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der a government which should treat us with justice and equity, I should myself feel with great strength the ties which bind us together, of origin, language, laws and manners; and I am persuaded the two people would become in future, as it was with the ancient Greeks, among whom it was reproachful for Greek to be found fighting against Greek in a foreign army. The individvals of the nation I have ever honored and esteemed, the basis of their character being essentially worthy; but I consider their government as the most flagitious which has existed since the days of Philip of Macedon, whom they make their model. It is not only founded in corruption itself, but insinuates the same poison into the bowels of every other, corrupts its councils, nourishes factions, stirs up revolutions, and places its own happiness in fomenting commotions and civil wars among others, thus rendering itself truly the hostis humani generis. The effect is now coming home to itself. Its first operation will fall on the individuals who have been the chief instruments in its corruptions, and will eradicate the families which have from generation to generation been fattening on the blood of their brethren ; and this scoria once thrown off, I am in hopes a purer nation will result, and a purer government be instituted, one which, instead of endeavoring to make us their natural enemies, will see in us, what we really are, their natural friends and brethren, and more interested in a fraternal connection with them than with any oth
a er nation on earth. I look, therefore, to their revolution with great interest. I wish it to be as moderate and bloodless as will effect the desired object of an honest government, one which will permit the world to live in peace, and under the bonds of friendship and good neighborhood.
In this tremendous tempest, the distinctions of whig and tory will disappear like chaff on a troubled ocean. Indeed, they have been disappearing from the day Hume first began to publish his history. This single book has done more to sap the free principles of the English constitution than the largest standing army of which their patriots have been so jealous. It is like the portraits of our countryman Wright, whose eye was so unhappy as to seize all the ugly features of his subject, and to present them faithfully, while it was entirely insensible to every lineament of beauty. So Hume has concentrated, in his fascinating style, all the arbitrary proceedings of the English kings, as true evidences of the constitution, and glided over its whig principles as the unfounded pretensions of factious demagogues. He even boasts, in his life written by himself, that of the numerous alterations suggested by the readers of his work, he had never adopted one proposed by a whig.
But what, in this same tempest, will become of their colonies and their fleets? Will the former assume independence, and the latter resort to piracy for subsistence, taking possession of some island as a point d'appui ? A pursuit of these would add too much to the speculations on the situation and prospects of England, into which I have been led by the pithy text of the letter you so kindly sent me, and which I now return. It is worthy the pen of Tacitus. I add, therefore, only my affectionate and respectful souvenirs to Mrs. Adams and yourself.
JOHN ADAMS TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Quincy, December 16, 1816. Your letter, dear Sir, of November 25th, from Poplar Forest, was sent to me from the post-office the next day after I had sent “ The Analysis," with my thanks to you.
“ Three vols. of Idiology!” Pray explain to me this Neological title! What does it mean? When Bonaparte used it, I was delighted with it, upon the common principle of delight in everything we cannot understand. Does it mean Idiotism? The science of non compos mentuism? The science of Lunacy? The theory of delirium ? or does it mean the science of self-love? Of amour propre? or the elements of vanity ?
Were I in France at this time, I could profess blindness and infirmity, and prove it too. I suppose he does not avow the analysis, as Hume did not avow his essay on human nature. That analysis, however, does not show a man of excessive mediocrity. Had I known any of these things two years ago, I would have written him a letter. Of all things, I wish to see his Idiology upon Montesquieu. If you, with all your influence, have not been able to get your own translation of it, with your own notes upon it, published in four years, where and what is the freedom of the American press ? Mr. Taylor of Hazelwood, Port Royal, can have his voluminous and luminous works published with ease and despatch.
The Uranologia, as I am told, is a collection of plates, stamps,. charts of the Heavens upon a large scale, representing all the constellations. The work of some Professor in Sweden. It is said to be the most perfect that ever has appeared. I have not seen it. Why should I ride fifteen miles to see it, when I can see the original every clear evening; and especially as Dupuis has almost made me afraid to inquire after anything more of it than I can see with my naked eye in a star-light night?
That the Pope will send Jesuits to this country, I doubt not ; and the church of England, missionaries too. And the Methodists, and the Quakers, and the Moravians, and the Swedenburgers, and the Menonists, and the Scottish Kirkers, and the Jacobites, and the Jacobins, and the Democrats, and the Aristocrats, and the Monarchists, and the Despotists of all denominations; and every emissary of every one of these sects will find a party here already formed, to give bim a cordial reception. No power or intelligence less than Raphael's moderator, can reduce this chaos to order.
I am charmed with the fluency and rapidity of your reasoning on the state of Great Britain. I can deny none of your premises; but I doubt your conclusion. After all the convulsions that you foresee, they will return to that constitution which you say has ruined them, and I say has been the source of all their power and importance. They have, as you say, too much sense and knowledge of liberty, ever to submit to simple monarchy, or absolute despotism, on the one hand; and too much of the devil in them ever to be governed by popular elections of Presidents, Senators, and Representatives in Congress. Instead of “ turning their eyes
to us,” their innate feelings will turn them from us. They have been taught from their cradles to despise, scorn, insult, and abuse us. They hate us more vigorously than they do the French. They would sooner adopt the simple monarchy of France, than our republican institutions. You compliment me with more knowledge of them than I can assume or pretend. If I should write you a volume of observations I made in England, you would pronounce it a satire. Suppose the “Refrain,” as the French call it, or the Burthen of the Song, as the English express jt, should be, the Religion, the Government, the Commerce, the Manufactures, the Army and Navy of Great Britain, are all reduced to the science of pounds, shillings and pence. Elections appeared to me a mere commercial traffic; mere bargain and sale. I have been told by sober, steady freeholders, that “they never had been, and never would go to the poll, without being paid for their time, travel and expenses." Now, suppose an election for a President of the British empire. There must be a nomination of candidates by a national convention, Congress, or caucus -in which would be two parties-Whigs and Tories. Of course two candidates at least would be nominated. The empire is instantly divided into two parties at least. Every man must be paid for his vote by the candidate of his party. The only question would be, which party has the deepest purse. The same reasoning will apply to elections of Senators and Representatives 100. A revolution might destroy the Burroughs and the Inequalities of representation, and might produce more toleration; and these acquisitions might be worth all they would cost; but I dread the experiment.
Britain will never be our friend till we are her master.
This will happen in less time than you and I have been struggling with her power; provided we remain united. Aye! there's the rub! I fear there will be greater difficulties to preserve our Union, than you and I, our fathers, brothers, friends, disciples and sons have had, to form it. Towards Great Britain, I would adopt their own maxim. An English jockey says, “If I have a wild horse to break, I begin by convincing him I am his master;
and then I will convince him that I am his friend." I am well assured that nothing will restrain Great Britain from injuring us, but fear.
You think that "in a revolution the distinction of Whig and Tory would disappear.” I cannot believe this. That distinction arises from nature and society; is now, and ever will be, time without end, among Negroes, Indians, and Tartars, as well as federalists and republicans. Instead of " disappearing since Hume published his history,” that history has only increased the Tories and diminished the Whigs. That history has been the bane of Great Britain. It has destroyed many of the best effects of the revolution of 1688. Style has governed the empire. Swift, Pope and Hume, have disgraced all the honest historians. Rapin and Burnet, Oldmixen and Coke, contain more honest truth than Hume and Clarendon, and all their disciples and imitators. But who reads any of them at this day ? Every one of the fine arts from the earliest times has been enlisted in the service of superstition and despotism. The whole world at this day gazes with astonishment at the grossest fictions, because they have been immortalized by the most exquisite artists—Homer and Milton, Phideas and Raphael. The rabble of the classic skies, and the hosts of Roman Catholic saints and angels, are still adored in paint, and marble, and verse. Raphael has sketched the actors and scenes in all Apuleus's Amours of Psyche and Cupid. Nothing is too offensive to morals, delicacy, or decency, for this painter. Raphael has painted in one of the most ostentatious churches in Italy—the Creation—and with what genius? God Almighty is represented as leaping into chaos, and boxing it about with his fists, and kicking it about with his feet, till he tumbles it into order !
Nothing is too impious or profane for this great master, who has painted so many inimitable virgins and children.
To help me on in my career of improvement, I have now read four volumes of La Harpe's correspondence with Paul and a Russian minister. Philosophers ! Never again think of annuling superstition per Saltum.