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States, I leave to better Judges. This would give more general Satisfaction perhaps and the Money be more honestly collected.
Our country My Friend is not yet out of Danger. There are great Difficulties in our Constitution and Situation to reconcile Government, Finance, Commerce, and foreign affairs with our Liberties. The Prospect before us is joyfull but there are Intricacies in it, which will perplex the wisest Heads, wound the most honest hearted and disturb the coolest and finest tempers.
I have long been of opinion that our Country is the Worst in the world for a Prophet to live in.—it is not possible to foresee Events with us, as in other Countries. Changes upon Changes may be expected, but what, when, and how, must be left to time. Let us enjoy the little space that is left to us, without distressing ourselves with too distant Prospects. I believe We may rest assured there are no scenes destined for our Posterity more delicate or distressing than Some that we have Seen, and felt
I am with much affection Hon SAMUEL ADAMS Esq.
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
The Hague May 4. 1784 DEAR SIR
Your advice "to reconcile myself to the Thought that Justice may not be done to me till I am dead” is friendly. I am not however, apprehensive of Injustice living or dead. I am not ambitious of a Reputation for great Talent or Splendid Actions, with the present Age or with Posterity. The great Anxiety of my Life, has been to do my Duty and avoid just Reproach, and I know very well, that my Life has been passed at such a remote Distance, from every bad Principle and foul Course, that no Authority will be credited, which may be so abandoned as to ascribe to me, any Thing very vicious or very vile. When you say that "while I live, I shall probably be the object of Envy” you flatter me, because that Envy is the best Testimony that the Envious can give of their Sense of a Mans Merit. do not think that Envy Strictly Speaking abounds in the World. Many are falsely accused of Envy. Indignation against successful villainy, and Contempt of law Cunning or Empiricism are not Envy, though they are often called so. In former Parts of my Life I have made Enemies or rather have excited little Resentments by too much Ardour, or by little Incautions or Indescretions upon great occasions but I was never very sensible that I was envied but once. My Commission for Peace was envied by one Man, and by one only that I knew of, and this dirty Passion, put him upon a series of falsehood, of insidious underhand Maneuvre and other base practices, which would tarnish any Reputation whenever or wherever it should be exposed. These Proceedings distressed me, not for myself for I never cared a farthing for any consequence they Could have upon me, but for the Publick, because I saw, that they put to the utmost hazard some of the most important Interests of our Country, and it is a kind of Miracle that they did not finally forfeit us all our Fish and Fur and Venison at least. These are secured, and I am no longer troubled about any Mans Envy or Jealousy.
The Envy and Jealousy alluded to was aided by two Auxiliaries which made it dangerous-one was the Jealousy of the South which cannot bear to see any Character of Consequence, arising in the North, and the other was an Influence, which has betrayed two much Inclination to domineer in our Councils and Negotiations, and therefore has never treated with common Decency any American Character; which would not be a Prostitute. I saw, with a Grief and Indignation, which no Historian will record, because no words can express it, the great Council giving way to these 3 Jealousies, and sacrificing a Man whose Conduct they were necessitated to applaud. But all this is past.
You assign me a Station which would probably be envied. But I shall probably never be in it, and I assure you, since I saw it I have much less Inclination for it, than I ever had.
There is one certain way of getting rid of Envy, and that is getting out of envyed Places. This is now, I thank God and ever shall be in my Power. But I will never make use of this Power from the fear of Envy. As soon as I shall see that there is no further Service to be done by me, I can retire with greater Joy than I ever felt upon any Honour that was done me. For my own Gratification I declare to you that I had rather be a Selectman of Braintree than Ambassador to any Court in the World.
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
THE HAGUE. May 13. 1784 DEAR SIR
I have received your Letters by Mr. Jackson and Mr. Appleton. The former I answered some days ago. My Son who is going to London in hopes of meeting his Mother and Sister will convey this from thence. I shall probably be fixed here, out of the reach of that Envy which you prophesy whose Power I never felt or dreaded until I saw Europe.
There are little Fermentations in the Courts of Europe, and some appearances of Jealousies between the two Imperial Courts and the House of Bourbon which some People apprehend will disturb the publick Tranquility but I hope otherwise.
I was received in London very politely by Governor Pownal, who talked much of visiting America. If he comes I hope he will be received with Respect. He has done good Service to our Cause, by some of his Writings. Let me hear from you as often as you can.
JOHN ADAMS. Hon SAMUEL ADAMS.
The Same TO THE SAME.
THE HAGUE June 25. 1784. DEAR SIR
I have this morning received your Favours of the 16 & 17 of April and am fully with you in Sentiment that “the sooner a commercial Treaty is settled with the English, the better” but you must be sensible that no Treaty can be made until somebody or other, one or more, are authorized by Congress. While every British Minister is dancing on a Slack Rope and afraid of every popular Wind, least it should blow him over, he will never dare to treat with any Persons who are not regularly authorized, any more than he will dare to refuse or neglect to treat with such as may be as Mr. Jay and Mr. Laurens are gone home, which will change the Plans of Congress and We must now wait, probably till next Spring, for Powers. We can never know what England will do untill We try her. But I am afraid our only Remedy and final Resource must be a Navigation Act, and whether the Southern States will ever agree to this, I know not.
I am as much afraid of District & State conventions and of the Cincinnati, as you are, and hope they will be laid aside. The last which is an order of chivalry and more, will have many very unhappy Effects besides exciting contests and Dissentions if not relinquished or suppressed.
In answer to the Questions of Dr. Noyes and Captn. Dashwood I am almost afraid to say any Thing, as so many of my poor opinions have been indiscreetly quoted. I know no more of this matter than the Gentlemen who ask the questions. The British Finances are so oppressed, that I have Small Faith in their compensations, even to any of the Refugees. Yet this ought not to prevent Dr. Noyes and Capt Dashwood from taking any Measures in their Power. They may transmit their Demands to England into the Hands of any Friend or Agent, but I Should have small Confidence in the Success.
Never in my Life was I so much at Loss, what Course to Steer, as since the Peace. I sought and asked leave to go home. Congress on the contrary resolved to send a Comn to me & two others F[ranklin] & J[ay] to treat with England. I concluded to stay and wrote for my wife. But neither the Commisioner nor the Wife arrive. Jay is gone, yet I every moment expect my Wife will come so that I cant go home, and I see no Possibility now of any Commission arriving before next Spring. The only Thing that remains for me is to Stay here at the Hague, and wait with Patience the moving of Waters which are as Slow and Stagnant as the Dutch Canals.
The Treaty with England is important to all and especially for New England. I would therefore neglect nothing in my Power. But I have none. Congress must push and force the British Ministry, and this in my opinion is not impossible nor difficult to be done. The People of England would do the Work if Congress once Sends a Full Power. But nobody can do it without the Authority of the United States. For my own Tranquility Satisfaction and Interest I had rather be here, than at Paris or London. But I cannot do much for the publick here, nor indeed do I know that I could in either of those Places. Associated with Franklin alone it is probable I should be able to do less at Paris than here.
I anxiously wait the Arrival of my Wife, from whom I may learn something to determine me.
Your Frd. & Sert
JOHN ADAMS. Hon SAMUEL ADAMS.
The SAME TO THE SAME.
AUTEUIL April 14. 1785 SIR
Mr. Le Ray de Chaumont, a modest and sensible youth whom I have now known these seven years, is bound to Boston, which I wish may be made agreeable to him, if you will have the goodness, to introduce him to some young Friends who will shew him all that is worth seeing, you will do me a favour. He has learned from us Americans to speak our Language very well With great Regard Sir Your Most obedient
JOHN ADAMS The Hon S. ADAMS Esqr.
President of the Senate.
The Same TO THE SAME.
(1785) Mr. Storer will be able to give you Information respecting many Things, and to him I refer you.
I think the Massachusetts ought to persevere in her Navigation Act even although Great Britain should retaliate upon her, and her alone; and even although she should not be followed by all, or even any of her Sister States. I think she must find her advantage in it in the end ; in all Events, it is one of those Measures which Secures its Benefits whatever may happen. She will become the principal Manufacturer of Ships and the Principal Carrier, if she is not imitated.
I think We shall have a long Commercial Struggle, but Patience and Perseverance you know will carry Men through many Tryals.
Your affectionate friend
JOHN ADAMS Hon SAMUEL ADAMS Esqr.
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
GROSVENOR SQUARE (LONDON] Jan 26, 1786. DEAR SIR
Give me leave to introduce to you Mr. Anstey a Member of Parliament and Barrister at Law, who is sent out by the Commissioners of American Claims to verify facts, such as Titles to Estates, Incumbrances upon them &c.
The House of Commons yesterday ordered an account of Vessells cleared out for the Importation of Flour Biscuit and Live Stock from the U States into any of the Islands of Newfoundland &c and also an account of all Flour &c imported into any of the Islands in Newfoundland, between the 10th Jan 1784, and the 10th Jan, 1785.
Whether this portends good or evil, time will discover. The Debates in Parliament have taken an unusual Turn to foreign Politicks, and the relative Situation of Great Britain. If this Subject should be fully considered they will discover that it is of some importance to know the Situation of Great Britain relatively to the U States of America. It would not be extravagant to say that they may hereafter find it in the Power of Congress to turn the Ballance and decide their Fate. Congress has hitherto been studiously kept out of sight by the K. Ministry and opposition, They are afraid of raising in American Minds Ideas of their Importance. Russia Denmark and England would not form a Ballance to Bourbon and Holland, if Congress should be joined. Indeed if the U. States should be neutral the Ballance would not be exact. In my humble opinion We must be neutral or join the French and Dutch.
Opinions are very sanguine that this country can support their Credit without a very fair Commerce with Us. There is nothing then remaining but Foreign Politicks and the Ballance of Power, to persuade them to give us Satisfaction. They generally consider us as already in the Scale of Bourbon, and it is not easy to Convince them that we are not. I have endeavoured to convince them that Neutrality is in our Power, but with little success. Indeed they really do not think us of much Consequence. We have no Navy; and are Aukward in Uniting in anything. Some of them indeed agree that We shall grow, both in Union Dignity and Power. It is really of More moment to this Country to Secure the Neutrality of the United States than the alliance of Prussia, and the time will come when it will be seen and felt. But the Nation is too much influenced and imbittered to reflect coolly upon any Thing respecting America. Our Path is plain. We must make navigation Acts, and take of ourselves, preserve our Neutrality as long as we can, and when we must part with it, get the best Price for it We can. It is much to be desired that our Commerce with all other nations may be increased, especially France & Holland, and lessening with England as much as possible, untill she shall put it on a more liberal Footing. The Political Friendship too of France Spain and Holland should be cultivated as much as possible without involving us too far With great Esteem and Affection Yours
JOHN ADAMS The Hon SAMUEL ADAMS Esqr.
THE SAME TO THE SAME.
GROSVENOR SQUARE June 2. 1786 DEAR SIR
Dr. Gordon who is arrived with your Favour of the 13 of April, will probably