John Adams to John Quincy Adams
Amsterdam May 29 1781
My dear Son
I am two Letters, I believe in your Debt, but I have been too busily engaged, to be able to write you.
I am pleased with the divisions of your time, which you tell your Brother you have lately made, which appears to be a judicious distribution of Study and Exercise, of Labour and Relaxation.1
But I want to have you, upon some higher Authors than Phaedrus and Nepos. I want to have you upon Demosthenes. The plainer Authors you may learn yourself at any time. I absolutely insist upon it, that you begin upon Demosthenes, and Cicero. I will not be put by. You may learn Greek from Demosthenes and Homer as well as from Isocrates and Lucian—and Latin from Virgil and Cicero as well as Phaedrus and Nepos.
What should be the Cause of the Aversion to Demosthenes in the World I know not, unless it is because his sentiments are wise and grand, and he teaches no frivolities.
If there is no other Way, I will take you home, and teach you Demosthenes and Homer myself.
I am your affectionate Father,
RC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “Mr. J. Q. Adams.”
2. Although CFA did not choose to print this quaint but characteristic letter advising JQA on his Greek and Latin studies, he did permit the publisher or anonymous editor of Homes of American Statesmen ... by Various Writers, N.Y., 1854, to make a facsimile of the MS, which appears as a double-page insert with Clarence Cook’s account of John Adams in that volume, following p. 150.