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to john laurens - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 9 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 9.
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to john laurens
Cold in my professions, warm in my friendships, I wish, my dear Laurens, it may be in my power, by actions rather than words, to convince you that I love you. I shall only tell you that, till you bade us adieu, I hardly knew the value you had taught my heart to set upon you. Indeed, my friend, it was not well done. You know the opinion I entertain of mankind, and how much it is my desire to preserve myself free from particular attachments, and to keep my happiness independent of the caprices of others. You should not have taken advantage of my sensibility to steal into my affections without my consent.
But as you have done it and as we are generally indulgent to those we love, I shall not scruple to pardon the fraud you have committed, on one condition: that for my sake, if not for your own, you will always continue to merit the partiality, which you have so artfully instilled into me.
I have received your two letters: one from Philadelphia, the other from Chester. I am pleased with your success, so far—and I hope the favorable omens that precede your application to the Assembly may have as favorable an issue—provided the situation of affairs should require it, which I fear will be the case. But both for your country’s sake and for my own, I wish the enemy may be gone from Georgia before you arrive, and that you may be obliged to return and share the fortunes of your old friends. In respect to the commission which you received from Congress, all the world must think your conduct perfectly right. Indeed, your ideas on this occasion seem not to have their wonted accuracy; and you have had scruples, in a great measure, without foundation. By your appointment as aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief, you had as much the rank of lieutenant-colonel as any officer in the line. Your receiving a commission as lieutenant-colonel, from the date of that appointment, does not in the least injure or interfere with one of them; unless by virtue of it you are introduced into a particular regiment in violation of the right of succession, which is not the case at present, neither is it a necessary consequence. As you were going to command a battalion, it was proper that you should have a commission; and if this commission had been dated posterior to your appointment as aide-de-camp, I should have considered it derogatory to your former rank, to mine, and to that of the whole corps. The only thing I see wrong in the affair is this—Congress by their conduct, both on the former and present occasion, appear to have intended to confer a privilege, an honor, a mark of distinction, a something upon you, which they withheld from other gentlemen in the family. This carries with it an air of preference, which, though we can all truly say, we love your character and admire your military merit, cannot fail to give some of us uneasy sensations. But in this, my dear, I wish you to understand me well. The blame, if there is any, falls wholly upon Congress. I repeat it, your conduct has been perfectly right, and even laudable. You rejected the offer when you ought to have rejected it; and you accepted it when you ought to have accepted it, and, let me add, with a degree of over-scrupulous delicacy. It was necessary to your project. Your project was the public good; and I should have done the same. In hesitating, you have refined on the refinements of generosity.
There is a total stagnation of news here, political and military. Gates has refused the Indian command. Sullivan is come to take it. The former has lately given a fresh proof of his impudence, his folly, and his rascality. ’t is no great matter; but a peculiarity in the case prevents my saying what.
1 I anticipate by sympathy the pleasure you must feel from the sweet converse of your dearer self in the enclosed letters. I hope they may be recent. They were brought out of New York by General Thompson, delivered to him there by a Mrs. Moore, not long from England, soi disante parente de madame votre épouse. She speaks of a daughter of yours,—well, when she left England, and now, my dear, as we are upon the subject of wife, I empower and command you to get me one in Carolina. Such a wife as I want will, I know, be difficult to be found, but if you succeed, it will be the stronger proof of your zeal and dexterity. Take her description—she must be young, handsome (I lay most stress upon a good shape), sensible (a little learning will do), well bred (but she must have an aversion to the word ton), chaste, and tender (I am an enthusiast in my notions of fidelity and fondness), of some good nature, a great deal of generosity (she must neither love money nor scolding, for I dislike equally a termagant and an economist). In politics I am indifferent what side she may be of. I think I have arguments that will easily convert her to mine. As to religion a moderate stock will satisfy me. She must believe in God and hate a saint.
But as to fortune, the larger stock of that the better. You know my temper and circumstances and will therefore pay special attention in the treaty. Though I run no risk of going to Purgatory for my avarice, yet as money is an essential ingredient to happiness in this world, as I have not much of my own, and as I am very little calculated to get more either by my address or industry, it must needs be that my wife, if I get one, bring at least a sufficiency to administer to her own extravagancies. N. B.—You will be pleased to recollect in your negotiations that I have no invincible antipathy to the maidenly beauties, and that I am willing to take the trouble of them upon myself.
If you should not readily meet with a lady that you think answers my description, you can only advertise in the public papers, and doubtless you will hear of many competitors for most of the qualifications required, who will be glad to become candidates for such a prize as I am. To excite their emulations it will be necessary for you to give an account of the lover—his size, make, qualities of mind and body, achievements, expectations, fortune, etc. In drawing my picture you will no doubt be civil to your friend, mind you do justice to the length of my nose, and don’t forget that I———
After reviewing what I have written, I am ready to ask myself what could have put it into my head to hazard this jeu de folie. Do I want a wife? No. I have plagues enough without desiring to add to the number that greatest of all; and if I were silly enough to do it I should take care how I employed a proxy. Did I mean to show my wit? If I did, I am sure I have missed my aim. Did I only intend to frisk? In this I have succeeded, but I have done more. I have gratified my feelings, by lengthening out the only kind of intercourse now in my power, with my friend.
P. S.—Fleury shall be taken care of. All the family send their love. In this join the General and Mrs. Washington; and what is best, it is not in the style of ceremony but sincerity.
This passage beginning “I anticipate” and extending as far as the postscript, is now first printed from the Hamilton papers in the State Department.