John Adams letter to Abigail Adams, 2 March 1793


Philadelphia, 2 March, 1793.

YOUR letter from your sick chamber, if not from your sick bed, has made me so uneasy, that I must get away as soon as possible. Monday morning, at six, I am to set off in the stage, but how many days it will take to get home will depend on the roads or the winds. I don t believe Abby will go with me. Her husband is so proud of his wealth that he would not let her go> I suppose, without a coach-and-four, and such monarchical trumpery I will in future have no thing to do with. I will never travel but by the stage, nor live at the seat of government but at lodgings, while they give me so despicable an allowance. Shiver my jib and start my planks if I do.

I will stay but one night at New York. Smith says that my books are upon the table of every member of the committee for framing a constitution of government for France, except Tom Paine, and he is so conceited as to disdain to have any thing to do with books. Although I abused Smith a little above, he is very clever and agreeable : but I have been obliged to caution him against his disposition to boast ing. Tell not of your prosperity, because it will make two men mad to one glad ; nor of your adversity, for it will make two men glad to one sad. He boasts too much of having made his fortune, and placed himself at his ease, above all favors of government. This is a weakness, and betrays too little knowledge of the world ; too little penetration ; too little discretion. I wish, however, that my boys had a little more of his activity. I must soon treat them as the pigeons treat their squabs push them off the limb, and make them put out their wings or fall. Young pigeons will never fly till this is done. Smith has acquired the confidence of the French ministry and the better sort of the members of the national convention ; but the executive is too changeable in that country to be depended on, without the utmost caution.

Adieu, adieu, tendrement,

J. A.

John Adams

Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume II, 1841