John Adams Letters document,


Philadelphia, 10 February, 1796.


MR. NECKER, in his essay on the true principles of executive power in great states, chapter xii., says " C est apres avoir etc quelques annees au centre des affaires publiques, c est apres avoir ete, pour ainsi dire, im des axes autour duquel tous les interets per sonnels se mettent en mouvement, que Ton est in- struit, par soi-meme. de Pactivite de ces interets, et qu on apprend en meme-tems comment les hommes sont tour-a-tour animes, adouciset toujours enchaines par Pesperance. Souvent ils pensent a eux au mi lieu de toutes les negligences qu ils affectent, et au milieu meme des sacrifices, auxquels ils sont conduits par les circonstances. Ils ont, pour les jours de pa rade, ies sentimens les plus magnifiques ; mais, dans leurs habitudes journalieres, et dans leur confidences secretes, on voit qu ils sont preoccupes, les uns de leur fortune, et les autres des distinctions auxquels ils peuvent pretendre. Ainsi, n en doutons point, plus on reduit le cercle des encouragemens et des recompenses dont le monarque doit avoir la disposition, et plus on affoiblit entre ses mains Faction du pouvoir executif." A man who, like myself, has been, many more years than Mr. Necker ever was, in the centre of pub lic affairs, and that in a young country which has ever boasted of its simplicity, frugality, integrity, public spirit, public virtue, disinterestedness, &c.,can judge from his own experience of the activity of private interest, and perceive in what manner the hu man heart is influenced, irritated and soothed by hope. Neglects and sacrifices of personal interests are oftener boasted than practised. The parade and pomp, and ostentation, and hypocrisy, have been as common in America as in France. When I hear these pretensions set up, I am very apt to say to my self, this man deceives himself, or is attempting to deceive me.

The various elections of the United States will soon call forth these personal interests in all their vigor, and all the arts of dissimulation to conceal them. T am weary of the game, yet I don t know how I could live out of it. I don t love slight, neglect, contempt, disgrace, nor insult, more than others. Yet I believe I have firmness of mind enough to bear it like a man, a hero, and a philosopher. I might groan like Achilles, and roll from side to side abed sometimes, at the ignorance, folly, injustice and ingratitude of the world, but I should be resigned, and become more easy and cheerful, and enjoy myself and my friend better than ever I did.

Charles came upon me by surprise last evening, by express from New York, with the Algerine treaty and presents, among which is the sword with a golden scabbard. Colonel John Smith, in a vessel from Lis bon, is arrived at New York with this precious de posit, and Charles came on to bring it. He left all well. I wish the English and Spanish treaties would arrive, that we might have all under one view.

I am

J. A.

John Adams