Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.
Quincy, 15 September, 1813.
My last sheet would not admit an observation that was material to my design. Dr. Price “was inclined to think,” that infinite wisdom and goodness could not permit infinite power to be inactive from eternity, but that an infinite and eternal universe must have necessarily flowed from these attributes.
Plato’s system was, ἀγαϑος was eternal, self-existent, &c. His idea, his word, his reason, his wisdom, his goodness, or, in one word, his “Logos” was omnipotent, and produced the universe from all eternity.
Now, as far as you and I can understand Hersey, Price, and Plato, are they not of one theory, of one mind? What is the difference? I own, an eternal solitude of a self-existent being, infinitely wise, powerful, and good, is to me altogether incomprehensible and incredible. I could as soon believe the Athanasian creed. You will ask me, what conclusion I draw from all this. I answer, I drop into myself, and acknowledge myself to be a fool. No mind but one can see through the immeasurable system. It would be presumption and impiety in me to dogmatize on such subjects. My duties, in my little infinitesimal circle, I can understand and feel. The duties of a son, a brother, a father, a neighbor, a citizen, I can see and feel; but I trust the ruler with his skies.
This world is a mixture of the sublime and beautiful, the base and contemptible, the whimsical and ridiculous (according to our narrow sense and trifling feelings). It is a riddle and an enigma. You will not be surprised, then, if I should descend from these heights to an egregious trifle. But first, let me say, I asked you in a former letter how far advanced we were in the science of aristocracy since Theognis’s stallions, jacks, and rams. Have not Chancellor Livingston and Major-General Humphreys introduced a hereditary aristocracy of merino sheep? How shall we get out of this aristocracy? It is entailed upon us forever. And an aristocracy of land-jobbers and stock-jobbers is equally and irremediably entailed upon us to endless generations.
Now for the odd, the whimsical, the frivolous. I had scarcely sealed my last letter to you, upon Theognis’s doctrine of wellborn stallions, jacks, and rams, when they brought me from the post-office a packet, without post-mark, without letter, without name, date, or place. Nicely sealed, was a printed copy of eighty or ninety pages, in large, full octavo, entitled,—Section first. Aristocracy.
I gravely composed my risible muscles, and read it through. It is, from beginning to end, an attack upon me, by name, for the doctrines of aristocracy in my three volumes of Defence, &c. The conclusion of the whole is, that an aristocracy of bank-paper is as bad as the nobility of France or England. I most assuredly will not controvert this point, with this man. Who he is, I cannot conjecture. The Honorable John Taylor, of Virginia, of all men living or dead, first occurred to me.
Is it Oberon, is it Queen Mab, that reigns and sports with us little beings? I thought my books, as well as myself, were forgotten. But, behold! I am to become a great man in my expiring moments. Theognis and Plato, and Hersey and Price, and Jefferson and I, must go down to posterity together; and I know not, upon the whole, where to wish for better company. I wish to add Vanderkemp, who has been here to see me after an interruption of twenty-four years. I could and ought to add many others, but the catalogue would be too long.
Why is Plato associated with Theognis, &c.? Because no man ever expressed so much terror of the power of birth. His genius could invent no remedy or precaution against it, but a community of wives, a confusion of families, a total extinction of all relations of father, son, and brother. Did the French revolutionists contrive much better against the influence of birth?