fig. 3. First page of letter from George to Sarah Savage Thatcher, 28 September 1788. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Thatcher here describes, in sardonic detail, his begrudged attendance at a worship service at the seat of government in New York City.


    To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    New York City        28 September 1788

    My dear,

    Agreeably to some former request of yours I went, this forenoon, to Church—The Bishop performed the first part of divine service by reading prayers, Creeds, Lessons &c &c which took the time from half after ten to twelve precisely1—This was accompanied with rising ups, kneelings, & setings down, about twenty times each—That I became most heartily weary & wished myself at home—But this is generally the most useless part of service in my estimation, & I comforted myself with the prospect of an ingenious, instructive Sermon to top-off with. And just as the hour, & minute hands were on the marke of twelve, a little young, spruice, trigg man ascended the pulpit and, after a very short address to heaven for the pardon of sinns, & divine assistance for the further discharge of the duties that remained on hand, said “in the 23d. Chapter of Proverbs, & the 26 verse, if my memory serves me,” are written these words “Son give me thy heart”—Upon these he declaimed till the minute hand had advanced about twenty seven minutes—And I am exceedingly mistaken if there was a single person in Church, & it was very full, that applied a word he said to himself; or any way concieved his discourse applicable to his situation—Now you will say that this was the fault of the hearers, & not of the preacher—But I assure you that I do not altogether think with you upon this point—I enquired of several persons who set with me, if they could tell to whom he was preaching, they said, no—but they were sure it could be to nobody there present—His sermon would have suited any other text as well as the one he had made choice of—and many much better—It was a piece of general Declamation against the most enormous sins the Imagination can paint—and such as I much doubt whether he could, rationally suppose any of his auditors were guilty of—Yet I was not wholly without entertainment—I was really amused to see to what extravagancies ministers may run, thro’ a want of a just information of human nature—

    I dined with Mr. Gilman,2 a delegate with from New-Hampshire, and spent the afternoon with Mr. [Rufus] King—And am now giving you an account of my days work—

    When I took up my pen I had it in my mind to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the eighteenth instant, that came by last nights mail—but before I thought of what I was about I had got half through with the history of the day—And it is now dark—I shall therefore conclude this by sending the children a thousand kisses with liberty for their mamma to join in the division and by assuring you & them that I wish they could be borne[?] conveyed by their papa—

    * * *

    FC, TFP