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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 9

Docno: ADMS-04-09-02-0124

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Cranch, William
Date: 1791-08-17

John Quincy Adams to William Cranch

I received almost a fortnight since your favour of July 23d:1 and should have answered it before now, if I was in the habit of doing as I ought I sued the note immediately, but have not heard from Johonnot since2 The two actions to which you requested me to attend were both continued; I had not seen Nightengale, and thought it would be expedient to continue that:3 the other was continued at a { 223 } moment when I happened to be out of Court, and Robbins made so many fair promises that his client would do every thing to get the money by the next term, and such doleful lamentations of his poverty at present that I did not press the matter upon the Court much, and they were not very favorable to me.4 I believe there will be no harm done in the end by it.
I hope you find such encouragement at Haverhill, as will give you full satisfaction upon the subject of your removal there, and I have no doubt you find it a more eligible situation for Business than Braintree: but you have a fund of happiness within yourself that is worth more, than all the law business in the Commonwealth.
Your Master Dawes went to Portsmouth last week; he intended to have paid you a visit on his return, but his brother Pierce who went with him, had an invalid's whim of returning through Newbury-Port, with which Mr: Dawes complied so that he did not see you.5
I saw him a few days before, and we had some conversation relative to you. His opinion does you justice, and I love him the better for his having appreciated your merit so truly. He too thinks that your removal was judicious, and has the same dependence upon your success with the rest of us: after making your panegyric, he added that if you should have Miss N. G. as he supposed you would, she would render you as happy, as you deserve to be; that she was calculated to cheer and enliven the most retired & humble station as well as to adorn the most dignified.6 That you were both deserving of each other, and would enjoy together as much happiness as could result from good minds & congenial dispositions To this part of his story I did not so fully assent as to the other; and I thought I could perceive an obstacle to the completion of his prophecy, of which he was not aware. “Tis as one wedge drives out another” says Vellum in the drummer;7 There will be somebody there who will cut the thread of your passion for Miss G.— that is my prophecy, and old Time will show before long which of us is right. It is your peculiar good fortune that in either case, your choice will justify the expectations of Mr: Dawes.
As for me, I could sit down and philippize upon my situation for an hour together, but I have got above it—res mihi subjicere conor.8 indeed if I did not I should make but a pitiful whining fellow, I intend as soon as I am able to make myself a deep proficient in the stoic philosophy; it is the only consolation to a man upon whom the world frowns; and then if ever the cheating syren Fortune, should { 224 } mistake herself so far as to smile upon me I will turn epicurean— that is my system. Epicure when a man is in luck, and Zeno, when the die is against him.9
I shall endeavour to be as little thoughtful or pensive, that is to think as little, as I possibly can; if I could but contrive not to think at all I should be the happier, but I cannot follow your advice of spending two or three months at Braintree. Think how my business would suffer by it: I defy you to calculate how many hundred pounds I should lose.— My health is indeed valuable; next to my conscience, and a very few friends, the most valuable object I have on Earth but it must take its chance. The temptations which you mention, I do not very well know; what should I be afraid of here— The only temptations that can be dangerous to me are such as would lead me away, but I am proof against every thing.
You will not fail to remember me to Mr. Shaw & the family, to our friend White, & generally to all the good folks whose remembrance is worth any thing, wherewith I remain as usual your friend
[signed] J. Q. Adams.
RC (DLC:William Cranch Papers); addressed: “William Cranch Esqr / Attorney at Law. / Haverhill.”; endorsed: “J.Q.A. / Aug. 17. 1791.”
1. Not found. JQA remarked in his Diary that he received Cranch's letter on 4 Aug. (D/JQA/16, APM Reel 19).
2. JQA's legal accounts record a bill of costs for the case of “Wingate vs Johonnot” under the date of 21 Feb. 1792 (M/JQA/18, APM Reel 215).
3. On 19 Oct. 1791 JQA would argue and win the case of Whitemore (or Whittemore) v. Nightengale before the Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas (D/JQA/16, 19 Oct., APM Reel 19; D/JQA/18, 14 Feb. 1792, APM Reel 21).
4. Edward Hutchinson Robbins (1758–1829), Harvard 1775, established his law practice in Milton in 1779. Elected to the Mass. house of representatives two years later, he remained a member until 1802, serving as speaker from 1793 (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 19:forthcoming).
5. Boston merchant Joseph Peirce (1745–1828) had been married to Ann Dawes, the sister of Thomas Dawes, since 1771 (Henry W. Holland, William Dawes and His Ride with Paul Revere, Boston, 1878, p. 67).
6. Cranch would marry Anna (Nancy) Greenleaf (1772–1843) in 1795 (vol. 8:148; Greenleaf, Greenleaf Family, p. 222).
7. Joseph Addison, The Drummer, 1715, Act V, scene i, line 188.
8. A paraphrase of Horace, Epistles, Book I, epistle i, line 19: “et mihi res, non me rebus, subiungere conor,” that is, to make the world serve me, not me the world.
9. Epicurus was a classical Greek philosopher who defined happiness in terms of pleasure; Zeno, also a classical Greek philosopher, rooted happiness in virtue (Oxford Classical Dicy.).

Docno: ADMS-04-09-02-0125

Author: Adams, Thomas Boylston
Recipient: Cranch, William
Date: 1791-08-23

Thomas Boylston Adams to William Cranch

[salute] My dear William

I have somewhere heard an observation of this kind, “that a person should not be too anxious to return a kindness.”1 Had I strictly { 225 } adhered to this injunction, an Answer to your last favor would not so soon have followed;2 but as you expect shortly to be at Braintree in person, I must either remain in your Debt, or take this opportunity to discharge the obligation. I am happy to find that the novelty of your situation has not obliterated the remembrance of your now solitary companion, & when I tell you of the exertion which this poor scrap requires from me at present, you will think it of more consequence than otherwise it would deserve. Tomorrow will complete a fortnight since I was first seized with the Southern Plague, Viz. The Ague Fever;3 and regularly every other Day since, I have had a severe fit, which has reduced me at least four degrees in point of flesh; as to Spirits, hardly any thing this side an inflamitory Rheumatism, will greatly diminish them. My mother when she returnd we found had been very ill most of the time in her absence, but happily, has had no fever fit since she got home. But you have enough of this. Charles left us on Sunday for New York, but Mrs Smith still continues with us, otherwise I should lose a little of my jolity; and should be quite impatient for your company. Truly if I may judge by your letter, I shall think you something more than a sort of a Gallant. I fear the good Judge had designs upon you, when he gave you the office of Executor. The facetious young Lady whom you sett at defiance may ensnare, in a course of time. How many a charm is born to be adored, yet ne’er to be enjoyed by those who worship the possessor's. This is all I have to say concerning one whom you have mentioned. Is it not possible for our heads together to invent a name for a cetain lady? I am not pleased with that she has at present. Your expedition to Exeter has at least made you acquainted with some impudent people. Above every thing I think the Judges of a Court of Justice should be treated with common respect, even if their learning will not entitle them to it. Much of the credit of a Layyer depends upon his manner of treating the Bench. Where the opinions of Judges are treated with contempt, the justice of a cause may as well be determined by the throw of a Dye, as the verdict of a Jury. A Gentleman Lawyer has many clients in esse.4
Betsey Smith is now at your father's; she with the rest of your family are very well and will be as happy to see you next week as
[signed] Thomas B. Adams.
RC (OCHP:William Cranch Papers, Mss fC891c RM); addressed: “William Cranch Esqr: / Haverhill”; internal address: “William Cranch Esqr:”; endorsed: “T.B. Adams / Aug. 23d. 1791. / Answd. Aug. 27.—”
{ 226 }
1. “He then that hasteth to restore and requite a kindness, hath not the mind of a grateful man, but of a debtor. And to conclude in few words, he that is desirous to pay over soon, doth owe unwillingly; he that unwillingly oweth, is ungrateful” (Seneca, On Benefits, transl. Thomas Lodge, London, 1899, Book IV, ch. xl, p. 178).
2. Not found.
3. From the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, ague—malaria—was seen in America as a southern disease because it appeared in northern latitudes only episodically but in southern ones continuously (Margaret Humphreys, Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, Baltimore, 2001, p. 23–29).
4. In being, that is, actually existing. William Cranch apparently attended the Court of Common Pleas for Rockingham County, N.H., which convened in Exeter on 9 Aug. (The Laws of the State of New-Hampshire, Portsmouth, 1792, p. 70, Evans, No. 24585).
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.