Wythe to Adams, 5 December 1783

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Letter text, 5 December 1783

Facsimile of letter from George Wythe to John Adams, dated December 5, 1790. From vol. 3 of The Works of John Adams, by Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851), between pages 354 and 355.

G. Wythe to J. Adams.

    Often had I almost resolved to write to you, to supply, in some measure, by an epistolary correspondence, the want of that conversation which I had no other cause to regret than the interruption of it by the distance between us; and had more reasons than I can enumerate to covet. But uncertainty of communication, and a doubt whether the merit of any thing I could say would be an apology for diverting your from attention from affairs incomparably more momentous hitherto kept me reluctantly silent. Your letter, therefore, by mr Mazzei, delivered to me today, this day, by which I learn your wish to receive a line from me, and that too wherever you be, was received with joy. I accept the invitation with a pleasure one feels in renewing an acquaintance with an old friend whose company was entertaining and improving. O were our habitations so neighbouring, that

Δ. 180

— θάμ᾽ ἐνθάδ᾽ ἐόντες ἐμισγόμεθ᾽: οὐδέ κεν ἡμέας
ἄλλο διέκρινεν φιλέοντέ τε τερπομένω τε,
πρίν γ᾽ ὅτε δὴ θανάτοιο μέλαν νέφος ἀμφεκάλυψεν! [1]

    A letter will meet with me in Williamsburg where I have again settled, assisting, as professor of law and police in the university there, to form such characters as may be fit to succede those which have been ornamental and useful in the national councils of America. Adieu.

5 Dec. 1783.


  1. Living here we should frequently have met with each other,
    nor could anything have separated us, loving and taking pleasure in each other,
    until the black cloud of death shrouded us
    (Homer, The Odyssey, Book IV, lines 178-180)