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adversity and untamed with care. Improve your understanding by acquiring useful knowledge and virtue, such as will render you an ornament to society, an honor to your country, and a blessing to your parents. Great learning and superior abilities, should you ever possess them, will be of little value and small estimation, unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them. Adhere to those religious sentiments and principles which were early instilled into your mind, and remember, that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.
"Let me enjoin it upon you to attend constantly and steadfastly to the precepts and instructions of your father, as you value the happiness of your mother and your own welfare. His care and attention to you render many things unnecessary for me to write, which I might otherwise do; but the inadvertency and heedlessness of youth require line upon line and precept upon precept, and, when enforced by the joint efforts of both parents, will, I hope, have a due influence upon your conduct; for, dear as you are to me, I would much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or that any untimely death crop you in your infant years, than, see you an immoral, profligate, or graceless child.
"You have entered early in life upon the great theater of the world, which is full of temptations and vice of every kind. You are not wholly unacquainted with history, in which you have read of crimes which your inexperienced mind could scarcely believe credible. You have been taught to think of them with horror, and*to view vice as
'A monster of so frightful mien,
That, to be hated, needs but to be seen.'
"Yet you must keep a strict guard upon yourself, or the odious monster will soon lose its terror by becoming familiar to you. The modern history of our own times furnishes as black a list of crimes as can be paralleled in ancient times, even if we go back to Nero, Caligula, or Caesar Borgia. Young as you are, the cruel war, into which we.have been compelled by the haughty tyrant of Britain and the bloody emissaries of his vengeance, may stamp upon your mind this certain truth, that the welfare and prosperity of all countries, communities, and, I may add, individuals, depend upon their morals. That nation to which we were once united, as it has departed from justice, eluded and subverted the wise laws which formerly governed it, and suffered the worst of crimes to go unpunished, has lost its valor, wisdom, and humanity, and, from being the dread and terror of Europe, has sunk into derision and infamy.
"But, to quit political subjects, I have been greatly anxious for your safety, having never heard of the frigate since she sailed, till, about a week ago, a New York paper informed, that she was taken and carried into Plymouth. I did not fully credit this report, though it gave me much uneasiness. I yesterday heard that a French vessel was arrived at Portsmouth, which brought news of the safe arrival of the Boston; but this wants confirmation. I hope it will not be long before I shall be assured of your safety. You must write me an account of your voyage, of your situation, and of everything entertaining, you can recollect.
"Be assured I am most affectionately yours, ."
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS AS A BOY IN EUROPE—A PICTURE AND STUDY—HIS FIRST PUBLIC SERVICE.
AS has been seen, John Adams embarked on the 13th of February, 1778, as a commissioner to France on the part of the United States, and with him went his son, John Quincy, then less than eleven years of age. In April they reached Paris, taking up their residence at Passy, and soon afterwards John Quincy was placed in a school.
I am here reminded of the Adams pronunciation of the name, Quincy, as if z took the place of c. In Boston the pronunciation quin-zy appeared to be the rule, perhaps. I called the attention of Charles Francis Adams, Sen., to this custom, and he replied that it had always prevailed in his family; but, when reminded that Webster, the lexicographer, a Massachusetts man, gave the preference to quin-cy, he seemed surprised, and intimated that he made no pretension as to the pronunciation of the word. It was a custom, and might or might not be very securely founded. Out of New England, I think, quin-zy can seldom be heard in the use of the proper name, that pronunciation being, with much more care and accuracy, appropriated to the name of the disagreeable throat affection, quinsy, in which s readily and properly enough takes the sound of z, to which it should give way in the orthography. It could be no more disgusting to me to spell John Quinzy Adams than it would to speak it.
But to return to the boy at Passy. The rare opportunity offered at this time for him to become acquainted with the French language was not lost. While this was made one of his first studies, other weighty matters were not forgotten. His good disposition and vigor of body were fully tested.
The following part of a note to his father, which is found in Mr. Everett's Oration, before mentioned, will give some idea of the work on his hands, besides indicating who really stood behind the "master":—
"My work for a day:
Make Latin, Learn Greek Grammar,
Explain Cicero, Geography,
Parse Phaedrus, Writing,
Learn Greek Racines, Drawing.
"As a young boy can not apply himself to all those things, and keep a remembrance of them all, I should desire that you would let me know what of those I must begin upon at first. "I am, your dutiful son, John Quincy Adams."
A dutiful son, indeed, who, at such an age, would undertake a task like that for the accommodation of his parents! And whose conduct, to some extent, gave rise to the following very remarkable letter, to say the least, from his father to his mother, dated October 29, 1775:—
"Human nature, with all its infirmities and depravation, is still capable of great things. It is capable of attaining to degrees of wisdom and of goodness which we have reason to believe appear respectable in the estimation of superior intelligences. Education makes a greater difference between man and man, than nature has made between man and brute. The virtues and powers to which men may be trained, by early education and constant discipline, are truly sublime and astonishing.
"Newton and Locke are examples of the deep sagacity which may be acquired by long habits of thinking and study. Nay, your common mechanics and artisans are proofs of the wonderful dexterity acquired by use; a watchmaker, finishing his wheels and springs, a pin or needle maker, etc. I think there is a particular occupation in Europe, which is called paper-staining, or linen-staining. A man who has long been habituated to it, shall sit for a whole day, and draw upon paper various figures, to be imprinted upon the paper for rooms, as fast as his eye can roll and his fingers move, and no two of his draughts shall be alike. The Saracens, the Knights of Malta, the army and navy in the service of the English Republic, among many others, are instances to show to what an exalted height valor or bravery or courage may be raised, by artificial means.
"It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children, and exalt their courage, to accelerate and animate their industry and activity, to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel and creep all their lives.
"But their bodies must lie hardened, as well as their souls exalted. Without strength, and activity and vigor of body, the brightest mental excellencies will be eclipsed and obscured.
In the summer of 1779 his father's diplomatic services coming to an end, as he thought, they returned to America, landing in Boston early in August. The Congress took a different view of the matter, and again sent Mr. Adams abroad, this time with a commission to negotiate a treaty of peace with England. About the middle of November, 1779, they again sailed for Europe in the same vessel that had brought them home. This time the company was considerably enlarged. John Quincy's early teacher, Thaxter, and