Obrazy na stronie

p. 484.

of a decisive character has been discovered. President Quincy intimates, that he desired his father might have an agency to England, that so the presidency of the college might be left vacant for him. p. 102. But no evidence of this appears in his diary. On the contrary, he assures us, that his “flesh would be, on all accounts imaginable, against his father's removal from him. It will doubtless plunge me into ten thousand inconveniences.”

Again, President Quincy represents the Mathers as insupportably disappointed, when President Leverett was chosen. “They had anticipated that the choice would have fallen upon one or the other of themselves.” p. 201. - But in proof of the assertion here made, I find not a particle of evidence in the diaries of either of the Mathers, or anywhere else. Without doubt, they were displeased at the appointment of Mr. Leverett to the presidency, but not (so far as I can learn) that they desired or expected the office for themselves.

On the death of President Leverett, there seems to have been a general expectation and desire that Mr. Mather should be elected to the vacant office. “The voice of the people," says Dr. Elliot, cried aloud for Mr. Mather, and it was declared, even in the general court, that he ought to be president."* Mather was well acquainted with this fact, and frequently refers to it in his private writings of this date. It is to be remembered, however, that these were private writings, intended, not for the public eye, but for his own. Without doubt, he had written with less freedom, could he have known to what kind of scrutiny his papers, in after times, were to be subjected. I do not find, however, any indications of an inordinate desire to become president of Harvard College; or of inordinate grief or disappointment that he was not elected. So far from this, there are expressions of directly an opposite character; and if we are to receive the evidence of a diary, why should we not receive it all ?

“I have, personally, unspeakable cause to admire the compassion of Heaven to me, on this occasion. Though I have been a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, yet none of the least exercises that I have had withal was the dread of what the generality of sober men expected I desired, the care of the college to be committed unto

I had a dismal apprehension of the distresses which a call at Cambridge would bring upon me.”+ * Biog. Dictionary, p. 314. † Am. Biog. Vol. VI. p. 330.



[ocr errors]

It has been mentioned already, that Cotton Mather wrote a solemn letter of reproof to Governor Dudley, of the same date with that of his father. As the writing of such a letter is made matter of serious charge against Mr. Mather, it will be necessary as briefly as possible to consider it. I need not repeat here what was said before, as to the character of Governor Dudley. He had tried to cultivate the friendship of the Mathers so far as this was consistent with his political designs; and had often availed himself of their influence and good offices, in times of difficulty and distress. At the time of the revolution, he probably owed his life to Cotton Mather; for, had he not exerted himself to the utmost to calm the passions of the angry multitude, they had risen in their vengeance, and cut off their oppressors at a stroke.* When Dudley, with his associates, was imprisoned, he wrote to Cotton Mather, imploring his assistance “ for rolling the stone from the door of this sepulchre, wherein," says he, “ I am buried alive.”+ At the time of his appointment to the office of governor, he had the address, as before stated, to procure a letter from Cotton Mather in his favor, which letter was read before the king, and had much influence in obtaining for him the office which he sought. When Mr. Dudley arrived in this country as governor,

he was received with tokens of respect by the Mathers, and by the people generally. But almost immediately he began to manifest his ingratitude, and his disposition to turn every thing to his own personal advantage. In a visit which he paid to Cotton Mather soon after his arrival, he received from him the following faithful and excellent advice:

“Sir, you arrive to the government of a people, that have their various and divided apprehensions about many things, and particularly about your own government over them. I am humbly of opinion that it will be your wisdom to carry an indifferent hand to all parties, if I may use so coarse a word as parties, and give oceasion to none to say, that any have monopolized you, or that you took your measures from them alone. I will explain myself with the freedom and the justice, though not perhaps with the prudence, which you would expect from me. I will do no otherwise than I would be done to. I should be content-I would approve and commend it-if any one should say to your excellency: By no means let any people have cause to say, that you take all your measures from the two Mr.

* See Life of Mather by his Son, p. 43.
+ Hutchinson's Hist. of Mass., Vol. I, p. 348,

Mathers. By the same rule, I may say without offence: By no means let any people say, that you go by no measures in your conduct, but by Mr. Byfield's and Mr. Leverett's. This I speak, not from any personal prejudice against the gentlemen, but from a due consideration of the disposition of the people, and as a service to your excellency."*

But having received this good advice, his excellency went directly out, and misrepresented and distorted it, much to the injury of Mr. Mather. He went at once to Messrs. Byfield and Leverett, and told them that Cotton Mather had counselled him to be in nowise advised by them.

And this was but the commencement of his malpractices. The first six or seven years of his administration were little else than a continued succession of criminations and recriminations of disputes, encroachments and complaints. Disgusted with his proceedings, and with the spirit and character which he exhibited, the Mathers at length concluded to write him, each of them, a letter on the same day. Considering the relations they had sustained to him, their former intercourse with him, the kind offices they had performed for him, and that he, in fact, obtained the government, in no small degree, through their means, they felt not only authorized, but called upon to deal with him after this manner. On the letter of Increase Mather, I have already remarked. I proceed to subjoin some brief account of the letter of Cotton Mather, accompanied by such explanations as may be necessary:t

He begins by telling the governor, that he feels it to be his duty to give him some words of faithful advice, administered in so plain a manner that they cannot well be misunderstood. He touches upon their previous intercourse; upon the favors which

* Am. Biography, Vol. VI. p. 286. President Quincy perverts and misrepresents this advice of Mather to the governor, we trust not wittingly, but grossly and injuriously. Referring to the interview between them, he says:

“ Mather took occasion to warn Dudley against Byfield and Leverett, as those he deemed leaders in opposition to the order of the gospel, and the true construction of the Cambridge Platform." p. 153. Yet Mather can hardly be said to have “ warnedthe governor any way; and certainly, he said not one word about "the order of the gospel,” or “the Cambridge Platform.”

+ The entire letter, with Dudley's answer, may be found in Mass. Hist. Collections, 1st Series, Vol. III. pp. 128—137.

he had conferred upon his excellency; and the manner in which these had been requited. He reminds him of his former miscarriages, and of the hopes which were entertained, when he came into the government, that he had repented of them, and would do so no more. He speaks of the sore disappointinent which his friends had experienced, and of the consequent troubles in which the governor himself had been involved. He proceeds to reprove him for his covetousness ;-a sin of which, in the judgment of all his cotemporaries, Dudley was notoriously guilty. It was this which had led him into a species of bribery and corruption, to which some of the first men in the country had borne witness under oath, and their affidavits were then in England. “And this it is,” says the writer, “ that many do firmly believe has drawn you in to countenance that unlawful trade with the enemy, which has been carried on by some grateful merchants.” Reference is here made to certain treasonable practices, of which Dudley, only the year before, had been accused to the queen. Mr. Mather proceeds to speak of the opposition of the governor and his son to the chartered liberties of New England ;-an offence of which Mr. Bancroft testifies, and Hutchinson proves, that he was actually guilty. He next speaks of the expedition against Port Royal, which he thinks had failed, through the governor's mismanagement. He complains of the manner in which business is often transacted in the council. The members are not allowed to deliberate. They are hurried, driven, into improper measures, the blame of which is then thrown upon the council. A day is sometimes appointed for the election of justices, and then privately altered, so that none may be present but those whose company is desired. These things being so, it must needs be that the governor is under the Divine displeasure. There is a judgment to come, when he will be required to answer for the manner in which his duties were performed. Considering his age and health, his excellency ought to lose no time in thinking seriously on this subject, and applying for the Divine mercy. Mr. Mather further declares, that no usage shall ever induce him to lay aside the feelings of love and kindness, which he thinks it his duty to maintain with all mankind. He has often been silent, when he felt strongly tempted to speak. He has

* See Hist. of United States, Vol. III. p. 100. Hutchinson's Hist. of Mass., Vol. II. p. 146.

been neglected, and treated with contempt and aversion. Those who visited him have been insulted, though that act of attention was all their sin. Even those who live in the same part of the town have been proscribed for that, and no other transgression. But he cherishes no resentment. “I can forgive and forget injuries. I hope I am somewhat ready for sunset; and the more so, for having discharged the duty of this letter."

Such, for substance, is Cotton Mather's letter to Governor Dudley. It is less definite, methodical and guarded, than that of his father. It is more wordy and discursive, and betrays more of impatience and a disposition to retort. As to the charges contained in it, the most and the worst of them were true; and the remainder were generally supposed to be true, at the time. If any are disposed to think that Mr. Mather used too much freedom with the governor, let them bear in mind the former relations and intercourse which had subsisted between them; the numerous favors which the former had conferred on the latter; and especially the influence which Mr. Mather had exerted in procuring the appointment of the governor, which had brought upon him, as he says, “ an extreme displeasure in the country." Let them consider, too, that in the early days of New England, the minister and chief magistrate were more nearly on a level than they are at present; and that ministers were accustomed (perhaps because they were more faithful) to use a greater freedom in reproving "spiritual wickedness in high places," than is customary now. I will not say that every word or sentence of the long letter which has been under review is to be approved; but I do say, that I more admire the boldness and faithfulness of the writer, than I can find it in my heart to censure his harshness. With a fidelity which reminds one of the prophets of old, he tells the governor a great many truths, which probably no one else would, and points him forward to solemn future scenes, which, in the midst of the cares of government, he was very liable to forget.

On the whole, I think Dudley had more reason to be grateful for such a letter, than to be angry at it;-more reason to thank the writer for his fidelity, than to rail at him (as he did) for his rudeness and impertinence.

One of President Quincy's objections to Cotton Mather has respect to his treatment of the college. He accuses him of talking disrespectfully of the college,

and in various ways of trying to injure it. He speaks of the college, during the pre

« PoprzedniaDalej »