Northumberland August 9th. 1807.
I received your letter here on my return from the Court of Erors & Appeals at Philadelphia. I send you my Copy of the memoirs, with some [emendations] and marginal notes, which tho they do not ornament the pages, will serve to explain some passages which the errors of the press converted into nonsense. I laboured under a very dangerous, and very painful illness while I composed my part, and I was too impatient of labour to attend to the Subjects as much as I could have wished. But I do not recollect any thing to obliterate.
I send you the book in conjunction with Mr Priestley who always wishes to join me in any mark of respect to you, but pressed as you are by important business, you will hardly peruse more than Dr. Priestley’s unaffected narration of his own life & pursuits.
While I was in Philada. I heard that Dr. Leib, Tench Coxe, Genl. Steele, Genl. Bryan and Genl. Shee, had been making application to step into the shoes of Genl. Muhlenberg, as soon as he dies. For their sakes may he live a thousand years. Genl. Shee excepted, a more precious collection of unprincipled office-hunter’s, our Commonwealth does not produce. As to Steele, Leib and Coxe, they are not easily paralleled any where.
I have no office to seek, or favour to ask, or interest to serve, and therefore with less scruple take the liberty of making suggestions; the more especially as you are not under the slightest possible obligation to make me any reply. I wish to God you had no cause of complaint real or imaginary against Joseph Clay, whom I love notwithstanding our difference in politics: or, that my very excellent friend John Vaughan were not a federalist.
I have heard some thing of distance between you and Jos. Clay, which I very much regret, for he possesses talents, integrity, and honest intentions: nor [can] he approve tho’ he may excuse, the haughty sarcastic insulting stile of John Randolph’s Philippics.
My very good and respected old friend Governor MKean whose virtues will be remembered, when his faults and his foibles are long forgotten, told me a circumstance the other day which hurt me in some degree. He said that on giving me the office of Judge (which by the way I did not seek, and long refused till I had brought my Wyoming Commission to a close) he expressed himself to you, rejoiced at the opportunity of shewing me another proof of his esteem; and as he regarded you as my sincere well wisher, he expected that you would be as glad of the occasion as he was. But your letter in reply avoided all notice of me, or of the circumstance: which led him to expect, that some unfavourable & unfounded report had reached your ears concerning me. For my part I think he considered me as of more consequence in your opinion, than I was in any degree entitled to, & I can very easily conjecture, that having done me the good office of recommending me to his notice, there was no occasion on your part, to say any thing more on the Subject. If this were the case, I sh[all] be glad. But if you have heard any report unfavourable to my conduct or character, I can safely pronounce it unfounded.
Indeed I have full right to say, that I have so acted as to merit the approbation of those whose good opinion has contributed to place me where I am. My sincere respect for both of you has operated as an additional motive to me in my Conduct: & altho’ it be sufficient that I shall not disgrace myself, it is no slight consideration that I shall neither disgrace you or him.
Mr Priestley requests to join me in assurances of sincere regard and esteem.
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.