John Quincy Adams to John Adams
London May 25th. 1784
Yesterday, I met Mr. Bridgen1 at the Coffee House; he told me he had a book for you, and this morning he sent it to my lodgings; [Mr.] Watson2 who leaves this place to morrow, has been so kind as to offer to take charge of any thing I wish to send, and will deliver you the volume, with this.
The Parliament have done nothing as yet, as all the time has been taken up, in swearing in the Members, which may take up some days more; but as soon as any thing worth while comes upon the Carpet, I shall endeavour to go and hear the debates as often as possible; I hope to get acquainted with some member, to introduce me; both Messrs. Hartley3 are left out. The Courts of Justice are I believe, not setting at present.
I believe I shall send off the trunk of books by the latter end of <
next> this week. I shall either address them to Mr. Freeman,4 or to you at the Hague; however, when I send them, I will write you what measures, it will be necessary for you to take to get them. Mr. Smith wishes to have, a good impression of his family arms; and would be obliged to you if you would send one of the seal you have;5 inclosed in the first Letter you write to me.
Mr. Jay is I believe at Calais, waiting for a vessel which sailed two days agone from this Place, and will take him up at Dover; he left Paris the 15th. of this Month. Mr. Laurens sails in a few days for Boston. We have no late arrivals, but Callihan is expected every day.
Your dutiful Son
RC (Adams Papers). Some damage to the text and signature from a tear, probably made in removing the seal.
1. Edward Bridgen, a London artisan and sometime alderman, who corresponded with JA from 1781, and spent much time with the Adamses in 1785–1786 (vol. 4:334–335, note 2; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:179, and note 1, 188, 196–200; Bridgen letters to JA in the Adams Papers).
2. Elkanah Watson, a native of Plymouth, Mass., who had lost his mercantile house, based in Nantes, to creditors as a result of the financial crisis of 1783. In May 1784 he was still liquidating his remaining assets; later in the year, after a tour of Holland and England, he would return to the United States. Watson later moved to New York, and then to Pittsfield, Mass., where he organized America’s first county agricultural fair. Watson would correspond with JA to 1825, and with JQA into the 1830s. DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ; Adams Papers.
3. David Hartley had represented Kingston-upon-Hull in Yorkshire for nearly a decade, but retired from politics after this defeat. His younger half-brother Winchcombe Henry Hartley had been knight of the shire for Berkshire since 1776, and would win his seat again in 1790. Namier and Brooke, House of Commons description begins The House of Commons, 1754–1790, ed. Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, London, 1964; 3 vols. description ends , 2:592–594.
5. Since William Smith shared with his first cousin, AA, a great grandmother, Sarah Boylston, the reference is probably to a seal bearing the Boylston coat of arms that JA used on passports and when he signed the peace treaty in 1783. JA employed this seal because his mother was Susanna Boylston; Sarah was the sister of JA’s great grandfather, Thomas Boylston (Adams Papers Editorial Files). William Smith may have wanted to find a craftsman who would do as well for him in making a seal as a Dutch artisan had done for JA. See vol. 4:xv–xvi, 202, illustration at 381; “The Seals and Book-Plates of the Adams Family 1783–1905,” by Henry Adams, in Catalogue of JQA’s Books description begins Worthington C. Ford, ed., A Catalogue of the Books of John Quincy Adams Deposited in the Boston Athenaeum. With Notes on Books, Adams Seals and Book–Plates, by Henry Adams, Boston, 1938. description ends , esp. p. 135–137, and illustrations.