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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0095

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jenings, Edmund
Date: 1781-02-11

To Edmund Jenings

[salute] Dear Sir

I thank you for the Translation, which came to hand yesterday.1 I do myself the Honour to inclose you, a Pamphlet, translated from the third Edition of the Dutch. It was written by Mr. Calkoen they pronounce it Kalkoon, a Lawyer of the first Character here, with whom I am very well acquainted. The Pamphlet is a consummate Justification of Van Berkel, Tamminck and all the Rest. It is amazing that York should have been thirty Years here, and learnt no more of the Constitution and History.2
What is become of the Remarks upon Galloway?3 That curious one, has now attacked Keppel.4 Strange that such a low, lying fellow should make such a Noise. The Ministry themselves will soon be cheated by that Wretch and abandon him.
1. This is JA's A Translation of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe upon the Present State of Affairs Between the Old and New World into Common Sense and Intelligible English, which had just been published in London. In his copy, now in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, JA transcribed a review of the Translation that appeared in the Monthly Review for Feb. 1781 (64:149–150). The reviewer wrote that “some Readers will possibly think, that while it hath gained by elegance of form, it hath rather suffered by abridgement: as the rough diamond is reduced by the polisher. Like the diamond, however, in the Jeweller's hand, this performance appears to much greater advantage, by having its sentiments new set, by a skilful artist.” For the titlepage of the Translation and the complete review as JA copied it, see Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 2, above.
2. This was Hendrik Calkoen's anonymous pamphlet Système politique de la régence d'Amsterdam, exposé dans un vrai jour; et sa conduite justifiée avec décence contre l'accusation du chevalier Yorke . . . Traduit du hollandais sur la troisième édition, Amsterdam, 1781. A copy of the first Dutch edition, Het politiek systema van de regeering van Amsterdam, in een waar daglicht voorgesteld, en haar gedrag tegens de beschuldiging van den ridder Yorke . . . (Middelburg, [1780]), is in JA's library at the Boston Public Library (Catalogue of JA's Library). The pamphlet was a defense of Amsterdam's role in the negotiation of the LeeNeufville treaty of 1778, which was one of the principal reasons the British gave for declaring war on the Netherlands. Calkoen noted that Amsterdam had not signed a formal treaty, although it could do so under the terms of the Union of Utrecht of 1579, which established the political foundation for the Dutch Republic. For an analysis of Calkoen's arguments as part of the ongoing pamphlet war between the patriot and stadholderate parties, see Leeb, Origins of the Batavian Rev., p. 150–155; see also Jenings' letter of 18 Feb. and JA's reply [27 Feb.], both below. For JA's previous dealings with Calkoen, see vol. 10:99–117, 196–252.
3. This is JA's first known inquiry about the fate of his reply to Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts (London, 1780 [i.e. 1779]), which he had written the previous summer and sent off to Jenings on 22 July 1780. See “Letters from a Distinguished American,” vol. 9:531–588.
4. Between 5 Dec. 1780 and 20 Jan. 1781 Joseph Galloway published seven letters in the London Chronicle entitled “Letters from Cicero to Catiline the Second.” The letters pursued one of Galloway's favorite themes: Britain's failure to achieve victory in America because of indecisive and inept leadership, and, most importantly, the treachery of the pro-American faction in England, of which the Howe brothers were leading members. JA refers to the postscript to the seventh letter, which appeared in the London Chronicle of { 142 } 18–20 January. Galloway attributed Adm. Augustus Keppel's failure to defeat the French off Ushant on 27 July 1778 to his association with the same subversive faction to which the Howes were allied. JA's specific reference to Galloway's attack on Keppel makes it likely that he saw the piece in the London Chronicle. In its issue of 30 Jan. – 1 Feb. the newspaper announced the publication of the collected Letters From Cicero to Catiline the Second, With Corrections and Explanatory Notes (London, 1781), and it is possible that a copy could have reached Amsterdam by 11 February.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0096

Author: Digges, Thomas
Author: Church, William Singleton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1781-02-11

From Thomas Digges

[salute] Dr Sir

My long silence has not been owing to any want of regard or attention to you, but has been solely occasiond by the imprudence and folly of some young men, whose conduct has produced a general hunt after Amns., the stoppage of letters, seizure of baggage &c. &c.—and it seems as if it would never have an end. The last who went from here Mr. W[arren] may have explaind in part what has happend. I am sorry to say, entre nous, that the bad refugee company that He kept here was in great measure the cause of his trouble and he seemingly got what He deservd. His imprudence and that of Mr. B[rai]ls[for]d will most likely be the cause of Trumbulls confinement many months longer than it otherways would, and I am very sorry for Him, because He is the only prudent and discreet Amn. I have seen here for a long time back. I wish to God they were all either gone or taken up, and that my Countrymen woud not permit their fools to come abroad.
The Bearer1 will explain his case and situation to You, He seems a clever deserving man and may stand in need of Your advice and recommendation how to act in the business He is upon, which is the recovery of some debts due to Him in Holland. Please to mention Him to Mr. Jan Spuyt, to whom He may be of service.
He will explain the state of things here better than I can do in the short space I have to write. He is Captain G—— r—— sh from your neighbourhood in this kingdom. Please to appologise to Mr. Spuyt for my want of time to write Him. The times are too much against us yet to open the contraband commerce which we formerly dealt in successfully, and I do not yet know the charges of sending goods via Ostend.
I have lately forwarded you four or five parcells books by that rout. I send them to Mr. Frs. Bowens mert. Ostend2 with an under cover For Messrs. De N[eufvil]le & son which also covers another direction to Mr. Schorn. I some time ago forwarded a letter from Mr. Jones to Mr. S—— rle.3 Pray inquire of Mr. S– le if He ever got it for having no answer, there is uneasiness about it.
{ 143 }

[salute] I am yrs mo Respectfully

[signed] W. S. C.
I sent yesterday a small parcell pamphlets to Ostend as above.
1. Probably Capt. Samuel Gerrish of the Aurora. Gerrish was captured in July 1780 and sent to Mill Prison at Plymouth, from which he escaped on 28 Dec. 1780 (Marion and Jack Kaminkow, Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 73). In view of Digges' continuing efforts to aid American prisoners and even to aid and abet the escape of fugitives from British authorities it would not have been unusual for him to entrust a letter to Gerrish's care (vol. 9:12; 10:155, 166–167, 339, 366, 399–400; from Thomas Digges, 8 March, below).
2. For Francis Bowens' role as an intermediary for packages from Digges, see vol. 9:273, 306–307.
3. Probably William Jones, a noted British lawyer and opponent of the American war. Digges probably enclosed Jones' letter to James Searle in his own letter of 14 Nov. 1780 to JA (vol. 10:314–315, 339–340).
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.