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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
By John Quincy Adams (1767–1848)
 
JANUARY 14TH, 1831.—I received a letter from John C. Calhoun, now Vice-President of the United States, relating to his present controversy with President Jackson and William H. Crawford. He questions me concerning the letter of General Jackson to Mr. Monroe which Crawford alleges to have been produced at the Cabinet meetings on the Seminole War, and asks for copies, if I think proper to give them, of Crawford’s letter to me which I received last summer, and of my answer. I answered Mr. Calhoun’s letter immediately, rigorously confining myself to the direct object of his inquiries. This is a new bursting out of the old and rancorous feud between Crawford and Calhoun, both parties to which, after suspending their animosities and combining together to effect my ruin, are appealing to me for testimony to sustain themselves each against the other. This is one of the occasions upon which I shall eminently need the direction of a higher power to guide me in every step of my conduct. I see my duty to discard all consideration of their treatment of me; to adhere, in everything that I shall say or write, to the truth; to assert nothing positively of which I am not absolutely certain; to deny nothing upon which there remains a scruple of doubt upon my memory; to conceal nothing which it may be lawful to divulge, and which may promote truth and justice between the parties. With these principles, I see further the necessity for caution and prudence in the course I shall take. The bitter enmity of all three of the parties—Jackson, Calhoun, and Crawford—against me, an enmity the more virulent because kindled by their own ingratitude and injustice to me; the interest which every one of them, and all their partisans, have in keeping up that load of obloquy and public odium which their foul calumnies have brought down upon me; and the disfavor in which I stand before a majority of the people, excited against me by their artifices;—their demerits to me are proportioned to the obligations to me—Jackson’s the greatest, Crawford’s the next, Calhoun’s the least of positive obligation, but darkened by his double-faced setting himself up as a candidate for the Presidency against me in 1821, his prevarications between Jackson and me in 1824, and his icy-hearted dereliction of all the decencies of social intercourse with me, solely from the terror of Jackson, since the 4th of March, 1829. I walk between burning ploughshares; let me be mindful where I place my foot.  1
 
JUNE 7TH, 1833.—The first seedling apple-tree that I had observed on my return here just out of the ground was on the 22d of April. It had grown slowly but constantly since, and had put out five or six leaves. Last evening, after my return from Boston, I saw it perfectly sound. This morning I found it broken off, leaving one lobe of the seed-leaves, and one leaf over it. This may have been the work of a bug, or perhaps of a caterpillar. It would not be imaginable to any person free from hobby-horse or fanciful attachments, how much mortification such an incident occasions. St. Evremond, after removing into the country, returned to a city life because he found himself in despair for the loss of a pigeon. His conclusion was, that rural life induced exorbitant attachment to insignificant objects. My experience is conformable to this. My natural propensity was to raise trees, fruit and forest, from the seed. I had it in early youth, but the course of my life deprived me of the means of pursuing the bent of my inclination. One shellbark-walnut-tree in my garden, the root of which I planted 8th October, 1804, and one Mazzard cherry-tree in the grounds north of the house, the stone of which I planted about the same time, are the only remains of my experiments of so ancient a date. Had my life been spent in the country, and my experiments commenced while I was at College, I should now have a large fruit garden, flourishing orchards of native fruit, and very valuable forests; instead of which I have a nursery of about half an acre of ground, half full of seedlings, from five years to five days old, bearing for the first time perhaps twenty peaches, and a few blossoms of apricots and cherries; and hundreds of seedlings of the present year perishing from day to day before my eyes.  2
 
SEPTEMBER 9TH, 1833.—Cold and cloudy day, clearing off toward evening. In the multitudinous whimseys of a disabled mind and body, the thick-coming fancies often come to me that the events which affect my life and adventures are specially shaped to disappoint my purposes. My whole life has been a succession of disappointments. I can scarcely recollect a single instance of success to anything that I ever undertook. Yet, with fervent gratitude to God, I confess that my life has been equally marked by great and signal successes which I neither aimed at nor anticipated. Fortune, by which I understand Providence, has showered blessings upon me profusely. But they have been blessings unforeseen and unsought. “Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam!” I ought to have been taught by it three lessons:—1. Of implicit reliance upon Providence. 2. Of humility and humiliation; the thorough conviction of my own impotence to accomplish anything. 3. Of resignation; and not to set my heart upon anything which can be taken from me or denied.  3
 
 
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