to follow.
4. An error for “Lines”?
5. John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun, commander in chief of the British forces in America (DNB). See JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:266.
6. Editorial note following printed text: “Here ends the sheet, the balance of the letter not being communicated.”
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.