John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams
Passy october the 1st. 1778
My Dear Brother
As my thoughts are Principally busied upon the French tongue, & as I wish you to turn yours the same way, earlier than I did, I cannot think of a Subject to write to you upon more agreable & useful both to you & me than this: Pappa who has an opportunity of Conversing with many men of Learning in this Kingdom, among the phisiciens & Lawyers, as well as eclesiasticks, of various orders, particularly with several very learned abbys,1 he has made it his buisiness to enquire after the best books, & other helps for learning the language of this nation2 in some future letters to my brother Charles & you, I will give you a List of the grammers, Dictionarys, & treatisies upon the French tongue which he has collected as I have the use of this little library if I do not make myself master of French it will not be for want of opportunity or of books but that this talent with which Providence has intrusted3 me may be improved to the best advantage it is necessary to be a good husband of my time.
I cannot impress too strongly upon my mind or recommend too warmly to you the importance of a sentence4 which I lately read in a French writer “tous les momens de 1’enfans sont precieux”5 with which I take my Leave of you and subscribe myself your affectionate Brother
John Quincy Adams
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by CFA. LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “to my brother Tommy.” RC was doubtless enclosed in JA’s letter to AA of 2 Oct., below. Text is given here in literal style. There is a second RC in Adams Papers, dated at Passy, 10 Feb. 1778 [i.e. 1779]; it was copied from LbC and may have been sent either as a duplicate or because JQA thought he had not previously made a copy to send; see descriptive note on JQA to CA and TBA, 3 Oct., below.
1. The inseparable Abbés Arnoux and Chalut, warm friends of the Adamses and of the American cause; see JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:317 and passim.
3. JQA here first wrote “instructed” and then altered it to “instrusted”; but the correct form appears in LbC and is given here.
4. LbC: “sentiment.”
5. LbC adds translation: “every moment of infancy is precious.”