To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    New York City        3 May 1789

    My dear—

    Last evening yours of the 23d of April came to hand—I am sorry to hear you despond on apprehending there is no more happiness yet in store for us—I really think there is a great deel—much more, if possible, than we have heretofore enjoyed—And my reason for this opinion is—that my being absent six months or a little more, does not by any means diminish my desire of returning home—or the pleasure of a domestic Life—on the contrary I verily believe that hereafter the pleasures of home will be greatly increased in consequence of my having resided some time in this City—If I am not unhappy here it is because I do not go out of myself in pursuit of amusements—When I am not engaged in business I am reading or writing—by this means I shall acquire no habits, tast[e]s or desires but such as will admit of a full gratification at Biddeford in our dear family as in the most populous city in America—consequently home cannot be less pleasing on account of my being sometimes absent—And as there are innume[r]able sources of happiness, in my estimation, of a domestic Life, that all other places & situations are strangers to, you may put far away your groundless apprehensions on this account—

    I think you are mistaken when you say my principles in education are changeable—I rather look upon them uniformly the same; tho I have entertained different sentiments about their application—I have long since supposed that almost every thing depended upon education; while I only differed, at times, about the period when these principles should be put into execution. And now I had rather children should be taught nothing at all than what most children are instructed in during the periods of three & seven—This is the time they should be instructed by impressions from examples more than precept—they will now imitate what they see and hear others do & say, much more readily than they can be led to say & do what others may tell them is their duty—Tis natural for children to imitate what they see others do—they take pleasure in this—but to make them obey a precept which they do not, & cannot understand, force must be used—And force is, for the most part, the mother of obstinency—A prospect of pleasure is an object that governs children as much as grown people—And, perhaps, all the duties of rational creatures are attended with real pleasure. The idea that the Life of a good man is attended with troubles, pains, & misery, is inadmissible upon any system but that which supposes a very malignant being, such as the Devil is commonly taken to be, has the chief superintendance of human affairs. And strange as it may seem this notion was one very general, & not yet fully expunged from common belief—However it is contracting itself every day; and as civilization, the arts of peace and good neighbourhood; Benevolence and candour, prevail in the world this gloomy principle will give way to reason & truth.

    Tell Tempe [Hedge] I feel for her ill health—and hope by the arrival of this she will be recovered—kiss our dear children, & with your kisses mingle their papas affection—

    I fear you will suffer for want of money—but you must request Mr. D[aniel]. Hooper to supply you—if there be any due from him—I cannot say when I shall recieve any by way of pay—I must by the next post draw upon the Treasurer at Boston1—He has wrote me that he can let me have one hundred dollars—And I am now reduced to three dollars only—

    I am yours. &c

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    ALS, TFP