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Board, too, is guarded by a rotation, that best, if not only security (in this stage of Manners more particularly) for public Liberty. Everything that relates to the Movement of Congress you will have more Compleately from the place of their residence than I can give you from here. In this place the System of Politics remains much as it has been; the same Imbecility, the same servility and the same Inattention still prevail and are likely to continue. Money is the only object attended to, and the only Acquisition that commands respect. Patriotism is ridiculed; Integrity and Ability are of little Consequence. Foreign Commerce has extended itself beyond its natural supports and, by its Extravagant Imports greatly Exceeding the Exports, drained off all the Money, embarrassed itself, and every other resource of the Country, while Luxury keeps pace with the manners of older and more affluent countries. some checks by the denial of Credit in Europe may give time to the rising Fisheries and other Staples of the Country to form a Ballance to the Evils we now suffer. The Bank here has not been of any service to us. it has rather facilitated the Exportation of Money and Increased the Exorbitancy of Interest, or rather of Usury, which had before reached such a Stage of Enormity as would have disgraced the Jewish Usurers in any Country of the world, and must in a short time put an End both to Trade and the Cultivation of Lands.
I am always happy to receive your Letters and shall be obliged by any Information of what is passing on the great Theatre of Europe. I shall readily embrace any Opportunity to Inform you of anything you wish to know from here, and shall do it with the Fidelity of the Friendship I profess..
29th. Our first Magistrate1 has this day made a formal Resignation. When we shall get another without a new Election I can't tell.
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
AUTEUIL, near PARIS, April 26, 1785
DEAR SIR,I see by the publick Papers that Mr. Hancock has resigned, and I suppose you have just passed through the Bustle of a new Election. it is a question here among us Americans Who? General Warren, Mr Bowdoin, Mr Cushing and General Lincoln, are in nomination. But we cannot elect you know and therefore nobody says who he would vote for. We all agree that there is danger of less Unanimity than in the last. I know so well the Influence of Boston that I believe it will be a Boston Man, but which of the two I know not.1
But to something in which it is more proper for me to intermeddle. Temple,2 your Friend, is appointed Consul General, but whether he has yet imbarked for N. York where I suppose his Residence will be I know not. As much depends upon his Character and Conduct, both to Great Britain and America, it is a matter of Importance that he should be well advised, and I believe that no American has more regard for him than you have or more Influence with him. He is not without Knowledge in General and has had peculiar Opportunities for knowing the Commerce of America, and has numerous Acquaintances, some Friends and powerful Connections in America. I believe him to be in general a Well-meaning Man, and if his office depended upon a genteel Behaviour he would be very well qualified. But, he values himself much upon a Knowledge of Courts which he has not, and he looses himself too much in Ceremonies and Forms to be a great Master of Substance and Essence. He is not a prudent Man, and has the most confused Conceptions of the public opinion and of the Reasonings upon which it is founded, and of the real Springs and motives of Events of any Man of so much sense and experience I
Such a Character therefore in my Opinion, if his Friends do not advise him, will be in danger of doing much Mischief to the publick altho he may be sure of making his own Career very short. If
I James Bowdoin was elected governor.
2 John Temple (1732–1798), married in 1767 Elizabeth, daughter of James Bowdoin.
he goes on with those Airs of Mystery, and suffers his own Conduct to be equivocal or liable to two Interpretations, if he enters into personal Disputes without a manifest necessity, or brings on needless questions with Congress or its Members, or the States or Governors, with French or Dutch or other foreign Consulls or Ministers, or subjects or starts and presses too hastily, indiscreet Claims for his Master, he will soon destroy himself altho he may previously do great harm. He is now an Englishman, and a servant of his King. let him then make no Pretensions as an American, because they will not be admitted and will only expose him. He must proceed Slowly, Softly and smoothly. He must support the Rights of his Master and the English Nation, but he must allow the Rights of all others. He is now in the right Road. He was the servant of the King and should have always looked to him and him alone for Service, unless he had renounced his Service more decidedly and engaged more clearly than he did against him.
My son will deliver you this. He has corresponded for sometime with yours at Lisbon and will give you the News of him. I have seen with Pleasure this Friendship forming, and hope there will be more formed in America between him and the sons of those Persons with whom I have passed my Life in Harmony, and acted in Concert for the Publick.
It is long since I had a Letter from you, or Mrs. Warren to whom I pray you to present my best Regards. Mrs. Maccaulay and Mrs. Warren I suppose have compared Notes of the History of Liberty on both sides the Atlantic.
By the last Letters from America, it appears probable that the Dr's Resignation will be accepted; an Event which will make a great Change in our foreign Affairs. No Man that I know would be likely to conduct them better here than his Successor Mr. Jefferson. yours, etc.,
MERCY WARREN TO JOHN Adams
I thank you, Sir, for your Favour of the 24th December. I take up my pen to acknowledge it and to Congratulate you on your Domestic Felicity in the last eight months, but shall not direct to you at the pleasant Villa of Auteuil, but to the Court of London, as it is probable before this you and your Family have left the Residence of the distinguished Literati of France, perhaps for the Grotto of Pope, or some more elegant spot immortalised as the abode of British Genius. For whom the Americans have and would long continue a predilection, did not both the ministry and the people practice every method of allienation. Yet possibly more conciliating measures may be adopted before the Negotiation is far advanced. The Mercantile Class are very angry. While the Republic Resents with Dignity the Late Restrictions on commerce, they would be happy to see every Nation in Europe take the same steps, provided we were thereby obliged to live within ourselves (which we can very well do) and had wisdom and Virtue to retain our own principles and manners, independently supporting a National Character Respected for the Simplicity, Magnanimity and Vigour. But alas! the Weakness of Human Nature. I fear we are already to far advanced in every species of Luxury to Recede, though much more than our political salvation depended on the Reform. An avidity for Pleasure has increased with our Freedom and a thirst of acquisition for its support pushes to the most dangerous Experiments. And though sensible it is owing to the Perversion of Reason, a Corruption of Taste and the Cravings of Artificial Necessity which causes the Restless pursuit of objects seldom attainable. Yet Neither the Reasonings of the Philosopher nor the maxims of Religion will bring back to that Mediocrity which ought to bound the wishes of Man, Either the people or the individual who has tasted the more Refined and Elegant accommodations of life.
But to whom am I writing. this moment cast my eye on a paragraph of yours. "I feel myself disposed to whine like Cicero in Exile." And is it possible that you, sir, after five or six years
spent in the most splendid Courts in Europe, can look back and sigh for the Retirement and simplicity of Pens Hill. if you Really do I pronounce you a Philosopher of the first Magnitude, and if ever you Volluntarily return to that style, I think you will have a right to stand foremost in the list of Genuine Republicans. You will at least have a right to equal Claim to some deserving Badge Emphatically expressive of ancient Patriotism, as any of the Noble Order of the Cincinnati. I dare not say more than equal least I speak Treason.
A late Resignation you have doubtless heard off. And had you been with us when the period of annual Election Revolved, it is probable your Country would have manifested some tokens of Gratitude by giving you their Suffrages for the first office of State. Yet there is no dependence on the popular Voice. there would have been a manoeuvring against it, least you should have held it too long for the convenience of another who means to come in again the next year.
There is such a blind Attachment to this man of straw that I have little doubt he will have the opportunity of establishing himself for life- perhaps the power of entailing an Hereditary succession. if that should be the Case many would cry “Come over into Macedonia and help us," for I cannot suppose you think we are yet ripe for Monarchic Government.
I am very sorry you complain so much of your eyes; yet I dare say your optical Faculties are still strong enough to discover and, I hope, to remove many Political Errors on each side the Atlantic.
But why do I spend a Moment on these Subjects. I have not one to loose when Duty does not Direct to some Point of Utility, or the social affections interest from the part those have to act with whom we are tenderly connected.
But before I conclude you, sir, will give me leave to observe that I have lived long enough to be convinced that we must pass through the world ourselves in order to know it thoroughly. Neither the Page of History nor the experienced lessons of those who have gone before us can investigate the Character of Man or Develope the Human Mind till we see the Blunders of public and