To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    New York City        12 April 1789

    My dear—

    As I was writing “April” above it occured to me that this is my birth day; I am this day thirty five year old—much the greatest part of the sand of my Life has run—I think it is hardly probable I shall half [have] so many more years as I have passed through—But since I feel sure of living again, & that in a State where I shall recognise all friends and Relations, death has lost all most of its terrors—To lay down at night & give ourselves to repose & sleep is generally a pleasing thing; and never an object of fear but when we apprehend distressing dreams and frightfull images in our sleep—In the sleep of death no dreams or phantoms will disturb us—till the Resurrection we shall sleep sound—At this all glorious day when we begin again to think, act, & be happy, the night of death & insensibility will disappear1—it will not be percieved—An unpercieved instant only will seperate the two stages of our existance—Hence whether we die at thirty five, or seventy it is of less moment to him that dies, than those who survive and live under a continual fear of death.

    So much for my birth day reflections—

    Yours of the 21st. of March & the 1st. of April are before me—The first I recieved by wednesdays mail & the last by yesterdays—By your last it seems that our dear little Sally has anticipated my wishes expressed in one of my last letters—You tell me she of her own accord has taken it into her hed to sit at the Table at Breckfast—I remember of saying something upon this subject, but have forgot what it was in particular—therefore, should I repeat much of the same you will forgive me—I have no copies of my Letters; it is probable that I shall often inculcate the same things—

    Whatever man or woman becomes in any period of Life, they are made such by education—If they are polite, genteel & agreeable—tis education If they are good, benevolent, humane & tender, tis education—are they candid, liberal & tender of the characters of others; tis education—Are they awkward, unmannerly and disgusting to their fellow creatures—tis education—Are they learned, or ignorant—tis education—If they are cruel, suspicious, envious, given to anger and revenge; tis all owing to the same powerfull cause—education—

    Hence parents & those, whose situation in life make it necessary for them to be much in the company of children, cannot be too cautious and circumspect in what they say & what they do—every word that strikes the ear, & every impression on the eye of a child, becomes their School masters, and are pregnant sources of an almost infinite train of after consequences—long, very long, before children can understand a phraise in which is couched a moral, or polite precept, they may be led into the practice of what such precepts inculcate, by the examples of those around them—

    If grown people constantly at particular times make a bow to a little boy—he, in his turn, will mechanically bow to them—And so with regard to a little girl—if women curtsey to them, they will soon equal their superiors in age, in the elegance & propriety of their motions—Mrs. Chadwell has three daughters of ten, five, & four years old there [they] are little women2—They have heard and seen nothing but what they may imitate, and consequently, they do nothing but what is right & what they ought to do—

    Does Sally make a pretty curtesy? If I recollect she used to stoop forward when she curt[s]ied—but she was then only begining—learn her to fold her hands properly, hold her head up, & body perfectly erect—Perhaps if Tempy [Temperance Hedge] were to walk, & set a little more erect it might be no disservice—Armed chairs are the worst things in the world for girls & young women—They are proper only for matrons, old men & philosophers—

    Do you accustom Phillips & his Sister to set at the Table? Drink to the company—wait till others are helped, & not to leave the table, or room but in a respectfull, polite manner? If every thing in peoples behaviour is the effect of education how great is the obligation on those that are with children to begin in season, & to be uniform in their example!

    I will, my dear, say no more upon this subject, lest you should look upon me a formal, cold Lecturer, instead of what I really am,

    my dear, your tender, most affectionate, loving Husband

    * * *

    ALS, TFP