To Sarah Savage Thatcher

    Philadelphia        23 May 1797

    My dear Sally—

    To bring into your mind an impressive idea of my disappointment, yesterday morning, when I came into the Hall & found no Letter from you; I must refer you to your own feelings when several mails have passed & left you no news from your dearest friend—I am now left to conjecture both as to your health & general situation of the children and family—And my fears paint them bad enough. A Letter from friend [Jeremiah] Hill dated the 14 instant, makes no mention of our Family; Hence I am encouraged to think you are not more dangerously unwell than in former times when I have found you kindly attended by your good friend Mrs. [Margaret Hooper?] McIntire—My friend Hill was so much engaged in church affairs that he mentioned in very few words the melancholly tale of the three children—And a circumstance, not a little distressing to the feelings of parents, is, that the bodies were not found. The imagination of the parents is left to fix upon the dear remains of the tenderest affection floating in unknown depths. When a child is dead and decently committed to the earth the mind is at rest, & the imagination ceases to agravate the feelings—How glad shall I be to hear the bodies of these innocents are taken up & buried—

    I have long since noticed that as the circle of our pleasures increases the accidents that may bring pain & distress are also more likely to happen—In proportion as we rejoice & are comforted by the number and pleasantness of our children & family connections must, some time or other, be our, or their, sorrow and mourning by the inroads of Death! We must not, we cannot cease to be delighted with them—But ’tis wisdom to regulate this joy to the uncertain existance of its object. I look upon our dear children with uncommon pleasure, but endeavour to consider them as flowers that are daily & hourly subject to the frost of death.

    If I do not hear from you by the next mail, I shall give up my present conclusions & think you are dangerously sick, &, thro a mistaken compassion, keep it from my knowledge. I must add, my dreams for several nights have be[en] uncomfortable—And you know, that dreams always disturbe the felicity of my mind—tho I really laugh at myself for it—Once I dreamed of returning home & found you lying on the bed & your friend Mrs. McIntire seting by your side—But more than once I thought of going home, or where I expected to meet you, but could never find you—you seem’d to pass from room to room, or house to house as I followed—And I awoke dejected & sorrowfull—I shall forgive you if you laugh at me for all this—your laughing is the very evidence I wish to have of your being well—

    Salute the children, for their affectionate father—

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    ALS, TFP