Gunston-Hall January 23d: 1792.
I received your Letter from Baltemore, of the 7th. Inst. and am glad to hear, you was like to meet with no Disappointment in receiving my Money from Messrs. Smiths; and making the Payment, I desired, to Mr. Dulany. I was in Hopes, he wou'd readily have given up the Interest during the War, as I believe every British Creditor, who has received his Debt, without a Suit, has done it; and the supreme Courts in this State, & I believe in most, if not all the others, have constantly deducted it. There was, I understand, an Opinion given in the federal Court, in Connecticut (tho' I believe not a final one) that Interest upon British Debts was recoverable; which I suppose is what Mr. Dulany alluded to. I wish I had thought to have desired you, just to make the Experiment, whether he wou'd not have given up the Interest during the war, by telling him, that upon those Terms only, the Money wou'd be immediately paid. I am very anxious to hear the last News from France. I presume you got your Letters by the Ships, that had arrived at Baltemore from Bourdeaux, the Day after you wrote to me.
I am also anxious to hear how you keep your Health; being apprehensive, that this extream cold weather (which is probably still more severe to the Northward) will not agree with your Constitution. The Snow is now as deep here, as it was in the hard Winter of 1740; indeed I think deeper than I ever saw it, except in the Winter of 1773. It will occasion, I expect, great Losses in the Stocks of Cattle, in this part of the Country; badly as it is provided with Provender, from the Short Crops of Corn & Hay.
I have just recovered from the Fit of the Gout, you left me in; and am now able to walk about the House; tho' still a little lame. In every other Respect, thank God, I am in good Health. It has proved however a pretty severe Fit, tho' a regular one, and remained confined to one of my Feet. Present me to my Friend Colo. Monroe, and tell him, I shou'd have done myself the Honour of answering his Letters sooner, had not the Gout forbid me; for it is not without Pain, that I am Yet able to sit at a Table, and write.
I have received a Letter from Mr. Stoddert, upon the Subject of the projected Bridge; in which he gives me, at large, the same Reasons, he did you, to persuade me, that it's Effects will be favourable to a Town on my Land, on this Side the River. I verily believe he is of that Opinion himself; for I know him a man of great Candour. I enclose you a Copy of my Answers to him; by which you will see, I am willing to compromise with the Gentlemen, upon fair & reasonable Terms; tho' I thought it best, at present, to have the Matter open, to see if they are inclined to offer me such. Besides that I wish to act liberally, on the Occasion, I have some particular Reasons, for desiring to avoid any Dispute with them; which I will communicate to you; when I see you. The Effects of the Bridge, as well as the Practicability of the Execution, are very doubtful; and I am at some loss to Estimate, what will be a just & reasonable Compensation; I wou'd not willingly ask more, nor take less. What do you think of agreeing to take, for ever, a certain Part (say about a fifth) of the gross Tolls, as Money received annually from Passengers, &c.; without my having any Concern in the building, Repairs, or Expences of the Bridge? I wish you wou'd endeavour to make yourself acquainted with, & inform me, of the Tolls or Rates taken at the Bridge from Boston to Charles Town, and the annual amount of the Money received. It is probable, Mr. Gerry, or some of the Massachusetts Gentlemen in Congress, can inform you. Or if you will write to Mr. Goreham, he can give you the fullest Information; being, if I recolect right, one of the Proprietors, & Managers. I shou'd be glad also to know the Length & Breadth of the Boston Bridge; the Width of the spaces on each Side, for foot-Passengers, and of the Space in the Middle for Carriages.
Pray let me hear from you, as often as you conveniently can. Tell me how you have your Health, whether you have determined to go any further Eastward than New York, and when we may expect to see you again at Gunston. Your Brother George, & his Family, are well. He keeps his Health, this Winter, better than could have been expected; for I dreaded the Effect of this severe Weather upon him. I am, dear John, your Affecte. Father