January 5. Sunday.
Dined with M. Vaughan, in Company with the Abbys de Mably, Chalut, Arnoux and Ter Saint .—Had more Conversation with de Mably than at any Time before. He meditates a Work upon our American Constitutions.1 He says the Character he gives of Herodian in his last Work, Sur la maniere d’ecrire L’histoire, has procured to his Bookseller, Purchases, for all the Copies of that Historian which he had in his Shop.—Arnoux said that Rousseau, by his Character of Robinson Crusoe, helped his Bookseller to the Sale of an whole Edition of that Romance in a few days.
1. As a result of this conversation, and at the request of those present, JA on 15 Jan. addressed a long letter to Mably listing the chief sources from which a comprehensive history of the American Revolution would have to be drawn, together with advice on the subjects to be treated, including those in what would today be called social and institutional as well as political history (LbC, Adams Papers; printed in Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 5:492–496, with an approximate date, “1782,” supplied by JA from memory). Two days later JA prepared a second letter to Mably listing his own political writings from 1761 to 1779, which he had earlier excluded; but at the foot of his retained copy he wrote: “This Letter was never sent, but the Original was burned by me. It may remain here, without Imputation of Vanity” (Lb/JA/20, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 108).
JA arranged with Cerisier for the publication at Amsterdam of Mably’s Observations sur le gouvernement et les loix des Etats-Unis d’Amerique, 1784 (JA to Cerisier, 16 Oct. 1783, LbC, Adams Papers). An English translation, Remarks concerning the Government and the Laws of the United States of America: In Four Letters, Addressed to Mr. Adams, appeared in London later the same year. Copies of both are among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library.