Adams Family Correspondence, volume 4

John Quincy Adams to John Thaxter, 22 July 1782 JQA Thaxter, John John Quincy Adams to John Thaxter, 22 July 1782 Adams, John Quincy Thaxter, John
John Quincy Adams to John Thaxter
Mon cher Monsieur A St. Petersbourg 11/22 Juillet 1782

Monsieur Dana reçut il y a quelques jours une lettre, par la quelle vous lui mandéz prémiérement; que vous avéz été malade depuis six Semaines de la fiévre tierce ce qui m'a fait beaucoup de peine, ensuite que vous alléz vous en retourner en Amerique. Je voudrais bien être en train de suivre la méme route, car je suis tout a fait home-sick. Quoiquil en soit je crois que ce que je pourrais faire de mieux, serait de sortir de ce pays ci le plutot possible; car c'est je crois le plus mauvais pays de l'Europe pour cétudier. Le tems se passe vite et je n'en ai point a perdre. Il serait pent être loon que je retourne en Hollande pour m'y perfectionner dans les Langues Latine et Greque; et alors je pourrai faire mes autres etudes en Amerique.

Si le climat est mauvais dans le pays ou vous étês il ne vaut guere mieux ici. L'hiver ici est toujours pour le moins de 7. mois. Pendant tout ce tems là il fait si froid que les chemincées ne suffisent pas dans les maisons et les fenêtres sont toutes doublées, pendant quatre autres mois il fait pour ainsi dire une pluye continuelle, et pendant l'autre mois la chaleur est excessive dans la journée et la nuit il fait froid a porter un Surtout. Jugéz de là si le climat de ce pays ci est invitant.

Le 23 du mois V.S.1 passé Sa Majesté vint á Petersbourg de Czarsko Zelo sa residence ordinaire dans l'été. C'est un Palais qui est à peu prés à 25 wersts de Petersbourg. Le 26 elle alia voir lancer un vaisseau de 74 canons. Ensuite elle alia a Peterhof autre Palais situé à 33 wersts de la ville. Le 28 anniversaire du couronnement elle y dina en public. Et le 29 jour de la fête du Grand Due. Il y eut bal masqué et illumination.2 Sa Majeste resta à Peterhof jusqu'au cinq de ce mois, et alors elle s'en retourna à Czarsko-Zelo.

Je finis en vous souhaitant une traversée courte et heureuse, et en vous assurant que je suis vôtre trés humble et trés obéissant serviteur.

LbC (Adams Papers).

353 1.

That is, 23 June, “vieux style.” By the Western calendar all the events mentioned below accordingly took place in early July.


In his diary, kept according to newstyle dating, JQA recorded on 9 July that he went “to Mr. Rimberts ... to borrow Domino's for the mascarade of tomorrow.” On the 10th: “Grand Duke's fête. Mascarade ball and illumination at Peterhoff. At about 1. o'clock P.M. set out for that place with Mr. Artand and Mr. D. and arriv'd there at about half past 5. Walk'd in the Garden till seven and then went to the ball.” On the 11th: “Left the ball at about 1 ... and set out for St. Petersbourg. Arrived at about 5.... Went to bed and slept till noon.” On the 12th: “Returned the domino's.”

More typical of the way in which JQA passed his time is the record for 22 July, the day the present letter was written: “This forenoon I went to the English Library and took out the 2 last volumes of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa and John Nichols's collection of Poems. In the afternoon I wrote a letter to Mr. Thaxter in Holland. Mr. D. wrote to my Father. Windy Rainy weather. Finish'd Cicero's oration pro Milone.”

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 25 July 1782 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 25 July 1782 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Hague 25 July 1782

In this Country, as in all others, Men are much Addicted to “Hobby Horses.” These Nags are called in the Language of the Dutch “Liefhebbery,” as they are called in French “Marotte.” I had rather ride a Dutch Hobby Horse than an English one or a French. It is the wholesomest Exercise in the World. They live to great Ages by the Strength of it.

My Meaning is this. They pitch in early Life upon some domestick Amusement, which they follow all their days at Leisure hours. I shall give you the History of several.

I Yesterday made a Visit to one, a Mr. Lionet, a venerable old Man of 75, in full Health, Strength and Vivacity, respectable for several Offices which he holds, but more so for vast learning in various Kinds, and great Ingenuity. His Hobby Horse has been natural Knowledge. We went to see a Collection of marine Shells. We were two hours, and had not got half through. The infinite Variety of Figures and Coulours, is astonishing.

But his Curiosity has not been confined to Shells. It has extended to Insects, and he has had it in Contemplation to write as full an Account of these as Buffon has written of Birds, Beasts and Fishes. But beginning with Caterpillars, he has filled a Folio upon that Species—and drew, and engraved the Plates himself.

Thus he rode his Hobby Horse and lived. Without it, he would have died fifty Years ago.

Have you an Inclination to read and inspect Cutts of the Anatomy of Caterpillars—their Nerves, Blood, Juices, Bones, Hair, Senses, 354Intellects &c. &c.—Their moral Sense, their Laws, Government, Manners and Customs.

I dont know whether he teaches the manner of destroying them, and Saving the Apple tree.

I doubt not the Book is worth studying. All Nature is so.—But I have too much to do, to Study Men, and their mischievous Designs upon Apple Trees and other Things, ever to be very intimate with Mr. Lionet, (whom I respect very much however) or his Book. Adieu.1

RC and LbC (Adams Papers).


The extraordinary man concerning whom JA wrote this letter so extraordinarily revealing of himself was Pierre Lyonnet (1707–1789), whose family had fled France as Huguenot exiles. Lyonnet held posts as cryptographer and law translator to the States General at The Hague. He had been trained in the law and is said to have mastered nine languages, including Hebrew; he collected 1,300 varieties of shellfish; he executed work in painting and sculpture that won recognition; and among learned works in various fields he wrote on the theology of insects. But his most famous work was an illustrated Traitcé anatomique de la chenille, qui range le bois de saule, The Hague, 1760, which, according to Hoefer, “has won a place among the most astonishing masterpieces of science.” See Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ; Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek , 8:1090–1091.