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vide for themselves, which I shall never be able to do, if I loiter away my precious time in Europe, and shun going home until I am forced to it."
However good and admirable were his resolutions, it must not be supposed that John Quincy Adams abandoned the "flesh-pots" of France without regret. After the arrival of his mother and sister the inducements to remain were increased. The allurements of France were numerous. Even his beautiful and sensible sister, who maintained that a principle of her life was to be improved rather than pleased, came to compare American stiffness quite unfavorably with the ease and abandon of French society. And what teachers had these young people before them in their father, who was the concentration of New England correctness when at home, the gallant Thomas Jefferson, and the gay old philosopher, Benjamin Franklin! See how Miss Adams talks in her Journal! What kind of an Adams would it be without a diary or a journal?
On the 15th of August, 1784, she writes:—
"This day, by invitation, we dined with Mr. Barclay, in a friendly way, without form or ceremony. Mr. Jefferson and daughter dined with us, and two gentlemen who were not to be known. The dinner was in the French style; there is no such thing here as preserving our taste in anything; we must all sacrifice to custom and fashion. I will not believe it possible to do otherwise; for my papa, with his firmness and resolution, is a perfect convert to the mode in everything, at least of dress and appearance."
In another comment on her father's folly Miss
Adams says :—
"There was, in the twelfth century, a Sieur de Quincy, who was created Earl of Winchester by King John. The history mentions that in the thirteenth century, the family became extinct, and the title was given to Lord de Spencer. Sieur de Quincy was one who signed Magna Charta. My father supposes the Quiucys of America to have descended from him, and was solicitous to trace the descent; he may be better acquainted with the importance of it than I am. To me it appears quite a matter of small consequence. We can all trace our descent from Adam, and no one can go beyond him."
Although John Adams fully desired and expected his children to follow in the steps of their parents, he seldom chose to pull or push them against their evident inclinations. From this dangerous experiment he fortunately escaped the usual pangs in old age. Of this habit in dealing with his children his refined and beautiful daughter wrote :—
"I discover a thousand traits of softness, delicacy, and sensibility in this excellent man's character. I was once taught to fear his virtues; happy am I that I find them rather to love, grown up into life unknown to him, and ignorant of him. I had been taught to think him severe, and, as he would demand my obedience, I found him far otherwise; he never demanded of me even an acquiescence to his wishes, but left me to follow my own in the most important concerns of life."
This erroneous idea of her father had been gained
in part, no doubt, from his many letters to her mother
during the time she was growing into womanhood, but
that she should have entertained such, places an almost
inexplicable charge against the "excellent" woman,
the mother, with whom she had mainly spent her
time. That her father had taken the course with
John Quincy in Europe, to a great extent, that he did
with her, is seen in his letter to her on her arrival in
London in suggesting to her the propriety of keeping
a journal. In mourning over the remissness of John
Quincy on this point he wrote:—
"I have never had influence enough with your brother to prevail upon him to attend to this exercise, as pleasant as it is useful. But the punishment of this negligence is certain; if he lives sixty years, he will spend them all in continued repentance and self-reproaches. A regular journal of his travels would be very valuable."
Here she certainly got a glimpse of this severe man of her fancy, which was in agreeable conflict with her former teachings, from whatever source they came. From the journal of Miss Adams the following picture is taken of the sensible, virtuous, and lovable society (!!) to which Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and all the Adamses, and most other Americans, when enjoying the freedom of being away from home, were becoming so enamored :—
"Mr. Williams told me an anecdote. When he first arrived in Paris a friend of his accompanied him to dine with a lady of his acquaintance. The first thing that struck him was being introduced to the lady's bed-chamber, which is here as usual as it ia to visit. The lady was rather in a diahabille, except her head, which was highly dressed. When dinner was served, they went into another room; after dining they returned again to the lady's bed-chamber; a gentleman in company took from the table an orange; while the rest of the company were taking their coffee, he was eating his orange, and, unfortunately, happened to put the peel upon the side of the chimney-piece and after a little time went away, as is usual in this country, without taking leave. Some time after he was gone the lady called her servant and inquired for this gentleman; the servant told her he had gone, but he had heard him order his servants to drive him to such an hotel. She ordered the servant to go and request the gentleman to return, for she wished to see him. In less than an hour the gentleman returned, begging to know her commands, when she called her servant and ordered him to take that orange-peel away. 'This,' said Mr. W., 'completed my wonder and astonishment.'"
And see how her father wrote in 1778 to her mother:—
"To tell you the truth, I admire the ladies here. Don't be jealous. They are handsome and very well educated. Their accomplishments are exceedingly brilliant, and their knowledge of letters and arts exceeds that of the English ladies, I believe. "Tell Mrs. Warren that I shall write her a letter, as she desired, and let her know some of my reflections in this country. My venerable colleague (Dr. Franklin) enjoys a privilege here that is much to be envied. Being seventy years of age, the ladies not only allow him to embrace them as often as he pleases, but they are perpetually embracing him. I told him yesterday I would write this to America."
These were, indeed, noble practices, and people to be recommended by a supposed pattern of New England correctness! But what report was this future President of the United States now able to give of his son, another future President?
In a letter to his only daughter, in August, 1783, John Adams wrote of his son, John Quincy:—
"He is grown to be a man, and the world says they should take him for my younger brother, if they did not know him to be my son. I have great satisfaction in his behavior, as well as in the improvements he has made in his travels, and the reputation he has left behind him wherever he has been. He is very studious, and delights in nothing but books, which alarms me for his health, because, like me, he is inclined to be fat. His knowledge and his judgment are so far beyond his years as to be admired by all who have conversed with him. I lament, however, that he could not have his education at Harvard College, where his brothers shall have theirs, if Providence shall afford me the means of supporting the expense of it."
Mr. Adams was really strongly opposed to the education of American youth in foreign countries, and had occasion to regret the affection or pride which led him to take his sons abroad. They were, to some extent, an incumbrance to him, and a needless source of expense. On all of these accounts, Charles was after a time sent home. However true were Mr. Adams's feelings on this point, on general principles, no part of John Quincy's education was more valuable to him or more a source of future profit and advancement than that obtained in the years spent in Europe at this period.