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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From the Memoirs, at the Age of Eighteen
By John Quincy Adams (1767–1848)
 
APRIL 26TH, 1785.—A letter from Mr. Gerry of Feb. 25th Says that Mr. Adams is appointed Minister to the Court of London.  1
  I believe he will promote the interests of the United States, as much as any man, but I fear his duty will induce him to make exertions which may be detrimental to his health. I wish however it may be otherwise. Were I now to go with him, probably my immediate satisfaction might be greater than it will be in returning to America. After having been traveling for these seven years almost all over Europe, and having been in the World, and among company, for three; to return to spend one or two years in the pale of a College, subjected to all the rules which I have so long been freed from; then to plunge into the dry and tedious study of the Law for three years; and afterwards not expect (however good an opinion I may have of myself) to bring myself into notice under three or four years more; if ever! It is really a prospect somewhat discouraging for a youth of my ambition (for I have ambition, though I hope its object is laudable). But still
                  “Oh! how wretched
Is that poor Man, that hangs on Princes’ favors”
or on those of anybody else. I am determined that so long as I shall be able to get my own living in an honorable manner, I will depend upon no one. My Father has been so much taken up all his lifetime with the interests of the public, that his own fortune has suffered by it; so that his children will have to provide 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. With an ordinary share of Common sense which I hope I enjoy, at least in America I can live independent and free; and rather than live otherwise I would wish to die before the time when I shall be left at my own discretion. I have before me a striking example of the distressing and humiliating situation a person is reduced to by adopting a different line of conduct, and I am determined not to fall into the same error.
  2
 
 
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