Puslapio vaizdai

respondent was Jefferson, but the number of people to whom he wrote increased quite rapidly for some years. Among the more notable ones were Thomas McKean, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Stoddert, and Benjamin Waterhouse. John Taylor of Caroline, in 1814, sent him a copy of his "Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States," and Adams wrote a commentary upon it in reply which makes a book in itself. They became very friendly, and Taylor wrote that Hamilton's pamphlet was "the most malicious, foolish, and inexcusable composition which was ever produced by a tolerable mind." All of which was still balm to the soul of Adams. He wrote occasionally to Elbridge Gerry, to whom in spite of political differences he remained devoted until Gerry's death in 1814. He had a correspondence with William Wirt, caused by the claims in Wirt's "Patrick Henry" of Virginia's priority in revolution, in which he defended the claims of Massachusetts and James Otis. A long correspondence with William Tudor, founder and editor of the "North American Review," was devoted to the same purpose.

Adams read omnivorously from the time of his retirement until his eyesight failed in about 1820, when he pressed his family into service and seems to have kept them busy. Any books that were in English he made them read to him; but of necessity, in spite of failing sight, he read those in French himself. So eager was he for such entertainment that he was willing to sit for hours listening to any book which might interest the

young people. In this way he heard and enjoyed Scott, Cooper, and Byron. Always he had enjoyed romance, and in the winter of 1812-13 he was reading with interest and amusement "The Scottish Chiefs," "Thaddeus of Warsaw," "The Exiles of Siberia," "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," "Marmion," and "The Lady of the Lake." The next year he was eager to secure "Acta Sanctorum," his mind being set upon an investigation of religions. In 1815 he read, among other things, Ocellus, Timæus, and Julian; and by March, 1816, he reported the completion of fifteen volumes of Baron Grimm, seven of Tucker's Neddy Search books, twelve of Dupuis, and four of Jesuitical history, and added, "Romances all!" His reading varied widely. In 1819 he read the letters of Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, with which, without a trace of prudery, he was utterly disgusted. In 1820 he is reading Cato and Cicero; in 1822, having his grandchildren read to him the proceedings of the New York constitutional convention, the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Hubbard's "History of New England," Johnson's "Wonder Working Providence," Morton's "Memorial," and the writings of Winslow, Bradford, Gookin, Eliot, and twenty others. Parenthetically, it may be said that, even to this late day, sympathy for the grandchildren is surely not misplaced! "All the superstition, fanaticism, quaintness, cant, barbarous poetry, and uncouthness of style, he adds, had not prevented as keen an interest as he ever felt in Homer, Virgil, Milton, Pope, or Shakspere. The following year, among other

things, he was having read to him Simond's "Travels in Switzerland" and Algernon Sidney on "Government."

In later years, friends knowing his tastes flooded him with books until he protested humorously that they were "enough to obfuscate all eyes and stifle all human understanding." His comments on what he read are apt and spicy. Jefferson sent him a life of Rittenhouse, and Adams thus replied: "The book is in the modern American style, an able imitation of Marshall's Washington though far more entertaining and instructive; a Washington Mausoleum; an Egyptian pyramid! I shall never read it any more than Taylor's Aristocracy." He adds, however, that Mrs. Adams is reading it with delight and reads to him such bits as please her, "and that is all of it."

Such are scattered lights on the reading which he said kept him alive.

His eyesight, to his keen distress, never permitted much writing, for he enjoyed his impulsive careless "scribbling" of "such poor stuff as I have been writing by fits and starts for fifty or sixty years without ever correcting or revising anything."

Much of his time and thought for several years was given to an examination of the religions of all ages and nations. He had partly broken with Calvinism in his college days when he abandoned the idea of becoming a minister, and the break became complete in these later years. The result of all his religious study was summed up in four words: "Be just, be good." "The ten commandments and the Sermon on the Mount contain all my religion." This quota

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tion perhaps throws more light than anything else upon his religious beliefs: "I find my imagination roaming in the milky way, among the nebulæ, those mighty orbs, and stupendous orbits of suns, planets, satellites, and comets, which compose this incomprehensible universe; and, if I do not sink into nothing in my own estimation, I feel an irresistible impulse to fall on my knees, in adoration of the power that moves, the wisdom that directs, and the benevolence that sanctifies this wonderful whole." So far as he may be classified, he was, like Jefferson, a Unitarian. His views were of the most liberal variety. "I believe that all good men are Christians." He had no fear of death, nor was he weary of life, nor did he fear the future. "If I did not believe in a future state, I should believe in no God." "After all, I hope to meet my wife, and friends, ancestors and posterity, sages ancient and modern. I believe I could get over all my objections to meeting Alexander Hamilton and Tim Pick if I could see a symptom of penitence in either.”


Mentally alert, Adams watched with interest the course of public events. In view of his attitude toward ward international policy during Jefferson's administration, it is not remarkable that the War of 1812 met with his full approval, although he chafed at the way it was conducted. By 1815 he was friendly to France, which he regarded as the leader of the nations in civilization and the equal of any in science, literature, and taste. He was convinced that neutrality in European affairs was sound American policy, but that if

alliances were ever necessary, France was the natural ally of the United States, and that Great Britain was the last power with which an alliance of any sort should be made. How much of this was the result of war fever is of course a question.

Two calls to public service came to Adams. In 1820 he was chosen a delegate to the Massachusetts constitutional convention and was unanimously elected president, a tribute which he declared "the purest honor" of his life, and declined on the ground that he was "but the shadow of a man." His only active part was an attempt to secure such a modification of the bill of rights as would do away with the "recognition of distinct modes of religion by the state." In the same year, as a presidential elector and president of the Massachusetts electors, he voted contentedly for Monroe, whom he liked and admired.

In his family Adams found deep joy. Mrs. Adams was the center and stay of the household, and to her Adams owed a debt of which he was fully conscious for the fullness of her help to him at all times and for the joy of her companionship. He owed her a greater one, of which he was probably in complete ignorance, for the softening of his asperities, and the soothing of his numerous spiritual hurts. Her death in 1818 was a severe blow, but its shock was lessened by his expectation of speedy reunion. His children and grandchildren were a delight, and of these naturally his chief pride and affection centered on John Quincy, who was, however, separated from him much of the time. For him the father was deeply ambitious, and he resented

the delay in his reaching the White House, saying with a characteristic growl, "My son will never have a chance until the last Virginian is laid in the graveyard." But he and his wife rejoiced when John Quincy became secretary of state, and Mrs. Adams went to rest with her cup of joy full. When at last the son became president he wrote his father:

"Washington, 9 February, 1825. "My Dear and Honored Father: "The enclosed note from Mr. King will inform you of the event of this day, upon which I can only offer you my congratulations, and ask your blessings and prayers. "Your affectionate and dutiful son, "JOHN QUINCY ADAMS."

Adams replied:

"Quincy, 18 February, 1825. "My dear Son,—

"I have received your letter of the 9th. Never did I feel so much solemnity as upon this occasion. The multitude of my thoughts, and the intensity of my feelings are too much for a mind like mine, in its ninetieth year. May the blessing of God Almighty continue to protect you to the end of your life, as it has heretofore protected you in so remarkable a manner from your cradle! I offer the same prayer I offer the same prayer for your lady and your family, and am your affectionate father,


Adams in these latter years was not dependent upon his family for companionship. He saw much of his friends in their homes and at Montezillo. A steadily growing number of visitors came and added

interest to life. He was gifted as a conversationalist and enjoyed the intercourse.

So passed these richly ripened years. In them Adams did not grow soft or maudlin. He lived out his life a strong man, but with each year the essential sweetness of nature which had lain concealed in him became more apparent. Bold and independent in spirit, in full possession of his mental faculties, he serenely waited for the end. He rejoiced in the approaching jubilee celebration of the Fourth of July, and gave as a sentiment for the day, "Independence forever." The

sound of cannon far from disturbing him, each added, he said, five more minutes to his life. Finally just fifty years to the hour from the public announcement, in Philadelphia, of the Declaration, the "chief of the Argonauts," as Jefferson called him, fell quietly into the sleep to which Jefferson had preceded him some hours before; with his thoughts full of his friend, speaking first three words which, while untrue as he meant them, were nevertheless the most prophetic of any utterance of his long and by no means silent life:

"Jefferson still survives."

(Next month: Thomas Jefferson)



"Not many hours more," I hear them say.
Damn 'em. . They cannot see the schooner's bow
Make head against the waves. (And who's here now?
The parson, eh? I haven't time to pray.)
Cold-cold the wind to-night, and high the sea.
I don't remember such a storm before,

Except the time we lay off Singapore:

A typhoon-no mistake; and but for me

The Betsey Ann had gone. How long it seems!
It must be thirty-forty years, I guess.

A pile o' work. . . . A little happiness.

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H'm . . . not so bad. and Lord! I've had my dreams! What's that along the starboard side—a light?

Damn 'em... we'll make the old home port to-night!



A True Story of the Mississippi Tragedy LYLE SAXON

E ARE gathered together on the levee top, white and black men, rich and pooror rather yesterday we were rich and poor; to-night we are equal in misery, for the Mississippi has taken everything from us.

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The old Devil River. Rightly enough do the negroes call it so. "The old Devil River, pushin' and shovin' at the levees," they say. These walls of earth, man-made, erected at tremendous cost and endless labor, are built higher and higher every year in order that our homes, lying behind the levees, may be safe from the ever-rising stream. And now, all useless, all washed away. This part of the broken levee top is like a long narrow island. Twenty feet wide, perhaps, a quarter of a mile long, and water washing on both sides-black water that extends out in all directions, mile after mile, dotted now with wreckage of our homes and covering the land endlessly.

We are tired out, hungry, wet, miserable. There are perhaps fifty of us, near the end of the levee. Ahead of us lies the crevasse . . . the water rushing through, inundating the fields and cotton land deeper under the yellow flood. . . . Yes, Yes, yellow by day, but at this hour only


a vast black torrent, with never a light anywhere. There is no moon. There are no stars to-night. A soft rain has fallen, making us, shelterless, even more miserable.

We sit upon the ground, in groups, afraid to sleep, too miserable to cry, waiting, with forlorn hope for a rescue boat.

We have been here for more than twenty-four hours, ever since the alarm came that sent us running out into the night. Can it be only twenty-four hours ago? It seems an eternity.

We have no water except that yellow foul stuff that is all about us. We drink sparingly of it, grimacing, wiping our lips. There is no food. There is no wood. We have no fire. This afternoon some one broke up a packing-case, kindled a fire, and made coffee. There was only enough for a few. The aroma made the rest of us sick with its fragrance.

Only two white men. We sit with bowed heads, leaning forward, looking out into the darkness. Near-by a group of negro men are sleeping. A young negro woman, separated from her family, lies moaning. She is going to give birth to a baby before morning-or so the old negro women say who have gathered around her. She is having a hard time. They

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