To Nathaniel Barrell

    Philadelphia        28 January 1794

    My dear Sir

    Why have nearly three months passed away without a single Line from you? But to prevent your retorting this interrogation upon myself, I must tell you that, for the chief of this session, tho I cannot say I have been very sick, my head, which is the prime part in writing, has been so out of order that I have wholly confined myself to answering my friends Letters—And in scarce an instance, except to my own family, have I indulged myself in this agreeable pass time—However for several days past, I have felt much more lively and active than heretofore; owing partly to a more serene, bracing state of the air—and partly to the administration of my Physician—

    Our winter has been remarkably moderate—a good deel of wet weather, with some warm suns—very little snow, & that of short duration—

    Our Session has hitherto been calm and tranquil—And tho there is some difference of opinion with regard to the most eligible mode of puting a stop to the depredations of the Algeriene Corsairs yet the want of unanimaty is not so great as to be productive of either delay in executing the plan proposed—or any abatement of a general exertion for the public good—The plan proposed by a Committee appointed for that purpose, is a naval force, the particulars whereof you will see in the papers1

    We all lament the extreme danger our Trade & seamen are subject to by the Algerienes being let out of their ports to rove at large through the Atlantic sea; but the causes of this event must strike every well wisher to the rights of man with horror and detestation—they are no other than fixed determinations in the cabinets of the powers combined against France to suppress all attempts for establishing a free representative Government in that Republic—

    To these causes we ought also to attribute all the deaths and seeming cruelties committed by orders of the national Convention, or otherwise in France—France is precisely in the situation of a City besieged—Every power in Europe, except Denmark & Sweden, (& these are menaced with war by the combined powers unless they join them) is now waging war with France—This universal attack compels the national Assembly to exercise a rigor, equal to martial Law in a camp, throughout the whole Republic—and makes jealousy the most patriotic Virtue—We all most sincerely pitty the unfortunate individuals, and the same persons may have been put to death under circumstances of apparent cruelty—nevertheless I am of opinion they are excesses of good principles & well intended passions and not acts of wantonness and barbarity as they are generally represented by some people in America—

    Whether France will be able to support their present Government—or whether they will fall back to the Constitution signed by the late King on the third of September 1791—or whether the Combined Despots will suppress every principle of political freedom & again set up the old Monarchy—are events that my mind views with alternate hope & fear—The last alternative strikes me with horror & dread more gloomy than the common king of Terrors! Indeed I have permitted my feelings to be so much engaged in the success of the french Revolution that any defeat or ill prospect on [the] part of the French casts a melancholly over my mind, which nothing but the most strenuous exertions of philosophy, or contrary news can wholly wipe away—

    But, my friend, I fear I have wrote more than you will like to read—And perhaps your sentiments on the subject of the European war may affect you so differently from what it does me, as to make you consider me quite an enthusiast in the business—

    We have no later news from that Country than what you will read in the papers—

    But I have wrote already too much for me head—it begins to swim, & therefore I close this Letter by subscribing myself dear Sir, your friend & humble Servant

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence. Addressed to York; franked; postmarked 29 January.