Letter of Phineas Fish to John Davis

Honorable and Dear Sir,

In my draft, which probably will be presented you by Mr. H. Scudder of Boston,1 I have mentioned the usual quarterly amount of my bills, though you informed me that it was in contemplation to reduce my salary. I did so, partly, because I did not know what sum to mention (being ignorant of the exact time when the reduction might take place) and partly because I could not help cherishing the hope that the alteration might not take place. I am persuaded that none of the gentlemen would wish to withdraw as considerable a part of what I was led to expect as a living, unless such a step were unavoidable. If it is indeed so, I hope I shall be able to live from what may continue to be given, though the prospect looks dark and will create much anxiety and inevitably produce a divided attention to my duties and no inconsiderable abridgment of comfort. Such is my situation here so much dearer are the articles of living than in any of the surrounding towns, that my surplusage has been very small with great attention to economy, since I have had a family. My situation is so much the more cheerless from being considerably in debt in consequence of building. What I was able to save previously to that was by denying myself the enjoyment naturally to be expected from domestic life. Notwithstanding my endeavors to lay aside some part of my income, I was obliged to contract some debts in procuring a residence for my family. As my salary stood, with great exertion I was able to pay the interest and perhaps fifty dollars annually of the principle of my debt. If my salary is reduced, as much as you suggested, that prospect seems to be at an end.

Permit me to ask, Dear Sir, should the note of interest on the funds revive again, might I expect, so far to share in the good fortune of them as to receive once more what was settled upon me at my ordination? And if that cannot be, is it not possible to grant me all or nearly the original sum for a time longer or at the least to the termination of the academical year, ending 30 June ultimo. That I might be able to clear some present, pressing engagements, and be in a better position to accommodate myself to my diminished income. Having spent the most active part of my life in this place and embarrassed with the possession of buildings which if they could be disposed of at all, must certain be of great loss, I feel reluctance at the thought of removing. I feel thankful for the past kindness and liberality of the gentlemen on whom I depend for support and could the same be continued, it would be truly grateful to my feelings. I should be glad to receive any information, relative to my concerns or my duties here, which you may think proper to impart. Should you visit Sandwich at any time, we should be very happy to receive a visit from yourself and lady, if you would condescend thus to notice us.

I am, Dear Sir, your much obliged and humble servant,

Mashpee, July 11,1826

Hon. John Davis


Honorable John Davis


For Mr. Scudder.


Reverend Phineas Fish’s Letter / July 11, 1826


 7, 8

  • 1. Horace Scudder, a Boston merchant and shipowner.