Front Page Titles (by Subject) JUDGE PETERS TO JAY. - The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826)
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JUDGE PETERS TO JAY. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 4 (1794-1826).
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JUDGE PETERS TO JAY.
Belmont, December 12th, 1818.
My Dear Sir:
Although our correspondence is rare, my most sincere regards for you are uninterrupted. I have outlived, and so have you, so many old friends and contemporaries, that the very few left me are the more valuable for their scarcity. New acquaintances I make the most of; but old and valued friends delight me with solid enjoyments, more easily felt than described. And yet, in what is called society, a bystander would suppose that I never had any other than the companions of the day. I seldom mix with what is called now convivial society; but tho’ an inveterate water drinker, I can keep pace with such society by sympathy. I live with my old friends (not seldom with you), as the Sweden-borgeans do with departed spirits; strong attachments and zealous recollections work up the predisposed fancy into a belief of real presence. It is a pleasing delusion, which grey-bearded scrutiny, and what is called rational investigation, should never extinguish. It is a most agreeable and fascinating cullibility; whereof it is more wise than foolish to become the willing and unresisting dupe. Far advanced in my seventy-fifth year (and I believe you have entered it), I have great reason to be thankful to a beneficent Providence, that I am not afflicted with the chronic or other maladies of old age. Much I attribute to good spirits, temperate living, and the constant use of the cold bath. I give you this egotistical history, that you may inform me, in return, of the state of your health, which, I fear, has not been so prosperous; but is really a subject of no small interest with me.
I have continued in my judicial employment more from habit than uninterrupted inclination; and it is, at times, burthensome, and always ill-requited. I see Congress are about re-modelling the department, and what they will make of it, I do not know (possibly they do not themselves know), nor do I feel much anxiety on the subject. The whole state of things is so different from what we in our day contemplated, that it is more surprising our judicial arrangements, formed in the early stage of our national existence, should have continued so long and so effectively, than that they should now be changed.
My attention to my judicial duty has abstracted me from my private affairs; which are, however, free from the embarrassments which have overwhelmed many adventurers, who had better have been idle. My thorough-bass amusement consists in rural enjoyments, which have been more profitable to others than myself. I have given you a specimen of this kind of enjoyment by directing our fourth volume of Memoirs to be sent to you, and I hope it will arrive safely to your hands. There may not be much instruction, but we have assisted in raising our fellow-citizens to proper views of the real and substantial interests of our country. There is a most gratifying spirit everywhere on this subject, by which the rising generation may profit; but it is too late in the day for either you or I to enjoy much of its advantages. So we thought, however, in our revolutionary exertions, and yet what a mass of prosperity and happiness have we lived to see accumulated in every quarter of our country! When I carry my recollections back to my early knowledge of its husbandry, the contrast exhibited by its present improvement (yet but imperfect) fills me with most pleasing sensations.
There is a jealousy in our mother country still apparent of most of the rapid improvements we have arrived at; and I have strong expectations that those in agriculture will ere long equal, if not exceed all others. I keep up a good understanding with the British agricultural people with whom I come in contact; but it amuses me to perceive that, although many are liberal, many are otherwise. Some years ago we sent a volume of our Memoirs to Scotland. It was very civilly received; but several of their leading agricultors took occasion to observe that we were an hundred years behind them, and even very unequal to English farming. So I left Sawney and John Bull to settle that point. I sent lately an American scythe and cradle, which they had not before seen; nor was it used in England. They received it graciously; and I had civil thanks from a vice-president of the Board of Agriculture; but he at the same time let me know that it was a Flemish and not an American implement. I desired my friend who transmitted the cold civility, to have it labelled “a Flemish implement sent to England by the way of the United States of America!” There is an awkward instrument in Flanders containing the rudiments of our scythe and cradle, but as unequal to ours as their ships to those of our country; yet ours are American ships, and not a little envied and squinted at.
I have been lately reading, with great pleasure, the Life of our late distinguished friend Dr. Franklin. Have you read it? I see he glosses over in a letter to the then secretary for foreign affairs (Livingston) the affair of Vergennes sending his secretary to England, pending our negotiations in the treaty of peace. I think you told me all about it; and I have ever had different impressions from those the Dr. portrays. He says it was merely to ascertain whether or not the British ministry had serious intentions to make an equal, solid, and lasting peace with us and our allies. I have always believed there was an underplot in the business. I think something of this appears in your journal, which I assisted to read in Congress in 1782 and 3. Much bruit was made then by the French diplomacy, about your signing the preliminaries without previous notice to them; but I always thought you entirely in the right, not only as a security in so important a measure, but to guard against embarrassments, with reason apprehended from the French manœuvres. I voted against an unwarrantable philippic of censure, brought forward in Congress against your conduct, to please the French. I thought then, and do now, that it was a mean compliance. Our friend Madison, who was generally then with us, left his friends on that subject, and I never liked him the better for it.
I see Congress have rejected the claim of Beaumachi’s representatives. All my recollections put them in the right in so doing. True, Silas Deane made an ostensible private contract with B.; but I always was taught to believe him a mere showman, and that the supplies were a gift from France, which she could not openly then avow. The unaccounted money, about which much noise has been made, I always believed to have been devoted to secret service and douceurs to French agents, whose remunerations could not publicly appear. All or most of the articles went through my hands, or under my observation, when in the war office, and a more complete piece of fripponerie never was seen. Very many of the articles were worthless, and among them the brass cannon were old rampart pieces, only valuable for the metal, which was recast in our foundries. All these things, however, appear now as dreams. What is real, and lives longer than these transactions in my memory, is, that I am always, and have been, truly and affectionately yours,