To Nathaniel Barrell

    Biddeford        15 November 1788

    My friend—

    Yours of the 30th. ult. Came to me the evening before last, at this place, where I arrived the last week on Thursday night—and had the pleasure of finding my little family all well—By your being directed to me at New-York I suppose you had not been apprised of my having left that City—Indeed, when I went from home, last summer, I had it in contemplation to tarry till the new Government should be put into operation—which I then imagined would be as early as the first, or the whole, of December. But as soon as this was fixed upon so distant a period as March I thought it convenient to visit my family a month or two at least—

    It was the desire of the northern States to fix upon a much earlier time for commencing operation under the new Government than the first of March—but no time sooner than that would accommodate any of the southern States—whose Legislatures in general have their stated assemblies in this and the next month—and the extant of their Country & the dispersed situation of their inhabitants rendered their meeting, by proclamation, at an earlier period impracticable.

    Some particulars, in justification or excuse for this delay of Congress, so much censured by the people, I shall reserve for the subject of some leisure hours—conversation at your house—And as I am now upon this subject I will tell you when I think this may be—but in this, as every thing else that is future, I am not certain—

    I now propose to set out on Monday morning for Dover-Court, by the way of Berwick—should this be the case I shall tarry at Dover one or two days—and on my return spend one night at your house—But all this depends upon too many circumstances for me to give you full assurance of the event—

    However lest I should be disappointed in this my plan—permit me to observe—with regard to “the balance of accounts that is supposed will be in favour of Massachusetts in a final settlement”—I look upon the expectations raised from this quarter to stand pretty much on the same footing with the idea people in general have entertained of discharging the domestic national debt by the sail of Ohio-Lands—

    I was once asked by one of my Correspondents if I did not think this debt would be soon discharged by the sail of the wild Lands, on the west of the Ohio—And whether these Lands were not a certain fund for that purpose?1 I answered him—that I looked upon the Reports of this kind like soothers held out to the people—as we throw children Toys & sugar plums to keep them quiet—And that I thot the wild Lands, and the fish in the Sea were equally fund for the discharging this debt—the latter as soon as we could catch them & carry them to market—And the former whenever we could find purchasers & get from them the sums they should agree to pay—But I rather thot the fish, tho yet in the sea, would prove the most certain & productive fund—But in this I differ from old, great & very respectable politicians—And therefore I think ’tis but modesty due to their characters to suppose I am mistaken in this matter—And I assure you that the mortification, I should experience in finding my judgment turned out wrong, would be more than compensated in contemplating the public good accruing from a speedy discharge of the domestic debt by the sale of these Lands—

    Of this we will converse an hour at least when we meet—There is much due to the Massachusetts for their great exertions through the war—but this Balance I suspect has been agravated—

    You are intituled to demand of me some reason for my passing your house the other day without calling—And it is this—when I left Boston I proposed to reach, that night, Newbury Port [Massachusetts]—& the next day, get as far as your house & there tarry the night—and the third day get home—but when I got to Newbury—my company pressed on Mr. Sanbourns—where we lodged—And next morning we set out early & got to Portsmouth [New Hampshire] to breakfast—here I got a fresh horse—and began to think of reaching home that night—And as soon as this resolution was passed—I found it would not do to make any stops at the house of a friend—And so made the best way for Biddeford—which I reached about half after eight—Now you may ask what need there was of trying to reach Biddeford that night? But to answer this question would lead me into a philosophical discussion of the nature of parental affection & those feelings that can only be gratified in being with a family—This would require more time than I can possibly spare at this time—as I have the honour of pleading a ten shilling cause, this morning at ten oClock, before Justice [Jeremiah] Hill—And the hour is come that I must make my appearance—

    Mrs. [Sarah Savage] Thatcher, & Tempe [Temperance Hedge], join me in affectionate regards to Mrs. [Sarah Sayward] Barrell & your amiable family—And be assured I am, my friend, yours, & theirs, forever <torn>

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence. Addressed to York.