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ship of God had alone been instituted, when the great interests of education engaged their attention. Their zeal was not repressed by the narrowness of their territorial limits, not yet extending thirty miles on the sea coast, nor twenty into the interior; nor yet by the terror of a savage enemy, threatening the very existence of the settlement; nor by the claims on their scanty resources which an impending Indian war created; nor by the smallness of their numbers, certainly not then exceeding five thousand families; nor yet by (the most unhappy and most ominous to their tranquillity of all) the religious disputes in which they were implicated.* It was under a combination of disastrous and oppressive eircumstances, any one of which would have deterred men of less moral courage and intellectual vigor from engaging in any such general design,-on the eve of a war with the fiercest and most powerful of all the native tribes,—tho Antinomian controversy at its highest and most bitter excitement; an unexplored wilderness extending over their fragile dwellings its fearinspiring shades; in the day time, the serpent gliding across their domestic hearths, or rattling its terrors in their path; in the night, their sluinbers broken by the howl of the wild beast, or by the yell and war-whoop of the savage ;-it was amidst a complex variety of dangers which, at this day, the imagination can neither exaggerate nor conceive, that this poor, this distressed, this discordant band of Pilgrims set about erecting a seminary of learning, and appropriated for its establishment a sum equal to a year's rate of the whole colopy.t For a like spirit, under like circumstances, history will be searched in vain.” pp. 7, 8.
The school had but just commenced operations, under its first master, Eaton, when, in 1638, the Rev. John Harvard died, and bequeathed one half of his whole property, and his entire library, to the institution. This noble example not only gave a name to the rising seminary, but excited others to liberality in the same cause.
“ The magistrates led the way, by a subscription among themselves of two hundred pounds, in books, for the library. The comparatively wealthy followed, with gifts of twenty and thirty pounds. The needy multitude succeeded, like the widow of old, casting their mites into the treasury.” p. 12. “ We read," says Peirce, in his History of Harvard University,“ of a number of sheep bequeathed by one man; of a quantityof cotton cloth, worth nine shillings, presented by another; of a pewter flagon, worth ten shillings, by a third; of a fruit-dish, a sugar spoon, a silver-tipt jug, one great salt, and one small trencher salt by others.” p. 17.
Nathaniel Eaton, who was excessively tyrannical and cruel in his government, was soon discharged from all connection
* Referring particularly to the troubles occasioned by Mrs. Hutchinson, and her party.
+ The sum raised at first was 400 pounds.
with the school. After a short interval, he was succeeded by Rev. Henry Dunster, who first received the title of President, and under whom the seminary began to be familiarly denominated the College. He was a learned, devoted, and efficient officer, who accomplished for the institution all that the straitened circumstances of the times would admit. He continued in the government until 1654; and might have continued longer, had he not fallen, as Cotton Mather expresses it, “ into the briers of antipedobaptism ;” and had he not considered it as not only his right, but his duty, to urge his peculiar opinions upon others. It was during the presidency of Dunster, and at his solicitation, that contributions were taken up in all the New England colonies, for the benefit of the college, consisting of from a peck to a bushel of corn or wheat from each landholder. Would the farmers of New England bear such a contribution now, in aid of any public literary institution ?
President Dunster was succeeded by Rev. Charles Chauncy, whose connection with the college, during the next seventeen years, seems to have been prosperous and happy,—except that he was often straitened for the means of support. His opinions also differed from those of the colonists generally on the subject of baptism; not that he called in question the duty of infant baptism, but he thought that immersion was the proper mode, It should be remarked, however, that neither Dunster nor Chauncy seem to have had any scruples as to continuing their communion with the Congregational churches.
The successor of President Chauncy was Rev. Leonard Hoar, who was both a clergyman and a physician. He was an early graduate of the college, but had spent most of his public life in England. He soon became unpopular, both with the students and the corporation, and resigned his office after about two years.
The Rev. Urian Oakes, another graduate of the college, and pastor of the church in Cambridge, was elected the successor of Dr. Hoar. He continued in office till his death, in the year 1681, and is spoken of by Cotton Mather as “faithful, learned, and indefatigable, in all the duties of a president.”
After the death of President Oakes, there seems to have been a difficulty in finding a person of suitable qualifications, who was willing to accept the vacant chair. The office was tendered, successively, to Rev. Increase Mather of Boston, and to Rev. Samuel Torrey of Weymouth; both of whom thought it their
duty to decline. In 1683, Rev. John Rogers was chosen and inaugurated, but did not survive the event a year. In 1685, Rev. Increase Mather was requested “to take special care of the government of the college, and to act as president, until a further settlement be made.” Mr. Mather retained this relation sixteen years, during eight of which he held, in form, the office of president; although he was not dismissed from his church in Boston, and never, except for a few months, was a stated resident at Cambridge.
Up to this period, the classes at Cambridge had usually consisted of from two, three, or four students to the number of eight or ten. During the presidency of Mather they increased, so that the classes often consisted of more than twenty. In 1682, a new college edifice was finished, denominated Harvard Hall, which stood till it was destroyed by fire, in 1764.
As the presidency of Mather was a deeply interesting period, not only to the college, but also to the colonies—to both of which he sustained the most important relations—it will be necessary to pause upon it, and to inquire somewhat particularly into the leading incidents of his life, and the accuracy of some of President Quincy's statements respecting him.
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF REV. INCREASE MATHER.
Increase Mather was a son of Rev. Richard Mather, an eminent non-conformist minister, who came to this country in 1635, and settled in Dorchester. The son was born, June 21st, 1639; became early a subject of divine grace, chiefly through the instrumentality of a pious mother; and graduated at Harvard College in 1656. The following year he commenced preaching, when he was only eighteen years old. He almost immediately went to England, where he remained about four years, and where he might have settled for life, had it not been for the persecutions of the times. He was ordained pastor of the Second or North Church in Boston, in 1664, in which station he continued to the end of his days,—a period of almost sixty years. His connection with Harvard College, in the capacity of president, commenced, as before stated, in 1685, and continued to 1701. This, as all know, who are acquainted with the history of New England, was a time of great political anxiety and convulsion, in which both the college and its president necessarily and deeply shared.
na of the years of Massach, that a quo was,
Towards the end of the year 1683, King Charles II.. demanded that the colonial charter of Massachusetts should be given up to him, threatening, in case of refusal, that a quo warranto against it should be prosecuted. The question then was, whether the people should voluntarily surrender their charter, or have it forcibly taken from them. Mr. Mather contended earnestly, both in public speeches and from the press, against the surrender of the charter; alleging that by voluntarily yielding it, the people made themselves accessory to the plots of their enemies against their liberties; but if it were forcibly taken from them, the responsibility would rest solely on their oppressors. By his efforts in this matter, Mr. Mather incurred the deadly hostility of the infamous Edward Randolph, the emissary of the king, and afterwards the secretary of Sir Edmund Andros.
It was during the tyrannical administration of Andros, after the charter had been vacated, that Mr. Mather was sent on an agency to England, to lay the grievances of a distressed people at the foot of the throne, and to seek redress. And so great was the hostility of Andros and Randolph towards him, and so much did they fear his influence with the king, that he was obliged to embark on board ship in the night, and in disguise.
Mr. Mather was in England at the time of the revolution of 1689, which put an end to the intrigues and usurpations of James, and placed William and Mary on the throne. In re- ' peated interviews with King William and his ministers, he sought the restoration of the former vacated colonial charter, with such enlargements as the altered situation of the country required. And when, at length, this boon was despaired of, he was chiefly instrumental in procuring a new charter, by which the colonies of Massachusetts and Plymouth were united, and under which they both lived and prospered, down to the times of the American revolution.
Nor was this all that this indefatigable servant of the public accomplished, during the period of his agency in England. He watched over the interests of the other colonies, besides Massachusetts, endeavoring to procure the restitution of their charters, and frustrating the designs of their enemies. From the general court of Plymouth he received a letter of thanks for his hav ing prevented that colony from being annexed to New York.
He interested himself, also, in drawing up heads of agreement, and in bringing about a union, between the Presbyterian
and. Congregational churches in England,--an object which, probably, would not have been accomplished, had it not been. for his visit to that country.
Meanwhile, he was doing all in his power to promote the interests of Harvard College. He presented its claims before the king, and solicited for it the patronage of private individuals. He was instrumental, if not of first turning the thoughts of Mr. Hollis towards the college, at least of encouraging and confirming him in his design of making it the object of his bounty. .
It should be further added, that during the four years he remained in England, he “in effect served his country on free cost.” “I never demanded,” says he, “ the least farthing as a . recompense for the time I spent; and I procured donations to the province and the college, at least nine hundred pounds more than all the expenses of my agency came to."*
Mr. Mather, having procured a provincial charter, and having been honored with the nomination of the Governor, Lieut. Governor, and first Board of Council, who were to be appointed by the king, left England in March, 1692, and arrived at Boston about the middle of May. The General Assembly of the province was soon after convened, when “the speaker, in the name of the whole house of representatives, returned him thanks, for his faithful, painful, indefatigable endeavors to serve the country.”* The house also “appointed a day of solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God, through the province, for granting a safe return to his excellency the Governor, and the Rev. Mr. Increase Mather, who have industriously endeavored the service of this people, and brought over with them a settlement of government, in which their majesties have graciously given us distinguishing marks of their royal favor and goodness.”
It is true, however, that there was a pretty strong party in the province, who were dissatisfied with the results of Mr. Mather's agency; and with him, for his instrumentality in producing them. Some, in what had been the Plymouth colony, were dissatisfied, that they were united with Massachusetts. Not a few were dissatisfied, that in his nominations to office, under the new charter, they were omitted. But the principal ground of dissatisfaction was the charter itself. It was not the
* Remarkables, etc., pp. 151, 156.