To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    New York City        10 February 1788

    My dear Sally—

    I have recieved no Letters, by the two last posts, from the east of Boston. This I attribute to Mr. [Joseph] Barnard’s not Riding on the week before last—And it deprives me of the source of the most agreeable and refined enjoyments I have in my absence from home—I had so long recieved Letters on every wednesday, or thirsday—that I had accustomed my mind, and arranged every thing for that entertainment—Hence the disappointment is the more irksom—But it is attended with this consolation, that by the next post I shall have a double portion of the pleasure I now complain of being deprived of—But pleasure at a distance seems to possess a power of lengthning the intermediate time, and placing it at a greater distance than it really is—while a prospect of misery strikes out the intervening moments & immediately takes possession of the mind—

    These are good principles in our nature & will assist in accounting for many seeming contradictions—

    My situation subjects me to a round of sameness, if I may be allowed the phraise—& that not altogether of the most agreeable kind—Hence my enjoyment is derived from myself, and the Letters I recieve from my family & friends—This is a Life I would not live, for any length of time, for the greatest Honours and profits Government could confer—Hence I look upon my being here only as means to be happy some time hereafter—But enjoyment always a head is a small degree of continuel misery—For I am not one of those who think that happiness consisted altogether in the chase, & ceased to be such when ever taken—To be always in pursute of Happiness is to me the unhappy situation of a Lover & a miser—Before I left home, & since I have been in this City, I have often asked myself why I accepted my appointment? At home I was happy—and why should I go from that place? My answer has always been—that by being from home a little while I might acquire some things that would greatly contribute to increase Domestic happiness—but [I] have never once had an idea of the possibility of being happy in any enjoyment, or at any place but at home at Biddeford.

    To this place—to my dear Sally—to the little boy & girl I hope, before long, to return, and again be happy—Give my Love to all our friends—and believe me to be with constant affection yours. &c

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    ALS, TFP. Addressed to Biddeford; franked.