To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Washington, D.C.        13 December 1800

    My dear

    What we have often conversed upon seems now to be rapidly coming upon us; certainly for near sixteen years we have enjoyed in an uncommon degree, an exemption from those troubles that have fallen to the lot of most other families so large as ours—and which now are taking hold of us; Sallys Letter of the 30th. November, & also one of the same date from Mr. [George] Peirson, reached me last evening; & they fill my heart with grief & sorrow—Sally writes me, that you have returned home to our dear family, but sick, & under the Doctor’s hands, with a bilious fever—Mr. Peirson writes me that Phillips continues so weak as to be unable to get up or help himself more than when I left Portland—And in addition to this he writes, that the sore on his back runs considerably—and that the pain from his groin to his toes is great—This is the first notice I had of his having a sore on his back;1 dear child I feel more than I can express, but this added to your sickness deprived me last night of my usual sleep, & all my little enjoyment which are small indeed in this wretched situation at best, fly from me—And I am further from what may be called happy than I ever was before in my life! I anticipate the next letter from you with an anxiety that almost makes me dread the very sight of it! But under all these painfull reflections I feel a pleasing emotion in knowing you are at home in the midst of our dear children—I see, & feel with rapture, our lovely, patient, obedient Sally runing every moment to your releaf—She is a lovely child Make much of her—I know you will—I have her always in my mind, & since I have noticed her attention & peculiar patience to the children in your absence I fear I have heretofore not done her that justice she has always been entitled to—should I live to return I certainly shall make up, in expressions of affection all former neglect—

    I pray Heaven for your speedy restoration to health, & that Philips may join you & the family—

    Mrs. [Temperance Hedge] Lee is well & sends her Love—Yesterday I received another letter from your brother William—but of a prior date to his last—He desired his most affectionate Love to you & the children—

    Your most affectionate

    * * *

    ALS, TFP. Addressed to Biddeford; franked; postmarked.