To Nathaniel Barrell

    Philadelphia        30 January 1791

    My friend—

    In my last, which was wrote soon after my arrival to this City, I informed you that it began to be reported about, that General [Josiah] Harmar had been defeated in the Western Territory1—soon after I wrote you, particular accounts of the expedition, the numbers killed, with other circumstances relative to the retreat &c were laid before Congress by the president2—all which have been published in the papers—and without doubt reached you—

    It was then expected, & by some information, we were led to hope the Indians had received such a Loss as would cause them to retire far from our settlements, & give them no disturbance thro the winter—but our hopes have vanished—and given way to an almost despare for our settlements in the more exposed parts of the western Territory—The last week I saw a Letter from Marietta [Ohio] dated the eighth inst. which sais, that on the second, a party of Indians attacked and carried a Block-house, about twenty miles from that place—in it were eleven men, one woman & two children. These were all put to instant death—and three men at a small distance from the Block-house are supposed to be taken prisoners, as their bodies had not been found, nor had they been heard of when the express came away—Official accounts were, at the same time, sent to the Secretary at War, & have since been laid before Congress, by the President3

    The settlements in that Territory are in eminent danger; they cannot, at & about Marietta, muster more than 200 armed men—And no support can be had short of 180, or 200 miles—

    Something decisive will, probably, be done by Congress before they rise, touching an additional force being sent into that Country—And I think it must now be determined whether the Indians shall be exterminated, or the settlement of that Country be abandoned. There is no other alternative—Indians & white people cannot live in the neighbourhood of each other, especially if the former be numerous, without continuall depredations—The ideas and habits of civilized and uncivilized man are in all things different—They have two few notions in common to suffer them to live long in peace.

    The latter have but few wants & will whenever tis in their power gratify them without restraint—their wills are their only Laws—The wants of the former increase with their civilization, till they become infinite, and graspe at every thing. They would swallow up the Universe, & still be unsatisfied—

    To find a civilized man who has got eno. [enough] is perhaps more difficult than to find a savage Indian with just notions of human Life, & happiness—

    Congress will adjourn on the third of March to some time in the fall or to the first monday in December—the time of the annual meeting by the Constitution—

    This month has been very pleasant, as remarkably so as December was for being unusually cold & blustering—The Delaware River has been open for some days, & vessells come up & go down—

    On Tuesday last I dined, & spent the afternoon, with our friend Stephen Collins4—he enquired very affectionately about you & wished to be remembered to you—

    I propose to go, this afternoon, to meeting; I have heard three or four of the City preachers—two of them are celebrated here—They are what we should denominate Ranters5—the others I suspect are no better—Upon the whole I look upon them to be principally & radically erroneus—But under a good Government, where the freedom of the press & speech are sacred parts of the Constitution, these errors will do but little hurt—Ministers may preach an hundred sermons about Justification & sanctification; and dispute, as long as they can get any body to hear them, whether the former, in the System of Grace, preceeds the latter, or the latter is the cause of the former—

    Last sunday evening I went to hear a Lecture—the preacher, I was told, was celebrated for his energy—his force & pathos. In short, they call him an awakning-rousing preacher—one that brings the word home to the souls of sinners, & makes them see the danger of their ways whether they will or no—I was determined to give close attention6

    He took for his text the words of the Jailor, if I mistake not—what shall I do to be saved7—From being informed, beforehand that he was a man of Letters, I expected to hear some order & method in his discourse—But how shockingly was I disappointed—when I saw he no sooner read his text, & shut up his Bible (for he made use of no notes) than he rambled, without order or method half over the old & new Testament—He exibeted neither Learning, Genius, or Imagination—He possessed strong Lungs & a Stentorian Voice, with the fist & hands of Vulcan—All these he keept in constant & violent exercise—He would frequently, in the parosisms [paroxysms] of his Zeal, seiz hold of the pulpit, with such violence that I trembled, as did the pulpet itself, lest they should both tumble down together. He made a copeous use of the words, Hell-fire, Devil, & eternal Damnation, for the space of one hour—What effect it had on the minds of the hearers in general, I will not say—But when we came out of church I observed two rows of men formed, for some rods from the door, one on each side of the people as they issued forth—these men seemed to look sharp upon the faces of the females & would now & then lay hold of one & another—And when I had got home to my lodgings I related what I had seen, as well as heard—And enquired the reason of the men lining each side of the passage way from the church—And I was told that men & boys always frequented those night meetings to pick up girls & women—it being a place of general rendezvous for such Characters! This led me into an enquiry into the effects of night Lectures on the manners of people in large Cities? too long to be related now, as the Bell rings & Mr. Huntington calls upon me to accompany him to church8

    Adieu, my friend, yours &c

    * * *

    ALS, Barrell Correspondence