A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive
Next Letter (by date)
Previous Letter (by date)

Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 February 1794

My dearest Friend

We have done nothing hitherto, but Prevent our Countrymen from plunging blindfold into a War, with they know not whom, and for they know not what. If We continue to sit till Time, and do no more nor less We shall do well.

Tomorrow the Senate is to discuss the Election of Mr. Gallatin, with their Doors open for the first Time. Whether a Vote will be carried for building a Gallery or for keeping the Doors open upon other Occasions of Legislative and Judiciary Business I know not.

You gave me, in one of your last Letters, one of your sly Jokes about Family Pride. I answer in the Words of Horace which I desire your Son and mine to translate for you and study well for himself.

Longe mea discrepat istes
Et Vox et Ratio, nam si natura juberat.
A certis annis aevum remeare peraetum.
Atque alios legere ad fustum quosumpue parentes.
Optarit sibi quisque: meis contentus, honestos.

Fascibus et Sellis nollem mihi sumere; demens.
Judicio Vulgi, sanus fortasee tuo. Hor. Satyr. 6. line 92

It is not however the less true, as He says afterwards line 33

Sic qui promittit Cives, Urbem sibi cursae,
Imperium fore, et Italiam, et delubra Deorum;
Que patre sit natus, num ignota matre in honestus
Omnes mortales curae et quaerere cogit.

Nor is it less true as he says in the 19th Line

popolus Laevino mallet honorem
Quam Deiio mandare novo;

You may however tell John that he is in more danger of loosing Attention from the fault of Virgil than from family Pride. He may read it in the 3d Latyr. V. 30.

rideri possit eo quod
Rusticius tonso toga defluit, et male lexus
In Pede calceus hoeret. At est bonus, ut melior Vir
Non aluis quisquam; at tibi Amicus: at ingenium ingens
In culto latet hoc sub corpore.

There I have given you Riddles enough to vex you.

In the office at Quincy, there is a poetical translation of Horace, by Duncombe in 4. Luodecimo volumes. In the 3d: volume the Satires are translated. By referring to that you will find a better version than probably I could give.

I have shipped an hundred weight of Clover Seed and twelve Quarts of Herds Grass, which is to be sown, one half of it at least in the last Years Corn field with the Barley. Brisler has shipped some Rye flour.

It is nearly time for our Tar Brushes to be brandishing round the Apple trees.

John, I hope has an Abundance of Business, which takes up all the Time for that fact is the only admissable Excuse for his not writing me.

Tell him to remember, what a writer whose drift is to forment Prejudices, will be more popular than one who strives to moderate or correct them, though the former should he honestus and the latter Columbus. Let not the Conclusion be, to imimidate the inflamers of popular Passions. Tis better to serve than to please the People: and they in time will be sensible of it.

The People like a Mistress must not be courted with too much Complaisance. They must be kept at a distance. The Moment either find you are their slave they will tyrannize. The People can do nothing for John at present but Mischief,


[Endorsement -- see page image]

Cite web page as: Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 February 1794 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, John. Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 17 February 1794. 4 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Adams Papers Editorial Project. Unverified transcriptions.
Next Letter (by date)
Previous Letter (by date)