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John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 11 February 1795

John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams

Philadelphia February 11. 1795

My dear Thomas

Your Letter of the 19 of October from London gave me great Joy and all your other Friends of whom you have many much Pleasure— And I was again highly delighted to hear from Mr Jay that he had Letters from your Brother at Amsterdam the 20th of Novr.

Mr Wilcocks who is kind enough to take Charge of this Letter is probably an Acquaintance of yours: You must take him with you in your Daily Walks for your health, and shew him as many Places Persons and Curiosities as you can.

Europe must be a new World to You. Entertainment, Information and Instruction may be obtained wherever you go. The civil Law and the Law of Nature and Nations are to be obtained in Holland as in some sort their natural Country. The Politicks of Europe are seen from thence as well as from any Place whatever. Arts science Litterature are to be met with in every street almost.

But the English Language and English as well as American Law must, I fear lie dormant for some time.

Inclosed are some Newspapers for your Brother and you which will shew you the News Debates &c1 But We shall have nothing very interesting here till Mr Jays Treaty Arrives. Our People are very quiescent at present and our Self created societies a little humbled. Our Six Per Cent stocks have risen to Par and will not probably again fall—2

I feel the Want of your society: but your Travels will be a great Advantage to you and that consideration composes me.— You have lost the opportunity of seeing two sisters of Miss Nelly Custis older than her; Patty who is unmarried and Betsy who is married to Mr Peters of George Town. Fine Girls I assure you. Your young Acquaintance here are all well excepting Mr Clymer, whose Death you must have heard of.—

Our Family and Friends are all well. I want you or your Brother to Purchase Cujacius for me— Keep it for your own study sometime and then send it to me, or bring it when you come. Buy the best Edition.3 Gail and Hoppius and Vinnius you may get at a moderate Price sometimes and often little Compendiums of Justinian for a trifle.4

I long to have a detail of your Travels, especially in Holland. You will soon get the Language, and Spreek with the Mynheers in their own Hollandsh—

The French too will be indispensable. When you travel in that Country you will run about in the Trecht Schuits. Dont let any vain notions of Dignity lead you to despize this method of travelling, it is the most agreable least expensive, most instructive, and most wholesome mode of conveyance in that Country.

Go to an English or French Church every Sunday and become acquainted with the Clergymen.

I am my dear son with a tender / solicitude for your Welfare your affectionate / Father

John Adams

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “T. B. Adams Esqr”; endorsed: “The Vice President of the United States / 11 Feby 1795 / 29 April Recd:.”

1Enclosures not found.

2For much of February, the value of 6 percent bonds remained at par value. A weekly snapshot of stock prices through July, when the treaty was made public, reveals little fluctuation with values dropping no lower than 19.2 and even rising above par on 20 June (Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 3 Feb. – 31 July).

3Jacques Cujas was a sixteenth-century legal scholar who published several works on jurisprudence. In 1658, his collected writings were edited by Charles Annibal Fabrot and published in Paris as Jacobi Cujacii, … Opera omnia, in decem tomos distributa. This ten-volume edition is part of JA’s library at MB (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 ).

4Offering comment on Justinian’s Institutes were Andreas von Gail, Practicarum observationum, tam ad processum judiciarium, praesertim imperialis camerae, Cologne, 1578; Joachim Hoppe, Commentatio succincta ad Institutiones Justinianeas, Danzig, 1693; and Arnoldus Vinnius, Commentarius … institutionum imperialium, Leyden, 1642.

Among JQA’s books at MQA are three editions of Justinian’s Institutes, two of which were published in Leyden, undated and 1761, and one in Paris, 1770; and Vinnius, published in Amsterdam, 1665. At one time JQA’s library also included a copy of Hoppe, published in Frankfurt, 1728. The copies of Vinnius and Hoppe were inscribed by him on 4 Dec. 1794 (Catalog of the Books Housed in the Stone Library Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Mass., 1994; Catalogue of JQA’s Books description begins Henry Adams and Worthington Chauncey Ford, A Catalogue of the Books of John Quincy Adams Deposited in the Boston Athenæum with Notes on Books, Adams Seals and Book-Plates, Boston, 1938. description ends ).

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