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Francis Adriaan van der Kemp to John Adams

4 Oct. 1813

My Dear and respected Friend! Olden barneveld 4 Oct. 1813

I so returned from the field having dug my patatoes, and now the rain compells me to Stay home, how can I better employ my time, than with beginning to answer both your favours of the 4th and the 15th. how happy am I in this my hermitage in receiving So often Such distinguished marks of your kind remembrance. The Demon of head-ache, which has now possessed me nearly a month abated his attacks, Since three days So that I have those employd in my fall work—the weather clearing up—yesterday I was pruning to day collecting for the winter—and am more content in this employ unseen—than when applauded by a Senseless multitude in the days of yore.

Mr. Eliot has gratified me by his attention, in mentioning my save arrival here to you, and I lament; that I am unable to make any equivalent returns for the many kindnesses I received in that family—It it pleasing to me, to be approved by you, and I accept with joy and thankfulness the marks of regard, which others are induced by it, to bestow upon me.

The Christians my, Dear Sir! unite chiefly in their belief of the one thing needful it are the inventions of frail mortals—on whom they dispute, and persecute one another with a deadly hate; and this would ere long be rooted out, was it not continually fomented by an interested Clergy—cui auri Sacra fames et dominandi Sæva cupido—have poisoned the marrow of their bones—Blessed be god! that church and State are here Separated! Angels in heaven ondies, ruling a dominant church—with the controul of largesses and fines would become persecutors–In this respect alone I am a devote to an unshackled Liberty and equality—

I turn once more to the charge—and try to answer your allways valuable letters—that head-ache is my evil genius—he dared not so assault me, when roaving in your atmosphere.

If Christians, my Dear Sir! could be induced to discard Theology and adopt nothing but the plain doctrine of our Divine Master nothing as What they understood at the first glance—nothing as what the untutored understanding of a Sincere man could not conceive—at the first perusal of this godly volumes, we all Should Soon be in unison of faith—and you and I shall readily acknowledge, that a vast deal of wisdom may remain ungathered from the rich harvest of these writings even by the keenest inquirer. In this manner I formed my rule of faith—forty years past, and it is not enlarged. I do not care, what I do not understand and am less than a child in dogmatical Science but when I apply myself to understand more thoroughly the whole content of the Scriptures, then I approach them with a reverential awe, and act the part of a Critic—trying to weigh the pro and con in an unbiassing fair balance.

What Shall I Say about the convulsions, which threaten to Shake the political world to its centre—indeed—I am apprehensive my [...] shall not again See a durable peace. Contention—madly hath broke loose, and bears all down before it, on both hemispheres. The little bickerings in this vanish as in Smoke, compared by those in the other, and yet they may pregnant with gigantic mischief, at which the conceivers would Stare agast did they Startle at once to their Sight—If Moreau, and he\as well as Bernadotte/ knows his Countrys Strenght and weakness and his undaunted elevated mind—his consummate generalship—his commanding part, and a Soldiers heart winning frankness and affability—are not unfavorable prognostics—if he Succeeded as Wellington—hard might be the fare of modern Charlemagne—to whom he, except his birth, resembles in many respects He too Subdued Italy Germany—that church yard of the French—and the pas de Rencevalles was the Stumbling block to his valiant Palodens. if Wellington can conquer Pampluna and St. Sebastian the Same Spot may be an ominous field of Battle to the French Worthies and Merlin might have prophesy’d from Spain as well as Italy.

che non lice

che’l giglio in quel terreno hablia radice.

But let them fight their battles—neither you I will enlist in that deadly Strive nevertheless—in one case, I would grasp at my Sword—I would not live a Slave.

Well you Say—the Lord god omnipotent reigneth—let the earth rejoice in Sublime poetry—I know nothing which can be compared with the majestic elegance of many passages in Job—the Psalms and Some, parts of the Pentateuch. The Orientalist Race instituted a comparison between Job—Homer and Ossian, if I well recollect—and, had the Repository continued I might have been [...] to give an extract of this Oration. I am in the Same predicament—perhaps thro my negligence—as La Clercq—when he wrote to a correspondent I know not what you mean by Plut in Gal. I can not decypher—what you understand by "The Engravings have allways been a mystery to me" Engravings do recall to my mind a Catalogue d’une collection des Tableaux—and one might be tempted—to offer another collection but I can not remember, that we discoursed on this topic—I hope you Shall gratify me in explaining this riddle.

It is So, Mrs Adams condescends to honour me with a Share in her friendship, and—I possess the proof in a handwriting which Shall not be contested but how Shall I answer it? do not tremble Francesco! it Seems—you lisp to my ear—and I Shall wish it after She has Seen me—without varnish, She can not be much disappointed and Shall gloss over—What appears too rough

I was introduced by Dr Childs family to that of Mr Watson and Allen who was invited to dine at the Doctor’s—and is, it is appeared, the friend of the family—Mr Dwight is the Son in Law of my friend Eliot, and give me a Letter of Introduction to young Ledgwick, Who Showed me a great deal of politeness—giving me his carriage to Pittsfield. which induced me to pay him a Second visit—to become better acquainted with his two amiable Sisters—the one a Mrs Watson of N. york—with whose conversation I was highly charmed. My adventures in N. England have much resemblance with those of John Bunckle, He found every where handsome—charming––ingenious women—all favouring Him, and all united with him in the Same belief.

Your picture of most of your Studious and ingenious young men is alas too full of truth—I tried to Save charles—but dare not Say—that in a Similar Situation I would have listened to advice—many must fall when a rampart is Sealed—but what glory Surrounds Him—who has gained its Summit—and call’s loudely for his followers—How dastardly would it be to Shrink, because we might be crushed in the attempt? Buckminster Charles—have well deserved—each in his line—and what matters it who falls—if the Survivors are Spurred to follow their example—had Charles not dared—to aim—at the first rank I believe not—I would have felt Such torturing pangs—in Seeing his Suffering; now even in the Sadness of recollecting who he was—are Pleasurable Sensations—and I shall always remember with the warmest gratitude, that to Him under a good Providence—and his generous Parent, I am indebted—for having Seen you once more—and been justified with So many kindnesses, and attention from those, who can bestow distinction—and—to tell you frankly the truth—how eagerly I may catch at the praise of men, I am yet infinitely more delighted can I deserve and obtain the good will of an accomplished woman—Goëthen’s title is J. W. Goethens Schriften Berlin 1775—1779—If I am not mistaken I saw either in J.Q. Adams or the Cambridge Library—

I do not believe that the Jews learned a great deal in Egypt—Babylon or Persia or and know that they were great proficients in astronomy or astrology—the two principal branches of Sciences, for which these countries were Famous. Their eminence was in Ethics—and Poësy—and in these they excelled all the nations of the globe—In arts they made no great progress or owed—what they Knew to Phenicians. I do not believe, that either Cæsar, Pompei Cicero—Plutarch, Seneca—Quintilian or Pliny were familiar with the Pentateuch—I would not dispute that Longinus might have Seen it—Perhaps too Some of the Greek Philosophers—

The hymn of Cleanthes with a tolerable good Latin version of Duporte is in Cudwerther’s Syst. intell. Tom. i. d515 Pag. 662 ed. 2. Lugd. Bat. 1773. in 4o by Mosheim—

If you have not this ed—I doubt not or it is in the Engl. ed. I am willing to copy it, if it can do you pleasure.

Ah! my Dear friend! could live as near me, as my Friend Mappa! Let us be contented—I would not have believed—that I Should be So happy of Seeing you, if it had been for Six months ago told me—Perhaps another Such blessing may be laid up for me. My frend Mappa is So—Soul and body—engaged in his cloath–manufactury, that with difficulty an hour—now and then, is alloted me—

No late news from St. Petersburg? I Suppose, your Son must hoard up a treasure of knowledge in Nat. Hist. from that unknown part of the globe although for twenty years—I Should have been gratified with a place in an Embassador’s Suite at that court, yet I could not be lured in & by Prince Galitzin’s offer, to Superintend a Dantzick–colony on the caspian Sea—I had too much the fear of Sibera in my eye, and prefer yet, to be here a tenant at will—than to bathe in opulance, and watch the wink of the greatest Boyar in the world. Not even Alexander could pay for my Independence. Whenever our days are Spun out tell the æra of John Quincy begins, then I expect a few lines born on eagle wings—penned by one of the tender guardians of her youth—with a Sufficient purse for the journey in their Suit—and then the largest Bumper in your family Shall be filled and emptied as a libation three times three—and then I shall again return to my cottage, with your blessings and kindnesses / as your best beloved, /and affectionate friend

Fr. Adr van der Kemp

P.S. Shall I not receive the Syllabus of the Philosopher of Monticello? or, must you ask his leave? I think I was entitled to it, having in my Philos. Researches—which, I now think, stands no chance for Publication, but are intended for Cambridge’s college, have been so profuse in his deserved praises—defending his one and twenty Gods against the cavils of Scriblers, as I lashed his Pantheistical rant in one of Led Mem. in the Phil. Frans:

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).
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