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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 2


From Abel Willard

12 July 1763

To Abigail Otis

3 August 1763
To Ellen Hobart
RTP Hobart, Ellen
Augt. 3d. 1763

I am very Sensible I have no Encouragement to feast my Mind in contemplating yr. Agreableness much less to take the freedom of writng to you1; however when I recollect the manner in which we parted, I would feign in Some measure resume the Subject & finish the affair as honorably as I think I began; an Affair of however little importance you may think it to yourself, yet to me is become a Serious point & calls upon me to free myself from the Suspicion of trifling levity on the one side, & Servile Captivity on the other. Should I drop the Matter as it now rests, it might induce you to think that it was indifferent to me whether or no I found a place in yr. affections or else that I had Conceived some resentment of yr. treatment or what is still worse that my Mind was too week to bear a disappointment—either of which imputations would in a greater or less degree be ill founded, therefor it is I take this freedom hoping the Effects of it will be to replace our Acquaintance in the same Scituation it was before that Moment So disagreeable to you & most unhappy for me when deceived by my sinister fate I first offered & you Refused my Love. O Wretched Scituation of reasonable Creatures, the Laws of Nature demand a Partner, the Laws of Sociability require a Companion, the former we think best explain'd by the affections the latter by Reason. With these Guides We Set out & attending closely to the dictates of the latter we examine every celebrated Candidate from the Flash of Beauty through the various Stages of insolent Wealth ensnaring Cocquetry to forbidding Prudery. And Condemned guilty if we substitute any other Guide but Reason tho others are more pleasing. How many Wrecks do we meet with in our passage Worthy Souls Suspended on these Gibbets the Monuments of Pantastical Romantick Whimsick Fancy, till at last in some different class we find An Object, Witty yet Wise, facetious yet discreet, Neat but not nice, & a heaven beamed Soul wide expanded to the Rays of Knowledge & Improvement. Here fix the Affection. Crys Reason Alass Alass what an instance of uncertainty Probation a Burlesque260upon Humanity tis here. Obligidged to choose what is best disdaind guilty condemed (we neglect what it is impossible we should Obtain tho uncertain, if we can explain it & what is still aggravating, ridiculed if we fail where we ought to attempt & unpity'd for the Sorrow which should arise for loss of what we should ought to feel. I think I need say no more to explain the motives of my behaviour, or my Sentiment on the Event, & I trust I did not misbehave in my Addresses, unless I was too generously explicit & took Reason frankness & Sincerity for my Guide rather than the more towards Successful Pilot of Artifice & adulation, & forgot to practice on a Well known Observation on "human Nature" that we see Reasons for that which our Desires excites us to & could never descend to those unmanly Toyings which were inconsistent with the Happiness I imagined we were both in persuit of. However there must be Evidence of a good Disposition, & I had rather think I faild in producing it to you, than suppose that you could prefer a meer object of yr. fancy to such a Disposition I am sure I had towards you so that I was mistaken in the opinion I had Conceived of you. However you will give me leave with all the sincerity of a Frend & tenderness of a Lover to observe to you, that it was in yr. power to have saved me much of the Anxiety yr. Conduct occasiond. I shall always regard you for the & respectful treatment I received from you previous to my proposal, which tho' I never construed as decisive in my favour, yet was surely Sufficent to countenance the very modest advances I made. Now if yr. regards were (as I always thought they might be) nothing more than Civil Freindly Respect & the mere pleasure of Amusement? & if after my first interview (which was interupted unfinished) you was as determined as you finally appeard to be, or was if you were not wholly determined but consulting the matter it would certainly be have been more for my Comfort to have given me a Speedy interview as I proposed in my Letter2 & either have determind the matter or heard further of my proposals, but to keep me so long in suspence to say nothing of Some expressions I never could construe by avoiding every Opportunity of discourse when you knew What lay in my mind had a natural tendency to inflame my desires when you did not intend to gratify them & engage my attendence least I should seem indifferent, and must incline one to think you determined rather to be try my Constancy than peremptorily to deny me for if that was yr. determination was against me why should you not forthwith reveal it; unless you thought me not worth an261answer; however I do not mention this as reflecting on yr. Conduct (for I really can forgive you everything but only to explain to you the Motives of my last Conversation from which you seem'd inclin'd to Collect that my future Conduct would be (none but an indifferent Trifler can recieve a repulse without Emotion) contrary to my former. And you'll Consider that the human mind cannot go back by the same Steps by which it arises & in perticular that when Love is disappointd it naturally Seeks relief in something more than Coldness, this is establish'd even to a proverb "Slighted Love turns to Anger", which however true in general must certainly you may rely on it fail in my mind, for tho' yr. determind & perticular? Conduct gave me an unpleasant Shock yet I am Now Settled to love you for yr. good Qualitys as we do the Sun which we never think of possessing. A Small degree of Complaisance in my Services would bind me in the Chains of tenderest affection, but continual frowns must chill the warmest passion. & I trust I shall never think of hear your Name but it will bring to my mind the most excellent qualitys endowments of a Woman & of Course must I love you as long as Virtue & good Accomplishments Make Any Impression on my Mind. the however Nevertheless every One must persue his Own happiness & the endearing Days of Connubial life however rational are but a circumstance of happiness, which when we cant obtain we must think of 'em as (for want of opportunity of acting) we are often obliged to do Virtue without & not rankle our Tranquillity with unreasonable desires or exhaust ing on one Object that Esteems which is equally due to many Others. I have therefore drank deep of the Waters of Lethe & roll'd Oblivious over my past actions rashness, Nor shall I ever think my Sincerity or Constancy Should be calld in question because I am not willing to offer Sacrifices that are unacceptable or burn Incense where No sweet savour is Smelt. Nor can I fail to flatter myself that you will ever think of me (unless Something lays in yr. Mind which you have Not been kind enough to tell me off) as your intire freind &c. But I must have done & now lady to day leave after having said that I hope we shall converse for the future with all that familiarity which is consistent with polite acquaintance, but as every beyond that seems Now to be at an End I must rely upon it that the first Opportunity you will deliver me this Letter without having Shewn it to any Body or reserving any Copy of thereof, not that I imagine you will think of doing either yet as my design is only to offer What I could expect no opportunity to Speak, I 262would feign have it Vanish like Words into the Air with such Consumate Annihilation as to leave no Vapour to disturb tranquillity. Permit me to wish you every happiness, & that the Virture which glows so warmly in yr. Bosom may Waft you above the troubles of Life to Consort with some worthy Partner whose truly the Worthy Object of yr. reasonable choice Than yr. former & may the Criss Cross Interviews we had be settled like dregs out of Sight & leave our Acquaintance a generous benevolent Freindship & sociability, from the bottom of his Heart most Sincerly writes this, that Person who will not be failing on his part to promote it. & convince you that he has a Soul too big to Cringe & too Generous to Neglect yr. merit.

Dft ; addressed: "E.H."; endorsed by Charles C. Paine: "Aug. 3.1763—To EH. Touching a love affair"; further endorsed in pencil: "Ellen Hobart daughter of Revd. Mr., H. of Fairfield, Connecticut." The editors have followed RTP's rearrangement of sections of this draft.


Ellen Hobart (1741–1780), daughter of the Rev. Noah and Ellen (Sloss) Hobart, of Fairfield, Conn. Her stepmother was the former Priscilla Thomas of Plymouth, Mass., widow of John Watson and Isaac Lothrop. RTP's diary makes only three references to her: Dec. 13, 1761: "Recd. an answer from Ellen Hobart"; Feb. 6, 1762: "Sent a letter to Ellen Hobart"; Apr. 29, 1762: "Miss Ellen Hobart appeared at Plymouth."

Ellen Hobart married her stepbrother, Dr. Nathaniel Lothrop of Plymouth, a 1756 graduate of Harvard, on May 10, 1768. Her death on June 1, 1780 was a severe blow to Doctor Lothrop. A brief memoir of Ellen Lothrop is in The Continental Journal, July 6, 1780 (Sibley's Harvard Graduates, 7:359–368).


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