Lot 12: ALS signed "J. Q. Adams," two pages both sides, 8 x 9.75, January 23, 1831. Letter to Richard Rush. In part: "Your analysis of the composition of the British Administration which immediately succeeded that of Wellington…demonstrates that on this point your opinion concurs with mine. The penetrating observation and keen discriminating power which you apply to the delineation of character, can escape no reader…With all this impressed upon my mind, I have sometimes asked myself whether you do not occasionally transfer to your Portrait of the lofty Spirit of your own Soul…For example—In the beautiful, may I not say the fascinating exhibition you have made of William the Fourth, have you not given him credit for virtues that he does not possess? Have you not decorated the brow of a Claudius or a Nero, with the chaplet of a Titus? That all the virtues should have concentrated themselves in the person of William the Fourth from the moment when the King's most Excellent Majesty George the 4th had ceased to live, was of course an Article of creed…But the profoundest of historians has told us that of all the Roman Emperors from Julius Caesar to Octavian, the character of only one had improved after investment of the imperial people, and that one was neither weak nor eminently vicious before. But William the Fourth? Setting aside the base degradation of the blood royal, which draws down upon him the blast of indignation from the Counsel of Queen Caroline, now his Attorney General, what has there ever been in the life of the Duke of Clarence, or of Prince William Henry, which can warrant one syllable of premature panegyric upon the virtues of King William…I bear no personal ill-will to William the 4th—and as an apology for speaking of him thus, I was going to remark that the characters of kings not only are History, but make the History of Nations and of the World." In fine condition, with intersecting folds and uniform toning.John Quincy Adams and Richard Rush were close political allies and clearly shared an intellectual interest in history. They were both intimately familiar with British politics: Adams served as US minister to England from 1814 to 1817, and Rush succeeded him. When Adams was elected president in 1825, he recalled Rush from the United Kingdom and appointed him as treasury secretary. Rush then joined the ticket as vice presidential candidate in Adams's 1828 reelection campaign, but their bid was unsuccessful. Adams's eloquent commentary in this letter refers to something Rush wrote on the subject of Great Britain. Rush went on to publish a memoir in 1833 entitled A Residence at the Court of London, an interesting compilation of personal stories from a public figure. Very long, replete with historical references, and beautifully composed, this is one of the finest Adams letters we have encountered.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 467
Wednesday, 13th January 2016
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