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John Adams to Charles Adams

13 Mar. 1796

Dear Son Phila. March 13. 1796

I thank you for your Letter inclosing the Newspaper. Has Greenleaf or any other had any thing to say upon the Preface?

I am enamoured with the Character of Amphion. Look into your Books and write me all you can find about him. I want his harp. We are told that as he played, the Rocks danced after him and leaped into regular Walls. You knew that upon Pens hill and in Rocky run and in the red Cedar Pasture I have a million of fine Rocks that I want to arrange into Stone Walls: but the Business requires so many Strong Elbows and so much fat beef that it cost me more Money than I can afford. Amphions Lyre would be a very œconomical Instrument for me.

But there is another Use I have for it of more general Importance and more public Beneficence. Pope tells Us in his Ode on St. Cecilias Day

Amphion thus bade wild dissension cease,

And Soften’d Mortals learn’d the Arts of Peace,

Amphion taught contending Kings

From various discords to create

The Music of a well tun’d State:

Nor Slack nor Stram the tender Strings,

Those useful touches to impart,

That Strike the Subjects answering heart,

And the Soft Silent harmony that Springs

From Sacred Union and consent of Things.

Now you see, if I had this Instrument I could compose the War of Kings in Europe, the War of Factions in France and the War of Seditions in England—and what is more pathetic to Us, the Contests in Congress and our wild States of Georgia Kentucky &c

I have long been employed in Researches & Reasonings for these Purposes as well as in digging and hauling Rocks for the other. Amphion and I have had the same Objects in view and the Same Employment, but very different success. I have not been able to do any Thing but by main force He did all Things with his Harp.

I Suspect that this Harp means Eloquence, and conjecture if Ames and Dexter could play a little in the House, they would contribute much to introduce a Sacred Union & Consent of Things.

But write me your Discoveries about Amphion. My Love to Mrs Adams.

Your Brother Tom is very busy in Diplomatick Concerns at the Hague and John in London. I am &c


(MHi: Adams Papers, Seymour Collection).
This early access document should not be cited in formal research.
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