John Quincy Adams to John Adams
London June 15th: 1784
I this day receiv’d your favour of the 11th. instant and expect to send the Books away, in the course of this week, if I receive no contrary orders from you I shall leave this place, to morrow se’en [nig]ht, and shall attend Parliament, and the courts of Justice, which are now sitting, as often as possible, in the mean time. Mr. Whitefoord, who has been extremely polite and kind to me, introduced me to a Member of Parliament, who will take me into the House; I was there yesterday, and heard Mr. Burke make a very long speech; you may have seen in the Papers, that he informed the house, some time since, of his intention to make a motion, respecting an adress to the King, upon his speech, at the opening of the present Session; the day finally appointed for the motion, was yesterday, and Mr. Burke, spoke, for better than two hours, and then made a motion, which the Speaker was an hour reading; the public papers will give you a much more particular account of, both the speech and the motion than I am capable of, but the purport of both was to inform the King, “that the late Parliament, was a most excellent and virtuous one, and that he did very wrong, in dissolving it; that the People had no right to present addresses, to his Majesty, to thank him for dismissing any ministers whatever, that the late Ministry was the best Ministry this Country could have, and that they had pursued a very wise method for the government of India, and finally [, if?][In]dia was entirely lost it would be because their plan had [. . .]ted.”1 When the Speaker had read the motion, he called upon those who were of the same opinion to say “aye” and about four voices were heard, the “no’s” being demanded (for no one person answered a word to any of the arguments of Mr. B—) the whole house, cried “no” and at about 8. in the evening the house broke up. This morning I went and heard the pleadings before Lord Thurlow, in the Court of Chancery,2 several Lawyers spoke, but the subject, was not very interesting; to morrow Mr. Sawbridge’s motion for a Parliamentary reform is to come forward, and I shall endeavour to attend.
With my Respects to Mr. Dumas & family I remain, Your dutiful Son.
J. Q. Adams
P.S. There is a young American here named Murray3 from Maryland, he is studying Law in the Temple, and intends making a Tour thro’ Holland this Summer; perhaps he will go over at the same time I do.
RC (Adams Papers). addressed: “à Monsieur Monsieur J. Adams. Ministre Plenipotentiaire des Etats Unis De l’Amerique à La Haye Hollande”; postmarked: “[16?]/IV”; docketed: “J.Q. Adams. June. 15. 1784.” Some damage to the text where the seal was removed.
1. JQA’s quotation from Burke’s speech does not convey the main thrust of Burke’s argument: that the House of Commons was threatened as the protector of the people’s liberties. For a full summary of Burke’s speech and motion, see Parliamentary Hist. description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends , 24:943–975.
2. Edward, first Baron Thurlow, was lord chancellor of Great Britain, presiding over the Court of Chancery from 1778 to 1792. In the 1770s he had vigously defended Britain’s efforts to quell the rebellion in America. DNB description begins Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1900; 63 vols. plus supplements. description ends .
3. William Vans Murray, then age twenty-four, quickly became a close friend of JQA. The two corresponded in 1784–1785, and again, very frequently, from 1797 to 1801, when JQA was U.S. minister to Prussia, and Murray succeeded JQA as U.S. minister at The Hague. While in this post, Murray played a crucial role in promoting peace between the United States and France, following the XYZ Affair and the quasi war of 1799–1800. See JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:188, note 1; JQA, Diary description begins Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. David Grayson Allen, Robert J. Taylor, and others, Cambridge, 1981-. description ends , 1:265, and note 3.