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I this morning received your letter of the 9th inst., with the interesting sermon which it enclosed, and I thank you for them both.
A proper history of the United States would have much to recommend it : in some respects it would be singular, or unlike all others ; it would develop the great plan of Providence, for causing this extensive part of cur world to be discovered, and these "uttermost parts of the earth" to be gradually filled with civilized and Christian people and nations. The means or second causes by which this great plan has long been and still is accomplishing, arc materials for history, of which the writer ought well to know the use and bearings, and proper places. In my opinion, the historian, in the course of the work, is never to lose sight of that great plan.
Remarkable interpositions of Divine Providence arc fine subjects, but the exhibition cannot have a full effect, unless accompanied with a distinct view of the objects and state of things to which they relate ; it is by discerning how admirably they are accommodated and fitted to answer their intended purposes, that the reader is made to reflect and feel properly.
Few anions us have time and talent for such a work. I am pleased with the prospect of your undertaking it ; and I do believe, that with a due allowance of time, that is, of several years, you would execute it well.
As to aid from me, I am far more willing than able to assist you. I became sick last autumn, and have not had a well day since. Although better, I am still feeble ; and can neither bear much exercise, nor much employment of any kind : even in reading and in writing, I find it necessary to be abstemious.
I regret the circumstances which deprived me of the pleasure of receiving a visit from you; for no conversations are more agreeable to me, than those with persons whom I esteem, and in which the utile and the duke arc blended. With the best wishes for your health and happiness,
I am, dear sir, Your affectionate and obedient servant,
- John Jay
- The Life John Jay With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers. by His Son, William Jay in Two Volumes. Vol. II., 1833.