Table of Contents

A good deal of the correspondence of John Barton the Elder (1754-1789) has survived and is reproduced here alongside two early letters about him. Such letters written about JB are colour-coded dark blue. Letters written to JB are coloured green. Also included here (coloured purple) is an opinion piece by JB, using the alias 'Hiero', published in the Cumberland Pacquet, a local newspaper. He wrote many more which I hope to add as I find them.

Original copies of the letters from JB to William Roscoe are held by the Museum of Liverpool. Original copies of the letters written to JB by his first wife Maria Done (1752-1784) are held by NJB.

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Mr Lowthion to Bernard Barton, January 1772

[Mr Lowthion was JB's schoolmaster (John would have been 17). JB's father's reply, below, is the only piece of his personal correspondence that we currently know of.]

Mr. Barton, Carlisle.

Mr. Lowthion presents his most respectful Comps. to good Mr. & Mrs. Barton, and has the pleasure to assure them that their Son behaves in the most unexceptionable manner, & so as to conciliate the esteem of all his acquaintance. He is modest, obliging and docible; laudably desirous of farther information and sollicitous to make the best improvement of his time and opportunities. He has revised the doctrine of Algebra, and is now going regularly through the Elements, after which Mr. Lowthion hopes to make him thoroughly Master of Trigonometry and then carry him through a course of Geography, and then he doubts not but his young friend will be able to prosecute his Mathematical studies with ease and pleasure, at his leisure hours.

He most cordially congratulates good Mr. & Mrs. Barton upon the fair prospect they have of being blessed with a sensible, sober & affectionate Son, at the head of a rising family; and his best endeavours shall never be a wanting to contribute his part towards so desirable a purpose.

Newcastle 16th. Janry 1772.

Bernard Barton to Mr. Lowthion, January 1772

Carlisle 21st Jany. 1772

Kind Sir,

I recd. your agreeable card of Jany. 16th & can assure you I can better feel than express the pleasure you give me by the Acct. of My Son's conduct. May kind Providence Grant him resolutions to persevere in well doing, Indeed I cannot have the least apprehension of the reverse while he is in his present situation. He has Acquir's Such a respect for Mr. Lowthion that I dare say it would make him quite unhappy if he was Guilty of an Action that would the least displease him, How happy would it be for the rising Generation could as Good an Understanding be Acquired between every Master and his Pupil, when it is ye Contrary as is too often the case what progress can be expected in their Intended Studies.

I am happy in the good fortune of having a Son placed under your care where Morals as well as Science is some part of his study, a Pathron[?] too much neglected in most part of our schools and am well assur'd that nothing will be wanting on your part towards the imploying his time to the best advanatage.

I am Dr. Sir with the greatest respect Yr. Most Obliged Able Ser.

John Barton to Mr. George Stather, July 1774

[JB was 19, although a note on this transcript incorrectly notes that he was ‘then wanting 2 months to complete his 25th year’]

Carlisle 4th July, 1774

Dear Sir,
It is w’th real concern that I recieve information of the great dislike y’o have expressed to that station of life, in w’ch you have been told, I have some intentions of engaging._ your known character as a man of sense and goodness obliges me to wish for your approbation; and the many distinguishing marks I have been happy enough to receive, of your friendship and regard, give you justest title to the best apology I can make for my conduct. ---- Perhaps I am now be steadily fixed to ask with any propriety for your advice; but I would gladly flatter myself, my resolutions (for they are indeed little less than resolutions) will not deprive me of your esteem; on which, I can with great truth assure you, I set the highest value. ----- I readily indeed confess myself highly reprehensible for not making you acquainted with my sentiments sooner; though I shall not trouble you with an apology for my silence: for I know of none that can justify my omission to myself, — and therefore, none that it would not be ridiculous to offer to my friend.

I long since informed you, that I couId not but prefer a studious, to a mercantile life; and you are not ignorant, that, in consequence of this preference and my late dear father's acquiescence, I was actually prosecuting my studies, with a view of qualifying myself either for the bar or the pulpit, for some time before his death. ‘Tis true indeed, the former was thought to be the more eligible scheme, but the latter was not without many arguments in its favour. One of these was however, at any rate, to have been my choice; and nothing else was thought of, till it pleased heaven to deprive me of the best of parents. Then, indeed, it was thought highly necessary, for the interest of the family, that I should continue to prosecute that business, in w’ch he had been so long, though perhaps neither successfully nor agreeably engaged: and as I thought it my duty to make the family's interest my own, I agreed to act in conformity to this judgement; - nor should I ever have thought of changing my situation (though by no means an agreeable one) if it would have answered the intended purpose. But this was found not to be the case. Experience has amply evinced, that the bussiness cannot be prosecuted to any good purpose, nay we are, at this very time, dealing for nothing.

What then remained for me, but to make another choice?—and what was to be the object of it? That surely, whatever if might be, w’ch was most compatible with my genius, inclination, and circumstances. — And after the most serious deliberation with myself, (w’ch I trust was under the influence of a sober regard for my own welfare, and for the welfare of the family) I could think of no scheme of life which, all things considered, suited me so well as the one I have adopted. 'Tis true indeed, I cannot expect to acquire a fortune in the prosecution of this plan,—but I entertain no doubts of acquiring a competence, -- and a competence is all I wish for, ---- The wants of nature are easily supplied; and I can honestly say, with old Fabricius, that —"if I am without superfluities, I am also free from the desire of them." --- The acquisition of wealth, therefore, I leave, without envy or regret, to those whom riches can make happy.

The generality of those who have censured my choice, have rested their arguments solely on (what the world calls) interest; — But you have gone further. You have, it seems, been pleased to compliment me on my abilities; w’ch, you think, would be entirely thrown away, should I prosecute my intended plan; —you think too that such a choice would render me useless to the publick. --- Concerning my abilities, I am by no means a competent judge. To depreciate them, might be looked upon as a mark of affectation; and if I am happy enough to be possessed of any, it would ill become me to sound the trumpet of my own fame. Whatever they may be, however, of this I am certain, that they were never half so agreeably exerted on commercial as on contemplative subjects. I ever sat down to my ledger w’th a sort of constraint; I always perused a Locke, an Addison, or a Pope with delight; — and where, my good friend, shall we hope to be engaged with advantage, but in that employment w’ch is congenial to y mind?

But can Mr Stather be serious when he seems to intimate that no abilities are required in a clergyman, — in one whose business it is to explain and inculcate the great principles of religion and morality? Is there no art, are there no abilities required, to make men, forsake their vices, and pursue the paths of virtue? Alas! I fear there is much of both required, — much more than the generality are willing to take the trouble of attaining. And perhaps it may be owing to a want of attention to the important duties of their high calling, that the clergy are, in general, sunk so low in the esteem of mankind, — that their sacred character (for when it is sustained with a becoming dignity, a sacred character most assuredly it is) instead of being the object of veneration, is become the subject of --- I had almost said, contempt.

Perhaps I have it not in my power to bring many proofs of the great benefits conferred on mankind by the clergy; yet some, I am persuaded, we have reaped from them: and, were they careful to discharge the trust reposed in them, as they ought, we might reasonably expect to reap much more. But if they enter not upon the sacred office from their own free choice, and if that choice be not founded on a true sense of the dignity of their character, a benevolent desire, to instruct & reform mankind, to be wise to win souls, and to do the work of him that sent them, ---- why need we wonder that they make so poor a progress in their business? or that the laws of their great master are still disregarded & trampled on with impunity? ----- But surely when these motives prevail,— when they are actuated by a benevolent & well-regulated zeal, for the glory of true religion and the good of mankind, they may consider themselves as workmen who need not be ashamed; — they may entertain a well-grounded hope of being acceptable to GOD, -- they have reason to expect the esteem and good wishes of their fellow-creatures, — and they cannot fail of attaining the approbation of their own hearts. --- If their good intentions be crowned with success - what heart-felt joy, what self-complacency must they not experience! With what divine raptures must it fill their breasts when they behold their light so shine before men, that the good are confirmed in their way, -- the bad brought to repeat & amend, -- and all of them to join in glorifying their father which is in heaven! ---Surely such a state is the most divine, the most glorious, that any human being can attain to!

But we will suppose he is not thus fortunate; we.will grant that his endeavours have failed of producing their intended effect; — still, however, he cannot be miserable. If we consider— "the serenity and lustre of his reflecting hours, --- the calm of resignation and the silent but emphatical gratulations of his own heart, — the sun-shine of conscience — and the animating prospect of eternal happiness" (things which no ill success can deprive him of) — If, I say, we consider these things, we shall still find him an object — (not of pity & contempt, but) of --- envy & veneration..........

Still, however, me think, I hear you say, that, my plan, at best, can be attended with but little proffit, considered in a lucrative sense; and that, notwithstanding all I have said, no prudent man would chouse, in laying out a plan for his future life, to omit a consideration of so much importance. —— Let us then enter a little more particularly into this argument; and see whether these so much idolized riches have a right to engross so much of our regard & attention as they commonly (perhaps too commonly) do ------- I readily grant they have a just claim to our regard, within certain limits; and no one can deny that to be wholly regardless of them, is highly absurd and ridiculous. I would not have you suppose that I affect to have arrived (for I believe no one can really arrive) at that sovereign contempt for all temporary emoluments, w’ch can make its possession (if any did possess it) utterly regardless of the things of tomorrow. I would not wantonly despise the blessings w’ch affluence might procure
me;—but surely it needs no gradual demonstration to prove that — to pursue riches at the expence of goodness,---to suffer ourselves to be diverted from pursuing any laudable plan for their sakes — or to place our affections on things which have no real intrinsic value in themselves, is, at best, irrational & absurd — perhaps, viciously impious. — I think we need no other proof of the futility of riches in procuring us happiness, than this viz. that 'tis utterly impracticable for the greatest part of mankind to possess them: for surely, infinite goodness could never make so many creatures with so strong a propensity to happiness, and place the means of attaining it out of the reach of all but a very few of them. And whether this observation is not confirmed by daily experience, I might safely appeal to the most inattentive observer of human nature. For though the pageantry, the ostentation, and the glare of riches may, for a moment, dazzel the imagination; yet, no sooner do we consult reason and experience, than the gay meteor vanishes, and we are quickly convinced they were the covering only to Jealousy, Suspicion, Care and Anxiety. ------ Those who argue that riches are the chief end of rational pursuit may, indeed, convince me, that, wealth makes a part (perhaps a considerable part) of their happiness; — but they can never make it appear, that it is essential to the happiness of anyone. Upon such as are the dupes of an opinion at once so unmanly & ridiculous, I can look down with pity; — I should blush, if I thought I could envy them, — Nor am I apprehensive of losing anything by this way of thinking, --- nothing at least that deserves to be put in competition with the power, or even the desire, of befriending mankind. For though it may deprive me of the power of acquiring such a fortune as I might (perhaps) gain, by a sedulous attention to mercantile business; - yet, as a fine writer very justly observes, "that feeling w’ch presents the acquisition of wealth, is formed for the support of poverty; the contentment of the poor, I had almost said their pride, buoys up the spirit against the depression of adversity, and gives to our very wants the appearance of enjoyment."

In short, those who pretend to measure a man's happiness by the length of his purse, — though they may make use of a common, yet I am sure it is a fallacious rule. We grant, indeed, that, according to the present constitution of things, and the order which prevails in the universe

"Some are, & must be greater than the rest,
More rich, more wise; But who infers from hence
That such are happier shocks all common sense."

You will probably tell me that, these are fine romantic notions, which may, for a while, amuse the imagination, and supply the place more substantial goods, - but that, after all, they are ever, I am willing to believe so. --- By cultivating these sentiments in my mind, I find myself better reconciled to my situation, — "they sweeten the cup of life as I drink it," — and gradually prepare me for acquitting myself with a becoming dignity and honour, in that station (that honourable station, permit me to call it) which I hope I shall, in a little time, fill. --- Why then would you deprive me of these prejudices (if they are prejudices) w’ch contribute such much to my own comfort and usefullness, and interfer not with that of any other person's? "Would you pluck its little treasure from the bosom of poverty, or beat down the pillar which supports the feebleness of humanity? --- Ah! --- think for a moment — and your heart will arrest the cruelty of y’r purpose."

I am told, you are by no means satisfied with the thoughts of my being a dissenting Minister; but if any uneasiness has arisen in your mind on that occasion, you need be no Ionger in pain about it. At present, my only resolution is to be a clergyman; — it will then be time to determine of what sect, when I am enabled to judge of their respective merits. But this I will freely confess to you, that, if there be anyone of them, the tenets of which are more favourable to rational religion, than the one in which I have been brought up, — I shall be so far from thinking it a crime, that I cannot but consider it as my duty to embrace it. ------

But, whatever other character, I may sustain, I hope I shall never forget that import precept of nature of Christianity, which teaches me to be as much your gratefull and affectionate, as I have long been your oblig'd and befriended.


A. Charnley to John Barton, September 1774

[JB was aged 19. Mr. Lowthion, at whose school John Barton had been a pupil (see letter above), lived in the Forth, Newcastle, and the boarding pupils lived with him. A bookseller called William Charnley also lived there, with his two sisters, one of whom was called Anna. This letter is probably from her. It sounds as though she acted as housekeeper and as a sort of mother to the boys. She married Mr. Lowthion the following year.]

Mr. Barton, English Street, Carlisle

Well done John! If your sermons shall be proportionable to your letters, they will be unfashionable, but very acceptable to the judicious; as I doubt not, the former, like the latter, will be replete with just humour and good sense. I read and laugh, & laugh and read; and am all along entertained with the manner in which every paragraph is wrought up, the ground and the flowers being just what one wd wish, and what may naturally be expected, from an ingenious artist, very happy shall we be to have you as a member of our family; I will furnish you wth plenty of Beef and Mutton; and Mr Lowthion sais whilst others eat turnips and carrots, or such like gross vegetable food, you shall be feed in a more refined and elegant manner, by having a dish of Latin-Greek or Hebrew Roots served up every day; by wch you’ll become so fat & plump & sleek, and rubicund, that you may gracefully fill the stall of a Prebendary or a Dean, and then you may grow lean and meagre again by eating Venison and drinking Claret. Into whom wd not such glorious prospects infuse courage and the most resolute perseverance!

On Wednesday afternoon Mr Archbold came to town, we had the pleasure of his company at the Forth that evening, and yesterday he return'd to Acton; he sais Canny Betty is not yet got home, but he hopes she is well. We purpose setting forward for Wardren the 26th currt where I imagine we shall stay, about ten days or a fortnight; after which we hope for the pleasure of seeing you and your friends at Carlisle in our way to Penrith, and shall be happy to find you all well and hearty. — This day Mr. Lowthion goes to Durham upon particular business, and as Mr. Losh has never been there he purpose to accompany him in order to behold the beauties of that City: he talks of setting his face West-ward next week. Master Hetherington left us yesterday. I had almost forgot to inform you that I recd the coarse diaper, which I like much; when Mr Brunton's web is ready you'll be kind enough to send it directed to him at the Forth. Mr Lowthion and my Sister join in most respectful Compliments to you, good Mr Barton, and the whole family with, Dear Sir

Yr much obliged
& very sincere friend
A. Charnley
Forth 9th Septr 1774

John Barton to Mr. John Bell, April 1775

[JB was aged 20. Maria Done, the object of his affection, was 23. John Bell was a Minister of the Society of Friends (Quakers). The original of this letter was sent in 1824 to Bernard Barton the Quaker poet (1784-1849) by Deborah Robinson, who sent a covering letter with it in which she praised its 'manly sentiments'.]

Carlisle 27th April 1775

I am going, my much esteemed friend, to take the liberty of addressing you upon, and to solicit your kind, your Christian, interpostion and assistance in, an affair wch most deeply and tenderly affects me. In doing this, I should perhaps, by some, be thought to assume a Liberty which the shortness of our acquaintance would hardly justify — and the mode of application I have made choice of, 'tis very probable, might be censured, by many, as singular and extraordinary. But the assurance I already have of the goodness of your heart, is sufficient to encourage me to hope, that, when you reflect on the importance of the subject I am going to address you upon, (for me it is truly important) you will consider it as a sufficient apology for the freedom I have ventured to take, & likewise for the manner in which I have taken it.

It is entirely needless, I presume, to inform you of my prepossessions in favour of Miss Done, as I have sufficient reason to believe that this is an attachment which you are by no means ignorant of. It is an attachment which I have long avowed, which I have ever warmly cherished and cultivated, and which has been attended with many pleasing, many happy consequences. But, alas, all it's consequences have not been pleasing! ---- some it has produced which have been far, very far, from contributing to that happiness which I had flattered myself such an attachment could not fail to promote.

By endeavouring to obtain the esteem and affection of Maria, (and to obtain these I always have, and ever shall, do everything in my power) I have unfortunately incurred the united opposition of almost all her relations - a circumstance which has given me much pain --- and which is rendered a thousand times more afflicting by this most unpleasg consideration, that She likewise has perhaps experienced the unmerited slights of those who were formerly zealous to show every expression of cordial affection — and whose approbation and regard are still essential to her happiness. It is this circumstance which has cast a melancholy gloom over a connection that, in other respects, has equally contributed to my honour and satisfaction - and in order to remove this it is, that I ardently desire, and earnestly request, you would exert your friendly endeavours to put an end to their opposition —and to restore us, if possible, to the general esteem and friendship of one another. The particular part you act in that society to which all my opponents belong ---- your years, your character, your intimacy with the family, and in particular your well known esteem for Maria -- all these point you out as the man who, of all others, in best qualified for the important task I wish you to engage in. And surely that task is far from being an unworthy one ---- There can be no character wch as Men, and more especially as Christians, we ought to be more ambitious of sustaining than that of a Peace-maker — and Peace, meerly for its own sake, and the sake of Maria, is all I wish for.

It is very possible, indeed, that even this character, amiable as it generally is, may sometimes be an unworthy one, -- and cases may be supposed, both in public and private life, in the affairs of Families as well as those of Nations, wherein dishonourable Treaties may be made. But in the present instance, I would gladly hope, this is not the case. If I thought it was ---- if I had reason to expect that this connection would, in any instance, deprive Maria of anything wch was necessary to her happiness; or contribute in any measure to lessen her in the estimation of any one impartial individual whose good opinion was worth caring for — if I thought such a connexion would be dishonourable to herself, or to her family — much and sincerely as I wish for it — I seriously and solemnly declare, I would not persist in my suit another hour.

From what motives has arisen the opposition of her relations, I am at a loss to understand. Extreamly sorry should I be to suppose that it rested on any reasonable or solid foundation — and I am well persuaded it would be equally unjust to imagine it is grounded on a selfish or illiberal one. Would they but exercise that candour upon this occasion which is so natural to them upon others, I trust a little examination would make it appear that their opposition only proceeded from groundless prejudice or gross misinformation. And were they but once, through your friendly interposition, convinced of this — I hope their present shyness and reserve would be changed into a very different and much more agreeable sort of conduct.

But why am I presuming to beg your assistance in removing the objections of others, when, for anything I know to the contrary, those very objections are equally your own — and you yourself a party in that opposition which I am thus earnesting soliciting you to endeavour to put an end to? To confess the truth, I am not without my fears that this has hitherto, in some measure, been really the case. But such is my opinion of your candour & benevolence, that I persuade myself if you have, indeed, any considerable objections to the connection in question, you will tell me of them with frankness and ingenuity, and give me a fair opportunity of pleading my own cause in a case wherein I am so much interested: --- And if upon an impartial examination, you should still think it your duty to oppose me -- I have then no right to expect either encouragement or assistance from you.

In the mean while, I think I may be allow'd to say, without the imputation of vanity, that my conduct is as irreproachable, and my circumstances by no means worse, than those of another who was so far from being objected to by my opposers, that they did every thing in their powers to forward and befriend him. — One circumstance there was, indeed, in which he certainly had the advantage of me --- I mean his being of the same Religious profession with the amiable woman he wish'd to be connected with. But if this has been a principle objection, it need not be one any longer. Convinced as I am, and as I have publickly acknowledged myself to be, of the superiority of the tenets & principles of your Society over those of the church in which I have been educated, I can have no objection to a change of profession — if that change shall be found practicable. ---- I say "if such a change shall be found practicable" for I have often fear'd, I have sometimes been told, that the Society would not be willing to acknowledge me as a member. They may perhaps consider such a change, not as proceeding from real conviction but as matter of interest or convenience; — and think themselves sufficiently justified in supposing, that some other Love than that of Truth meerly has induced me to take so unusual a step.

Should these be their sentiments, and should these sentiments lead them to reject me, all my hopes of a reconciliation with Maria's Relations may prove groundless - and I may still experience those slights and that opposition from which I have already suffered so much. But if you are convinced of the contrary, I make no doubt you will have it in your power entirely to remove the scruples of others. Permit me, then, to give you this assurance, that though I should probably never have thought of becoming a member of your society, had my attachment to Maria never existed - yet still, that no attachment, however endearing, should induce me to espouse any principles of the truth of which I was not firmly convinced, - or to give an outward and verbal preference to any thing unwarranted by the conviction of my understanding and the feelings of my heart.

But I fear you will begin to think an apology necessary for retaining you so long. I have only one more request to make, and will detain you no longer.

Should this application not meet with its wish'd for success should you, instead of favouring me with your assistance, think it proper to act a contrary part, I hope you will at least be content to let this Letter pass by without further notice --- so that if it cannot be subservient to any useful purpose, I may still have the satisfaction of knowing that my futile endeavours are bury'd in oblivion. ----------

Believe me, I ever am, with much respect,
Your very sincere friend
JNo. Barton

Advertisement in the Cumberland Pacquet, summer 1775

Barton & Hodgson, Weavers Wanted 1775 SMALL.jpgWEAVERS WANTED

ANY Number, acquainted with the Check, Stripe, and Linen branches, may depend on meeting with employment, and all due encouragement, by applying to Mr. Forster, Mr. Ferguson, Messrs. Jos. Stodart & Co. Mr. Robert Stodart, or Barton & Hodgson, Manufacturers in CARLISLE.

N.B. The weavers who have quitted our respective manufacturers having thought proper to assert, in an advertisment in the Newcastle Chronicle of the 22nd of July, that they were not able to earn more than 5s. 6d. per week, working 15 hours per day. We think it necessary to inform the public that, on a particular examination of their accounts, it appears that their constant wages throughout the year amount, on an average, from 7 to 8 Shillings per week, clear of all deductions; and that some individuals amongst them have frequently earned from 10 to 12 Shillings per week: nor is it necessary to work any such hours as they talk of, for earning the wages here mentioned.

We are ready to give full satisfaction, concerning this or any other particular, to those who may chuse to apply for work; and we hope this assurance of the falseness of their assertions (an assurance which shall be supported by indisputable evidence) will most effectually invalidate the aim of an advertisement, evidently calculated to deceive the public, and to deter other men from supplying the places they have imprudently left.

We will venture further assure the public, that the lowness of their wages was not the real cause of the step they have taken; but they wished to avail themselves of a supposed extraordinary briskness of orders for the article, and hoped to FORCE their employers into a compliance with their unreasonable demands. As the bad consequences which such a conduct will ever be attended with in a manufacturing country must appear extremely evident to every person of discernment, it is hoped those who have been guilty of it, will meet with proper discouragement from the public in general, and from all MANUFACTURERS in particular.


Carlisle Quaker Minutes, 20 October 1775

"A denial given forth at this meeting against Mary Done for marrying one not in unity by a Priest the same to be read as usual."

Maria Done to John Barton, ~February 1776

[Written five months after they were married]

Single (Carlisle postmark)
Mr. Barton to be left with Mr. Geo. Brumell, Pilgrim Street, N. Castle
Carlisle Sunday Afternoon

Previous to the writing of this, Barton I have form'd fifty resolutions, that mine shou'd not be the language of complaint, & what has been the result? That when I took up the pen, (my mind impress'd with this idea) I knew not what to say, strange! that this cou'd ever be the case, when addressing myself to Barton but thus it will ever be, when we attempt to act in contradiction to the feelings of the heart, or endeavour to assume a gaiety to w’ch it is a Stranger --- far hence, then, be all disguise, & all dissimulation whatsoever, if formerly we were Untinctur'd by it influence surely now it cannot be necessary. The heart, of w’ch Barton is the sole, the entire posessor, fears not to lay open all its tenderness, all it weaknesses to him, the former is indeed its glory, & the last sentiment with w’ch it wishes to part, and for the latter it entreats, & hopes for the kindest endullgence. I know this absence is indispensable and trust it will soon be over - why then am I thus anxious - or wherefore shou'd my heart, at time, be ready to sink with alarm ... apprehensions I know this is a weakness, of w’ch I ought to be ashamed, but cannot repent, since I wou'd not exchange even these anxieties for all the ease, w’ch indifference cou'd purchase - if the draught, be not too bitter, or too frequent, I will be content to taste of sorrow sometimes - esspecially if there be, one drop of comfort, one hope of future happiness infus'd in the potion. — and destitue of this comfort I trust I shall never be - it consoles, me at this moment, & is more to me than the whole world wou'd be without it; the first prayer of my heart, the first wish that it forms in regard to temporal good, is for the safety of my Barton, & the preservation of affection, But do I call these temporal goods? Surely they include all that is necessary to Happiness here, or essential to it here-after. On what does the continuance of Barton's affection depend, but on my perseverence in that path of rectitude, w’ch cannot fail at last to lead to everlasting peace? ----- Many, I fear, are the devious steps I may tread, but my aim I trust will ever be invariably the same can it possably be other wise? is there a motive that can animate to the performance of any duty w’ch I have not - No, my Dear Barton, the heart that is attach'd to thee by ev'ry tender tie, that is conscious of having rec'd ev'ry endear'g obligation, never can forget that it is a love of virtue alone, w’ch must strengthen the one, & an equal return of affectionate assiduities wch can ensure the other ----

But I have been repeatly interupted - surely this afternoon might have been spar'd to myself – Ah! why is the World so mortifieingly civil? "Mr. Barton is from Home I find, y’r Dull ... enough I suppose, come I'll sit with you an hour out of mere Charity" --- Ah! charitable visetor wou'd thou be truely so, leave me to myself, or rather to my pleas’g employment, the Pen, the ink, & paper is before me, surely this is sufficient to shew, that a viset now, is an intrusion" --- Yesterday even’g I had Company to Tea, & to Day, I with great difficulty excus'd myself from making one in a Party at Mr. Yeats - why must one be thus importun'd, thus almost compel'd to do what is little less than disagreable? — yet if it proseeds from a motive of kindness I may forgive - but cannot think myself oblig'd by it. -- do they think I am solitary, without company — mistaken idea! The happiest moments I enjoy while Barton is seperated from me, are those w’ch are spent alone, I am then most with him - I forget the present, in reflect’g on the past & realize the future by anticipating the moment of his return. ----

My Dear Barton is by this time I hope, safe arriv'd at N Castle - perhaps at this moment employ'd in writing to me, since on Tuesday Night he has bid me expect a letter. Thanks, therefore a thousand time, for when this arrives I hope to have rec'd it — but how poor is the accknowlegement of words? I feel it is, & will not therefore attempt what they never can Convey.

But what a letter is this? Two pages, wrote, & still on the same subject, why tis a mere love letter — the most unfashionable thing in the world between Husband & Wife - & after having been 5 months married too! ---- well be it so then — if the tenderist sentiments of the heart are lost, amidst the too prevalent levity of Modern Manners - may we ever remain uninfluenc'd, & uninfected by their fatal contagion! -----

One peice of intelligence I must not omit, because, on some Accounts I know twill be plea[sing]. My Sister Holmes was with me yesterday aftern[oon] and whilst we were at Tea, a verry kind, & civil m[essage] was sent from my B’r & Sister Bewley to request [our] Company at supper , & to spend the Even’g we went tho' not without some reluctance on my part, as I was rather apprehensive it might be my Sisters request, in w’ch my B’r had only comply'd - but I had the pleasure to find myself mistaken, - my B’r it seems, com’g in, & not find’g my Sister Holmes in the House, enquir'd for her, & on being told she was with me, propos'd send’g an invitation to us both, w’ch was instantly agreed to by my Sister, whose good, & grateful heart was so affected, that she shed tears of Joy – Ah! Barton, if the Man had one grain of sensibility, wou'd he not feel some Compunction on hav’g so long with-held this happiness from her? - after some little embarrassment, at first, his behaviour was the same as formerly - no notice was taken of former transactions - & I gave them both an invitation – assur’g him, on behalf of us both, that we shou'd be glad to see him, w’ch he made no objection but his general aversion to viset’g — but why did I begin with this affair? it has taken up all the room in my paper, & I have yet a thousand things to say to thee - let me therefore say them all, my Dear Barton, in one sincere assurance, of being ever invariably

Thy Maria

Monday night - This has been a dreadful day, Barton, but I wou'd gladly flatter myself, that y’r Newcastle Frds have kept you amongst them, to all of whom I beg my best Compts — but in particuler Mr. Moresby from whom I have had the pleasure of receiv’g a letter, & intend writ’g this week — Adieu! — Adeiu! — MB —

Maria Done to John Barton, February 1777

Single. (Postmark Carlisle)
Mr. Jno Barton, Care of Mrs Graham, Saracen's Head, Glasgow.
Carlisle Feb’ry 6th 1777

What a letter my Dear Barton? --- my whole heart thanks thee for it - this is indeed double kind, because unexpected, unrequested - but it was ever thy delight to oblige to the uttmost, to prevent, or go beyond all the wishes & the hopes of thy Maria — She can but thank thee, & that be assur'd she wou'd wish to do in ev'ry action of her life, in ev'ry ardent and affectionate endeavour to Contribute to Thy happiness, & while'st this delightful power, this invaluable privilige is left her surely she herself will ever be rich, & happy.

"Supremely happy in th'awaken'd power of giveing Joy"

For is it not true my Dear Barton, that in a tender intercourse of affection the largest, the Dearist share of happiness we enjoy is that w’ch is deriv'd from the Communication of it to another? The mind is then Conscious, as it were, of a double enjoyment, & feels all the delight arise’g from the tender unison of its interests, & its wishes, ---- But why attempt to discribe an Attachment to w’ch the heart can alone do Justice but its own feelings? — to my Dear Barton, I trust nay I am assurd, I need not discribe it, his generous heart entertains every sentiment w’ch does honer to its own sensibility, or can add to the Happiness of his Maria. Dear, inestimable blessing! whatever be my position, in this World, may I never never lose thee! ---- Nor will I fear it, if I continue to deserve that affection w’ch it is my glory, my interest, my duty to secure, by ev'ry wish, by ev'ry aim, & of my life.

Again let me thank thee for thy letter - nor will I fail to attend to, and I hope, profit by the Salutary Councel it Contains; I am sensible these are the dictates of Love, no less than those of reason; Our Universal Benefactor, no doubt, intended ev'ry tender, ev'ry ch virtuous affection w’ch he has implanted in our nature to Contribute to & make a part of our happiness, to render them injurious to our welfare by an impropper endullgence, must therefore be Conterary to his will, as well as diametrically opposite to our own interest & Happiness.

Is not this Cool, & dispassionate reason’g my Dear Barton?—but Ah! these are sentiments to w’ch my head, rather than my heart gives the assent. — however be assur'd that I will — I do, do ev'ry thing in my power to make myself easy & cheerful during this absence—& that I am more so than I expected to be — let not then any thoughts of me, that are painful, intrude on any pleasure thou mayst enjoy. Enjoy it all my Dear Barton, enjoy ev'ry thing that thy journey can afford of pleasure, or entertainment, & on Thy return we will share, & enjoy it over again together. — I promise myself no small degree of pleasure & Amazement, from my Brother Joe's Journal, if he persevere (as I hope he will) in the Continuance of it. Mrs. Brumell [the wife or mother of John’s business partner] was kind enough to sit an hour or two last night with us, & I have like wise had Mrs Irwin & Miss Thomson to Tea ---- I know it is of Consequence to a happiness dearer to me than my own that I shou'd be easy & cheerful — but why do I say "my own" I have - I can have no property of this sort — whoever pretends to self-derived & indeprivable happiness — I at least shou'd "forbear a boast so vain".

Nor ......... ever regret a Circumstance, w’ch in itself ....... the sourse of unspeakable delight, 'tis .......... w’ch renders sweet (& not painful) evry obligation w’ch the grateful heart receives.

I owe all? & I rejoice to owe ev'ry thing to Thee. ---- nay more I wish ever to remain, except in gratitude & affection, thy deptor.

'Tis a fine Afternoon, I must therefore lay down the pen, that I may reap the benefit of it. --- 'Twas one of Thy requests my Dear Barton ---- nay more Thy inductions & sure they will all ever be sacred to

Thy Maria

My Sister begs her best love. Forget not both our Comp’ts to my B’r Joe. —

Maria Done to John Barton, February 1777

Mr. Jno Barton, Care of Messrs. Jackson & Gourley, Linen drapers, Edinburgh.
To be called for. (Postmark Carlisle)
Carlisle Feb’ry 8th 1777

Thy second letter, my Dear Barton, is just rec'd, & if anything cou'd add to the tender, the inestimable obligations, w’ch my heart owes to thee, it wou'd be this generous, this affectionate solicitude for my Happiness. – Ah! why am I not more worthy of such an Attachment? The question Carry's with it a tacit self-reproach w’ch is almost painful - yet if ardent wishes have any influence, I shou'd soon my Dear Barton become ev'ry thing that might best reward thy goodness, & affection. - Formerly I can recollect, during such abscen'es, as these, Thy letters were all my hope, & my Consolation - ev'ry sooth’g expression was balm to my heart - & ev'ry painful sensation w’ch our seperation gave thee, afforded me a sort of melancholly pleasure, w’ch I lov'd to endulge, tho' it was at once a species of sorrow & delight. - But now they soften me too much - they sink too, too deep into my heart, & when I wou'd rejoice in these tender assurances of affection, I am ready to weep for the sufferings w’ch that affection may cause to the best, the dearist of Husbands. —

Think less of me, my Dear Barton, Or at least think that I am as well, & as happy - as in thy absence I can be. - beleive me I do all in my power to be as chearful & easy as possable, for I know thou wishes it, & is not that a Motive sufficient or rather, can there be any other of equal importance to thy Maria? ---

I am delighted with the assurance that thou wilt not delay thy return one moment longer than is Absolutely necessary, yet greatly as I wish for it, do not ride late in the Even’g, or do any thing.that may endager thy health - this wou'd not be to gratify thy Maria, my Dear Barton, but to over-whelm her with Affiction - if her peace, if her Happiness, if her verry existance be dear to thee, be careful of thyself.

I have had a letter from Moresby, who is impatiently expect’g thy arrival - he talks of thee spend’g some hours of leaisure with him – but does he know at what a price they wou'd be purchas'd - I wou'd allow something, nay a good deal to his friendship - but in this case, & particularly at this time, I cannot be so generous as perhaps he might wish me - however when he is a Husband himself, tell him, I will venture to trust my cause to the feelings of his own heart.

I know not when I am to expect another letter from thee, for thou does not mention it in thy last, however, I trust, & am assur'd that no opportunity will be omited, & this ought to make me contented & happy. - Adieu ! I am interupted, but will resume my pen e'er long. —

And art thou indeed a pitiful Philosopher, my good Barton? & is it Love that has serv'd to make thee so - well regard it not - thou hast lost nothing that is amiable in the eyes of thy Maria. & if I misstake not, thou wou'd’st rather give up the vain Parade of Philosopy, than the dear privilige of being belov'd. - But there is little danger, of this kind, to be dreaded - fashion & folly are greater enimies than Philosophy, in the present age, to married Happiness, & the dear delights of domestic peace. If the Alters of Hymen are forsaken, it will not be by the Pupils of Wisdom, or of Science, but by the Votary's of Pleasure, Misstaken Wandere'rs from real [hap]piness, & true pleasure! how do I pitty th.............. One half of the Pains they take to impose on ........selves, & others, wou'd be sufficient to make them happy" - is a remark (tho’ in a different case) I have some where met with. —

I think I shall not be able to deny myself the pleasure of writ’g on Tuesday night, tho’ I may have nothing material to communicate -however do not possitavely expect it - at least do not be uneasy in the disapointment - tell me in thy next when I may expect another letter, but above all (if it be possable) when you will return. Adieu. Adieu! my Dear Barton, All assurances of Affection between us are surely unnecessary, let me then in one word only say that I am ever thy


Maria Done to John Barton, February 1777

Mr. Jno Barton, Care of Mr. Ja’s Campbell, Linen Draper, Alnwick.
(To be called for) (Carlisle Postmark)
Carlisle 11th Feb’y 1777

Tho’ I did not positavely promise write’g to my Dear Barton, by this opportunity yet, as I wou'd ever make it an invariable rule to do ev'ry thing that I think he wishes me to do, I cannot be easy without scribling a few lines, & tho’ I have nothing of Consequence to say, yet I hope the pen of his Maria will never be deem'd an impertinent intruder. — Cou'd I fear that this was, or wou'd ever be the Case, I shou'd indeed be too unhappy to complain, & too, too deeply affected to be troublesome. --- but I cannot, I will not fear it — in the affection, & goodness of my amiable Barton, my heart, rests with a sweet & tranquil Confidence. — it is the prop on w’ch all my Hopes lean -- the point in w’ch all my wishes are Center'd - Indeed, my Dear Barton, I bear this Absence (to w’ch I have often look'd forward with more fear & apprehension than I durst own) better than I expected. I will allow the time is tedious the hours are often dreary --- but they are less so, than my fears fancy'd they wou'd be — wou'd thou think it, in one of my dejected fits, I lately advis'd Moresby, to that kind of prudent indifference (whenever he enter'd into a Married Life) w’ch I thought, cou'd alone ensure his peace, but surely in this advice my heart was a truant to itself ---- indifference (were it attainable) cou'd never have made me happy, let it therefore forever be banish’d since if it gaurds the heart against the approaches of Sorrow, it shuts up likewise, ev'ry Avenue to Joy. ---- Hope! hope is a better remedy, even for evils w’ch it cannot Cure - it is a Cordial to the faint, and a Staff to the weary, or rather, in the emphatic language of Scripture "it is eyes to the Blind, & feet to the Lame," --Will it not be possable for you to reach Home on Saturday Night? Tell me so, in thy next, & I will indeed thank Thee for it, but let me not expect you without reason neither (remember that) let me be indebted for y’r com’g, perhaps, one day sooner to any extraoadnary fateigues you have undergone.

I am expect’g Company this afternoon & must therefore hasten to a Conclusion, but intend to write by the new man, accord’g to appointment, for this letter I Co ............ as rather by, the by ---- However, I tr ......... will not be entirely unwellcome - or, entirely unwish'd for --- Ah! Maria is it not Thy own self flatter’g heart w’ch Unites Congenial souls in the sweet Consciousness of each others affection. --- Adieu! my Dear Barton, I am ever all that ev'ry endearing tie can make me.

Thy Maria.

John Barton in the Cumberland Pacquet, 22 April 1777


Many speculative men (amongst whom I doubt not may be some of your Readers) having lately been engaged in a controversy concerning BERKLEY's opinion of a material world, I shall, with your leave, take the liberty of pointing out, through the channel of your paper, an extraordinary and most egregious mistake, which almost every one I have seen write or heard speak on the subject seems to have fallen into, concerning the sentiments of that most ingenious author.

According to the general opinion and representation of it, BERKLEY's scheme is the most wild and extravagant one that ever entered into the mind of man. It is represented as being the very extreme of Scepticism, as depriving us of all certainty with regard to the things we daily see and feel, nay as denying their very existence.

In this view it seems to be considered by almost every author who makes the least mention of it, and is as constantly treated with ridicule and contempt. Amongst others, LORD CHESTERFIELD, in his celebrated Letters to his Son, tells him, that he has seen the Doctor's book, but that, notwithstanding all the arguments therein advanced, he is still determined to take every precaution in his power, to preserve in good health that Body which BERKLEY would persuade him "has no existence".

The late POPE CLEMENT, also, in his equally admired Letters, calls the Doctor "an illustrious madman", and some Scotch writers, whose works are now in much seeming high repute, go still farther. They are so much out of patience with the Doctor's scheme that they declare he deserves not to be argued with; nay fame of them more than hint that the propagators of such opinions ought not to escape without punishment. If you will believe them, were such a scheme once universally adopted, there would soon be an end of every thing.

We should distrust all our senses, and run headlong into ruin. We should have no incitement to the preservation of our bodies, should disregard the calls of hunger and thirst, and run into the fire or the ocean, or over the brink of a precipice, without the smallest cause for fear, or apprehension of danger.

In short, every blockhead you meet with thinks himself capable of refuting the unfortunate BISHOP OF CLOYNE, and will assure you that if they had an opportunity of knocking his head against a wall, they would soon convince him of the Absurdity of his fine spun Hypothesis; and we are not unfrequently reminded of these Lines of DR. BROWN's:

No more shalt Reason boast her power divine.
Her base eternal shook by Folly's mine !
Truth's sacred sort th'exploded laugh shall win;
And coxcombs vanquish BERKLEY by a grin.

From such representations as we have been speaking of, so often repeated, and that too by men of known sense and learning, one would be apt to imagine this BERKLEY was one of the most wrongheaded Enthusiasts that ever pretended to Literature; and that his writings could only serve to obscure the plainest subjects, and to fill the world with Sceptics and Paradoxes. And yet nothing can be more remote from truth than such a supposition.

His amiable character and exemplary life must convince every one that, whatever were his principles or opinions, they were far from being inconfident with the most useful and active virtues, or a rational, manly, and exalted Piety.

And whoever is acquainted with his writings cannot but know that they are equally remarkable for elegance of stile and solidity of argument; and this book in particular, against which so much has been said, is so far from aiming at making men Sceptics, or leading them into a distrust of their senses, or any doubts concerning the existance of things; that it was intended to strike at the very root of Scepticism, to assert the authority of the senses against the commonly received principles of Philosophy, and to shew that the existance of things is made most clearly evident to the mind, on those very principles which lead, or I might rather: say "force" every man of plain Common Sense into a belief and firm persuasian of such existence.

"Is it not, says he, a sufficient evidence "to me of the Existence of any external thing (or my Glove "for example) that I see, and feel, and swear it." And what other evidence does any man of Common Sense require, or can any Philosopher boast, of their certainty of the existence of any external object whatever, or how is it more refined or unintelligible than the reason which DR. BEATTIE himself would give in this case, "I believe it, because I must believe it, and cannot doubt of it."

How BERKLEY's opinions on this subject have come to be so grossly and universally misrepresented, must be matter of surprize to all who have read his book with any tolerable degree of attention.

That he denies the existence of a 'Material Substratum" is indeed true, but whoever understands what he means by that term, just know that he does not therefore deny the existence of Things, but the existence of a Philosophical Chimera.

He was sufficiently sensible that the principal prejudices against his opinions arose from mistaking the question, and from a supposition that in denying the existence of matter, he deny'd the existence of sensible things; and he laments that in explaining his notions, he is sometimes obliged to use some "Ambages and ways of speech, not common", that might render him liable to be misunderstood, which, however, one would imagine he could not be, by an intelligent and attentive reader, after having explained himself on this head so fully as he has done.

And whatever excuse we may admit for the generality, who are often rather curious to know what is said than what is true, and who dwell more on the 'sound' than on the 'sense' of what they hear, it is surely much beneath the dignity of those who assume the character of Philosophers, to content themselves with such imperfect views of the subjects they treat of.

For after all the virulence and ridicule with which some men have treated this ingenious and enlightened author, could they but be persuaded to peruse his works with candour and attention, I think they would find reasons to suspect that they have not been railing at his opinions, but at the ridiculous creatures of "their own" imaginations.



Carlisle Quaker Minutes, 24 October 1777

"At this meeting Mary Barton by a paper writing requested to be re-instated, that is being admitted a member of the Society, it appearing to us that she was sorry to have been married in the way she was vis by a priest. This meeting therefore accepts her request under a hope she may be more exemplary in future & become a useful member of Society.

At the same time John Barton requests to be admitted a member of Society & this meeting appoints James Graham, John Stordy, William Sutton Sons & David Duckitt to have an opportunity with him and make report at next Mo' Meeting of what satisfaction etc. they may have."

Carlisle Quaker Minutes, 21 November 1777

"The major part of Friends last monthly appointed to wait on John Barton did accordingly give him in meeting & James Graham and of the Friends under that appointments Reports the great satisfaction they had in the visit with him and that they think him a suitable person to be admitted a member of our Society, which is hereby done accordingly."

John Barton in the Cumberland Pacquet, 6 January 1778

To the Printers of the Cumberland Pacquet.

At a time when the rage of Lottery Adventurery seems to be carried to its utmost pitch of extravagance, I think you cannot confer a greater obligation on your readers (especially if there be any amongst them yet wavering and irresolute whether to become Adventurers or not) than by inserting in your Pacquet the following extract from the ingenious Dr. ADAM SMITH’s inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.

What he says must infallibly convince every sensible and impartial reader of the folly of expecting a fortune from such adventures; and as they are professedly made with a view of acquiring a fortune, the natural consequence of that conviction must be to deter every sensible and impartial person from engaging in them.

However eligible Lotteries may appear, viewed in the light of the popular mode of taxation, yet certain it is, the real public loss occasioned by them is very, very considerable; infinitely more considerable, I believe, than we are, at first sight, aware of.

I have heard people speak of particular towns as being extremely lucky, because two or three of its inhabitants, in the space perhaps of twice as many years, have obtained pretty capital prizes. But however greatly those particular individuals may have been so enriched, such towns (especially if they are not very large ones) I am convinced, are, upon the whole, very considerable losers by it. Excited by these near and striking instances of good fortune, almost every person in such a place is seized with a kind of epidemical envy and emulation, and will endeavour to allot some part of his yearly savings (happy it is if all are content to to take only from their savings) for the purchase of other tickets, or of shares in them. By this means, twice, nay perhaps three or four times as much money goes from that place, subdivided into small sums of five, ten, fifteen and twenty pounds, as ever came into it by hundreds and thousands. Nor is this all. The general spirit of this species of enterprise begets a general spirit of idle expectation, and a general inattention (in a certain degree at least) to ordinary occupations. Clubs are formed, and their meetings become frequent and expensive: so that the loss of time, labour and money, may, in the end, amount to as much, even in this way, as the original price of all the tickets they have purchased.

Thus it is, that by encouraging a spirit of gambling and dissipation, Lotteries prove the bane of industry, and often beget a contempt for the more slow and gradual, but only certain method of acquiring wealth, viz. that of labour, and a strict attention to our own business.

If we add to this other considerations of a moral nature, ---if we consider those disorderly passions which are ever introduced into the human breast by a spirit of gambling (for were this spirit to find its way into the soul of an angel, those concomitant passions would assuredly follow it), we cannot possibly hesitate whether Lotteries ought not to be discouraged. Mathematical demonstration itself may be brought to prove their inutility to the public, in the way of loss and gain; and morality and religion will conspire with interest (if we will deign to consult them) in promoting the disgrace and overthrow of a scheme which originates in political corruption, which can only be carried on with the loss, and which evidently tends to subvert the best principles of the heart, and the wisest maxims of prudence.

But I beg yours and your readers pardon for detaining you so long from Dr. SMITH.

“The over-weening conceit which the greater part of men have of their own abilities (says this ingenious author) is an ancient evil, remarked by the philosophers and moralists of all ages. Their absurd presumption in their own good fortune, has been less taken notice of. It is, however, if possible, still more universal. There is no man living who, when in tolerable health and spirits has not some share of it. The chance of gain is by every man more or less over-valued, and the chance of loss is by most men undervalued, and by scarce any man, who is in tolerable health and spirits, valued more than it is worth.”

“That the chance of gain is naturally over-valued, we learn from the universal success of Lotteries. The world neither ever saw, or ever will see, a perfectly fair Lottery; or one in which the whole gain compensated the whole loss; because the undertaker could make nothing by it. In the State Lotteries the tickets are really not worth the price which is paid by the original subscribers, and yet commonly sell in the market for twenty, thirty, and sometimes forty per cent. advance. The vain hope of gaining some of the great prizes is the sole cause of this demand. The soberest people scarce look upon it as a folly to pay a small for the chance of gaining ten or twenty thousand pounds; though they know that even that small sum is perhaps twenty or thirty per cent. more than the chance is worth. In a Lottery in which no prize exceeded twenty pounds, tho’ in other respects it approached much nearer to a perfectly fair one than the common State Lotteries, there would not be the same demand for tickets. In order to have a better chance for some of the great prizes, some people purchase several tickets, and others small shares in a still greater number. There is not, however, a more certain proposition in mathematics than that the more tickets you adventure upon, the more likely you are to be a loser. Adventure upon all the tickets in the Lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your tickets the nearer you approach to this certainty.


John Barton to William Roscoe, February 1778 (R.C.216)

[JB was aged 23. Roscoe was 24.]

Mr. Wm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool
(Carlisle postmark)
7th February 1778

Dear Sir,

If you can do it without much trouble, I will take it as a very particular favour, if you will be kind enough to inform yourself, and let me know, what number of doses of the Ormskirk Medicine for the bite of a mad dog, have been sold in Liverpool during the course of last year. My friend Dr. Heysham of this place is about translating his Latin Dissertation on Canine Madness, which purposes giving to the public in an English dress, with several additions: I think I mentioned the original when I had the pleasure of seeing you. He is endeavouring to inform himself of the number of doses of the Ormskirk Medicine that have been sold last year in several difft places, & thinks the information will be of service. Doctr. Fothergill's observations on the Medicine, which have lately made so much noise, have principally induced him to engage in this undertaking; & I doubt not his work will prove both a useful & ingenious one. To such a work, I am sure your benevolence will make you happy to contribute, & therefore I shall not trouble you with a long apology for the trouble I am giving you: only I should be extremely sorry that you shou'd put yourself to any inconvenience about it, as, however agreeable the information might be, it is not absolutely necessary.

When I had the pleasure of seeing you in Liverpool I expected to have set off ere this for Scotland; but I have been obliged to put off my journey for a week or two on account of a bad cold I caught on my return home, which has not yet left me - from the accounts I see in the public papers, I expect to be a witness to some singular scenes, either in Edinburgh or Glasgow or both - the Scotch are kicking up a wonderful dust about this late act in favour of the Papists, which if made to extend to their part of the Island, will most probably make them break out into open rebellion. Tis surely a problem not a little difficult to solve, how that nation can be so angry on the prest occasion, and think themselves justified in revolting on such a principle; while they are so loudly exclaiming against their brethren in America for standing up in defence of their Liberties - that an act of oppression on the part of Government should be so much praised, whilst an act of lenity is so loudly condemned.

Though I have long laugh'd at the foolenes of Popery, I really believe that I shall be engaged in a paper war in behalf of the Papists on this occasion. I have ventured to appear in print again for them. If you ever read the Cumberland Pacquet you may perhaps meet with Hiero, who has by turns taken up the cudgels for the Deists, the Quakers, and the Catholics. What a plaguy long letter have I wrote you! I set off with an intention of making a very short one; but I can as little find in my heart to give over when I write to [you] as when I converse with you. I wish I could have the latter priviledge more frequently than I dare promise myself. I know of few things (I speak it with all sincerity) that I believe would more contribute to make my life agreeable - though by the by I ought not to say too much on this head lest it should look like complaining of my present situation, which if I did, I sho'd be an ungrateful wretch indeed.

I flatter myself however you will... now and then drop me a line; Believe me I shall at all times be happy to hear, from you, and to do everything in my power to maintain and perpetuate an acquaintance which however short it may yet have been, has been sufficient, I hope to lay the foundations of a more lasting friendship.

Mrs. Barton & sisters join in most respectful Congrs & every good wish to you & Miss Griffies's family, with,
Dr. Roscoe,

Yr. sincere friend,
Jno. Barton.

John Barton in the Cumberland Pacquet, 16 February 1779

To the Printers of the Cumberland Pacquet.

I have read the observations of Eusebius in your Pacquet of January 26, with a mixture of pleasure and pain. I am charmed with his abilities as a writer, but those very abilities excite painful sensations, when employed in the cause of intolerance. I cannot help thinking that his arguments have a tendency to inflame the hatred of the public towards the Papists very unnecessarily; and, if so, very improperly. As a sincere well-wisher, therefore, to the cause of Christian Charity and the Spirit of Toleration, I shall again make free to trouble you on this subject, and endeavour to remove some objections stated by your ingenious correspondent.

He is of the opinion that the toleration of Popery “can be, at no time, expedient; but must ever be in the highest degree dangerous to a free state.” But surely, supposing the penal laws against the papists to have been eligible at the time they were enacted, circumstances might take place which should render them afterwards unnecessary. It appears to many that such circumstances have already taken place, that those laws may now be safely dispensed with. At the time of their being made, the constitution was unsettled; the contending parties were more equally ballanced; the revolution that had been brought about was a novelty to which many could not be reconciled; and a numerous and powerful party still subsisted, whose principles and inclinations led them to support the claims of the House of Stewart and the religion of the Church of Rome. But now the case is greatly altered. The British constitution has assumed a more permanent form; the Catholics, notwithstanding their increase is so much complained of, bear no proportion to the Protestants in this country; men are now not only reconciled to the revolution principles, but, in general, fondly attached to them; and both the Romish religion, and pretensions of the Stewarts have been successfully withstood for near a century.

How, therefore, it can be necessary to continue the penal laws against the Papists, it is difficult to conceive, and surely nothing but the most urgent necessity can make any man of common benevolence wish to see them perpetuated. Eusebius certainly goes too far when he asserts, that by repealing these laws “the chief bulwark of the British constitution is demolished.” It appears to me that this bulwark is as little necessary, at this day, for our defence against Popery, as the Picts wall would be for our defence against our ancient enemies the Scotch. We have made these good and loyal subjects by permitting them to enjoy the benefits of a wise and free constitution, and why the Papists may not be made equally so, by a similar treatment, I cannot see. If they have hitherto seemed dissatisfied, and "preserved a plotting faction in the bowels of the state," how can it be wondered at? Where is the man that would not wish to be relieved from oppression? and if he must be oppressed during the continuance of one mode of government, is it not extremely natural for him to wish that some other mode, more friendly to his interest and his peace, were adopted?

But it is asked, Why do the Papists complain of oppressions they may so easily remove? Let them fairly and openly renounce their absurd tenets, and then they may have every advantage they can wish for.

I have nothing to say in favour of the absurd tenets of Popery. But I believe there are many worthy persons among the professors of that religion, who are sensible enough of its absurdities, and yet cannot bring themselves openly and formally to renounce them. This may be, and certainly is, a kind of contradiction; but I conceive it to be a contradiction by no means peculiar to the Papists. So far from it, I believe it to be the case with thousands of Protestants, notwithstanding the great reformation brought about by the founders of the present established Church of England, was every one to renounce it who is convinced of the absurdity of many things still professed by it, I will be bold to say, its members would be most lamentably diminished. There is a kind of prejudice in these things which very few can get the better of, and it is so far from being an established maxim amongst Protestants, to renounce the errors in which they had been educated, as soon as they are capable of perceiving them, that if any one has resolution enough to act on this principle, he is much more likely to be blamed them commended for it. And if this be the case (as most certainly it is) why we should we expect the Roman Catholics to pursue a conduct which we ourselves are so little inclined to adopt?

But it may be said that, however safely a man, convinced of the absurdity of Popery and only barely professing it, may be admitted to live unmolested in a Protestant country; yet the danger must be very great where that absurdity has not been perceived, and error still continues to prevail.

Were the baneful tenets of Popery (such for instance, as this that Faith is not to be kept with Heretics) to be believed by any man, in their full force, I should indeed consider that man has a very dangerous member of society, and would fly him as a pestilence. But I think we may venture to affirm that, amongst the Papists themselves, there are very few indeed who, at this day, believe in any such maxims, or would suffer them to have the least influence on their conduct. And yet, for all this, they may think very well of their church in the main, and be very zealously attached to it. This is another of those strange contradictions which the human heart (the greatest seemingly of all contradictions) has learned to reconcile. There are many things which a man persuades himself he very firmly believes, that he never suffers to influence his conduct: nay he would detest or despise any one should who should act as if he really were influenced by them.

There are those who believe that God has created millions of creatures to be for ever doomed to misery, and has no kind of regard to any but a very small part of mankind, whom they call his Elect; and all this too without the least reference to the moral character of either. There are who pretend that mere Belief, which they absurdly call Christian Faith, is of more consequence in the eyes of the Deity than the noble exertions of disinterested virtue; and that a vicious conduct is less displeasing to him than a want of credulity. There are who can suppose that an innocent child is the natural object of divine wrath, till a little water has been sprinkled on its face by a Priest; which water they consider as a vehicle on divine grace, and a sure antidote against the sins of the world, the flesh and the devil, for ever afterwards. There are who can go to Church once a year, with great devotion, to curse their neighbours, in direct contradiction to the command of Christ (Bless, and curse not); and who can solemnly in the house of public devotion, join in repeating the grossest absurdities, and in damning eternally those who are not so credulous as themselves. ---

All there are amongst such as call themselves Protestants; and who would gladly be thought, nay I believe often are, very religious kind of people. But who would not imagine that where such sentiments and such opinions prevailed, all common sense and common honesty must be condemned and despited? And yet, true it is, that in spite of all these absurdities, we Protestants think and act, in all things, (nay in religion itself, when we seriously think about it) much like other people; and as beings endowed with sense and reason. The truth is (at least it is an opinion that appears to me every day more probable) that there is no absurdity too great, even for good, and, in other respects, wise men, to swallow, under the notion of a religious tenet; but that, very happily for the peace and welfare of mankind, such tenets have very little influence on their moral conduct. Nature compels us to be virtuous in spite of our Creed; and heaven has kindly and wisely established the principles that bind society together on a basis which cannot be shaken by the rain incontinent breath of human opinion.

If this observation be a just one (and I should be sorry for Charity’s sake to think it otherwise) then may it be possible for a very devout Papist to be an honest man and a good citizen: and if so, perhaps we need not be too much alarmed at their increase as many good people seem to be.

It does not however, seem so clear to me that the indulgence which the Papists have so lately obtained will be a means of increasing their numbers. There are many reasons for believing that it may have a contrary effect. But on the subject I shall take the liberty of troubling you next week. Both you and your readers, I fear, will think I have said more than enough for one time.


’Theophilus’ in the Cumberland Pacquet, 2 March 1779

[A reply to "Hiero"]

To the Printers of the Cumberland Pacquet.

Nunquam nos verecundiores debemus esse, quam cum de Deo agitur. SENECA

I have been much entertained with your correspondent Hiero’s elegant essays. Indeed both the abilities and benevolence of the author deserve the greatest praise; and upon the subject of toleration, which must have every good mind its advocate, he meets with my most hearty approbation. But he has raised my curiosity by his performances to know his profession of religion, a subject upon which I can by no means be satisfied from the most diligent and accurate study of his Essays.

If I mistake not he finds fault with almost every profession of religion directly or indirectly, without approving warmly of any. What am I to conclude from this? That he is of no profession in his heart, and what almost necessarily follows, that he is an enemy of revealed religion? I fear there is too much reason to make this inference, and that I may safely pronounce this to be his sceptical creed, viz. --- “that he believes in all unbelief.”

He is not a Papist; a man of his philosophical turn cannot seriously subscribe to all the tenets of a Quaker; and I have strong reasons for not thinking him a Presbyterian. He is not of any of the different sects of Methodists, nor of the established Church of England. They, poor credulous people, believe and are guilty of such absurdities as are inconsistent with common sense and common honesty, if we may credit Hiero. Now what I would request of him is, that before he levels to the ground that goodly structure, (the Church of England,) which our ancestors erected, he would substitute something in its place. And I would advise him never to assert any thing upon such important matters as he hath mentioned in his Essay on the 16th of February, of which he is not fully informed. Although I am one of those credulous people of the Church of England, I do not believe that there are any persons, who believe that “God has created millions of creatures to be for ever doomed to misery, and has no regard to any but a small part of mankind, whom they call his elect; and all those too without the least of reference to the moral character.”

I have been conversant with Methodists of different denominations, and their preachers too, and I don't believe they either hold or preach any such doctrines, neither do they ever advance that “a vicious conduct is less displeasing to the Deity than a want of credulity.” And I think I may safely venture to assert that neither Hiero nor any other person ever conversed with a person who considered “the water of baptism as a vehicle of divine grace, and a sure antidote against the sins of the world, the flesh, and the devil for ever afterwards,” whereas he insinuates this to be the creed of the established Church. He next ridicules the Commination which we read in the Church on Ash-wednesday, and this he evidently does not understand. He says we “can go once a year to Church with great devotion to curse our neighbours;” a thing he could by no means honestly assert if he had read that service and understood common language.---

He perhaps thinks the expression of cursed is he is the same as cursed be he or may he be cursed, whereas it has the very same meaning as he is cursed. The transposition does, and can make no difference to the sense. Amen in the Commination he must surely think to be of the same import as it is at the end of our prayers, where it always signifies so be it; but if so, he grossly errs. It is an Hebrew word and signifies not only so be it, but so it is, and this is its meaning after the sentences in the Commination and at the end of our creeds. And in these places it is used in no other sense than it is used in several parts of the New Testament, where it is translated verily, and signifies no more than verily it is true. That man who says it, verily believes that idolaters and all those other kinds of sinners there enumerated are exposed to the curse of God: and his believing this is the cause of his repentance and begging pardon for his sins: since he must be a desperate sinner indeed that will not avoid vices for which he affirms with his own mouth so great and heavy a judgement to be due. In short, these curses and the answers that are made to them, are like our Saviour’s woes in the Gospel, not the causes or procurers of the evil they denounce, but compassionate predictions of it in order to prevent it.

And one would indeed think, when we consider that this manner of answering was originally appointed by God himself, people would be cautious how they charge it to be a wicked and foolish institution. Many well disposed people have, I believe, been prevented from going to church on Ash-wednesday by such like misrepresentations as Hiero is undoubtedly guilty of. And, I cannot but think him both highly presuming and criminal in asserting that our Book of Common Prayer directs us to disobey a command of Christ's, which he cannot prove to be true. If he will give himself the trouble to examine the history of the Book of Common Prayer, he will find such names concerned in composing it, as must make him blush at his absurdity in bringing such a charge against it, if he has the least spark of modesty. I should have proceeded further in my annotations on Hiero, had I not been apprehensive that both you and your readers would think I had said more than enough at one time.


John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1779 (R.C.217)

Mr Willm Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 20th March, 1779

Dear Roscoe,

I am really ashamed to be so long in acknowledging the rest of your most esteemed and most obliging favour of the 18th Febr . Believe me, I did not expect, much less was it my intention, to have been so long in your debt: but I have not had in my power to write to yo sooner. Your letter came during my absence in Northumberland, from whence I had only returned two days, when I set off for Scotland, which I left but the latter end of last week; and since I got home have been so much hurried that I have not, 'till now, had a moment's leizure either for you or for myself.

So much for preface and apology.

Let me now thank you for your information about the Ormskirk Medicine, and for your obliging offer of writing to Mr. Berry on that subject. Both Dr. Heysham and I will esteem ourselves greatly indebted to you if you will be kind enough to take that trouble, which will undoubtedly be the surest means of obtaining the amplest and most satisfactory information with regard to the quantities annually disposed of. At same time it may not be amiss to inform Mr. Berry of your motive for troubling him with such an inquiry, lest he should suspect that any unfair use might be intended to be made of his information, or any consequences result from it that might prove injurious to him: And the more so, as the directest contrary is intended; - Doctr Heysham's principal view being to remove any prejudices that may have arisen against the medicine in consequences of Doctr Fothergill's late observations thereon; & to point out, in the most striking manner he can, its wonderful efficacy and great utility. The sooner Mr. Berry is wrote to the better, as the Doctr’s work is in tolerable forwardness, and will soon be ready for the Press.

I had the happiness to find, contrary to my expectations, all things perfectly quiet in Scotland with regard to the late intended Act in favour of the Papists. Nay they were not only quiet, but all whom I heard speak on the subject dissavowed in the warmest terms having ever approved of the Riot, which they now affect to condemn as utterly unchristian and unpardonable. In short, one wonders how such Riots could possibly have happened in the midst of such sentiments, & can hardly help doubting a little their sincerity. However it shews, one may hope, that they are at least ashamed of their conduct; and Shame, you know, is the first step towards Reformation.

But the truth is, I believe the warmest opposition proceeded from the lowest class, and even their Priests were, in some degree, compelled to take the measures they did. There are, they tell me, several instances when Clergymen have been totally deserted by all their hearers, because they had not joined in the general outcry, and in such cases one cannot but have some little pity for them. I say some little pity for them, for, after all, I do not think them entitled to any great share of it because had these Clergymen been as industrious in preaching & enforcing the doctrines of Charity & Benevolence, of mutual Forbearance & Brotherly Love, as they most probably have been to demonstrate that the Pope is Antichrist, the Whore of Babylon, & the Lord knows what besides - I say had these Clergymen been as anxious to approve themselves Christians as Protestants, all these mischiefs might have been avoided, and the disorder radically cured. But the plague of it is, Priests ever will be Priests; they will ever be preaching about (because they are generally most warmly interested in) the peculiar tenets of their own Sect or Party; whilst the general principles of Morality & Religion, the grand essentials of true Philosophy and genuine Christianity (because, perhaps, they belong to no sect or party) will be passed by in total silence, as if unworthy of notice. Attentive only to those things wherein they differ from one another, they forget what is common to all, - forget what is alone worth notice, and quibble about - nothing!

By the by, I think the simplicity & ignorance generally imputed to Quaker preachers is, so far, in their favour. They are not qualified to enter into learned dissertations of the metaphysical kind, and therefore never pester your ears nor darken your understanding on, such subjects as Grace, Free-will, Predestination, Incarnation, etc., concerning which so many learned gentlemen have raised so terrible a dust. In fact they say very little else to you but tell you to be wise and good, - & though to be sure they repeat the story very often, and not always very elegantly, yet 'tis so wise and good a story that you can never be the worse for it; and you escape much learned nonsense, which at best can be of no service, and may very often prove injurious. Add to this, that they are seldom so simple and ignorant as not [to know] right from wrong; nor so destitute of virtue as not sincerely to love the one and avoid the other. Their worst enemies cannot but allow that they at least mean well, and if all Priests would do the same the world wou'd be much the better for it. — I do confess, however, that sometimes even Quaker preachers become Sectaries instead of Christians, and lay as much stress on modes of dress or phraseology as on matters of real importance. But I have long given up the hopes of finding a religious profession or society free from imperfections. I always expect to compound matters, and never aim at any thing higher than choosing from among many that scheme wch upon the whole appears the least liable to material objections: not the most perfect, but the least imperfect scheme. ----

Thus you see I have given you (and I am sure without intending it) my Confession of Faith. You must know, however, 'tis a very dangerous one to avow; for a very orthodox writer who signs himself Theophilus, has proved Hiero to be of no religion, because he professes a regard for men of all religions; & shewn him to be a downright Infidel because he cannot believe in everything. In short, Roscoe, I have been most warmly attacked for my liberality of sentiment, and find the way to gain credit is to write, not for the cause of truth, but in behalf of a party. I have been an unbeliever; a traducer of divine character; an enemy of revealed religion; an avowed admirer of wicked blasphemers and revilers of Christianity; - in short, everything that is bad - and yet, glorious consolation! all that a man wod wish to be called, when he is spoken of by bigotted Priests and superstitious Devotees. In fact I am half charmed wth all these appellations, and if they go on pelting me as they have done, I shall grow vain in spite of myself. -------

I note what you say with respect to the dangers of Papists becoming too numerous in consequence of the indulgence lately granted to them, but hope there is little danger to be apprehended on that head. I may be too sanguine in my expectations, but I shod hope that such indulgences will make them better members of society, be a means of attaching them to our Country and Constitution, and if not likely to reclaim them from error, likely at least to render their errors innocent and harmless, so far as concerns other men. For why shod they rebel agst a constitution which affords them Liberty and Protection? Why not live with us as Brethren, whom they can no longer look on as oppressors? Such I am sure is the voice of Nature; and the baneful spirit of Popery seems every day declining, even in Popish countries. It is a fact, not much known I believe (for I have seldom heard it adverted to) but well worthy of notice, that two years ago a Toleration was granted to Protestants by the court of Vienna, the most bigotted court in Christendom. And shall we be reluctant to imitate the example? Is it not even too much that we should have it to imitate? Ought Protestants to follow only, in the cause of Liberty & Toleration? Infidel as I am, I blush to think of it! One word more with regard to the growth of Popery. If that religion be so very absurd, and the Protestant so very rational, and if (the) mind naturally and unavoidably prefers truth to error, when fairly propounded to it - (all which I presume will be granted) how shameful, how scandalous an imputation is it on the Protestant Clergy that in a Protestant country the Papists shod be daily making converts!

Most heartily do I rejoice to find that the Protestant Dissenters are likely soon to be relieved from the oppressions under which they have hitherto laboured in this country. I hope the time is fast approaching when Bigotry and Persecution shall be no more; when men shall live together as Brethren; and when Christians of every denomination shall approve themselves to be really Christians by "loving one another".

Pardon me, my dear Roscoe, for being a little warm on this subject. 'Tis a favourite topic which I cannot engage with bt I am drawn in to enlarge upon it: And I now enlarge upon wth peculiar pleasure, because I know to whom I speak my sentiments, and how congenial (wth regard to everything essential at least) they are to his own.

And now, my friend, I must say adieu, whilst I have yet room to take leave of you I make no apology for so long a letter, because tho’ it shod be a proof of my weakness, 'tis at the same time a proof of my friendship, I assure you 'tis the longest one I have wrote for some years; and I leave yourself to guess the reasons – Let me hear from you as soon and as often as you can. Your Epistles will ever be more than welcome to me. All this family joins me in every good and affectionate wish for your welfare & happiness, - and I remain, most sincerely

Yr friend
Jno Barton

[Added on outside, the following.........]

Have you finished your intended design of Rousseau's death? If you have, I must really be selfish enough to beg a copy. Believe me, I should esteem it, both on accot of the Subject & Artist, a most valuable acquisition.

John Barton to William Roscoe, June 1779 (R.C.218)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney at Law in Liverpoole. (Carlisle Postmark)
Carlisle, 3rd June 1779

Dear Roscoe,

I was going to begin, as usual, with an apology for my long silence, but on second thoughts, I have determined to review the case and instead of saying a great deal abot my laziness and other things of that sort, which could only tend to give you a worse opinion of me, I must inform you that even in writing now, I am giving you a proof of my friendship which none but yourself can pretend to claim, as I have not wrote a single letter altogether out of the mercantile line but those which you have recd , since Christmas last. So that if you get but a few of my letters, you get however more of them (i.e. of my letters) than anybody else; and this, you must allow, is something. - Indeed, I know not how it is, but from being the most punctual and voluminous correspondent that I ever knew, in the friendly way, I have become the most negligent and inattentive one; and had I not formed an acquaintance with you, I verily believe I shou'd not blotted two sheets of paper in a twelvemonth, except on mere matters of business, or now and then, perhaps, an Essay for the Cumberland Pacquet. -

By the by, I believe my scribbling in the New's paper way is now at an end. I wrote, some week's ago, what I intended to be my last, and it was regularly published. The printers too seemed to have come to the same resolution, and, when that piece was inserted informed the public that they were obliged to decline publishing any more pieces on the subject, on either side, they having recd more than wou'd compleatly fill half a dozen New's papers of themselves, & were unwilling to make any selection, lest the writers of such pieces as might be omitted sho'd take offence. So that I thought all was over. But behold abot two or three weeks after, comes another piece from Theophilus who mawls poor Hiero most terribly, & will insist upon it, right or wrong, that he is an heathen & an infidel. The printers then said that if Heiro wod send a reply it shod be inserted. I sent one near a month ago, but it has never made (nor I dare say ever will make) its appearance. What is the reason I cannot well tell, except it be that I have spoken the truth with greater freedom than prudent people might approve of. How indeed should it be otherwise, when Theophilus compelled me to speak about such things as the Athanasian Creed? I need not tell you the substance of what I shod say on that subject, but I will trouble you with a copy of the following little piece wch I quoted from Ld Nairns, because if you have not seen it, it may perhaps afford you pleasure -

"The Athanasian Creed is an heap of unintelligible jargon, and yet we are appointed to believe every article of it under pain of eternal damnation. As it enjoins believe of rank contradictions, it seems purposely calculated to be a test of slavish submission to the tyrannical authority of a proud and arrogant Priest"-

Pray have you seen Mr. Gibbon's late Vindication? I dare say you must; & am sure it wou'd afford you pleasure. I dare say too you will think with me that Davies, Randolph, Chelsum, etc. have been the eloquent Historian's best friends, but contributing to establish the confidence of the public with regard to the truth of his narrative on more solid grounds than it well cou'd have been established, if they had not cavilled at him. 'Tis a most pleasing reflection that even Envy, Bigotry, & Malice are compelled, as it were, to promote the cause of truth, the very cause they wou'd so gladly overthrow and disgrace. Happy Britain! where men may think for themselves, and be really Men! Where truth dare make her appearance in all her native Simplicity, without danger and without disguise! Glorious priviledge! May we never be deprived of it!

But it is time I say something with regard to yourself - Have you yet got recovered from your lameness? How are you going forward in your new connection? When did you hear from London? And when ---------?

I percieve you have already filled up the blank, and hope the question will, ere long, be an unnecessary one. Need I add - but I am sure I need not - that whenever the endearing connection takes place I most sincerely wish it may be attended with all the happiness that can (& surely the most substantial happiness may) result from it. In some cases too, we may I think, most justly, do more than wish, we may both hope for & expect this happiness. Where cultivated understandings, sensibility of heart, and, above all, an honest undissembled mutual attachment, are to be found in the married state - Happiness, and that of the most refined and rational kind, cannot possibly be wanting. May it be yours, my worthy friend, to find, as, I am well convinced, you deserve it!

I shall not, I believe, visit London this summer. I rather wish Mr. Brumell to take that journey upon himself, and leave me his Lancashire one, as nothing would give me greater pleasure than to spend a few more days with you at Liverpool. The pleasure I have already found in the company of my friends there, makes me desirous to embrace every opportunity of enjoying a little more of it. -Adieu, my dear Roscoe - let not my silence be a precedent, however, it may be an excuse, for you - if you can, write to me soon; I long to hear from you ---

Mrs. Barton joins me in mo. respectfull Comps to the good family in Castle Street [The Griffies], & in every good wish for the welfare & happiness of you & yours -

Once more Adieu!

J. Barton.

John Barton to William Roscoe, July & August 1779 (R.C.219)

[The handwriting throughout this letter indicates that it was written in more of a hurry than its predecessor. There is quite a lot missing which has been torn away with the seal.]

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole.
(Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 31st July, 1779.

I rec’d your most welcome letter, my dear Roscoe, on Saturday last, but had not the pleasure of seeing your friend Mr. Nicholson, at which I was not a little mortified. I was from home when he called, and he left word that he intended leaving town immediately ------

My sister, I presume, will have informed you that Mrs. Barton was brought to bed of a fine Girl, some days ago, an event on which, I doubt not, you heartily congratulate me. I have the pleasure to inform you that both of them are now, I hope, doing very well, though I dare not hope with too much confidence since a few hours only are elapsed since we had given up our sweet little stranger for lost. She has indeed been extremely ill, and we have been kept, for three days, in a state of most anxious suspense; however she is now so much better, that we begin to flatter ourselves with her speedy and perfect recovery.

Ah! my friend, how affecting are these trials [and] how deep the impression which they make on a heart susceptible of any thing that is tender or serious. And yet, strange paradox! (to some at least) we hardly wish to be exempted from the painfull we complain of. Such is the kind, mysterious constitution of nature that on some occasions, our very sorrows administer to our most heartfelt & exalted pleasures. How many tender but latent affections are called forth in the midst of these afflictions! In fact, I believe, that were we totally exempted from them we should infallibly become callous, unfeeling and barbarous. And what tryals, what afflictions, wou'd not a generous mind rather undergo than be deprived of its relish for all the tender endearments of Love & Benevolence! Let the Man of the World laugh at, and the Stoic preach against, the tender feelings of the heart as long as they please, I sho’d not envy either the one or the other. I wou'd say to these contemners of Humanity, as the poet does to him who despises the beauties of nature ------

"Harsh censor say,
Is Beauty then a dream, because the clouds
Of Dulness hang so heavy on thy sense
To let her shine upon thee - etc."

My dear Roscoe will pardon these reflections, which to another might seem impositions. The heart of my friend, I am well persuaded is not of the adamantine kind; and yet, will you pardon me for saying, that, notwithstanding [a]ll the generous sensibility of your nature, you cannot comprehend some of my feelings, ‘till you yourself shall become a Parent: - a character which, I flatter myself, you will one day happily & honourably sustain.-------

5th Aug’t

I do not yet certainly know when I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in Liverpoole. I have to go into Scotland first, and my time of setting off will be determined by the situation of my family; if all goes well with us I may possibly be with you in about five or six weeks. You need not use many arguments to prevail on me to spend as much of my time with you as possible. I like your company too well not to have all I can of it. You are right in supposing that my public controversy is at an end: I will tell you how it is ended when I have the pleasure of seeing you. I am much obliged to you for your intentions of [joining in] the battle, and should have been proud [to have you as] an ally; but I am glad you did not [for] I am sure you wo’d have wrote too hone[stly to have] got a place (as things were circumstanced) [in] the Cumberland Paquet, a paper in wh[ich] Hiero is determined to appear no more. [l] sent some peices which they will neither inser[t nor] return to me:- Whether they mean to make an [other] Savetus of me or not, I cannot say —

I am happy to find you express [such a] favourable opinion of my Sister, & return [you my] best thanks for the kindness and civility y[ou] have shewn her. Pray give my Love to he..................... her knows how we have been circum[stanced].... at home. I wrote to herself some days..............little girl was then extremely well-------
My Wife & Sister H. join me in every good wish for you, & desire to be kindly remembered to all the good family at Castle Street. Pray don't forget to give my Comp’s to Miss Roscoe, & believe me
Dr. Roscoe,

Yrs sincerely,
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, October 1779 (R.C.220)

Mr. Wm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 5th Oct., 1779

Dear Roscoe,

I recd. your favour of the 2nd inst. this morning and in consequence thereof waited on Mr. Graham, but the purchase money of the estate mentioned in the draught you sent me is not paid to him but to Mr. Mitchinson of this place, whom I have likewise seen, and who tells me that he will send a blank draught to Mrs. Graham for the amount by this night's post, which she may fill up making it payable to whom and negotiating in what manner she pleases. If she chooses to make it payable to me, I shall very cheerfully do the needful for you; but in that case should be glad to know whether it would answer your purpose to remit value to you in good London Bills, as it is rather uncertain who we may send for my Sister, & one would not choose to entrust such a sum of money with everyone.

My best respects wait on M. Aspinwall, to whom & yourself I shall ever be ready to render every service in my power, when you have any business to transact in this part of the world that can render my services useful.

Hitherto my letter has been merely a letter of business - a kind of one that has not usually past between us - & yet I have thought or read so little about any thing but business for some time past, that neither my head nor my hand is in tune to enter upon any other subject. Good god! What variable wind-mill-kind of creatures we are! I had once half a dozen correspondents to any of which I shod have thought little of writing half a dozen sheets at a time, and now it is really a task for me to write a single sheet even to yourself, the only one of the tribe I have left me. I am glad, however, I have met with you. You may serve as a spur to prevent me from falling into that downright neglect of all that is literary which I own I often find myself verging to, though I have a thousand times ridiculed & despised it in others, & have made a thousand vows to myself that I would never desert my books, nor suffer my love for study to be obliterated. For surely, to a certain extent, these things are not unbecoming even a man of business - and if ever one should, at however late a period in life, be able to retire from the bustle & hurry of the world, - they would be most invaluable. I must confess I cannot even yet help thinking that a mere man of business of three-score whose head is full of nothing but Ledgers & Journals, & who has no other happiness but that of toiling for what may never do good either to himself or any body else, is but a despicable kind of an animal; and if ever he goes to Heaven I sometimes wonder what his enjoyments must consist of -----

Please to give my love to my Sister, & tell he[r] some of use will write & fix the day of her return in a post or two.

P.S. Have inclosed you Mrs. Graham's Dft as it will now be of no service.

John Barton to William Roscoe, October 1779 (R.C.221)

William Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole
25th October 1779

Dear Roscoe

I rec’d your most obliging favr. of the 15th Currt. by my Sister, who arrived here on Wednesday Even’g last in perfect health, tho’ after a very unpleasant journey owing to the unfavourableness of the weather. You may have my best thanks for the many civilities shewn her during her stay in Liverpool, accompanied by my earnest wishes that you would endeavour to prevail on Miss Roscoe to pay us a visit at Carlisle. Could she possibly make such a journey convenient, tho’ we dare not promise her all the amusements which Liverpool affords, nothing in our power should be wanting to make her stay with us, in every respect, as agreeable as possible----

I rec’d payment of Mr Mitchinson’s for Mrs Graham’s Dft. on Saturday night: he paid me with the enclosed Note for sixty pounds payable at Borrodale’s & some small bank notes, two Country notes & a little cash in lieu of which you have our own Dft on Batson’s & Co for £56-18-2 wch I thought wou’d save postage and be, on other accounts full as agreeable to you. I wish you don’t think the date long but we cou’d not conveniently draw at a shorter date & bills are so scarce here, I cou’d get no body else to draw at any date whatever.----

You told me "to be assured that your assistance shall always be at my service"; and now I will tell you that I don’t know how soon I may have occasion for it & that to on a piece of very serious & extraordinary business. You will be surprised when I tell you that a formal charge of Treason has been brought against me before a magistrate in Lancaster; but however singular you may think it, I am told it is absolutely a fact - though I am really at a loss whether to be merry or grave on the occasion. That you may be able to judge. I shall tell you all I know of the matter.

On my return from your place, I staid about three hours in Lancaster, a part of wch. time I spent in the shop of one of our customers there, where a young fellow that I had never seen before came in, & read us a letter that he had rec’d that day from a friend of his at the Grenades, giving an account of the taking of those islands by the French. This naturally produced a discourse on the conduct of the war in general, in which one of the gentlemen pres’t (whom I since learn is an apothecary & I believe the same that read the letter tho’ I am not certain) exclaimed with great vehemence against the behaviour of the Americans and more especially ag’t their British supporters. He loaded these with every harsh & scand??????, whilst he extolled to the sky the excellence of the King. You k[now] too well not to suppose that I would lis[ten to] his discourse with some degree of imp[atience] & indignation; nor will you wonder that I expressed my abhorrence of the pres[ent war,] justified the opposition of America, [and ridi]culed his silly encomiums on his K--g. What I said in particular [I] do not remember, as I never thoug[ht anything] of the matter till the other day w[hen I received] a letter from one of the gentlemen that was pres’t at the time, informing me that my doughty adversary had gone the next day, & taken the step I mention. He says, however, that he has heard nothing more of it since; &, probably I shall hear no more of it either, but the circumstance is so curious a one that I could not help informing you of it… though it has hardly left me room to tell you how sincerely I am Y’r friend.

Jno Barton.

I hope you’ll be charitable enough to write soon, seeing how much I stand in need of advice & consolation.

P.S. As we shall not have occasion to write to our Bankers on other business sooner than Friday you’ll please to prevent our Draught on them from being sent up to London for a few days, least it gets there before our advice of having drawn it.

John Barton to William Roscoe, December 1779 (R.C.222)

Wm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole
(Carlisle postmark)
December 19th 1779

My dear friend,

I wish you may not begin to abate of that good opinion you so kindly express of me, & think me too negligent of your valuable & friendly epistles to be any longer worthy of them. Trust me, I am really ashamed to be so long in your debt, nor has my silence proceeded from a want of inclination nay I must even confess it has not all-together proceeded from a want of leizure to write to you. But the truth is this kind of employment which I once pursued with so much facility and pleasure has now become in a certain degree awkward and strange to me. That predominant turn of thinking and that train of ideas which were once familiar seem now to be almost totally vanished; and their place to be occupied with a new way of thinking and a train of ideas wholly dissimilar; and what was once my daily amusement has now become a task wch. I can hardly get decently performed once in a month. You must not however imagine, that while I thus attempt an apology, I am by any means persuaded that I am proclaiming my reformation; on announcing a superior wisdom that is tired of trifles & occupied only with objects of importance. To a certain degree, I am sensible that such an apology is no better than a reproach; & believe me, my indifference is so far from meeting with my own approbation that I think it is my duty to obtain a victory over it.

I rejoice in the assistance which my endeavours to this purpose derive from my acquaintance wth. you; an acquaintance without wch. I am well persuaded, everything of this nature would now be totally neglected without this powerful stimulus. However, something may still be done, & though my pen may still be neglected, it will not grow into entire disuse.

I was not a little entertained with the accounts you gave me of your late dispute with your orthodox friend, & must confess had I been present, I could not but have enjoyed his deserved confusion of having the consequences of his own absurd position so justly brought home to him. And yet my friend, how equally embarrassed must at least ninety nine in every hundred be, were they pushed into equal closeness, & brought to give “a reason of the hope that is in them” - and for this plain cause because they either have no reason at all, or none that will bear examination; none that would not equally apply to every religion on earth whether true or false. For what is the primary reason which most men not only are led by, but openly avow? What other than this: my father & mother, they will tell you, were of this religion, and therefore I adopt it; or is it the established religion, and for this cause I abide by it? So that, in fact, however widely the various Religions of the earth may differ from each other, & however bitterly they may damn & anathamize each other, nothing is more certain, than that they are almost all of them adopted, believed & propagated, on the very same grounds and from the very same motives; so that I apprehend there is more uniformity of opinion in the world than at first sight we are apt to imagine. - A very ingenious author (Jamieson) has attempted to reconcile the different theories of Moral Philosophers, with respect to Moral Obligation, & to shew that however they may seemingly differ, they agree in fact; and this has been thought an hardy attempt. It would, however, be at least as hardy, & I think a far more useful attempt to endeavour to shew (as I think it might be shewn) that all the orthodox of every profession - whether coming under the more general description of Jew, Mahometan or Christian - that all these, who have for so many centuries been so piously murdering and so devoutly damning each other - that all these, I say, have been actuated by the same motives, influenced by the same principles, and so far as they really believe .. have all adopted the same Creed & (……) therefore, to all intents and purposes (….) been of one and the same Religion (…) think you, my friend , of an attempt (…) this position? You must allow that (…..) is something of novelty to recommend ( …) ought , if men wo’d abide by it; consequences, to turn their mutual hatred , curses & persecutions, into Universal Love order & tranquillity.

Adieu my dear friend - let me hear from you soon, & believe me ever with the sincerest regards,

Yr friend etc
Jno. Barton.
Carlisle, 19th Dec. 1779

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1780 (R.C.223)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Single)

London, 31st Jany, 1780

Dear Roscoe,

I have just rec’d your favo’r of the 28th inst, and will take care to execute the annexed order to the best of my abilities, but as to choice or rejection in by far the greatest part of the books you mention, I cannot, properly speaking, have either, as I can neither read Latin, French nor Italian.

You say nothing of your own comission to me, which be assured however, I have not forgot; and in order to convince you of it, as well as to give you a specimen of my taste and abilities and an earnest of what I intend to do for you, I have got a most sumptuous edition of Ariosto, w’ch I intend to send you by tomorrow's coach along with two of Mr. Faulder's Catalogues. I don't know whether you read Italian, but then I do know that this is a matter of no consequence, as if you do not read it now, you can soon learn to do so; or if you are too busy, or too idle for that, still it is of no consequence, as the Books, I am sure, whether read or not, will always look well - and what is more a point you laid the greatest stress on, they will cost you a d------sh sight of Money. I shall get all the other books you noted before I leave town and send them by the Waggon, along with any others (if you meet with such) which you may choose to select from Mr. Faulder's Catalogue which, by the way, I have heard several say is esteemed the best that has been published in London this year. I shall take it as a favour if you'll hand it to any of your literary friends; & should any thing be wanted by them, Mr. Faulder will send it, on your drop’g a line to him.

Mr. F. tells me he has got a very elegant Edition of Fontain's Fables, large paper, & prints of the first impressions - the price £10-10 — which I have the strongest inclination in the world to send you, but have determined to defer the matter a little, & shall wait for a power of Attorney under your own hand before I go any further.

I shall be glad to hear from you as soon as possible. A letter wrote any time this week will reach London before I leave it. Only observe this, when you write again I shall be most exceedingly mortified if you don’t send me a copy of your Creed - this is a piece of trouble I must insist upon giving you. If you can't find time to copy it yourself, get one of your clerks to do it for you, & I'll pay him 6/8 for it.------

Now that I have wrote so much abo’t business, I was going to say something of a different nature, but finding that my paper is almost finished, and considering moreover that the subject of Friendship wo’d be but shabbily dealt with, to bring it in as an afterthought, and tack it too by way of codicel; I have determined to be silent on that head, & to say no more about it than that I ever am, with the sincerest esteem, & the heartiest concern for you welfare & happiness.

My dear Roscoe
Your friend etc
Jno Barton
No. 42 New Bond Street.

P.S. - My best respects wait on all my good friends in Liverpool - particularly on your Sister & the Ladies in Castle Street - I have not got any letter yet from Rogers----.

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1780 (R.C.223) p3.jpg

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1780 (R.C.224)

Mr Wm Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole (Single)
Carlisle, 27th Mar. 1780

Dear Roscoe,

You are certainly one of the honestest Attorneys and I am one of the most fortunate Clients in the world. To convince anyone of this I need only relate an Anecdote told me by a friend in Edinbro’ a few days ago, and on the other hand quote a few lines from the Letter that lays before me. A Gentleman of my friend’s acquaintance employed a Scotch Writer some years ago to recover a debt for him of fifty-five Pounds. Only ab’t a month since, the writer waited upon his client to tell him that he had done his business, & procured every farthing of the debt. I am very glad to hear it, said the latter, pray Sir, what are your charges? Just sixty nine Pounds & a few odd Shillings, Sir, rejoined the Writer & I shall be glad to settle the account with you. If such writers should multiply & replenish the earth, surely we may well prophecy wth. poor Yorick, that they will in the end destroy it.

But you, I find, are of a better kind. Being employed to procure £49-2-0 you have sent your client £49-4-0; for which reason I protest and declare, on the verity of a friend, that I’ll never go past your door when I can make it convenient to call in. As to your after charges I mind but little about them as you have been kind enough to give me the whip hand of you.

After all these fine Compliments, however, I am confoundedly angry with you. What the _ made you date your letter from Lancaster, with’t you either meant to mortify your friends, or come so much further as Carlisle. I am not half satisfied about this, nor shall be, with’t you’ll turn back again to make an apology - or send me your Creed ----- This brings a new subject of complaint in remembrance, why the plague am I to wait so long for this Creed of yours? Is it because you have so little faith that you are affraid of starving yourself by letting others participate with you? -----

But I have quite forgot that I was in a confounded hurry when I begun to write & did not intend more than three lin(es) for you. I have only just got home from Scotland, & am all in a fuss ab’ot settling my acco’nt & putting forward my orders. When the storm is over & I am come a little to myself again you shall hear further from

Dear Roscoe
Yr friend etc.
Jno Barton.

P.S. My best Comp’s to all fr’ds. Thank Rogers for his letter w’ch shall reply to in a day or two.

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1780 (R.C.225)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Carlisle postmark)
29th March 1780

I wish to G ---- Roscoe there may be no treason or heterodoxy in your last letter. How it has happened I know not, but by some means or other I fear I have lost it; & sho’d it fall into the hands of the too loyal or the too orthodox, I dont know how long either of our heads may be left stand’g upon our shoulders. I hope however it may cast up again, as it is not more than ten minutes since I missed it. Finding I had half an hour to spare in scribbling to you, I began to look for it with as much regularity as if it belong'd to the counting house; to see if there was any thing particular in it to reply to; but on examining my pockets I find it is gone. However on further consideration I thot. it made no great matter for the pres’nt as it wo’d do equally well to make my reply at another time, if it cast up again. The only matter is, if it sho’d never cast up again, or fall into bad hands, I must either be one of Roscoe's Letters out of pocket (w’ch I wo’d not be for a small matter) or we may both of us come to be called over the coals; for tho’ I don't exactly remember the contents, I know very well what a graceless fellow you are, & how apt you are to run foul on Kings & Churchmen.-----

You have more than once observed that had it been our lot to have lived in the same place, we sho’d certainly have been great cronies, & wo’d have engaged in something capital; & I verily believe we sho’d have been in great danger of doing so. But as it is I begin to grow mighty cool, (I sometimes think I am certainly growing too cool) abot some points, which once appeared to me of great importance & engaged no little of my attention. Whether this is a favourable or an unfavourable circumstance, a mark of stupidity or of wisdom, a consequence of reflection or an accident in me, I really cannot determine; but so it is that I have become extremely indifferent both abt Politics & Divinity, and, to own the truth, it is really a very long time since I thot very seriously about either of them; so I mean, as to engage in any disputes or to take up my pea abo’t them.

Whether ever I shall do so again or not, Heaven knows; but at present if I differ any thing at all from the vulgar herd, it is merely in this, that whereas they take up their thoughts & opinions at random, as directed by chance or influenced by education, I for my part seek at present to have hardly any thot or opinions at all on those subjects, except some few very general ones, — & when I hear them debated upon for the most part neither assent nor dissent, but leave things as I find them. --- The last thing I remember to have assented to of this kind any way heartily, was your Creed; & I protest to you I shall never be at ease till you favour me with a copy of it, nor easily forgive you, if you persist in denying me this favour. Cou'd I think it wo’d, any way operate as a threat, I wo’d tell you that till I had a copy, I was determined never again to write or speak to you ---if I was a Monk or an Inquisitor you co’d not be more backward in giving me your confession of faith. ------

Please to give my Comp’s to Mr. Rogers & tell him I have ordered another set of the Encyclopaedia for him & that I will write to him as soon as I can give him any account of it. My best Comp’s also wait on Miss Roscoe, the family in Castle Street, Doc’t. Binns, respects Mr. Lowndes, etc, etc.

& I remain, very sincerely,
Dear Roscoe
Yr friend etc.
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, July 1780 (R.C.226)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle 13th July 1780

Was it not, my dear friend, that want of punctuality in corresponding with you has now become so familiar to me, I sho’d be ashamed at being so long in acknowledging the Rect of yours of the 1st Currt -- But considering my usual way of discharging these obligations, you will neither wonder at my silence, nor look for an apology. ----- I am much obliged to you for negociating the Bill I made free to trouble you with, especially for negotiating it so well, since I find you continue to pursue the laudable practice of paying your Clients for doing you the honour of employing you. The Dra’t I sent was for £12-19-10 only, & you return in lieu of it another for £13--. I can only say that while you will do business on these terms, you shall have all my custom, & all that I can recommend to you; nor do I fear, on this footing, to get you as many Clients as you wish for. ---

I don't wonder to find you execrating the villainous Rioters, who have lately given so much uneasiness to us at home, & bro’t us into so much disgrace with all the rest of the world. That outrages of so atrocious a nature should have been comitted in a country, that has so long boasted of being the peculiar seat of civil & religious Liberty, is a matter ever to be regretted by ourselves & w’ch will remain I fear, for ages to come the subject of exultation & triumph to others, -- to such others as we have long been accustomed to brand with those disgraceful epithets w’ch we alone seem now to deserve. ---

I cannot agree with you in thinking, however, that every religious sect is fond of persecuting. I dare still be bold to make an exception in favour of one Sect, which has been tried & yet has not persecuted, & in w’ch the principle of toleration makes so essential an article, that were it tried much further, I firmly believe it wo’d come off unsullied. Of what Sect I speak I need not tell you — but I will say that so glorious a distinction as this is most honourable, & sufficient alone to make it esteemed as well by the Deist as the Christian.---

The Protestant Association, it seems, disclaims all concern in the late Riots. Be it so, I should be sorry to lay more to their charge that they deserve. They have enough in all conscience to answer for in that part of their conduct w’ch is openly avowed by them --- The other night I was reading over Judge Blackstone's summary of the Laws against the Papists. I blushed to see that such Laws sho’d ever have existed in this country & am astonished that there sho’d yet be found so numerous a body of men, enraged at so bright[?] a repeal, & making so much clamour to have them continued in existence. Let such men be what they say besides, I am sure they never can be Christians. I rejoice, however, that they have been disappointed in their views. God grant that such views may ever be frustrated, & that so diabolical a spirit may for ever be banished from amongst Mankind! ---- Adieu, adieu — Its well my paper will hold no more. If it wo’d I sho’d grow confoundedly out of humour.

Yrs etc. etc.
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1781 (R.C.227)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 9th March 1781

Dear Roscoe,
I fear I must ere this have incurred your displeasure by preserving so long a silence, after having had it in my power to congratulate you upon your having enter'd into the most important and endearing connection of human life. My former warm recommendations of Matrimony, and my frequent condemnation of your delay, gave you some title to expect that I should have been among the first (at least of your distant friends) to have wished you joy in form - I say in form, for I must beg leave to assure you, and I hope it will in some measure extenuate the crime of silence, that I was behind-hand with none in wishing you everything that was good, in my own breast; and if you will estimate the silent good wishes of a Quaker by the same rule that he is taught to estimate his silent devotion, you must allow that, with all the appearance of negligence, I have in fact done what is of more Value than all forms in the world. ------ You see, my friend, there is no Beligion in the world (for even Quakerism itself is not an exception) whereby a man may not contrive to excuse himself from the of ye Common Duties of Morality.----------

I had wrote this far before I rec’d your favour of the 5th Curr’t annexing Affirmation to Coupland's debt, which I shall say to this evening, and forward agreeable to your direction. Coupland's conduct shews him to be a rascal, and he well deserves to pay the expences he has brought upon himself. I hope the matter will be brot to issue whilst he has the power to pay them -------.

I am yet in your debt for, at least I have not yet acknowledged the Rec’t of your profane letter of the 30th Decr. ----Unhallowed Man! that darest not only profess thyself a Sceptic in Religion, but in Philosophy likewise; & presume to put the exalted Labours of a Newton or a Boyle upon a level with the juggleing tricks of a Miracle-working Priest, or a----------!

Though as a lover of Natural Philosophy, I am forced to condemn your sentiments, yet I am bound at the same time, to thank you for your concessions, & for the candid acc’t you have given me of your why & wherefore. You are no great admirer of Natural Philosophy, - because, you say, you have never paid much attention to it. Now, my friend, it is for the very same reason that I am no great admirer of the Classics, but will Roscoe allow that a Demosthenes or a Cicero, an Homer or a Virgil, can be destitute of merit & beauty because such a fellow as I have no great relish for them?

It is difficult perhaps to account for the preference given by persons to different studies. Much, no doubt, depends upon education & other accidental circumstances, and something, possibly, upon the original frame of the mind. You poetical gentlemen derive your powers from a celestial origin. We clod-pates, who concern ourselves with the things only of this lower world, dare not make, I fear, such high pretensions. We peradventure are "of the Earth, earthy". And yet even Poets have sometimes paid the lovers of Natural Philosophy very fine compliments. As I have your reformation much at heart, and am persuaded that a quotation from one of your own tribe will have more weight with you that fifty texts from Scripture, I shall conclude my letter with the follow’g lines from Doct’r. Akenside. -

"The men
"When Nature's works can charm, with God himself
"Hold converse; grow familiar, day by day,
"With His conceptions; act upon His plan;
"And form to His the relish of their souls".

I have not room to insert the whole passage at length, but you will find it at the conclusion of his Pleasures of the Imagination, and I beg leave to recommend it to your perusal.

My Wife & Sisters join me in most respectful Comp’s & sincere good wishes to you & Mrs Roscoe, & I remain,

Yr affect. fr’d etc.
Jno Barton
Comps. to Mr. Aspinwall, Messrs. Laund's, Clark etc., etc.

John Barton to William Roscoe, May 1781 (R.C.228)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 5th May 1781

My dear Roscoe,
I have this moment rec’d yours, & am really at a loss what apology to make for not sooner acknowledging the Rec’t of your former one, w’ch came duty to hand, covering bill val. £20-3-0 the amo’t of Coupland's debt. I omitted it at first in expectation of having your other promised letter to reply to (you see how readily it occurs to everyone to throw the blame off their own shoulders) - and I have contin’d to neglect it, merely because when I had ceased to be punctual, I thot it of little consequence to be still a little less so. Thus it is with the whole of our progress thro' life - every little irregularity produces a greater, and while we doze under the idea that we are only guilty of Venial offences, we are giving birth to a thousand enormities!

To make some amends for my neglience, at least to procrastinate matters no further, I have seized the presnt moment of compunction not only to acknowledge the Rect of your letter, but my sense of the impropriety of my conduct: - and as I know you are not a rigid satisfactionist but can find in your heart to forgive without being paid for it, I hope to be indulged with your pardon.

You are entirely in the right - and yet you are entirely in the wrong. That Moral is superior to Natural Philosophy - that the former is the business, the latter only the amusem’t of Life, is absolutely certain; and no one can more readily join issue with you here than myself. But then, when you argue thus, why will you make me your antagonist, or when have I said the contrary? It was not Moral Philosophy but mere classical learning that I opposed to the Study of Nature: so far was that from being the case, that I acknowledged (I think) the subserviency of this study to Morality and Piety as one of its greatest excellencies. ----

I dare say you will be pleased with Doctr Mayes. He is certainly a very extraordinary man. But a course of Lectures from him on Chemistry must be extremely defective, from his want of an apparatus & incapacity of performing experiments; for of all Science whatever, Chemistry is most peculiarly an experimental one. - If you sho’d attend or fall into company with, the Doctr, pray give my best Comp’s. to him. I have had the pleasure of seeing him & of correspond’g with him by Letter. By the way, I am at this time a letter in [his] debt, and may perhaps ere long take ...... opp’y of settling the acco’t. with him. Sho be glad to hear how he is rec’d in Liverpoole.

My Wife joins me in best respects to you & Mrs. Roscoe. - Poor Mrs. Holmes is at this time very poorly indeed - she is so much reduced that I think it doubtful whether she will be living or not at the time this letter this reaches you - That wretch her -------- but I will not prostitute a name w’ch I trust yet deserves to be mentioned w’th some degree of respect ------- & ever am

Dr. Roscoe.
Yrs sincerely,
Jno Barton

Maria Done to John Barton, ~1781 a

[not addressed - appears to have gone in an envelope]

Sunday Affternoon

I had intended to have wrote a long letter to my Dear Barton - & did mean to have spent this whole affternoon in a manner with him - but I am disappointed - our Dr. little Bettey is not very well, & she claims my care & attention so entirely that ev'rything else for the present does, & must give place - yet let me not allarm Thee unnecessarily - I hope she is not very ill - & will soon be better - the Dr. (James) seems to think little of it - & perhaps my own fears, are too apt to suggest the worst, 'twas only, I think on Friday that I first thought her not so well as usual - & she cirtainly does look something worse, & is rather thinner - but I will hope the best - & that I may be able to give Thee some better intelligence I will not seal this letter till near post time.

How greatly am I oblidg'd to my D’r Barton for the kind, the generous manner in w’ch he endeavours to reconcoile me to myself – if these separations are still interesting - still affecting to my D’r Barton - surely I may without a blush accknowledge, & avow my weakness - and yet shou'd I not be allmost asham'd to confess that such short separations as these are a greater draw-back on my happiness than I allmost dare to accknowledge? - sittuated as I am is it not ingratitude to heave one sigh? Thousands of women wou'd think my lot an enviable one - and so it, or ought to be - the fault is only in myself - I am too anxious - too solicitious about events w’ch I can no way alter – dure’g my D’r Bartons abscence my fears for his health & safety are in proportion to my wishes for them - ev'ry wet day sinks my spirits, & raises fears & apprehensions w’ch I can no way Conquer - Our dear little girls too, are the sourses at once of Joy & of Sorrow - all their Complaints allarm, & make me anxious about the consequences - in my D’r Bartons absence this seems a double charge - I want his advice - his sympathy - & encouragement. I am not ignorant that a great part of this anxiety, tho’ it is indeed mental suffering arises from boddily indisposition - without any severe complaints, my health has for some time past, my D’r Barton knows, been precarious - and indeed I seem, (as Young says) to have lost in a great measure

"All firmness of nerve & energy of thought. "

8.o clock - I must now finnish my letter, & tho I cannot tell my D’r Barton that our D’r little girl is much better, yet I hope she is no worse, therefore I wou'd not have him to be unhappy - or by any means to ride late after the receipt of this in order to be the sooner at Home - I hope she will by that time be a great deal better - she is now asleep & seems pritty easy - her cheif complaints are a gripeing & lax but neither of them has yet been voilent, or to any extreme. — Mary is in perfect health, & I never saw her in better spirits - she wants her Papa much, & bid me tell him so - My Sister Holmes return'd this evening from Scotby - she is a great deal better, & begs to be very ly affect’ly remember'd. —

Adieu! pardon the incorrectness - as well as shortness of this letter, it has been scribbled at several different times - and has nothing to recommend it, but the sincirity- of that affection w’ch will ever render me my D’r Barton's oblidg’d and truely

Affect. Maria Barton

Maria Done to John Barton, ~1781 b

Mr. Barton, Care of Messrs. Jackson & Gourlay, Edinburgh. (Postmark Carlisle)
Carlisle Friday Even’g.

I have defer'd writeing to my good Barton all this day, have’g had a very troublesome head-ach, & I was desirous of being better that I might write with that chearfulness w’ch I ever wish to do, when I address myself to him; but I must not wait any longer in the hope of being quit of my complaint, however, a nights rest may perhaps, (as it has often before) prove a cure. - a thousand thanks for the letter I rec'd this morn’g - indeed I began to think the time long, & yet I can not say that I expected to hear much sooner: but the weather has, with us, been so very indifferent that I was anxious to be inform'd of 'thy wellfare - Remember my Dear Barton of what consequence thy health is to our dear girls, & for their sakes, take ev'ry possible care of thyself - in this request I have not in view, alltogether, their present & temporary intrests – tho’ these are certainly of importance - yet there are higher claims - & I humbly trust & hope that they may long be bless'd with their fathers care & instructions - a better Tutor I cannot wish for, nor do I fear that my D’r Barton will think the task either irksome or unpleasing, —

"To rear the tender thought
"To teach the young idea how to shoot,
"To pour th’ enlivening spirit, & to fix.
"The generous purpose in the glowing breast. [John Thomson]

is indeed an employment which — I was going to say, requires -- but I will only add, that it is one worthy even of my Barton — my sweet Mary just now came to help me - I told her I was write’g to Papa & cou'd not spare the pen - she wou'd help me notwithstanding, & holding up her little face for a kiss, said I must send Papa another — & how must I send it Mary? "Wrap it up in the paper, & Papa will find it" — 'tis a sweet girl, & ev'ry day acquire’g some little improvement — Bettey is better I think than when thou left home — For the future, my D’r Barton, I will not consent to this Partner-ship of letters --- This morn’g I was in hopes I had got a long one - a half hours treat at least, Judging from its appearance - but behold! some 6 or 8 lines are all I can honestly call my own - however for those I thank thee again & again - for looking over the begining, I find a Compliment so delicate, so flattering - in being the first remember'd that I must, not only forgive, but thank thee for all the rest.—

My head is now much better - I think write’g has cur'd it - for the future (as I had in the course of the day try'd several other remedys to no purpose) — I shall therefore recommend & prescribe this.

Adieu! I hope nothing will happen to prevent thy return this day week - but I shall expect that from Edinburgh my good Barton will again write to his oblidg'd, & invariable


[Somebody, presumably John Barton, has used the outside of the letter as paper on which to do some sums - perhaps to do with his business with Messrs. Jackson & Gourlay:

Maria Done to John Barton, ~1781 c

(Postmark Carlisle)
Mr. Barton at Mr. Rob’t Faulders, Bookseller No.42, New Bond Street, London.
Carlisle Thursday Morn’g [Date probably 1780 or later]

There are sittuations, my Dear Barton, in w’ch, tho’ the heart feels, & gratefully offers up the tribute of thanks for infinite obligations, yet it feels at the same time many tender regrets — feels its happiness incomplete, & looks forwards either to some near, or remote event, for the full Completion of its wishes. Perhaps these are the claims of humanity only, the frailties incident, to our nature, & the signature w’ch must be stamp'd on all sublunary enjoyments — to endulge these regrets too far, is neither agreable to the dictates of reason or Concistent with the principles of that religion w’ch Reason, or religion can bring us, the heart will sometimes repine — tho' what is it to repine, but to rebel against the decrees of that Providence whose impartial laws are good, & wise, as they are benevolent & conducive to the happiness of all his creatures. I am some how, my Dear Barton, got seriously into this subject ---- but I wonder not at it — for it is one on w’ch I have often taken myself seriously to task ---- since I cannot help sometimes accuse’g myself either of having an ungrateful heart, or w’ch is quite as bad, a Peevish temper ---- have I not ev'ry reason to be happy? --- I frequently ask myself the question - & the answer is ever invariably the same, "Yes Cirtainly" --- I know these seperations are necessary—that they are indispensable — they are now become frequent, & yet I do not find that they are in any degree less irksome --- the days, & hours are as long - the time is as drear'y as ever --- and independant of our two sweet Pratler's, my heart knows no pleasure but what it derives from r the hope, & expectation of thy return — when I receive one of my D’r Bartons letters - when I behold in the assurance of unabated affection, the tender effusions of one of the best, & worthiest of human hearts my own is fill'd with emotions w’ch I cannot discribe - & I experience in one moment the mix'd sensations of Joy & of sorrow - these are feelings, I wou'd not exchange for all the ease of indifference, or the friv'lous pleasures of Amazement, for surely

"The broadest mirth unfeeling folly wears
is — Less pleasing for, than virtues very tears. [Alexander Pope]

I hope therefore my D’r Barton that tho' I am weak, yet it is at least a pardonable weakness; --- but I am interrupted, as my Sister Holmes is come up to spend the affternoon with me, & I expect likewise Mr Brumells family to tea — all my Acquaintance in general are very charitable, & I do not spend much time alone but except’g the Company of my sweet girls I do not derive much sattisfaction from any other.—

I am glad the time allow'd Thee to pay a viset, tho’ a short one, to my worthy M. Marriott - she is indeed a most Amiable Woman, but I do not think that all her merit is discoverable in a first interview. I am glad too that her husband appear'd in a more favourable light than thou expected - he is a man posess'd of many good quallities - & is very well, & very Clever & so forth, & perhaps only falls short of what one wou'd wish him to be, when one thinks of him, as being the Husband of M.M.—

My sweet little Mary is so full of Chatter besides me, that my letter will, I fear, be very incoherent, however, my good Barton will think this the most pardonable cause I cou'd alledge - She is so full of what I must say to her Papa that I cannot very well make out the whole of what she wou'd say, "She wants her papa - he will bring her a book - & she wants him to mend one of her little chairs she has had the missfortune to break".—

My Sister Holmes begs me to present her best love. I will leave this letter unfinish'd till even’g as perhaps Mr. Brumell may have something to add.


They have just left us, but Mr. B. says he had nothing particular w’ch he wish'd Thee to be inform'd of, he beg'd his Comp’ts. & said he shou'd expect Thee to write on thy arrival in town — They are still, he tells me, block'd up with the ice at the dam side — my Br. Joe is siting besides me, & on that accout my good Barton will excuse an Abrubt Conclusion.

Adieu! take ev'ry care of Thy health - & ever beleive me
Thy Maria

[Footnotes by NJB:
1) John's sister Margaret, born on 5 Oct. 1755, married a Robert Faulder about 1785.
2) This letter has been endorsed by Lucy Fitzgerald: "Letters from my Grandmother to her husband - my Grandfather whose portrait they have at Thornhaugh L.F.G."]

Maria Done to John Barton, March 1782 a

Mr. Barton, Care of Mess’rs Jackson & Gourlay, Edinburgh
(Postmark Carlisle) Single
Carlisle March 16th 1782

"This will be but a short Journey of y’r. Brothers," said I to my sister Jenny, (as we sat at breakfast on the morn’g Thou had left us) "I expect he will be at home on Monday week — 'tis a mere nothing added I in comparison with six weeks" ---- so I reason'd — & so I then thought --- for like my D’r Barton, I view'd "the moment of departure & the moment of return as it were at one glance" — but allass! before the day was over & the succeeding one that follow'd it — I found the irksomeness of the hours as they pass'd over, when the mind had no present object in view - no occupation w’ch afforded either amazement or pleasure - but the anticipation - of a moment - at the distance - at (as it then seem'd) the immense distance of 9 or 10 days.

Shou'd a change of situation, my D’r Barton, ever take place - such a change I mean as wou'd give me, if not more of thy society - at least fewer of these tedious separations - surely then I shall have no farther views, respect’g ourselves at least, or wishes to grattify. -and yet we have so many & such a "luxury of blessings" to be thankful for - that all change, almost, strikes me with an idea of something to be fear'd, --- shou'd we ever, from being engag'd in the more busy scenes of life be depriv'd of that leisure, w’ch the time is now approach’g when they will more & more require - shou'd we not my D’r Barton, sometimes look back at the enjoyments we had lost - & if we endeavour'd to compare, or ballance them with any present possession - surely we shou'd find - surely we shou'd feel ourselves loosers in the Comparison.

Domestic happiness, & domestic enjoyments, if at least, they are of a refind & delicate nature - have a natural tendency - not to narrow the heart - but to confine its pleasures within cirtain bounds. - perhaps there may be a possibility of preserving "this sober sense of bliss", in the midst of the gayest circles, & in the busy & crowded scenes of life - but I fear it will much oftener be found that the mind w’ch has long contemplated - will at length be prevail'd upon to partake of those blandishments, w’ch are but too well calculated in the end, to make it a willing and vollantary captive.

I read over my D’r Barton's letter — & those regrets w’ch he obligingly says he feels in the want of my Company — with, shall I confess it? – heart-felt exultation — but I trust 'twas not gratified vanity - but, gratified affection w’ch caus'd the triumpth - & surely this is a pride w’ch may be safely endulg'd - since it never can be productive of any effects but such as I need not be ashamed of - new desires - & new endeavours of pleasing.

How happy that alotment, where duty is but another name for delight - & where the wish to please is as sincere, as the endeavour is successful. -- surely what is told to the votarys of wisdom, that, "Her ways are ways of pleasentness, & all her paths are peace" may with equal propriety be said to such

"Who is one fat .........
"Their hearty, their fortunes, & their being .........
To such "what is the world? —
Its pomp, its pleasures, & its nonsense all? —

Not one word yet of our darlings? - well, one line is sufficient to say they are in perfect health - & all the rest is better imagin'd than express'd — so likewise my D’r Barton, is that affection & those sentiments of esteem & tenderness w’ch will I trust, (excuse the homeliness of the phrase) ever make, & ever keep me.

Thy own Maria.

Maria Done to John Barton, March 1782 b

(Postmark Carlisle, M A 21)
Mr. Barton, Care of Mess’rs. Ja’s. & Alex’r. Carrick, Glasgow.
Carlisle March 19th 1782

I rejoice at the continued fineness of the weather, my D’r Barton, as I wou'd at ev'ry circumstance w’ch can in any degree contribute to Thy advantage or pleasure - I hope the Journey will be of considerable service - & that at Thy return we shall all see a visable improvement of looks etc - beleive me my D’r Barton tho' I hope I have no great reason to be anxious or uneasy about the matter, yet it wou'd give me infinite pleasure to see Thee look a little more robust - I shou'd look upon it as some better security of a life w’ch I hold invaluable. — but I trust - whatever afflicting dispensations, may be alloted me, I trust, & humbly hope I shall never have this greatest of all trials to suffer - or ever live to lament a loss w’ch wou'd indeed be erreparable. —

Our little darlings are in charming health & spirits - they are indeed a constant fund of the most delightful entertainment - even to an indifferent, to an uninterested Observer the gradual unfoldings of the human mind affords a pleasure of the most exalted kind- even the exuberances of a generous nature such as require the hand of careful cultivation - are not withstanding promisory of a good & fruitful harvest. The soil w’ch produces abundance will necessarily often require the weeders care, but the reward will assuredly be in proportion to his labour - to a Parent how delightful is the task!

Conscious of my own inability, my D’r Barton, & yet sensible of the important office - the talents - the temper - the unremiting vigillance - the patient perseverance - the acute discernment - in short such an exertion of abilities & zeal, as I fear are but seldom to be met with - I say, when I reflect on these things, I find no compensation for my own weakness & insufficiency - but the implicit confidence w’ch I have in that superiority of genius, & abillities, w’ch it is at once my pride & pleasure to accknowledge - if I am unequal, as I know & feel myself to be, to the important task of forming the infant mind - I trust those whom Providence has alloted to our care will never be sufferers there from - the constant attention - & affectionate exertions of an Amiable & excellent Father - a Father whose precepts will be secconded, by the most powerful of all perswasives - his example, these will I trust, do ev'ry thing for me. - beleive me, it is not my intention either to compliment Thee - or unjustly to undervalue myself - the affectation of humility is worse than even pride itself, - & however willing I may be to resign all claim to genius - & talents of ev'ry kind - I shall never give up my pretentions to that veraslty of character w’ch will ever stamp some degree of merit on its possessor.--

On Satterday Night - or rather Sunday morn’g Mr. Brumell had his parlour windows broken - today however, the Middlesex Millitia are in town being purposely sent for, & tis ........ they will at least intimidate them for a time. —

Am interupted - must therefore hasten to an abrupt conclusion - beleive me my D’r B—— ever to be invariably

Thy Maria.

John Barton to William Roscoe, April 1782 (R.C.233)

Mr. Wm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 6th April 1782

Dear Roscoe,
I duly rec’d your obliging favour of the 29th Ult’o., giving me the very melancholy information of the death of poor Mrs. Rogers. Our unfortunate friend is indeed most justly to be pitied. At so early a period of life, to have twice suffered the most afflicting stroke which a man of sensibility who has been happily married possibly can suffer, is severe almost beyond example. Can we wonder, my friend, that Mr. Rogers is of so serious and so religious a cast? To be serious even in the extreme should appear pardonable in the midst of such afflictions. And where can a mind thus wounded seek for consolation & support, but in the principles and prospects afforded by Religion, - in the conviction of an over-ruling Providence, without whom nothing comes to pass, and who will finally "cause all things to work together for our good", -and in the glorious hopes of an happy Immortality, of a future state of existence, where we shall again be permitted to enjoy the society of those we loved here, without the painful prospect of another separation? On such occasions there is no man, at least there can be no man possess’d of any degree of sensibility, but must above all things most ardently wish, at least, that doctrines so comfortable may be well grounded; and therefore it is no wonder if, to such a person, that Religion which most strongly inculcates them, and which professes, in a peculiar manner, to have "brot. them to light," - should become the first and most favorite study.

I am much obliged to you for the concern you express on acco’t. of the disagreeable attack I have had made against my house & family by a set of Villains who are really under obligations to me, and whom I have been desirous to befriend. I have the pleasure to assure you, however, that the mischief has hitherto gone no further than the breaking of a few windows, and that I now flatter myself the tumult is nearly subsided, tho’ I have been obliged for some time past to have two armed guards in my house every night.

Such is the price we pay for living in a land of Liberty. However after all I do not think it a dear pennyworth, but had rather pay double the price than see men having their necks to the tyrannical yoke of a Despot. These evils are only temporary & occasional, but the evils of Despotism are as constant and invariable as they are pernicious and debasing.

Many thanks to you for your Etching, the Design of which I am much pleased with. Be assured if the making use of them will do any honour to the Designer, it is an honour which I intend very soon to confer; but I think the Honour as well as the Profit, will be on my side, since you have furnished me with so pleasing a proof of your Ingenuity & Friendship without putting me to any expence. But this, by the by, I think unfair. If you honour me with the design, you ought at least to let me pay the Etcher and Printer, and the more [so] as I have no other way of lessening the debt, for so [little] am I skilled in the fine arts that I am sure I cannot by any means return the compliment.

My Wife & Sister Bewley join in best respects to Mrs. Roscoe, yourself, and Miss Roscoe. I also beg mine to Mr. Aspinwall, Mr. Daulby & Mr. Laundes, & remain,

Dear Roscoe,
Yr sincere and affec’t frd.
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, August 1782 (R.C.229)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Carlisle postmark)
Carlisle, 24th Aug’t 1782

My Dear Friend,
I thank you for your obliging fav’r. of the 19th Curr’t, which came to hand yesterday, & from which I learn that we both reached our respective homes about the same time. I got here, on my return from Scotland, on Saturday last to dinner, and have the pleasure to inform you that I, like yourself, had the happiness to meet with my family & friends all well.

I was truly astonished indeed when I learnt what had been the proceedings of Westmoreland and Blamire in my absence. Evidently biased as they all along plainly shew'd themselves to be in favour of Bell, I could not have supposed them capable of coming so speedily as it seems they did, to a resolution at once so contrary to Justice and to their own Declarations. The last thing they said to me was that they wo’d make no award at all and Westmoreland had before that said repeatedly, (& what I own gives me no small satisfaction, he said it to several others as well as myself) that if an award was made he co’d not see how we could get off making that award in favour of Carrick.

Such conduct as this on the part of men generally reputed honest and sensible, gives one almost a bad opinion of human nature itself, and is enough to make a truly honest man entertain serious thoughts of turning his back on Society & seeking for happiness in solitary Caves and unfrequented deserts. ---------- Be assured, my friend, that, tho’ totally a stranger to the parties & wholly disinterested in the business, such conduct roused my indignation no little; and I shall certainly think it a duty incumbent on me, as an honest man, to do everything in my power that is consistent with truth & propriety (and more I am persuaded your cause needs not) to set aside so shameful & iniquitous a decision. Y’r. sketch of an Affirm’t shall be duly attended to.

I congratulate you on your better success at Lancaster, and heartily wish (what I fear, however, the knavery and folly of mankind will not allow us to expect) that you may never again have so mortifying a piece of business on your hands as that of Carrick & Bell's. ---------

It is too romantic, my dear friend to hope for and anticipate the time when you might leave the squabbles and I the cares of the world to enjoy the luxury of rational retirement? Is "that feast of reason and that flow of soul" [Alexander Pope], [which] we have sometimes been indulged in, only capable of being tasted in a temporary manner? Or might we not by setting bands to our desires, & pursuing a regular plan of life, at last bring ourselves to that period when, with’t censure & without inconvenience, we might make the mutual pursuit of Literature & Philosophy our most serious business? --- My dear friend, adieu.

My wife joins me in every good wish to yourself & Mrs. Roscoe & I remain
Yrs mo. sincerely,
Jno Barton

I hear that Mr. R ------ means to lodge an information in the Court of King's Bench ag’t. the Calico Printer.

John Barton to William Roscoe, September 1782 (R.C.230)

Mr. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole.
Carlisle, 1st Sept. 1782

To convince you, my dear friend, how acceptable your proposal is to me of keeping up a more punctual correspondence with you than I have hitherto done, I sit down to acknowledge the Rect of your very obliging Letter of the 29th Ult’o., within half an hour of its having come to my hands. Believe me I regret not less than yourself that we are obliged to substitute this unanimated kind of correspondence in place of that more delightful intercourse w’ch our late interview afforded us. But I perfectly agree with you in thinking that, with all its reflections, a more frequent correspondence by Letter may prove not only amusing but useful to us, and I do heartily declare, promise and agree, for and in behalf on myself, that I will henceforth, from time to time and at all convenient times, write unto you in the manner you propose: And furthermore it is my intention to furnish myself with a large parcel of the largest sized writing paper I can meet w’th for this very purpose.

Indeed, my friend, I have often thought that the common plea of business, so often urged (and God knows not unfrequently urged by myself) an excuse for ommissions in epistolary correspondence, is urged with very little truth; with so little that I believe, in general, the plea instead of business would be idleness. And I am the more confirmed in this opinion by having just read (what you may believe has given me no small pleasure) Dr. Middleton's life of your favourite Cicero. When we reflect on the multiplicity as well as importance of this great man's engagements in the most serious kind of business that can employ any human being, and observe the astonishing extent & variety of his epistolary correspondence, we ought surely to be ashamed of urging an excuse for neglecting it which assuredly he, of all men that ever lived, had the best right to urge; and which yet he was so far from making use of that I believe he may truly be said to have written more than some people w’d not be thought ignorant [to] have read.

Doubtless every man may, if he pleases, have as much time for this as for other amusements; and surely he can have none more delightful, none more rational. The only thing is to make it easy, by rendering it habitual: for which purpose I wo’d propose that we mutually lay it down as an invariable rule to write each of us at least one letter to the other every week. ------Apropos, One thing, however, I must stipulate with you, that you do not make this agreement known to our friend E.R. [E.N.?] to whom I am so shamefully in debt on this score, that he wo’d consider this proposal to you as a downright affront to him; & I wou'd not wish to offend him.

I propose setting off for Lond’o on Friday, & if possible will take Lpool on my return. Shall be glad to hear from you at No. 18 Milk Street, from whence too I shall write you.

Many thanks to you for the trouble you have taken on my sister Bewley's acco’t - If we don't hear from Heald next week will write to you again. I fear nothing can be done, but by sticking close to him.---

I beg my best Comp’s to Mr. Clarkman in w’ch my wife joins me; as she also does in dear love to you & Mrs. Roscoe. As I am just come from reading Cicero and am a Quaker into the bargain, I shall only add

J. Barton.

Maria Done to John Barton, September 1782?

(Postmark Carlisle 12 SE)
Mr Barton, at No. 18 Milk Street, Cheapside, London.
Carlisle Sep’br

By this time I hope my Dear Barton is safely arriv'd in Milk Street - has din'd with his friends, & excepting the fateigue of his Journey, is I hope in good health & spirits. - to be assur’d, however of this, wou'd afford me a pleasure infinitely greater than what can arise merely from hope however probably. - but for this, I must wait - I suppose till Friday Morn’g - & in the mean time, as it will contribute no little to my case, & peace of mind, I will endulge ev'ry ch pleasing expectation w’ch my tenderist wishes can sugest.

Still, my Dear Barton, I know not what to think our purpos'd removal - & much of my thoughts & attention are employ'd about it - had we no family, the affair, tho’ then important, wou'd to me, appear much less so. - Their health - & what is of still greater consequence the preservation of their minds from ev'ry impropper taint - from ev'ry species of mental contagion, is I am sure to us both an object of equal importance - & even under our own immediate care & inspection who can answer for the success of those hopes & endeavours, on w’ch their own, as well as our happiness wou'd so entirely depend --- shou'd they happen in a short time, or even at any time before they have attain'd that maturity of Judgment & experience w’ch is necessary for the direction of their own conduct - shou'd they happen to lose either one - or both of us, - in what a dangerous, in what an expos'd sittuation wou'd they be left? - of such an event as this, we can neither pronounce that it is probable, or otherwise, - we know the general uncirtainty of human life, & we daily see striking instances that no period of it can please an exemption from that common lot, w’ch at one time or other, must be the portion of mortality - that this is an argument w’ch might deter us from engaging in many, even laudable pursuits, I am ready to allow - to dwell too much on the precariousness of life, might in some measure, perhaps, disqualify us for the purposes of living - but where - as in the present case - so much depends on the uncirtain tenure – it surely demands a thought in proportion to the dangerous situation in w’ch they may be left, a Parents life encreases in value & importance to his Offspring - but this is one event more peculierly in the hand of Providence than any other, (if it be right to say so of a Being whose power is alike equal & universal) - I shall therefore leave it - well convinc'd I am that my D’r Barton will weigh ev'ry thing maturely - & determine with caution -.

My Sister Bewley has this morn’g rec'd a letter from Mrs Gray to whom thou may remember she wrote sometime ago - she has consulted Mrs North - but neither she or Mrs Gray is of opinion that my Sister wou'd be likely to succeed in the plan she purposes - it seems Mr North has a relation lately married, whom he has endeavour 'd to put forward in the same way, but hitherto without much success - & that Mrs Gray has made some applications for boarders herself in w’ch, she has not succeeded - they are it seems, remov'd into a house in Bermondy Street – where Mr Gray has Wine Vaults etc - my sister seems much discourag'd - and as the risk & uncirtainty appear to be so great - she wishes greatly that my B’r cou'd be able to procure employ, w’ch might be a maintenance for himself, & she wou'd endeavour to obtain a place for a few years in some good family - but ......... a plan, I shou'd be greatly hurt to see her ........... necessity of adopting - as I think there is not the least probability that she cou'd procure any place w’ch wou'd be in any degree eligiable, or even tollerable - I shou'd be happy indeed to find that any of thy enquiries for them may afford a better prospect – I think Dr. Wesdale a likely Person to be a friend - if he wou'd but interest himself - look over the paper for Sep’r 2’d I saw an advertiz’mt w’ch in case of a removal it might be worth while to enquire about - 'tis in the upholstery way - at Bowkers Warehouse No. 128 opposite the india house - where are advertiz'd for sale marine 4 post beds at 6-6, cheney d’o at 3-18 and fine checks at 3-8 - wou'd it not be worth while to step in & see whether they are really good at the price - as it might determine ones future resolves. —

No letter from Roscoe - since thou left home. — My d’r little girls are perfectly well - & I am myself tollerable - the next time I will take a larger sheet & not so soon lay my self under the necessity of tell’g thee that I am most affectionately etc

Thy M.B

John Barton to William Roscoe, October 1782 (R.C.231)

Mr. Wm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. Carlisle 3rd Oct. 1782
[Carlisle Postmark. On the larger paper which he said he was going to buy]

Truly, my friend, it was a rash engagement that I entered into when I agreed to write to you at least once a week; and in making the proposal I fear I have not made sufficient allowance either for my want of abilities or my want of leizure. Just come from reading the Life of Cicero, and animated by his example, I had the assurance to propose him to myself as a kind of model. But I left Cicero, and went into the world; and I now have the mortification to find that I bear a much greater resemblance to the common herd of mankind, than to the old Roman Philosopher & Orator. Immersed in the same cares, and engaged in the same pursuits as those about me, I soon found myself sunk to the same level: and I seem to shrink from my literary & epistolary engagements, with a mortifying consciousness of having promised more than I have the abilities to perform. But what hurts both my pride and my conscience most of all is that you sho’d have proposed me as a Model of Order & Regularity. So that I am not only to consider myself as having wretchedly fallen in your good opinion; but, so far as my example can in any way influence, must suffer under the weight both of your sins and my own -

But not to spend more time in lamenting what cannot now be remedied, let me endeavour to remove further regret on my own part or complaint on yours, by hastening to the subject of your last very ingenious Letter; & by endeavouring to put you into better humour with those about you -Before I proceed, however, let me advertise you once for all that I am not a Dogmatist but a Sceptic; that what I assent, I assent only as probable, and am equally indifferent whether you confute or confirm my doctrines, provided only you will give them attention, and favour me with your assistance in the discovery of truth, which I hope I am more attached to than any set of opinions whatsoever. -

Now, however much you may wonder at me, I scruple not to declare that I entirely approve of the doctrine laid down by the preacher you mention, viz. "that it is the duty of every man to procure to himself the greatest sum of happiness he possibly can" - and I approve of it from a full conviction that "Virtue and Happiness coincide and are one; and that we cannot possibly deviate from the former with suffering a diminution of the latter." I am further of opinion that Happiness is the great object which all mankind are in search of; and that Vice and its companion Misery are the result only of error and a wrong choice. I concieve no man to be vicious merely for the sake of being so, or from any positive malignity or perverseness of his nature; but because he has entertained wrong notions of happiness, & consequently mistaken the way that leads to it. It appears to me that there is a taste to be formed in Morals as well as in the fine Arts; and that this taste is not to be attained in the one case more than in the other without attention, experience, & study.

"No, man ere formed a happy life by chance
Or yawn'd it into being with a wish." [Edward Young]

It is an Art of no easy attainment, requiring much serious reflection, & hearty endeavours to free ourselves from the wrong bias of education, opinion and habit. How many from their earliest infancy are taught to consider power or riches, or even sometimes the lowest sensual gratifications as their highest happiness! How many are taught to look upon trifling ceremonies, mere external observances, sometimes even acts of inhumanity, as their highest Deity! How few on the comparison, have enjoyed the blessings of a truly virtuous and liberal education; the advantages of a well improved mind, or the influences of worthy example! What wonder then if so many fall short of that degree of excellence w’ch human nature is capable of attaining to? What wonder if so many are taken with the blaze of false beauty, and entertain so bad a taste in the Moral Art? Are you surprised, my friend, that there are so few who can relish or even percieve the beauties of a fine poem or picture; or wo'd you think it fair to quarrel with those whose perceptions of Beauty were less accurate & delicate than your own? I am sure you would not; and I need not mention the inference I wo’d draw from your concession - You will at once percieve both the inference and the pleasing consequences attending it. By considering Human Nature in this light, the Misconduct of those around us excites our pity instead of our detestation; & our Benevolence is improved by those very causes which, on your principles, would almost totally extinguish it.

But you will say that this is making Virtue depend on the improvement & extent of our Reason; and softening vice into a mere error of judgement. I confess that in a great measure it is so, nor do I see any alarming consequences attending on this opinion. To me it appears evident that Morality & Reason are very closely connected; for though it is a general observation to every man very well knows his duty if he chooses to practice it, yet I must confess that I have sometimes doubted whether this be so entirely the case as we are apt to imagine. There are thousands who believe it as criminal to eat Flesh on certain days, and whose Consciences wo’d be as much hurt by doing so, as if they were guilty of the grossest violations of Morality they believe, and I dare say most sincerely believe it to be as much their Duty to eat Fish on such days, as you & I believe it is our duty to take care of our children: and you must allow that where these notions have been firmly rooted by education & confirmed by habit, it requires no small exertion of Reason to detect their fallacy, & distinguish the imaginary from the real duty.

People are perpetually talking of Conscience as the great director of Life and the Vicegerant of Heaven. But from anything I can see, the operation of Conscience goes no further than to approve Duty; or what we conceive to be such. For be the Duty real or imaginary; whether it be founded in Nature, or flow only from Superstition, - the breach or the observance of it are equally noticed by Conscience; and, as I said before, that are men who suffer as much pain as reproaches when they eat Flesh on a Fish day; nay perhaps even more, than if they had neglected what you and I wo’d call a positive duty: Or, not to throw it all upon the poor Catholics, I believe there are some friends who wo’d feel as much compunction & remorse from wearing a ruffled shirt, or a rye wig, or a Scarlet Coat, as if they had been guilty of some act of dishonesty and fraud. Now surely if this be case, however faithful a monitor Conscience may be with respct to a rule already known, it is not the faculty by which the rule itself is to be discovered or established: and a man's telling me that he acts according to his Conscience can be no proof that he is acting according to Moral truth & Rectitude.

Where then is this great Rule to be discovered? Where is this eternal Law of Truth promulgated? And how am I to distinguish real virtue from that which only assumes the name? - You tell me, my friend, of virtue in the abstract. What is it that you mean by this term; or how will you convince me that it is my duty to be virtuous, independent of all considerations of personal pleasure or interest? For my part, I see nothing more than that I am a being susceptible of pleasure & of pain; that I am unavoidably led to pursue the former as a good, to avoid the latter as an evil, and that that procures me the greatest sum of Happiness. And this happiness I find to consist principally in the exercise of my rational faculties & social affections; in the investigation of truth and in the pleasures of Love & Friendship.

Thus you see my friend, that whatever little virtue I may be possessed of, proceeds only from a more refined species of Selfishness, and that I fairly acknowledge myself, in all my proceedings, to be under the proper influence of Rewards and Punishments. Nor can I see any reasonable objection against the idea of Rewards & Punishments being extended to a future, as well as to our present state. What for instance could be either a mere effectual or a worthier motive to the pursuit of Virtue, than the hope that such a pursuit here should be rewarded hereafter with the blessings of more exalted reason and more enlarged benevolence; that this present, in a word, should be the means of securing to ourselves a gradual improvement and extension of whatever was excellent or amicable in our nature through endless ages of increasing felicity. Can views like these, my friend, be deemed mean or sordid ones? Rather, may they not justly be considered (tho in my sense of the word strictly selfish) as truly generous & highly animating? On the other hand, it is unreasonable to suppose that those who have not acquired a proper relish for Virtue, a proper taste for Moral Beauty here, should undergo a further probation in a future state of existance? Other corrections may be necessary to destroy their habits of vice & evil dispositions, and to restore them to that proper sense of just relish of things wherein their true Happiness consists. - But when thus restored, I trust that they too will become partakers in the pleasures & rewards of Virtue; and that the whole race of Mankind will finally join together in the exercises of cultivated Reason & unbounded Benevolence; and in grateful heart-felt expressions of Praise & Piety to their Universal Father, the kind Author of their never-ending Happiness.

Perhaps you will now tell me that from a professed Sceptic I have become a downright Enthusiast. But you will at least allow, I hope, that my Enthusiasm is of the most harmless & benevolent kind, and calculated to make everything, and every person appear in the most pleasing and engaging light possible. I trust therefore you will pardon me if I recant what I said at my first setting out, and allow me to beg your assistance in furnishing me with arguments to confirm me in the belief of a Doctrine so favourable to Benevolence and so pregnant with Happiness.

And here I will leave you for the present in the hope that I have not only done something towards making up for my past negligence; but said enough to make you more indifferent whether I fulfill my engagements with regularity in future. Like some of our good Preachers, when I get fairly set to work, I don't know when to give over again; and probably it may be with you, as with some Hearers, that after having heard so much, are half affraid to go to Meeting again.

Inclosed you have the paper sent in your last properly signed as requested. Sister Bewley thinks herself very greatly obliged to you for the trouble you have taken on her acc’t - & she joins with my Wife & Self in every good wish to you and yours and I remain, with sincere esteem,

Dear Roscoe,
Yr Friend, etc.
Jno Barton.
Carlisle, 3rd Oct. 1782.

Advertisement in Carlisle newspaper, late 1782

The following advertisement (a photocopy of which was found in the *ABH research notes) shows John selling his house prior to his move to London. The date on the following article (28 October 1782) gives a rough indication of the date of the advert.

John Barton selling house in English Street 1782 SMALL.jpg

TO be LET or SOLD, by Private Contract, a new, handsome and convenient Freehold DWELLING HOUSE, pleasantly situated in English Street, Carlisle, and consisting of a Parlour, and Two Kitchens on the Ground Floor; a Drawing Room, and two Lodging-Rooms on the First Floor; Three Lodging-Rooms, with a lagre light Closet on the Second Floor, large Garrets which may be fitted up as Lodging-Rooms at a small Expence; also excellent Cellars, and a good Yard.

For further Particulars, enquire of Mr. George Stalker, Whitehaven, or of Mr. John Barton, Carlisle, who will shew the Premises.

N.B. If sold, a Part of the Purchase-Money may remain in the Hands of the Buyer.

John Barton to William Roscoe, December 1782 (R.C.232)

Mr. Wm. Roscoe, Liverpoole. (no postmark)
Carlisle, 16th Dec’r 1782

Well might you imagine that the affidavits inclosed in your favor of the 6th Curr’t would excite my indignation & resentment. How indeed co’d they have done otherwise, had I known the circumstances of the case, even without being any way concerned in the matter myself. But when along w’th the general consideration of the injustice & iniquity of the thing itself, I reflect on infamous & ungrounded attack that is made on my own private reputation & character. I confess I cannot help feeling the keenest resentment towards & most hearty abhorrence of these unprincipled & villainous scoundrels. They are such as may well be deemed the worst & most dangerous enemies to Society, & deserve the most exemplary punishment; but perhaps you judge very rightly in declining to prosecute. The reason you mention certainly deserves consideration, for, most assuredly, the man who can go to the lengths that Westmoreland has done, is capable of any action or design, however base or infernal. Let us not, for all this, however, too severely accuse human nature - for surely we may hope and trust she cannot be disgraced by many Westmorelands - God forbid she should!

I would beg leave to observe by the way too that you gentlemen of the law are not the most admissable Evidences on the subject of Human Nature, because your profession necessarily leads you to the acquaintance of the most worthless & unprincipled part of Mankind, and you therefore see too much of the Dark side to judge favourably, or almost even candily of Men in general.

I fear you will think me a very idle correspondent, or a very indifferent father when I now tell you for the first time that my wife was brought to bed of a Boy five weeks ago --- The good women have named him John, and thereby turned me into an old fellow at once. As some consolation for this indignity, however, I have the pleasure to inform you that young John is very likely to become, in due time, the Old Man in his turn, as (though he was in so mighty hurry to get into the world that he came a full month sooner than he ought - yet) he is in a fair way of doing well, & his Mother, of course, is prodigeously proud of him, & has already discovered many striking (and no doubt infallible) prognostics of his future genius, penetration and abilities ---

I am now preparing apace for our approaching removal, which I hope will take place in little more than a month. I have been fortunate enough to dispose of my House property here very well, w’ch will rid me of a great deal of trouble and frees me from all attachments to a place w’ch you know I am not very fond of ------

My wife & Sister Bewley join in sincerest good wishes to Mrs. Roscoe & yourself along with

Dear Roscoe
Y’r sincere & affec’t Fr’d
Jno Barton

Maria Done to John Barton, ~1783

Mr. John Barton, at Mr. Jos. Waugh's, Merch’t., Dowgate Hill, London.
Single (Postmark Carlisle)
Carlisle Sunday Even’g 22’d

"Custom will reconcile ev'ry thing"---.this, my Dear Barton, is one of those common proverbial sayings w’ch we have allmost, ev'ry day the advantage of hearing, but that it will hold true in ev'ry instance I can by no means allow. Have I not been long accustom'd to these seperations? Do I not know that they are unavoidable - (another powerful reason to enforce submission) & yet my heart is in no respect better reconcil'd to them, than it was when the first trial of its fortitude was thus made. - but I will not complain - 'twou'd be ungrateful - it wou'd indeed, be almost impious - for of what shou'd I complain but of blessings w’ch are the happy allotment of (I fear) but a few. - if when my Dear Barton is abscent I felt no vacancy in my heart, surely I shou'd then be a stranger to that perfect & entire happiness w’ch when he is present fills up ev'ry wish - & is it self the best, & dearist part of ev'ry enjoyment. Sweet Solicitude! never let me part with thee in order to be at ease - we are not yet angels - & thou art the tribute w’ch frail humanity pays for those blessings w’ch at present are allmost above our nature. - who then wou'd complain of a temporary suffering - or wish to be without that sensibility w’ch occations it? - if we possess hearts susceptable of exquisite enjoyments we must lay our account for many tender inquietudes - perhaps indeed these little interuptions of our happiness may be necessary - they serve but to enhance its value and quicken our relish for its return – besides what reason have we to expect an exemption from some or other of those anxieties w’ch are attendant on ev'ry allotment in life? Were they indeed trials, & distresses w’ch call'd for the uttmost exertion of our fortitude & resignation, we shou'd share them but in common with thousands, & can have therefore no just cause to complain. Thus wou'd I endeavour to reason, & if possible, to bannish that uneasiness w’ch Thy abscence & my fears for Thy safety are but too apt to suggest, - tis my weakness alone w’ch renders this a difficult task, but how shall that weakness be conquer'd? - My Dear Barton, has told me, & I am not apt to forget any of his precepts, that to be compleatly happy, we must be sincerely virtuous; this I readily grant - but he adds - "& to be sincerely virtuous we must be greatly free; Masters of our own Souls, & able to say with composure & undisputed authority, even to the most amiable of our Affections,
"Thus far shalt thou go, & no farther"

— Allass! then my Dear Barton, I fear I shall never be either practically virtuous, or truely free. - but I will endeavour to be so - for however hopeless of perfection we shou'd aim at the arrival of it - and remember "That he who endeavours at the impossible shall often atcheive the extremely difficult". — of this at least, I am well assur'd, that if an ardent desire to become ev'ry thing thou wou'd wish me, that is, ev'ry thing I ought to be can have any influence, the attempt will not be altogether fruitless. —

The weather since you left us has been extremely stormy & tempestous — this wou'd I fear render your journey to day less pleasent - but however, in some cases it is wise to think less of the pleasure we miss than of the evil we excape - & you wou'd at least have a shelter from the rain. — I shall be impatient however to hear of y’r safe arrival, tho’ I mention not this to remind thee of writ’g as I am well assur'd my D’r Barton will with hold no pleasure from me he has in his power to communicate.

— But I must make an end - my little Mary has not yet learn'd that best part of pholo............ patience, puts in a claim – w’ch is errisistable —Adieu! my Amiable Barton, accept such for thy health & happiness as are the constant effusions of a tender, & a grateful heart. —

I am etc
Maria Barton

Maria Done to John Barton, ~1783

(Postmark Carlisle)
Mr Barton, to the care of Mr Jn’o Ballantyne, Merch’t in Kelso.
Carlisle Thursday afternoon

It has ever been the custom of my D’r Barton to present all my wishes - & tho’ perhaps his constant goodness has taught me to expect much from him yet in how many instance's has he exceeded even my expectations? a letter from Moffatt therefore tho’ unlook'd for - was not beleive me, unwish'd for, - or need I add unwellcome? Accept my thanks for it, my Dear Barton, as well as for ev'ry other proof of kindness & affection w’ch I am dayly, £ hourly receive’g if the dept of gratitude cou’d ever be discharg'd by the tenderist returns of --- sensibility, I might hope sometime to be less a deptor — But I am easy on that head - it is to my D’r Barton that I owe my whole stock of earthly felicity & I am content - nay I am happy in being oblidg'd. ----- Our D’r little girls are both well - & Mary very impatient for the return of her Papa - she often fancy's he is coming - runs to the Door to meet him, & returns with no small degree of disappointment in her face. — My own health is I think gradually, tho’ perhaps but slowly improv’g. On Monday & Tuesday I was not able to ride - not able I mean from the want of a horse - but yesterday even’g my B’r & I had an agreable ride of 6 miles - be assur'd I will neglect no opportunity when it suites my B’rs convenience.

Before I write again I hope to receive another letter from my D’r Barton, & by that time too I hope one half his Journey will be got over - be sure take ev'ry possible care of thy health - I beleive I have often said this before - but what matter - if the repetision will in any way enforce the request, I wou'd again - & again repeat it —

Adieu! my little cherub* -(for indeed it is almost one) has been these 2 hours asleep - & begins now to be importunate - adieu therefore without farther addition than that I am

Thy M. Barton.

[note by Lucy Fitzgerald:
"* The only mention of her son Bernard in any of these letters - this must have been quite one of her latest, as she died very soon after my dear Father's birth - L. F. G. Our Grandfather removed from Carlisle very soon after." Lucy is surely mistaken here: the 'cherub' in question is almost certainly Maria's first son John, who was born in November 1782 but died in 1784. (JB mentions him to Roscoe in the December 1782 letter above). Bernard was born on 31 January 1784, and Maria died only a few days later. She would not have been well enough to write about him.]

John Barton to William Roscoe, August 1783 (R.C.234)

William Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Single)
London 19th 8 mo. 1783

No, my dear Friend, I trust not. I trust that no change of opinion & sentiment which I may ever adopt, will be such a change as shall remove me to a greater distance from any sincere Lover of the truth; much less to a greater distance from those who, to this Love for the truth, join the amiable dispositions of Benevolence, and the tender attachments of a warm and disinterested personal Friendship. I trust I shall never embrace any system of Religion whatsoever in which the Love of Truth and the Love of Mankind do not stand forth as conspicuous and fundamental principles: and, if I have of late been more warmly attached to that Society with whom I have for some time professed, & more strictly conformed to some of their more distinguishing (I do not say their most valuable) practices ---- I flatter myself it has been from a well grounded conviction of truth & Benevolence of their leading principles, & of the propriety of their deviations from the ordinary practices & manners of the world, in the less essential matters of external appearances and address. ----

To Roscoe I will confess that my attachment to the Society was once so slight, that, on my first removal hither, I was not without some distant thoughts of leaving it. (Had I done so, I should have become a subscriber to Lindsey). The very notion of such a change naturally lead me to a reconsideration of our principles, and this reconsideration, joined with the opportunity I now had of seeing the Quakers more in a collective capacity, terminated in drawing me still nearer to them, instead of removing me to a greater distance; and was my resolution always equal to my convictions; cou'd I always dare to be what I cannot but admire & approve of, my Friends should see me still more of a Quaker that I yet am -----

I please myself, as my friend does, in the probability that we may both of us one day adopt pretty nearly the same opinions. Indeed on many points of no small consequence, our opinions, I doubt not, are the same already; and in such things as we may happen to differ in, I trust it is on either side owing more to the different views in which we see things, than to any obstinacy of Prejudice; still less to any wicked perversion of the Heart.

For my part, however strongly I may be attached to my present opinions, I still see the highest reason to be diffident of my own understanding, & am fully satisfied that as there is no disposition so valuable or amiable in itself, so there are few which it is more difficult for us to cherish & preserve than the disposition of receiving the truth with that sincerity & simplicity, & the adhering to it with that firmness & hearty regard which it requires & deserves. Various are the ways in which, & the Arts by which, we deceive ourselves or are deceived by others, in our Inquiries after truth: & much care, much patience, much humility indeed does it require to pursue it & abide by it, in the pure disinterested Love of it, & merely for its own sake.

I believe there are few things which hurt it more or lead us so far from it than the habits of Disputation: that is, I mean, as Disputes are generally conducted, where the disputants have not so much (if at all) in view the arriving at truth, as the obtaining of a conquest, wishing more to establish opinions than to correct them.

Well it wou'd be if men instead of contending with others, wo’d learn the more useful art of disputing with themselves, & be content to let their tongues halt along with their understandings. Were this more generally the case, I suspect that Silent Meetings would not be peculiar to the Quakers, & that the Pulpit wo’d make as little noise as the Gallery. There is nothing which to the generality of mankind seems more ridiculous than our Silent Meetings; but for my part I confess I think there is nothing can show greater wisdom than a persevering resolution of opening the Lips only, on these solemn occasions, when they can be opened under the full conviction of truth; and to my mind, there can be no greater mockery than opening them without this conviction, most especially in our addresses to the Supreme Being. Every man best knows the powers of his own mind, but for my part I am obliged to acknowledge that if there be any me.......... at pleasure lift up his thoughts & his heart to heaven, ............. holy seriousness, steadiness, & reverence which true dev .......... he is possessed of powers & faculties w’ch I cannot bor ..................... surely the impropriety (to say no worse) of approac ................ with our Lips whilst our Hearts are far from him, is ............... to be insisted upon ----- But this by the bye.

I am no little pleased to find my friend declaring that ........... "shall never scruple, on any future occasion, to disclose his sentiments, tho’ they may chance to be opposite to mine" 'Tis, in my opinion, the very best reason a man can have for disclosing them; and as I do sincerely entertain the most favourable opinion both of thy Understanding & of thy Heart, so of this be assured, that to receive thy sentiments on this, or any other important subject, will ever give me real pleasure: and tho’ I may not always adopt yet can I never slight them. Persuaded that they will not be either loosly formed, or unkindly expressed, I shall always think it my duty, as I believe I shall find it to be for my pleasure and advantage, to weigh and examine them with seriousness & candour, & where I cannot give my assent, be ready at least to say wherefore I withold it.

Anticipating with real pleasure those mutual communications w’ch I trust (notwithstanding this long silence) may yet take place between us, & sincerely wishing that our attention may be turned to those objects most truly deserving of it, & that we may be finally established in the truth and in those things which lead to true and permanent peace & happiness,

I remain
thy sincere & very affectionate Fr’d
John Barton

Pray remember my wife & self most affectionately to thine. We rejoice at the late agreeable addition you have made to your family -------

Please to direct for me at No. 19 Milk Street. That will be sufficient. My house was before in St. John's Square. I only removed my Family here yesterday. We have got a very comfortable, convenient dwelling House as well Warehouse, etc. ------

Martha Done (Bewley) to ?William Roscoe?, February 1784 (R.C.293)

[Written by JB's sister-in-law. The recipient of this letter is nowhere mentioned, but given that the letter is held in the Roscoe Collection, I shall assume it was addressed to him.]

Clapham Feb’y 23’d 1784

My Dear fr’d
I delay not in answering thy request, but am at a loss almost what to say, when my Brother wrote to Liverpool we indeed expected every succeed’g day wou’d have been the last with my Dear sister, some of her most immeadiet alarm’g symptoms have since abated, but oh! my fr’d tis only I think for a short while, her complaints are now evidently a confirm’d consumption, her health has been gradually declining these several months and for the last three she has been in the country, which we vainly flatter’d ourselves wou’d have re-establish’d her health, and indeed she was considerably better, her cough much more moderate, and her other complaints greatly abated, in this promise’g state she remain’d until her dilevery, she had then a good time, and for three days her recovery exceeded our most sangwine hopes, - when all her......

......these were attended with a most violent Heethe(?) fever, and an unrett’g quick palsey, these all opporat’g at one time, brought on a strong delirium, which was not constant but behond description distressing during its continuances – but through the good providence of a merciful creator, she is now perfectly sensible, and has been so for nearly a week past – her fever is something abated and her pulse more regular, but her cough is harassing to the last degree – so that indeed my Dear fr’d we have but little to hope for, indeed it has been a time of the deepest suffering, I feel greatly for my Dear Brother, he certainly is one of the most deserv’g of men – as to my self – for some time I was almost stupid with grief – we both of us, with grief and fattague – are greatly hurt – we have satt up with my dear sister my Brother and I alternately for nerr three weeks, she being very ansill(?) to......

.....she wou’d not have seen the Morn’g – but she is (I think) better this day than she has been for these two weeks, take the whole day together – I have given my dear fr’d as particular an ‘count as I can – we must wait the event – and oh! may we learn true resignation to the alotments of unering wisdom – let none of us say “what doeth thou” – human nature must feel, and oh! tis hard thus to survi... one finder the after another, it loos.... us indeed from every hold we have her.... truly sympathise with three, my Dear fr’d; thy recent affliction indeed was a heavy stroke may thou find that fortitude and strength of mind which is found only in; intire submission to every dispensation of providence – my Brother desires to be very affectionately remembered, I am with kind regards for you both and the whole as if particularly mentioned – most affectionately thy Oblig’d

M. Bewley

Martha Done, February 1784 p3.jpg

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1784 (R.C.235)

Kennington, 3mo 18th 1784

I hope my dear friend will not impute it to any want of respect or regard for him, that I have been thus long in acknowledging his very kind and much esteemed letter of the 29th Ulto; but will rather attribute my silence to the very afflicting & distressing situation in which I have been ever since that time. The very day on which my friend wrote to me, was the last which my late dear and excellent Wife was ever permitted to see. She was taken from me the next morning a little after three O'clock; when I was for ever deprived of the most inestimable blessing w‘ch this world ever did, or ever can afford me, and left to mourn a loss, the greatness of which I become every [day?] more and more sensible of. But, my dear friend, tho' this has been the greatest, it is not the only affliction with which I have been visited. My eldest little Boy, now near a year and a half old, is also taken from me. He has been ill about six weeks in the Hooping Cough, which last has proved fatal to him. He died this morning about ten O'clock. He was a sweet little child and but a few weeks ago in the full bloom of health, with every appearance of a long continuance of it; and I had fondly entertained the most flattering expectations concerning him. But alas! how little do we know what a day may bring forth; and how justly are we exhorted, in this mixed and uncertain state of things, to rejoice, (even when our prospects are the most engaging as tho’ we rejoiced not!

True it is, my dear friend, that under these most trying dispensations, there is no other solid source of comfort & consolation but a firm persuasion in an all-wise over-settling Providence, and a sincere well grounded Belief that the Supreme Parent & Omnipotent Disposer of all Things, has no other end in view but the Happiness of his Creatures to whom he will not fall, in his own good time, to approve himself a Father whose tender mercies are over all his works. He alone knoweth what is best for us, and will not fail, I humbly trust, to cause all things finally to work together for our good.

Even from the light of Reason alone, we may gather much whereon to ground this comfortable doctrine; but the declarations of Scripture are so full, and clear and express to this purpose, that to those who receive the Scriptures as coming from Divine Authority, they cannot fail to administer the highest consolation. And when the Doctrine of a Future State therein revealed is also taken into the account; when we are brought to consider this state as merely an introductory one to a future scene, where in we shall be suffered to reunite with our dear departed friends, and enjoy with them a pure and most exalted state of happiness thro’ endless ages, ---- when, I say, this also is taken into the account, and truly and practically believed how trifling then must every human calamity appear & how greatly will every affliction be outweighed by the prospect of that glorious inheritance which awaits us.

Whilst we are yet unmoved by afflictions like these; when in the full enjoyment of, & no way dreading to lose, the society of those we tenderly love; & it may be also in the full tide of worldly prosperity, --- a future state is a matter we appear to be little concerned to consider. We sit down fully content with what we have, & the present scene presents nothing but joy and felicity. But, My dear friend, when those are so moved from us in whose endearing society our chief happiness here consisted, when one bitter stroke following another serves to convince us of the great instability and uncertainty of this state of things, if we have any sensibility left, we cannot but be roused to look beyond the Grave; we cannot ............ an interest in that future state into which those ............. we loved most tenderly are already entered, ......... we learn more sensibly to feel we ourselves w........... very soon follow them. And if Almighty God ...... indeed been most graciously pleased in an esp........ manner, to reveal his holy Will respecting .............. state; if he has indeed sent his Son into the world ........... Life and Immortality to light; and for our great ...................rance has raised him from the Dead, and m................... the first fruits of them that slept; --- how infin................. our obligations to his Almighty Goodness, and fa................ us with these glorious hopes and prospects ....... how careful ought we to be, least thro’ negligence ........ disobedience, we neglect so great Salvation.

I hope my dear friend will excuse this freedom .......... sincerely wish that what I have said may be a means of turning his mind to a fuller and more serious examination into the Evidences of a Religion which he may be assured he will find, if ever he is made to drink of the same bitter cup that I now drink of, will afford the best service of consolation, & the most powerful arguments for a patient & humble submission to the will of God --------

My Sister Bewley has been so kind as remove to this place & take upon her the care of my dear little ones, a circumstance which affords me much satisfaction. She desires to join in kindest regards to thyself & wife, along with

Thy sincere & affect. Fr’d
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1784 (R.C.235) p1.jpg

John Barton to William Roscoe, April 1784 (R.C.236)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole.
Kennington 4mo 4th 1784

My dear Roscoe,
Did not past experience forbid me to indulge so pleasing an hope, I should be almost tempted to flatter myself that we had not only remedied but were likely to continue our correspondence with one another with that steadiness and constancy we once proposed, & from which we expected so much mutual pleasure and advantage. It is long, very long, my friend, since we have exchanged so many Letters as we have lately done in so short a space of time; and the pleasure I have felt from this intercourse makes me regret not little at having so much neglected it. Yet I fear that when the impressions which have been made by that afflicting event which has been the occasion of our correspondence being at this time renewed shall become more languid, we shall fall back again into our former habit, & many months pass over our heads without the exchange of a single letter. Such a prospect however is not a pleasing one; and I wish I might indulge myself in other expectations. But however this may be, and whatever may become of our correspondence, I trust our Friendship & Affection for each other will still be preserved: having had so recent a proof in the instance of my dear friend, that these may continue in their full vigour, tho' every assurance of them may have long been witheld. Yet still these endearing proofs of kindness, tho’ they may be seldom necessary, are, on every proper occasion, highly grateful & acceptable, & serve to keep the pure flame of Amity more sensibly alive; and I trust we shall both of us make it a point to keep up this imperfect kind of intercourse intercourse (the only one our situations admit of) w’th some tolerable degree of regularity.

I am fully sensible from my own experience of the entangling nature of worldly engagements, & how much they disqualify us for pursuits & enjoyments of an higher and more refined nature; not only obliging us to spend much of our time in a perpetual hurry & bustle & in a state of anxiety, but, as my friend justly observes, even disqualifying us from enjoying cooly & rationally & in the manner we would wish, the few hours of leisure that they occasionally leave us. It is impossible for us, at once, to turn our minds from any subject in which they have been deeply engaged to another subject of a quite different nature, so as to view or consider the latter with any tolerable degree of steadiness or precision. Some time is required to get rid of our old train of Ideas, & to introduce another, and of the former have been very firmly established by habit, & almost perpetual attention, & these rendered still more forcible by an attendant state of anxiety; whilst the latter has been seldom introduced & engaged comparitively but a very small share of our attention and concern - it will be next to impossible, nay I believe wholly impossible, to introduce such new matter into the mind, at a chance spare hour to any kind of purpose. It appears to me that there is only one way of rendering the pursuit of business, & that of Letters, or other studies of a still higher nature, compatible; and that is by being content to pursue the first with so much moderation, & planning it in such a manner, that we have a few hours to apply every day to the latter, & which must be applied to them with the same regularity and constancy w’th which we apply the rest of our time to our ordinary business. By this means the train of Ideas peculiar to each will be preserved, & will mutually relieve instead of overpowering each other: and I believe & experience will show that the success of such a plan will be greatly facilitated by carrying on our business in one place and our studies in another, and, so far as convenience will admit, the further they are distant & the better. Nor am I now speaking merely at random or from conjecture only, but from own experience. While I lived in Milk Street in the midst of business I could read none: my most favourite author could afford me no pleasure. I now go there pretty early in a morning I apply myself closely to business till five in the afternoon, & by planning it properly get as much done as if I were to continue there as formerly. Whilst there I think of little or nothing else; and when I get back to my little retreat here, I think nothing about it. My mind seems wholly relieved from all its ca........ sit down to read with as much composure ............. as fully into my subject, as if I had nothing ............. think of. At the same time I am sensible ............ situations will not admit of this without a se.......... real Duty which doubtless ought not to be sc........... even for the gratification of our highest menta.......... But surely where such a plan is practicable ........... sistant with higher obligations, it is a very des.......... & might, I believe, be pursued by thousands who do .......... pursue it, with much satisfaction & advantage to themselves, & sometimes perhaps to others. For my own part, I am truly thankful that my lot is such as enables me to enjoy so great a Blessing. May God grant that I may make a proper use of it!

Much would it add to my pleasure, & no little I believe to my advantage, could I reckon amongst the Blessings of such a retreat, the frequent company & conversation of my dear friend ........ being of different opinions with respect to some points (tho’ of the highest importance) would I trust no way diminish the pleasure of such an intercourse, but rather increase it and render it still more advantageous. Convinced of the rectitude of each others intentions & persuaded that each was more concerned for the Truth than for any thing else I trust we should not only maintain mutual Charity but experience a sincere Brotherly Love for each other. Nay more, if we were indeed concerned to know the truth, and if our minds were deeply & sincerely impressed with the Love of it, for its own sake, I have no doubt but we should discover it. To the humble, and patient and sincere inquirer, I am fully persuaded the truth (so far as we are concerned in it) will be made known & compleatly manifested in due time. But I have not room to pursue this subject further. In my next I may, as well as give my sentiments with regard to my Preliminary Article, to which, if fairly explained, I have no objection. It will give me real pleasure to hear from thee soon. Meanwhile I remain very truly,

Thy affect Friend
John Barton

My Sister Bewley desires to join me in Love to thyself & wife. It would be unjust in me to mention her name in thin time without adding that it seems to be her constant & affectionate concern & endeavour to do everything in her power to alleviate my late severe losses, by making my pres’t situation as comfortable as possible, & by paying the utmost attention to my dear Children.

John Barton to George Gregory, May 1785 (Draft)

[Rev. George Gregory (1754-1808); the work discussed is his Essays, Historical and Moral (1785)]

John Barton presents respects to G. Gregory, and herewith returns his Essays, most of which he has perused with great pleasure. He is sorry to be obliged to make any exceptions, but should think himself guilty of great disingenuity did he not frankly confess his entire dissapprobation of the Essay on Religious Establishments [p225]. It appears to him that G.G. has greatly over-rated their utility; that the fanciful representation therein given of the consciences to be expected from their subversion is at once unjust and invidious; and that the whole Essay breathes a spirit not very consistant with the genuine principles of Christianity and Protestantism.—

J.B. is particularly surprised that so zealous an advocate for Religious Establishm’ts (so called) should urge, as an argument in their favour, that "Rivalship, in every department of life, is the source of excellence." For, is it not of the very nature of such Establishments to destroy all Rivalship, as much as in them lies? ----- J.B. also thinks that his friend might have been less severe on the poor imaginery "Cobler" for what he might do, had he looked a little back into the records of Ecclesiastical history to see what some established Clergymen have done. G.G. need not be told that there have been many such who have "promised the Kingdom of Heaven to theives, drunkards and adulterers": and for this very reason too, because it contributed "to the increase of their collections." — Nor can J.B. think it any breach of charity to say that there are Established Clergymen even at this day (and those not a few) who appear ready enough to expose theirs "theological services to the best bidder." —

30th of 5mo 1785

[Note by NJB: It appears from J.B's next letter to Roscoe that he decided not to send this one to Gregory, which was just as well as later events show that Gregory was a pretty touchy character.]

John Barton to William Roscoe, September 1785 (R.C.237)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney at Law, Liverpool.
London, 23rd Sept. 1785

My dear Roscoe,
I was duly fav’d with thy obliging letter of the 5th Curr’t by our friend Rogers, and fully intended writing by him when he should return; but he left town without ever apprising me of it, & I learnt that he was gone when I was in full expectation of receiving a visit from him. Except some particular and unexpected circumstance occurred to hasten his departure, I cannot help saying that in leaving us as he did he acted rather unkindly --- Be this as it may, I cannot reconcile it to myself to prolong a silence which has already exceeded all reasonable bounds, & which I heartily wish may now be succeeded by a stricter attention to that punctuality in our epistolary correspondence which we have so often proposed to each other; and from which, if observed, I still flatter myself we might derive much pleasure at least, if no other advantage.

Accept my best thanks, my dear friend, for thy kind inquiries concerning my health and situation, to which I am happy to have it in my power to give such answers as I am well assured will afford thee the sincerest satisfaction. My health, I trust, I may now consider as almost perfectly 're-established', a blessing which, I do assure thee, I dared not venture even to hope for during many months. ----- My situation too, in other respects, is such as I have abundant reason to be satisfied with. Our business in Milk Street is already very considerable, and likely to be still more so; and I have little doubt of its proving sufficiently profitable to gratify my utmost wants and wishes with respect both to myself and family. Be it observed, however, that my wants and wishes are confined within bounds of very moderate extent; and that my confidence in having them supplied and gratified proceeds much more from this circumstance, than from any persuasion that I shall ever be what the world wou'd call and think a rich man. —

I still keep my house at Kennington, where my Sister Bewley and my little ones constantly reside & where I spend most of my evenings. In this situation we all enjoy excellent health, and I find in it a retreat from the cares and bustle of the world which I am often thankful for. I have not yet lost, and hope I never shall lose, a relish for Books, and I here enjoy them without interruptions. Sometimes too I am favourd with the company of a few agreeable friends, tho' indeed this is a pleasure I enjoy but seldom, most of my acquaintance being generally so much engaged in business, or so distant from me, that it is difficult for us to get together.

And now, my dear friend, I think I have said quite enough of myself and my own affairs, tho’ I flatter myself not more than will be agreeable to the kind curiosity of friendship. Let me now inquire a little after others. I wish to know how you all are and what you are doing. How are thy good wife, and her sister Betty, with all the family in Castle Street? Let me congratulate the former and thyself on the late increase of your family, which I heartily wish may continue to increase both in number & happiness. Give my love to Betty Griffies, and tell her I often ........ of her. I wish she wo’d favour us with her Company ....... few months in London. We sho’d be extremely happy to see her and hope she will seriously think of paying us a visit. She has been a visit in my debt for than seven years. If she had any scruples ab’t paying it to me, I will transfer my claims to Sister Bewley.

How are D. Dalby and family? Pray remember me to them most kindly; and also to R. Laundes, who, I presume, still continues to be one of thy literary cronies. I wish I co’d afford time to come over to Liverpoole to see you all, but I fear that will long be impracticable. 'Tis a jaunt I sho’d like dearly could I but contrive to put it into execution. ---- Pray write soon, and believe me, very truly, with much esteem

Thy affect Frd,
Jno Barton

Sister Bewley joins with me in love to thy wife.

Pray, what do you say in Liverpool abo’t G.G's Essays? He used pretty frequently to call upon me before their publication, and was so obliging as send me a copy to peruse immediately after. What notice he might expect me to take of them I know not. The fact is I have s’d very little, almost nothing, abo’t them; & really believe my silence has given some offence, as well as occasional strong suspicions of the weakness of my understanding.

My partner W. Brumell of Carlisle has written to me two or three times abo’t a balance of 12/8 w’ch was to be p’d into your hands by Mr. Knight & Auchinleck, now or formerly, Scotch Packmen w’o travel, or did travel, from Lpool. Pray did they ever pay it?

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1786 (R.C.238)

W’m Roscoe, Att’y, Liverpoole. (Single)
London, 28th Jan’y 1786.

Dear Roscoe,
I fear I shall be out of all Credit with my friends at Liverpool, and hardly know how to make a satisfactory apology for my silence: especially since the rec’t of thy kind letter with the Profiles. Before that time, I was in daily expectation of a visit from our friend E. Rogers, who told me, when I was down at Liverpoole, that he expected to be in London in less than a month. And when he sho’d return I intended to write to thee. Since the Rec’t of thy kind letter with the profiles I have been unusually hurried with the business at Milk Street. We were just then beginning to take Stock, and I have not got my Books entirely closed yet. I have been so busy that I have seldom been able to get to Kennington. 'Tis now almost a week since I have seen my dear little girls. I begin to fear I shall be obliged to remain to town all together ----- Before I go further, let me thank thee for thy trouble in forwarding the profiles, which came very safe & are extremely like. — Thy wife's obliging pres’t to my Sister Bewley was I believe truly acceptable. But I understand she has been beforehand with me in making her acknowledgements for them ------

This talk'd of removal to town, will my friend be ready to say, bears a bad aspect as to my literary pursuits, & looks like turning my back on all those schemes & views of Retirement, which we have more than once fondly talked of. 'Tis indeed true, my friend, that views & schemes of this kind were never farther from my thoughts than at present. If I am fav’d with continued health, my intentions are to be more a Man of Business than I have ever yet been in any former period of my life; and I confess my taste is so far altered that I am inclined to think a due attention to the common concerns of life is both an essential part of our Duty and highly conducive to our Happiness; and that to quit the bustle of the world & leave the cares of ordinary business for the shades of indolent retirement is by no means the proper part for us to act, or to aim after. I would anxiously wish however to avoid a groveling or avaricious disposition, & hope I may say that I am led to these sentiments & purposes by better & nobler motives than merely a Love of Self. I think the greatest satisfaction is the reflection that whilst thus engaged we are discharging our duty; that we have a perpetual source of useful and honourable employment; that we have the fairest opportunities not only of promoting our own interest but likewise the interest of those with whom we are connected; and that, in short, we hereby become instrumental in promoting in our proper sphere the general convenience & happiness of mankind. Whilst we maintain our proper rank in society, we resemble some part, no matter how simple or insignificant of a large & noble machine, which contributes to promote the just movement of the whole. But when we run from Society into useless Retirement, tho’ we should have become qualified, had we kept our place, to become as it were the mainspring & most important part of the Machine, being now thrown from our proper place ..... position we become useless & insignificant. --- Be it remembered, however, that when I avow myself as an advocate for Business, I presume it is to be conducted with the strictest propriety & the strictest honour in every respect. Whenever Order & Uprightness are lost sight of, then a life of business can no longer be either pleasing or honourable; but where these predominate I scruple not to say that, compared with a Man of Business, a mere Scholar or Philosopher is a very insignificant & useless being —If I am right, pray do me the favour to tell me so. If otherwise point out my mistake & I'll try to reform myself.

I beg to be kindly remembered to all friends, especially thy good wife & remain
Thine affect’ate
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1787 (R.C.240)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. [Probably London postmark]

My dear Friend,
Some days ago my Sister Bewley informed me that she had rec'd a letter from Mrs. Roscoe mentioning your intention of paying a visit very soon to this Metropolis. She also mentioned that I might soon have the pleasure of receiving a Letter from thee; the daily expectation of w’ch ever since has prevented me from writing sooner, to say that I shall be very happy to have you for my guests during your stay here, & that I shall take it very much amiss in you to go anywhere else. But this I hope you have never thought of, & shall therefore fully expect you.

As I flatter myself with the pleasure of a personal interview so soon, and am besides at this time a good deal hurried, I decline entering into further particulars; and only add that I ever am, with sincerest esteem & respect,

Thy very Affec’t Fr’d
John Barton.
London 24th Jany, 1787

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1787 (R.C.242)

W. Roscoe, Liverpoole. By fav’r of Mr. Rathbone.
London 19th March, 1787

My dear Roscoe,
The opportunities of conveying a few lines by our friend W. Rathbone, has over-powered my indolence and habitual aversion to taking up my pen, except when compelled so to do by unavoidable business. How indolent and averse from such employment I am become, my friend may guess when I tell him that this in the only exertion of the kind I have made since I wrote last, to himself; and that before the date of my former letter, short as it wan, I had not achieved so mighty a work for at least a twelvemonth. I would gladly hope that instead of being guilty of new crimes by these omissions, I am only making atonement by my abstinence for the sins of my younger days.

I hope I may fully reckon on the pleasure of seeing you next month - agreeable to promise. I now find (which I only did this evening) that my Sister Bewley intends leaving me before that time, which I fear may render Mrs. Roscoe's abode at Milk Street less agreeable than it otherwise might have been. It will certainly, however, by no means render her the less welcome a guest; and I trust that, under the protection of her husband, she will have no objection to venture under my roof, I should be much concerned to find myself mistaken. I confess I have some fear on this head, because I am apprehensive that some representations have lately been made of me not much to my advantage. Am very sorry to say that my Sister B---- & I are part'g on terms not quite so friendly and cordial as I could have wished. Perhaps I may have been in some measure to blame myself. Yet that I have been so I am not conscious. With a very good heart, as well as a good understanding, she possesses a warmth of temper that hurries her at time beyond all reasonable bounds both in her friendships and enmities; and unhappily more of the latter than the former has lately fallen to my share. I have little doubt but the time may come when she will think better of me. But whether ever it may or not, I sincerely wish her happiness, I shall be glad at all times to promote it.

One thing more on this subject, and I will drop it, because I am sure it cannot be a pleasing one to my friend more than to myself — I cannot tell whether my sister may have said in her letters to Mrs. Roscoe that I intend soon to marry again. I certainly once thought of it, but I told her long ago - that I had no hopes of succeeding. I suspect, however, that she hardly gives me credit for this, and that therefore she may have presented the matter otherwise, but I do assure thee that such is the case. I have no prospect of being otherwise than as I now am. I thought it be.... to mention thus much, as it would have appeared uncandid in me to keep my friend in the dark on such a subject, ....... the eve of a visit more especially.

But we will talk over all these and a thousand other things when we meet, which I trust we shall do very soon, and with the same kindness, cordiality and confidence as heretofore. I have many things to mention to thee, and some of considerable importance that I wish particularly to consult thee about. --- I have also some few friends to whose acquaintance I wish to introduce thee, and in whose society I hope we shall be very happy together ---- I beg to be kindly remembered to Mrs. Roscoe and Mrs & Miss Griffies --- also to our mutual friend Rogers, who, be so good as to tell him, I often remember with sentiments both of esteem & kindness, though been too lazy for more than a year past tell him so. I hope he will forgive me, & shall rejoice to be informed he does. —

Believe me ever
Thy mo. affec’t. Frd.
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1787 (R.C.243)

Wm. Roscoe, Liverpoole. (prob. London postmark)
London, 27th Mar. 1787

My dear Friend,
I rec’d the Wrongs of Africa yesterday, which I read twice over with great pleasure, I carried it immediately to Faulder, who promised me it should be put in hand this morning, and I will do all in my power to have its publication hastened. Meanwhile the Advertisements are to be inserted in the papers as requested. --- R.F. [Robert Faulder] says it will occasion great loss of time to send the sheets down to Liverpool to correct. I shall therefore do that business here, and will do it according to the best of my abilities, with great pleasure. I trust I need not say that I wish all possible success to so good a cause, & that I shall be proud to contribute in any way, however humble, towards its promotion. — I hope the Poem will be of great use, and that the poet will receive those applauses to which he is so well entitled. The subject has lately engaged very general attention, and the more attention it engages, the more likely will it be to be considered in its proper light. This is a new way of exciting and keeping alive that attention, and surely its novelty is not the greatest of its merits. - Depend upon it I will strictly observe the injunctions that accompany it, and have also cautioned R.F. agt dropping any hints concern the quarter from whence it comes.

I think the Sonnet had better be either suppressed or altered. It is highly probable that the business of the slave trade will shortly come before parliament, when it is extremely desireable that men of all parties should unite (and I trust very many of them will unite) to put an end to this inhuman and horrid traffic. Now it is possible that some amongst the opposition might feel themselves prejudiced against the cause for no better reason than that one of its ablest advocates had branded their party with the epithet of "faction's crew" - and I am sure the Author of the Wrongs of Africa would not injure the cause of his poor clients for any considerations of a party nature. Besides, to say the truth, I really think the epithet alluded to is severer than they deserve. By the way too, when I have the pleasure of seeing my friend, I mean to attack him on other grounds ---- I wish to say something in behalf of this same thing called trade, with which the Poet, I verily believe, is more angry than he ought; and I wish also that Christianity might have its due share of praise for that reformation w’ch is here solely ascribed to Philosophy. --- But of this more when we meet. At present we have only to do with the Sonnet. It may be well to praise Pit for more reasons than one. In the first place he deserves it. In the second, it might help to give him a byass towards the right side of the Question. But don't abuse other people. In the first place they may not deserve it. In the second, such abuse might prejudice them against the right side of the question. ----

See now how insolent and magesterial I am, and how ready to avail myself of the priviledge of giving my sentiments with freedom. I am not however affraid of faring as did poor Gil Blas, when he presumed to give his opinion to the Archbishop of Granada. And after all, if the Sonnet must remain as it is, I'll correct the proofs for that too: only remember I'm clear of it ----.

I wrote last week by our friend W’m Rathbone to which refer, and am, with sincere esteem and respect

Thine affect’ny
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, April 1787 (R.C.244)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool. (prob. London postmark)
London, 6th Ap’l 1787

"Say not that the former timer were better than these". So said Paul above seventeen hundred years ago. He did not think like many old crabbed fellows (tho’ perchance crabbed enough himself at times) that the world was every day growing worse as it grew older. I suppose he thought the contrary, and looked forward with prophetic rapture to the increasing improvement of the great family of Mankind, thro' the increasing influence of those divine and benevolent principles which he, for one, was sent to teach them. I much question, however, whether this great Apostle of the Gentiles was ever so sanguine as to expect that even in the long course of seventeen centuries so extraordinary a circumstance should happen as that an Attorney should be found preaching the Gospel at Lancaster Assizes! And I don't know whether I sho’d not be in danger of having my veracity called in question, were I to assert that I know one of this profession, who, at such a time, was actually thus employed. Yet may I not, with great truth, say that such has been the case with my friend? I am sure the Epistle before me breathes all the best spirit of an Apostle, and did one not know that its author is a sad heretical fellow, it might very well be read "for the edification of the Churches" ---- Tho’ I dare not do this I trust however I have read, & shall read it, to my own edification, & be sincerely anxious to profit by my friends advice, for which he deserves, & has, my best thanks. ----

I would have written sooner, but was doubtful whether, if I had done so, my letter might not have reached Liverpoole before Lancaster Assizes were at an end, & therefore waited that I might if possible have a little more leizure for this purpose than has fallen to my lot for some days past till now. I have been more than usually hurried this week, partly owing to my having indulged myself with almost the whole of Monday at the House of Commons. There I sat near twelve hours, and had the pleasure of hearing all our celebrated Orators, with several of whom I was much pleased. But with Pitt I was absolutely ravished, and could have sat with pleasure to hear him go on as he did (had that been possible) for twelve hours longer. Such elegance and correctness of style, such cogency of argument, such force of elocution; in a word such a torrent of manly enchanting, and commanding eloquence, I not only never before was a witness to, but I was wholly unable to form any adequate conception of. No other speaker amongst them all co’d for a moment bear the slightest comparison with him. Sheridan (w’o was upon his legs above two hours) was infinitely short of him, and far below my expectations. Fox was so warm as to lose the command of his voice, which being raised greatly above its natural pitch, was quite inharmonious and lost much of its dignity. Yet he was nevertheless impassioned and interesting. So was Burke. So was Grenville, who seems likely to attain the second place to Pitt himself. Lord Mulgrave was at once pompous and drowsy, perpetually on the rack to say fine things in a fine manner, and sometimes almost succeeding; but perpetually disgusting. Major Scott, much beyond my expectations — a plain, solid manly speaker. All together, it was a glorious treat! I only regretted (and I often did regret) that I had not my my friend along with me to partake of it.

The Poem is going forward and I hope will be printed off in a few days. Be assured I will be as careful as possible in correcting the press, & hope nothing material at least will escape me. I am sometimes visited, however, by the Printer's Devil when I am more hurried than I could wish; not that I by any means regret the task he imposes upon me, but because I am fearful lest at such times I may not be so accurate as I ought. When the whole is printed off I will send down a complete copy as requested, & order its publication to be deferred till I have the pleasure of hearing from thee. I hope the paper & type will be approved of, but both were deter[mined] by Faulder and the printer and part of the work printed off, before I had any commission to interfere. Remember therefore that if there be any blame on this acc’on the blame is not mine. --- With respect to criticisms on the work itself, we will let them rest till I have the pleasure of seeing thee, but on this head I am sure I shall little or nothing to say, knowing how unequal I am to such a task, as well as that the task has already been performed by a much abler hand.

I am engaged to spend an evening next week with Doct’r Priestley. I don't yet know how long he will stay in town, but hope it may be long enough for us to have the pleasure of being in his company together.

I beg my best wishes to all fr'ds & am
thine Affect’n
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, June 1787 (R.C.245)

W’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool. (prob. London postmark)
London, 16th June 1787

My dear Friend,
I have been from home this week on a little excursion to Berkshire, which is the reason of my not replying in course to thy fav’r 9th Currt - I have inquired about the Case w’ch was left at the Axe Inn, and am assured by the Book-Keeper that it was forwarded a few days after the other, so that I hope it must by this time have got safe to hand. My Sister has made very strict examination ab’ot her house for the 12th Vol. of Swift's Works, but cannot find it. She is in hopes that Doc’t Rutter has got it, of whom please inquire.

I have not seen any of my brother Committee men this week, but apprehend nothing new has occurred relative to the slave trade. The subscription still goes forward, and Clarkson will set off (I suppose) for Bristol in about a week. Will send some of our printed Advert isem’ts & Clarkson's Abridgement first opportunity.

About ten days ago I had a curious letter from Gregory. The following is a copy ----
"Dr Sir, "
"After the very active part w’ch I have taken ag't the Slave trade, and consider’g the pains w’ch I am at prest. taking on the subject (that being one of the objects of my journey to Liverpool this summer) I cannot think it was respectful wholly to overlook me in the business, nor so much as to give me any notice of the meetings. I wish such a design had been conducted w’th the liberality w’ch wo’d become it; but I am sorry to observe the selfish jealousy w’th w’ch it has from the first been carried on. For my own part such proceedings are as adverse to my nature as plagiarisms without acknowledgements. I co’d have rend’d some service to the cause, but as those w’o have taken it up do not seem to think my services worth their accep’g, I shall withdraw myself for the pres’t entirely from it. As I love honesty I have taken the liberty of giving you my sentiments upon the matter, and I hope that your mentioning the circumstance to your Committee may be of some service in engaging to act w’th some little more respect to other friends of the cause. "
"I am, w’th much sincerity,"
"Yrs etc. G. G."
"June 7th"

The day after I rec’d the above I met the writer accidentally on the street, and rallied him heartily for sending me such a letter; particularly for saying he wo’d withdraw himself from the cause. I told him I conceiv'd it to be impossible for any man to withdraw himself from it, for any such reason as he had assigned, who had once engaged in it from generous and benevolent motives; assuring him at the same time (with great truth) that the slight he complained of was altogether unintentional, & that his not being named one of the Committee co’d only have arisen from his not occurring to any of the members at the time the Committee was formed. But this he conceived to be impossible. A person who had distinguished himself so much & so ably in the cause as he had done, could not be forgot; and as to withdrawing himself from the business, he meant not to do this entirely. He wo’d suffer the Committee to go on as far as they co’d and when they had done all in their power, he wo'd take it up! I told him I rejoiced to hear it. The more that took it up and the better it wo’d be and I was sure the Committee wo’d rejoice in the better success of others, sho’d they unfortunately fail in their attempts. If G.G. be as great a man in some others estimation as he is in his own, we may soon hope to dine with his Lordship of Canterbury at Lambeth.

I trust all the advocates for the poor Afric... are not actuated in their endeavours to relieve them from motives of vanity. I trust there are many who wo’d rejoice to break off their shackles, tho they sho’d do it by stealth; and who co'd rest fully contented with the secret gratificiations of their own hearts tho’ the world sho’d never say or hear a syllable abo’t the matter. --- Amongst this number I am sure I may safely reckon the Author of the Wrongs of Africa, who I hope will fall to work in earnest as he has promised, & fav’r the public w’th the second part of his excellent poem as soon as possible — I expect some further Extracts with appears in the papers soon beside Daley's. My absence from home has prevent’d any thing being done in that way this week. ---- All friends here are well & join in kind remembrance to thy whole family along with

Thy affect. F’rd
John Barton
P.S. Please to remember my W.J.L.L.

John Barton to Dr. Joseph Priestley, June 1787

[JB wrote this, on behalf of the The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, when he was 32 (two years before his death). Rev. Priestley (then 64) was already famous at this point, primarily for his discovery of oxygen.]

As a friend to the general liberties of mankind, and to that spirit of benevolence so warmly inculcated by the religion of Christ, for which he has shown himself so able an advocate, I am sure it must give Dr. Priestley real pleasure to be informed that measures are now taking, which there is great reason to hope will prove successful, for the gradual emancipation of the enslaved Africans, and for the abolition of that inhuman and diabolical traffic of which they have too long been the miserable and devoted objects. Notwithstanding the slightness of our acquaintance, and though I am well aware how much thy time and attention are already engrossed by subjects of the utmost importance; yet I trust I may on such an occasion be pardoned not only for this momentary intrusion, but for expressing my hearty wishes that the subject may engage thy attention still further; so far as to induce thee to appear as a public advocate for this most wretched and much-injured race of men. The more the public attention is excited to this subject, and the more it is enforced by leading and respectable characters amongst the various denominations of Christians, the more likely will it be that something serious and effectual may be done to wipe away this foul stain which disgraces our common Christianity.

I have inclosed some printed resolutions of a committee of which I am a member, and also an abstract of an essay published, and another intended to be published by T. Clarkson, who is one of our number, and who has taken infinite pains on this subject. Indeed he devotes the whole of his time and attention to it, and that, I have no doubt, from the purest and most laudable motives; and the chief purpose of our committee is to assist him in carrying into execution his very worthy intentions. Several members of both houses of parliament have promised they will use their utmost influence to bring about the abolition of this most unrighteous traffic, Mr. Wilberforce in particular, who is now employed in framing a bill for that purpose, to bring in next sessions. Meanwhile we are endeavouring to procure him all the information and evidence that we can; and we trust that our endeavours will be seconded by those who have it in their power to excite the public attention to this important subject, as every man of established literary character certainly has, and no one more than Dr. Priestley.

I am
J. Barton.
19th June 1787

[According to John's next letter to Roscoe, Priestley sent a reply: "in which he tells me that he is now preparing for the press a set of Lectures w’ch he delivered at Warrington some years ago on History & General Policy. In them, he says, he has an article on the Slave Trade, in which he expresses himself pretty strongly. - He is pleased to add that he has particularly acknowledged the obligations "that human nature is under to our people, who have distinguished themselves so much on this occasion. If (says he) Africa be emancipated from their present cruel bondage they will owe it to the Quakers." This is more than common candour as the world now goes."
The next year Priestley published a 40 page pamphlet: A Sermon on the Subject of the Slave Trade (1788), which is online here. Its opening paragraph reads:
"I Publish this discourse not only in compliance with the request of a society of christians whom I think myself happy in every opportunity of obliging, but also because I thought that some of the arguments on which I have insisted had not been sufficiently urged by other writers on the same subject, and at the same time to evince my readiness to join with christians of all denominations in what appears to me to be right and just."]

John Barton to W. Brummel of Carlisle, June 1787 (Draft)

[Brummel was J.B.’s business partner in Carlisle. See this article.]

London 23rd June 1787

Dear Friend,
As nothing can be more irksome and unpleasant than to differ in opinion from those we esteem and respect, I sit down w’th no small reluctance to write to thee on a subject concerning which I fear we shall never entirely agree. What that subject is I hardly need mention, as I find thy son has been beforehand with me in opening it to thee. It was my wish that he should have declined writing about it at all, till we had talked the matter over more fully amongst ourselves, and 'till I had taken a little more time to make up my mind about it, as I was unwilling to take a step of so much consequence till I had weigh'd it very seriously, and equally so Id be the occasion of giving thee any unecessary uneasiness. I will freely confess that my plan was conceived at a time of great dejection and agitation of spirits. I knew that for this reason it ought to be the more carefully and suspiciously examined before I ventured to adopt it. — In order in some degree to divert the melancholy that hung over me, I took a small journey into the country, meaning to talk the business over more fully with thy son and T. Workman on my return, and then, if the measure proposed appeared eligible, to write and inform thee of particulars. When I returned home, I found thy son had already written and mentioned the subject to thee. As I had particullarly requested he would not till we had further considered it, I will confess I felt myself somewhat hurt. However I entirely acquit him of every uncandid intention. His nature is to be frank and ingenuous, and I believe he was far from meaning anything amiss.

I have now considered the subject still more fully. I have view’d it carefully in every light, and after the most serious deliberation am still of opinion that it will be best for myself, and for all of you, that I should give up my share in the business here, and retire. The fact is, I find myself in a situation w’ch requires exertions that my spirits are by no means equal to; and I am fearful of injuring our general interests by retaining a situation the duties of w’ch I cannot properly discharge.

With proper exertions I have no doubt that the business here may be made a very advantageous one; and my firme conviction of this led me to renew another business which formerly ment’d, and which I have long had very much at heart. My convictions of success in the one case inspired me with fresh hopes of succeeding in the other, and I ventured to urge my suit with greater earnestness than I had done before. But I have urged in vain: and in spite of every effort my dissappointment preys upon my spirits, and renders me utterly incapable of every vigorous exertion. I know, my dear friend, that this is a conduct I cannot justify. I feel that I am blameworthy. But I cannot help it; and I am only anxious that others may not suffer as well as myself. — With regard to my own situation, I feel little anxiety on a pecuniary account. I am abundantly satisfied with the small competence I have already acquired. It is sufficient to answer all my wishes, as well as to afford a decent provision for my little folks. Thus satisfied on the one hand, and thus dejected on the other, I have no motive for exerting myself; and much exertion in my present situation is necessary, Why therefore should I continue in it? And how is it likely that I should conduct the business entrusted to me with sufficient order or even regularity? ---

Other reasons too have concurred to make me adopt the scheme of retiring. In some conversation I had with T. Workman before I had mentioned my present views to any body, he complained much of the business at Basinghall Street, & said if things did not look better than they had done, he thought it wo’d be necessary to decline it. As I know of nobody so suitable to supply my place, I thought that my retiring to make way for him, would both be rendering a service to himself, and to all of you. Beside this, Richard is still unprovided for. He has for some time past been active in the Warehouse and rendered himself very useful. Indeed he is, in every respect, much improved. He is come to a time of life too when it must be natural for him to wish for some establishment and my retiring may make way for him likewise. Add to all this that my brother proposes quitting the concern at our next Inventory, and it appears to me that, on the whole, it wou'd be most easy and most eligible for all parties, that I shd. go out at the same time. If you deem my assistance absolutely necessary for a few months longer, you shall be very welcome to it, and on very moderate terms. But I do wish that my affairs may be put in such a posture at our next Inventory, that I may no longer feel the cares or the responsibility of a partner; but be at liberty to adopt any other plan that offers which may appear easy and eligible to me. At present I have fixed on none, but am most inclined to go into the country & turn farmer; and I have some thoughts of going into Dorsetshire. New scenes, new society, and new occupations may divert my mind from the gloom that hangs over it, and which I am fully persuaded will continue to hang over it so long as I continue in London. — My first and greatest concern is that we may part on the same kind & friendly terms on which we have ever lived together; and this I must will be equally thy wish as it is my own —

I am, etc.
J. Barton

[He actually moved to Hertfordshire, & became partner in a malting business, as he described in the letter from September 1787 below.]

[Note by NJB: This letter has a pencilled note at the top, probably by Rev. John Barton, saying "to G. Gregory, Esq." I feel sure this is wrong, and there is a pencilled note on the back in an older handwriting, possibly that of the writer of the letter, saying that it is "Addressed to Mr. Brummel of Carlisle, partner in business with the writer." It is another letter, dated 30 May 1785, which was addressed to G. Gregory.]

John Barton to William Roscoe, July 1787 (R.C.246)

W’m Roscoe, Liverpool. (prob. London postmark)
London, 6th July, 1737

Dear Roscoe,
I should before now have acknowledged the rec’t of thy kind fav’r of 23 Ult’o but was in hopes of meeting with an early opportunity of sending Clarkson's Abstracts etc. by a private hand; which I have not yet done. I don't like to put off writing any longer, and therefore write with’t them. Be assured however I shall not fail to forward them by very first opportunity.

The Will was exactly as I wish'd it, and I drew out a fair copy, and executed it in due form, two day after I rec’d the Dra’t — for which I desire to know how much I am in debt. --- Remember I shall think myself unkindly treated, if I be not charged as an indifferent Client; and besides this shall lose the benefit of thy future assistance, which I cannot recieve on any other than the usual terms.

Our Slave Trade Committee goes on charmingly. We had a most agreeable meeting on that business yesterday evening. Everything was conducted with great order and decorum, and as business of a nature so serious and important always ought to be. Amongst other things that came before us was a letter addressed to the Committee by a Mr. Smith of Clapham, a Member of Parliament & a man of considerable abilities. (I believe he was educated at Warrington along with Beaufoy) — In this letter which was very long (two or three sheets) and extremely well written, he informs us that he had learnt from Mr. Wilberforce that we had taken up the business of the Slave Trade in a serious manner, & with a view if possible to effect its abolition; he expresses the pleasure this information has given him, and his hearty wishes that we might prove successful; he tells us that he has long considered this iniquitous traffic as a thing most horrid and unjust in itself, and highly disgraceful to our Country; and he enters pretty much at large into a consideration of the best mode of proceeding in order to accomplish the great & desirable object we have in view; and his ideas correspond in every respect with our own. This, my friend, is highly encouraging, and I trust augurs well of our future success. With such advocates for the cause in the Senate (and I hope we shall have many such) there is great reason to hope that something effectively may be done.

Clarkson set off for Bristol about ten days ago , and I presume will be at Liverpool in about two weeks from this time -----

I had a letter from Doct. Priestley last week, in which he tells me that he is now preparing for the press a set of Lectures w’ch he delivered at Warrington some years ago on History & General Policy. In them, he says, he has an article on the Slave Trade, in which he expresses himself pretty strongly. - He is pleased to add that he has particularly acknowledged the obligations "that human nature is under to our people, who have distinguished themselves so much on this occasion. If (says he) Africa be emancipated from their present cruel bondage they will owe it to the Quakers." This is more than common candour as the world now goes. Gregory wo’d have tho’t otherwise. I dare say he thinks his own personal efforts have been of more consequence t..... have been those of all our Society put tog[ether]. I care not however how much he, or any one else, be their religious profession what it may, may do in this matter. The more the better, and every one right to rejoice at it. Let the great object we have in view be but accomplished, & tis no matter by whom.

Pray, when may we hope to see the second part of the Wrongs of Africa?

I have left little room for my last paragraph, but it must convey intelligence of some consequence. I am seriously going into the Country. I am at this moment on treaty with my partners respecting my share of the business here, and by Christmas next I hope to be a free man.

I beg my best respects to Mrs. Roscoe.
Thine Sincerely,
Jno' Barton.

I can hear no tidings yet of Swift or Percival.

W. Peg to John Barton, July 1787

(Postmark Carlisle, Jy {13} 87)
Mr. Barton, Milk Street, Cheapside, London.
Carlisle July 9th 1787

Dear Sir,
I have been the longer in acknowledging your obliging communication relating to the slave trade because I wished first to read over the several tracts with which you have favoured me - I am convinced the thing wanted and the only thing wanted for the public ear is well authenticated narrative - if accounts could be procured from persons upon the spot of specific instances of hardship & cruelty either in the kidnapping the treatment on ship board in the sale of the slaves, after their arrival their labour punishments, diet, confinement & or mode of life and these accounts be verified by Affidavits or the subscription of real names; the production and circulation of such accounts would have all the effect upon the minds of men that writing and publicity can have - the argumentative part of the case lies in a very little compass or rather all argument is superfluous where the bare relation of such enormities must produce conviction or nothing can - the commercial part of the question that is how far the planters or the West Indies trade would be affected by the alteration deserves to be discussed by writers who possess a local knowledge of the subject or who have access to men experienced in the trade and the country and yet if such can be found not at present interested in either - for it could be shown which I am inclined to believe that the land might be occupied there as they are here by the labour of hired servants and that the stock of slaves now in the islands would by their brood and gradual emancipation flourish & supply of much servants as they come by Degrees to be more & more wanted such a Demonstration tho' not necessary to the justice of your cause would greatly facilitate the success of your endeavours - I cannot conceive a more generous undertaking than that in which you are engaged - and tho’ I know not any thing in my power by which I can contribute to the design I shall look with extreme anxiety to the event and regard every person concerned in the attempt as Deserving of public gratitude -

I remain
with particular respect & esteem
Your sincere friend & obedient servant
W. Peg.

John Barton to William Roscoe, August 1787 (R.C.247)

W’m Roscoe, Liverpoole. (no postmark)
London 15th Aug’t 1787

I thought, my friend, how it would be, and ventured long since to prognosticate that I should be the first to break my chains, & set myself free from the cares of the world. I have absolutely concluded my treaty with my partners. I have settled everything to my satisfaction, & shall be at liberty to take my leave of Milk Street on the first of January next. I don't suppose, however, that I shall go into the country immediately. The weather will be too cold to take my flight at that season, especially as I foresee I must take my flight alone. Heaven knows where, or how I shall settle. My plan is yet entirely undetermined. However I have the satisfaction to say that tho' I hesitated long whether I sho’d quit my present situation or not, I have felt much easier in my own mind ever since I came to that determination. There appeared so much to be said on both sides; in some views it was so right, and in others so wrong, that I suffered great anxiety whilst the matter was under deliberation. Now it is over, and I am determined to view things only on that side I like best, tho' I have no doubt by far the greatest number of my Friends will see otherwise, & call me a very foolish fellow.

If I become a recluse, I shall make a very honest report of my feelings in that situation. Don't be in a hurry to follow my example before I have tried the experiment. Whatever I may come to in time, I don't mean to set out with endeavouring to make prosolytes. When I am myself more entirely converted, I may be better qualified, and have more inclination , to "strengthen my brethren" —At present I will fairly confess, notwithstanding what I have done, that I feel more of the scepticism of a Philosopher than of the enthusiasm of a Devotee.

With this I send a few of Clarkson's Abstracts, etc. Also a parcel for W. Rathbone, and another for Saml. Eaton, both which please to take the first opportunity of sending as directed. Percival & a few prints are packed along with them. Shakespeare is not yet found or heard of. I should have sent the whole some time ago, but waited for the opportunity of conveying them by Mr. Moss, who has talked of leaving town some weeks. His departure seems now so uncertain, I thought it best to wait no longer.

I hope we are going on very successfully with the business of the Slave Trade. We are going to have some respectable members added to our Committee, and our Subscriptions increase daily. The Bishops of Carlisle [Edmund Law, who died the day before this letter was written] and Clonfert have each of them given us five guineas. ‘Tis to be hoped some of the good folks who are so fond of looking up to the Bench for other things may feel some inducement to follow their examples.

Clarkson is still at Bristol, & has been ill there; which is not to be wondered at, for he has exerted himself beyond the strength of any ordinary mortal. His zeal and activity are wonderful, but I am really afraid he will at times be deficient in caution and prudence, and lay himself open to imposition as well as incur much expence; perhaps sometimes unnecessarily. I wo'd not however have this go further than ourselves, & I am sure it will not. He has engaged a Mr. Fawconbridge, formerly a Surgeon in the African trade, as an assistant to him at Bristol, & has wrote to the Committee expressing a de[sire] to take s’d Mr. F. with him to Liverpool, which ........ will be complied with. Should this gentleman go there I sho’d be glad to be favour'd with thy opinion of him. If he is really a man of sense & integrity, he may be a valuable acquisition to us. If he is not, he may do us much harm. I have seen nothing of Gregory for many weeks past. ----- I beg to be kindly remembered to Mrs. Roscoe & all friends, & am very sincerely

Thy affect. Fr’d
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, September 1787 (R.C.248)

Will'm Roscoe, Attorney at Law, Liverpoole (Single)
(prob London postmark)
London, 28th Sept. 1787

When I inform my dear Friend of the numerous and important engagements I have had on my hands, ever since the rec’t of his kind favour of the 1st Currt., he will not wonder that I have been this long in replying to it. In truth I have done so much during this month that I am almost surprised at my own exertions; and what I have done has been to so good purpose that I am in no small danger of becoming vain of my own abilities. — I have fixed on a situation for my country residence — I have fixed a business to employ me — I have prevail’d on my favourite Eliza to retire along with me — I have obtained the cordial consent of all her friends, as well as her own — I have prevailed on my partners to set me at liberty from Milk Street immediately.

Our partnership is to be dissolved the last day of this month. In a few weeks I hope to be married and comfortably settled in Hertfordshire, about twenty miles from London, within the reach of everything London can afford when I wish to come to it, & yet free from the noise and bustle and fatigue and anxiety I have hitherto experienced in it. Tell me now, my Dear Friend, is not all this very comfortable, and are not these great things to achieve in the small space of a single month?

My plan is to go into the Malting business, in which a good deal is done in Hertfordshire, and done with little trouble or risque. The only things required are to buy Barley well, and make good Malt. When made, it is disposed of without any trouble. The buying of the Barley will afford me agreeable employment & healthy exercise as it will oblige me to ride about to the neighbouring markets. The process of making the Malt, being a chemical one, will be particularly agreeable to me; and from the little acquaintance I already have with Chemistry, I promise myself some advantages in the mode of conducting it, w’ch most of those engaged in the business are wholly ignorant of. The business will not employ me more than seven or eight months in the year, so that I shall have four or five months to myself during the pleasantest part of it to go where, or do what, I please. But the circumstance of all others attending this scheme, which affords me the greatest pleasure is that it was suggested by my fair favourite herself, and so entirely meets the approbation of all her friends, that I shall receive from them every assistance I can wish in carrying it into execution, and be rendered happy in the speedy union with an amiable and sensible woman for whom I have long had the most sincere and tenderest regard, & who is every way worthy of it. To retire thus accompanied, in easy circumstances, & without any views of ambition to gratify, or anxiety of business to torment me, is to enjoy a degree of happiness enough surely to satisfy any reasonable man, and for which I have only to wish that I may be sufficiently grateful.

When may I expect the second part of the Wrongs of Africa? Amidst all my other agreeable engagements, I could wish to have the care of correcting the proof again. Pray don't fail to send the Devils to me as soon as possible. If they delay their visits too long, I shall be gone into the country, where devils but seldom make their appearance. I read with great pleasure, and indeed some exultation, the Criticals Reviewers acco’t of the first part. I could n..... ...... be sure feel the pride of a Father, but I re.......... that I had stood sponsor, and to stand in any relation to so promising a brat is sufficient to raise one's vanity. I beg therefore that I may by all means fill the same honourable office on the next occasion, as I have no doubt of gaining additional credit by it.

Pray is Clarkson yet with you, and how does he go on? The Committee have not heard from him for a long time past. I find Cooper is writing a series of Letters on the Slave Trade in one of the Manchester Papers (Wheeler's) & has mentioned his intention of corresponding with thee on the subject.

I beg to be most kindly remembered to Mrs. Roscoe & all my friends & am mo. sincerely
Thy affect. Frd.
John Barton

Please to direct for me at No.18 Old Jewrey.

John Barton to William Roscoe, October 1787 (R.C.249)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Li verpoole. (prob. London postmark)
London, 17th Oct. 1787

My dear friend must give me great credit for this letter; much more than either its length or its matter can claim. I am absolutely so busy that I hardly know which way to turn myself: we are closing our books at Milk Street, and I am beginning my Malting operation at Hertford. Besides this I have begun to be married. I say begun for a Marriage amongst us is full two months in completing; even after a beginning is made, which by the way is one of the most provoking and intolerable things that ever was thought of. It keeps a man at the same time married and unmarried, with happiness in his possession and yet beyond his reach. But theres no remedy but patience, of which however it requires a great deal. I made my first appearance in this business at one of our Meetings last week, & shall have to keep running the gauntlet till near Christmas. Then I hope to sit down by my own fire side in peace & quietness, & as happy as I wish to be.

I have had a letter from Cooper from w’ch take the following Extract.

"I have spent a few days lately in Liverpool with Roscoe. He improves much upon acquaintance, and I put him down in the ascertained list of good fellows. A good fellow, thou knowest is neither merely a sensible fellow, nor merely a good-hearted fellow, nor merely a jovial fellow, but all of these. If the latter part of the character be wanting, it is without doubt a large drawback; for your very regular, your very precise and your very grave and pompous fellows, are not for this world: they are to be consulted like a huge folio, which no man in his senses thinks of reading: but your good fellow is a parlour window book - nocturna versata manu, versata diurnâ".

I am very glad I brought you acquainted. I was sure that when you were thoroughly so you could not fail liking each other. Cooper sent me his fourth letter on the Slave Trade & appears very earnest in the business indeed.

Faulder advises advertis’g the Wrongs next month much in preference to this. He says that is the time when all new works will be advertised, and when company will be drawing to town. I therefore wait thy further orders. Meanwhile pray when are we to have part second. There are very many Ionging much to see it, & I have inquiries made concerning its forwardness every day.

My Br’o Jo. is in Ireland — All friends here are well, & desire to join me in affectionate respects to Mrs Roscoe & thyself ---

I ever am sincerely
thy Fr’d
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, October 1787 (R.C.250)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney at Law, Liverpool. (prob. London postmark)
London, 25th Oct’r, 1787.

My dear Friend,
Before I marry again, the ruler of our Society require that I should make some provision for my children; and I think I cannot provide for them more fairly and equitably at present than by securing to them the Marriage portion I rec’d with their Mother, which was One Thousand Pounds. I wish therefore to have a proper Bond made out for this purpose, to be given to certain Trustees, impowering them, in case of my decease, to demand the s’d sum of £1000 for the sole & seperate use of my pres’t Children provided I sho’d die intestate, or without making a provision for them in my Will equal to that amount; the s’d £1000 to be equally divided amongst my s’d. children, the survivor or survivors of them, share and share alike. I mean to name for their Trustees the Ext’s named in my present Will, viz my own Brother and the brother and brother in law of my intended wife; adding to them two other indifferent persons, to prevent any appearance of partiality; & in case of the death of any one of them would have the surviving four chose a new one to succeed the deceased, they having my concurrence in the choice.

This provision, tho’ reasonable and necessary at present, will in fact be superseded by my Will, for making which (as a new one will now be necessary) I purpose sending thee fresh instructions very soon. Meanwhile should be glad to have a rough Drau’t of the Bond before mentioned made out & sent to me as expeditiously as possible, it being absolutely necessary to have it executed previous to my approaching marriage.

I would have sent instructions for making my Will now, but have not time to be so particular as I apprehend to be needful. I will however just mention the general principles on which I mean to act in the distribution of my property, & hope it will meet with thy approbation.

If I sho’d have no children by my intended wife, the whole of her fortune, in case of my decease, to be paid back to her, & my own property to descend to my pres’t children as if no marriage had taken place. If I have children of my second marriage, then the marriage portions of the two mothers to be left to the children of each respectively, and my own property, whatever that may be, to be divided equally amongst all, share and share alike ----

I shall also have occasion to consult thee with respect to what measures it may be needful for me to take, in my separation [from] my late partners; as whether any and what kind of Release sho’d be mutually given in order to render the separation regular & complete.

I wish to consult thee in these matters, because it is unpleasant to lay open one's affairs to entire strangers; and I know that no body can possibly do my business better. But this I must absolutely insist upon that whatever I have done be charged as to any other indifferent client. Please to place the inclosed Note for £5.5.0 to the Credit of my acco’t in part, & let me know how much I am still in debt.

I desire my best respects to Mrs. Roscoe, & am

Thy affect Fr’d
John Barton.

John Barton to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, October 1787


I take the liberty of presenting you with a model of a Spinning Machine invented about twenty years ago by my late Father Bernard Barton of Carlisle: Twelve Girls spin upon one of these machines at the same time, and it is so contrived that any one of the bobbins may be stopped without interruption to the rest. The wheel wch. carries the whole may be turned by a grown girl, or infirm old person that is unfit for hard labour; and children may spin at this machine much earlier than at the common spinning wheels. Lady Broughton has had one of them constantly employed for upwards of fourteen years at Sandoe near Hexham in Northumberland, for the benefit of the poor in that neighbourhood, and it has been found to answer the purpose extremely well. Another of them has lately been introduced into Old Brentford, in order to employ the poor children belonging to the Sunday Schools at that place; and I have had various applications for them from different parts of the country for the same purpose. By presenting you with a model of this machine, I hope it may become more generally known, & therefore more generally useful, which is my only motive for sending it. I shall be happy if it meets with your approbation. I should be much obliged to you for giving a drawing & description of it in the next Volume of your Transactions.

I am, very respectfully, Yours etc

John Barton
Milk Street
27th Oct. 1787.

[N.B. Andrew Humphries was never able to locate the model of the wheel mentioned in this letter; the RSA must have lost it.]

John Barton the Elder letter to RSA about spinning wheel 1787.jpg

John Barton to William Roscoe, November 1787 (R.C.251)

Wm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (prob. London postmark)
London, 22nd Nov. 1787

My dear Friend,
I am duly fav’d with thine of 13th Curr’t and ask thy excuse for not sooner acknowledg’g rec’t of thy former fav’r inclosing copy of the Bond; but I have been, and still am, very much hurried, and necessarily must be so for some weeks. I have not yet got my acco’t closed at Milk Street, w’ch engages me very closely when in town; and I am nevertheless proceeding with my business at Hertford, where I was when thy last kind fav’r arrived, and am going there again this afternoon. I anticipate with pleasure the arrival of that season of retirement & repose to which I now look forward; & the expectation of which enables me the better to support my present hurry.

When it does arrive, expect to hear from me much oftener, & to recieve letters long enough to weary any man's patience.

I have not seen the English Review & shall not not till my return to town. The conductor of that publication seems to have a more than common share of malevolence abo’t him, & not infrequently attempts to damn what all the other reviewers agree in praising. I remember my friend Paley was one of those whose labours he attempted to depreciate, but to as little purpose as he now, I trust attempts to undervalue the author of the Wrongs. Am very glad the second part is in such forwardness, & shall be impatient to see it, which hope will be very soon ----

Clarkson is ret’d, but I have not seen him, and have been absent the two last meetings of the Committee so that I cannot at pres’t. say how matters stand amongst us.

The Bond was perfectly right. I copied it myself on a proper stamp to save time and trouble, and it has been executed abo’t a fortnight. Will write further abo’t my Will etc as soon as I have sufficient liesure [sic].

The day of my marriage is fixed for the 4th of next month, after which shall stay two or three days in town and then go down to Hertford for good.

Excuse haste & believe me
Dear Roscoe
Thine sincerely
Jno Barton

[Note by NJB: J.B. was never very confident about the spelling of ‘leisure’, but the writing of this letter is much worse than usual and – curiously enough – resembles that of his grandson, Rev. John Barton.]

John Barton to William Roscoe, December 1787 (R.C.252)

London, 12th Dec’r 1787

My dear Friend,
I will be much obliged to thee for drawing me a rough Dra’t, as soon as possible, of a Release on acco’t of my late Partnership. I have inclosed a copy of an agreement we made previous to our seperation, and have added observations as appeared necessary for explanation. I hope the whole will furnish thee with all the information that may be wanted. If not, be so good as to inform me, and I will communicate any other particulars that are requisite.

Faulder has shewn me thy last piece respecting the Slave trade, with which I was much pleased & hope it may be of material service. I do not see how it can be in the least inimical to the views of our Committee, but the reverse. We have not indeed gone so far as to suggest any heads of a bill, but there can be no objection to its being done from any other quarter. We mean be regulate our measures very much by the advice of Wilberforce, who is a steady friend to the cause, and will not fail to bring the matter forward in parliament in such a way as appears to him most likely to conduce to its success. We hope something will be done very soon after the recess, and we have strong assurances of support from many members of both houses.

We had a meeting of the Committee yesterday evening, which I attended. From a similar society established at Philadelphia (Dr. B. Franklin Pres’d) we rec’d a large pacq’t containing numerous testimonials of the good conduct of several negroes set free, & the advantages experienced by their Masters in employing them as hired serv’ts instead of Slaves. It also contained specimens of writing (& two of drawing) of several young negroes, the name & age of the writers annexed to each specimen & severally attested to be genuine. The writing in many was excellent.

Am sorry to add that we had a very petulant letter from our friend Cooper. He wrote abo‘t three weeks ago to our Committee & was replied to in due course. His letter was dated from Manchester & unluckily our Sec’y directed our answer there instead of Woodheys, by w’ch means I presume it had miscarried, for he says he has not heard anything in reply, & he resents our supposed neglect with no small share of acrimony. I hope the answer now sent to him will moderate his anger. ----

Please to write as soon as convenient and address me at Hertford (Jno Barton, Hertford will be sufficient direction) Tomorrow I hope to have the happiness of being once more a married man, & next day we propose leaving town. I was in hopes to have been married ere now, but the death of a relation of my Eliza's has unhappily protracted this interesting business. I trust, however, that no further delays can now intervene — I have the pleasure to inform thee that all my little folks are charmingly. My little girls came from School this morning, to be pres’t at the Wedding tomorrow. ----

I beg my best respects to Mrs Roscoe & am
Thy affec’t. Frd.
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, December 1787b

Wm. Roscoe, Liverpool (prob. London postmark)
14th Dec. 1787

I fully intended forward’g this on the 12th but in the midst of my attention to my Matrimonial business I entirely forgot it. By this delay I have it in my power now to add (and I have no time to add anything more) that I had yesterday the happiness to be married to my dear and amiable Eliza. We are just preparing to set off for Hertford & are all in a hustle. Therefore my dear F’rd Adieu


John Barton to William Roscoe, December 1787 (R.C.252A)

W’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (prob London postmark)

I did flatter myself, my dear Roscoe, that on my arrival here I should have found myself at once a man of liesure, and been able ere this to have written over whole sheets of paper in which business should not have been mentioned. But I find I am yet far from having attained the leisure I looked for. The necessary attentions due to my new business, and the yet unsettled state of the old (to say nothing of the engagements of matrimony) still keep me the same plodding anxious creature I have too long been, and interfere with those enjoyments which Love and Friendship and Literary Leisure, I trust, yet have in store for me.

I am much obliged to my dear friend for his attention to my last letter, a for his kind fav’r of the (I was going to mention the date but find it has none) which I have rec‘d in answer to it. I shall be glad to receive as soon as convenient the Bonds of Indemnity etc which I have no doubt will be perfectly satisfactory. Meanwhile I am going to furnish thee with further employment, and to convince my friend how much mistaken he was in supposing I had paid beforehand for as much law as wo’d serve me all my life. I am sure I must be greatly in debt already, and if I go on as I have done for some time past, I must either die without paying my debts, or be beggar'd by my Attorney. Be sure and make good provision for thy own security in my Will, which is the thing I now want to have prepared for me.

In making a new will, it has become necessary for me to pay particular attention to the two following circumstances – 1st the Bond I gave previous to my marriage for the payment of £1000 to certain persons in Trust for my Child’n — 2nd an obligation I have ent’d into in a Marriage Settlement bearing date the 19th Oct’r last, for the payment of £1000 to my Wife in case she sho’d survive me, within 6 months next after my decease, w’th Int'r for the same after the rate of 5 P.Ct. from the day of my decease; which s’d sum of £1000 I have rec’d as part of her marriage portion: the remainder is settled on herself & secured in the public funds, except some money of her own w’ch she had independent of her father. I purpose also to leave my wife, in case she survives me, all my Household Furniture, Books, Plate & Linen. ---- Excepting these & the s’d £1000 all the rest of my property I shall leave to my Children as before, which I do at the particular request of my wife and her relations, all of whom have repeatedly declared their wish that everything I had previous to my marriage sho’d be secured to them entirely. Only it must be noticed in my Will that the property so left to my children is in lieu & satisfaction of the Bond for £1000 which I gave agreeable to thy instructions before my marriage, as the s’d Bond, particularly requires it to be so. — I hope it is looking forward beyond all bounds of probability to provide (and yet as the thing is not impossible it may be proper to provide) that in case of the death of all my pres’t Child before attaining the age of 21 years or Marriage, then the property before devised to them sho’d be left to my wife during her life; after her decease to such child or children as may be the issue of our marriage, if any (the whole to such child if only one, and if more than one to be equally divided amongst them) And in case of the failure of such issue then I leave s’d property (after the decease of my wife) to my own Brothers & Sisters and to my Sister Bewley & Done Holme, their Heirs, etc., equally, share and share alike —

London 25th Dec. 1787

I wrote the other half sheet before I left Hertford, reserving this till I got to town, that if I heard anything material on my arrival I might communicate it. I have nothing however material to add. Indeed the day is so stormy I can hardly get out to see any body. I have come here to settle some acco’ts & to eat my Christmas Dinner. Tomorrow morning I purpose returning to Hertford. My little Girls are likewise going down. I have the pleasure to inform thee that they & their Brother, as also B’ro. & S[ister] Bewley, are all very well.

We have had rather a mortifying [?loss] since I wrote last. A large trunk containing most of my Wife's Cloaks & several of her sisters who is down on a visit to us, was stolen out of the Waggon, & I fear will never more be heard of; and the owner of the Waggon is so poor that the loss (which is above £100) will fall entirely on ourselves. 'Tis a dreadful calamity to a Bride to be thus robb'd of all her finery; however I must do her, as well as her sister, the justice to say that they bear their Ioss with wonderful Philosophy.

With best respects to Mrs. Roscoe I am
Thy sincerely Affect Frd.
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1788 (R.C.252B)

Wm. Roscoe of Liverpool, At the London Coffee-House, Ludgate Hill, London.
(Hertford postmark)
Hertford, 3rd Jan’y, 1788

My dear Friend,
I am duly fav’d with thine of yesterday, from which am not a little mortified to learn that we are so near to each other, with so little probability of an interview. It is not in my power to go to London this week, being very much engaged with indispensable business at home. If thy companions can be prevailed upon to return by way of Hertford, or if it could be made convenient for thee to come over here alone, I sho’d be extremely happy to see thee. The distance is but 21 miles & we have Coaches twice every day from town ----

I intended to have wrote a longer letter but my Brothers Jo. & Isaac are just arrived and interrupt me. They are both on their way to Ireland. --- Adieu, my dear Friend, Pray come & see me if possible, if not write soon. ----

Thy sincere F’rd
John Barton

P.S. My Medicine continues to agree w’th me wonderfully. I am now nearly as well as I ever was in my life.

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1788 (R.C.252C)

W’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (Hertford postmark)
Hertford, 10th Jany 1787/8 [7 crossed out and replaced with 8]

My dear Friend,
I rec’d thy kind fav’r of the 6th Curr this morning, inclosing If’n. of the Bond & my Will, which are entirely to my satisfaction. And now, Roscoe, having, I trust, got as much Law as I shall have occasion for all my life, I should he glad to know how much I am still in debt to my Attorney; for I am sure if I am not yet considerably in debt, Law is not the good trade it generally passes for in the world. I cannot therefore accept of my friend's apology for his delay, because I cannot consider myself as coming within the description of paymaster which he mentions. But I can readily forgive him on other grounds, or rather I ought to apologize for my own impatience, for certainly there was no delay w’ch I co’d have the least cause to complain of. But the truth is I met with some little unpleasant circumstances in my late seperation, w’ch made me anxious to have everything relative thereto as speedily terminated as possible. At some future time I may be more particular. This much I thought it right to say to account for my last letter w’ch otherwise might appear unnecessary & therefore troublesome. Meanwhile my dear friend will readily perceive that I wo’d not choose anything of this kind to transpire except to those in whom I can place entire confidence.

I am happy to find that I may soon expect a long letter from thee on another subject. I am quite impatient to know & to see, all that can be known & seen concerning it. I am not a little mortified however that my distance from London renders it impossible for me to render any assistance. I wish with all my heart that we had a good printing press at Hertford. It wo’d be delicious employment for me in my pres’t situation to correct the proofs for the author of the Wrongs. In truth I already find that I have too little to do, and am daily wishing for more employment. I sometimes fear I shall fall into that dreadful disorder called ennui for want of it. Tell me, my dear Friend, what shall I do to prevent this? What work shall I set abo’t that may afford agreeable employment to myself, & do some good to Mankind? I never ...........y Life before had so many things I have ... wished for as ingredients of happiness, & if I be not happy I am sure the fault must lay in my own want of judgement in mixing up these ingredients, so as to render the cup of Life sweet and palateable --- Adieu, my dear friend, write soon, & much, & often to

Thy affect
Jno Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, January 1787 (R.C.239)

W’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool, (Hertford postmark)
Hertford, 21st Jan’y 1787*

[Note by NJB: *This [date] must be wrong - the date should be 1788 because 1) He was not living in Hertford till then; 2) He did not get the 2nd part of the Wrongs (see para. 2) till then. Note that in his letter of 10th Jan’y 1788 he first wrote 1787 and then changed it to 1788. Note by DBHB: this explains why this letter (like the next) is numbered out of chronological order in the Museum of Liverpool’s Roscoe collection.]

My dear Friend,
The London Committee on the Slave Trade observing the good effects with are likely to arise from the exertions of the Manchester Committee, are extremely desirous of having a similar one formed at Liverpool; and have desired me to write to thee on the subject as the most suitable person they can think of to promote such a measure. I have accordingly undertaken to convey their wishes, & am sure they will be most chearfully complied with, if they can be so with propriety & tolerable convenience. But of this my friend alone is the proper judge, & therefore I am far from presuming to urge it. I should, however, be glad to know thy sentiments on this business as early as possible, that I may have it in my power to communicate them to my friends of the Committee. If not prudent to engage in this undertaking thyself it may perhaps be in thy power to point out some other person who would do it; though I am certain it would afford, our Committee peculiar satisfaction to have this business undertaken by thyself, as they wo’d then rest fully assured that every exertion would be made that was possible. The public advertisements of the Manchester Committee are likely to be of great use. To see so many respectable people so much in earnest, serves to excite the public attention; and the more generally their example is followed by other large towns, the more probable it is that our efforts will be successful. I am going to write to Archdeacon Paley to urge him to promote a petition to Parliament from Carlisle, w’ch hope will be obtained. —

Faulder write me that he has rec’d the 2nd part of the Wrongs, which I rejoice to hear, & am very impatient to see it. I hope to have my curiosity gratified very soon. I intend going up to town on Wednesday, & mean to continue there till the latter end of next week. If it be convenient to reply to this in time, please therefore to address me at No. 18 Old Jewrey. And by the way, in addressing me in future at Hertford, please to say turn at Ware, by which means I shall get thy letter a day sooner, & save one third of the postage. I sho’d like to know too whether my letters to thee go direct from hence, or by way of London, which may be known by the charge and the post-mark. If they go ...........don, it is an abuse w’ch I wo’d, take pa..............fy.

[Note by NJB: There are two postmarks, suggesting it did go via London]

If I hear anything new in London relating to our favourite object, may depend on my communicating it first opportunity; and if it be in my power to render thee any services during my stay there I shall be happy to receive thy commands.

I am
Thy sincerely affect. Fr’d.
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, ~February 1788 (R.C.241)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool, (From Hertford prob. 7 Feby. 1788; North bag, from Ware)

It is scarcely possible for my dear friend, notwithstanding his more than common candour, not to think me highly culpable in remaining so long silent, after the rec’t of his valuable communications of the 24th & 31st Ulto.: to which I have now to add his Obliging favour of the 4th Curr’t. And yet I hope I have not been so much to blame as at first sight I may appear to be. I rec’d thy fav’r, of the 24th Ult’o whilst in London, and communicated it to our Committee which met on the 28th at which time it was read and considered. Many handsome, and I will add deserved, Compliments were paid to the writer, and all were fully convinced of the impropriety of entertaining any further thought of endeavouring to form a Committee on the African business in Liverpool. I should have wrote to my dear friend immediately after the meeting of the Committee, but waited in daily expectation of receiving the other letter, which I did not receive till this day; and now I have only rec’d it by halves. When it arrived in London (which was some days after my leaving it) my brother conjecturing from its bulk that it must contain something for the Committee, which was to meet the following day, took the liberty of opening it. That part which contained an acco’t of the opinions that prevail in Liverpool respecting the African reform he gave to the Committee. The answer to the paragraph w’ch appeared in the Gen’l Eveng. he put into the Letter Box belonging to that paper; and both I hope have been duly attended to. I must confess however it is no small mortification to me that I have by this means missed the perusal of what I am sure w’d have afforded me great pleasure. I trust however that I have only missed of this pleasure for a time.

I have wrote by this post to our Treasurer to send me thy fav’r of the 31st if it can be spared without inconvenience; and I hope I shall see the other in the News Paper. In writing for the former I have repeated thy caution that it may not be known beyond the bounds of our Committee to whom it is that we are indebted for the information we have rec’d and have particularly requested that this caution may be scrupulously attended to w’ch I hope it will.

Thy information respecting the sentiments of the Minister gives me the sincerest satisfaction as I think it leaves no room to doubt that he is perfectly decided in our favour; & I trust that this circumstance, joined to the general sense and voice of the Nation on the subject makes it almost absolutely certain that something important & effectual will be done in this great cause of Justice & Humanity. Most sincerely do I join with my friend in wishing that "the same over riding providence w’ch has already disposed the hearts of our countrymen to compassionate the suffering of the wretched Africans, may inspire them with wisdom to provide in the best possible manner for the present relief and future improvement of that unhappy people.

The mode of bringing this matter before the house will I apprehend be very much left by our Committee to Mr. Wilberforce, who I also presume will be considerably determined in his turn by the sentiments of the Minister. I have reason to believe that the latter has all along been conferred with and consulted by the former; and some months ago we had intimations given us of Mr. Pitt's goodwill to our cause, but were particularly cautioned not to let such an idea transpire least the business might become a party affair & the leaders of opposition be induced to take a more active part than we now trust they will do against us. Indeed I begin to flatter myself that our opposers will neither be numerous nor respectable, & that our success will exceed our most sanguine expectations.

I rejoice to find that thy Pamphlet has occasioned a ferment amongst the African Merchants at Liverpool. I trust it will occasion a ferment amongst our Senators likewise & produce that conviction we so much wish them to feel. I am sorry that my distance from the Capital prevents me from hearing so much about it, & the opinions entertained concerning it, as I could wish. I am also both sorry and vexed that Faulder is again sleeping over the Wrongs. When in town I urged its speedy publication as much as possible, and he assured me it wo’d be ready in a very few days. He even promised to let me have a complete proof of it before I came away; but am sorry to say he is too apt to forget promises of this kind, as he did in this instance to my no small mortification..

U................ to have a County Meeting (call'd by M........ Sheriff....... his place on Monday next, to consider ..... a petition to Parliament on the Slave Trade. I fin... the acquisition for this meeting sent to' the Sheriff was signed by many of the most wealthy & respectable people in this County so that I hope we shall cut a very good figure - I am in hopes also that a Petition will be sent from Carlisle. I have wrote to some of my old friends there urging the measure very warmly, & hope it will have the desired effect.

Am much obliged by thy kind inquiries respecting my health, of which I am sorry to say I cannot yet give any favourable acco’t. I have been at times much indisposed, & am yet far from well. I hope my next letter may convey more agreeable intelligence.

My Wife desires to join me in best respects to thyself and Mrs. Roscoe. My little folks are all charmingly. We had a letter yesterday from Mary & Betsy, & my little Buck Bernard is sporting himself with us here.

I am w’th sincere esteem
Thy oblig'd & affect Frd.
John Barton
Hertford 7th Feb’y, 1787*

[Note by NJB: *this date must be wrong (though quite clearly written):
1) Last para - "my wife". He had none at this time. See in confirmation letter of 19th March 1787 (R.C.242); [It must mean] his second wife Elizabeth Horne, whom he married at the Friend's Meeting House, Red Cross Street, Southwark, on 13th Dec. 1787. The Homes were Quakers and came originally from Arundel in Sussex. Elizabeth’s father Thomas was "of St. Saviour's Southwark, citizen, clothworker and coalfactor" when he married in 1753. I think he lived on Bankside.
2) Third para, p.2 - re Faulder and the "Wrongs of Africa". This must surely come after the references in the letter of 17th March 1787 (R.C.243). It seems likely that, like so many of us, he forgot that he was six weeks into the new year and wrote the date of the last year.]

John Barton to William Roscoe, March 1788 (R.C.253)

Willm. Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole. (P. North Bag from Ware)
Hertford, 6th March, 1788

My dear Friend,
I did not reply to thy fav’r of 11th Ult’o. because I had written a few days before it's arrival, and acknowledged the Rect of thy three former letters, concerning which I do not wonder at thy having been so uneasy, and am very sorry that circumstances occurred to prevent my acknowledging them sooner.

Since my last I have rec’d from the Committee thy favour of the 31st Jan’y, giving an acco’t of thy sentiments respecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which I have read over again and again with great pleasure, and with convictions very similar to those of my friend. I see very plainly that many mischiefs wo’d attend the immediate abolition of the Slave Trade, w’ch need not be feared if that abolition took place gradually; and am further convinced that if it takes place at all the latter, and not the former, will be the mode adopted. Many of our Committee, however, seem to be of a different opinion, & show an unaccountable unwillingness to lend an ear to anything that can be urged in favour of this more moderate and more practical measure. Nothing short of an entire and immediate abolition will satisfy them, and they have for some time past been buoy'd up with a notion that this wo’d be obtained. I fear however it is very doubtful whether anything will be obtained at all. Since the matter has been before the privy council, I understand much cold water has been thrown upon it, and some who were once friendly to our cause have advised that the business sho’d not be brought before Parliament at all. How this can be decently avoided after the very numerous and respectable petitions now on the table of the house have been presented, I don't understand. Sho’d the business come before Parliament, I find we are to have decided opponents in the L’d Chancellor & L’d Hawksbury, & fear that Mr Pitt, notwithstanding his declarations to Tarleton, will turn out at best but a luke-warm Friend to our cause. — The truth is an idea seems to be gaining ground with the public, that, however inhuman & unjust the African Slave Trade, it is nevertheless highly beneficial to this country in a political view; and till this idea can be shown to be ill grounded I fear our chance of success is very small. I am very sorry to find this opinion so much countenanced by the Monthly reviewers. I apprehend they have been led to entertain this opinion from the arguments of the West India Planter, whose work they mention with so much respect, & which I find has had its desired effect with others as well as with them — amongst the rest our friend Jo. Johnson professes himself to be quite convinced by him, and I suppose is very sorry that he appears on the list of our Subscribers. ---

I am much out of humour with these same Reviewers, and yet am glad to find they have candour enough to do justice to the Wrongs. I hav[e] [at] last got the second part, which, to sa[y] the le[ast] [o]f it, will not disappoint the expectations raised by the first part. I think the Poet evidently improves as he advances, and I hope nothing will prevent his going further. To me both the language and thoughts appear to flow with greater ease, without the smallest diminution of boldness or energy. I have never been more pleased or affected by any poetical production whatever, and (all compliment out of the question) I must say I cannot but feel a pride in calling such an Author my friend. — I purpose going to town on Sunday and continuing there till Friday next; & sho’d be happy to hear from thee during my stay there. Please to address me at Edw’d Janson's No.16 New Bridge Street. My wife joins in kind respects to thyself & Mrs. Roscoe and I am very truly

Thy affec’t Fr’d
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, May 1788 (R.C.254)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool, (prob. London postmark)
Hertford, 26th May, 1788

My dear Friend,
I rec’d thy kind favour of 22nd Ulto. duly, and would have wrote before now, but waited in expectation of receiving thy reply to Harris's pamphlet, which I have been longing for with great impatience, but 'tis not yet come. This I have accounted for by another circumstance, which has also greatly mortified me. Last time I was in town, Sister Bewley informed me of thy having been at Old Jewry only the day before to inquire for me. I posted away immediately to the London Coffee-House, in hope of seeing or hearing some account of thee, but to no purpose. I then went to Mr. Clarke's, where I had the mortification to be informed of thy having left town. To be so near, and yet to miss each other, when there is perhaps a very poor chance of our being so near again for many months -- all this is vexing enough. So, however, render it as much less so as possible, by writing to me very soon, & gratifying the curiosity and impatience I cannot help feeling 'till I receive thy reply to this Apostle of Inhumanity. I have heard of three more gentlemen who have entered the Lists against him & are soon expected to publish, viz Mr. Ramsey, Mr. Hughes of Ware, & a gentleman in Yorkshire whose name I have forgot. I trust, however, this information will not induce thee to delay, but to hasten thy own work. It is a real honour to be amongst the first & to take the lead in a business so interesting to the cause of Humanity. —

Next week my wife and I intend going to Brighthelmstone. We purpose being in London on Wednesday, & should be happy to receive a letter from thee adressed to me at No.18 Old Jewrey, Pray send the pamphlet also if ready. As soon as the other replys to Harries come out, I will pick them up & send thee copies of them.

Faulder says the Wrongs of Africa have sold so well as to leave no doubt of their paying for themselves at least. I hope they will do more.

From Jo. Johnson I learn that the cause of thy late Journey to London was some of the failures which, have lately happened in Lancashire. I hope & trust my dear friend is no otherwise concerned in or affected by them than as a man of Law, & will therefore be benefitted & not injured by them. 'Tis however melancholy work to be even a mere spectator of such general ruin and distress, w’ch appears to be multiplied and extended on the present occasion beyond all former example. I am happy [to in]form thee that the house in Milk Stree[t] ........ escaped unhurt, & I hope will remain so. Y[et I] confess I sometimes wish I had less proper[ty at] stake even there. Besides my Capital yet remaining in their hands, I still remain jointly bound with them for certain sums of money formerly borrowed. I have desired them to get the securities changed, w’ch they have not yet done. If they continue to neglect it, is it in my power to oblige them to pay the money?

I was sincerely concerned to be informed of the death of Mrs. Griffies, in whom your family has lost a most worthy and agreeable member — My wife desires to join me in best respects to thyself & Mrs. Roscoe & I am

Thy affect. Fr’d
John Barton

All my little folks are at home and in charming health and spirits. Mary and Betty desire to be kindly remembered.

John Barton to William Roscoe, July 1788 (R.C.255)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpoole,
Hertford, 2nd July, 1788

My dear Friend,
Excuse my not writing from Brighthelmstone as requested. I fully intend doing so, but the party I was with kept me so entirely engaged either in walking, riding, or sailing, all the time I was there that I never had less leisure in my life. I hope I may assure my dear friend that the company, bathing, exercise, etc. has been of service to my health, but I am sorry to say I am still but an invalid, yet I trust I am daily gaining a little ground, & hope this favourable season will do great things for me.

On my return from Brighton on Friday last I have the pleasure to receive a parcel "from the Author" containing 6 Pamphlets in answer to Harris. I immediately perused one of them myself and gave the others to some of the most intelligent members of our Committee, & we are all unanimously of opinion that it is the work of a master and by much the best answer that Harris has rec’d --- The Committee met last night & I wished much to have attended, but was under a necessity of being at Hertford. This day I have rec’d a letter from one of the members, of which the following is a copy ---

"Dear Fr’d,
At the desire of our Comm’t. I have to request, that thou wouldst, w’th as much expedition as possible, communicate to the author of the Scriptural Confutation of Harris their wishes to take off what remains of the impression (on his own terms of course) and in case that should not be sufficiently numerous for their purpose, they request the Authors leave to print a new edition. I beseech thee let no time be lost.
I am etc."

Do my dear friend be so good as enable me to reply to this as soon as possible. That no time may be lost, I dispatch a special messenger with this to Ware, by w’ch means I shall save two days. Please to say on the direction of thy letter in return turn at Ware, w’ch will save another day. —

I write in a great hurry having but just time to save the post. —

Believe me ever mo. sincerely
Thy affect Fr’d
Jno Barton

[Note by NJB: N.B. The writing is indeed much worse than usual]

John Barton to William Roscoe, July 1788 (R.C.256)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool, (prob. London postmark)
Hertford, 29th July, 1788

My dear Friend,
I am really ashamed to be sitting down so late as this to acknowledge the rec’t of thy favour of the 5th Curr’t, to which I certainly ought to have replied much sooner, especially as it related to matters of business. The truth is, ever since my return from Brighton, I have either been very much engaged with Company, or very much indisposed or both; so that I have either wanted time or spirits to do that which I have been daily and hourly reproaching myself for leaving so long undone. Several of my friends from town, etc. have been so kind as to come & spend a few days with us at Hertford since our return home, & have so much engaged my time that I have seldom had an hour to myself, or if I had, I have felt myself so much exhausted, that the writing even a single letter has appeared to me as an insurmountable task. Judge then, my dear friend, how little I am qualified for undertaking a journey into Lancashire. I am however by no means the less obliged by thy kind invitation, which, under more favourable circumstances, I sho’d have accepted with pleasure; but at present I am too much of a Valetudinarian to be any where but at home where I am advised to keep myself as undisturbed & quiet as possible.

And now, my dear friend, having, like a true invalid, poured forth my own complaints in the first place, let me come to business. Immediately on rec’t. of thy fav’r of the 5th Curr’t. I communicated the contents (so far as they related to the Scriptural Refutation, etc.) to the Committee in London, who were much pleased with the offer made to them, & very happy to accept of it. The following is an extract from their minutes.

"Old Jewry, 15th July, 1788
At a Committee of the Society for effecting the abolition of the Slave Trade ----
"This Committee impressed with a sense of the Laudable Zeal & great Abilities, manifested by the author of "a scriptural refutation of a pamphlet intitled Scriptural researches on the licitness of the Slave Trade," do gratefully accept his offer, and request Mr. Barton to convey to him the thanks of the Committee for the important service he has rendered the cause in which they are engaged."

I was not in town myself at the time of this meeting, nor have been since (nor do I know when I shall be again) therefore have not seen the Committee's books, but I suppose this minute must have been preceded by another in which the particulars of the offer made by the Author wo’d be stated -- The Committee ordered a new edition at the same time, which l sho’d imagine must 'ere this be compleated, so that the circulation of this pamphlet will very soon be general over every part of the kingdom: and I trust its utility will be as great as its circulation will be extensive. All who have read it that I have yet met with speak of it in terms of the highest commendation, and many are the inquiries & conjectures respecting its author. I should be happy to know what is said of it in Liverpool, as also what is said of S’r W’m Dolben's bill, & what is expected concerning the general question to be agitated next session ........ the cause is gaining strength, & yet the oppos[ition which] it appears to meet with in the House of Lords is somewhat discouraging. If we may judge from what has passed, the poor Africans will have but very lukewarm advocates in the Bench of Bishops, from whom much was expected by many. I fear they will show themselves much more zealous courtiers than Christians. ---

After having been so dilatory myself, I am ashamed to request a speedy reply to this, yet believe me nothing could be more acceptable to, or more highly oblige

Thy affect F’rd
John Barton

John Barton to William Roscoe, October 1788 (R.C.257)

Will’m Roscoe, Attorney, Liverpool. (Country)
Hertford, 31st Oct’r, 1788

It is with great pleasure that I inform my dear friend of the recovery of my health. I am wonderfully better than when I wrote last, and have for some weeks past been nearly as well as I ever was in my life. I am not, it is true, nor ever shall be, a stout man, but if I shall be favoured to enjoy the same degree of health I have lately done, I shall have abundant reason to be satisfied and thankful. I am indeed taking Medicine daily, and that in considerable quantities - seldom less than six or eight quarts every 24 hours - but as I find it agree with me vastly well, and am assured that its continuance is absolutely necessary; I am determined to persevere. And surely this is perseverance of no common kind! I fancy that I see my dear friend almost ready to shudder at this information, & expressing his doubts whether life can be worth purchasing on such terms. It looks like living for the Doctor rather than for ones-self; and, the ordinary price of Medicine considered, it should seem to require the full income of no small estate to discharge the bills of the Apothecary — But be not alarmed, my dear friend. Neither the Physician or Apothecary are growing rich at my expence. The Medicine I take is pure simple water. I am happy enough to have found out a spring of it that is remarkably fine near this place, and I seriously believe that, under providence, I owe my life to it. I have long since left off all other medicine, and the improvement in my health since I betook myself to this has been regular and steady: it has indeed been so evident & striking to my towns-folks, that I begin to be half afraid least I sho’d be deprived of the means by w’ch it has been restored to me. My favourite spring begins to be so much resorted to by others that I am sometimes troubled to get myself supplied. — Please to observe that the water I drink is not impregnated by any kind of mineral. It has nothing to recommend it but its superior simplicity and purity; and I am fully persuaded that the benefit found by drinking the various Waters most in vogue, is chiefly to be attributed to the pure element. —

[Famous last words. John died on 4 April 1789, six months after penning this letter].

And now, my dear friend, I think I have said quite enough concerning myself and my health & should certainly not have dwelt so long on the subject had it not afforded me the opportunity of communicating what may possibly prove not unuseful information. —

On the subject of the Slave Trade I have nothing new to communicate, except that one of the London Committee has lately been in France, and dined at Paris with the Committee established in that place with the same views as our own. Our friend says the Committee appears to consist of very worthy and respectable characters, & that they are very much in earnest to bring about the reformation we wish for. He particularly mentioned the zeal of Madame Neeker in this great business, & her intentions of publishing some tracts on the subject, so soon as she co’d obtain leave for that purpose: which is a confirmation of the acco’t rec’d at Liverpool of her having been translating the "General View". I most sincerely congratulate the author on the honour thus done to his work, & hope it will thereby be rendered as extensively useful as he co’d wish. I believe with thee that little regard wil........ in the house of Commons to the Doctrines of Scripture on this .......... yet where the advocates of the Trade have been hardy enough [to] attempt to press the Bible into their Service, there may never[theless] be great use in shewing that their arguments drawn from this quarter, have yet shewn a wonderful desire to have such arguments pass for solid with others. I am assured that L’d Hawksbury himself condescended to distribute some Harris's Scripture Researches, recommend’g them at the same time as containing unanswerable argum’ts in favour of the Slave Trade ---

I know not when I shall have the pleasure of revisiting the north. Nothing can be more uncertain; w’ch makes me the more happy to be informed of thy intentions of coming up to town this winter. It will give us great pleasure to see thee at Hertford & we hope to be fav’d w’th as long a visit as business will possibly admit.

My wife joins me in kind respects to thee & thine and I am

Thy affect F’rd
John Barton