To Nathaniel Barrell

    Philadelphia        13 March 1798

    My dear Sir—

    I have waited a week expecting a further communication from the President of what he had recieved of our Envoys at Paris,1 which I intended to send to you—But I begin to suspect he thinks they have spoke too freely of the French Directory & their conduct towards America, & will not lay them before the House, least, in this manner, they become public & get back again to France—which may exasperate the Directory personally against our Envoys2—I never thought the making public, so much as we have done, the diplomatic correspondence of the Government would be of solid utility—I am persuaded, if the old Congress, from seventy five to eighty three had acted with open doors, as the Congress has done since the year eighty nine, the war would have been conducted with much less system & energy—Indeed I do not think America would ever have been able to make good their defence—It is said, there should be no secrets in a republican Government—But why not, as well as in any other kind of Government—

    What do you think of the French Invasion of Old England?3 Have you become Jacobin or sans-cullotte enough to wish for its success? I confess, tho I have been very angry at the conduct of England towards America, I cannot bring my mind to wish prosperity to such an event. I have heretofore rejoiced at the victories of France over the combined powers; And had that Republic been satisfied with a compleat defence of themselves, & then let other nations alone, I should still remain their admirer—But when I find their object is to revolutionize the world, & impose Garisons upon other nations to influence the internal affairs of those Governments—I cannot but consider them as most dangerous—

    We have London papers down to the 17th. January—By these it appears the English nation are becoming more & more united against France, no[r] do I discover that they tremble at the formidable preparations their enemies are making against them—

    The late decree of France to take all ships of every nation whatever that has English produce or manufacture on board & making it good prize to the Captors,4 will injure neutrals more than it will the English—Because now England will become their own Carriers under their strong convoys to a much greater extant than when neutrals were permitted to carry for themselves—

    Neutrals I suspect will arm in their own defence—And I think it is not improbable America will permit, under certain regulations, such of her merchantment [merchantmen] as choose it, to arm—Those who oppose this measure, I apprehend, will propose a general embargo—But this I think will not meet much support—The merchants best know when to embargo their own vessells—

    What do you think of the Spiting & caining business in Congress?5 Or as was said heretofore, what think ye of Congress now?6

    Please to present my respects to Mrs. [Sarah Sayward] Barrell & [Sarah Barrell] Keating, & accept of esteem & best wishes for your health & happiness—

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    ALS, Barrell Correspondence. Addressed to York; franked; postmarked 13 March; received 24 March.