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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 11

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Charles
Date: 1795-11-04

John Quincy Adams to Charles Adams

[salute] My dear Brother

Your Letter of September 3d. advising your having drawn the preceding day, bills on me in favour of Daniel Ludlow & Co: for ƒ7,500. at thirty days sight, was received by our Brother Thomas at the Hague on the first of this month, and forwarded by him to me, at this place, where it reached me the next day.1 The bills though mentioned by you as accompanying the Letter, were not presented for acceptance with it. Should they be presented during my absence from the Hague, they will be accepted, and paid in my behalf by our brother.
You will find in a letter I have written you since that of May 17th: that besides the thousand Dollars of your own drawn for in these bills, and the other thousand for which you had previously drawn in favour of William Rogers, & which have been paid, I shall still remain accountable to you for one hundred dollars, being the amount of the interest paid last June upon your bonds then in my hands.2 For this sum you will perhaps not think it worth while to draw on me, and I wish you therefore to charge it to me in account. For you { 58 } will in future keep a regular account open with me, and let me know the state of it from time to time.
I shall be well satisfied if you conclude upon accepting the offer which you mention as having been made you for the employment of my property in your hands. It appears to me fully to comply with both the directions contained in my letter, and you doubtless ascertained the validity of the security.
You may if you please draw on me for five thousand florins more, subject to the same employment and directions, and to the same conditions for your agency. You will then have so much of my little all committed to your discretion, that I have no doubt you will be solicitous to take the best possible care of it.
For making the draft hereby authorized, I wish you to take the advantage of a favourable exchange, and if the occasion do not offer at the receipt of this letter, to wait untill it shall. The Security of clear and valuable real estate has in my mind the preference above all other as security; and I shall be content to have the whole amount in this, as in the former case, placed upon the terms, which your letter mentions. But I am particularly attached likewise to the condition of recalling the principal at pleasure, and should wish to have it secured in fact as well as in right. For the latter a stipulation is sufficient, but the former must always depend on the ability & integrity of the borrower. You cannot be responsable for these, but a prudent attention to the principle may frequently prevent delays & vexations.
The reason upon which I am desirous to retain a real command of the money, at any time is this. It often happens in America that transient opportunities occur to employ money with as much safety, and with an infinitely greater profit, than when placed at any interest, public or private; and my intention has been and is, that you should with my property take advantage of any such occasion in my behalf. For the first placing of the money, the legal interest was all I could expect or wish; but I meant to leave it in your power at any time to improve an opportunity for doing better. You will therefore consider my authority for the employment of the money as limited principally by your own discretion. Upon all the principal for which you draw on me by authority, you will take five per cent, and also five per cent upon whatever annual income you shall remit proceeding from it, for your agency. But I shall expect no other charges whatever the securities may be, or however often changed.
The only general instruction I can give you on the subject is, that { 59 } of course I do not mean any illegal risk should be incurred, nor any risk that can possibly involve me personally, or any other part of my property. For your commissions you may pay yourself as you go along, either by the advantage upon the exchange, which will perhaps alone suffise or by the interest when you shall receive it, or if you cannot conveniently wait for that, by drawing on me. You will as I formerly requested, remit to Dr: Welsh on my account, whatever interest may remain beyond the discharge of your own demands on me. If you should at any time have occasion for a power of attorney, you can either procure a substitution from Dr: Welsh, or write to me, and I will send you one.
Although I am persuaded you will give to the transaction of my affairs, all the attention, prudence & diligence that I could myself, it is not my intention to load you with a burden, that shall be altogether without benefit to yourself. If therefore at any time, your situation should become so advantageous, that my concerns would no longer on these terms be an object adequate to the trouble they may give you, I shall wait for notice from you to make such dispositions respecting them as then may be proper. In separating however the man of business from the Brother, I place the fullest confidence in the affection of the latter, as well as in the fidelity of the former.—3 With the most cordial return of that affection I remain / Your Brother
The bills were accepted by our Brother on the 2d: instt: and will be paid at the expiration of their term.4
LbC in TBA’s hand (Adams Papers); internal address: “Charles Adams Esqr:; APM Reel 128.
1. Daniel Ludlow (1750–1813), a New York merchant, had trained with the Amsterdam banking firm of Daniel Crommelin & Son, to whom he was related. In the 1770s he established his first partnership in New York, and in 1790 went into business under the name of Daniel Ludlow & Co. (John Austin Stevens Jr., Colonial New York: Sketches Biographical and Historical 1768–1784, N.Y., 1867, p. 147).
2. JQA to CA, 6 July 1795, above. For JQA’s letter to CA of 17 May, see vol. 10:438–441.
3. CA’s letter outlining his plans for JQA’s money has not been found, but see CA to JQA, 24 April 1796, below. JQA’s faith in CA’s abilities would ultimately prove misplaced. On 29 Sept. 1798 JQA wrote to CA complaining that he had had no report from CA in the previous fifteen months and was therefore turning over all of his financial affairs to TBA (FC-Pr, APM Reel 131). To AA, JQA commented concerning the situation, “My brother Charles—I know not what to think of him and his conduct.— To the most urgent sollicitations for an account from him, I can obtain no answer.— All I know is, that he has acted contrary to my most precise instructions, and omitted prescribed payments to Dr: Welsh, long before you wrote to him not to make such payments.— I have required him to account with my brother Thomas, and deliver over to him my securities.” In { 60 } December of that year, AA reported to JQA that CA had confessed to her that he had used JQA’s money to cover one of WSS’s debts and save him from prison, but that CA had been unable to recover the money and was too embarrassed to inform JQA of the situation (8 Oct., 2 Dec. 1798, both Adams Papers).
4. TBA’s letter reporting this news has not been found, but on 5 Nov. 1795 JQA commented in a letter to TBA, “As the Bankers at Amsterdam have agreed to pay the bill for 7.500 florins it will not be necessary to do any thing further on that subject” (LbC, APM Reel 128).

Docno: ADMS-04-11-02-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1795-11-07

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams

[salute] My Dear Mother.

Your few lines of August 25th. were forwarded to me from the Hague by my brother, and though short, yet as the tokens of your remembrance, gave me the customary pleasure.1
A longer interval than I can fully justify to myself has elapsed since I wrote you last. But having written repeatedly to my father, I have always supposed myself writing at the same time to you.
As you have been a traveller in these Countries, the date of my letter will inform you, where I now purpose to go.2 It will not however as I imagine give you any news. My brother remains at the Hague during my absence which I expect and hope will not be long.
Did you ever know what it is to be cooped up a fortnight or three weeks, in a paltry little European Seaport, waiting for wind and weather; and cut off from all human communication, almost as entirely as if you had changed your world?— If you did, could you possibly speak, write or think of any thing else?— An answer to these questions will unfold to you the situation in which I now write.
I am therefore unable to give you any news, having lost the current of them myself. There are indeed rumours which have reached me here of Events not unimportant, and of apprehensions still more deserving remark, but I know not even upon what authority their credibility rests. They will however if true be known in America before this letter can reach you, and I hope soon to write you from a place where information more authentic may be obtained.
I have received here a Letter from my brother Charles, which announces his marriage, and wish him all the happiness that his new situation can bestow.3 The step was certainly not precipitate. I hope and trust that it was not taken too early. As he well knows the additional duties and obligations that it will impose, I doubt not but he is prepared to discharge them, and will find in the happiness of his union, new motives to stimulate his industry and to confirm and enlighten his prudence.
{ 61 }
My father in a Letter also received here, expresses his wish that his elder son should at an early period return home to assume in like manner the cares and enjoy the felicities of a family state; and as this article seems more particularly proper for discussion only with the Ladies, I shall take the Liberty of addressing to you its answer.4
It is one of those maxims which Rochefoucauld, by a sanction no less respectable, is said to have “drawn from Nature,” that “we sometimes pass from Love to Ambition, but that we never return from Ambition to Love.”5 If this observation be universally true, what respite from the sentence it contains is to be expected by one who has past from Love, not indeed to Ambition, but at least to its concerns?
Can a widowed heart: an heart which at the monition of parental solicitude and tenderess, has offered up at the shrine of worldly prudence the painful sacrifice of an ardent affection, and pronounced by mutual consent and acquiescence an irrevocable separation from the object of all its hopes and all its wishes; can such an heart readily submit to the controul of other bonds? When all the pleasing illusions which youth beauty and real merit have implanted in the breast, as necessary allurements to the purpose of Love; when they have been radically torn from the bosom by voluntary violence, can they again be placed there by other hands? If after such wounds have been healed; after all the impressions once so dearly cherished have been effaced except those “that last till life shall be no more,” the part be not for ever invulnerable to similar weapons, then let my conversion to the matrimonial faith not be despaired of as impossible.
Time and absence, the claims of interest, and the calls of duty, an altered scene and a different action have all contributed to confirm and reward an effort, the extent of which was never known but to myself. Peace and tranquility have long since returned, and though attended with the dulness of blunted sensations rather exempt from pain than conscious of pleasure, still they are guests too valuable easily to be dismissed again after having been once appreciated by their loss. But to sacrifice the choice of the Heart, is all that prudence or duty can require; it cannot, it will not receive from my own controul, or from any other the imposition of a different choice. It must henceforth pursue its own course; if it can choose again, its electron must be spontaneous, without receiving any direction from the will.6
{ 62 }
As to a marriage of convenience, it will be time enough to think of that at five and forty, should that age be attained.
I hope you will not think me romantic. The deliberate sacrifice of a strong passion to prudential and family considerations is indeed so widely distant from the orthodox doctrine of Romance, that there is not I believe a novel-writer of the age, who can get rid of such an incident without the help of a pistol or a bowl, a pendent willow or a purling stream.7 But the real lessons of life are seldom to be found in novels. I have lived through the operation, and never for an instant had an idea of doing otherwise. At the same time I must acknowledge, that my success was perhaps principally due to facilities in its execution which might have failed, and which were more serviceable to my intentions than flattering to my pride.
You have now the clear exposition of my sentiments and principles, on this subject. The inference as far as it is my personal concern, need not be here drawn, but may be left to your own judgment.
But if the knight has lost his Dulcinea, the Squire it appears by your Postscript is more fortunate. On receiving your billet I turned down the last lines, so important to Tilley, and gave him the paper, that he might read them himself. He said nothing: but I examined his countenance while he was reading, and envied him his feelings. He is indeed “true as the needle to the Pole,” and I wish he could improve for his sweetheart in my service, as much as she will for him in your’s.8 He has not yet got over the awkwardness of his new service; but his Master is in the same predicament and knows therefore how to be indulgent. But he has become very useful, performs very well all his necessary services, and is especially valuable for his Honesty, as well as for the goodness of his temper. He had just got well and easily through the small-pox, before I was called on my present expedition
I am with the utmost gratitude and affection your Son
[signed] John Q. Adams.
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mrs: A. Adams.”; endorsed: “J Q A Novbr 7 1795.” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 128.
1. Not found, but the note was perhaps enclosed with JA’s letter to JQA of the same date, above.
2. Hellevoetsluis was a common embarkation point for crossing the English Channel. When AA and JA spent several weeks traveling in the Netherlands in 1786, they stopped in the town en route to The Hague and were honored with “the ringing of the bells, and a military guard to wait upon us” (vol. 7:315, 317).
3. Not found.
{ 63 }
4. See JA to JQA, 25 Aug. 1795, above.
5. François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, Maxim 37.
6. Presumably a reference to JQA’s decision to break off his relationship with Mary Frazier, for which see vol. 9:41–44.
7. “Darkling I sigh, and feed with dismal thoughts / My anxious mind, or sometimes mournful verse / Indite, and sing of groves and myrtle shades, / Or desp’rate lady near a purling stream, / Or lover pendent on a willow-tree” (John Philips, “The Splendid Shilling,” lines 101–105).
8. For Tilly Whitcomb’s relationship with Polly Doble Howard, see vol. 10:281.
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.