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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 1

To Eunice Paine
RTP Paine, Eunice
Lancaster Feby. 12th. 1755 Dear Eunice,

These come by the first Oppertunity wch. I hope will find you in better health than I left you. We had a very muddy Journey up, but I soon got fix'd, having left behind me all my volatile Mercury1 wch. has so long kept my Soul on the Wing. I left my Maggots2 at the Fortification as Sailors do their Religion at the Cape, & I no sooner turned my back on the Noisy City, but a harmonious Peace broke in upon my Soul, & my wild Passions wch. had so long hurried me & kept my Mind in a Tumult, at once asswaged & left me as the Fog before the Meridian Sun, just as tho' Sedateness were inconsistent wth. that Climate & as tho' that Air breathed nothing but Confusion. I have Enjoy'd a greater Requiem then for many Years past, having nothing to disturb or interrupt me, Books enough to Instruct & amuse me & to avoid the Odious Title of Idleness, & to be endeavouring at some good while I live in the World, at the repeated Sollicitations of my Freinds & the Application of the Committee of a Neibouring District I have Engaged to preach 6 Sabbaths238to them.3 The Name of the District is Shirley4 & for my Labour I am to recieve Eight Pounds O.T. per Sabbath. Thus you see what an Easy Transit I make from a Life of Folly & Impertinence to the most Grave & serious Calling, & that the Ballance of Happiness is in favour of my present Circumstances I am thoroughly satisfy'd. I shall begin the next Sabbath & expect a Numerous Train to attend me, & many visitors from the Neighbouring Towns. I find by the preperations I have already made, that to compose two Sermons a Week will in no shape interrupt my prosecuting the Study of the Law but may have tendency to organize my thoughts. My Undertaking in this Business puts me in need of my old Black Jackett, which I shall now inevitably want, if you think yr. Ingenuity will make it hand together for so short a time dont spare the Labour, altho' tis for a poor Country Parson who can pay you Nothing but Old Sermons. I likewise want Gown String, & a small peice of green Serpentine to mend the hem of my Gown which is Ragged in the turning up of the Cuff. Mr. Abel5 will take some care in the sending them up. Pray communicate the Contents of this Epistle to Brother & Sister, & excuse my not writing all round, especially now as Writing begins to be profitable. Pray write me by Capt. Richardson who comes up this week. If you heard from Father Write to me or any other News you may have. I shall improve every oppertunity of writing to you & hope Mr. Greenleaf wont neglect to write to me now if there be any Occurences worthy writing, for as soon as I have collected any thing worthy his attention I shall remit it to him. Remember me & do not divulge about this my extraordinary Undertaking for 'tis but transitory. From yr. Loving Brother,


RC ; Part of the MS is missing where one margin has been trimmed. Conjectural readings for the missing words have been given in square brackets where possible.


"Fig. as an emblem of sprightliness, liveliness, volatility of temperament, inconstancy, wittiness, etc." (OED).


"Whimsical or perverse fancies" (OED).


The sermons are in a separate volume in the Paine Papers. A later sermon, preached at Camp Lake George is printed under the date Nov. 16.


The District of Shirley was established within the town of Groton in 1753 and for several years appropriated annual funds to hire "preaching." Not until 1762 did Shirley settle its firm minister, Phinehas Whitney. The district became a separate town in 1775 (Seth Chandler, History of the Town of Shirley, Massachusetts [Shirley, 1883], 201–219).


Abel Willard.