Adams Papers

From Thomas Boylston Adams to William Smith Shaw, 27 April 1801

Philadelphia 27th: April 1801

Dear William

I have your letter of the 17th:, which travelled, from Boston hither, in very agreeable company. I can readily conceive, the novelty of your situation in a Lawyer’s office, joined to other novelties of quite as pleasant a nature, would tend to distract your thoughts, for some time.

Without undertaking to advise you on the subject of your recent pursuit, I will barely say, that the Office of my principal, were I to be again a Student, should be my place of dwelling, almost uninterruptedly during the first twelve or fifteen months of my apprenticeship; during this time, you ought to read Blackstone, Cooke on Littleton, the two first vol’s of Hume’s England; Robertson’s Charles 5th: & Reeve’s history of the Eng: law. What course your patron will advise, I know not, but all other advice ought to be subservient to his direction. As a general memento, you may learn from me, that the best time to study law, is while you are in <an> the Office of another person, for after you have one of your own, your attention & time must be occupied, chiefly, by attendance upon Courts &ca:. It was not until I had considerable experience, that I could look upon a Client in any other light than an intruder into my Office, and nothing but his fee could persuade me to the Contrary. Jo: Dennie says he used to lock his Office door to keep Clients out. This is no violence to the truth, in his case, as I can readily conceive.

I shall be obliged to you, for occasional memoirs of town & Country occurrences, and will give you similar coin in return.

I am glad you have a chief magistrate, of your choice, and hope this may always be your lot, as it is mine, never to have been gratified in this particular.

The Shee Genl: after all, would not be Marshall, & therefore a far more ignoble man, has been appointed in his room—a man of crimes, if report be true. I do not know the man, even by sight; his reputation is much of a piece with that of many of our State Officers; indeed, I think it a pity, that the President, in appointing this man, has, so far, diminished the list of Candidates for the patronage of our Governor.

I have nothing new to offer—Present me kindly to all friends, and particularly to Mr: & Mrs: Foster—


T. B. Adams.

Tell Mr. Callender, if you please, that the lottery in which he is interested has commenced & nearly finished drawing—I leave the examination of his tickets ‘till the last.

MWA: Adams Papers.

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