Writes to future wife about Yellow Fever and how buzzing mosquitoes are annoying him


Date Written

July 1, 1819

Blakely Sharpless was 32 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Mary Offley, was 26 when it was received.

Blakely Sharpless died 32 years, 6 months,
It was written 204 years, 2 months, 22 days ago.
It was a Thursday.

Phila 5th day evening
My chamber 8 o’clock

My Dear Mary,

“How should I love to be at Woodbury; I could then spend the next 2 hours by thy side, I could reply via voice to thy question, Does thee indeed love me?”, as I always have done; we could talk of things past, ‘circumstance’ yet to come, and nor earthly eye or ear witness our secresies. But as this pleasure is impossible, I leave company in the parlour to converse by letter, and to reread thy valued epistle of yesterday.

My Dear M. what a treat was thy letter! It convinced me that I have a place in thy thoughts while absent and was dear to that heart which is affectionately dear to me; it was indeed very acceptable, altho’ it was partly taken up with a subject which had not occurred to me since my return, but which I am sorry should have caused thee a moments reflection of an unpleasant kind. Thee asks Do “tell me then truly did I make thee feel unhappy or vexed? I felt my Dear Mary sympathy, my heart was tendered, my eyes were moistened with the dews of better feelings of my nature ; I did not feel vexed, I could not, I thought thou had been touched before meeting with a little of the “blues” and some remaining disqualified from enjoying anything but to quiet home, I should, it is true, loved to rode out , but on recurring to the personages who would have composed the company, there is not one I feel any particular interest in, except Joseph Whithall. David is [?], Ann is reserved and settled, the worst wish I have for her is, that as she is an orphan without a pecuniary provision, she may be well married. Impertinent, I am interested for Joseph because of his propensity to insanity. Yes, Dear M., thou art my friend, my best friend, in thee, and to thee, I look, I must look and I will look for enjoyment, our sacred and interesting anticipated alliance demands that my wanderings, my rovings, as a bachelor, (an old Bachelor) must cease. I must centre them, and all my attentions, upon the one dear object of my choice, and my affections. This I have done for 12 months, and have found solid satisfaction and joy. My mind has been settled and staid, my desire for rambling has almost left me and if because my best friend did not feel inclined to ride with me on first day to see those whom she could not find enjoyment, but preferred a quiet afternoon at home. I have spoken or appeared to speak with vexation which I did not feel. I do hope she will excuse it. I do now rather consider it a mark of her affection and devotion to me as I was going to leave for several days, and can say I have spent the afternoon more delightfully with thee than I could have done elsewhere.

Dear Mary, I am truly sorry the affair should have caused thee a moments unpleasantness, for anything I said was not intended to produce that effect, for I do not recollect that it has occurred since—until thy letter recalled it.

I thank thee kindly for the concern for my health, and thy kind invitation to hasten to you. I shall, if health permits, spend 7th day evening with thee, not returning before 2d day morning. I have been pretty well since my return. I had a little of the headache yesterday, quite well today. I hope to find thy cold cured by my return. Perhaps a walk about 5 P. M. each fair day to the mineral springs would be a good thing. I should like to join thee, and support thy arm.

Will thee try not to dwell on the futurity. I know thy situation is peculiarly trying at this moment, preparatons to make and time passing without thy being able to use it as thee could wish. I would rather postpone for 3 months than you should risk your health by too early a return.

Since I wrote yesterday, two more cases in Market Street, below Latitia Court, have occurred. Alarm has increased rapidly, & families in Second St. near Black Horse Alley, into which the Court empties, and some in Market Street southside below 2d have moved or shut up. Townsend Sharpless has removed up above 9th in Market St. and some of my immediate neighbors and self talk of preparing to ‘shut up’. The general impression is we shall have more Fever. I have not heard from Thomas by letter since my return. I have delivered thy loves and commands to “cousin Anne”. They send love and advise you to stay out of town. I believe she has as much information as her fears will bear, they say but little about going out—Will thy appetite for “Pork and beans and corn” increase thy flesh? I hope so.

Don’t thee think when widowers and widows “fall in love” they are more anxious to close the courtship , than those who have never been married, and they say Fr. Reeve loves Billy? I should suppose the potency of that lovely influence would induce her to listen and to yield, nothing else should. Please tell “sister R.” when she exclaims “what a sad thing it is to be in love” and talks of sending for B. to stay altogether (I should like that) but was not she I love and an half married bride once, therefore bear gently upon my dear Mary.

Thee suspects I was not in the humour for writing on 2d day. I had to write to Thomas, some business to attend to, and several engagements to fulfill, and the newspaper, I thought, would tell you as much about the fever as I could by writing on that subject and above all, letter writing is always a task to me. I do not love to write, and my little talent does not lie in that department, as thou well knows, having so many specimens by thee. I can assure thee I almost envy thee thy facility and talent for epistolary communication. By this time, thee thinks my humour flows more copiously. I have had better means , a quiet room (except for Musquitoes—they keep such a fearful roaring about my ears, that I am quite in agony for the consequences), & my head has not been filled with care and business. Very often by the time I reach the closing of my letters, I get so tired of writing, so careless, and the mistakes increase so much that I am often provoked at myself for my bungling and awkwardness, and tempted to burn what I have written. I have several times done so.

Sixth day morning 9 o’clock. I shall send this morning’s paper and refer you to the Report of the Board of Health and the Hospital Report. The public mind is tolerably quiet this morning.

Fever hangs heavily, the week sends long. I am quite impatient for the hour that will take me to thy company my Dear M. Mr. Evans has so far recovered as to be out at Thomas’ shop yesterday and W. S. has been down to tea.

11 o’clock. Just returned from an errand, and find more stir and agitation than I apprehended. Board of Health has fenced up Latitia Court, and several stores near there have closed their doors. None left town or shut up west of 2d St. and Market St. I feel quite reddy when my near neighbors clear out. I do not want to be the first, and while all remain around, there seems a propriety in our opening each morning atho’ there should be nothing done”. So much respect is due to our character & establishment. I have just heard from Thomas. Joshua K. saw him last evening and says he does not talk of returning soon. I shall not advise Thomas for some days yet.

B. S.

Please give my love to Mother, etc., Ann & sister Rachel. Believe me my Dear friend Mary, you art very much my mental companion. I shall hasten to thee. Affectionately thy loving Blakely.

Scans of Letter