To Thomas Thacher

    New York City        22 May 1790

    Dear Brother—

    Yours of the 15th. April is before me—it affords me great pleasure to hear that I am not forgot by my brothers and sisters, but some pain that they should imagine me altogether unmindfull of them.1 I assure you scarce a day passes, but the very places, things and persons of my early acquaintance are fresh in my mind. The first impressions generally last the longest—I have as clear & distinct ideas of my Life from seventy five to eighty, as from eighty, the time I left Yarmouth [Cape Cod], to this moment—And I frequently review the former period—In that period were sown the seeds from whence my present situation of mind & Life have arisen. There is hardly a conversation, or an Action that took place in that time but I have now a perfect recollection of—A frequent re[c]ognition of former circumstances is very usefull—It enables us to carry youth into old age, which is attended with many good consequences—Most people as they grow old contract a sourness—an habit of fretfullness—in short nothing pleases them, they are disposed to find fault with every thing because to them every thing appears wrong. This makes them uncomfortable companions to others, and wearisome to themselves.

    This practice of bringing to our view the actions, sentiments & situations of our past Lives has another happy consequence attending it—it is that of comparing ourselves, with ourselves, at different periods—By seeing, at one view, what we were, and what we now are, we can strike a balance, as we say in accounts, & see in favour of which period happiness, or inquietude preponderates—And this again enables us the more surely to direct our Conduct for the obtaining the former, and avoiding the latter—for happiness is the great object of all living creatures.

    I said just now “that between seventy five & eighty were sown the seeds of my present situation”—when I look back on that period, I behold myself having but one object in view—And it now appears to me, that every thing was adapted wisely to bring it about—I had neither money, or friends that could help me to it—And certainly to this I am indebted more than any thing else for my present situation in Life—I then read and studied, as it were, out of misery, and persevered thro pride—oddities and singularities I affected as the best cloak to conceal my views, & prevent my frequent mortifycations becoming a subject of ridicule to my acquaintance—To this principle may be attributed a thousand actions and sentiments that were, by the people, who knew less of me than I did of myself, called erroneous, foolish and vicious—Indeed when I retrospect that period I think I can discover a few follies, but not a single vice—but the very follies were absolutely necessary; and were I to live my life over again, with my present knowledge of men and manners, I should rather increase than diminish them.

    I want exceedingly to visit Yarmouth, and for more reasons than I can now enumerate; but for none more than to be in a situation of bringing to mind old times, in a more lively manner than I can do at a distance from the scene of action—The ponds around which I used to walk after ducks & Teal—the creeks & shores I so frequently traversed in wet & snowey seasons—the Swamps where I watched the Mushquart [muskrat]—the places where my companions, too many to mention by name, & I resorted to shoot at Geese & Fowles—and some times at a mark, as we used to call it—each of these were I on the spot would, by the association of Ideas, carry me back to the time of reality—and call into mind an exact train of thoughts & sentiments as well as conversations that had heretofore taken place—This I call extending youth into old age—And can there be a better method of making that part of Life, which is so dull and gloomy to many, pass off with mirth & good cheer—Youth is generally the season of gaiety, good humor; the time of Love & meriment—tis the time of pleasing prospects & happy expectations—And my advice is, let every one strive to transplant all the flowers, roases[,] beauties and delights of that period to the winter of old age—For tho we cannot replace hair on the bald head, may we not create a hot bed that will supply sallads & flowers of various kinds till spring renovates the world?

    I grieved at hearing of the death of my friend James Hawes2—You know how much I esteemed [him]—But he is gone—and the language is—be ye also ready—Among those of our acquaintance who have departed this Life, since I was at Yarmouth[,] you have mentioned a William Bassett—I dont recollect who he was—or where he lived—

    By a Letter I received, a few days ago, from Mrs. Thatcher,3 of Boston, I am informed of the death of Mrs. Bassett & her sister Gorham—I dont know who these are, unless they were Eliza, & Sally Taylor, daughters to Daniel Taylor, Esqr.4—How many times have I played, laughed, & been merry with these Girls—From their infancy almost they were schooled by our dear departed mother—Here again is a repetition of the Text be ye also ready—

    I cannot help calling to mind the intimacy that subsisted between their brother Joyce, their Husbands & myself—How delighted we used to be, to go a guning together—we have walked sometimes a mile or more to view the stroke of a Ball—or where a charge of shot struck a board or the fence. these places are fresh in my mind—

    Were I to recognize, in this Letter all my companions, in early Life, it would take quires of paper & whole weeks of time—the latter of which I cannot now command—And I dont know but I have already become tedious—I must therefore give you a general commission to assure all the people who once knew me, & ever enquire after me, that I love and respect them—they all, by turns, come to my mind—I wish to take them by the hand, & give it the shake of friendship—

    A word or two respecting myself and then we will draw to a close, as we ministers say—I Had a Letter from Mrs. [Sarah Savage] Thatcher, dated 11th. inst—she & the children were then well—The Boy [Samuel Phillips Savage] is just entered his sixth, & the Girl [Sally] her fourth year—they are more than beauties—I want to carry them at Yarmouth, but how to effect this I dont know—I am as terrified at crossing the water, as our old friend Mr. Smith used to be of a Gun—And I cannot now set a time when it is probable I can visit you—I dont expect to get home before some time in July; and I shall then wish to attend some Courts pretty far east, so that I cannot flatter myself of seeing you at Yarmouth before the next Year—

    When I gave you a general commission just now, I thought to particularize no more of my friends & acquaintance, but I must not close this Letter without enquiring if Aunt Taylor is alive?5 If she is, you must go & see her for me—and tell her, that if she should be gathered to the Fathers before I see her—she must inform Mother that George behaves very well—He has not turned preacher yet; tho he is not certain but he will before he dies—And tho he has lost a good deel of what was called religion when she was on earth; he yet retains the better part, and beleives that Life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel—And that we shall all see one another in the New-Jerusalem at the Resurrection—Glorious anticipation—Blessed immortality!

    And now seeing I have got over to Aunt Taylors—(I suppose she lives with couzen Bacon) tell couzen Alice, I often think on what she once told our friend Nabby Green & myself, when we were talking about matrimony—“That there was nothing young people delighted to talk about more than the joys of a married life, but she would assure us we should be disappointed for we should neither of us be married above one year before the husband would fret & scold because his dinner was not ready; & the wife would tell him, by way of justification, that the child had been crying all day—the pig had come into the house & eat up the potatoes—& the Cat had just clawed the meat out of the dish & <illegible> into the old closet with it”—This is the figure by which she represented the disappointments of young people—but tell her she is wrong.

    Now for Politics—

    The House of Representatives are about funding the Continental Debt—and propose to redeem or call in the old paper money at one hundred for one—but whether this will be compleated this Session or not till the next I cannot determine—

    Your observations touching the situation of Yarmouth & the other Towns on the Cape are very just6—I have often contemplated their circumstances—and being well acquainted therewith, mentioned this subject to Mr. Partridge, your Representative7—I really fear the fishery, thro our State, will decay—And tho we shall endeavour, this Session, to do something, in Congress, for their encouragement I apprehend it will not be enough to make them flourish—

    The Senate have passed a Bill cuting off all communication with Rhode-Island— and subjecting every vessel that goes from the United States to that State; or from that State to any port, creek or harbour in the U. States, to forfeiture—A[l]so demanding Twenty five thousand dollars of that State to be paid into the Treasury of the United States—But I am very certain this Law will never pass our House8—I shall notice some other parts of your Letter hereafter9—And am

    Your Brother

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    FC, TFP. Written to Yarmouth, Mass.