To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Philadelphia        12 April 1794

    My dear—

    I have recieved two Letters from you this week—the first acknowledges the receipt of a twenty dollar bill, & informs me of your geting the back room painted—the want of money &c. has no date—The latter is dated the 29th. March & mentions the approaching departure of Mr. Hasey1—your thoughts of geting the poorch shingled, the want of more lodging rooms, looking out [for] new schools for the Children and many other very clever things which you intend to relate when I return home &c And now in my turn I will make a frank reply to all your particulars—And first—I am very glad to hear the back room & bed-room are painted—And should not object to your geting the seting room painted before I return but the floor is too bad to paint, & I think ’tis not expedient to lay a new floor till we have come to a final determination with regard to the whole house—whether it shall be raised another story—or pulled down & built anew—or whether ’tis best to abandon it altogether, & build in another place—All these questions must be decided before we proceed to lay out much more money2—And as I am this day forty years of age, (this being my birth day,) it is high time to have this matter of Locality established—And on which I will make one or two observations—After childhood expired my whole attention was turned to fiting myself for Colledge—while there I thought of nothing but gaining such a share of general knowledge in first principles as might facilitate my progress in any one of the Learned professions I should pitch upon after taking my degree—When I had done this I entered on the study of Law, & applied night & day for three years, deducting one cruize privateering—when I was admited as a Lawyer—And the four following years my mind was set upon acquiring such a share of business as would enable me to support a family—I then married, & have enjoyed my full portion of happiness to the present time—My Life is now, on the most favourable calculation, two thirds spent—the probability is that I do not see twenty years more—This is a very short period—tis a moment! But it will be long enough if we are happy—& if we are not it will be too long—I have always looked upon a house simply as a convenience—I really am indifferent whether it be high or low—rich or plain—painted or not, provided it has rooms eno’ to accommodate the family, & some friends who call to see us—It seems likely the rest of my Life will be spent chiefly at home—And my great object will be to superintend our dear children—give them proper sentiments of Life, & point them to the road of happiness—I would not have them proud, as the word is commonly used—but I hope they will think well of themselves, & have a good opinion of all their fellow creatures—mean ideas of ourselves & others lead to mean actions, & many vices—

    My general principles & opinions have not changed much for the last ten or fifteen years—& I do not expect they will change, tho I hope they will be extended, in the twenty years to come, should I live so long—And if they are right they ought not to alter—if they are wrong I see but little chance of their being corrected—Tis a rare thing indeed that a man after forty, who has spent most of his time in moderate actions and speculation, to adopt new principles—or admit of a considerable deviation in his general Conduct of Life—Hence I conclude, the remainder of my days will be analogus to those I have passed over—Deaths of children, friends & relations ought always to be estimated—And tho we cannot anticipate the actual pains of these events—tis a duty to prepare, & be always ready against their coming—If this state of mind tends to diminish our present felicity—it tends more to ward off the future uneasiness we should otherwise suffer—so that by this kind of avarage upon the whole of our sensations we may expect to be conside[r]able gainers—I should certainly prefer a long Life with moderate pleasures, to a short one of the highest gust of extacy—Now to return to practice—

    I would have Phillips go to school at the falls as soon as Mr. Hasey leaves us—if you can get a mans school—but he had better come home at noons—there will be time enough—And the walk will do him good—As to Sally—I dont know whether she can come home at noons—This depends on the place where the School is held—If she dines at the falls, you will indeavor to get her at as convenient a place as you can—If a School above our house could be supported I should choose they should go there—but we must do as we can3

    I send you a ten dollar Bill—I have wrote to Mr. [Henry] Bass to send down some hay-seed which I would have Eben sow with his grain, And I wish you to desire him to sow a little over the Ground where we hauld out two loads of manure last fall, on the acre between the old house & the Road—I want this done by way of experiment—

    I have a note against a man over the [Saco] River by the name of Gutridge, & another against on[e] Patterson who lives near the Line between Buxton & Pepperrellboro. If Mr. Hasey, or if he is gone Major [Jeremiah] Hill, could call upon them for some Shingles, I should have no objection to having the Top of the Poorch shingled before I get home—But I think you better not pay the money for them—I have no doubt but I shall be at home before the twentieth of may—unless things turn out contrary to general expectation

    I am, my dear, yours &c

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    ALS, TFP