John Adams Letters document,


Philadelphia, Tuesday, 19 August, 1777.


YOUR obliging favor of the 5th I came by yesterday's post, and I intended to have answered it by this morning's post, but was delayed by many matters, until lie gave me the slip.

I am sorry that you and the people of Boston were put to so much trouble, but glad to hear that such numbers determined to fly. The prices for carting which were demanded were detestable. I wish your fatigue and anxiety may not have injured your health. Don t be anxious for my safety. If Howe comes here, I shall run away, I suppose, with the rest. We are too brittle ware, you know, to stand the dashing of balls and bombs. I wonder upon what principle the Roman senators refused to fly from the Gauls, and determined to sit with their ivory staves and hoary beards, in the porticoes of their houses, until the enemy entered the city and, although they confessed they resembled the gods, put them to the sword. I should not choose to indulge this sort of dignity ; but I confess I feel myself so much injured by these barbarian Britons, that I have a strong inclination to meet them in the field. This is not revenge, I believe, but there is something sweet and delicious in the contemplation of it There is in our hearts an indignation against wrong that is righteous and benevolent ; and he who is destitute of it, is defective in the balance of his affections and in his moral character.

As long as there is conscience in our breasts, a moral sense which distinguishes between right and wrong, approving, esteeming, loving the former, and undermining and detesting the other, we must feel a pleasure in the punishment of so eminent a contemner of all that is right, and good, and just, as Howe is. They are virtuous and pious passions that prompt us to desire his destruction, and to lament and deplore his success and prosperity. The desire of assisting towards his disgrace is an honest wish.

It is too late in life, my constitution is too much debilitated by speculation, and indeed, it is too late a period in the war, for me to think of girding on a sword. But if I had the last four years to run over again, I certainly would.

John Adams