To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Philadelphia        19 January 1797

    My dear—

    Last evening was the first I spent till nine oClock out of my own chamber this Session—There were fourteen Ladies & say eight or nine Gentlemen among whom was my friend Doctor [Joseph] Priestley—except some conversation with him, the time passed off as in all large companies1—while here & there two or three put their heads together & in a low voice enjoy small chat, the rest set erect their hands folded & looking at the fire, the candles and each other—Some good music upon on excellent forte piano with a Ladys voice engaged the attention of the whole company; but as it was performed by a spruce young gentleman to me it was more than lost—Having been always accustomed to see Ladies play on that instrument, & never once to a Gentleman, it made such a monstrous association in my mind as wholly to destroy the music, which was said by Judges to be most excellent—The Ladies voice too was much higher & sharper than suited my ear—music to please me must be rather low & soft than shrill & piercing—You know I judge altogether by mere feeling & sensation—& nothing by rule.

    I could not refrain from observing to a Mrs. Davy with whom I got acquainted the last Session, & who is an agreeable woman,2 that to see a Gentleman play on the forte piano, had the same effect upon me that would arise from seeing a very delicate & elegant dressed Lady struting about & beating a war march upon a large Drum—the comparason was a novelty & afforded some amusement—I should have proceeded to illustrate the observation, but one & another began to gather round & enquire at the cause of our meriment, & a fear it might reach the ears of the delicate fingerd Gentleman checked my humour—

    Doctor Priestley preaches the forenoon of every Sunday, & will continue his Lectures for two months or more—He has delivered two—the place where he preaches is very much crouded—& many people who come late, return without being able to get into the house—he preaches in a room of the Colledge3—The Clergy continue afraid of him & will not suffer him to preach in their pulpets—stupid, foolish generation!

    On the fourteenth instant I sent you a ten dollar bill—which I hope will come safe to hand—

    Our national affairs as they relate to the French are not pleasing—The French are capturing & condemning all the American vessells & property they take in the west-Indies—And consequently all west india Goods will become scarce & enormus dear—

    Our Session is half gone, & I rejoice that according to an old comparason I made on a like occasion, I now seem to have ascended to the top of the hill, & are begining to descend—this is much easier than the ascent—

    Kiss all the dear children for their papa & your sincerely affectionate

    * * *

    ALS, TFP