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City of Washington, February 15, 1807.
Dear Sir, I received your agreeable favor, with its inclosure, for which accept my thanks. Your New Year's ode was well adapted to the object in view, and the perusal of it afforded me much pleasure.
Colonel Burr has supplied much fund of conversation. No doubt is now entertained here of his having engaged in schemes of the most daring and illegal kind. Having left Kentucky under a belief that he was innocent, it was with no little surprise upon my arrival here that I found I had been deceived. Entertaining the opinion I did, I ventured at Chillicothe to speak with some freedom upon measures proposed there of a harsh character, and unjustified, as it appeared to me, by public exigences. It is to this cause that the strictures upon my conduct, alluded to in yours, are owing. They give me no pain, as I am conscious of having participated in no illegal projects of Burr, and know that I will not be suspected of having done so by any who know me.
Alexander has been discharged for want of proof Bollmar and Swartwout remain in custody. They applied to the Supreme Court of the United States, now in session, for a writ of habeas corpus. Some of the judges doubted their power to grant it, as it was not included within the enumerated powers conferred upon that tribunal in the Constitution. The question has been discussed, and three judges to two [Chase and Johnson] have determined in favor of the application. The prisoners are to be brought before the Court to-day.
The papers inform you of the great events passing upon the European theater. A measure has been lately taken by Bonaparte of a most gigantic nature, the declaration that the islands of Great Britain are in a state of blockade. It is said that our minister at Paris has written on to Government that our commerce is not to be affected by it ; I apprehend, however, that it will subject it to much embarrassment.
The session of Congress has not been so interesting as I had anticipated. No questions in relation to our foreign intercourse, involving much discussion, have been agitated ; every thing depends upon the result of pending negotiations, and this will not be known, it is probable, until the session expires.
I expect to be accompanied to Kentucky by two young gentlemen, one proposing the practice and the other the study of the law, The latter will continue with me. I am glad to find that you have been getting acquainted with Strange. He is a valuable reporter, but occupies a second station only in the grade of merit. I calculate upon finding you much improved in your law knowledge. Two words will make any man of sound intellect a lawyer, industry and application, and the same words with a third, economy, will enable him to make a fortune.
My respects to your fellow-students ; and tell them they have been very inattentive to me in not writing.
Present me also to the very amiable and sensible man with whom you reside.
- Henry Clay