Brookline May 11th. 1798—
I feel too sensibly the obligations you have laid me under by the letters you had the goodness to write on the 3d. and 4th,—They deserve a better return than it is possible for me to make; while I can only offer the effusions of a grateful heart I see too plainly that those alone wou’d not be acceptable—You require a Serious engagement on my part which I am forbidden to make by motives that cannot be resisted.—It is impossible for me to make a different determination & yet it is with infinite pain I declare it—
No one can estimate more highly than I do the importance of a naval force as connected with the safety of our commercial property & as forming an essential ingredient in the National Defence—If the restless ambition which is destroying Europe should bring us visitors we ought to be prepared to receive them on our coasts & to take advantage of those accidents to which all Fleets are liable, but the creation, arrangement & direction of a force for this purpose cannot proceed from feeble hands—If my friends cou’ld have endowed me with the requisite energies, I wou’d have made every sacrifice to the public service, but you must allow me to judge exclusively on this point & I will always yield every other.—
Mrs. Cabot desires to be rememberd with every sentiment of esteem & respect in which I pray to be united.—
I remain Dear Madam / your most humble & obliged servant
MHi: Adams Papers.