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posal, and with another minister carried it unto them, who at first rejected it, but afterwards so far embraced it as to promise that they will, the next week, publicly recognize their covenant with God and one another, and therewithal declare their adherence to the Heads of Agreement of the United Brethren in England,* and request the communion of our churches on that foundation.” Vol. I. p. 487. But President Quincy says: “The glory of effecting the reconciliation, thus obtrusively claimed by Cotton Mather, was wholly without foundation. He neither drew up the paper, nor had any material efficiency in producing it.” p. 135. The grounds on which President Quincy thus charges Mather with what (if falsehood at all) must have been known and wilful falsehood, are two: Colman says nothing about Mr. Mather's instrumentality, in the church records. But does he say any thing against it? Do the records of the church contradict the diary of Mather? Not in the slightest degree. They merely ounit to notice, what Mather
says was true, and what, for aught the records say or intimate to the contrary, may have been true to the letter. 2. The other ground on which the accusation of President Quincy rests, is the diary of Judge Sewall. His account of the reconciliation varies somewhat from that of Mr. Mather, but is not inconsistent with it, or contradictory to it. Under date of January 24th, three days subsequent to Cotton Mather's effort, Judge Sewall says:
6 The Lieut. Governor calls me, with him, to Mr. Willard's, where, out of two papers, Mr. William Brattle drew up a third, for an accommodation, to bring on an agreement between the new church and our ministers. Mr. Colman got his brethren to subscribe to it. January 25th. Mr. I. Mather, Mr. C. Mather, Mr. Willard, Mr. Wadsworth and S. Sewall, wait on the Lieut. Governor, at Mr. Cooper's, to confer about the writing drawn up the evening before. There was some heat, but grew calmer, and after lecture, agreed,” &c. p. 491.
The probable circumstances of the case were these: Mr. Willard, pastor of the old South Church, was the other minister, that went with Cotton Mather in his effort at reconciliation, on the 21st of January. Of the two papers in the possession of Mr. Willard on the 24th, and from which Mr. Brattle drew
* These Heads of Agreement were drawn up while Increase Mather was in England, as the foundation of a union between the Congregational and Presbyterian churches in that country. up a third, one was that which had been previously drawn up by Mr. Mather. This paper, rather than the other, was substantially adopted by Mr. Brattle, in preparing a third; so that this last paper, though in the hand-writing of Mr. Brattle, was really, as to the substance of it, the production of Mr: Mather. The next day (January 25th) a meeting was held at Mr. Cooper's, where, after some warm discussion, the prepared paper was adopted, and the reconciliation effected. This accords entirely with Mather's testimony, who says that his paper was at first rejected, but afterwards was embraced. After Mr. Brattle had copied it, possibly with some slight variations, and had brought it forward under the sanction of his name, the founders of the new church consented to embrace it. Of course, it cannot now be determined, that the order of events here supposed is precisely that which actually took place. But certainly, it may have been. There is nothing unreasonable or improbable in the supposition. Hence, the diaries of Mather and Sewall may both be true.* Beyond a doubt, they both are true. And President Quincy owes it, not only to the memory of Mather, but to himself, to take back the charge of wilful falsehood, to which he has (I trust without due consideration) consented to give the sanction of his name.
It is further objected to Cotton Mather, that he habitually desired and endeavored, for a long course of years, to become the President of Harvard College. If this charge were admitted, to the full extent to which it is urged, I see
not that it will fasten any serious blot upon the character of Mr. Mather. Good men have often desired public stations, and labored to secure them, and yet, in the end, have been disappointed. I am persuaded, however, that the desires of Cotton Mather, in regard to the presidency of Harvard College, have been vastly overrated. His diary has been raked, from end to end, to gather up expressions bearing on this point; and yet, almost nothing
* To the mode of harmonizing the diaries of Mather and Sewall, proposed above, I can think of but a single objection. It may be said that the reconciliation, according to Mather, took place on the 21st day. But although the entire record of Mather is made under date of the 21st, it is obvious that he mentions several things, which took place afterwards. For instance, he speaks of the exercises of the dedication or fast, which did not take place till the 31st.
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.” p. 484.
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."* Mr. 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 me. I had a dismal apprehension of the distresses which a call at Cambridge would bring upon me.
e.”+ * Biog. Dictionary, p. 314. + Am. Biog. Vol. VI. p. 330. 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 all parties, if I may use so coarse a word as parties, and to give occasion 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-[ 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 Lise of Mather by his Son, p. 43.
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 "warned” the 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.