I received yours of the 2d. Inst. this Day in the House; your other Favours, since I have been here, shou'd not have remained so long unanswered, had I been able to write; but a few Days after my coming to Town, I was seized with a severe Fit of the Gout, which confined me eight or ten Days, & has reduced me lower than I have been these twenty Years; I am but just begining to walk about, & attend the House, where I am indulged with being permitted to sit, when I have Occasion to speak, for I am not able to stand five Minutes at a time, & find myself fatigued, beyond Measure, by the Share which Necessity obliges me to bear in the public Business, since Mr. Jefferson (who is appointed Governor) has left the House. We go on, as usual, slowly, & are spending that time in Trifles & Whims, which ought to be applyed to the important Objects of restoring our Finances, & defending our Country: as a proof of this, a Bill has this Day passed the House for removing the Seat of Government, erecting magnificent Buildings &c. to be compleated in five Years. I have Hopes it will be rejected, or at least the expensive part of it altered, or prolonged, in the Senate.
The Tax Bill has been materially altered & Equality aimed at; I can't say I entirely approve the plan; however I think it much better than the former; it will be imediatly printed, & sent into the Countys, that the Collection of this Year's Taxes may not be defeated.
A Resolution has passed nem: con: for ratifieing the French Alliance, so far as is in the Power of this Commonwealth: after what has been written & published here, &considering that the Confederation is not yet acceded to by all the States, we thought this a necessary Measure: a Friend of yours, I thought, seemed to feel some things which were said on the Occasion. A Bill for establishing Boards of War & Trade have passed both Houses. Bills for opening a Land Office, & for setling the Titles of the Claimers to Lands under the former Government, have, with a good deal of Labour, been carryed thro' a pretty numerous Committee, upon Principles of sound policy & Justice; the Fund, in Aid of our Taxes, arising from the Sale of the ba[c]k Lands, will be immense, if the Bill stands upon it's present Ground; but I understand both Bills are to be warmly opposed, & before they get thro' our Butcher's Shambles, the Committee of the Whole House, they will probably be mutilated mangled &chop'd to Peices. Some very important Resolutions have been entered into today, for drawing the Lines of Distinction between our absent Citizens & Enemies, declaring who shall be permitted, & who refused to return, for naturalizing Foreigners, & for imediatly selling the real & personal Estates of all alien Enemies, & lodging the Money in our Treasury, subject to the further Order of the Assembly; so far as I can judge, by what passed upon my explaining them to the House, they will meet with little Opposition; these are all the Means we have in our Power to prevent the further Depreciation of our Money, high & equal Taxation, Sale of the back Lands, & of British property, & I hope they will be effectual; I have also a Bill before the House upon the Subject of Retribution, in the Manner I formerly mentioned to you, it will meet with Opposition, but I believe will pass.
The last Elections have mended our House, in Point of Abilities, but I fear not in sound Whigism & Republican Principles.
A Committee is appointed to answer the Maryland publications, & another to consider of Mr. Penet's proposals; but we have not yet met upon either.
We have Accounts from the Southward, which tho' not absolutely authenticated, I think can hardly be doubted, that the Enemies Army, tempted by the promises of the Tories, & hoping to carry the Place before Genl. Lincoln cou'd come up, made a forced March to Charles Town; which, after a fine Hours Cannonade, they attempted to Storm; but were repulsed, with the Loss of more than a thousand Men, by the Garrison, & General Moultrie, who had thrown himself, with two thousand Men, into the Town, that they retreated with great precipitation, leaving all their Artillery & Baggage, & that their whole Army wou'd probably fall into our Hands.
We are not likely to mend our Delegation in Congress; some of our best Men have refused to go, & others will not risque their Reputation with Men in whom they can't confide. My Paper will not give me Room to add more than that I am with my Compliments to your Lady & Family, Dr. Sir, Yr. affecte. Friend & Servt.,