To Nathaniel Barrell

    Philadelphia        16 December 1797

    Dear Sir—

    For full three weeks I have been looking round me to find something in the news-way that I thought would be amusing to my friends—but I have actually sought in vain; And now that they may not suppose I have altogether forgot them I intend to send them half a sheet of paper with my name upon it, & if they have no more materials for a Letter than I have, they may just add their names to mine & return the paper to me again—Hence each will be assured the other is alive—

    As a place for amusement & pleasure this was always to me the most insipid in the world—And I had rather live in the most obscure village in New-England than this City if my sole object was social enjoyment—But if you wish to do the inhabitants of Philadelphia impartial justice you will lay this chiefly to my habits & not to the dispositions of the people—

    We have no foreign news later than what come by the way of Boston papers, all which you will read in them—As yet the President has recieved no official accounts from our Ministers to the French Republic, since their arrival at Paris—We are tranquil in Congress as you will also see by the papers—but the old dispute about the [Jay] Treaty has left all the seeds of party contention; And nothing but a mirical, which we have no reason to expect, will ever quench what that enkindled, or gave occasion, from pre-existing sparks, to be blown into a flame.1

    The more honourable England appears to be in executing the Treaty on her part, by delivering up the posts & making restitution for property taken from Americans on the Seas &c so much the more violent are its original opposers towards that nation & the growing harmony between the two Countries. It is fresh in every bodys memory what a malicious noise they made about the Treaty because it allowed British creditors to recover their debts, under certain circumstances, due them from Americans; The opposers triumphed in idea by predicting that these debts would amount to many millions of dollars; some even declared it was probable they would equal if not exceed the existing debt of the United States! But the fact is likely to turn their imaginary triumph into the deepest mortification—For, from very probable prospects of the examination hitherto made, these debts will turn out to be an inconsiderable sum—And hence it is that the only remaining ground of consolation to that party is that France will create a quarrell with the United States, & give them an opportunity of charging all the evils resulting from it to the Treaty—Hence also arises their exultation at the late most unprecedented & unconstitutional Conduct of the French Directory in banishing two of their own body & fifty odd members of the Legislative councils—these were friends to America, & had reprobated in manly terms the Directory for their outrageous proceedings towards the United States2

    But I will say no more upon this Subject, time will develop the whole Business—My present opinion is—France will hereafter conduct better than many have feared—their best interest consists in treating America, not only according to the justice of her case; but with real kindness—

    The weather here has been very cold for this climate, till the present week—It is now moderate; & the Ice, that had made and stoped all navigation in the Deleware, is going out to sea—

    Present my most sincere respects to Mrs. [Sarah Sayward] Barrell & Mrs. [Sarah Barrell] Keating, & believe me to be, dear Sir, yours &c

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence