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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 10

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0014

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1794-01-12

Abigail Adams to John Quincy Adams

[salute] my dear

I wish you to direct the inclosed Letter—to your Father1 I read Barnevelt in Mondays paper. it may be necessary to defend himself, but I look upon his opponent in a contemtable light, and that no honour or reputation is to be obtaind in a contest with him. I therefore wish to see Barnevelt close Your Father is really affraid that columbus may be inflated with vanity and too much emboldened. he writes a hard word for you to construe I suppose. I cannot festine lente Yet he says as much as any one to raise vanity, because we value his judgment. Webster is republishing Columbus in N york in a large handsome Type so he may expect Veritas & Helvidius & cato for his opponents there.2 a Printer in Philadelphia having heard mr Ames say that Columbus was a very compleat thing, has thoughts of publishing them in Philadelphia. he added that there was but one Man in Boston that he knew of who could write them. I would not however advise columbus to enter the list with any one who may throw him the Gauntlet. if the metal is pure Gold, the more it is Rub’d the brighter it will shine. I believe it will stand the ordeal—
I know of but one tittle which Americanus has to respect, and that is what nature could not withhold from him, Age. considering that, I thought Barnevelt in his last number discoverd rather too much contempt, both of his knowledge, his abilities, and his Morals { 40 } I think it was swift who used to read his peices before he publishd them to an old woman and by her observations he judged how the publick would receive them.3 perhaps an old woman may be usefull again. I have not however heard any remarks
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To / John Quincy Adams Esqr / Boston”; endorsed: “My Mother. Jany: 12. 1794.”
1. AA to JA, 12 Jan., above.
2. For Columbus’ republication in Noah Webster’s New York American Minerva, see JA to CA, 2 Jan., note 3, above. Veritas, a series of four letters to the president published in the Philadelphia National Gazette, 1, 5, 8, 12 June 1793, attacked George Washington for issuing his proclamation of neutrality. Helvidius—which appeared in the Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 24, 28, 31 Aug., 7, 11, 14, 18 Sept.—similarly argues that Washington did not have the constitutional authority to issue such a proclamation. Finally, Cato, an ongoing series at this time being printed in the New York Diary, defends Edmond Genet and the French Revolution and argues for U.S. support for the French in the general European war. It ultimately ran to nine parts (Diary, 5, 10, 16, 18 Dec. 1793, 3, 14, 25, 30 Jan. 1794, 10 Feb.).
3. Possibly a reference to a story Thomas Sheridan told about a Mrs. Pilkington. Jonathan Swift requested that she read portions of his writing, “asking her at the conclusion of every period, whether she understood it? ‘for I would,’ said he, ‘have it intelligible to the meanest capacity; and, if you comprehend it, it is possible every body may’” (The Life of the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Swift, 2d edn., London, 1787, p. 410).

Docno: ADMS-04-10-02-0015

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1794-01-14

John Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dearest Friend

I had Yesterday the Pleasure of yours of January 5. I will Send, to Mr Adams a Check upon the Branch Bank for two hundred Dollars as soon as I can get Thomas to transact the Business for me.1
I am glad to find that you have had Applications for the Farms— I wish you to hear them all and enquire their Characters and Circumstances
We are all of Us here, very much concerned for Cheesman. he has not been heard of.
I have not seen Americanus nor Barneveldt. But in the former the latter has to deal with a Man who is the least of a Gentleman of any one in Boston. I hope the latter will not forget that he is one.
Our son will find the Envy of his Friends, the bitterest Drop in the Cup of Life. He must have a Care however not to give them Advantages by indiscreet Exultations, nor by any unmanly humiliations. Let him take no improper Notice, of what he must see and feel. I could entertain even you with a long History of my own Sufferings in this Way.
I have read of a People in Antiquity called The Ephesini who { 41 } passed a fundamental Law in these Words “Let none of Our Citizens excell others in merit, if he does let him live elsewhere and with others.” For this horrible decree Heraclities pronounced them all worthy of dying in the prime of Life.2
These are Vices to which Democratical Governments are more peculiarly liable than any others. Our son must expect to Smart under them all his Life
yours affectionately
[signed] J. A.
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Jan’ry / 14th 1794.”
1. That is, JQA. JA arranged for TBA to forward to JQA the money, which arrived on 25 Jan. (JQA to JA, 27 Jan., Adams Papers).
2. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher born in Ephesus, blamed his fellow Ephesians for exiling his friend Hermodorus. Heraclitus allegedly said, “The Ephesians deserve to have all their youth put to death, and all those who are younger still banished from their city, inasmuch as they have banished Hermodorus, the best man among them” (Diogenes Laërtius, The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, transl. C. D. Yonge, London, 1853, Book 9, sect. 2).
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.