James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John H. Wood, 5 January 1821

From John H. Wood

Albemarle Jany 5th. 1821.

Worthy Sir,

Permit me to thank you for your polite and friendly Answer to my letter.1 My application was certainly predicated on the presupposition that whatever relief you cou’d grant me consistently with engagements & obligations (of which we all are surrounded) wou’d have been done with willingness.

On addresses for pecuniary aid I shou’d always be entirely indisposed to afford any, cou’d I suppose the embarrassmt to have originated in extravagance and dissipation. My truant days (thank heaven) are over and gone. It is chiefly the affliction of my unfortunate wife for more than two years that has a little enthrald me for the present, but shou’d I meet tolerable luck this year I expect to be entirely freed from pecuniary wants.

When ruminating on the embarrassm’ts of Life, it is not unfrequent that my mind is Struck with one of the finest pieces of Morallity contained in any paper of the Spectator. Father, says a youth, “thy fortune is a very wretched if there be not another World”—true, son! And what is thine if there be another?2

My venerable mother (wou’d that I was worthy to be her son) seems to feel all the respect & veneration due to yr. exalted virtues & talents, & that sincere affection so eminently due to Mrs. Madison, her relation; to whom with yourself, I beg leave to subscribe myself most sincerely

Jno. H. Wood

RC (DLC). Addressed by Wood to JM, and franked. Cover marked “Milton Va 20 Jany.” Docketed by JM.

1Letter not found.

2“A lewd young fellow, seeing an aged hermit go by him barefoot, ‘father,’ says he, ‘you are in a very miserable condition if there is not another world.’ ‘True, son,’ said the hermit, ‘but what is thy condition if there is?’ ” (Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, The Spectator [8 vols.; Philadelphia, 1803; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 5090], 8:84).

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