John Adams to Abigail Adams
Phila. March 1. 1796
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.1 it rained and the House was not full. I thought I perceived a little Mortification. Mr George Washington & his fair Lady were with Us.
Yours of 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 Vessell 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 Aniety when any considerable Change lay before me. aut transit aut finit— I transmigrate or come to an End. The Question is between living at Phila. or at Quincy. between great Cares and Small Cares. I have looked into myself and See no meanness nor dishonesty there. I See Weakness enough. But no timidity. I have no concern 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 Fœds, to counterballance Abuses by Compliments dont answer the End. I Suspect, but dont 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 Fœds had no thought of overleaping the Succession.
The only Question that labours in my Mind is whether I shall retire with my file Leader? I hate to live in Phila. in Summer and I hate still more to relinquish my farm— I hate Speeches, Messages Addresses & answers, Proclamations and such Affected, studied constrained Things— I hate Levees & Drawing Rooms— I hate to Speak to a 1000 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
least most more than two heats, and that is scarcely time enough to form conduct & compleat any very useful system.
Electioneering enough We shall have—the enclosed Scraps will shew Specimens.2
RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Ms A”; endorsed: “March 1 1796.”
1. Frederick Reynolds’ The Rage!, and The Spoil’d Child, attributed to various authors including Isaac Bickerstaff, were both performed at the New Theatre in Philadelphia on 29 Feb. (Philadelphia Gazette of the United States, 27 Feb.).
2. The enclosures have not been found but possibly came from the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 1 March, which included various jibes against Federalists, particularly about the Jay Treaty, including the following: “A marine correspondent observes, that shallops and pettiaugers must now be built, to carry on our much favoured trade, agreeably to treaty, with the British West India islands! and such small crafts as are, by the treaty, permitted to go to those islands, are in future to be registered, and called (neither sloops nor schooners, but) Jays; viz, the Jay Washington, the Jay Adams, the Jay Hamilton, the Jay Pickering, the Jay Wolcott, the Jay Knox, the Jay Lawrence, the Jay King, the Jay Willcocks; and, the Blue Jay, Harper Pink, &c. &c. &c.”