Adams Papers

From John Quincy Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 17 September 1799

Dresden 17. September 1799.

My last Letter to you was from Töplitz, of the 16th: of last month, since which I have received your N: 7. June 26. and 8. July 12. the former, a few days before leaving Töplitz, and the latter since arriving here.—Your punctuality, and frequency in writing, give me the greatest pleasure, and your constant attention to my affairs deserves my continual thanks.—I presume that before this time you have drawn, and employed the whole sum for which I authorised you at first.

I know not whether the linen, which arrived at Boston with the books, was mine, or Whitcomb’s; but that must appear by the paper in which it was rolled, as Whitcomb says, the owner’s name was on each paper—In either case however, my mother will be perfectly welcome to make what use she pleases of the linen.... Whitcomb’s piece cost him about ten guineas—If it is his, your mother will please to pay you or your order that sum for it, and upon your letting me know it, I will account with Whitcomb for it—If it be my linen, it cost me 36 stuivers an ell <[. . .]> in Holland, but I neither recollect the number of ells, nor the amount of the whole piece—Whitcomb supposes that the linen was in his chest; and if so, says that it likewise was filled chiefly with clothes belonging to him; which he wished to have taken out, aired, and packed up again, as I suppose they have been of course.—The other trunks which I ordered from Lisbon to Hamburg have not yet arrived, nor do I know when to expect them.

I believe I have mentioned to you that among the books, there must be several odd volumes of a collection of memoirs relating to the History of France. A compilation in 64 octavo volumes which I sent to Harvard college—These odd volumes I should wish to have picked out, and sent to Cambridge; though if it cannot be done without overhauling all the boxes, it will perhaps be best to wait; untill I return home.

We remained at Töplitz, as I wrote you we intended, untill the 10th: of this month; when we came down the Elbe from Aussig hither, by water.—Bohemia, at least the part which we saw of it, seems to be a land of enchantment—The situation of Töplitz itself, and the country around it, are uncommonly beautiful—The mountains, for loftiness, and picturesque sublimity would bear a comparison with those of our own country, and the ruined feudal castles thickly strewed about them, carry the mind back to a state of Society, which happily was never known on our side of the atlantic.—We met there Count Golowkin and his family, Count Briihl, and several others of our Berlin acquaintance, and by the sort of sociability and freedom from restraint which usually prevails at bathing places, we had occasion to make many other new acquaintances. the company was collected from all the different Nations at the North of Europe, and among the distinguished persons in the list, was the Russian Grand Duchess Constantine (whose husband is with the Russian army in Italy) her father the Prince of Saxe-Cobourg, and all his family.

I mentioned in my last Letter that I had been visited for a few days by an intermittent fever, from which however, I had then already recovered. Since that time my health has been very good, and I hope the baths have been more beneficial to my wife than I then flattered myself they would be; her health and strength have certainly very much improved since we left Berlin, and if the benefit should prove permanent, as I hope, it will be of no great consequence whether it was produced by the baths, or by the change of air, and by exercise.

We have now been here about a week, and two days ago, I was presented by Mr: Elliot the English Minister, to the Elector, and all the Princes of his family, who were then in town. The Elector spoke to me of America, and American affairs, with more apparent knowledge of the subject than any other Prince I have ever conversed with; which is indeed not saying much; but in general the individuals attached to the Court here appear much better informed concerning America than similar characters at Berlin are—Mr: Elliot has been remarkably polite and obliging to me, and has expressed his regret to me, that he had so little opportunity of being so to you, when you were here.

The principal political events which have happened in Europe since I wrote you last, are,

The battle of Novi in Italy on the 14th: and 15th: of August, lost by the french under General Joubert, who but a few days before had succeeded to Moreau in the command, and who was mortally wounded in the action—This battle was one of the bloodiest that has been fought during the war, and was combined with an attack upon the left wing of the Archduke Chârles’s army in Switzerland which was more successful.—The Archduke then sent General Hotze with nine thousand men, to reinforce his left wing; but Hotze was again attacked, and again forced to retire probably with considerable loss. The Archduke himself has quitted Switzerland, and left his head quarters at Kloten, under the joint command of an Austrian and Russian General, who have just been beaten by Massena—The result in all probability will be that the imperialists will be obliged entirely to evacuate Switzerland, and to defer the hope of delivering that Country at least untill another summer.

The landing of about thirty thousand english troops in three divisions, in North Holland. That of the first division took place on the 25th: of last month—They soon got possession of the Texel island and the Helder, and the Dutch fleet consisting of 6 ships of the line, two 50’s and four frigates surrendered on the 2d: of this month—Their crews mutinied, and refused to fight, and upon their officer’s attempting to compel them to it, they threw seven of them overboard; six of whom were however saved—There are of French and Batavian troops about thirty thousand men, under the command of the Generals Brune, Daendels, and Dumonceau, who may be brought to act very speedily against the british force, which is now about equal to that in force, and events of great importance must have happened already, or very soon happen, in that quarter.

The entry of the combined french and spanish fleets at Brest, on the 13th: of August, where they are now blockaded by Lord Keith—Such has been the issue of four months sailing and counter sailing to and from the Mediterranean—The extreme good fortune of the french and Spaniards has preserved them from a meeting with any English force strong enough to attack them; on their part they had several opportunities to engage an inferior force, which the british would not have lost; but which they did not venture to use, and their great success, after all the noise and expectation which they raised, has consisted, in getting safe again into Port.

The cabinets of Berlin and of Copenhagen have again been very urgently sollicited to join the coalition, but have both persevered in maintaining their system of neutrality—In consequence of this the Emperor of Russia has recalled his Ministers from both those Courts, and has prohibited the admission of all Danish vessels in his dominions—He has likewise recalled his Minster from this residence, probably because the electorate being within the line of neutrality, this government has refused to furnish its contingent towards the support of the War, as a member of the German Empire—Count Panin is appointed to perform the functions of Vice-Chancellor (that is of Minister for foreign affairs) in Russia, but as yet without having the formal title.

The internal state of France, as far as I can hear is more composed than it was some weeks ago. They have now only a civil War in some parts of the South; a near prospect of its breaking out again in the Western departments, and rebellion often blazing from beneath its embers in the low countries; with projects daily denounced for the murder of the Directors Sieye’s and Barras; so you see they are in a state of comparative tranquility.

Louisa sends her love to you, and says you are very impertinent, and she wishes you were here, to shew you, how she would pout at you for it.—We shall return to Berlin about the middle of next month; probably by the way of Leipzig, both for the sake of varying our Journey, and to have a view of the Fair, at that place.

Ever your’s,

MHi: Adams Papers.

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