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Long at his couch Death took his patient Stand
nor were the admonitions given in vain. the last visit which I made him I saw in his languid countanance, the Smile of complacent resignation to the will of Heaven.
What ever farce the Boastfull Hero plays
Be this your consolation that tho young in Years, he was mature in virtue, that he lived beloved and died lamented, and who that lives to riper years can ensure more to themselves.
Let not the popular torrent which at present sets against your worthy partner distress you, time will convince the World who are their approved and unshaken Friends, whatever mistaken judgments they at present form. I foresaw this when I so earnestly pressd the General to accept his last appointment and attend Congress, if only for a few Months.
all that is well intended is not well received. the consciousness of doing our Duty is however a support, but the designing Jackdaw will sometimes borrow the plumes of the Jay and pass himself off to those who judge only by appearances.
you appear to think your Friend at the height of prosperity, and swallowed up by the Gayetyes of Europe, but the estimate is far from the truth. I am much less addicted to them than most of my fair countrymen whom I have left behind me. I do not feel myself at all captivated, either with the Manners or politicks of Europe I think our own Country much the happiest spot upon the Globe, as much as it needs reforming and amending. I should think it still happier, if the inclination was more wanting than the ability, to vie with the Luxeries and extravagance of Europe.
Be so good my dear Madam as to present my best respects to your worthy partner, and affectionate remembrance to your Sons, and be assured I am at all times Your Friend.
JOHN ADAMS TO MERCY WARREN
MADAM,- I this day received your favor of April 8th and sincerely condole with you under the loss of your amiable son. These afflictions are the lot of humanity and so little of the system of which we are a part is submitted to our view, that as we never can discover the reasons of them, they are left only to our Reflections and submission.
My situation would be eligible to the height of my wishes, if I saw a disposition in this Country friendly to mine, or even friendly to their own true Interests, but the fact is far otherwise.
To see as I do the affairs of my Country everywhere laboring under embarrassments, to know that thousands are looking up to me for relief from their distresses, and to have no power to do the least thing for their assistance, is painful beyond all expression. You speak of honors, Madam; but what honors have been decreed to me? Do you suppose I am honored in this Country? The Refugees indeed honor me now and then, as you see in the newspapers. You speak of affluence too. If I were my own master and could I spend what is allowed me as I should choose, I should live in affluence indeed; but when you consider that I have a Rank to support here that I hold in trust for others, and that this Rank cannot be let down, without betraying that trust, you may depend upon it, I am driven to my wits' ends for means.
I know of no change at Braintree or Weymouth in their political friendships, but one thing I know, that a good Profession, or even trade, is better for the Individual than all Politicks. Our Country will do like all others — play their affairs into the Hands. of a few cunning fellows, and leave their faithful servants to close their long glories with a sigh to find the unwilling Gratitude of base mankind. Yet I don't wholly approve this sentiment. Human nature is not ungrateful. But while many rate their merits higher than the truth, it is almost impossible that the public mind should be exactly informed to whom they are really obliged.
Real services are never held out to view. The modesty of the
individual, the Jealousy of Rivals, or the public Interest, require that they should be concealed. Do you wonder then that ostensible pageants should be adored, while those who moved the springs are neglected. I expect my turn and am prepared for it in my own mind. My family and circumstances are not prepared for it by any means. Yet they must come to it—I always foresaw it and shall meet it firmly.
At least I believe so. I wish my friend Warren in public Life, because I know he would be useful there.
But his numerous refusals I am informed are made use of against him, and I really fear will prevail. I expect to be myself in private Life very soon and in his neighborhood, and I don't despair of going even sometimes to Plymouth inferior Court to get my bread and my boys thro' the Colledge. The young Rogues shall not be disappointed of their Education, if I am obliged to draw Justice's writs to attain it. I am obliged in Europe to spend immense sums in support of dignity, but I'll be hanged if I trouble my head about it in private Life in America. I am, Madam, your J. ADAMS
JOHN ADAMS TO JAMES WARREN
LONDON, July 4, 1786
DEAR SIR, -Your Favour of 30. April, is arrived. I am surprized to read in your Letter that "our Poverty can't relieve Us from the Piracies of the Algerines." Are the thirteen United States then not worth two or three hundred Thousand Guineas? Suppose they borrow it at Six per Cent. there will be Eighteen thousand Guineas to pay yearly. We now loose a Million sterling a Year, by this War. Are we able to loose a Million and not pay Eighteen Thousand Pounds? Give Congress Power and let them lay on Duties upon Imports or Exports upon thirteen states sufficient to pay this Interest and you may borrow the Money. But I never heard or read of Sluggards, who saw so many fantastical Lions in the way, as our People appear to have seen since the Peace.
Our Oil may find a Market in every City where a Lamp is burn'd in the night, if our Merchants will take Pains by Samples and Experiments to Shew the Inhabitants the Superior Qualities of our Sperma Ceti Oil.
The Picture you draw of the Ruin of the Country is horrible. Bad as it may be, Paper Money or a suspension of Law Processes, I will venture to say would make it much worse. I cannot be of your opinion that there is a "total Change in Principles and manners" nor that "Interest is the only Pursuit," nor that 'Riches only are respected."If you look back to the year 1760 and from thence to 1774, you will find that Interest was courted and Riches respected, by as many, as they were during the War, and during the War by as many, as since the Peace as great a Number of Men of Merit, who are poor are respected now, as were respected at any time since our Memory. it is most certain that our Countrymen, are not and never were, Spartans in their Contempt of Wealth, and I will go farther and say they ought not to be. Such a Trait in their Character would render them lazy Drones, unfit for the Agriculture Manufactures Fisheries, and Commerce, and Population of their Country: and fit only for War. I am never apprehensive of Anarchy, because I know there is Wisdom and Address enough to prevent it.
All Things must tend to restore publick Faith and Confidence. The Debt must be funded and the Interest paid. This will put an End to that Speculation in public Paper, which now employs all the Capitals, and produce a Circulation that will relieve every Distress.
The Encyclopaedia is a valuable Collection of Knowledge and worth the Money. The Gentleman's Pocket Farrier and Trusler's practical Husbandry, I will endeavour to send you. You may pay Dr. Tufts for them.
The Enthusiasm for Agriculture like Virtue will be its own Reward. may it run and be glorified.
I have given my Daughter1 to Col. Smith,2 a Man of Merit formed in the School of his Countries Afflictions. I shall want her Company, in my old Age, but the Conveniences of Parents are 2 William Stephens Smith (1755-1816).
1 Abigail Adams (1765-1813).
not the principal Points to be consulted, in the Marriages of Children. The young Couple appear to be very happy, and may they continue so as long as they live.
To return to Politicks, our Countrymen are not yet informed of the magical Effects of Circulation, and of the ruin of Stagnation. Stagnation must exist and Circulation can never take place in Society where there is not Confidence of the Members in the Public and in one Another. This Confidence never will be restored, untill the Debt is funded and all Apprehensions of Paper Knavery is annihilated The only Way and the effectual Way to restore our affairs is for every Wise and good Man to Unite in restoring Confidence in the Public.
With great Esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient and humble Sert.,
MILTON, Octo. 22d, 1786
MY DEAR SIR, A few days since I had the pleasure of receiving yours of the 4th July. You think the picture I gave you in my last too high wrought; You cannot be of my Opinion that there is here a total Change in Principles and Manners, nor that Interest is the only pursuit and that Riches only are respected.
Your distance will not permit you to form your Opinion from your own Observation. Your partiality for your Country Inclines you to more favourable Accounts and that Patriotism which I revere exhibits to your Imagination more agreable Colours and like self Love hides those deformities which disgust and give pain. I sincerely wish that the present situation of the Country was such as to Justify your partiality and wishes, and to Condemn any picture and the Opinion and Apprehensions I expressed to you, but unhappily it does not. (We are now in a State of Anarchy and Confusion bordering on a Civil War./The General Court at their last Session could not, or would not, see the general Uneasiness that threatened this Event. however, they did not provide for the
JAMES WARREN TO JOHN ADAMS