To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Washington, D.C.        9 January 1801

    My dear—

    I wrote you two or three days ago & inclosed you two five dollar bills. I then thought I should have a Letter in your own hand by the next mail, or within a very short time—In this conjecture I was not mistaken, for that very evening I recieved yours of the 25th December—which, tho short, was the most agreeable sight my eyes ever beheld—It was such an assurance of your recovery I cannot express my gratitude for—

    I wish your expectations of poor Phillips being able to get home by the first sleighing, may be gratified1—Could I hear of his being at home, with a good prospect of his full recover[y], nothing would be lacking to my happiness but to join the dear family myself—which I fear I anticipate with a faulty anxiety.

    When I left home I flattered myself with hoping Phillips might recover & be able in the winter to go to Newbury Port [Massachusetts] in a sleigh & take home our dear little Lucy [Thatcher] & our young friend Fanny Searl—This hope I expressed to them the evening I was at Mrs. [Mary Atkins] Searls—but all my hopes, in this respect, are frustrated by Phillips continual illness—Hence is it not time to look forward to some other mode, & the time of Lucys returning? You know how much my happiness is increased in finding their mother with all her children round her on my return home. [. . . .]

    Mrs. [Temperence Hedge] Lee is very unwell—for todays she has been mostly confined to her bed; Mr. [Silas] Lee is alarmed lest a settled fever take hold of her—

    For two evenings I have been engaged in reading a novel that is almost as engaging as Eloisa. I shall finish it this evening. It is full of Love, disappointments, strange events, & the most extraordinary explanations. My mind is wound up to the highest pitch of anxiety for the last scenes2—I shall not mention the name of the Book because I want to read it to you myself on my return; and I fear you may by knowing the book, either get & read it; or hear so much of it as to destroy the pleasure you will have in having it read without knowing any thing beforehand—The best romance ceases to be a good novel after the catastrophy is known—It may be afterwards read for the buties of Language—for its elegance & fine sentiments—but it is no more a novel—And for this quality romances are mostly read—

    I am my dear, your very affectionate

    * * *

    ALS, TFP. Omitted text discusses plans for daughter Lucy’s return to Biddeford.