The Correspondence of Thomas Jefferson

By Subject


A kind note at the foot of Mr. Adams' letter of July 15 reminds me of the duty of saluting you with friendship and respect, a duty long suspended by the unremitting labors of public engagement and which ought to have been sooner revived, since I am the proprietor of my own time. And yet so it is, that in no course of life have I been ever more closely pressed by business than in the present. Much of this proceeds from my own affairs, much from the calls of others; leaving little time for indulgence in my greatest of all amusements, reading. Dr. Franklin used to say that when he was young and had time to read he had not books; and now when he has become old and had books, he had no time. Perhaps it is that when habit has strengthened our sense of duties, they leave us no time for other things; but when young we neglect them and this gives us time for anything.

However, I will now take time to ask you how you do, how you have done? and to express the interest I take in whatever affects your happiness.

I have compared notes with Mr. Adams on the score of progeny and find I am ahead of him and think I am in a fair way to keep so. I have ten and one-half grandchildren, and two and three-fourths great-grandchildren, and these fractions will ere long become units.

I was glad to learn from Mr. Adams that you have a grandson far enough advanced in age and acquirements to be reading Greek. These young scions give us comfortable cares, when we cease to care about ourselves. Under all circumstances of health or sickness, of blessing or affliction, I tender you assurances of my sincere affection and respect.

to Abigail Adams, 22 August 1813