Papers of John Adams, volume 1

From Catharine Macaulay, 19 July 1771 Macaulay, Catharine JA


From Catharine Macaulay, 19 July 1771 Macaulay, Catharine Adams, John
From Catharine Macaulay
Sr London July 19. 1771

A very laborious attention to the finishing the fifth vol of my history of England with a severe fever of five months duration the consequence of that attention has hitherto deprived me of the opportunity of answering your very polite letter of August 9. 1770.1

Your observations of the history of England are highly favorable and flattering to the Author but you must give me leave to say that on the principle of having a right to treat your own performances with freedom you have not done common justice to the work entitled a Dissertation on the Common and the feudal laws.2

I am really very much concerned to hear that you labor under the heavy misfortune of a weak and infirm state of health. I simpathise with you in body and mind having rarely any alternative from either labor or pain.

A correspondence with so worthy and ingenious a person as your self Sr will ever be prised by me as part of the happiness of my life.

I wish to your numerous family continued health and prosperity and to you every other blessing which can ballance the unavoidable evils attending our human existence.

I am Sr with esteem regard and gratitude Your most Obed And most obliged humble Servt Catharine Macaulay

RC (Adams Papers).


JA's letter to Mrs. Macaulay is printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:360–361, with a sketch of Mrs. Macaulay in a note at p. 361. The fifth volume of her History of England from the Accession of James I to that of the Brunswick line, London, 1763–1783, appeared in 1771 ( DNB ).


JA had opened his correspondence with Mrs. Macaulay when he learned of her favorable reaction to his “Dissertation.” Mrs. Macaulay's error in citing the title was entirely her own; the essays were never published under that name (see “A Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law,” May–21 October 1765, above).