Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

Abigail Adams to John Adams

48 John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 23 December 1780 JA JQA John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 23 December 1780 Adams, John Adams, John Quincy
John Adams to John Quincy Adams
My dear Son Amsterdam Decr. 23. 1780

Yours of the 22d came to hand this Morning. I shall leave it wholly to Mr. Thaxters Judgment, what Lectures you are to attend, as at this distance I cannot form any opinion.

You will apply the most of your Attention, I hope, to your Latin and Greek Master, for the present.

I am pleased to see that you recollect the 22 of December, the day on which, those Patriots and Heroes landed at Plymouth, who emigrated immediately from the Town where you now are. It is impossible, but you must ever entertain a Veneration for the Memory of those great and good Men, to whose adventurous Spirit and inflexible Virtue you certainly, as well as I owe our Existence.

I wish you, in your next Letter, to transcribe me the Passage of Shakespear, in which the Brownists are mentioned.

You should treat the Minister of that Society, in Leyden with the greatest Respect, and attend his Meeting, every Sunday both in the forenoon and Afternoon.

You will also behave with the Utmost Respect to Mr. Luzacs Family who are worthy People and very good Friends to your Country.

I have heard a very great Character of Mr. Hemsterhuis, formerly Professor of Greek, in the University of Leyden,1 and that the present Professor of that Language is a Disciple of his Mr. Valkennaar.2

And that another Disciple of his Mr. Rhunkenius, is Professor of History and Eloquence. This Mr. Rhunkenius has published an Edition of an Hymn to Ceres, (found in Russia, and supposed to have been composed by Homer) with a Latin Translation and Notes. I would have you purchase that Hymn.3

Mr. Pestel is Professor of the Law of nations and of the publick Law.4

Mr. Voorda is Professor of the civil Law, that is to say as I understand it, of the Roman Imperial Law, as the Institutes of Justinian &c.5 Pray enquire whether he reads Lectures upon the whole Corpus Juris, the Digest, the Code, the Novells &c., whether he takes any Notice of the Feudal Law, that is of the Consuetudines Feudorum, and whether any Mention is made of the Cannon Law.

Mr. Vanderkesel is another Professor of the civil Law, but what is his Department?6

Mr. Dehahn is Professor of Medicine and Chymistry.7

Mr. Allemand is Professor of Experimental Philosophy.8


I wish you to make all the Enquiries possible concerning these learned Professors, and let me know whether I have their Names and Departments right.

Let me know also whether you are matriculated into the University. If not, I wish you to procure the Priviledge and Honour, provided you can by the Rules of the University be admitted to it. The Expence is not to be regarded.

I hope in short that you will inform yourself as perfectly as possible concerning, the Origin, the Progress, the Institutions, Regulations, Revenues &c. of that celebrated University, and especially to remark every Thing in it, that may be imitated, in the Universities of your own Country.

Let me know whether there is any Professor of Mathematicks and in what manner they are taught.—Here are Enquiries enough for you, a long time.—Dont neglect to write me often.

Your affectionate Father, John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Pappa's letter of Decr: 23 Answer'd Deer: 26–1780 No. 4”; docketed by JQA in a later hand: “J. Adams 23 Decr: 1780.” (JQA's answer of 26 Dec. has not been found.)

Also Tr in hand of CFA, numbered by him “No. 275.” This is one of the large number of transcripts of family letters, 1780–1843, mentioned in the Introduction to Series II of The Adams Papers (vol. 1:xxxiii, above). These were evidently prepared in and about 1843, some doubtless earlier and others quite possibly after JQA's death in 1848, with a view to publishing a more comprehensive collection of family letters than, in the end, CFA issued. The numbering of the earliest letters among the transcripts suggests that CFA proposed to include these in his edition of the JA-AA Familiar Letters of 1876, because numbers he assigned them correspond closely with the numbers of adjacently dated letters printed in that volume (see note on JA to JQA, 17 March 1780, vol. 3:309, above); but he finally excluded them and never carried out his earlier plan for a collection of family letters in which JQA was to be the central figure and his parents, wife, brother TBA, and son CFA the other correspondents. It should be stated here that, except for special circumstances, the existence of a CFA transcript alongside the original in the Adams Papers will not hereafter be recorded in descriptive notes on letters in the Adams Family Correspondence .


Tiberius Hemsterhuis (1685–1766), professor of Greek and of national (i.e. Dutch or “vaderlandsche”) history, 1740–1765 ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 1:1068–1072; Album studiosorum Academiae Lugduno Batavae, MDLXXV-MDCCCLXXV . . . , The Hague, 1875). The register of the Leyden faculties in the compilation called the Album studiosorum has also been used in the biographical notes below to confirm dates of appointment, &c.


Lodowijk Caspar Valckenaer (1715–1785), professor of Greek from 1766, and of native history from 1768 (Nieww Ned. Biog. Woordenboek, 1:1514–1516).


David Ruhnken (1723–1798), reader in Greek from 1757, and professor of history and oratory from 1761 ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 10:851–854). His edition of the Hymn 50to Ceres, from a codex recently found in Moscow and attributed to Homer, was published this year: Hymnus in Cererem, nunc primus editus a Davide Ruhnkenio, Leyden, 1780; a copy was sent by Thaxter to JA under cover of a letter dated 25 Jan. 1781, below, and remains among JA's books in the Boston Public Library ( Catalogue of JA's Library , p. 122).


Frederik Willem Pestel (1724–1805), professor of jurisprudence from 1763 ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 3:968–969). Pestel was one of the great figures in Dutch legal scholarship, and JA acquired both his Commentarii de Republica Batava, Leyden, 1782, and Fundamenta jurisprudentiae naturalis, Leyden, 1777 ( Catalogue of JA's Library , p. 191; see also Thaxter to JA, 1, 23 Jan. 1781, below).


Bavius Voorda (1729–1799), professor of Roman law from 1765; in 1781 he served as rector magnificus of the University; because of his prominence in the Dutch Patriotic (anti-Orangist) party he was dismissed from the University in 1788, but was restored in 1795 during the French regime ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 3: 1336–1338).


Dionysius Godefridus van der Keesel (1738–1816), professor of Roman law from 1770 ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 3:674–675).


Johann David Hahn (1729–1784), professor of medical practice and of chemistry from 1775 ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 8:666; mention only).


Jean Nicolas Sébastien Allamand (1713–1787), professor of philosophy and mathematics from 1749, and of experimental physics from 1761 ( Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 1:75–77).