c. May 1834. Autograph Sonnet to Miss Margaret L. Gamble in Adams tight, legible, identifiable script. 14-line poem with 3-line introduction. Written in remembrance of an excursion in company with her and a numerous party to Harper's Ferry, on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal--May 1834. Single page. written in ink on a sheet headed with an engraved vignette of a fountain in a landscape, with a dog reclining at the base. 7 5/8 x 5 7/8 inches (19.5 x 15 cm); five-line title as given, the fourteen lines of the sonnet followed by his signature. Minor foxing, soiling.
Adams was an enthusiastic and by no means unaccomplished poet, frequently favoring young ladies of his acquaintance with verses, as he does here. There is a slightly melancholic tinge to the present example; as he writes "Lady! The remnant of my days is small--And many a joyous year, in prospect thine." The conclusion of the sonnet "Remember one, the senior of thy line, Who in the opening blossom of the Spring, Saw that, in thee, to love and to admire; Tho which, his soul, in brighter worlds shall cling-- And when, on Seraph's pinions thou shalt rise, Shall hail Thee, welcome to thy kindred skies" adheres to the same theme of youth and age, not to mention immortality.
John Quincy Adams (1767 - 1848) was the sixth President of the United States and also the son of a president, John Adams. Upon completing his one term in 1829, Adams chose to continue his service to the country by being elected to the House of Representatives from 1831 - 1848. "John Quincy Adams wanted very badly to be a poet. The sixth president pined, even in office, for a parallel poetic existence, one in which his yeoman’s verses had helped found a literary tradition for his rude young country. “I want the voice of honest praise / To follow me behind / And to be thought in future days / The friend of human kind.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson loved that poem, “The Wants of Man.”) To be, as he put it, “at once a man of business and a man of rhyme”— wouldn’t that be an American dream?" (James Parker, The Atlantic, 2020)
Provenance: The Malcolm Forbes Collection of American Historical Documents, and most recently from the Collection of Jay I. Kislak. Very good. Item #3083
"Then while reminded of that final call
This frail and mortal vesture to resign;
And pass from earthly scenes to life divine -
Then should before thine eyes, this volume all"