John Adams Letters document,


Passy, 21 February, 1779.

YOURS by Mr. Williams I have received. The little bill must be paid, but I confess it alarms me a little. The expense of my son here is greater than I ever imagined. Although his company is almost all the pleasure I have in life, yet I should not have brought him if I had known the expense. His expenses, together with what you have drawn for, and a little collection of books I have bought, will amount to more than will ever be allowed me. My accounts must not be drawn into intricacy or obscurity. I must not be involved in suspicions of meddling in trade, or any thing else but my proper business.

You complain that I don t write often enough, and that when I do, my letters are too short. If I were to tell you all the tenderness of my heart, I should do nothing but write to you. I beg of you not to be uneasy. I write you as often and as much as I ought. If I had a heart at ease, and leisure enough, I could write you several sheets a day, of the curiosities of this country. But it is as much impossible for me to think of such subjects as to work miracles. Let me entreat you to consider, if some of your letters had by any accident been taken, what a figure would they have made in a newspaper, to be read by the whole world ? Some of them, it is true, would have done honor to the most virtuous and most accomplished Roman matron ; but others of them would have made you and me very ridiculous. In one of yours you hint that I am to go to Holland. But I think you must be misinformed. By all that I can learn, some gentlemen intend to vote for me to Holland vs. Mr. D. ; others to Spain vs. Mr. Lee. Neither, I think, will succeed ; and therefore I think I have but one course to steer, and that is, homewards. But I can determine nothing absolutely. I must govern myself according to the intelligence which may hereafter arise, the orders of Congress and the best judgment I can form of my own duty and the public good.

I am advised to take a ride to Geneva, or to Amsterdam ; and I have been so confined from exercise, having never been further from Paris than Versailles since my arrival here, that some such excursion seems necessary for my health ; yet I cannot well bear the thought of putting the public to an expense merely for the sake of my pleasure, health or convenience. Yet my situation here is painful. I never was in such a situation before as I am now, and my present feelings are new to me. If I should return, and in my absence any orders should arrive here for me to execute, in that case nobody would be here to execute them, and they might possibly fail of success for want of somebody with power to perform them ; at least, this may he suspected and said and believed. However, upon the whole, as Congress have said nothing to me good or bad, I have no right to presume that they mean to say anything, and therefore, on the whole, it is my duty to return by the first opportunity, unless I should receive counter orders before that occurs. If ever the time should arrive, when I could have a little lei sure and a quiet mind, I could entertain you with ac counts of things which would amuse you and your children. There are an infinity of curiosities here, but so far from having leisure to describe them, I have found none even to see them, except a very few.

The climate here is charming. The weather is every day pleasant as the month of May ; soft, mild air ; some foggy days, and about ten or twelve days in January were cold and icy. But we have had scarce three inches of snow the whole winter. The climate is more favorable to my constitution than ours. The cookery and manner of living here, which you know Americans were taught by their former ab surd masters to dislike, is more agreeable to me than you can imagine. The manners of the people have an affection in them that is very amiable. There is such a choice of elegant entertainments in the theatric way, of good company, and excellent books, that nothing would be wanting to me in this country but my family and peace to my country, to make me one of the happiest of men. John Bull would growl and bellow at this description. Let him bellow if he will, for he is but a brute.

John Adams