|My dear Sir||St Neots Hunts Feby 20. 1797|
It is with peculiar pleasure, that I contemplate your having been preserved to the present period; sustained under the weight of that service to which you have been called, by the unanimous vote of your electors; uniformly pursued the prosperity of the United States; concluded upon returning to the enjoyment of domestic happiness; secured the lustre of your character; & communicated to the people over whom you presided, the best testimony of your love to them in the momentous advice you have given. May they & their descendants view it as the political Pole Star by which to steer their c[o]urse, in order to escape those sands, shoals & rocks which have proved fatal to all preceding nations, after a lapse of a few centuries! May your retirement be sweetened with an uninterrupted observance that the United States are steadily adopting your sentiments, & by so doing have their peace & prosperity secured, & gradually improved. Now you are honorably released from the cares & encumbrances of the presidentship you will have greater opportunities of attending to those sacred employments, which, through the divine blessing may prepare you for the mansions of everlasting life & a crown of glory.
However well we may have conducted towards fellow creatures, & have merited their love & approbation; when we come to sit down alone, & to reflect coolly upon the relation we stand in to God, we must be conscious of having broken his law in numberless instances, though it may not have been in action, in word & in thought. And how awful is that declaration—"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them!" The gospel may well be stiled glad tidings of great joy, for it informs us, that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to be a sacrifice for sin, that so through his atoning blood, the chief of sinners upon their repenting & believing in Jesus as the Lamb of God, & walking as he walked, may not only escape deserved punishment in hell, but be brought to the enjoyment of endlessly growing happiness. For the attainment of this, may the short remains of life be devoted. [T]hen may we hope for an endearing meeting in the heavenly regions, though debarred the pleasure of any further personal interviews on earth.
I observe in the Philadelphia papers, mention made of a publication of a volume of your epistles, domestic, confidential & official. If I mistake not two vols. were published sometime back. Should be glad to know, whether they are genuine; & in case thereof, you will admit me to republish them in this country, with the addition of several of which I have copies. That which I attended to in a former letter, may, I find upon a careful review, be safely published, suppressing the name of the person to whom it was addressed. It was copied from your 2d Vol. of Private Letters, dated Newburgh May 22. 1782, & directed to Col. L. N.
The re–publishing of what have already appeared with the publication of what I propose might make my circumstances more easy (for the smallness of my income & the dearness of every article of life through increase of taxes &c. straiten me) besides proving serviceable as well as entertaining to the world. I should be careful to publish nothing, but what would add to the many evidences of the goodness of your character, tho’ not needed on that account; & suppress whatever might be really prejudicial to the United States. Mrs Gordon joins in wishing You & your Lady the brightest prospects under a calm & serene evening of life. I remain your Excellency’s most sincere & affectionate friend & humble Servt
P.S. Should you have any thing larger than a letter to forward, oblige me so far as to let it be sent to Mr Hazard; for otherwise when it gets to England it might pass into the Post & be charged so heavily, as to amount to a prohibition of my receiving it. Mr Hazard forwarded me a few news-papers by the Ceres. The Capt. some how, instead of bringing the parcel to London, let them go into the Post Office at Hastings with the bag of letters, & the charge to my correspondent where they were to be left was two pounds & one shilling sterling. He did not receive them, but first consulted me. Knowing what they were I declined advancing the postage, & they are lost to me.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.