From Ruth Barlow
Paris Feby. 10, 1813.
You will doubtless be informed, before receiving this, of the dreadful event which has deprived me of the best of Husbands & my Country of a zealous & devoted friend.1 Borne down by this cruel this unexpected stroke, I know not get fortitude2 to support my sinking health. Every thing about me has now become disagreeable. I wish to return to my Country & friends. In May or June the season will be the best to make the passage. If a protection can be procured, I think there may be found in some of the ports of France, Capns. that will be glad to take my family & effects, to secure there vessels a safe conveyance to America. I hope my dear Sir, you will be able to assist me, as I cannot go to Sea with my helpless Sister, without a protection. She has not walked a step in feefteen [sic] months & tho’ she has been during this period under the care of the first Surgeons of Paris there seems little appearance of any amelioration.3
I intended to send my Niphew to America to make you some important communications, & to arrange our return. Mr. Wardens indelicate, & I think, incorrect conduct, has obliged me to detain him to protect the private papers which regard the Negociations.4 He will give you the particulars which I am incapable of doing at present. My affectionate regards to Mrs. Madison, & to Mrs. Monroe. With every sentiment of esteem & regard I am dear Sir—Yr. fd. & St.
RC (PHi: Gratz Collection). Addressee not indicated; identified as JM on the basis of internal evidence and the existence of a similarly worded letter of the same date from Ruth Barlow to James Monroe (DNA: RG 59, ML).
1. For Joel Barlow’s death, see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 5:455 n. 1.
2. In her letter to Monroe of the same date, Barlow wrote, “I know not how to get fortitude …” (DNA: RG 59, ML).
3. Ruth Barlow’s sister Clara Baldwin wrote to Dolley Madison on 16 Feb. 1813 mentioning her poor health and confinement to a “long chair” (ViU). She had suffered a knee injury. Arrangements were made for Baldwin, Ruth Barlow, and Barlow’s nephew Thomas Barlow to return to the United States in early September 1813 (Woodress, A Yankee’s Odyssey, 292, 307).
4. For the origins of the dispute over the management of the Paris mission after Barlow’s death, see David Bailie Warden to JM, 26 Jan. 1813, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 5:623 and n. 2. Baldwin’s letter to Dolley Madison of 16 Feb. 1813 also gave a detailed account of the dispute (ViU).