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Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 26 February 1794

My dearest Friend

Not receiving any Letters on Saturday evening I was so impatient that I sent James to Town on Sunday afternoon, and he brought me home your kind favours of the 8th [John to Abigail, 08 February 1794] 9th [John to Abigail, 09 February 1794] and 10th [John to Abigail, 10 February 1794] of this Month; I do not omit writing to you once a Week, and sometimes twice.

The late King of Prussia said that every age must commit its own follies, and that the experience of other was but of little benifit to them. "National curruption must be purged by National Calamities. A real reformation is not to be accomplish'd by ordinary means; it requires those extraordinary means which become punishments so well as lesson's," were the observations of a great Politician: whether France will ever emerge from the horrid scenes, that deluge her with carnage, havock, and Blood, "is in the dark Gloom and abyss of Time." There present Situation is well pictured in the following line.

The sacred arts of rule
Turn'd to flagitions leagues against Mankind
And arts of plunder, more and more avow'd
Devotion turn'd to a solemn farce
To holy dotage Virtue; even to Guile,
To murder, and a Mockery of oaths;
Dishonourd courage to the Bravo's trade
To civil Broil; and Glory to romance
Alass poor Gallia! What a bitter cup
Of vengeance hast thou drain'd?
How many a ruffian form hast thou beheld?
What horrid Jargon heard; where rage alone
Was all thy frighted ear could comprehend?
How frequent by the red inhumane hand
Yet warm with Brother's husbands, Fathers Blood,

Hast thou thy Matrons and thy virgins seen
To voilation dragg'd, and mingled death."

You ask me what Mr. Wibird says now to the French. He says that he believes that they will all go to the devil and that they deserve to, but still insists that they never would have gone to, such dreadfull lengths if they had not been invaded and driven to desperation by foreign powers, and that future generations will be benefitted by their calamity The abuse upon the President which You mention, but which I do not see, proves that the most virtuous and unblemishd Characters are liable to the Malice and venom of unprincipald Wretches. Such Virtues such disinterested Patriotism, when thus requited, has frequently become Tyranical, and unless mankind were universallly enlightened, which never can be, they are unfit freedom nor do I believe that our Creator designed it for them. If such a Boon had been designed for them, all Ages and Nations from Adam to the present day, would not have been one standing continued and universal proof to the contrary. Some were made for Rule others for Submission, and even amongst my own Sex this doctrine holds good. History informs Us that of the few Queens who have reigned for any length of Time as absolute Sovreigns the greatest part of them have been celebrated for excellent Governours. Pliny, tells us that in Marve, Women rained for many succesive ages, among the Lacedemonians, the woman had a great share in the political Government; and that it was agreable to the Laws given them by Lieurgns. In Borneo, the Women Reign alone, and their Husbands enjoy no other privilegde than that of being their most dignified subjects; but as Reigning and Ruling is so much out of fashion, at the present day. My ambition will extend no further than Reigning in the Heart of my Husband. That is my throne and there I aspire to be


You will see in the Centinal a very vapid answer to a very vapid speech, and the estimation in which it was held, by the committee appointed to carry it. I have read with pleasure two very Judicious papers in the Centinal taken from a Phyladelphia paper under the signature of Americanus. Such writers are wise and salutary;

"Oh Peace! thou source and soul of Social Life
Blest be the Man divine, who gives us thee."

I have deliverd your Message to Your mother. She bids me tell you that She leaves You her Blessing, that She request your Rememberance of her to the Throne of Mercy, that She is hastning to an other and a better Country, where she hopes one day to meet you, but that here She shall never see you more, and of this opinion I am daily more and more, as her decay becomes more and more visible. A few weeks if not days must put a period to a long and to a very irreproachable Life. My constant attendance upon her has very much lessend my desire of long life. Her fears least she should recover and become useless, her appearing to have out lived every enjoyment, shews that life at best is but a poor play, and the best that can come of it, it is a misirable Benediction. These Reflections exclude any further addition to my Letter, than the sincerest which

I can make You of being ever Yours.
A Adams

[Endorsement -- see page image]

Cite web page as: Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 26 February 1794 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/
Original manuscript: Adams, Abigail. Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 26 February 1794. 4 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Source of transcription: Adams Papers Editorial Project. Unverified transcriptions.
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