Adams Papers

[July 1772]
[from the Diary of John Adams]

Wednesday July 1. 1772.

He, who contends for Freedom,

can ne’er be justly deem’d his Sovereign’s Foe:

No, ’tis the wretch that tempts him to subvert it,

The soothing Slave, the Traitor in the Bosom,

Who best deserves that name; he is a worm

That eats out all the Happiness of Kingdoms.1

When Life, or Death,

becomes the Question, all Distinctions vanish;

Then the first Monarch and the lowest Slave

on the same Level Stand, in this the Sons

of equal Nature all.

1Note by CFA: “These lines are taken from a play, now little read: [James] Thomson’s Edward and Eleanora, act i. sc. 2, and act ii. sc. 2” (JA, Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 2:297).

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