Adams Papers
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John Adams to John Quincy Adams, 29 May 1783

John Adams to John Quincy Adams

Paris May 29. 1783

My dear Son

It gives me great Pleasure to find, that your Situation is agreable to you. An abler Instructor than Mr. Dumas is not to be found. Is not an 100 Verses at a Time too long a Lesson?1 Are you familiar enough with the Latin to comprehend So many Verses at once? You have Ainsworths Dictionary2 I presume. Let no Word escape you, without being understood.

Drydens is a good translation, but it is not Virgil. You will do well to Study the Difference. There is another English Translation of Virgil. It is in blank Verse, done by Dr. Trapp.3 This is thought by Some to be better than Dryden’s, but I am not of that opinion. It is worth your while however to have it if you can get it.

I dont know but the Book of Games would be more proper for your young head, than the History of Dido.4

You translate Suetonius in Writing, I hope, and preserve your Translation as you did that of Phaedrus.5 I Should advise you to make a compleat Translation of Suetonius, in order to make yourself Master of the Work.

Your affectionate Father

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers).

1See JQA to JA, 24 May, above, for JQA’s reading of Virgil, and for Dryden’s translation of Virgil, to which JA refers below.

2Robert Ainsworth, Dictionary, English and Latin, London, 1773 (Catalogue of JA’s Library description begins Catalogue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917. description ends ).

3Joseph Trapp, Aeneis of Virgil, Translated into Blank Verse, 2 vols., London, 1718–20. At some point JQA acquired Virgil’s complete Works in Trapp’s blank verse translation (4th edn., 3 vols., London, 1755; now in MQA).

4The romance of Queen Dido of Carthage and the Trojan leader Aeneas is the subject of Virgil, Aeneid, book IV, which JQA was reading (to JA, 24 May, above). Book V of the same work, the “Book of Games,” describes the athletic contests held by the Trojans in Sicily after their departure from Carthage.

5See JQA to JA, 12 May, note 2, above. JQA had studied the Latin fabulist Phaedrus in Paris in 1780 and in Leyden in 1781, but the French translation that he copied out in Leyden was the work of his language teacher, not his own (see vols. 3:307, and note 4; 4:xvi, 113, 118, and note 1).

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