John Adams to Cotton Tufts
Grosvenor Square March 11. 1786
Your kind Favours of Nov 12.1 and 24. and Decr 21 are before me. I Sympathize with you, under the Loss of your amiable Mrs Tufts, who was Innocence and Charity itself and Innocence and Charity can never put off the Flesh but for an happier state.
It gives me great Satisfaction to be informed that my Sons Behaviour is approved, by you. As they must labour for their Lives, I hope they will acquire early habits of Application to study, which is an excellent Preservative against the Dissipation which is so fatal to Youth, as well as a foundation for Usefulness in more advanced Years.
I hope to Send the Books you desire by this Vessell. I have employed a Book seller to look for them, upon the best Terms, and hope he will find them in Season.2
I received from Dr Holyoke, the President of the Medical Society, a polite and obliging Letter, inclosing a Vote of Thanks from the society, very honourable to me: but as the subject did not seem to require any further Attention on my Part, I never answered it. I know nothing of the Answer to the Royal society at Paris. The original Vote of the society, copy of which I transmitted is somewhere among my Papers: but I have so often removed that my Papers are packed up in Trunks, and I know not how to come at it, at present.3
The Sentiments in yours of Decr 21.4 have great Weight, and from all that appears, in this Country, your Maxims will have full opportunity to come into Fashion: for there is no Disposition to a Treaty, and certainly never will be as long as our states will Suffer this Kingdom to monopolize the Navigation of both Countries. They now think us simple enough to let them be carriers for us as well as themselves, and they love us so well as to take Pleasure in obliging us in this Way.
My Correspondent Mathew Robinson Esqr, Author of a Pamphlet in 1774 intituled Considerations on the Measures carrying on &c has published lately the inclosed Address which contains the first honest View of the State of this Nation that has appeared since the Peace. This is an honest and Sensible Old Man of Fortune, and formerly Member of Parliament.5 The Minister upon reading the Pamphlet said “if John Adams had given the author five hundred Pounds for writing it, he could not have laid out his Money to more Advantage.” But that “if the state were true, it was a d——d wicked thing to publish it.”
Alass poor John Adams has no Money to lay out, in hiring Englishmen to save themselves from Destruction, and if he had any it would be his Duty to give it to the Algerines, first. My Love to Mr Quincy, Your son and all Friends
RC (Adams Papers); endorsed: “Mr Adams Letter of March. 11. 1786 Recd May. 22. 1786.”
1. Not found.
2. Tufts’ request has not been found.
3. Edward Augustus Holyoke wrote to JA on 6 Nov. 1783 (Adams Papers) to thank him for arranging a correspondence between the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Société Royale de Médecine at Paris (see JA to AA, , vol. 5:168–170). In his letter of 24 Nov. 1785 (Adams Papers), Tufts desired to know whether Holyoke’s letters to JA and to the Société Royale had arrived.
JA acknowledged Holyoke’s letter in April and enclosed the original letters from the officers of the Société Royale and its vote acknowledging its Massachusetts counterpart (JA to Holyoke, 3 April 1786, MSaE: Holyoke Family Coll.).
4. Tufts argues in his letter that Great Britain’s continuing refusal to establish a commercial treaty with the United States might actually benefit American trade and commerce. Earlier widespread availability of British credit “has ever discouraged every Attempt to Independance in Trade and the Establishment of our Manufacturies. The Restrictions of Great Britain and the Refusal of further Credit are however happily calculated to remove these Difficulties: And can We but continue a few years in a State of Exclusion from her Commerce, Our Debts will be paid and our Independance of Mind established” (Cotton Tufts to JA, 21 Dec. 1785, Adams Papers).
5. JA opened a correspondence with Matthew Robinson-Morris, later 2d baron Rokeby, in February, through the offices of Dr. Price. Robinson-Morris authored several pamphlets sympathetic to America in the 1770s, including Considerations on the Measures Carrying on with Respect to the British Colonies in North America, London, 1774, for which see 1:xvi, 202–203. His recent publication was An Address to the Landed, Trading and Funded Interest of England on the Present State of Public Affairs, London, 1786 (published as The Dangerous Situation of England in the 2d edn.). See JA to Robinson-Morris, 21 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers).
Robinson-Morris represented Canterbury in the House of Commons from 1747 to 1761 (Namier and Brooke, House of Commons description begins Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, eds., The House of Commons, 1754–1790, London, 1964; 3 vols. description ends , 3:367).