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YESTERDAY, by the post, I received yours of 25 September. And it renewed a grief and anxiety, that were, before, almost removed from my mind. Two days before, I had the pleasure of a very valuable letter from Colonel Quincy, in which he kindly in formed me, that you and our family were so much better, that you and my dear Abby had made a visit at his house ; and Mr. Williams, who brought the letter, acquainted me, that he had been to Braintree after the date of it, that you was in good spirits, that Tommy was so much better as to be playing abroad, and that he hoped Patty was not in danger. You will easily believe that this information gave me great pleasure and fine spirits. It really relieved me from a heavy load. But your last letter has revived my concern. I will still hope, however, that your excellent mother will yet be spared for a blessing to her family, and an example to the world. I build my hopes of her recovery upon the advantage of a constitution which has hitherto sustained so many attacks v and upon a long course of exact temperance, which, I hope, has deprived the distemper of its most dangerous food and fuel. However, our lives are not in our own power. It is our duty to submit. " The ways of Heaven are dark and intricate," its designs are often inscrutable, but are always wise and just and : good.
It was long before I had the least intimation of the distress of the family, and I fear, that your not receiving so many letters from me as usual, may have been one cause of infelicity to you. Really, my dear, I have been more cautious than I used to be. It is not easy to know whom to trust in these times ; and if a letter, from any person in the situation I am in, can be laid hold of, there are so many lies made and told about it, so many false copies taken and dispersed, and so many false constructions put, that one ought to be cautious.
The situation of things is so alarming, that it is our duty to prepare our minds and hearts for every event even the worst From my earliest entrance into life, I have been engaged in the public cause of America ; and from first to lost, I have had upon my mind a strong impression that things would be wrought up to their present crisis. I saw, from the beginning, that the controversy was of such a nature, that it never would be settled, and every day convinces me more and more. This has been the source of all the disquietude of my life. It has lain down and risen up with me these twelve years. The thought, that we might be driven to the sad necessity of breaking our connexion with Great Britain, exclusive of the carnage and destruction, which, it was easy to see, must attend the separation, always gave me a great deal of grief. And even now, I would cheerfully retire from public life forever, renounce all chance for profits or honors from the public, nay, I would cheerfully con tribute my little property, to obtain peace and liberty. But all these must go, and my life too, before I can surrender the right of my country to a free Constitution. I dare not consent to it. I should be the most miserable of mortals ever after, whatever honors or emoluments might surround me.
- John Adams
- Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume I, 1841