Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 1

Saturday. Decr. 6th. 1783.


Sunday August 8th. [1784].<a xmlns="http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0" href="#DQA01d643n1" class="note" id="DQA01d643n1a">1</a> JQA


Sunday August 8th. [1784]. Adams, John Quincy
Sunday August 8th. 1784.1

Left London, travelled to Sittingbourne. 43. miles.


In the latter part of Dec. 1783, JA and JQA traveled from London to Bath via Oxford, but were unable to remain long at the famous spa because of the unsettling news that the Dutch loan which JA had obtained the previous summer had been overdrawn. Although JA's health had improved little during his short stay in England, he and JQA left London on 2 Jan. 1784 for Amsterdam in order to secure another loan. They arrived at The Hague ten days later, after a long, exhausting, and disagreeable journey across the channel and a difficult trip, partially by foot, across the Dutch islands of Goeree and Over Flackee and then to the mainland by iceboat (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:151–154; JQA to Peter Jay Munro, 13, 16 Jan. 1784, NNMus).

During winter and spring at The Hague, JQA was “wholly devoted to his studies” and giving JA “intire Satisfaction” with his work ( Book of Abigail and John , p. 374). In these months JQA completed a 237-page English translation of the Aeneid (M/JQA/45, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 240), a 462-page French translation of Suetonius' Lives of the Twelve Caesars (M/JQA/44, same, Reel No. 239), and a 60-page French translation of Tacitus' Life of Gnaeus Julius Agricola (same).

JQA's studies were interrupted by his trip to London in May 1784. For some time AA had entertained the hope of eventually joining her husband in Europe, but it was not until the completion of the Definitive Treaty and the prospect of termination by congress of JA's commission in the near future that JA wrote and insisted that she and AA2 join him and JQA as soon as they were able to come. Believing that AA and AA2 would take passage on John Callahan's ship, scheduled to sail in April 1784, JA sent JQA to London in May to meet his mother and sister. JQA's trip served a double purpose, as JA also wanted him to visit the House of Commons and the law courts. But as the weeks went on with no sign of the Adams women, JA impatiently recalled his son, remarking that “you have had a Taste of the Eloquence of the Bar and of Parliament: but you will find Livy and Tacitus, more elegant, more profound and Sublime Instructors, as well as Quinctilian Cicero and Demosthenes” (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:156; Book of Abigail and John , p. 363–364; AA to JA, 3 Jan. 1784; Isaac Smith Sr. to JA, 13 March 1784; JQA to JA, 20 May, 1 June 1784; JA 208to JQA, 28 May, 21 June 1784, all in Adams Papers).

In late July, a month after JQA's return to The Hague, he and his father received word that AA and AA2 had arrived in London and were staying at Osborn's Adelphi Hotel. On 30 July, JQA was in London, and within a little more than a week the Adamses were joined by JA (William Vans Murray to JQA, 23 July; JQA to JA, 30 July; JA to JQA, 1 Aug., Adams Papers). The whole family soon left for Paris and Auteuil, where JQA was to remain until the following May, when he returned to America. Throughout the remainder of 1784, JQA continued with his classical studies, making another English translation of Horace's Art of Poetry (M/JQA/45, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 240) and a 253-page English translation of Sallust's History of Catiline (M/JQA/27, same, Reel No. 222); possibly he continued his English translations of Tacitus (M/JQA/45, same, Reel No. 240), whose works he had begun earlier in the year. JQA's scattered and somewhat sketchy diary entries from this point until the end of the year, when he began a more complete day-by-day accounting of his activities, are supplemented in part by AA2's journal.