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Adams, John (1735-1826) to Catharine Macaulay

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01784.01 Author/Creator: Adams, John (1735-1826) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 9 July 1770 Pagination: 3 p. ; 20 x 16 cm.

Summary of Content: This letter begins the Adams-Macaulay correspondence. Adams compliments Mrs. Macaulay for stripping "the false Lustre from worthless Princes and Nobles and Selfish Politicians." He refers to Macaulay's History of England.

Background Information:

Full Transcript: August 9. 1770.
Madam
I received from my Friend Mr Gill, an Intimation that a Letter from me, would not be disagreable to you: and have been emboldened by that means, to ...give you this Trouble. -
I have read, not only with pleasure, and Instruction, but with great Admiration, Mrs Macaulays History of England &c. It is formed upon the Plan, which I have ever wished to see adopted by Historians. It is calculated to Strip off the false Lustre from worthless Princes and Nobles and Selfish Politicians, and to bestow the Reward of Virtue, Praise, upon the generous and worthy only. No Charms of Eloquence can attone for the Want of this unit, historical Morality: and I know of no History, in which it is, So religiously regarded.
It was from that History, as well as the concurrent Testimony of all who have come to this Country from England, that I had formed the highest opinion of the Author, as one of the brightest ornaments, not only of her Sex, but of her Age and Country. I could not therefore but esteem the Information given me by Mr Gill, as one of the most agreable & fortunate occurrences of my life.
Indeed it was rather a Mortification to me to find, that a few fugitive Speculations in a Newspaper, had excited your Curiosity to [2] enquire after me. - The Production which some Person in England I know not who, has been pleased to intitle "a Dissertation on the Common and the Feudal Law, was written at Braintree, Eleven Miles from Boston, in the year 1765 - written at Random, weekly without any provincial Plan, printed in the Newspapers, without Correction, and So little noticed or regarded here, that the Writer never thought it worth his while, to give it either a Title or a Signature. - And indeed the Editor, in London, might with more Propriety have named it "The What d'ye call it," or as the critical Reviewers did "a flimsy, lively Rhapsody," than by the Title, he has given it. But it happened to hit the Fancy of Some one it Seems, who has given it a longer duration than a few Weeks by printing it in Conjunction with the Letters of the House of Representatives of this Province, and by ascribing it to a very venerable learned Name. I am very Sorry, however that Mr Gridleys Name was affixed to it, for many Reasons. The Mistakes, Inaccuracies, and Want of Arrangement in are utterly unworthy of Mr Gridleys great and deserved Character for Learning, and the general Spirit and Sentiments of it, are by no means reconcileable, to his known opinions & Principles in Politiks.
It was indeed written by your present Correspondent, who then had [illegible] in his head, which he never has attempted to [illegible] and probably never will. - depressed as he is by the Infirmities of ill Health, and the Calls of a numerous, growing Family, whose only Hopes are in his continual applications to the Drudgeries of his Profession,it is almost impossible [3] for him to pursue any inquiries, or to enjoy any pleasures of a literary kind.
He has, however been informed that you have in contemplations on History, in which the affairs of America are to have a Share. - If this is true it would give him infinite pleasure. - Whether it is or not, if he can by any means in his power, by Letters or otherwise, contribute any Thing to your Amusement, and especially to your Assistance in any of your Inquiries, he will always esteem himself extremly happy in attempting it
Pray excuse the Freedom I have taken, Madam in giving you the Trouble of this letter, and believe me with great Esteem and Admiration, your most obedient and very humble servant
John Adams
Mrs. Katharine Macaulay

[docket]
August 9 1770
Mr Adams with
The answer
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People: Macaulay, Catharine, 1731-1791
Adams, John, 1735-1826

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentWomen's HistoryPoliticsLiterature and Language ArtsGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign Policy

Sub Era: Road to Revolution

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