Friday, December 1, 2017

John Quincy Adams and Madame de Staël

From author Shannon Selin:
John Quincy Adams was then the US Minister to Russia. On September 6, 1812, Madame de Staël invited him to call on her at noon “concerning something relative to America.” (2) Though John Quincy Adams had never met Madame de Staël, he was familiar with her work. In 1797, when serving as US Minister to the Netherlands, he had sent his father John Adams (America’s second president), a copy of Madame de Staël’s A Treatise on the Influence of the Passions upon the Happiness of Individuals and of Nations. In an accompanying letter, John Quincy Adams described the publication as “curious.”
It contains many very sensible and smart remarks; a profusion of sparkling sentences, and a perpetual proof of that half-reflected system, that absurd mixture of ignorance and experience of nonsense and wisdom, of depravity and virtue, which characterizes the school of French politicians ever since the opening of their Revolution. One great object of this publication was doubtless, to offer a sort of expiatory sacrifice to the present rulers in France, and to recommend the authoress to the restoration of their good graces. (3)
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