To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Philadelphia        5 January 1797

    My dear—

    Such a dead sameness has existed here since my last that tho, on that account, I have passed over one mail, I must still declare it is almost impossible for me to collect materials for a short Letter—

    The weather continues uniformly cold, which with the care I am obliged to take of my Rhumatic arm keeps me constantly in my chamber.1 I go out no more than actual duty calls me. I veryly believe I should make a good prisoner, or should bear close confinement without making quarter of the complaints that most people do at being shut up in a small place—It is true there is some difference between being confined by the force of others, & only by that prudence which a due care to health will always dictate. But the effect upon my mind must be nearly the same, tho it might not to the minds of others—Let me have the news papers, a good fire, & my chest of Books, & if I am not at home with our dear family, I care but little where I am, or how small my room is—I have heretofore observed to you that as I grow old I have less inclination for company; this disposition for loneliness increases to such a degree, that when I hear any body coming up stairs whose steps I cannot attribute to some domestic of the family I tremble least it may turn out to be a visitor, who if he tarries beyond ten or fifteen moments, in case he has no special business, I am thrown into as high a state of figgeting as ever you knew a Girl who was disappointed in a dance, or a new cap. The time is not only lost, but I look upon my Life cut shorter—And death approaching upon me & my work yet unfinished—

    In reading some days ago a number in the Idler I met a sentiment that pleased me much; speaking of the preciousness of health & how necessary it is generally thought to be among the ingredients of happiness, he said that time ought to be estimated higher among the means of happiness than health2—To which I must subscribe, notwithstanding any want of health I have ever yet been subject to. If my pains or Sickness are not so severe as to draw my attention wholly from reading, I can enjoy myself tolerably well.

    On the last day of last month I inclosed you twenty dollars, which I hope will come safe to hand.

    Kiss all the children for their papa. I remain yours most affectionately

    * * *

    ALS, TFP. Addressed to Biddeford; franked.