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to doctor james anderson, edinburgh.
I have been favoured with yours of the 14th instant. It gives me pleasure to observe, that good-will towards America seems to prevail generally in this kingdom, and I hope the further progress of conciliation will not be retarded by indiscretions in either country. Your sentiments, relative to the imperfections of human nature and human governments, are but too well founded. Governments calculated on an idea that the great majority of any people are reasonable and virtuous will, in many respects, prove detective. Governments calculated on the opposite extreme will be severe and oppressive. When it is considered that not only all who form plans of government, and all who govern, and all who are governed, are imperfect, but also that too many of them are neither wise nor virtuous, we cannot be surprised that political as well as moral evil should abound more or less in every part of the world. Perfection is beyond our reach; all that can be hoped for in this world is a state of the least imperfection.
With the best wishes for your welfare,
I have the honour to be, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
- John Jay
- The Life John Jay With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers. by His Son, William Jay in Two Volumes. Vol. II., 1833.