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MY DEAREST FRIEND,
YESTERDAY the President sent his carriage for me to go with the family to the theatre. The Rage and the Spoiled Child were the two pieces. It rained and the house was not full. I thought I perceived a little mortification. Mr. George Washington and his fair lady were with us.
Yours of the 21st gives me a satisfactory account of farming. I think I would engage Billings if I could. I must leave it to you to give him what you think fit. There is no vessel up for Boston, and seeds are very scarce and uncommonly dear.
As to the subject of yours of the 20th, I am quite at my ease. I never felt less anxiety when any considerable change lay before me. Aut transit aut iinit. I transmigrate or come to an end. The question is between living at Philadelphia or at Quincy ; between great cares and small cares. I have looked into my self and see no meanness nor dishonesty there. I see weakness enough, but no timidity. I have no con cern on your account but for your health. A woman can be silent, when she will.
After all, persuasion may overcome the inclination of the chief to retire. But, if it should, it will shorten his days, I am convinced. His heart is set upon it, and the turpitude of the Jacobins touches him more nearly than he owns in words. All the studied efforts of the federalists to counterbalance abuse by compliment don t answer the end.
I suspect, but don t know, that Patrick Henry, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Hamilton, will all be voted for. I ask no questions ; but questions are forced upon me. I have had some conversations purposely sought, in order, as I believe, indeed as I know, to convince me that the federalists had no thoughts of overleaping the succession. The only question that labors in my mind is, whether I shall retire with my file-leader ? I hate to live in Philadelphia in summer, and I hate still more to relinquish my farm. I hate speeches, messages, addresses and answers, procla mations, and such affected, studied, constrained things. I hate levees and drawing rooms. I hate to speak to a thousand people to whom I have nothing to say. Yet all this I can do. But I am too old to continue more than one, or at most more than two heats, and that is scarcely time enough to form, con duct and complete any very useful system.
Electioneering enough we shall have. The en closed scraps will shew specimens.
- John Adams
- Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife. Edited by His Grandson, Charles Francis Adams, Volume II, 1841