Lebanon 23d Janry 1797
You will pardon me—I am persuaded you will—for troubling you with an affectionate, ‘tho unimportant Letter: unimportant as to business—not so, as it respects my feelings.
I have been promising myself the pleasure of seeing you in the course of this Winter, and presenting to you in person, my respects and my regrets; but, the severity of the season, with some other circumstances, I find will prevent me. My regrets you have long since known, on the subject of your leaving the Goverment, while the event was in contemplation only—all my feelings on the actual occasion you cannot know. it is not in my power to convey them to you; nor, was it in my power, would it be of any real importance to do it. Some of the consequences which I have heretofore ventured to present to your View in contemplation, have already been experienced, in the late hardly contested Election for your Successor. Would to Heaven! that this might be the only Evil we shall have to encounter in this Event—circumstances however, almost forbid us the Hope. But Providence is Wise—and to its disposals, I shall endeavour to bow, with profound submission & acquiescence.
Be assured Sir! that, in every situation in which you may be placed, my most respectfull Regards & Veneration will ever attend you. in your retreat from the Cares of Business, my warmest benedictions, will accompany you—and, in the Bosom of your long wished for retirement, may you be favored with every enjoyment your fondest wishes may suggest—And further—I most devoutly pray Heaven to grant, that no evil Demon of Discord may be suffered to arise and agitate the Peace & Happiness of our Country, so as again to dragg you from your pleasing Quiet & repose!! But—of this event, I am far—too far alas, from being confident.
May I pray you Sir! to commend my very respectfull Regards to Mrs Washington. participating as she does in your wishes for retirement, may she also participate with you in the enjoyments of Tranquility & repose in your Retreat.
With all the sincerity of my [wonted] Attachment, I bid you a happy Adieu!! and beg leave to add—that I am—Dear Sir! Your real & Affectionate Friend & ever devoted hume Servant
DLC: Papers of George Washington.