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Vol. \\ 









The Mather Family. Early Education of Cot 
ton Mather. He enters Harvard College. 
His Studious Habits and Religious Impres 
sions. His Prayers and Fasts. His " Es 
says to do Good." Settled in the Ministry 
as a Colleague with his Father. His Rules 
of Preaching, and Manner of discharging Pa 
rochial Duties. Singular Meditations and 
Ejaculations, to which he was accustomed . . 3 


Marriage of Cotton Mather. Character of his 
Son, Samuel Mather. Mode of instructing 
and governing his Children. Sir Edmund 
Andros. Increase Mather. Sir William 
Phips. Cotton Mather s Agency in promot 
ing the Delusions of Witchcraft 35 


Sir William Phips. Robert Calef. The 
Influence of his Writings in exposing the 




Deceptions and allaying the Frenzy of Witch 
craft. Further Opinions of Cotton Mather 
on this Subject, and his Attempts to justify 
his Conduct 76 


Characteristic Extracts from his Diary. His 
Vigils. Description of the " Magnolia Christi 
Americana." Instances of his Enthusiasm. 
A remarkable Courtship. His Second Mar 
riage 101 


Governor Dudley. Disappointment of Cotton 
Mather at not being chosen President of Har 
vard College. His extraordinary Letter to 
Governor Dudley. His Belief in the special 
Interpositions of Providence. Elected a Fel 
low of the Royal Society. Received the De 
gree of Doctor of Divinity. His Domestic 
Afflictions 122 


Philanthropic Undertakings. He Attempts to 
Christianize the Negroes. Manner in which 
he employed his Time. Habits of Industry. 
First Introduction of Inoculation into Amer 
ica. It is boldly and firmly sustained by 
Cotton Mather against a violent Opposition. 
Much Praise due for the Part he acted. 
Early and successful Labors of Dr. Boylston 



in this Cause. Warm Controversy on the 
Subject 144 


Case of Self-delusion. Harvard College. 
Curious Record from the Diary of Cotton 
Mather describing the State of his own Mind. 
His last Sickness and Death. Remarks 
on his Character and Writings 167 









The Mather Family. Early Education of Cot 
ton Mather. He enters Harvard College. 
His Studious Habits and Religious Impres 
sions. His Prayers and Fasts. His " Es 
says to do Good." Settled in the Ministry 
as a Colleague with his Father. His Rules 
of Preaching, and Manner of discharging 
Parochial Duties. Singular Meditations 
and Ejaculations, to which he was accustomed. 

"UNDER this stone lies Richard Mather, 
Who had a son greater than his father, 
And eke a grandson greater than either." 

This ancient epitaph is introduced, not on 
account of its poetical merits, but because it 
describes the priestly succession of this remark 
able family, which bore a distinguished part in 
the early history of New England. The scale 
of reputation, which it contains, probably assigns 
to each one of those commemorated the rank 


which lie deserves, at least so far as natura. 
ability: fa concerned: 

Richard Mather was a Non-conformist divine, 
who became an exile for the sake of truth and 
freedom, and emigrated to America in 1635. 
The year after his arrival, he was invited to 
become the pastor of the church in Dorchester, 
where he resided till his death. He is not de 
scribed as remarkable for talent, but as possess 
ing a weight of character and knowledge of 
ecclesiastical affairs, which gave him great in 
fluence in his day. He also sustained the less 
enviable reputation of an able controvertist, whose 
services were called for on more than one occa 
sion. Our fathers were good judges of intellect 
teal and practical ability ; and, though we have not 
many means of judging for ourselves, we may 
safely believe that his high reputation was de 

The name of Increase Mather, the third son 
of Richard, is, as the epitaph declares, more 
distinguished than that of his father. He began 
to preach the year after leaving college, and 
soon after sailed for England, where his brother 
Samuel lived, in great favor with the ruling pow 
ers, till the time of the Restoration, when ne 
was one of the ejected "two thousand." In 
crease Mather was strongly urged to remain in 
England ;. but he rejected all offers, which re 


quired him to renounce his principles, "choosing 
rather to trust God s providence than to violate 
the tranquillity of hjs own mind," and after an 
absence of four years he returned to his own 
country. In 1664 he was ordained pastor of the 
North Church in Boston. He was twice chosen 
President of Harvard College. The first time, 
in 1681, his church refused to part with him, on 
any conditions ; but in 1684, when the office was 
again offered him, he accepted with a stipulation 
that he should retain his relation to his people. 
He retired from the station in 1701, when an act 
of the General Court was passed, requiring the 
President to live at Cambridge. His son thought 
that this law was aimed at him by his enemies ; 
but other authorities say, and probably with suf 
ficient reason, that he resigned on account of 
infirmity and age. 

Increase Mather was engaged in public ser 
vices, not usual with members of his profession ; 
these were high and honorable, and will be no 
ticed in their proper place. His character needs 
to be drawn, in order to show under what in 
fluences Cotton Mather came forward in life. 
Increase Mather was a man of great energy and 
practical good sense, with an intellect clear and 
strong, but not adventurous, and a heart that was 
equal to all duties and dangers. Formed under 
the teaching of one, who became an exile for 


the sake of conscience, and having himself been 
tried and tempted in those changing times, he 
had all the devotion of the " prophets old," to 
gether with a leaning toward severity and gloom. 
As a preacher, he was powerful and fervent, with 
more regard to manner than was usual ; and such 
was his conviction of the degeneracy of the times, 
that all his sermons were filled with that plain 
tive lamentation for the decline of religion, which 
always finds audience in the heart. 

It is curious to see his representations of the 
state of society in his day. He says that drunk 
enness, tavern-haunting, sabbath-breaking, and ne 
glect of public and domestic worship, together 
with all kindred transgressions, had become com 
mon in New England. Unfortunately he re 
garded the growing liberality of the age, no* 
perhaps as one of its sins, but certainly as one 
of its dangers ; he cried out against toleration, as 
the instrument which Satan was employing to 
root out every vestige of religion ; but, by a for 
tunate and honorable inconsistency, his heart 
being better than his maxims, he extended lib 
erality further than some who thought it a duty 
Though he had his trials when he lived, and 
often suffered from the jealousy of others and 
the want of a sufficient support, there was no 
man of his age, who was more honored when 
living, or more lamented when he died. 


The good sense and sound judgment, for which 
Increase Mather was renowned and trusted, were 
the very qualities in which his son was most 
notoriously wanting; but this was a defect of 
which Cotton Mather was not likely to be con 
scious, and he was often perplexed to account for 
the little confidence that was felt in him, and the 
little reverence that was paid him. For many 
years he was associated with his father in the 
pastoral office, and he seems to have been great 
ly admired for his talents and learning ; but the 
confidence of the people, and the honors of pub 
lic trust, were prizes that he never was able to 
gain. He was well aware, that his father could 
bear no comparison with himself in point of 
genius and attainments; nor could he conceive 
why one, not equal to himself in these re 
spects, should stand so much higher in the gen 
eral esteem. 

It was not, however, to Cotton Mather s own 
deficiencies alone that his want of influence was 
owing ; other causes were at work to deprive 
the clergy of that ascendency, which they had 
held for many years. In the days of persecution 
for conscience sake, the pastor of the church 
the leader of their devotions, stood in a different 
relation to his people. His business then was 
to defend, rather than to lead the flock ; to set 
them an example of fortitude, patience, and in- 


flexible resistance to all authority, which attempt 
ed to enslave their souls. The qualities required 
for such a duty were all of the bold and com 
manding sort, and ordinary men did not covet a 
distinction to which they knew that they were 
not equal. But, when those times passed away, 
and peaceful virtues were required for the sacred 
office, the political influence of the clergy natu 
rally lessened. Power was intrusted to other 
hands ; a change which seemed to them humili 
ating, though it was, in fact, placing them on 
me ground, where their own usefulness and dutj 
required them to stand. 

There was a sufficient reason, then, why Cot 
ton Mather should not inherit his father s politi 
cal influence ; because the days of such influence 
had passed by, and Increase Mather was the 
last who was permitted to hold it in his hands. 
And even he, venerated as he was, retained it 
more from habit than any other reason ; the peo 
ple had been taught to confide in him, and there 
fore continued to make him an exception to the 
general rule of his profession. Cotton Mather 
does not appear to have understood the change 
which was going on in the public mind, and he 
therefore ascribed to the ill-will of his enemies, 
that which they had little power to do. 

COTTON MATHER was born in Boston, Feb 
ruary 12th, 1662-3. His mother was Maria, 


daughter of the celebrated John Cotton, a man 
whose praise has been in all the churches, though 
there is some reason to doubt, whether he de 
served the whole of his renown. To show re 
spect to his memory, Increase Mather gave the 
name of Cotton to his son. 

This account of his parentage is enough to 
show what hi? expectations were likely to be. 
Inheriting the name and profession of two such 
men, he could see no cause why he should not 
stand as high as they did in the public esteem. 
But, for the reasons just given, this was impos 
sible ; and it was not surprising, that this perpet 
ual disappointment should have affected his view 
of men and things. He must be censured with 
forbearance and reserve ; for there are very few 
who, in the same situation, would not have fel 
deeply wounded. Many, doubtless, would have 
kept the feeling more to themselves, knowing 
how little sympathy it awakens ; but Cotton 
Mather made no secret of his mind and heart ; 
whatever his emotions were, he expressed them 
with freedom, and did not always select the most 
favorable and timely occasions 

It is impossible to deny, that the reputation of 
Cotton Mather has declined of late years. In 
his own age, he was looked on as a wonder, not 
so much on account of his talent and industry, 
as for his extensive attainments His talents 


were of a high order, and his energy and method 
in seizing and using every moment of time for 
some purpose of improvement are alone suffi 
cient to show, that he was not an ordinary man. 
The attainments in which he delighted were not 
all of the most valuable kind; but it must be 
remembered, they were approved by the pre 
vailing taste, and made him a subject of universal 
envy and applause. He is said to have known 
more of the history of New England than any 
other man ; but it is now discovered, that his 
facts and dates are not to be relied on. Char 
acters are drawn by him with great partiality, 
and all his representations more or less colored 
by his own likings and aversions. 

The greatest stain upon his memory is the 
part, which he took in the memorable witchcraft 
delusion. This matter is not wholly explained ; 
but enough appears to show, that the prevailing 
frenzy was owing in some measure, at least, to 
his influence and exertion. His father set his 
face against those ferocious proceedings. Many 
others of the clergy, also, though they believed 
in witchcraft, were entirely opposed to the hasty 
convictions and cruel executions of the accused. 
But he, without seeming to have a full confi 
dence in the goodness of his cause, does appear 
to have urged others on to lengths, to which he 
would himself have been afraid and ashamed to 


go. His writings on the subject show a willing 
ness to excite the passions of others, together 
with a desire to keep apart from the prosecu 
tions, which, taken in connexion with subsequent 
avowals, seem to prove, that he was not con 
vinced that his course was honorable. 

The account of his education and early life, 
given by his biographers, is but meagre. This, 
however, is no great loss ; for the incidents com 
monly set down to fill this page of a great man s 
history are poor indications of character, and are 
more apt to show how much the writer was 
pressed for materials, than what the subject of 
his memoir was likely to be. We might natu 
rally expect to find Cotton Mather manifesting 
an early passion for books and learning, and in 
this we are not disappointed. He was educated 
at the free school in Boston, first by Mr. Ben 
jamin Thompson, a man, we are assured, " of 
great learning and wit " ; and afterwards by the 
famous Mr. Ezekiel Cheever, whose memory has 
descended to our own times, and who, in addi 
tion to his other qualifications, had the advantage 
of some experience in his profession, which he 
followed for seventy years, His studies in prep 
aration for college were more extensive, than 
was usual at that day; since we hear of his 
studying Homer and Isocrates, besides many Lat- 


in authors, which were not very familiar, even 
to those who had taken a degree. 

He entered college at the age of twelve, which 
was then thought very early, and certainly is toe 
early both for the pursuits and temptations of 
the place. But he seems to have had a strong 
ambition, which aided his better principles, in 
securing him from moral dangers, and making 
him attentive to his duties. He wished and ex 
pected to be a great man ; and though expecta 
tions of this kind are not often shared by others 
in his case, on account of his birth, they were 
thought appropriate and graceful. When he be 
came a member of the institution, Dr. Hoar, who 
was then president, gave him according to cus 
tom, " this head for his initial declamation "; 

"Telemacho veniet, vivat modo, fortior oetas." 

We have little information concerning his rank 
in college ; but, judging from its close, it must 
have been sufficiently high ; for, when he look 
his first degree, President Oakes, in his Latin 
oration at the commencement, expressed himself 
in a strain, which may be thus translated. 

"Mather is named Cotton Mather. What a 
name ! But my hearers, I confess, I am wrong ; 
I should have said what names ! I shall say 
nothing of his reverend father, since I dare not 
praise him to his face ; but should he resemble 
and represent his venerable grandfathers, John 


Cotton and Richard Mathar, in piety, learning, 
elegance of mind, solid judgment, prudence, and 
wisdom, he will bear away the palm ; and I trust 
that in this youth, Cotton and Mather will be 
united and flourish again." 

Such an address, on such an occasion, would 
now make a considerable sensation. The effect 
of it was to fan the flame of Mather s ambition, 
and so to make him what all expected him to 
be. But it doubtless had another effect, which 
was to produce much of that jealousy in others, 
and that discontent in himself, which brought so 
much unhappiness on his later years. Some poet 
of the day alluded to what he called his " omin 
ous name "; 

" Where two great names their sanctuary take, 
And in a third combined a greater make." 

Being blessed, as his son informs us, "with a 
modest inquisitiveness," a gift which is said not 
to be uncommon in New England, he made rapid 
advances before taking his second degree, which 
he received from the hand of his father. The 
TJiesis, which he then maintained, was "the di 
vine origin of the Hebrew points "; but he after 
wards saw reason to change his mind, and held 
the contrary opinion to the last. 

Such a man as Increase Mather would not 
regard learning and intellectual accomplishments 
as so important as religious education. His first 


efforts, therefore, were directed to the formation 
of a Christian character in his son, who had suf 
ficient fervor and readiness to receive impres 
sions, and wanted the judicious counsel, which his 
father was well able to give. We are told, that 
almost as soon as he began to speak he began to 
pray, and practised this duty constantly in all his 
earlier years. He often composed forms for his 
schoolmates, and recommended the duty to them. 
He frequently reproved them for profaneness and 
misconduct, and set them the example of avow 
ing his religious principles fearlessly on all proper 
occasions ; a kind of moral courage, which, if it 
were more generally found in the young, would 
save many from ruin ; for the truth is, that many 
are led away, not merely against their judgment, 
but actually against their will, for the want of 
firmness to bear up under the ridicule of those, 
whose good opinion they would not value. 

It is clear from the history of his emotions at 
this time, that he needed judicious treatment like 
that of his father; for his spirit was one that 
might easily have been kindled with enthusiasm, 
and thus have been a firebrand to he churches. 
He was early, as his son assures us, * brought by 
some miscarriages into inquiry into his spiritual 
estate. He found very frequent returns of doubts 
and fears, and frequently renewed his closure 
with Jesus Christ, as his only relief against them." 


While he was oppressed with a sense of his vile- 
ness, his father took the occasion to point out to 
him, as the chief beauty of religion, the welcome 
which it gives to the repenting, whom it receives 
as readily as if they had never wandered. By 
clear illustrations he explained the subject to him 
in such a manner, that the formation of his re 
ligious character was not left to the imagination. 

When he was fifteen, he was much affected 
by reading Dr. Hall s " Treatise on Meditation," 
which advises the reader to proceed methodically 
in the performance of this duty. Probably this 
advice was never more faithfully regarded than 
by Cotton Mather. He made many attempts to 
form a perfectly logical system of meditation, and 
wrote a treatise on the subject, which was highly 
regarded by his friends. There cannot be much 
doubt of its originality, as the reader will see from 
a description. He first proceeded doctrinally, 
with answering a question, explaining a scripture, 
and considering the causes, effects, adjuncts, op- 
posites, and resemblances of the subject of his 
reflections. In the second place, he proceeded 
practically, first with an examination of himself, 
next an expostulation with himself, and lastly, a 
resolution in the strength of grace offered in the 
new covenant. His biographer calls this a happy 
way of preaching with and to himself. Whatever 
the religious effect may have been, it would not 


be easy to find any thing more illustrative of his 
peculiar character, and at the same time of .he 
taste of the age. 

At the age of fourteen he began that system 
of prayer and fasting, which he afterwards carried 
quite as far as nature could sustain it. In his 
day, men had become skeptical as to the obliga 
tion and effect of abstaining from food ; not so 
with him. He was ambitious rather to resemble 
a Rabbi mentioned in the Talmud, whose face 
was black by reason of his fastings. His son ut 
his funeral sermon remarks, that the fasts observed 
by his father amounted to about four hundred and 
fifty, and proceeds to fortify his assertion, by say 
ing, that " he thought himself starved, unless he 
fasted once a month ; " he often kept weekly 
fasts, sometimes two in the week. Once, in the 
latter part of his life, he was resolved to abstain 
from food for three days together, and " to spend 
the time in knocking at the door of heaven." 
The character of the first day was confession and 
contrition. The character of the second day was 
resignation to the will of God, in which, says his 
biographer, " he found astonishing entertainment " ; 
the character of the third day was request. He 
himself declares, that the last nad a happy effect 
on his mind. On one occasion, it seems to have 
affected his nervous system. He says that heaven 
seemed open to him, so that he longed to die ; 


he was hardly able to bear the ecstasies of divine 
love. They exhausted him ; they made him 
faint ; they were insupportable, and he was 
obliged to withdraw from them, lest the raptures 
should make him swoon away. 

It is not surprising, that these observances, so 
early begun and so steadily pursued, should have 
had an effect on his character, inclining him to 
grasp at every thing, which seemed like an emana 
tion from the invisible world. 

At the age of sixteen he made the Christian 
profession. He considered this service as binding 
him to efficient self-examination ; and some exer 
cises which he wrote at this age, show his peculiar 
sense of this duty. The language is certainly 
overstrained and excessive ; apparently not so 
much meant to express his feelings, as to state a 
standard to which his feelings must be brought to 
conform. This view of " things as they ought to 
be, not as they were," runs through a great pro 
portion of his writings. 

But there was another duty to which he be 
lieved himself bound by his Christian profession ; 
it was usefulness ; doing good as he had oppor 
tunity. He was deeply impressed with a sense 
of this obligation, and there is reason to suppose 
that he regarded it. He began by instructing his 
brothers and sisters, exhorting the domestics, and 
doing them every service in his power. As he 

XI. 2 


grew older, he extended his aims and endeavors.. 
As his principles and maxims on this subject were 
embodied in his well-known Essays to do Good, 
it will not be out of place to give some account of 
tha; performance now. 

In this work, which was highly approved by 
Dr. Franklin, he endeavors to show the various 
ways and relations in which good may be done, 
and to prove, that it is the only sure process by 
which we can secure good for ourselves. He 
says, that there is a " scorbutic and spontaneous 
lassitude in the minds of men, which, while it 
sometimes prevents their being active in evil, is 
also the cause of their doing so little good." His 
object is to remove it, by showing the various rea 
sons they have for being active in usefulness, and 
to point out to them the ways in which their energy 
can be exerted without waste of power. But he 
expresses a prophetic anticipation, that fields of 
action, which were then unimagined, would after 
wards be opened. " A vast variety of new ways 
to do good will be lit upon ; paths, which no 
fowl of the best flight at noble designs has yet 
known, and which the vulture s most piercing eye 
hath not seen, and where loins of the strongest 
resolution have never passed." 

He suggests the expediency of resorting to the 
principle of association, to accomplish by the 
authority and force of numbers, what individuals 


are unablr to do. There is reason to think, that 
this suggestion, though not new, was adopted to 
some extent, n consequence of his recommen 
dation ; and tiius was established the system, 
which now operates throughout our country. His 
plan was to have associations formed in every 
neighborhood, which should keep an eye upon 
all growing evils, and use the most effectual means 
fo oppress them. They were to extend their 
oversight even to personal and domestic relations, 
and, if they saw any man violating or neglecting 
his duty, were to offer him their friendly warnings. 
They were also to reconcile dissensions, and search 
out and relieve distress. 

But after he has sketched the plan of such 
associations, and painted in glowing terms the good 
they are able to do, he thinks it necessary to cau 
tion their members, not to expect gratitude at 
the hands of men. " When such societies have 
done all the good they can, and nothing but good, 
and walk on in more unspotted brightness than 
that of the moon in heaven, let them look to be 
maligned and libelled as a set of scoundrels." 
This is not very encouraging, and hardly consists 
with Scripture ; " Who is he that will harm you, 
if ye be followers of that which is good ? " He 
was one of those unlucky persons, who, from want 
of discrimination, would mortally offend those 
whom he was most desirou? to serve 


He subjoins to this work a list of desirable 
objects, which such societies should keep in view 
The first is, the communication of the gospel to 
other nations. He says, however, that " till the tern 
pie be cleansed, there will be no gathering of the 
nations to worship in it ; and there will be danger 
that many persons, active in such societies, will be 
more intent on propagating their own little forms, 
fancies, and interests, than the more weighty mat 
ters of the gospel." He also proposes sending 
Bibles, Psalters, and other works, among the na 
tions, translated into the various languages of the 
world. He recommends soldiers and sailors as 
proper subjects of instruction, believing that the 
moral character of those professions may be much 
exalted. He also points out the tradesman s 
library as a source of moral influence, and pro 
poses institutions for teaching the young the ele 
ments of religious duty. 

On the whole, he takes a comprehensive view 
of a subject, which was not then familiar as it now 
is to the public mind, disfigured only by com 
plaints of human ingratitude, which are not par 
ticularly graceful, in those who profess to act on 
motives not connected with the present world. 

While he was thus ambitious to be useful, even 
in his early childhood, there were some traits in 
his goodness peculiar to himself. Among other 
things we are told, that he thought it his duty to 


devote to Melchizedek a tenth part of all that was 
afforded him. It is not easy to tell precisely what 
was the nature of this appropriation ; but it il- 
listrates character, and that is sufficient for the 
present purpose. There were other instances in 
which he had some remarkable proofs of the truth 
of the maxim, that virtue is its own reward. He 
calls them " the retaliating dispensations of heaven 
towards him." " I can tell," he says, " that the 
Lord has most notably, in many instances, retali 
ated my dutifulness to my father. As now, I was 
the owner of a watch, which I was fond of for the 
variety of motions in it. I saw my father took a 
fancy to it, and I made a present of it unto him, 
with some thoughts, that, as it was but a piece of 
due gratitude unto such a parent, so I should not 
go without a recompense. Quickly after this 
there came to me a gentlewoman, from whom I 
had no reason to expect so much as a visit. But 
in her visit, she, to my surprise, prayed me to ac 
cept, as a present from her, a watch, which was 
indeed preferable to that with which I had parted, 
i resolved hereupon to stir up dutifulness to par 
ents, u"i myself and others, more than ever." His 
exhortations would probably have taken effect, if 
children could have looked forward to an imme 
diate payment in kind ; but when acts of favor 
were attended with such retaliations, it did not 
require any remarkable self-sacrifice to do them 


At another time he bought a Spanish Indian 
servant, and afterwards bestowed him on his fath 
er. Some years after, a knight, whom he had 
laid under obligations, bestowed a Spanish Indian 
servant upon him. 

For the seven years after leaving college, Cotton 
Mather engaged in the business of instruction, 
chiefly in preparing students for college. He had 
some under his care, older than himself. He car 
ried them through the various branches of aca 
demic learning, including some which would now 
hardly be embraced in preparatory studies. He 
heard their recitations every day in the originals 
both of the Old and New Testaments, giving par 
ticular attention to the Hebrew. But he consid 
ered these attainments quite inferior to others, and 
therefore labored most assiduously to instruct them 
in the principles of religious duty. He endeav 
ored to turn every incident and every lecture into 
an occasion for giving this kind of instruction, 
which practice, his son assures us, had a good ef 
fect upon his readiness and wit, and had a happy 
influence on the young men. 

There is no doubt that his fervor and his strong 
passion for learning must have inspired similar 
desires in his pupils. Many of them became emi 
nent and useful men. He used sometimes to say, 
that he " would give all that he was worth in the 
world, for the measures of grace and sense, which 


he saw in some that were once his scholars/ He 
no doubt believed what he said ; but it shows his 
simplicity not to perceive the line where humility 
borders on affectation. But it was said, because 
he had imposed upon himself; not because he 
had any desire to impose upon others. 

Cotton Mather, the heir of two such ecclesias 
deal names, could of course be destined to no 
other profession than the ministry ; but there was 
a difficulty in his way not easily overcome, which 
was, an uncommon impediment in his speech, 
with which he was troubled from his early years. 
His son says, that the evil was made more tolera- 
ole by the circumstance, that Moses, Paul, Virgil, 
and Boyle were stammerers before him ; and to have 
such great and good companions in adversity must 
have been a great relief. However this may have 
been, he did wisely to follow the advice of " that 
good old schoolmaster, Mr. Corlet," who called 
on purpose to advise him ; saying, that he must 
accustom himself to a " dilated deliberation " in 
public speaking ; for, as in singing no one stam 
mers, so by prolonging his pronunciation he might 
get a habit of speaking without hesitation. This 
advice was followed, and with perfect success 

He had for some time given up all thoughts of 
the ministry on account of this defect ; but, when 
he was thus taught to surmount it, he abandoned 
his medical studies, in which he had become 


deeply engaged ; and, after having given the atten 
tion to theology which was then thought neces 
sary, he prepared for his public appearance. In 
so doing he did what probably would not have 
been thought of by others ; " on account of the 
calling he had relinquished, he did, in his first 
sermon, consider our Saviour as the glorious phy 
sician of souls." 

" Nachmanides," says Samuel Mather, " was 
styled Rabbi at eighteen years of ago ; " and Cot 
ton Mather deserved the title at the same age ; 
for at this age he distinguished himself and began 
to teach ; for in August, 1680, he first preached 
for his grandfather in Dorchester, the Sabbath 
after for his father in Boston, and on the sue 
ceeding Sabbath in his grandfather s desk in Bos 
ton. The North Church turned their attention 
to him at once as a proper person to associate 
with his father, and in February, 1680, gave 
him a unanimous invitation. It would not be 
easy now, to invite a preacher in February, who 
preached the first time in August of the same 
year; but this was in the days when the New 
Style was not adopted. 

It does not appear what the terms of this iavi 
tation were ; it could not have been to become 
a colleague with his father ; for this offer was ac 
cepted, and yet it was not till January, 1682, that 
they invited him to become their pastor. He for 


some time declined complying for various reasons ; 
one was, that his father was in full strength, and 
did not need a colleague ; another was, his low 
estimation of his own powers ; and we are told, 
that, whenever he read the text, " They watch 
for your souls as those who must give an account," 
the words " caused an earthquake within him." 

Before he accepted the trust that was offered, 
he kept many days of fasting and prayer. At last, 
having made up his mind, he was ordained May 
13th, 1684, when Mr. Allen, Mr. Willard, and 
his father, imposed hands on him, and he received 
from the celebrated Eliot the fellowship of the 
churches. Some portion of the scruples, which 
prevented his acceding to the wishes of the soci 
ety before, rested upon the subject of ordination. 
To satisfy himself, he examined the Fathers of the 
first three centuries, and at last determined that 
the choice of the people was essential to the 
validity of that service. Truly, there are not 
many now, of any sect, who, even without exam 
ining the Fathers, would hesitate to adopt his 

This congregational principle does not appear 
to have been carried to its full extent, even bv 
those wno considered it as most important. In 
the year 1697, the church of which the Mathers 
were pastors, voted, " a letter of admonition to 
the church in Charlestown, for betraying the ib- 


erties of the churches, by putting into the hands 
of the whole inhabitants, the choice of a minister." 
Cotton Mather says, that many people would not 
allow the church any priority of right in the choice 
of a pastor. Sometimes the church made choice 
of several pastors, from whom the congregation 
selected one ; a mode which seems only to have 
answered the purpose of securing the authority of 
the church in name, since it gave to the inhabit 
ants generally all the substantial power. It is 
plain enough to every one who reads our history, 
that, in political matters, the people were jealously 
careful to retain all rights and powers within their 
owr control, if not in their own hands ; and this 
circumstance would serve to show, that they con 
sidered ecclesiastical powers quite as much their 
own, and never to be surrendered, where it was 
important to insist upon them. 

At the time of entering upon his duties, he was 
conscientious and apprehensive ; and a passage in 
his Diary * shows in a curious manner, what were 
his temptations, and the means employed to re 
sist them. He writes, " The apprehension of 
cursed pride, the sin of young ministers, working 

* During many years of his life, Cotton Mather kept 
a Diary, in which personal incidents and opinions were 
often minutely en;ered. This Diary is now scattered 
in different places. It has been examined, and much 
use made of it, in drawing up the present memoir. 


in my heart, filled me with inexpressible bitterness 
and confusion before the Lord. In my early 
youth, even when others of my age are playing 
in the streets, I preached unto very great assem 
blies, and found strange respects among the peo 
ple of God. I feared, and thanks be to God that 
he ever struck me with such a fear, lest a snare 
and a pit were by Satan prepared for such a 
novice. I resolved, therefore, that I would set 
apart a day, to humble myself before God for the 
pride of my heart, and entreat that by his grace I 
may be delivered from that sin, and the wrath to 
which I may, by that sin, be exposed." 

In the account given of the exercises of that 
day, he contrives to award himself a considerable 
portion of praise. He states with great honesty 
the reasons he had for self-applause, but he says, 
that " proud thoughts fly-blow d his best perform 
ances." In order to take down his self-exalting 
spirit, he taxes his invention for hard names to 
apply to himself oy way of humiliation. He says, 
that he is " viler than a beast " ; " unsavory salt, 
fit for nothing but th^ dunghill." His son gives 
the passage at great length, thinking that, as he 
had found it beneficial to himself, it might be so 
to others, especially of the sacred order. It is 
valuaole as a remarkable specimen of self-delusion 
in which he reminds himself constantly of his own 
" grandeurs," as he calls them, in the same tone 


that the rich man uses when he professes himself 
to be poor, a profession which he will thank no 
one for believing. 

His niles of preaching were systematic, in some 
respects more so than was necessary. They sen e 
to show the man and his habits of mind. When 
he was at a loss for a text, " he would make a 
prayer to the Holy Spirit of Christ, as well to find 
a text for him as to handle it " ; which seems to 
be carrying the principle oi dependence quite as 
far as it should go. He never undertook to treat 
a subject, without carefully examining the text 
in the original languages, and consulting all 
commentators concerning it. He always chose 
his subjects with a view, not to the display of 
his own resources, but to the edification of his 
hearers. He studied variety in his topics and 
illustrations, bringing scriptural quotations to bear 
on every part, and endeavoring " to fill his hour 

So far as respected manner, he was carefu. no* 
to be too fast nor too loud, writing in short sen 
tences, so that every hearer could easily grasp his 
meaning. He always made use of notes in 
preaching, though he was not enslaved oy them. 
In this he differed from his father, who, with al) 
his various and laborious duties, imposed on him 
self the labor of writing his sermons and commit 
ting them to memory ; a process which shows his 


of faithfulness in his duty. In general, 
very little would be gained by this preparation ; 
it would not have the effect of extemporaneous 
speaking ; but there are some men, who, by hav 
ing some such support to lean upon, can address 
audiences in words suggested by the occasion, 
hrow out new thoughts and illustrations as they 
arise, and give to these efforts the finish of 
studied, together with the fervor of extempora 
neous speaking. 

It may be as well to give, in this place, an 
account of the plan on which he proceeded in 
order to make himself useful in his profession. 
He took a list of all the members of his church, 
" and, in his secret prayers, resolved that he would 
go over the catalogue, by parcels, upon his knees, 
and pray for the most suitable blessings he could 
think of, to be bestowed on each person by name 
distinctly mentioned/ 7 He also endeavored "to 
procure an exact account of those evil humors, of 
which the place where he lived was at any time 
under the dominion ; and, whereas those devils 
could only be cast out by fasting and prayer, to 
set apart a day of secret prayer and fasting fb 
each of them." 

His ideas of the amount of visiting, required in 
the discharge of duty, show that it was not ex 
pected from a clergyman in that day to have fre 
quent intercourse with his people He devoted 


one and sometimes two afternoons in the week tc 
that purpose, sending word beforehand to the 
families that he intended to visit them. It was 
not, however, a familiar visit, so much as a re 
ligious exhortation, when he inquired particular!) 
into the religious feelings of each member of the 
family, and gave them the counsel which they 
seemed to require. " He could seldom despatch 
more than four or five families in an afternoon," 
and he looked on this work as one of his most 
difficult labors. Dr. Palfrey, in his Sermon on 
the history of the Church in Brattle Square, re 
marks that Dr. Colman extolled Cooper for 
" knowing where to find the sick and poor of the 
society when they sent their notes." It should 
be remembered, that congregations then thought 
it necessary to have two clergymen, one of whom 
was called pastor, the other teacher, though their 
duties were the same. 

His son tells us, that " his love to his church 
was very flaming." He often kept a fast with 
special reference to its wants and welfare, and 
then, though there were about four hundred con 
nected with it, he would pray for each one of 
them by name. Before his evening prayers, he 
would ask himself, Which hath shown me any 
kindness ? And he would supplicate heavenly bless 
ings on each one that had obliged him. He did 
not limit his prayer to his friends, but endeavored 


to keep his mind in a proper state toward his 
enemies ; but in this endeavor he appears to have 
been less successful, if the style of his controversy 
truly represents his feelings. 

He was certainly solicitous to be useful, and 
spared neither labor nor expense in promoting the 
spiritual good of his people. What subsistence 
was allowed him by his people does not appear. 
His father suffered much from poverty at times, 
which might have been owing to his accepting the 
agency abroad ; a trust in which the agent was 
thought sufficiently recompensed by its honors. 
Cotton Mather was constantly employed in dis 
tributing religious books among his people. We 
are assured by good authority, that he sometimes 
gave away more than a thousand a year, and this 
at a time when such works were more ponderous 
than they are now, and the cheap inventions of 
modern times were entirely unknown. 

The disposition to derive improvement from all 
circumstances, for himself and others, attended 
him through life ; and though it was always sin 
cere, it did not always manifest itself in the most 
judicious and edifying manner. He determined 
early in life to let no suggestion pass by him, and 
many , which most men would never have thought 
of turning to purposes of instruction, were wel 
comed as excitements of devotion in his soul. 

When the common business of the household 


was going on, he was led into spiritual raedita 
ticns. If they happened to be brewing, he would 
say, " Lord, let us find in a glorious Christ a pro 
vision for our thirsty souls ; " when baking, " Lord, 
let a glorious Christ be the bread of life unto us ; " 
arid on the washing-day, which is not apt to bring 
the mind into a devotional frame, he would say, 
" O, wash us thoroughly from sin ! O, take away 
our filthy garments from us." These ejaculations 
were provided and used on all such occasions. 

So in all his personal actions. Late in his life 
he writes in his Diary : " The snuffing of my can 
dle is a frequent action with me. I have provided 
a great number of pertinent wishes and thoughts 
and prayers and praises, to be formed upon the 
occurrences in my life, which afford occasions for 
them." It must have been by an oversight that this 
action was so long omitted. For all his mature 
life he had been accustomed, when he wound up 
his watch, to bless God for another day, and pray 
that it might be spent to his glory. When he 
heard a clock strike, he would pray that he might 
so number his days, as to apply his heart unto 
wisdom. When he knocked at a door, he used 
it as an occasion for reviving the memory of the 
promise, " Knock, and it shall be opened unto 
you." When he mended his fire, it was with a 
prayer that his love and zeal might be kindled 
into a flarae. When he put out his candle on 


retiring to rest at night, it was with an address 
to the Father of lights, that his light might not go 
out in darkness. When he paid a debt, he reflect 
ed, that he should owe no man any thing but love. 

He bore upon his mind a great number of 
ejaculatory prayers, prepared for the occasions 
when they were to be used. As a specimen, 
those which were sometimes used at table may be 
given. Looking on the gentlewoman that carved 
for the guests, he said to himself, " Lord, carve a 
rich portion of thy graces and comforts to that 
person." Looking on a gentlewoman stricken in 
years, " Lord, adorn that person with the virtues 
which thou prescribest for aged women." For 
one lately married, "Lord, marry and espouse 
that person to thyself in a covenant never to be 
forgotten." For a gentlewoman very beautiful, 
" Lord, give that person an humble mind, and let 
her be most concerned for those ornaments that 
are of great price in thy sight." 

So when he walked the streets, he implored 
secret blessings upon those, who passed by him. 
At the sight of a tall man, he said, " Lord, give 
that man high attainments in Christianity." For 
a lame man, "Lord, help that man to walk up 
rightly." For a negro, "Lord, wash that poor 
soul; make him white by the washing of thy 
spirit." For a very little man, "Lord, bestow 
great blessings on that man." For young gentle- 
xi. 3 


women, " Lord, make them wise virgins, and as 
polished stones in thy temple." For a man going 
by without observing him, " Lord, I pray thee, 
help that man to take a due notice of Christ." 
For a very old man, " Lord, make him an old 
disciple." For a wicked man, " Lord, rescue 
that poor man, who, it is to be feared, is possessed 
by Satan, who leads him captive." 

When he had a family, he taught his children, 
in like manner to use the incidents of life as so 
many suggestions from on high. Some years 
after this he writes ; " Two of my children have 
oeen newly scorched with gunpowder, wherein, 
though they have received a merciful deliverance, 
yet they undergo a smart that is considerable. I 
must improve this occasion to inculcate lessons of 
piety upon them ; especially with relation to theii 
danger of everlasting burnings." 



Marriage of Cotton Mather. Character of his 
Son, Samuel Mather. Mode of instructing 
and governing his Children. Sir Edmund 
Andros. Increase Mather. Sir William 
Phips. Cotton Mather s Agency in promot 
ing the Delusions of Witchcraft. 

IN his twenty-fourth year, Cotton Mather 
thought it advisable to marry ; not being moved 
to that step by a partiality for any particular per 
son, but by more general considerations relating 
to his usefulness in life. " He first looked up to 
Heaven for direction, and then asked counsel of 
his friends." Having thus commenced where 
most men end, he looked around for some suitable 
person on whom to fix his affections. The person, 
whom he selected to be the object of this passion 
ate attachment, was the daughter of Colonel 
Phillips of Charlesiown, and to her he was mar 
ried shortly after. It is recorded of her by Samuel 
Mather, with somewhat faint praise, that " shs 
was a comely, ingenious woman, and an agreea 
ble consort ; " but he might have enlarged upon 
her merits without seeming too partial. Her 
husband evidently had reason to bless the hour 


in which he formed the connexion. By this 
lady he had nine children, of which but one sur 
vived him. 

Samuel Mather, who afterwards officiated as 
his biographer, was one of two children by a 
second wife. He was a man very sparingly ea 
dowed with talent, but with something of his 
father s taste for a certain kind of learning. As 
for the monument, which he erected to his father s 
memory, no one can read it without lamenting 
that he had not left that pious office to other 
hands. It is a proof of his filial reverence and 
affection, but it does him no honor in any othei 
point of view. It is chiefly remarkable for its 
resolute silence in regard to all those peculiarities 
of habit, character, feeling, and domestic life, 
which his relation to the subject of the memoir 
gave him the best opportunity to know. He 
seems to have admired nothing in his father, not 
even his industry, energy, and various learning, 
so much as the fasts, vigils, and other forms which 
he so religiously observed. As a specimen of the 
work, it may be mentioned, that the whole history 
of witchcraft is despatched in a couple of pages ; 
and, as if to show that this was not an intentional 
silence to save his father s memory, he gives the 
history of inoculation, by far the most honorable 
passage in his father s life, in somewhat less than 
lix lines. Those, who are interested to know 


something of Cotton Mather, consult the book 
with a perpetual feeling of disappointment, and 
unfeigned sorrow that he had not left it to some 
other writer. In the business of educating his 
children, Cotton Mather was far more judicious 
than could have been expected from a man of his 
peculiar temperament, and certainly deserves great 
credit for acting on a system, which was entirely 
opposed to the prevailing theory and practice. His 
son, who had the best opportunities of knowing, 
says that he was zealous against " the slavish way 
of education carried on with raving, kicking, and 
scourging ; he looked upon it as a dreadful judg 
ment of God upon the world." 

He believed that children were alive to prin 
ciples of reason and honor at a much earlier 
period of life than is generally supposed. He 
endeavored, first of all, to convince them of his 
own affection, and in that way, to lead them to 
the belief that to follow his judgment was the best 
way to secure their own good. He impressed 
upon them, that it was shameful to do wrong ; and, 
when one of his children had offended , his first 
punishment was, to express his astonishment that 
the child could do any thing so unworthy. Re 
moval from his presence was his ordinary punish 
ment, and it was only in extreme and peculiar 
cases that he ever inflicted a blow. He rewarded 
obedience by teaching them some curious piece 


of knowledge, which he had always at command ; 
and thus, beside giving the immediate recompense 
of good conduct, he conveyed the impression, that 
to gain instruction was not a hardship, but a 
privilege and reward. His earliest attempt at 
intellectual education consisted in entertaining his 
children with stories, generally selected from the 
Scriptures. He hardly ever rose from table with 
out some such effort to excite reflection in young 
minds. He also sought opportunities to teach 
moral lessons, showing them the duty of being 
kind to each other, and warmly applauding them 
when they had obeyed the law of love. He 
taught them to write at an earlier age, and in a 
less formal way, than is usual, and thus enabled 
them to record for themselves many things, which 
it was important for them to remember. If they 
deserved censure, he would forbid their reading 
and writing ; a prohibition which was strongly as 
sociated in their minds with degradation. All 
this was well-judged ; and it is very doubtful if 
such cases were often to be found in those days, 
when parental discipline was generally conducted 
more in the spirit of fear than love. 

Though he was deeply interested in having his 
children governed by principles of reason and 
honor, he did not rely on those impulses alone. 
He led their minds as early as possible to religious 
thoughts and contemplations ; giving them views 


of religion, which were as solemn as possible, but 
taking care to make them sensible of the goodness 
of God. He often told them of the good angels, 
whose office it was to protect them, and who ought 
never to be offended by misconduct or neglect. 
" He would not say much to them about the evil 
angels, because he would not have them enter 
tain any frightful fancies about the apparitions of 
devils ; but yet he would briefly let them know 
that there are devils, who tempt them to wicked 
ness, who are glad when they do wickedly, and 
who may get leave of God to kill them for it." 
But his chief aim was to give them a spirit of 
prayer, and to lead them to make known their 
wants and cares to his father and their father, to 
his God and their God. 

The troubles in which New England was involv 
ed with the mother country began the year after 
Cotton Mather s ordination. At the close of 1686 
Sir Edmund Andros made his appearance with c. 
commission as governor, and from the beginning 
showed a determination to push his authority quite 
as far as it would go. A sentiment, too, had been 
expressed by Dudley, the president of the Council, 
which tended to alarm the free spirit of New Eng- 
tand. He said, that the colonists must not think, 
that they could carry the privileges of Englishmen 
with them to the ends of the world. There was 
a deep and growing excitement it was plain that 


usurpation must at length be resisted ; but no one 
could tell where or in what form the explosion 
was most likely to come. 

The clergy had, from the peculiar construction 
of the state, been allowed a great ascendency in 
public affairs, and had been consulted on all great 
occasions. When Charles the Second, in 1683, 
demanded an unconditional surrender of the charter 
of Massachusetts, Increase Mather, at the request 
of the authorities, appeared in a meeting of citi 
zens, who were met to deliberate concerning 
a compliance with that demand. He exhort 
ed them to resist it by all the means in their 
power ; not to rush into ruin with their eyes open, 
but to resolve, that if they must be undone, it 
should be by the tyranny of others, and not their 
own folly. This spirited advice prevailed. " The 
clergy," says Hutchinson, " turned the scale for 
the last time ; " probably there never was a time 
when their influence was exerted more to their 
own honor or the advantage of their country. It 
was one of those acts and counsels, from which op 
pression should have taken warning. 

When Andros first came to New England, he 
concealed his true character ; and, though the char 
ter was forfeited, there was no very general senti 
ment against him. But he soon began to show a 
disposition to encroach upon the rights of the peo 
ple, in some instances, for purposes of extortion, in 


others, simply to make them feel his power. One 
of his first proceedings was, to restrain the liberty 
of the press, and Randolph, who was universally 
detested, was appointed licenser of publications. 
An alteration also was made in the regulations re 
specting marriage, by which the parties were 
obliged to enter into bonds with sureties, to the 
governor, to be forfeited in case that any impedi 
ment should afterwards appear. 

The Congregational clergy were regarded as 
mere laymen ; and by this exaction, it was con 
templated to provide for the support of the Epis 
copal ministers, who were to be introduced. At 
this time there was no Episcopal church in Massa 
chusetts, and hardly a society ; but the people were 
threatened with having their meeting-houses taken 
from them, and worship in the congregational forms 
suppressed by law. After a time these apprehen 
sions were quieted for a moment by James s decla 
ration in favor of toleration ; but, when they saw 
cause to suspect that this was preparing the way 
for the Roman Catholic religion, the alarm was 
greater than ever. 

Besides these greater causes of uneasiness, there 
was a general irritation occasioned by exorbitant 
fees, and other similar exactions. The governor, 
with a few of his creatures in the Council, laid what 
ever taxes they thought proper ; and, as if these 
sources of revenue were not sufficient, they main 
tained that all titles to land were invalidated by the 


loss of the charter, and required holders of estates 
to take out a patent from them, for whatever 
consideration they thought proper to demand. 

On account of Increase Mather s agency in pre 
venting the surrender of the charter, and the great 
influence which he possessed, which it was well 
known would be exerted to prevent a tame sub 
mission to wrongs, Randolph, who was the most 
active of the cabal that surrounded the governor, 
attempted to ruin Dr. Mather with the govern 
ment, thinking it impossible to bring him into sus 
picion with the people. Randolph professed to 
have intercepted a letter from Dr. Mather to a 
person in Amsterdam, containing many passages 
likely to exasperate men in power, and showed it 
to Sir Lionel Jenkins, secretary of state. He 
treated it with perfect contempt, so that the strata 
gem was defeated. When Dr. Mather heard of 
the attempt, he immediately declared, that the 
letter was a forgery, executed either by Randolph 
or his brother. Randolph brought an action for 
defamation against the Doctor, in which he did not 
succeed ; but, some time after, by some perversion 
of justice, the same action being brought again, 
Dr. Mather kept concealed to avoid the service of 
the writ, knowing that, in those days, right would 
avail but little in a contest with power. 

Some of the chief men of the colony, governed 
oy a feeling of loyalty, hoped that their grievances 


wera jnauthorized by the King, and that redress 
might be obtained by a direct appeal to the throne. 
Dr. Mather was selected as their agent, and as the 
service of Randolph s writ would have prevented 
the expedition, he was taken on board the ship at 
night, and in disguise, by some members of his 
society. During all these proceedings, Cotton 
Mather was associated in interest and feeling with 
his father, and some passages in his Diary show 
how deeply he laid these things to heart. On one 
occasion, he says, that he rose at night, and threw 
himself upon the floor of his study, in tears, pray 
ing for his country, and that he was assured of the 
happy result of all these troubles by a sign from 

Dr. Mather sailed for England in April, 1688. 
In April of the succeeding year, the report of the 
landing of the Prince of Orange reached this 
country, and shortly after came a copy of his Pro 
clamation, which was brought from Virginia by a 
gentleman, who was imprisoned for the crime. 
Nothing was, or could be known of William s 
success ; and doubtless the prudent course would 
have been to wait till the event was known, since, 
if he succeeded, there would be no need of revo- 
lutiDn in New England, and, if he failed, all con 
cerned in such a revolution must have suffered for 
treason. But by one of those sudden and unac 
countable impulses, which are sometimes given to 


the public mind, the people rose, seized and im 
prisoned the governor and some of his associates, 
and recalled the old magistrates to authority till 
something could be learned from England. The 
people came in from the country in great numbers, 
and insisted upon it, that the governor should be 
put in irons. To satisfy them, he wa? confined in 
the fort, where he received a communication from 
the magistrates, informing him that his authority 
was at an end in New England. 

The services of Cotton Mather were called for on 
this occasion. A long declaration was read from 
the gallery of the town-house, which was prepar 
ed by him, as was generally supposed, with very 
little warning. Hutchinson says, "There would 
be room to doubt whether this declaration was not 
a work of time, and prepared beforehand, if it 
did not appear, from the style and language, to 
have been the work of one of the ministers in 
Boston, who had a remarkable talent for quick 
and sudden composures." The circumstance, that 
his services should have been called for, shows 
that he was familiar with the political affairs and 
questions of the day. 

From the account given by Samuel Mather of 
his father s agency in the revolution, one would 
suppose that the movement against Andros and 
his crew, as he calls them, was not wholly unex 
pected. He says, that while those " roaring lions 


and ravaging bears were in the midst of theii 
ravages," which, by a slight confusion of meta 
phor; he makes to consist in their " fleecing " the 
people, (a phrase which does not very accurately 
describe the operations of those animals against 
the flock,) a strange disposition entered into the 
body of the people to assert their liberties. The 
phrase, strange revolution, implies his own, and 
probably his father s opinion, that it was not called 
for ; and he actually says, that the more sensible 
gentlemen in Boston feared lest a public excite 
ment of the kind should be produced by some 
soldiers, who, having refused to take part in the 
eastern war, and having thereby incurred the 
governor s displeasure, would, for the sake of 
securing themselves, engage the country in a 
revolution, that would destroy the chief magis 
trate s power. 

These gentlemen consulted with Mr. Mather, 
and agreed, if possible, to extinguish by their per 
sonal influence and exertions, all fires, that others 
might attempt to kindle ; but that, if they found 
the country people, who were more excited than 
others, should push the matter so far as to render 
a revolution unavoidable, they would put them 
selves at the head of the movement and direct 
It. A declaration was accordingly prepared, to 
be used, in case of necessity, doubtless the one 
which was afterwards employed. It was not, then, 


as Hutchinson supposed, a quick and sudden com 
posure ; Samuel Mather had ample information on 
the subject ; and, had it been possible for him to 
claim for his father the honor of preparing such 
a paper on the spur of the occasion, he would 
have seized the opportunity to mention it to his 

The same authority assures us, that when the 
community suddenly rose on the 18th of April, 
those gentlemen, who had anticipated that result, 
found it necessary to appear, as they had pro 
posed in case of emergency, to direct the blind 
fury of the people. Then, he says, Mr. Mather 
appeared, like Nestor or Ulysses, and, by his wise 
and powerful appeals, withheld the people from 
those excesses, into which they were ready to 
run. This, he thinks, saved the fallen oppressors 
from a tragical fate ; for, had a single syllable been 
said by any man of influence in favor of avenging 
the public wrongs on those who had inflicted 
them, they would have been put to death without 
mercy or delay. 

He also mentions that this change w T as season 
able, to prevent his father from suffering undei 
their persecution ; for, on the very day that he 
was to have been committed to prison, those who 
were to have done him that injury were actually 
imprisoned themselves. There is no other infor 
mation given on the subject of this proposed 


arrest ; but there is no reason to doubt it ; for, 
while there was no ground for a legal charge 
against him, the governor probably had informa 
tion of his movements, and covM easily have found 
a pretext for giving the name cf justice to personal 
revenge. He was desired to attend a meeting 
of the inhabitants of Boston, previous to the revo 
lution, when he addressed the people with great 
effect, dissuading them from violence, which would 
be injurious to their cause, and thus succeeded in 
restraining their passions. This, to be sure, was 
a favor to the government ; but men of that de 
scription always resent a favor of that kind, as 
much as an insult or wrong. 

Dr. Mather, at this change, which seemed so 
favorable for Massachusetts, made efforts, which 
were seconded by several men of influence in 
England, to obtain the restoration of the charter, 
and at one time seemed to come very near 
succeeding. He had engaged the interest of the 
Dissenting ministers, who, at that time, formed a 
powerful body, and several members of Parliament 
also took a strong interest in his mission. But the 
King was strongly prejudiced against the former 
charter, and was determined to retain the appoint 
ment of governor in his own t hands. A bill was 
introduced into the House of Commons and 
passed, providing for the restoration of the char 
ters ; but the King suddenly prorogued the Par 


liament for the purpose of going to Ireland, and 
the opportunity was lost, if ever it had really ex 
isted. Andros, instead of being punished for his 
tyranny, obtained from the King the government 
of Virginia, where he spent the remainder of his 

Dr. Mather, believing the restoration of the old 
charter to be entirely out of the question, aban 
doned all hope of succeeding, and thought it best 
to secure as favorable terms as possible without 
insisting on this. But two other agents, who were 
sent out from Massachusetts, declared that their 
authority only extended to the solicitation of the 
old charter, without permitting them to accept a 
new one. A new one, however, was prepared, 
which Dr. Mather thought it advisable to accept, 
as the best which could be had, though it de 
prived the colony of some of the privileges, which 
it had claimed and enjoyed before. As the other 
agents were of a different opinion, the business 
was managed with him alone ; and, as an act of 
grace to him, the appointment of all those officers, 
which the new charter reserved to the crown, was 
given to Dr. Mather; a compliment which was 
rather unfortunate, since it gave the impression, 
that he had acted the part of a courtier rather 
than of a friend to his country. 

These suspicions were certainly unjust ; for he 
had spent considerable sums of bis o T * r n property 


for his support while ab. oad, for which he never 
received full payment ; and, from his well-known 
character, it is manifest tnat his error, if it was one, 
was an error of judgment and not cf intention. 
But the General Court, who might be supposed 
good judges of what was wanted, approved his 
conduct, and appointed a day of thanksgiving in 
consequence of his return, and the successful re 
suit of his labors. His son might have seen 
enough in his father s history to give him a dis 
taste for those public cares, in which he had a 
strong passion for engaging ; for his father, through 
all his remaining days, was troubled with the feel 
ing that he was suspected, distrusted, and abused 
by those, whom he had done his best to serve. 
If the charter was, as the General Court declared 
in the proclamation for thanksgiving, a "settlement 
of government, in which their Majesties graciously 
gave distinguishing marks of their royal favor and 
goodness," there seemed to be no reason why his 
accepting such favors should be censured as inju 
rious to his country. 

Perhaps the selection, which he made, of a 
person to hold the office of governor, was one of 
the chief reasons of this suspicion. Sir William 
Phips, a person adventurous and energetic by 
nature, but singularly destitute of the ability and 
discretion, which were needed in that high trust ? 
was the man whom he recommended ; and in this 

xi. 4 


choice he was influenced by Cotton Mathei who 
probably thought it not the least of Phips s merits, 
that he was willing to receive advice from wiser 
men. He had made himself known by his persever 
ing efforts to discover the rich wreck of a Spanish 
vessel near the Bahamas, in which he succeeded, 
gaining considerable property from the vessel, and 
the honor of knighthood from the crown. His 
principal merit in the eye of the country was, that 
he did not coincide with Andros in his oppression, 
and that he rejected the government when it was 
offered him by King James. 

Sir William Phips did not long retain the office 
in which the partiality of his friends, the Mathers, 
had placed him. Though kind and generous in 
his disposition, he was fiery and indiscreet. He 
first brought himself into discredit by a dispute 
with the collector of the customs, whose authori 
ty was not universally admitted. The people 
thought it enough to enter and clear at the naval 
office, and the governor, himself being the naval 
officer, favored the popular impression ; but, the 
collector asserting his right and seizing a vessel, 
the governor resented it so warmly, as to inflict 
personal violence upon him. He had a similar 
misunderstanding with the captain of a British 
frigate. Having required him, as he had a right, 
to detach some of the hands on a particular ser 
vice, the captain refused ; upon which the governor 


beat him in the street, and then committed him 
to prison. He was ordered to England to answer 
r or this proceeding ; but, while he was engaged 
in securing his authority and answering the com 
plains offered against him, he was seized witn an 
illness of which he died. 

It is in connexion with the proceedings on the 
subject of witchcraft, that Cotton Mather is most 
generally and least favorably known. But prom 
inent as his name appears, in all this affair, from 
its beginning to its close, it is not easy to under 
stand the precise extent of his responsibility. He 
fully believed in this kind of supernatural agency, 
as was common in that day ; the wise and foolish 
stood on the same ground ; though many were 
skeptical as to particular cases of that agency, 
there was none who seemed wholly to deny it? 
existence. The circumstance of his giving credit 
to tales of this kind, would not form any just re 
proach upon the name of Mather, since no amount 
of learning and talent could then exempt any man 
from superstition. 

But there is reason to believe, that he went 
farther than this ; and that he led the men of his 
day farther than they would have gone, had it 
not been for him. How far his credulity will 
justify his attempting to excite the public mind 
upon the subject, must be left for the moralist to 
say. He was not probably aware what a fierce 


spirit he was raising ; and when it was raised, he 
was at once swept away with its fury ; so that, 
though we cannot hold him guiltless, his responsi 
bility is less than if he had not been so thoroughly 
steeped in the delusion. No one, who reads the 
history of the time, can doubt his agency in creat 
ing the general excitement ; and a question arises, 
What could have been his object in making those 
ill-omened exertions ? Was it his natural restless 
ness, which compelled him to interest himself in 
all that was passing ? Or was it to gratify his 
ravenous appetite for wonders ? Or was it a move 
ment, by which he hoped to restore to the clergy 
the influence, which they once held in public af 
fairs, but which the change of circumstances and 
public sentiment was fast wresting from their hands ? 
The latter supposition would imply a degree of art 
and hypocrisy, which does not appear to have been 
in his nature. He was more adroit in imposing 
on himself than on others. At the same time, 
various impulses, of some of which he was not 
conscious, may have combined to make him ex 
cite in the public mind that superstitious fear, the 
most savage of all passions, which, when once ex 
cited, could not be satisfied without blood. 

If he had followed the example of some other 
good men, who, after the frenzy was over, lament 
ed and publicly acknowledged the blind fanaticism 
under which they had acted, he would have been 


more generally forgiven. But it does not appear 
that his eyes were ever opened. To the day of his 
death, he seems to have retained his full conviction 
that all was preternatural ; and indeed that the 
loss Df innocent lives, so far from being the result 
of delusion, was the effect of diabolical agency 
exerted with unusual art and power. The public 
accused him as the chief author of the excitement ; 
but while he was very desirous to throw off the 
odium, which rested upon him, by showing that 
he himself had always preached caution and for 
bearance, it is clear that no uneasiness from within, 
no self-upbraiding for the part he had acted, evr 
disturbed his repose. 

After the executions in Salem, he admits that 
there has been " a mistake " ; not in believing in 
the witchcraft, nor, so far as can be discovered, 
in the selection of victims ; the mistake appeared 
in the character of those, against whom charges 
were at last made ; for the accusers, becoming 
satiated with humble sacrifices, at length brought 
their accusations against those in high places, 
whereupon it was discovered that they were going 
too far. He seems to lament this chiefly because 
it gives advantage to the accuser of the brethren. 

In 1685, the year in which he was ordained, 
he published a work called Memorable Providen 
ces relating to Witchcraft. This was several 
years before the Salem tragedy ; and he remarks 


that this work of his was used as authority on that 
occasion, at the same time greatly commending 
the wisdom of the magistrates, for submitting 
themselves to the counsel of learned writers. 
Cases of witchcraft at distant intervals had oc 
curred in some parts of the country. One victim 
had been hanged in Charlestown half a century 
before. One was executed at Hartford in 1662 ; 
and in 1671 there was a case at Groton, which 
was attended with circumstances, which, one would 
have thought, might have opened the most super 
stitious eyes. 

One Elizabeth Knapp, moved probably by spite 
against a neighbor, went through the ordinary 
evolutions, and was pronounced bewitched ; but 
the person accused, instead of resenting it, went 
directly to the accuser, who endeavored to pre 
vent her approach by counterfeited convulsions, 
prayed by her bedside, and so wrought upon her 
conscience, that she dared not persevere in her 
vile purpose ; she came to herself, confessing that 
she had been moved by Satan to bring a false and 
malicious charge. Had others, in similar circum 
stances, possessed the good sense and religious 
temper of this person, the probability is, that all 
would have been saved from destruction ; but, as 
the charge was generally fixed on those, who 
were disliked for their ill temper, and they were 
exasperated to madness by the accusation, there 


was no such appeal made to the conscience and 
the fears of the accuser. 

Another case, which indeed seems almost the 
only one beside, was attended with self-explaining 
circumstances. The other instances do not be 
long to the department of witchcraft, but to that 
of haunted houses, such as are not unknown at 
the present day, when some inmate of a family, 
in sport or wantonness, undertakes to practise on 
the fears of the rest. 

The case alluded to was that of one Smith of 
Hadley, a worthy and exemplary man, who had 
been severely threatened by a pauper, whom he 
had offended in the discharge of some official duty. 
He fell into a painful decline ; and, says Mather, 
while he was yet of a sound mind, he assured 
his brother that strange things should be seen in 
Hadley ; that he should not be dead when he 
seemed to be so, and at the same time expressed 
his suspicion, that the woman in question had 
made him the subject of her revenge. He then 
" became delirious and uttered a speech incessant 
and voluble, and, as it was judged, in various lan 
guages. He cried out, not only of pains, but ol 
pins tormenting him in various parts of his body ; 
and the attendants found one of them." This 
seemed to Cotton Mather a clear case of witchcraft, 
and he recorded it with sufficient minuteness. Hap 
pily the people of Hadley saw the matter in its 


true light; and though some young men under 
took to persecute the woman, they soon desisted, 
and she was saved from a death, which was inflic 
ted on many when the evidence was equally strong 
in favor of the accused. 

It was not long before he enjoyed the great fe 
licity of having a case of witchcraft directly under 
his eye. In 1688, the family of John Goodwin, 
in Boston, was afflicted with preternatural visita 
tions. The eldest daughter, about thirteen years 
of age, had some quarrel with a laundress, an 
Irishwoman, and, shortly after, the girl and her 
sisters were tormented by strange affections of the 
body, which, to any one at all suspicious, would 
have carried their own explanation with them, but 
were pronounced diabolical by the superstitious 
physicians who happened to be consulted. The 
ministers of Boston and Charlestown held a day of 
fasting and prayer ; and the youngest of the chil 
dren, afraid to persevere, and at the same time 
afraid to confess, was delivered from its tormentors. 
But the magistrates took up the affair, and, having 
examined the person on whom suspicions rested, 
committed her to prison. 

Her conduct, when brought to trial, so clearly 
Indicated mental derangement, that the court could 
not with decency proceed without appointing 
several physicians " to examine her very strictly 
whether she was no way crazed in her intellectuals." 


They do not appear to have been acquainted with 
the fact, that a person may be deranged on one 
subject, and yet sane on all others. They con 
versed with her a good deal, and, finding that she 
gave connected replies, agreed that she was in full 
possession of her mind. She was then found 
guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to die. 

Cotton Mather was now in his element. He 
paid many visits to this poor old lunatic after her 
condemnation, and received vast entertainment 
from her communications. She described her in 
terviews with the Prince of darkness, and her at 
tendance upon his meetings, with a clearness that 
seems to have filled him with perfect delight. 

After her execution, the children, not inclined to 
abandon their successful stratagem, complained of 
suffering as much as before. Some instances of 
their prudence are amusing. He says, " they 
were often near drowning or burning themselves, 
and they often strangled themselves with their 
neckcloths ; but the providence of God still order 
ed the seasonable succors of them that looked after 
them." On the least reproof of their parents, 
" they would roar excessively " ; it usually took 
abundance of time to dress or undress them, through 
the strange postures into which they would be 
twisted on purpose to hinder it." " If they were 
bidden to do a needless thing, such as to rub a 
clean table, they were able to do it unmolested ; 


but if to do a useful thing, as to rub a dirty table, 
they would presently, with many torment?, be 
made uncapable." Truly, if such are the evi 
dences that children are bewitched, there is reason 
to doubt whether preternatural visitations have yet 
ceased from the land. 

Such a choice opportunity, as this family afforded, 
for inquiry into the physiology of witchcraft, was 
by no means to be lost. In order to inspect the 
specimen more at leisure, he had the eldest daugh 
ter brought to his own house ; he wished " to 
confute the Sadducism of that debauched age," 
and the girl took care that the materials should not 
be wanting. 

Her conduct during her residence there is well 
worth noting, as it is recorded by his own hand. 
When he prayed in the room, her hands were by 
a strong, but not even force, clapped upon her 
ears ; and, when the bystanders withdrew them, she 
would declare that she could not hear a word that 
he said. She complained that Glover s (the name 
of the person that was executed) chain was on 
her leg, and thereupon walked with the constrained 
gait of one who was bound. An invisible chain 
would be thrown upon her, while she cried out 
with pain and fear. Sometimes he could knock it 
off, or rather prevent its being fastened ; but often 
she would be pulled by it out of her chair towards 
the fire, so that they were obliged to bold her 


She seemed to take great pleasure in entertaining 
him in this way, perhaps out of gratitude that he 
never intimated any suspicion. 

The manner in which she played with his re 
ligious prejudices shows considerable art. A 
Quaker s book, which was then one of the greatest 
of abominations, was brought to her, and she read 
whole pages in it, with the exception of the names 
of the Deity and the Savior, which she was not 
able to speak. Such books as she might have read 
with profit, she was not permitted to open ; or, if 
she was urged to read in her Bible or Catechism, 
she was immediately taken with contortions. On 
the contrary, she could read in a jest-book without 
the least difficulty, and actually seemed to enjoy it. 
Popish books she was permitted to read at pleas 
ure, but a work against the Catholics, she might 
not touch. 

One gleam of suspicion seemed to shoot over 
his mind on one occasion ; for he says, " I, con 
sidering there might be a snare in it, put a stop to 
this fanciful business. Only I could not but be 
amazed at one thing; a certain prayer-book, [the 
Episcopal, doubtless,] being brought her, she not 
only could read it very well, but also did read a 
large part of it over, calling it her Bible, and put 
ting more than ordinary respect upon it. If sne 
were going into her tortures, at the tender of this 
book, she would r ecover herself to read it. Only 


when she came to the Lord s prayer, now and then 
occurring in that book, she would have her eyes 
put out ; so that she must turn over a new leaf, 
and then she could read again. Whereas also 
there are scriptures in that book, she could read 
them there ; but if any showed her the same scrip 
tures in the Bible itself, she should sooner die than 
read them. And she was likewise made unable to 
read the Psalms in an ancient metre, which this 
prayer-book had in the same volume with it." 

It was not very surprising, that she should after 
a time lose her veneration for him. Accordingly, 
he remarks, that, though her carriage had been 
dutiful, " it was afterwards with a sauciness, which 
I was not used to be treated withal." She would 
knock at his study door, telling him that some one 
below would be glad to see him ; when he had 
taken the trouble to go down, and scolded her for 
the falsehood, she would say, " Mrs. Mather is 
always glad to see you." " She would call out 
to him with numberless impertinencies." Having 
determined to give a public account of her 
case, in a sermon to his congregation, she was 
troubled at it, thinking it not unlikely that sharper 
eyes than his might be turned upon her. She 
made many attempts to prevent it by threatening 
him with the vengeance of the spirits, till he was 
almost out of patience, and exorcized them in 
Latin. Greek, and Hebrew. All these were per- 


fectly intelligible to them ; " but the Indian Ian 
guages they did not seem so well to understand." 

One part of the system of this artful young 
creature was to persuade him, that he was under 
the special protection of Heaven, so that spells 
could have LO power over him. When he went to 
prayer, " the demons would throw her on the 
floor, where she would whistle, and sing, and yell, 
to drown the voice of prayer ; and she would fetch 
blows with her fist and kicks with her foot at the 
man that prayed. But still her fist and foot would 
recoil, when within an inch or two of him, as if 
rebounding against a wall." This powerful appeal 
to his vanity was not lost upon him. It made him 
more solicitous than ever to patronize the delu 
sion. * 

This account of his personal intercourse with the 
demoniacs is given at length, because it illustrates 
his character, and the heartiness with which he 
entered into the snare. It also affords the only 
apology which can be made for his attempts to 
spread the excitement, by showing that he was 

* In the archives of the Massachusetts Historical So 
ciety, among the manuscripts of Cotton Mather, there is r 
paper, on which is endorsed the following curious record 
in his hand-writing. "November 29#i, 1692. While I was 
preaching at a private fast, (kept for a possessed you^or 
woman,) on Mark ix. 28,29, the Devil in the damsel flew 
upon me, and tore the leaf, as it is now torn, over against 
the text" 


himself completely deluded. No man, with an) 
artful design, would have exhibited himself in 
so grotesque a light. I jet it be remembered, too, 
that the above particulars were reprinted in Lon 
don, with a preface by Richard Baxter, in which 
he says, " This great instance comes with such 
convincing evidence, that he must be a very ob 
durate Sadducee, that will not believe it." 

It is not difficult to conceive what the fascina 
tion of such narratives must have been, when they 
came from the pen of a learned divine, who was 
supposed to have devoted particular attention to 
the subject. They were dressed in such forms, as 
to excite the appetite of superstition, and from our 
knowledge of human nature we are safe in belie v 
ing, that the Wonders of the Invisible World was 
popular, both with old and young, in every part of 
the country. There is no account of any other 
person, who displayed the same taste or attempted 
to operate on others ; while it is certain, that he 
exerted himself diligently for the purpose ; mak 
ing no secret of his persuasion, that such an excite 
ment might be made an engine for restoring the 
fallen authority of religion, and as a preliminary, 
replacing that power in the hands of the clergy, 
which they lost when the circumstances of the 
country and the feelings of the people were altered. 

In 1692, the seed, which he had sown, began 
to bear fruit. Some young girls in the family of 


Mr. Parris, minister of Salem village, now a part 
of Danvers, began to go through such evolutions 
as they had seen described in cases of witchcraft. 
Physicians were consulted, and one of them in aij 
evil hour gave it as his opinion that supernatural 
agency was concerned. Cotton Mather himself 
says, " They were in all things afflicted as bad as 
John Goodwin s children at Boston," and gives 
this as a reason for not enlarging upon their suffer 
ings. So that the movements of the young con 
spirators on this occasion seem to have been 
regulated by their pattern, excepting that thev 
were carried a little farther. 

The circumstances were made important at once, 
by appointing a day of fasting and prayer. The 
girls accused an old Indian woman, who lived in 
Mr. Parris s family, as the person who bewitched 
them ; and she, worn out by fear, exhaustion, and, 
as it is intimated, by severe treatment, confessed ab 
that was expected and required. This encouraged 
the girls to persevere, if they can be supposed to 
have acted with deliberation, when the probable 
explanation of their conduct is, that they were be 
wildered and swept away with the frenzy, which 
they had themselves excited. 

The agency of Cotton Mather soon appeared in 
this transaction. The magistrates applied to the 
Boston clergy for advice ; which they gave in such 
a manner, as to encourage the excesses already 


committed, and to lead on to more. They recom 
mended caution in respect to evidence, but at the 
same time advised that the proceedings should be 
vigorously carried on. 

The result of these deliberations was drawn up by 
Cotton Mather, who often mentioned it afterwards 
in terms of high praise. That there may be no 
doubt as to the authorship, he says that it was 
drawn up by Mr. Mather the younger. There 
were many formal expressions in it, in which pru 
dence was recommended ; but the spirit and cer 
tain effect of it were to sanction what had been 
done, and to encourage farther investigations. 

He was not sustained by all the clergy. Mr. 
Brattle, in his letter on the subject, published in 
the Collections of the Historical Society, says, that 
" Increase Mather did utterly condemn " the pro 
ceedings of that period. Samuel Willard also, a 
venerable man, would never sanction the measure, 
though three of the judges were members of his 
church. This bears hard on Cotton Mather ; fc~ 
his father and Dr. Willard undoubtedly believed in 
the reality of witchcraft, as well as he ; and this 
shows, that to believe in supernatural agency was 
one thing, and to turn the engines of persecution 
on those, who were accused of that crime, \ve.s 

There is no need here of tracing the history of 
the events, that took place in Salem, any farther 


than Cotton Mather is directly concerned; and it 
must be acknowledged, that he made himself very 
prominent in all the proceedings. He greatly com 
mends the impartiality and forbearance of the 
judges, who borrowed light from his books among 
their other sources. What sort of counsel they 
were likely to get from this quarter, appears from 
a passage extracted by Mr. Upham from one of 
his sermons. "When we are in our church as 
semblies, how many devils do you imagine crowd 
in among us? There is a devil that rocks one to 
sleep. There is a devil that makes another to be 
thinking of, he scarcely knows what himself. And 
there is a devil that makes another to be pleased 
with wild and wicked speculations. It is also pos 
sible, that we have our closets or our studies glori 
ously perfumed with devotions every day ; but alas ! 
can we shut the devil out of them? No; let us 
go where we will, we shall still find a devil nigh 
unto us." Little did the venerable doctor think, 
that he himself and his coadjutors were furnishing 
one of the best proofs of diabolical agency in the 
world, by their unhappy activity on these memo 
rable occasions. 

As soon as the fury of the storm was over, he is 
found drawing up an account of the trials. This 
is said to have been published by the special com 
mand of the governor, and is heralded with a 
flourish of trumpets from Stoughton, the presiding 

xi. 5 


judge. He takes a contemptuous notice of the 
doubts, which had begun to prevail upon the sub 
ject, but does not give any intimation to his readers 
that the whole country was filled with horror and 

If any are disposed to speak lightly of New 
England, in consequence of this visitation, he re 
peats for their instruction the following story, 
which answers the double purpose of recognizing 
the doctrine of possession, and of furnishing him 
with a reply. " There are many parts of the world, 
who, if they do on this occasion insult over the 
people of God, need only to be told the story of 
what happened at Lorin in the Duchy of Gulic, 
where, a Popish curate having ineffectually tried 
many charms to eject the devil out of a damsel 
there possessed, he at last, in a passion, bid the 
devil come out of her into himself; but the devil 
answered him (in good Latin), What need I med 
dle now with one, whom, at the last day, I am 
sure to have and hold as my own for ever/ " 

Some points, he thinks, are clearly established 
by the results of the trials. The chief one is, 
that there is a great conspiracy among the powers 
of darkness to root out the Christian religion from 
New England. The devil having always looked 
upon that land as his own, naturally felt aggrieved 
when the Pilgrims took possession of it, and even 
more disgusted with their religious principles and 


lives. It is also proved, that the devil, " exhibit 
ing himself ordinarily as a small black man, has 
decoyed a number of base creatures, and enlisted 
them in his service, by entering their names in a 
book." These persons meet with their employer 
in "hellish rendezvouses," wherein they have their 
diabolical sacraments, imitating the baptism and 
supper of our Lord. Each one of these associa- 
tors has spectres or devils in his command, and 
many are suffering under their evil hands, " being 
miserably scratched and bitten." The spectres 
have an odd faculty of clothing the most substan 
tial instruments of torture with invisibility, while 
the wounds given by them are sufficiently palpable. 
One of the worst things about it is, that the devils 
have obtained power to take on themselves the 
likeness of harmless people; "there is an agony 
in the minds of men, lest the devil should shame 
us with devices of a finer thread than was ever 
before practised upon the world." "And mean 
time he improves the darkness of this affair to push 
us into a blind man s buffet, and we are even ready 
to be sinfully, yea hotly and madly, mauling one 
another in the dark." 

The conclusion to which he came is more prac 
tical, than could have been expected from such a 
beginning. " If we carry things to such extremes 
of passion, as are now gaining among us, the devil 
will bless himself to find such a convenient lodg- 


ing. And it may be that the wrath, which we 
have had, one against another, has had more than 
a little influence on the coming down of the devil 
in that wrath, which now amazes us. For this, 
among other causes, perhaps God has permitted 
the devils to be worrying as they now are among 
us. But it is high time to leave off all devilism, 
when the devil himself is falling upon us ; it is no 
time to be reviling and censuring one another with 
a devilish wrath, when the wrath of the devil is 
annoying us." If he had himself followed this 
sensible advice, the visitation of darkness might 
have brought happier results than it did. 

In his account of some of the trials at Salem, 
his moral sense seems to be strangely perverted. 
When the clergyman, George Burroughs, was be 
fore the court, with no other testimony against 
him, than that he had shown many exploits of 
bodily strength, some of the witnesses, confused 
perhaps by the consciousness of their perjury, were 
for a time unable to speak. The judge, Stough- 
ton, inquired of Burroughs, what he supposed hin 
dered them from giving testimony. He replied 
he imagined it was the devil. "That honorable 
person replied : How comes the devil, then, to be 
so loath to have testimony brought against you? 
which cast him into a very great confusion." As 
well it might ; for it made it clear as the sun, that 
he had no chance for his life, in the hands of a 


judge, whom superstition and prejudice made so 
oppressive and unfeeling. 

Among other perversions of justice, two of the 
afflicted were permitted to testify, that the ghosts 
of Burroughs s wives had appeared and declared 
that he had been the death of them. It is true, 
as Mr. Upham remarks, that there are very strong 
indications of personal malice in this testimony 
against Mr. Burroughs, who had formerly preached 
in Salem village, and been the object of some ill- 

This, however, was not peculiar to him. Several 
of the women appeared to have been ill-tempered 
and violent in their language, and in that way to 
have become objects of general hatred and suspi 
cion, till the public sentiment was so strong against 
them, that no one lamented their fate. It is proba 
bly true, that they had at times threatened the wit 
nesses. Considering the proportion of evil in the 
world, the witnesses could not pass through life 
without some disasters, and, in all cases of accident 
and suffering, their suspicions turned at once upon 
their ill-favored neighbors. 

Neither was their testimony an entire fabrication. 
Among other things they deposed, that strong drink 
in their vessels had suddenly and unaccountably 
disappeared; which was doubtless true; but might 
have happened without diabolical agency, and in 
fact without any other than their own. The evils 



complained of were sickness, misfortune in busi 
ness, loss of cattle and other visitations, which no 
doubt had occurred, as they said, but might have 
been accounted for by the common order of nature. 

One remark of Cotton Mather is true, though 
the reasoning in it requires to be inverted. Speak 
ing of the provoking manner in which the witches 
elude observation, he breaks forth in a tone of dis 
appointment ; " Our witches do seem to have got 
the knack ; and this is one of the things, which 
make me think that witchcraft will not be fully 
understood, till the day when there shall not be one 
witch in the world." It is true, in point of fact, 
not that witchcraft has been explained, because 
witches are gone, but that witches are no longer 
found, because the matter is understood. 

There are in the testimony, which he has set 
before us as the most convincing offered on these 
occasions, many such instances of mistaking cause 
for effect. It was testified in the case of Bridget 
Bishop, that a woman named Whetford had ac 
cused Bishop of stealing a spoon ; Bishop resented 
the charge, and made many threatenings of re 
venge. One night, Bishop, with another person, 
appeared by her bedside, and consulted what should 
be done with her. At length, they took her to the 
sea-side and there tried to drown her; but she 
called on God, and his name destroyed their pow 
er. After this, Whetford was a "crazed sort of 


woman." Nothing could be clearer than that the 
lunacy was father to the charge; but at that day 
it was thought much more natural to ascribe the 
lunacy to preternatural power. 

Cotton Mather afterwards was unwilling to bear 
the odium of what he had done. He then endeav 
ored to show, and probably deluded himself into 
the belief, that he had discouraged the popular 
passion. But there can be no doubt, that he 
officiated on the occasion like the fire department 
of Constantinople, who are said at times to pour 
oil from their engines upon, the fire, which they 
profess to extinguish. In this report of the trials, 
he quotes "gracious words," as he modestly calls 
them, from the advice given by the Boston clergy. 
"We cannot, but with all thankfulness," says he, 
" acknowledge the success, which the merciful God 
has given unto the sedulous and assiduous endeav 
ors of our honorable rulers, to detect the abomi 
nable witchcrafts which have been committed in 
the country; humbly praying that the discovery 
of these mysterious and mischievous wickednesses 
may be perfected." The only touch of humanity 
about the work is found in his reference to Giles 
Corey, whom he tenderly calls, "a poor man, 
lately prest unto death, because of his refusing to 
plead." The manifest objection to this represen 
tation is, that it gives the impression that Corey s 
suffering under the peine forte et dure was a mat- 


ter of taste and choice; whereas the truth is, that 
he firmly refused to plead, because he saw that 
there was no hope of justice or mercy from the 
savages into whose hands he had fallen. 

It is also said in the close of the report ; " If a 
drop of innocent blood should be shed in the pros 
ecution of the witchcrafts among us, how unhappy 
should we be! For which cause I cannot express 
myself in better terms than those of a most worthy 
person, who lives near the present centre of those 
things. The word of God in these matters is to 
be looked into with due circumspection, that Satan 
deceive us not with his devices. But on the other 
hand, if the storm of justice do only fall on the 
guilty witches and wretches, which have defiled our 
land, how happy !" From this it appears, that 
there was nothing insupportable in his unhappiness 
on this occasion. 

The manner in which, in his MAGNALIA, he re 
fers to the Salem history does him no honor. 
Without the least expression of regret for the 
innocent blood that had been shed, he only remarks 
that " there had been a going too far in that affair." 
But, so far from taking any responsibility upon 
himself, or his coadjutors, he charges these ex 
cesses upon the powers of darkness, which he 
said had circumvented them, and made them pro 
ceed against persons, who were not guilty. That 
they had gone too far, he says, using the words 


of another, appears from the numbers of the ac 
cused; "it^was not to be conceived, that in so small 
a compass of land, so many should so abominably 
leap into the devil s lap all at once." Many of 
thehf~were persons of blameless lives, who could 
hardly be supposed guilty of such a sin. Of the 
nineteen who were executed, not one at the last 
moment confessed himself guilty. 

On the strength of these considerations, which 
unfortunately did not occur to him till somewhat 
late in the day, he thought there was some mis 
take, and says that he had heard of the like mis 
takes in other places. In fact, there was nothing 
in the acknowledgments of error made by many 
of the actors in these scenes, which would have 
prevented their engaging in a similar prosecution 
at any future time. Some were sincerely peni 
tent, and had their eyes entirely opened. But 
some of the most distinguished actually regretted, 
that the turning tide of popular feeling prevented 
them from clearing the land of witchcraft and 

There were those, who, at the time, disapproved 
these proceedings, but, finding themselves unable 
to resist the current, chose rather to be silent ob 
servers of the scene, than to hazard their peace, and 
even their lives, by an ineffectual opposition. In 
effectual they supposed it would be; and yet it 
appears, that, as soon as one energetic man turned 


upon his accusers, and prosecuted them for libel 
and slander, the spell was broken, their charges were 
seen in the true light, and it was impossible to re 
new the delusion. 

That there were those, who understood the true 
history and character of the excitement, appears 
from the remarkable letter of Thomas Brattle, 
which is written in the spirit of the present age. 
It was not published at the time, and, had it been, 
it might possibly have injured him without serv 
ing the cause of truth ; but it is matter of regret, 
that the experiment was not tried ; for sometimes, 
when wisdom cries and no man regards it at the 
moment, it prepares the way for an earlier triumph 
of reason and humanity ; and in cases where it ex 
cites passion, as his letter probably would have 
done, the public are inflamed because the voice 
reaches their conscience, requires them to justify 
their proceedings to themselves, and compels them, 
in spite of themselves, to ponder, and thus deprives 
them of the apology and consolation, that " they 
know not what they do." 

Had the governor of the Commonwealth been a 
man of higher order, much of this fanaticism, or 
rather the cruel results of it, might have been pre 
vented. When William Penn officiated as judge 
in his new colony, two women, accused of witch 
craft, were presented by the grand jury. Without 
treating the charge with contempt, which the public 


mind would not have borne, he charged the jury to 
bring them in guilty of being suspected of witch 
craft, which was not a crime that exposed them to 
the penalty of the law. Sir William Phips appears 
to have been in every thing the reverse of Penn. 
He had much of that active energy, which is so 
often mistaken for intellectual ability, though he 
was neither sagacious nor discerning. In his own 
concerns he was sufficiently headstrong and ungov 
ernable ; but in matters like witchcraft he was whol 
ly at the disposal of others, not having formed, and 
not being capable of forming, any sound judgment 
of his own. 



Sir William Phips. Robert Calef. The 
Influence of his Writings in exposing the 
Deceptions and allaying the Frenzy of 
Witchcraft. Further Opinions of Cotton 
Mather on this Subject, and his Attempts 
to justify his Conduct. 

NOTHING can exceed the triumph, with which 
Cotton Mather hailed the appointment of Phips to 
the office of governor. He writes in his Dairy, 
" The time for favor is now come ; yea, the set 
time is come. I am now to receive the answers 
of so many prayers as have been employed for my 
absent parent, and the deliverance and settlement 
of my poor country. We have not the former 
charter, but we have a better in the room of it ; one 
which much better suits our circumstances. And, 
instead of my being made a sacrifice to wicked 
rulers, all the counsellors of the province are of my 
father s nomination, and my father - in - law, with 
several related to me, and several brethren of my 
own church, are among them. The governor of 
the Province is not my enemy, but one whom I bap 
tized, and one of my flock, and one of my dearest 


Cotton Mather was not disappointed in his ex 
pectations. Governor Phips, as long as he remained 
in office, was uniformly friendly to him. It is not 
right to say, without direct evidence to that effect, 
that Cotton Mather was the keeper of his con 
science ; but he was certainly his confidential ad 
viser, and the governor adopted his views and feel 
ings with respect to the invisible world. Not so 
his lady ; she appears to have had a mind and will 
of her own. Once, in her husband s absence, hear 
ing that a poor creature had been committed to 
prison on suspicion of witchcraft, she sent orders to 
the officer to release the accused person without 
delay ; and the sheriff, though the movement was 
not strictly legal, thought it his wisdom and safety 
to comply. 

The governor probably felt grateful to Cotton 
Mather and his father for their exertions in his be 
half; but there were many in the country, who 
were no better satisfied with the new governor 
than with the new charter, and always felt indig 
nant at Cotton Mather for the part he took at the 
time of Andros s fall. The general sentiment was, 
that the old magistrates then should reassume their 
offices, and go on as if nothing had happened ; but 
Cotton Mather exerted himself to persuade the peo 
ple, that such a step would interrupt the prosperous 
course of his father s agency, and make the King 
less willing to grant the privileges they desired. 


When the new charter came, with its abridgment 
of their rights, they felt as if, had not his influ 
ence prevented the resumption of the old charter, 
they might have continued in the enjoyment of 
it, without any interruption or question from Eng 
land. Probably they would not have found it so ; 
but such was their suspicion, and of course, they 
were provoked with him, whose influence prevent 
ed them taking the step, by which they believed 
that their ancient privileges might have been se 

Those who were at enmity with Cotton Mather, 
on account of his concern with witchcraft, brought 
this also against him, that he was the means of giv 
ing them such a chief magistrate. They seem, how 
ever, to ascribe Sir William s misdeeds to his weak 
ness, and do not hesitate to say, that if his clerical 
adviser could have had his way, the reign of terror 
would not have been over so soon. Not that they 
ascribe the sudden stop put to the prosecutions to 
any rising independence on the part of the gov 
ernor, but simply to the circumstance that his own 
lady was at length accused. It is said, that Cotton 
Mather, finding that so much of the responsibility 
was coming home to himself, resorted to his pen 
for defence, and wrote a sort of apologue, in which 
he compared himself to Orpheus, and his father to 
Mercury, attempting to give a striking represen 
tation of the value of the blessings, which they 


both had been instrumental in bringing to the 

The way in which Calef speaks of Sir William 
Phips, shows his conviction, that he was a well- 
meaning man, who desired the good of his country ; 
but, from his want of talent and education, was 
unable to act independently for the public good. 
At the same time, he shows his opinion of the ex 
tent of Cotton Mather s activity and influence, by 
ascribing to him the responsibility of all that the 
governor had done. Phips died too soon to be 
grateful to Calef for this defence, which ascribed his 
innocence to his inefficiency; but Mather, though 
on any other occasion he would have been proud 
to have it said that the chief magistrate was under 
his influence, felt that, in this instance, the credit 
of having that influence would bring him more re 
proach than renown. It is intimated, that, on this 
account rather than from the natural exaggeration 
of friendship, he represents Phips as a man of more 
ability than he or any one else believed him to 

The name of Robert Calef deserves to be men 
tioned with honor in connexion with this unhappy 
delusion. Though a merchant by profession, and 
therefore not so directly concerned as many others 
with such subjects of thought, he had good sense 
enough to see the truth and the right. In this he 
was not alone ; there were others who saw plainly, 


that all the accusations, and the cruelty which they 
occasioned, were either the result of hypocrisy 
or excited imaginations. But, while others were 
swept away by the torrent, he was stout-hearted 
enough to declare his sentiments and maintain 
them. The plain common sense with which he 
opposed fanaticism, was exceedingly provoking to 
those, who had involved their reputation in the 
success of the delusion; and the general outcry of 
wrath, with which his statements were received, 
showed the fear on the part of his adversaries, that 
truth would be found on his side, and error and 
shame on theirs. 

Calef s letters and defence were published in 
London in the year 1700. The delusion was then 
in a great measure done away; but, as Hutchin- 
son remarks, there were so many living, who had 
taken part in those transactions, and were therefore 
interested to keep up the impression that there was 
some supernatural agency on the occasion, that, 
long after the public mind was disabused, the 
truth could find no welcome. As soon as Calef s 
book reached this country, it was ordered by Dr. 
Increase Mather to be publicly burned in the Col 
lege Yard; a ceremony which doubtless had the 
usual effect of such burnt - offerings, causing the 
book to be in general demand, and therefore fill 
ing the hearts of the author and bookseller with 


The part taken by Calef was particularly offen 
sive to Cotton Mather, inasmuch as he charges him 
with being the chief agent in exciting the passions 
of the community to this work of blood. After 
the execution of Mrs. Hibbins, the widow of one 
of the counsellors, who was hanged for witchcraft 
in Boston in 1655, much to the dissatisfaction of 
many judicious persons, the taste for such scenes 
had abated ; and it was not till Cotton Mather, in 
1685, published an account of several cases of witch 
craft with arguments to prove that they were no 
delusions, that such fears and fancies revived. The 
case of Goodwin s family took place soon after, and 
this being also published renewed the appetite for 
horrors, and prepared the way for the scenes exhib 
ited in Salem. 

The advice given by the Boston clergy to the 
Governor and Council, which was drawn up by 
Cotton Mather, was another reason for Calef s di 
recting his battery against him. Douglass speaks 
of it as the address of some of the very popular, 
but very weak clergy, to Sir William Phips, a very 
weak governor, with thanks for what was already 
done and exhortations to proceed. 

It cannot be said that this is an unfair represen 
tation of it ; for it certainly exults in the success, 
which had attended the prosecutions, and though it 
gives many exhortations and rules for caution, it 
winds up with these words : " We cannot but hum- 
xi. 6 


bly recommend un-to the government the speedy 
and vigorous prosecution of such as have rendered 
themselves obnoxious, according to the directions 
given in the laws of God, and the wholesome stat 
utes of the English nation, for the detection of 
witchcraft." There is no doubt as to the course 
recommended ; and the dissuasion only amounts to 
a caution, not to rely too much upon evidence " re 
ceived only on the devil s authority," since he was 
not to be implicitly trusted. 

Calef remarks with sufficient sharpness on Ma 
ther s publications, in one of his own, entitled 
More Wonders from the Invisible World. He de 
clares that many of those facts, to which the afflict 
ed, according to Mather, testified, were fabrications 
without the least basis of truth, and that some 
times circumstances, which were true and easily ac 
counted for, were exaggerated and distorted, till not 
a vestige of truth remained. In some instances, 
where the afflicted, according to Mather, were bit 
ten by the witches, it was sufficiently evident to the 
court and jury, that the prisoners had not a tooth 
in their head. 

One instance, related by him, shows how basely 
justice was perverted. While one of the accused 
was on trial, a girl testified that the accused had 
stabbed her with a knife, which was broken in 
her limb, and the broken piece of the blade was 
produced in court ; but a young man came forward 


and stated to the judges, that he had broken his 
knife the day before, and threw away the broken 
piece in presence of the witness. He immediately 
produced his broken knife, and, on comparing the 
parts, it appeared that his statement was true. 
Instead of committing this perjured wretch for 
trial, the court only reprimanded her, and actually 
used her testimony for the condemnation of other 

The witnesses were allowed to tell old stories of 
twenty or thirty years standing, which could have 
no relation to the case on trial, except what preju 
dice gave them ; and it is clear to any one, who 
reads the testimony, that the judges did every thing 
in their power, by artful leading questions and over 
bearing menaces, to drive the prisoners either to 
confession or condemnation, or, what was worse, to 
cheat them with false hopes of mercy. 

The case of Mr. Burroughs, the clergyman, is a 
dark one, and Cotton Mather, according to Calef, 
was guilty of misrepresenting the testimony against 
him, and of cruelly exulting in his doom. The 
principal things alleged against him were his feats 
of personal strength. Mather says, that he was a 
feeble man ; but Calef declares, that all, who ever 
knew him, were well aware that he was from his 
youth remarkable for physical power. In fact, he 
proved on his trial, that another person had at the 
same time performed the same exploits of strength, 


so that they evidently were not beyond human 
power. But, instead of admitting this testimony, 
which was conclusive in his favor, the court infa 
mously turned it against him, declaring that it must 
have been the devil in human shape, aud Mather 
has so reported it in his account of the trial. Ca- 
lef informs us, that, when Burroughs was led to 
execution, he conducted himself in such a noble 
manner, and prayed so fervently, as to melt the 
bystanders with admiring compassion ; but Mather, 
moving about among the crowd, assured them that 
it was the devil who enabled him to do this, in 
order to deceive them ; and thus encouraged, they 
exulted in his fate, and afterwards treated his 
corpse with a brutality unexampled in a Christian 

If Calef had been a man of doubtful character, 
or strongly prejudiced against the clergy, it would 
weigh in favor of those whom he accused. But 
nothing of the kind is charged against him. Hutch- 
inson, who was nearly connected with the Mather 
family, speaks of Calef as a man of fair mind, who 
was deliberate in his statements and brought good 
evidence to sustain them ; and however hardly his 
statements bear on Cotton Mather, they cannot be 
rejected without doing him great and manifest in 

In a pamphlet, which purports to have been 
published by some of Cotton Mather s society in 


defence of their pastor against Calef s charges, 
these accusations are commented upon with no lit 
tle asperity, from an idea, which was no doubt cor 
rect, that his attack was directed against the whole 
magistracy and clergy of the State. They say, that, 
when he arraigns those honorable persons as guilty 
of shedding innocent blood, it is strange, that the 
fear of God, if he ever had any, should not have 
reminded him of the text, " Thou shalt not speak 
evil of the ruler of thy people." As to the clergy, he 
says, they upheld the delusion so long as they were 
themselves in no danger ; but, when they could no 
longer defend their ground, not one of them was 
found conscientious and candid enough to enlighten 
the public mind upon the subject. 

To this, the defenders reply, by quoting some 
passages from the advice of the clergy, in which 
they formally recommend caution. It seems, how 
ever, that Calef did not confine his charges to one 
subject, but carried the war into the general field 
of theology. He declared that the clergy taught 
"that there are more Almighties than one, and that 
Satan is almighty, and can do what he pleases." 
To this they reply, not by disproving the charge, 
but by charging him with " venomous and malig 
nant purpose to bring the clergy into contempt," 
which, they say, will only return upon his own 
head ; while, so far from alienating the people from 
their ministers, they will be requited good " for 

X 2 


the curses of every Shimei." The sarcastic power, 
with which this pamphlet is written, may be in 
ferred from their merry play on Calef s unfortu 
nate name; "this calf" being the name by which 
he is mentioned. 

At the close of this pamphlet Cotton Mather 
appears in his own defence, beginning with a 
lamentation, that he should be called on to an 
swer a vile book, written by one, who pretends to 
be a merchant, when he is nothing more than a 
weaver. The only argument advanced by Calef, 
on the subject of all the remarkable providences, 
is, " that there is a certain weaver that won t be 
lieve them." Therefore Mather addresses himself to 
his friends, and not to Calef, who, he says, had never 
mentioned his name without some lie about him. 

In reply to the charge, that he had favored the 
witchcraft delusion, Cotton Mather says, that he 
had always recommended great caution and char 
ity. On this he insists in the strongest terms. 
"But you 11 say, How came it to pass, that so 
many people took up a different notion of me ? 
Surely, Satan knows. Perhaps t was because I 
thought it my duty always to speak of the honora 
ble judges with as much honor as I could; a 
crime, which I am generally taxed for, and for 
which I have been fairly requited ; this made peo 
ple, who judge at a distance, to dream that I ap 
proved all that was done. Perhaps also my dis- 


position to avoid extremes, as t is said he that 
feareth God shall come out of them, causeth me 
to be generally obnoxious to the violent in all par 
ties. Or, perhaps, my great adversary always had 
people full of Robert Calef s malignity, to serve 
him with columnies and reproaches." 

One passage in it is a singular specimen of pa 
tient and resigned devotion. He is speaking of a 
misrepresentation, which Calef had published in 
regard to a visit relating to the subject of witch 
craft, which he had made to an energumen of his 
flock. ** I believe there is not one Christian," says 
he, " but would think of it with indignation, that 
when ministers of the gospel faithfully and carefully 
discharge their duty in visiting the miserable in 
their flocks, little bits, and scraps, and shreds of 
their discourse, carried away perhaps by some idle 
eavesdroppers, should be basely tacked together 
to render them contemptible ; and many false 
hoods, yea, and smutty ones too, and such as none 
but a coal fetched from hell could have suggested, 
should be added for the blackening of them. It 
were enough to procure me the respect and friend 
ship of all men, who have the least grain of 
honesty in them, if I had it not before, to see such 
a man and such a book treat me with such brutish 
malignity. However, I am verily persuaded, that 
the holy Lord, whose we are, and whom we serve, 
will at some time or other, make this man a Ma* 


ger Massalib for his deliberate wickedness. I will 
say no more of it, but leave it to those hands, which 
alone will do right unto us." 

It is much to be feared, however, that if justice 
should be done to him, so far as relates to his con 
duct on this occasion, he must appear at consider 
able disadvantage. His contemporaries, as has 
been suggested, were, almost all of them, more or 
less involved in the delusion, and of course were 
not forward to bring charges against each other. 
But in modern times, when the actors in this tra 
gedy and those directly interested in them are 
passed away, as soon as the attention is turned to 
this subject, it must be confessed, that the name of 
Mather appears foremost, as the most effective 
and prominent agent in creating the excitement, 
and pushing it on to its excesses. 

That he sincerely believed in the reality of 
witchcraft, cannot for a moment be doubted ; but 
this does not excuse him beyond a certain extent ; 
for his father, though as firm a believer in such 
agency as he, did not countenance the bloody and 
revengeful proceedings of the day. Unfortunately 
Cotton Mather did, much as he afterwards attempt 
ed to disclaim it. Probably his feelings and 
opinions on the subject were not well defined in 
his own mind ; but every impartial reader sees, 
that, while he felt bound to give cautions, he gave 
still more encouragement to the work of blood, and 


never wrote one syllable, expressing the least regret 
for the waste of innocent lives, though he confessed 
that the matter had been carried too far. 

When Mr. Upham published his Lectures on this 
subject, he was called upon by a writer in the pub 
lic prints, to make good his charge against Cotton 
Mather, of having exerted himself to increase and 
extend the frenzy of the public mind. He pro 
duced in reply, an original letter from Dr. Mather 
to Stephen Sewall of Salem, in which he manifests 
an excessive earnestness to prevent the excitement 
from subsiding. This was written in September, 
after the summer which had witnessed the execu 
tions in Salem, and contains an importunate re 
quest, that Mr. Sewall would furnish him with the 
evidence given at the trials. He urges this request, 
by reminding him of the benefit that may follow, 
and wishes him to add to it remarks and observa 
tions of his own. He tells him, that he must not 
consider himself writing to Cotton Mather, but to 
an obstinate unbeliever in all such matters, and he 
must adopt the tone and style most likely to make 
an impression on such a man. "Imagine me as 
obstinate a Sudducee and witch - advocate as any 
among us ; address me as one that believed noth 
ing reasonable ; and when you have so knocked 
me down, in a spectre so unlike me, you will en 
able me to box it about among my neighbors till 
it come, I know not where at last." 


It appears that he did box it about among his 
neighbors, with more success than could have been 
expected, after the revulsion of public feeling, which 
followed the transactions in Salem. In 1693, one 
Margaret Rule was seized in a remarkable manner, 
which he ascribed to spectral visitations. He says, 
that she had at some previous time shown symp 
toms of religious thoughtf ulness ; but he does not 
undertake to speak with confidence respecting her 
character, a forbearance, which implies that it was 
not irreproachable. She was assaulted by several 
cruel spectres, some of which had their faces cov 
ered, so that she could not be sure respecting them. 
They requested her to put down her name in a 
book, and, on her declining to subscribe, they tor 
mented her in a cruel manner, at the command of 
a black man, who stood by, and appeared to be 
their master. She was thrown into such agonies, 
that Cotton Mather says, with much pathos, " they, 
that could behold the doleful condition of that poor 
family without sensible compassions, might have en 
trails indeed ; but I am sure they could have no true 
bowels in them." 

He says, that to imagine that all this was im 
posture, would be an uncivil and unchristian thing. 
Indeed it is not necessary to the entire explanation 
of the affair, for he has thrown abundant light upon 
it when he assures his readers, that the young wom 
an fasted for nine days, her tormentors not allow- 


ing her to swallow any food all the while, except 
an occasional spoonful of rum. Whoever under 
stands the relation between cause and effect, would 
readily believe in the witchcraft, after such a dis 
closure ; but it does not seem to occur to him, when 
he makes the statement, that the rum would help 
to account for any of the appearances ascribed to 
spectral visitation. 

Calef thought it advisable to inquire into this 
affair, while it was in progress. Accordingly he 
attended in her chamber one night, when Cotton 
Mather and his father were there. The former 
conducted the examination by leading questions, 
such as this. "Do there a great many witches 
sit upon you?" Answer; "Yes." "The witches 
scratch, and pinch, and bite you, don t they ?" An 
swer, "Yes." This is a specimen of the whole 
investigation, which of course produced the an 
swers desired. The questions to her attendants 
were also satisfactorily answered. " What does she 
eat and drink 2" Answer, " She eats nothing at all, 
but drinks rurn." Soon after the clergymen with 
drew, the afflicted desired the women to be gone, 
saying, " that the company of the men was not of 
fensive to her, and having laid hold of the hand of 
a young man, said to have been her sweetheart 
formerly, who was withdrawing, she pulled him 
again into his seat, saying he should not go to 


Calef s interference gave offence to Cotton Mather, 
who complained much of his misrepresentation of 
the scene ; but on examining these alleged misrep 
resentations, it appears that Calef s statement is ad 
mitted to be substantially true. Calef proposed to 
Dr. Mather to meet with him and converse upon the 
subject ; but, instead of granting the interview, Cot 
ton Mather caused him to be arrested for a libel, and 
bound over to answer at the sessions. A correspond 
ence passed between them, but little to the satisfac 
tion of either party. 

One of the most remarkable documents brought 
forward was the testimony of several persons, who 
declared that they had seen her elevated in a sur 
prising manner. If their evidence had stopped 
there, no one, who considered the nature of her diet, 
would have hesitated to believe them ; but they de 
posed, that they had seen her lifted up from her 
bed, without any exertion on her own part, and sus 
pended in the air at a considerable height ; one ac 
count says, high enough to touch the garret floor 
without touching any support whatever. Several 
strong men were obliged to exert all their strength 
to pull her down. 

Calef remarks on this* testimony, that they should 
have stated the number of persons employed, in 
order to ascertain how many are required to over 
come an invisible force. "On the whole," he 
says to Cotton Mather, " I suppose you expect I 


should believe it ; and, if so, the only advantage 
gained is, that that which has been so long con 
troverted between Protestants and Papists, whether 
miracles are ceased, will hereby seem to be decided 
for the latter." Testimony of this kind, so ex 
plicit and so unaccountable, without taking it for 
granted that the witnesses were perjured, would 
probably have taken effect, even with the Salem 
history fresh in the public mind, had it not been 
for the firmness of Calef. Influence was against 
him, but truth and reason were so manifestly on 
his side, that, with small pretensions to learning, he 
overcame the divines in argument, and dispersed 
the remnants of delusion. 

Mr. Upham has produced another letter, which, 
though the signature is wanting, was evidently 
from the style, and, as we are told, from the hand 
writing, the work of Cotton Mather. Like the 
former, it is addressed to Mr. Sewall, and describes 
the public manner in which he had been insulted 
in Boston. This was in 1707, several years after 
these events had taken place, but while he was yet 
in trouble from his controversy with Governor Dud 
ley. He tells Mr. Sewall, that, one day in a book 
seller s shop in Boston, he was railed at by a couple 
of malignant fellows, who, among other things, said, 
"His friend Mr. Noyes has cast him off;" on 
which they set up a shout of laughter. He wishes 
Mr. Sewall to show that part of the letter to Mr. 


Noyes, in order to ascertain whether there was 
any truth in what they had said; for, though he 
professed not to believe it, he thought it not im 
possible that there might be some foundation for 
the story. 

The truth is, that he was suspicious and dis 
trustful ; the public had accused him as the one, 
who had done most to mislead them, and his stand 
ing in society was suddenly changed. From being 
regarded as a man of great and venerable charac 
ter, he was generally shunned and treated with 
aversion. Possibly this conversation was accident 
al, and had reference to some other person ; but, 
at any rate, the incident shows the state of his 
own feeling, and betrays a consciousness that he 
had lost his former place in the public respect and 

The part of his Diary, which relates to this por 
tion of his history is still preserved, and throws 
some light upon the subject of his own feelings 
and opinions. It is not, however, so full as could 
be desired. It seems to have been written after 
the excitement was over, when the subject was no 
longer pleasant to him. It is written with an at 
tempt at self-justification, which shows either that 
he had misgivings at the time when he was most 
engaged, or that the altered feelings of those about 
him induced him to suspect and reexamine his 


In the beginning of the year 1692, he says, that 
his heart is set upon a design of reformation to ex 
tend through the churches, to revive the sinking 
spirit of piety, and prevent religion from declining. 
In order to produce this revival, he applied himself 
to the neighboring clergy ; but they were in the 
habit of waiting for the agency of the divine spirit, 
and showed no disposition to join with him in tak 
ing the measures proposed. Finding that he must 
act alone, he wrote the publication entitled, "A 
Midnight Cry" He says, " I set myself to re 
count the abasing circumstances of the land, and 
my soul mourned over them. I wrestled with my 
God, that he would awaken the churches to do 
some remarkable thing in returning to him." This 
language shows, that he was desirous to see some 
enthusiastic impulse given to the public mind, 
which should excite it to powerful action ; and, 
when the panic of witchcraft came, he was doubt 
less prepared to welcome it as an answer to his 

There is another memorandum on the 29th day 
of the second month, to this effect ; " This day I 
obtained help of God, that he would make use of 
me as of a John, to be a herald of the Lord s 
kingdom now approaching." This evidently re 
ferred to the case of witchcraft, since the sentence 
concludes thus, "My prayers did especially insist 
upon the horrible enchantments and possessions 


broke forth in Salem village, things of a most pro 
digious aspect; a good issue to those things, and 
my own direction and protection thereabout, I did 
especially petition for." 

The rest of the Diary for this year is not dated, 
and, as has been said, is written in a singular spirit 
of self-defence. After commenting upon the man 
ner in which, by the judgment of Heaven, evil 
spirits were permitted to torment unfortunate per 
sons in Salem, he says, that many persons, of vari 
ous characters, were accused and prosecuted upon 
the visions of the afflicted. 

" For my own part," he adds, " I was always 
afraid of proceeding to convict and condemn any 
person, as a confederate with afflicting demons, 
upon so feeble an evidence as a spectral represen 
tation. Accordingly, I ever protested against it, 
both publicly and privately ; and in my letters to 
the judges, I particularly besought them, "that 
they would by no means admit it; and when a 
considerable assembly of ministers gave in their 
advice about that matter, I not only concurred with 
them, but it was I who drew it up. Nevertheless, 
on the other side, I saw in most of the judges a 
most charming instance of prudence and patience, 
and I knew the exemplary prayer and anguish of 
so ill wherewith they had sought the direction of 
Heaven above most other people; whom I gen 
erally saw enchanted into a raging, railing, scanda- 


lous, and unreasonable disposition, as the distress 
increased upon us. For this cause, though I could 
not allow the principles, that some of the judges 
had espoused, yet I could not but speak honorably 
of their persons, on all occasions; and my com 
passion upon the sight of their difficulties, raised 
by my journeys to Salem, the chief seat of those 
diabolical vexations, caused me yet more to do so. 
And merely, as far as I can learn, for this reason, 
the mad people through the country, under a fasci 
nation on their spirits equal to that which energu- 
mens had on their bodies, reviled me as if I had 
been the doer of all the hard things that were done 
in the prosecutions of the witchcraft." 

He appears to forget, that the "advice," of 
which he claims the authorship, contained not only 
cautions, but a recommendation to the authorities 
to prosecute vigorously those, who were under the 
charge of witchcraft. There is every reason to be 
lieve, that, had he spoken as doubtfully on all oc 
casions, as he does in making this registry in his 
journal, the courts, not sustained by the clergy, 
would have suffered the matter to rest. It would 
be gratifying to see these things explained in any 
way creditable to his fame. 

There may, however, have been a reason for his 
delicacy on this occasion, which one would have 
thought would have occurred to no one else, were 
it not for his assurance that it suggested itself sooner 

XL 7 


to others than to him. It seems that this visita 
tion of evil spirits was, in some sort, a personal 
attack upon himself, so that, as a party concerned, 
he could not decently be free in giving his opinion 
to the judges. 

" I had filled my country with little books," he 
says, " in several whereof I had, with a variety of 
entertainments, offered the new covenant, formally 
drawn up, unto my neighbors, hoping to engage 
them eternally unto the Lord by their subscribing 
with heart and hand unto that covenant. Now, in 
the late horrid witchcraft, the manner of spectres 
was, to tender books unto the afflicted people, so 
liciting them to subscribe a league with the devil 
therein exhibited, and so to become the servants 
of the devil for ever. Which when they refused, 
the spectres would proceed to wound them with 
scalding, burning, pinching, pricking, twisting, chok 
ing, and a thousand preternatural vexations. Be 
fore I made any such reflection myself, I heard the 
reflection made by others, who were more consid 
erate, that this assault of the evil angels upon the 
country was intended by Hell, as a particular defi 
ance unto my poor endeavors to bring the souls of 
men unto Heaven." 

It would seem impossible for credulity to go 
further than this, and, so far as the sincerity of his 
delusion is an excuse for his attempting to influence 
others with the same excitement, he is entitled to 


the benefit of it all. But it seems, that his doubts 
grew upon him in later years ; for his Diary con 
tains this passage, dated the 15th day of the sec 
ond month, 1713; "I entreated of the Lord, that 
I might know the meaning of that descent from 
the invisible world, which, nineteen years ago, pro 
duced, in a sermon from me, a good part of what 
is now published." This relates to the Salem 
witchcraft, and shows that the subject troubled 
him at times, long after the excitement had passed 

He was very much annoyed with the letters of 
Calef, which were so civil and respectful in man 
ner, that no complaint could be made of the form. 
The substance was so unanswerable as to be partic 
ularly trying. In 1701, he says, " I find that the 
enemies of the churches are set with an implaca 
ble enmity against me ; and one vile tool, namely 
R. Calf, is employed by them to go on with more 
of his filthy scribbles, to hurt my precious opportu 
nities of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. I had 
need to be much in prayer to my glorious Lord, 
that he would preserve his poor servant from the 
malice of this evil generation, and of that vile man 
particularly." It appears from this, that he con 
sidered all his persecutions from men or demons, 
as so many testimonies to his zealous exertions in 
the cause of religion ; a view of the subject, which 
must have brought with it peculiar consolation. 


It would be unjust to Cotton Mather to leave 
this subject without mentioning an act recorded in 
his Diary, which shows that his thoughts some 
times reverted to Salem, perhaps with a touch of 
self-upbraiding, though he does not confess it. But 
whatever his motive may have been, the citizens 
of that ancient town will doubtless rejoice to pre 
serve the memory of his benefactions. In the lat 
ter part of his life, he writes ; " There is a town in 
this country, namely, Salem, which has many poor 
and bad people in it, and such as are especially 
scandalous for staying at home on the Lord s day. 
I wrapped up seven distinct parcels of money, and 
annexed seven little books about repentance, and 
seven of the monitory letter against profane ab 
sence from the house of God. I sent those things 
with a nameless letter unto the minister of that 
town, and desired and empowered him to dispense 
the charity in his own name, hoping thereby the 
more to ingratiate his ministry with the people. 
Who can tell how far the good angels of Heaven 
cooperate in these proceedings ?" 



Characteristic Extracts from his Diary. His 
Vigils. Description of the " Magnolia 
Christi Americana" Instances of his En 
thusiasm. A remarkable Courtship. His 
Second Marriage. 

IN the Diary for 1696, is an entry dated the 
23d day of the second month, which shows what 
kind of circumstances made most impression on 
his imagination, and what he thought it most 
important to record. -_ " This: v^vening .I-met with 
an experience, which it may not be unprofita 
ble for me to remember. I had* been t or db^t a 
fortnight vexed with an extraordinary heart-burn, 
and none of all the common medicines would re 
move it, though for the present some of them 
would a little relieve it. At last, it grew so much 
upon me, that I was ready to faint under it. But 
under my fainting pain, this reflection came into 
my mind. There was this among the sufferings 
and complaints of my Lord Jesus Christ. My 
heart was like wax melted in the midst of my 
bowels. Hereupon, I begged of the Lord, that, 
for the sake of the heart-burn undergone by my 


Savior, I might be delivered from the other and 
lesser heart-burn wherewith I was now incommod 
ed. Immediately it was darted into my mind, that 
I had Sir Philip Paris s plaster in my house, which 
was good for inflammations ; and laying the plaster 
on, I was cured of my malady." 

All incidents of this kind were ascribed by him 
to a particular Providence, and his journal abounds 
with intimations and assurances received directly 
from Heaven. On the 22d day of the twelfth 
month, 1699, he says, " A terrible thing happened 
in my family ; for my daughter Katy, going into 
the cellar with a candle, her muslin ornaments about 
her shoulders took fire from it, and blazed up so as 
to set her head-gear likewise on fire. But, by the 
wonderful and merciful providence of God, her 
shriek A>r lielp was heard," and by that help the fire 
was extinguished. The child s life was preserved, 
and her head and face, though in the midst of hor 
rible flames ; but her neck and hands were horribly 
burnt, and she was thrown into exquisite misery. 
My child fell into a fever, and her neck obliged her 
to so wry a posture of her head, that I was in 
grievous distress, whether she would live, or wheth 
er, if she did live, there would not be some visible 
mark of the stroke of the wrath of the Lord always 
upon her. I cried unto the Lord in this my dis 
tress, and I obtained assurance from Heaven, that 
the child should not only be shortly and safely 


cured of her burning, but that God would mate the 
burning to be the occasion of her being more effect 
ually than ever brought home to himself." 

Not only was information thus given, but he 
believed that interpositions of Heaven in his be 
half were common and manifest, particularly in 
what related to his public labors. He says; "I 
often find, that when I preach on the angels, or 
on any subject, such as the glory of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, particularly agreeable to the angels, 
I have a more than ordinary assistance in my 
public ministrations. My mind, and voice, and 
strength are evidently under some special agency 
from the invisible world, and a notable fervency, 
and majesty, and powerful pungency set off my 

There are many curious passages in his Diary, 
which show the peculiar nature of his devotions, 
and how firmly he expected, and perhaps in conse 
quence of that expectation, found, an immediate an 
swer to his prayers. In 1702, he began the practice 
of keeping vigils, that is, of spending whole nights 
in prayer. 

" I called unto mind," says he, " that the primi 
tive Christians, in obedience to that command of 
watching unto prayer, sometimes had their vigils; 
accordingly I resolved, that I would make some 
essay toward a vigil. I dismissed my dear consort 
unto her repose, and, in the dead of the night, I 


retired into my study, and there, casting myself 
prostrate on my study floor before the Lord, I was 
rewarded with communications from Heaven, that 
cannot be uttered. There I lay for a long time, 
wrestling with the Lord, and I received some 
strange intimations from Heaven, about the time 
and the way of my death, and about mercies in 
tended for my family, and several points, about 
which my mind may be too solicitous. Lord, what 
is man that thou visitest him ? If those be vigils, 
I must, so far as the sixth commandment will allow, 
have some more of them." 

The intimations, which he received on this oc 
casion, were so direct and satisfactory, that the 
practice became a favorite one with him. What 
ever service it may have done to his devotional 
feelings, it did not benefit his health or spirits; 
but he seems to have persevered in it to the last, 
notwithstanding some discouraging circumstances 
that attended it. For example, immediately after 
this vigil, he writes; "Now, as I have often ob 
served it, so it still continues matter of observation 
unto me, that, when I have been admitted to some 
near and sweet and intimate communion with Heav 
en, I must immediately encounter some vexation on 
earth; either bodily illness, or popular clamor, or 
Satanic buffets immediately followed. I expected 
something on this occasion. Accordingly, when I 
was preaching on the day following, one of my 


chimneys took fire, and my own house, with my 
neighbors , was endangered, and a great congrega 
tion ran out of the meeting-house to the relief of 
my house, and I was thus marked out for talk all 
over the town." 

Thus it appears, that he was so much in the 
habit of looking for consequences of a certain kind, 
that the most trifling accidents were ascribed to 
special agency, and, if necessary, exalted into 
crosses and trials. It was an instance of rare 
moderation on the part of Satan, one would say, 
to satisfy his revenge by setting fire to a chimney ; 
and there are few of the ills, which flesh is heir 
to, that may be regarded as lighter, than that of 
being the owner of a chimney, which occasioned 
such an alarm. But, as there was no other event 
near the vigil in the order of time, which could 
be ascribed to Satanic malice, this accident was 
compelled to officiate in that capacity, though it 
was hardly equal to the occasion. 

In 1704, he writes; "I am very much concerned 
about one thing. My little daughter, Nancy, has 
her unknown distemper still hanging about her. 
She languishes and perishes under a pain, which 
the ablest physicians in all the town confess them 
selves unable to cure. I cry to the Lord about it ; 
yea, I have received over and over again a particu 
lar faith from Heaven, as I thought, that the child 
shall be recovered, and yet the malady proceeds 


even to a hopeless extremity. Lord, what shall I 
think of this thing ?" 

Such was the reliance, which he placed on 
these intimations, he does not say in what manner 
conveyed, that he is very much perplexed to 
know how to reconcile the child s growing worse, 
with these promises made to him from on high. 
He speaks sometimes of sensible appearances; at 
others, he seems to have taken his own feelings, 
as direct suggestions of Heaven, and to have relied 
upon them as firmly, as if they had been spoken 
by an angel s articulate voice. About a fortnight 
after, he writes ; " Now again I see, that faith is 
not fancy. My little daughter, Nancy, is wonder 
fully recovered. The Lord showed us how to 
encounter her malady. The child is got abroad 
again, perfectly recovered from any sign of her 
late sickness, and her strength comfortably returns 
to her." 

He had another proof, quite acceptable to an 
author, that faith is not fancy. In 1 701, he 
writes; "This day I received letters from Lon 
don. My church history is a bulky thing, of 
about two hundred and fifty sheets. The impres 
sion will cost about six hundred pounds. The 
booksellers of London are cold about it. Their 
proposals for subscriptions are of uncertain and 
tedious event. But behold what my friend, Mr. 
Bromfield, writes me from London. There is 


one Mr. Robert Hackshaw, a very serious and 
godly man, who proposes to print the Ecclesiasti 
cal History of New England, which you entrusted 
me withal. He is willing to print it at his own 
charges, and to serve you with as many books, 
I believe, as you desire. When he proposed it to 
me, I said, Sir, God has answered Mr. Mather s 
prayers. He declared, that he did it, not with any 
expectation of gain to himself, but for the glory 
of God. " 

This was the MAGNALIA, a chaotic collection of 
materials for a history of New England, rather than 
a history itself ; a work, which contains so much 
that is valuable, that it is read with interest and 
pleasure still, though it is deformed by some enor 
mous faults, and not to be trusted as a guide in 
matters of importance.* Cotton Mather was gen 
erally allowed to know more particulars of the 
history of New England than any other man ; 
and had his other qualifications as an historian 
been proportionate to his curiosity and industry, 
he might have raised a durable monument to his 
own fame. But the portion of history, which it 
embraced, was so near his own times, as to awaken 

* The work is entitled, "MAGNALIA CHRISTI AMERI 
CANA, or the Ecclesiastical History of New England." 
It was published in London, in the year 1702, making 
a large folio volume. It was reprinted at Hartford, 
Connecticut, 1820, in two volumes octavo. 


his partialities and aversions, so that in many of 
his sketches of character, we have little more than 
a view of his own prejudices. The times, too, 
were credulous, and he even more so than the 
times. Hence the marvellous was often quite as 
welcome to him as the true. 

As to dates, it was not to be expected that any 
man could despatch in a few years a work, which 
was large enough to be the labor of a life, without 
falling into various errors in matters, which he 
doubtless regarded as of very small importance. 
Grahame calls the Magnalia the most interesting 
work, which the literature of this country has pro 
duced, declaring that many of the biographical 
parts of it are superior to Plutarch ; but this is 
absurd and extravagant praise; the highest pre 
tension of the work is, that it is curious and enter 

The Magnalia is divided into seven books, or 
parts. The first part contains the history of New 
England, with a description of the design whereon, 
the manner wherein, and the people whereby, the 
colonies were planted. This is followed by a set 
of portraits of the public men and divines, who 
had distinguished themselves in the country. He 
then gives an account of Harvard College, which 
had not yet had the opportunity to displease him. 
From this, he proceeds to the articles of faith and 
rules of discipline, which prevailed in the churches. 


The sixth book was that, in which his soul delight 
ed, because it recorded the manifestations of Di 
vine Providence in connexion with the wonders of 
the invisible world. The last book contains an ac 
count of the disturbances, which the New England 
colonies suffered from Indians, Quakers, and wolves 
in sheep s clothing, who were grouped together in 
an unheard-of association, as so many allies in op 
position to the cause of God. 

This work, which it was formerly difficult to pro 
cure, has been made so familiar in modern times, 
by a cheap edition, that it needs no particular de 
scription. Every one knows its general character, 
and its quaintness recommends it to those who read 
for amusement, while it is fallen into disrepute with 
those who read for instruction. The miscellane 
ous scraps of learning, strung together on invisible 
threads of association, make the reader wonder at 
his industry, however misapplied ; and occasional 
gleams of talent assure him, that the author was 
really an able man, apart from his affectation. It 
is like an antiquarian collection, the value of which 
must not be estimated by its usefulness, but by 
the more doubtful standard of its oddity and its 

How far he sometimes carried his peculiar en 
thusiasm, appears from a memorandum dated the 
23d day of the sixth month, 1702. He says, that 
when sitting in his study, he perceived a strange 


impression on his mind, that God was willing to 
converse with him after a very familiar manner, 
if he would look and wait in a proper posture. 
It was actually said to him, " Go into your great 
chamber, and I will speak with you." He imme 
diately went to a large apartment, the most retired 
in his house, and there threw himself prostrate ou 
the floor. " There," he says, " I cried unto the 
Lord, with humble and bitter confessions of my 
own loathsomeness before him. I abhorred my 
self as worthy to be thunderstruck in dust and 

For a time he perceived nothing out of the com 
mon course ; but at length there came an ex 
traordinary afflatus, which dissolved him in tears, 
that ran down upon the floor. He burst forth 
with such expressions as this ; " And now my 
heavenly Father is going to tell me what he will 
do for me. My Father loves me, and will fill me 
with his love, and will bring me unto everlast 
ing life. My Father will never permit any thing 
to befall me, but what shall be for his interest. 
My Father will make me a chosen vessel to do 
good in the world. My Father will yet use me 
to glorify his church ; and my opportunities, my 
precious opportunities to do good, shall be after 
a special manner increased and multiplied. The 
condition of my dear consort, my Father will give 
me to see his wonderful favor in it. My Father 


will be a father to my children too. He will pro 
vide for them, and they shall, every one, serve him 
through eternal ages." This conversation with 
Heaven, he describes as leaving a heavenly, sweet, 
and gracious impression on his soul. 

This reference to the condition of his wife, was 
on account of a lingering sickness, of which, after 
much suffering, she died in the year 1702. It is 
recorded in his Diary, that, after she had been 
sick about half a year, he fasted and prayed on 
her account ; and that same night, there appeared 
to her, she supposed in her sleep, a grave person 
leading a woman in the most meagre and wretch 
ed state. She broke forth into praising God, that 
her condition was so much more tolerable, than 
that woman s. The grave person then told her, 
that she had two distressing symptoms, for which 
he would point out some relief. For the intol 
erable pain in her breast, he told her to take the 
warm wool from a living sheep, and lay it upon 
the part affected. For the salivation, which noth 
ing had relieved, he told her to take a tankard 
of spring water, and dissolve in it over the fire a 
quantity of isinglass and mastic, of which she was 
to drink often. She communicated this vision to 
her physician ; he advised her to try the experi 
ment. She did so for a time with singular suc 
cess. She was even able to leave her chamber ; 
but her disorder was too deeply fixed, and in De- 


cember it became evident that she must die. His 
account of her death is affecting. 

" The black day arrives ! I had never seen so 
black a day in all the time of my pilgrimage. 
The desire of my eyes is this day to be taken 
from me. Her death is lingering and painful. 
All the forenoon of this day, she "was in the pangs 
of death, and insensible till the last minute or two 
before her final expiration. I cannot remember 
the discourse that passed between us ; only her 
devout soul was full of satisfaction about her go 
ing to a state of blessedness with the Lord Jesus 
Christ. As far as my distress would permit, I 
studied to confirm her satisfaction and consolation. 
When I saw to what a point of resignation I was 
called of the Lord, I resolved, with his help, to 
glorify him. So, two hours before she expired, I 
kneeled by her bedside, and took into my hands 
that dear hand, the dearest in the world, and sol 
emnly and sincerely gave her up to the Lord. I 
gently put her out of my hands and laid away 
her hand, resolved that I would not touch it again. 
She afterwards told me, that she signed and seal 
ed my act of resignation ; and before that though 
she had called for me continually, after it, she nev 
er asked for me any more. She conversed much 
until near two in the afternoon. The last sensi 
ble word that she spoke was to her weeping father ; 
Heaven, Heaven will make amends for all ! " 


A passage, which follows hard upon this, is writ 
ten with the same solemnity, while the subject is 
ludicrous in the extreme. It shows his want of 
taste ; his mind hardly seemed to discover any dif 
ference of magnitude and proportion between any 
two subjects, that happened to come before it. 
Shortly after the death of his wife, as he was re 
flecting upon the follies to which persons situated 
as he was are frequently led, he prayed earnestly 
that God would sooner kill him, than suffer him to 
do any thing that would bring discredit upon the 
religion which he professed. He assures us, that, 
a few minutes after, he was taken very ill, and was 
not a little alarmed ; for, said he, " I suspected that 
the Lord was going to take me at my word." The 
disorder did not prove fatal ; he soon recovered ; 
and then, as if perfectly unable to discover any thing 
other ui^c than serious in the subject, says, "I per 
ceived it was nothing but vapors." 

In the month of February, he records, that he 
was beset with " a very astonishing trial." Others 
might have been disposed to smile at it, but he evi 
dently considered it no subject of mirth. It dwelt 
upon his mind, and troubled him so that his life be 
came almost a burden. There was a young lady, 
whom he describes as so remarkably accomplished, 
that no one in America exceeded her, abounding in 
wit and sense, with a comely aspect, and most win 
ning conversation, who, after writing to him once 

XL 8 


or twice, made him a visit, and gave him to under 
stand, that she had long felt a deep interest in his 
ministry, and that, since his present condition had 
given her more liberty to think of him, " she had 
become charmed with my person to such a degree, 
that she could not but break in upon me with her 
most importunate requests, that I would make her 
mine." She however declared, that the chief inter 
est she felt in the attachment arose from her desire 
for religious improvement; for, if she were once 
connected with him, she did not doubt that her sal 
vation would be secured. 

To a proposal so direct and flattering, it was not 
easy to make any other than a grateful reply. It 
was not altogether to his taste, but he could not say 
so to her. All at once, a way of escape seemed to 
be offered ; and, nothing doubting that it would an 
swer the purpose, he told her of his austere manner 
of life, and the frequent fasts and vigils, which his 
wife was expected to share. But, instead of being 
daunted by this communication, she told him that 
this was the very thing of all others, which she de 
sired; for she had already weighed all those dis 
couragements, but was prepared with faith and for 
titude to encounter them all. 

" Then," he says, " I was in a great strait how 
to treat so polite a gentlewoman, thus applying her 
self unto me. I plainly told her I feared whether 
her proposal would not meet with unsurmountable 


objections from those, who had an interest in dis 
posing of me. However I desired that there might 
be time taken to see what would be the wisest and 
fittest resolution. In the mean time, if I could not 
make her my own, I should be glad to be any way 
instrumental in making her the Lord s." 

Having secured this reprieve, he seemed to 
breathe freely, though he was utterly unable to 
discover any way of escape from this affectionate 

This matter appears for some time to have op 
pressed his very soul, and the manner in which he 
treats it is too characteristic to be passed by. Af 
ter a time, the Diary proceeds ; " My sore distresses 
and temptations I this day carried before the Lord. 
The chief of them lies in this. The most accom 
plished gentlewoman, mentioned, though not by 
name, in the close of the former year, one whom 
everybody sees with admiration, confessed to be, 
for her charming accomplishments, an incompara 
ble person, addressing me to make her mine, and 
professing a disposition unto the most holy flights 
of religion to lie at the bottom of her addresses, I 
am in the greatest strait imaginable what course to 
steer. Nature itself causes in me a mighty ten 
derness towards a person so amiable. Breeding 
requires me to treat her with honor and respect, 
and very much of deference ; but religion, above 
all, obliges me, instead of a rash rejecting of her 


conversation, to contrive rather how I may imitate 
the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the deal 
ing with such as are upon a conversion to him." 
No contrivance could arrange the matter to his 
mind ; for again he says, " As for my special, soul- 
harassing affair, I did, some days ago, under my 
hand, beg, as for my life, that it might be desisted 
from, and that I might not be killed by hearing 
any more about it." But even his written solicita 
tions produced no effect, so desirous was she to se 
cure the welfare of her soul. 

To add to his trouble, his relations, suspecting 
some attachment to exist between him and the 
lady, treated him as if the engagement was already 
formed. So intolerable was their upbraiding, that 
he says, " My grievous distresses, occasioned espe 
cially by the late addresses made unto me by the 
person formerly mentioned, caused me to fall down 
before the Lord with prayers and tears continually. 
And because my heart is sore pained within me, 
what shall I do, or what shall be the issue of this 
distressing affair ?" 

Some light began to be thrown upon this subject, 
but, though recorded by his hand, it does not ap 
pear to have explained any thing to him. He goes 
on with the registry, with the same blending of 
simplicity and self-applause. 

"First month, 6th day, 1703. That young gen 
tlewoman, of so fine accomplishments, that there 


is none in this land comparable to her, who has, 
with such repeated importunity pressed my re 
spects unto her, that I have had much ado to keep 
clear of great inconveniences, hath, by the disad 
vantage of the company which commonly resorted 
to her father s house, got but a bad name among 
the generality of people. There appears no pos 
sibility of her speedy recovery from it, be her car 
riage never so virtuous. By an unhappy coinci 
dence of some circumstances, there is a noise, and 
a mighty noise it is, made about the town, that I 
am engaged in a courtship to that young gentle 
woman ; and, though I am so very prudent, and 
have aimed so much at a conformity with our Lord 
Jesus Christ, yet it is not easy prudently to confute 
the rumor." Upon this he gathered all his ener 
gies for a decisive blow. "The design of Satan 
to entangle me in a match, that might have proved 
ruinous to my family or my ministry, is deferred 
by my resolution totally to reject the addresses 
of the young gentlewoman. I struck the knife 
into the heart of my sacrifice, by a letter unto her 

In this curious history it appears, that, while he 
had no particular regard for the lady, he was not 
insensible to her professed admiration for him. He 
does not perceive, that, while he delays, he is giv 
ing encouragement to her, and affording a subject 


of remark to others. Nor does he seem to suspect, 
from first to last, that her zeal for the interest of 
her soul may have been counterfeited, as a pre 
text for approaching him. The course of conduct, 
which he praised in himself as so wise and prudent, 
was so extremely unguarded, that he was fortu 
nate indeed, not to have been unconsciously entan 
gled in an engagement from which there was no 

Though the decided stand, which he had taken 
in self-defence, released him from the lady s ad 
dresses, it does not seem to have restored peace to 
his soul. A fortnight after he writes ; " Was ever 
man more tempted than the miserable Mather? 
Should I tell in how many forms the devil has as 
saulted me, and with what subtlety and energy his 
assaults have been carried on, it would strike my 
friends with horror. Sometimes temptations to 
vice, to blasphemy and atheism, and the abandon 
ment of all religion as a mere delusion, and some 
times to self-destruction itself; these, even these, 
do follow thee, miserable Mather, with astonish 
ing fury. But I fall down into the dust on my 
study floor, with tears, before the Lord; and then 
they quickly vanish, and it is fair weather again. 
Lord, what wilt thou do with me ?" 

In one respect he was more fortunate than could 
have been expected; for, as he has intimated, the 
attachment was made a subject of common conver- 


sation, and was carried about in a form not flatter 
ing or favorable to him. After complaining bitter 
ly of the manner in which he is misrepresented, he 
says ; " God strangely appears for me in this point 
also, by disposing the young gentlewoman, with her 
mother, to furnish me with their assertions that I 
have never done any unworthy thing. Yea, they 
have proceeded so far beyond all bounds in my 
vindication, as to say, that they verily look on Mr. 

M r to be as great a saint as any upon earth. 

Nevertheless, the devil owes me a spite, and he in 
spires his people in this town to whisper imperti 
nent stories." 

The perplexity, into which he was thrown, had 
a strong effect upon his ill-regulated mind ; and his 
friends, apprehensive of the consequences, urged him 
to marry again. Seeing how much his family of 
young children suffered for the want of a mother, 
" he looked to Heaven to heal the breach, that had 
been made in his household." Samuel Mather, who 
says very little of the first wife, is more diffuse on 
the subject of the second, who had the honor of 
being his mother. His father s petitions, he says, 
" were abundantly answered. God showed him a 
gentlewoman, a near neighbor, whose character I 
give, as I had it from those who intimately knew 
her. She was one of finished piety and probity, 
and of unspotted reputation ; one of good sense, 
and blessed with a complete discretion in ordering 


a household ; one of singular good humor, and in 
comparable sweetness of temper; one with a very 
handsome and engaging countenance, and honora 
bly descended and related. Twas Mrs. Elizabeth 
Hubbard ; she had been a widow four years, when 
Dr. Mather married her, which was August 18th, 
1703. He rejoiced in her, as having found great 

From this time, not however on account of this 
connexion, his condition began to change. The de 
cline of that respect and consideration, with which 
he had been regarded, began to make itself felt. 
He was at open enmity with the government, and 
was not sustained, as the antagonists of ruling pow 
ers are apt to be, by the sympathy and affection 
of the people. They, having learned to charge 
him with the guilt of misleading them on for 
mer occasions, were no longer disposed to follow 
his guidance, nor even to treat him with common 
respect and regard. This was sufficiently irrita 
ting to one like him, who had been accustomed to 
live on applause, and was almost famished with 
out it. 

When to this was added the evil of an unprom 
ising household of children, some of whom, though 
qualified by nature to be his glory, were fated to 
be his sorrow and shame, it is easy to see how 
dreary and depressing his closing years must have 
been. Even his piety, which, though strangely 


expressed, was no doubt sincere, depended so 
much on evidences and manifestations, that it was 
more likely to see, in these changes, signs of the 
displeasure, than of the trials and chastening, of 
the Most High. 



Governor Dudley. Disappointment of Cot 
ton Mather at not being chosen President 
of Harvard College. His extraordinary 
Letter to Governor Dudley. His Belief in 
the special Interpositions of Providence. 
Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. 
Received the Degree of Doctor of Divinity. 
His Domestic Afflictions. 

IN 1702, Joseph Dudley was appointed govern 
or of Massachusetts. He was strongly attached to 
New England, though he was not disposed to 
favor popular claims. When Andros was governor, 
he held the offices of chief justice and president of 
the council, and was severely handled at the time 
of Andros s fall. He was then appointed chief 
justice of New York; but he could not rest, till 
he obtained some commission in Massachusetts, 
which was the object of his desire and ambition, 
and was pursued, as was generally thought, with 
too little regard to the means employed. He was 
long engaged in soliciting the appointment, and did 
not receive it till 1702, when he had the address 
to procure a letter from Cotton Mather in his favor, 
which, being exhibited in England, removed the 


objections of the King, and was supposed to be the 
cause of his appointment to the chair. 

He found, on his arrival, that he had a difficult 
part to act. On the one hand he was to secure 
the prerogative of the crown, and on the other 
he desired the favor of the people. This occasion 
ed a conflict of purpose and action ; but, finding it 
impossible to please both sides, he resolved to 
keep on good terms with the fountain of honor and 
power. In order to do this, he was obliged to as 
sert his own prerogative in the first place ; and 
whereas Sir William Phips had been under the 
influence of some of the leading clergy, and Lord 
Bellamont s popularity saved him from the neces 
sity of taking such decided ground, Governor Dud 
ley was compelled to enter upon a course of claims 
and conduct, which were new to the people. 

The first step was to release himself from the 
clergy, whom he treated with respect, while he 
steadily refused to consult them. This was not 
pleasant to the Mathers, who conceived them 
selves entitled to consideration, the father from his 
public, the son from his personal services, and who 
were not prepared for the sudden change from un 
bounded respect and confidence to alienation and 

The early years of his administration were full 
of trouble, arising partly from the unprosperous 
state of the country, and partly from his collision 


with the representatives of the people, who stead 
ily opposed him in all his public designs. A 
letter written by his son, Paul Dudley, the at 
torney-general, was transmitted from England, in 
which he remarked, "The government and col 
lege are disposed of here in chimney-corners and 
private meetings, as confidently as can be. This 
country will never be worth living in for lawyers 
and gentlemen, till the charter is taken way. 
My father and I sometimes talk of the Queen s 
establishing a court of chancery in this country." 
This letter, taken in connexion with the governor s 
course of conduct, made him so unpopular, that 
many attempts were made to remove him, but 
without success. 

One circumstance, which was diligently used to 
his disadvantage, gave his enemies the opportunity 
to charge him with treasonable communication with 
the French, with whom the English were then at 
war. A person, who was sent to Nova Scotia to 
negotiate an exchange of prisoners, returned with 
a very small number, and was immediately charg 
ed with having spent his time in trading with the 
enemy, and supplying them with military stores, 
instead of attending to the business of his mission. 
Some merchants of note were also accused, and 
brought to trial with him, and all were found guilty. 

At the same time a memorial to the Queen, 
signed by Nathaniel Higginson and several others, 


some in Boston and others in London, charged 
Governor Dudley with participating in the guilt of 
these transactions. The Council and House of 
Representatives at once passed votes declaring their 
persuasion, that the charges were false; but, such 
was his unpopularity, that it was with the utmost 
difficulty he was able to maintain his ground. 

In 1707, at the death of Samuel Willard, Pres 
ident of Harvard College, if learning alone had 
been a sufficient qualification, Cotton Mather would 
have been selected to fill the vacancy; and he was 
so confident of receiving the appointment, that he 
observed days of fasting, after his usual manner, to 
solicit the divine direction. But Governor Dudley 
prevailed on Judge Leverett, who was one of his 
Council, and in every respect fitted for the trust, to 
accept the office, which he filled with usefulness 
and honor for many years. This appointment was 
a signal to the Mathers, that their influence was 
at an end, and they made no secret of their dis 
pleasure. While President Leverett was in the 
chair, they seldom, if ever, attended the meetings 
of the Overseers. Cotton Mather was not honored 
with a place in the Corporation ; while he was 
compelled to see Dr. Colman and Mr. Brattle, men 
with whom he was not on friendly terms, members 
of that board, and holding the concerns of the 
institution in their own control. 

Though many, who admired the attainments of 


Cotton Mather, were disappointed at his not re 
ceiving the charge of the College, the general senti 
ment approved the conduct of Governor Dudley 
in passing him by ; not from any disposition to 
underrate him, but from a conviction, apparently 
well-founded, that in judgment, prudence, and prac 
tical ability, he was inferior to others, who were 
not to be compared with him for learning. In 
fact the public feeling, in the latter part of Dud 
ley s administration, took a turn in his favor. His 
ability, patriotism, and engaging manners made 
friends of many, who had been strongly opposed to 
him in politics, and he was generally admitted to 
hold a high place among the useful and eminent 
men of the country. 

A passage found in Cotton Mather s Diary, dated 
June 16th, 1702, shows what kind of language he 
thought himself authorized to hold to the governor, 
and how much he was exasperated to find his coun 
sels disregarded. 

" I received a visit from Governor Dudley. 
Among other things that I said to him I used 
these words ; 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 to give occa- 


sion 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 jus 
tice, 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. Mathers. By the same rule I 
may say without offence, By no means let any peo 
ple say, that you go by no measures in your con 
duct but 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. The wretch went unto those men, 
and told them that I had advised him to be no 
ways advised by them ; and inflamed them into an 
implacable rage against me." 

Whatever degree of prudence the governor ex 
pected from Cotton Mather s reputation for that 
virtue, it cannot be regarded as surprising, that he 
should have taken this choice speech as a warning 
against Leverett and Byfield, nor that he should 
have felt as if there was something too assuming 
in such dictation from such a quarter. He proba 
bly did not put himself often in the way of so free 
a counsellor ; and the alienation, combined with 


other causes, created so much discontent in Cot 
ton Mather, that, in 17 07, he addressed a letter 
to Governor Dudley, which seems intended for 
no other purpose, than to express his own dis 

He begins this long and singular production by 
telling the governor, that he feels it to be his duty 
to give him some words of faithful advice; and 
this is what he proposes to do. Having heard 
that the governor had done him injuries, his pur 
pose is to return good for evil. He assures his 
Excellency, that a letter from himself, read to King 
William, had been the means of placing him in 
the chair of state ; and, if he never received any 
thanks for it, he had at least received all that he 

He would have Governor Dudley call to mind 
what he had said to him in former days. The 
whole country knew his efforts to lead the chief 
magistrate to a right discharge of duty. But it 
was all in vain. Had it been otherwise, he never 
would have known the meaning of a "troubled 
sea." But now it is evident, that the Lord has a 
controversy with him; and the best office of love, 
that can be done, is to show him wherein his ways 
have displeased the Lord. 

This office of love Cotton Mather performs in 
a very hearty manner, and without the least mani 
fest reluctance. He tells his Excellency, that the 


chief difficulty he has to contend with is covetous- 
ness, the thing which a ruler should hold in most 
aversion. When a man makes his government 
an engine to enrich himself, and does many base 
and dishonorable things for the sake of gain, it 
excludes him from the kingdom of Heaven, and 
sometimes from his worldly station. It was 
known, that he once said to Sir William Phips, 
that the office might be made worth twelve hun 
dred a year; to which Phips replied, that it could 
not be done by an honest man; but now it ap 
pears how the thing is done. 

He also tells the governor, that, to his own 
knowledge, he has been guilty of bribery and cor 
ruption. Besides, the infamous things done by 
his son reflect dishonor on him, because it is 
known, that they are intimately associated in all 
that they do. The Pagans themselves condemned 
such proceedings, but Christians in high office 
are seen practising what they condemned as the 
worst of crimes. This is pernicious to the Queen s 
government, but far more so to the man who is 
guilty, because there is one requisite of saving 
repentance, with which he can never bring him 
self to comply, and that is, restitution. 

He then goes on to charge the government with 

having carried on an unlawful trade with the 

enemies of his country. The circumstances are 

known, but it is feared, that, when an investiga- 

xi. 9 


tion takes place, the disgrace will be greater than 
it is now. The attempt to cover the transaction by 
a forced vote of the Council will not shield him. He 
then charges the governor with having libelled the 
people of New England in his official despatches 
to England. He also recounts the military enter 
prises of the existing administration ; Church, sent 
against Port Royal, but secretly forbidden to take 
it, and the forces retreating from it as if they were 
afraid of its being surrendered. These proceed 
ings, to say nothing of the expense, bring a shame 
on the country, that will not soon be forgotten. 

He tells the governor, that, hi all civil affairs, 
he is irregular, impatient, and not the least reli 
ance can be placed upon his word. Sometimes 
he asserts a thing with great vehemence, and soon 
after, if any indirect purpose is to be answered, 
he asserts the contrary with equal decision. The 
Council are not allowed to deliberate ; they are 
hurried, forced, and driven; and when they are 
thus pushed into unjust measures, the governor 
lays they are wholly owing to the Council. A 
day is sometimes appointed for the election of 
justices ; it is often privately altered, and an ear 
lier one appointed, when none are 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. 

Finally, Cotton Mather 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 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 ; 
he forgets and forgives all injuries, and prays that 
the governor may have an old age full of good 
fruits and a blessing in both worlds. 

Such was the tenor of this courteous communi 
cation, which had evidently been prepared for, 
by a long series of mortifications ; not probably 
intended on the governor s part, but still felt and 
resented as if each one was aimed at the heart. 

This letter was accompanied with another of 
the same date, also addressed to the governor, by 
Increase Mather, and written in the same tone 
with that of his son. The governor answered 
both at once, saying that he was not so destitute 


ol the Christian temper, as not to be willing to 
receive admonitions and reproofs addressed to him 
in a proper spirit, but such as theirs did not 
answer to that description. Their address, he 
says, would have been insolent, if addressed to 
the humblest man, and, when directed to the chief 
magistrate of the State, was quite insufferable. 
He thought, that, when admonitions were given, 
the facts charged should be matters of proof, not 
mere suspicion ; that the reproof should be ad 
ministered with meekness, not contempt; and 
given, moreover, when the adviser is in a good 
temper, and not influenced by prejudice, wrath, 
and ill-will. 

As to their charges, they have been very cred 
ulous, if they believed them ; but, if they were all 
true, their spirit and manner would be quite as 
unjustifiable. He does not answer their accusa 
tions, which would take more time than he has 
to spare ; he exhorts them not to disturb tfo 
peace of the province by their seditious harangue, 
but to suffer the other clergymen, m^n in every 
respect as good as they, to have a share in che 
government of the College. This seems to have 
been the chief difficulty ; for the governor says to 
them, that either that institution must be disposed 
of according to their opinion, and against that of 
all the rest of the clergy, or the chief magistrate 
must be torn in pieces 


Cotton Mather does not say a word in relation 
to the College, but his father speaks of the Col 
lege charter, which he says might have been 
confirmed by the royal governmei-t, if Governor 
Dudley had done his duty. 

The breach between the governor anc Cotton 
Mather was never healed ; and the latter aj. pre- 
hended, that the man in office would make him 
feel the effects of his displeasure. In 1709, there 
are several allusions to the governor in his Diary. 
On one occasion, when speaking of a day of fast 
ing and prayer, he says, that he supplicated, that 
he might be saved from the malice of the governor 
and council, who suspected him to have been the 
author of a work lately arrived from England, in 
which their criminal mismanagement was exposed 
to public censure. Again he says, " The other 
ministers of the town are this day feasting with 
our wicked governor. I have, by my provoking 
plainness and freedom, in telling this Ahab of his 
wickedness, procured myself to be left out of his 
invitations. I rejoiced in my liberty from the 
temptations, wherewith they were encumbered. 
I set apart the day for fasting with prayer, and 
the special intention of the day was to obtain de 
liverance and protection from my enemies. I 
mentioned their names unto the Lord, who has 
promised to be my shield. I sang agieeable 
psalms, and left my cause with the Lord." 


Nothing could exceed his confidence in the 
immediate efficacy of such prayer for temporal 
blessings. In the same year, he remarks that he 
had taken a violent cold, from exposure in bad 
weather, and was threatened with a fever. Instead 
of resorting to the usual remedies, he says, " I 
set apart the day for fasting and prayer with 
abundant alms. I sang the beginning of the 
forty-first psalm, and my malady vanished beyond 
expectation." The consequences of neglecting 
to pray were equally direct. He records, that, 
about the same time, his son Nathaniel, an infant, 
was sick, and he neglected to pray for him as 
fervently as he ought. The consequence was, 
that the child died, and the father reproached 
himself, as if he was persuaded that its life might 
have been easily saved, if he had attended to his 

There was no case whatever, to which this 
kind of supplication did not apply. In the same 
year he takes notice of an incident, which he calls 
a very particular effect of prayer. 

" Though I am furnished with a very great 
library," said he, " yet, seeing a library of a late 
minister in the town was to be sold, and a certain 
collection of books therein, which had in it, may 
be, above six hundred single sermons, I could not 
forbear wishing to be made able to compass such a 
treasure. I could not forbear mentioning my 


wishes in my prayers, before the Lord, that, in 
case it might be of service to his interests, he 
would enable me, in his good Providence, to jur- 
chase the treasure now before me. But I left the 
matter before him with the profoundest resignation, 
willing to be without every thing, which he should 
not order for me. Behold ! a gentleman, who a 
year ago treated me very ill, (but I cheerfully for 
gave him,) carried me home to dine with him, and, 
upon an accidental mention of the library afore 
said, compelled me to accept of him a sum of 
money, which enabled me to come at what I had 
been desirous of." 

He could not have had means of his own to 
spare for such a purpose ; for, at the same time, he 
records, that, owing to the largeness of his family, 
he was in such wants and straits, that he was, liter 
ally speaking, in rags, and his children were no 
better arrayed. 

This special interposition, as he deemed it, some 
times gave him light upon the subject of political 
movements, which agitated the country. As New 
England was deeply interested in the national 
quarrels with France, and compelled more than 
once to fight the battles of Great Britain, the pecK 
pie here naturally watched the proceedings of the 
two nations with an anxious interest, which was in 
creased by the difficulty and delay of sending in 
telligence across the sea. 


He says, in 1703, "The 24th day, second 
month, was a fast, in which I enjoyed considerable 
assistance. In my sermon, I let fall these words. 
6 I have much reason to suspect that a war is 
breaking out in Europe. In the late peace of Rys- 
wick, the wind came not about the right way. 
There must be another storm and war, before all 
clearness. If it should be so, there is reason to 
suspect that the French oppressor, who wants noth 
ing but New England to render him the master of 
all America, and has been under provocation 
enough to fall foul upon us, may, before we do so 
much as hear of a war proclaimed, swallow us up. 
Three days after this, arrived very surprising intel 
ligence indeed, which represented unto us all 
Europe in a new flame, and the union between 
France and Spain. The nations are in a most 
prodigious convulsion. Great Britain, particularly, 
is in extreme hazard and ferment, and the planta 
tions are in a very hazardous condition." 

He never was able to contemplate foreign or 
domestic politics with any satisfaction, till the ac 
cession of Governor Shute. Whether his partial 
ity for him was personal or political, does not ap 
pear, but his registry in 1717 affords a strong 
contrast to his memorials of the days of Governor 
Dudley. He writes, " Our excellent governor, 
who has delivered the country from a flood of cor 
ruptions, which was introduced by selling places, 


is to be encouraged ; and a course must be taken, 
that he may be vindicated from the aspersions of 
a cursed crew in this place, who traduce him as 
guilty of that iniquity." 

But his notice of the College at the same time is 
written in a different tone. " July 3d. This day. 
being the Commencement as they call it, a time of 
much resort into Cambridge, and sorrily enough 
thrown away, I chose to remain at home, and I set 
apart a good part of it unto prayer, that the College, 
which is on many accounts in a very neglected 
and unhappy condition, and has been betrayed by 
vile practices, may be restored unto better circum 
stances, and be such a nursery of piety, industry, 
and all erudition, as that the churches may see 
therein the compassion of the Lord Jesus unto 
them." It will be seen hereafter, that the College 
never rose in his esteem. At the time when he 
wrote these words, it was supposed by all others 
to have an uncommon measure of peace and pros 
perity within its walls. 

The year 1713 brought an unusual variety of 
incidents to him and to his family, some of them 
welcome, others severely trying. Among the lat 
ter class may be set down the circumstance, that a 
new church was formed, or, as he expresses it, 
swarmed from his own ; a movement which became 
necessary from the crowded state of the house, 
but which appears to have been very unpleasant to 


him. Possibly he was vexed, that any were wil 
ling to leave him ; or it may have been, that some 
of those, who separated, were the most valuable 
members of his society. He makes constant ref 
erence to this matter in his Diary, till the arrange 
ments are entirely completed, and praises himself 
repeatedly for the judicious, conciliating, and ex 
cellent course, which he was enabled to pursue 

This praise, however, was not awarded him by 
all concerned. There is an interesting journal of 
Mr. Barnard of Marblehead, which it is understood 
will soon be published, in which he gives a full ac 
count of the proceedings of Cotton Mather and 
his father. Mr. Barnard says, that the new house 
was intended for himself; but that Cotton Mather 
addressed the members of the society privately, 
and used all kinds of machinations to induce them 
to pass over him, and to select another. In this 
attempt he succeeded ; but, according to Mr. 
Barnard, many men of influence severely con 
demned his conduct on the occasion. Nor did it 
pass without its retribution ; for, afterwards, the 
clergyman, for whom the Mathers had interested 
themselves, proved contumacious, and gave them 
cause to regret his election. Then they lamented 
their intrigue when too late, and wished that they 
could get rid of him, and have Mr. Barnard in 
his stead. It is not safe to rely wholly on the 
Itatements of the most respectable witnesses, in 


cases where they are personally concerned. Cot- 
con Mather does not speak of Mr. Barnard in his 
Diary, and probably did not think himself presum 
ing, when he gave his sentiments freely to those, 
who were at the time a portion of his own people. 

In the eighth month he records, that he re 
ceived letters from the Secretary of the Royal 
Society, who told him that his Curios a Americana 
had been read before that body ; and, so well satis 
fied were they with it, that they presented to him, 
in acknowledgment, the thanks of the Society. 
They also signified their wish and intention to 
admit him a member of the Society ; and he was 
assured, that at their next lawful meeting he 
should be regularly admitted. This, says the 
Diary, " is a marvellous favor of Heaven to me ; 
a most surprising favor." 

There were many in New England, who, ac 
cording to his son, " were so foolish and impudent 
as to doubt, nay, to deny feis right to that title." 
They gave as a reason, that his name was not 
included among the published members of the 
Royal Society. His son explains it by saying, 
that, though any of his Majesty s subjects, in any 
of his dominions, might be members of that So 
ciety, they could not have their names on the list, 
if they were absent. Foreigners were exempted 
from thi necessity ; but it was not accorded to 
English, or Americans, without their passing 


through the ceremony of a formal admission. 
He also says, that, whenever his father received 
letters from members of that Society, they always 
gave him his title as one of their number. The 
subject seems to be decided by the Secretary s 
words ; " As for your being chosen a member of 
the Royal Society, that has been done, both by 
the Council and body of that Society ; only the 
ceremony of admission is wanting ; which, you 
being beyond the sea, cannot be performed." 

He also received the degree of Doctor oi 
Divinity from the University of Glasgow, accom 
panied with letters, which expressed to him the 
high respect in which he was held in Great 
Britain. His son establishes his right to this 
honor, by quoting from the oration of the renown 
ed Zanchy, who said, " Who can reject whom 
God hath promoted? Who can deny the title 
of doctor to him, whom God has endowed with 
such excellent gifts as are worthy of a doctor 
indeed?" The same, he says, "may be said 
concerning Mr. Mather. When he was worthy 
of the doctorate, why should he not have it ? " 

He does not seem to have been insensible to 
these distinctions. It is said, that some of his 
friends advised him to wear his signet ring, as a 
token and assertion of his being a doctor of divini 
ty ; not out of any vanity of ornament, but out 
01 obedience to the fifth commandment. This 


commandment was never before thought broad 
enough to cover such a case, but it was sufficient 
to weigh with him. " The Doctor therefore 
would wear this ring; and made this action, so 
seemingly inconsiderable, a great engine of re 
ligion." " The emblem on the Doctor s signet 
is a tree, with Psalm i. 3, written under it, and 
about it, Glascua rigavit. The cast of his eye 
upon this, constantly provoked him to pray, ( O 
God make me a very fruitful tree, and help me to 
bring forth seasonable fruit continually. 

A notice taken in his Diary of a contemplated 
journey to Ipswich, while it shows, that in his day 
a ride of that distance was a serious affair, mani 
fests the sorrow, with which the vanity of others 
sometimes filled him, and at the same time proves 
in a striking manner the absence of it from his 
own breast. 

" I have some thoughts concerning taking a 
journey to Salem and Ipswich, within a week or 
two, having there a very great opportunity to 
glorify my Savior, and to edify his people. I 
therefore carried the whole affair before the Lord, 
that all the circumstances of it may be ordered in 
very faithfulness ; and particularly that the fond 
expectations of the people, flocking in great multi 
tudes to hear me, may not provoke the Lord any 
way to leave me to confusion, as a chastisement 
for their lanity. But as I observed a strange 


coldness in my prayers about my journey to 
Ipswich, so there fell out something next week 
which prevented my going thither at all." 

In the course of the next month, he accom 
plished this journey, of which he speaks as a 
citizen of Boston would now speak of a tour to 
the Rocky Mountains. He travelled unto Salem, 
and the day after unto Ipswich, preaching in both 
places, and after a few days returned, rejoicing 
that " the Lord had smiled on his journey, and 
filled it with comfort and service." 

In this year, 1713, he was called to endure 
much domestic distress. His wife was taken sick 
with the illness of which she died. He mentions 
her in the Diary, praising her for her piety, her 
amiable disposition, and the prudence with which 
she conducted his affairs. The measles came 
into his family and seized her and her children. 
On the 8th day of the ninth month he writes ; 
" When I saw my consort very easy, and the 
measles appearing with favorable symptoms upo 
her, I flattered myself, that my fear was all over 
But, this day, we are astonished at the surprising 
symptoms of death upon her, after an extreme 
want of rest by sleep for divers whole days anc? 
nights together. To part with so desirable, so 
agreeable a companion ! a dam from such a nest 
of young ones too ! Oh, the sad cup which my 
Father hath appointed me ! * " God made her 


willing to die. God extinguished in her the feai 
of death. God enabled her to commit herself to 
the hands of a great and good Savior ; yea, and 
to cast her orphans there too. I prayed with her 
many times, and left nothing undone that I could 
find myself able to do for her consolation." " On 
Monday my dear, dear, dear friend expired. 
Whereupon with another prayer in that melan 
choly chamber, I endeavored the resignation to 
which I am called I cried to Heaven for the 
grace that might be suitable to this calamitous 
occasion, and carried my orphans to the Lord. 
Oh, the prayers fcr my poor children ! oh ! the 
counsels to them, now called for ! " 

Eleven days after the death of his wife, he 
writes ; " Little Martha died at ten o clock in the 
morning." " I am again called to the sacrifice of 
my dear, dear Jerusha. Just before she died, 
she asked me to pray with her ; which I did, with 
a distressed, but resigning soul ; and I gave her 
up unto the Lord. The minute that she died, 
she said she would go to Jesus Christ. She had 
lain speechless for many hours. But in her last 
moments, her speech returned a little unto her. 
Lord ! I am oppressed ! undertake for me ! " 



Philanthropic Undertakings. He Attempts to, 
Christianize the Negroes. Manner in which 
he employed his Time. Habits of Industry. 
First Introduction of Inoculation into Ameri 
ca. It is boldly and firmly sustained by Cotton 
Mather against a violent Opposition. Much 
Praise due for the Part he acted. Early 
and successful Labors of Dr. Boylston in this 
Cause. Warm Controversy on the Subject. 

IT is a little remarkable, that a man, so much 
engaged in his studies as Cotton Mather, should 
have been so constantly suggesting philanthropic 
undertakings ; and while his infirmities are re 
membered, these bright points in his character 
ought in justice to be brought out in bold relief. 
One of the subjects, which troubled him most, 
was the prevailing intemperance of the day. He 
wrote and published much on the subject. Being 
himself habitually temperate, he recommended his 
own experience to others ; and, though no general 
reform was produced by his exertions, he succeed 
ed in awakening some to a sense of the danger to 
which the country, as well as individuals, was ex 
posed by the alarming prevalence of the sin. He 


records in his Diary ; " About this time a name 
less and unknown gentleman sent me his desire, 
with what was needful for defraying the expense, 
that a paragraph in my Theopolis Americana, 
relating to the abuse and excess of rum, should 
be printed by itself, and sent unto every part of 
the country." 

One of the subjects mentioned in Cotton 
Mather s Diary is slavery, which, even as mat 
ter of history, is so completely forgotten in New 
England, that when he speaks of buying slaves, 
as he does more than once, he seems like an in 
habitant of another country. He says, that, in the 
year 1706, he received a singular blessing. Some 
gentleman of his society, having heard accidentally 
that he was much in want of a good servant, had 
the generosity to purchase for him " a very likely 
slave," at an expense of forty or fifty pounds. 
He describes him as a negro of promising aspect 
and temper, and says, that such a present was 
" a mighty smile of Heaven upon his family." 
He gave him the name of Onesimus, and resolved 
to use his best endeavors to instruct him in useful 
knowledge, and all that related to the religious 
improvement of his soul. 

One act is very honorable to his philanthropy 
and kindness of heart. Perceiving that the ne 
groes, though kindly treated, had not those advan 
tages of instruction, which were necessary to make 

XL 10 


them familiar with the religion which he wished 
to have them embrace, he established a school, 
in which they were taught to read. And he him 
self bore the whole expense of it, paying the 
instructress for her services at the close of every 
week. There are many, who point out to others 
the way of duty and benevolent exertion; but 
this was better ; it showed that he was willing to 
make sacrifices as well as to enjoin them on 
others ; indeed, that he would sometimes impose 
on himself, what he would not ask others to do. 

But common as this traffic then was, his atten 
tion was earnestly devoted to the subject of Chris 
tianizing this portion of our race ; and the zeal, 
which he manifested, considering that it was not 
caught by sympathy, but originated in his own 
breast, was such as did honor to his feelings. In 
the beginning of June, 1706, he writes ; " I did, 
with the help of Heaven, despatch a work, which 
my heart was greatly set upon, a work which may 
prove of everlasting benefit to many of the elect 
of God, a work which is calculated for the honor 
and interest of a glorious Christ, a work which 
will enrage the devil at such a rate, that I must 
expect he will fall upon me with a storm of more 
than ordinary temptations. I must immediately 
he buffeted in some singular manner by that re- 
rengeful adversary. I wrote as well-contrived an 
essay as I could, for the animating and facilitating 


that work, the Christianizing of the negroes 
And my design is, not only to lodge one in ever} 
family in New England, that has a negro in it, 
but also to send numbers of them unto the Indies." 
This looking for consequences to follow from 
every act of virtue attended him through life 
After every act of kindness, he waited for some 
sign of approbation from above, and some visita 
tion of anger from below. Considering the variety 
of accidents in life, not many days could pass 
without something, which he could ascribe to ono 
source or the other. And so on this occasion. 
A trouble, which had followed him for a long 
time, became, as it would seem, in consequence 
of this publication, severer and more fatal than 
ever. For, immediately after, he r f>cords ; " Amom> 
the many trials and humiliations v which the Hoi} 
One has appointed for me, not the least has been 
the affliction of having some very wirked relations. 
Especially, I have two brothers-in-law, who can 
hardly be matched in New England Tor theii 
wickedness. I have never done these creatures 
any harm in my life. I have essayed numberless 
ways to do them good ; but Satan inspire- them 
even to a degree of sensible possession. A Satanic 
rage against me possesses their hearts and tongues. 
The first of these prodigies, namely, T. O., mar 
ried my lovely sister, Hannah, a most ingenious 
and sweet-natured and good-carriaged child, and 


that would have been a wife to make any gentle* 
man happy ; but married unto a raving brute 
The fellow, whom they called her husband, per 
fectly murdered her by his base and abusive way 
of treating her; and he chose to employ in a 
special manner the ebullitions of his venom against 
me, to worry her out of her life, who loved me 
dearly. At last, on the first day of the tenth 
month, the pangs of death came upon her ; her 
death was long and hard, and has awakened me 
more than ever to pray for an easy death. She 
kept, in her dying distresses, calling on me, her 
brother, her brother ! " 

If we may credit his own statement, these trials 
had no unfavorable effect upon his disposition. 
He was constant in his self-examination ; but he 
does not seem to have been fully aware, that the 
feelings, which are uppermost in the repose of the 
study, may differ from those, which are called up 
in the excitement of the world. Nor does he 
seem to have known, that feelings are little to be 
trusted, never to be trusted without the evidence 
of deeds ; and that we need that evidence, to con 
vince ourselves, as well as others, that we possess 
the feelings, from which alone they can flow. 
There is no doubt that he believed himself what 
he professes to have been. That he was really 
as self-forgetful as he imagined, is not so sure 
In the same year he writes ; " My love to nrr 


neighbor improves to a very sweet serenity. 1 
take an unspeakable pleasure in all manner of 
beneficence. If I can see an opportunity to do 
good, I want no arguments to move me to it. I 
do it naturally, delightfully, with rapture. There 
is this enjoyment added unto the rest ; as I am 
nothing before God, so I am willing to be rothing 
among men. I have no fondness at all for ap 
plause and honor in the world. It is with a sort 
of horror, if I perceive myself applauded. I have 
a dread of being honored. I am got above anger 
at those, who think or speak meanly of me." 

It may not be uninteresting to read an account 
of the manner, in which his days were generally 
spent. The reader will observe, that the expres 
sions are his own, though it cannot easily be given 
in the form of quotation. He complained, that 
for a great part of his time he was dead. Too 
much of his precious time was consumed in sleep. 
Through his feebleness, or, as he said, his slothful- 
ness, he sweated away the morning in rest, and 
did not rise till seven. As soon as he left his 
bed, he sang a hymn, to show forth the loving 
kindness of God in the morning, and then wrote 
down remarks on some subject, which had en 
gaged his thoughts the night before ; after which 
he proceeded to add to his BibKa Americana. 
Then he offered his morning prayers in his study, 
in which, besides his usual supplications, he fetched 


new matters of petition from what he had just 
oeen writing. 

It was not till after these private devotions, that 
h -; went down to his family. With them he read 
a portion of the Scriptures, with remarks suggest 
ed by the words, and then joined with them 
in prayer ; after which he retired to his study 
where he employed himself without permitting 
any interruption through the remainder of the 

At dinner, he made it his regular business to 
converse on some subject, from which his family 
could derive instruction and improvement ; as soon 
as it was over, he returned to his study and re 
commenced his labors with a prayer. 

His afternoons were generally spent in his 
study, with the exception of one, or at most two, 
in the week, which were devoted to pastoral 
visits. As soon as the evening began to fall, he 
assembled his family, and read to them a psalm, 
with remarks upon it as he read. Then they 
sang the psalm, and he closed with his evening 
family prayer. 

The evening was generally spent In his study, 
though :ie sometimes indulged himself in a visit 
to a neighbor. At ten o clock he came to his 
light supper, and spent some time in conversation 
with his family. He then returned to his study, 
and after meditating on what he had done, and 


what he had neglected to do in the past day, he 
humbled himself on his knees before the Lord. 
When he retired to rest, he carried some book 
with him and read till he fell asleep. 

The proceedings, which took place when the 
attempt was first made to introduce the practice 
of inoculating with the small-pox, afford a curious 
example of the resolute ignorance, with which 
improvement is always resisted ; and they also 
exhibit the subject of this memoir in a very 
advantageous point of light ; showing, that, in all 
caces not within the province of superstition, he 
had sagacity to discern the truth, and that he had 
moral courage to assert his convictions, at a time 
when he felt that he was unpopular, and that his 
support of the new doctrine would add to the 
general aversion. 

It has been said, and possibly it is true, that 
inoculation prevailed in Wales and in the High 
lands long before it was introduced into medical 
practice. But, however this may have been, it 
never was extensively known, and was at last 
introduced to the notice of the English by the 
letters of two Italian physicians, Pilarini and Si- 
moni, who became acquainted with it in Turkey. 
Simoni, or Simonius, as he is learnedly called, 
was a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1713, he 
wrote from Constantinople, that this practice had 
been brought into that city from the Georgians 


and Circassians, about forty years before. At 
first, the people were cautious and afraid ; but 
their fears were removed by the uniform success 
of the experiment, and it came into general favor. 

This account was fully confirmed by Pilarini, 
Venetian consul at Smyrna, who did not seem to 
have known what was written by the former. 
He says, that it was in use among the poorer sort 
of the Greeks long before it was adopted by phy 
sicians. A noble Greek, who was anxious for his 
children, consulted him respecting them. While 
they were conversing on the subject, a Greek 
woman, who was an inoculatrix by profession, 
came in, and such were her statements and proofs, 
that they determined to submit the children to the 
operation. They did it accordingly, and they all 
recovered. The news of this success spread 
abroad at once, and inoculation was soon estab 
lished in the general favor. 

It appeared from the testimony of the Negroes, 
that a similar practice had long been known in 
Africa, where the small-pox was common and fa 
tal. Such was the weight of testimony in its favor, 
that, in 1717, the celebrated Lady Mary Wortley 
Montague, wife of the English ambassador in 
Constantinople, had a child inoculated there ac 
cording to the custom of the country. She after 
wards had another child inoculated in England, 
and her example produced an effect upon the 


mgher orders, who followed the dictates of fashion, 
when they would have laughed at science and 

As soon as Cotton Mather saw the letters 
above mentioned, he was struck with the advan 
tages of the practice, and his zeal was quickened 
by the alarm, which the coming of the small-pox 
had spread throughout the town. In May, 1721, 
he records in his Diary ; " The grievous calamity 
of the small-pox has entered the town. The 
practice of conveying and suffering the small-pox 
by inoculation has never yet been used in Ameri 
ca, nor indeed in any nation ; but how many 
lives might be saved by it, if it were practised ! 
I will procure a consult of physicians, and lay the 
matter before them." 

There are several memoranda about the same 
time, which show how much he was troubled. 
" I have two children, that are taken with this 
distemper, and I am at a loss about their flying 
and keeping out of town. My African servant 
stands candidate for baptism, and is afraid how the 
small-pox, if it spread, may handle him." He 
endeavored, as he proposed, to submit the matter 
to the physicians ; but he was received by them 
with less cordiality than might have been ex 
pected. Perhaps they considered him an intruder 
upon the ground of their profession. 

There is something curious enough in the sort 


of arguments employed by the two parties, which 
immediately prepared for war. The clergy, who 
were generally in favor of inoculation, supported 
it by arguments drawn from medical science ; 
while the physicians, who were as much united 
against it, opposed it with arguments which were 
chiefly theological, alleging that it was presump 
tuous in man to inflict disease on man, that being 
the prerogative of the Most High. 

Not one of the faculty would listen to Cotton 
Mather, except Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, one of 
those strong-hearted men, who deserve to be most 
honorably remembered, for the services to their 
fellow-men rendered against their will. Cotton 
Mather first applied to Dr. Douglas, a physician 
of Scotch descent, and educated abroad, who 
treated the suggestion with contempt, and after 
wards opposed it by all the means in his power. 
But, when he applied to Dr. Boylston, a man of 
higher order, he was at once struck with the in 
telligence, and welcomed it as a signal blessing to 
the world In 1721, he inoculated two hundred 
and seven .y-one patients, of whom very few died ; 
and being thoroughly convinced of its advantages, 
he continued the practice through such a storm of 
abuse as reformers are apt to encounter. 

Through the whole, he was manfully sustained 
by the clergy. The Boston Association used all 
possible exertions to enlighten the minds of the 


people ; but the people thought them wandering 
oeyond the sphere of their professional duty, and 
were less likely to know the truth on the subject 
than the physicians. They were hardly listened 
to with patience on the Sabbath, and for a time, 
it seemed as if the existing religious institutions 
would be overthrown. 

Cotton Mather records his indignation and sor 
row in sufficiently expressive words. " The 
cursed clamor of a people," said he, " strangely 
and fixedly possessed of the devil, will probably 
prevent my saving the lives of my two children." 
He is full of distress about Sammy. The poor 
child begged that he might receive the disorder 
by inoculation, instead of being left to the hazards 
of the common way, and his father desired to 
gratify so reasonable a request ; but, on the other 
hand, he saw the people so possessed with fury, 
that he apprehended serious consequences, if he 
took the course which he thought the best. It 
must be recorded to his honor, that he acted ac 
cording to his conscience, and determined to brave 
the consequences, whatever they might be. 

Dr. Boylston was soon attacked in such a 
manner, as compelled him to appear in his own 
defence ; which he did in a spirited manner, and 
such as implied that he wrote, less to remove 
aspersions from himself, than from the new dis 
covery, which was destined to take away the 


terrors of one of the worst diseases, that afflicted 
the world. His " Account of what is said of 
inoculating or transplanting the Small Pox," was 
published in 1721. After describing the accounts 
of the Eastern physicians, which he was obliged 
to do at second hand, since the only person who 
had the book refused to lend it, he says, that it 
would be easy for him, if it were necessary, to 
answer the attacks which had been made upon 
him ; but he thinks, that a considerate man ought 
rather to decline foolish contentions. He shall 
therefore take not the least notice of them, hoping 
that his character and conduct will vindicate them 
selves with all reflecting men. 

It is not often, that one so situated has the 
good sense to keep steadily to his purpose, with 
out resenting insults and injuries, particularly when 
they are sustained and echoed by the public voice. 
In this pamphlet he says, that, considering the 
general excitement, he is afraid to say on what 
numbers he has performed the operation ; but he 
assures his readers, that, though he considered 
himself yet a learner, his success had been com 

One of the most dispassionate reasoners on the 
other side, in a " Letter addressed to a Gentleman 
in the Country," attempted to show, that the 
whole question turned on two points. " First ; 
When God sends judgments, such as wasting dis- 


tempers on men, what are the means of preserva 
tion, which men may lawfully employ ? The 
second ; Is inoculation a lawful means, and capable 
of affording relief? " In respect to the first, he 
maintains that God, for wise and unknown reasons, 
sends those judgments, and that men must bear 
them with patient submission, or resort to the only 
appointed means of relief, which are humiliation 
and prayer. We are nowhere permitted to use 
human means to anticipate and prevent them ; 
and, if we make the attempt, it will only make 
the visitation severer when it comes. 

If the originator of this choice argument was a 
physician, his principle, carried out, would have 
interfered to some extent with his practice ; since, 
according to him, we must wait for the disease to 
come, in other words, to see whether the patient 
will die, before any means are used to restore him. 
But, having some consciousness of the difficulty, 
to which his argument would reduce him, the 
writer was constrained to allow, that, in ordinary 
cases, diseases might be resisted ; but, in the case 
of epidemics, to maintain that they might be pre 
vented was blasphemy, and to make the attempt 
was sin. With the same force the writer argues, 
that the success of inoculation is far from being 
evidence in its favor ; since unjustifiable attempts 
ot*en succeed and prosper in this wicked world. 

In treating of the second point, the writer takes 


his stand upon the strong ground of the sixth com 
mandment. That commandment forbids our dome 


any thing, which has a tendency to endanger the 
lives of our neighbors. He says, there is no doubt 
that inoculation has this tendency, both to destroy 
the inoculated person, and those around him. 
This seems a little like begging the question ; ut 
the writer takes this matter to be too clear for 
discussion, and declares, that, unless men are eaten 
up with prejudice, they must be awake to its 
iniquities and dangers. On the whole, he de 
clares, that it so openly opposes the principles of 
the Gospel, and is so manifest a resistance to 
divine Providence, that every conscientious per 
son must give it up as scandalous to religion and 
dangerous to the world. 

One of the best publications of the time was 
written by Dr. Colman, minister of the Brattle- 
Street Church. He recommends it, without argu 
ments drawn from theology or medicine, simply 
on the ground of its success ; which was evidently 
the thing most important to ascertain ; and, if that 
was once made certain, the controversy was at an 
end. He brings forward his own experience and 
observation, to show that this disorder, once so 
dreadful, has been tamed down, by this practice, 
to a harmless indisposition ; and his desire is, that 
no prejudice may prevent men from enjoying its 
benefits and blessings. 


It is quite refreshing to read the remarks made 
by a man of sense at such times, who, instead of 
arguing for his own side, takes a larger view of 
the subject, and pleads for the interests of his 
race. In the close of his pamphlet Dr. Colman 
says, that he does not consider himself as having 
overstepped the line of his profession ; for to save 
life and give comfort becomes him and every one 
else. He says, that, if he has betrayed any ignor 
ance of medical science, it is of no importance ; 
he shall at least be conscious, that he has written 
for the good of his people. 

Next came " Several Arguments, proving that 
Inoculating the Small-pox is not contained in the 
Law of Physic, either Natural or Divine, and 
therefore Unlawful." It is a striking contrast to 
Dr. Colman s plain and manly statement. The 
writer dedicates it to the Selectmen of Boston. 
After acknowledging himself unequal to his under 
taking, he remarks to those men of authority ; 
" Say not who hath written, but consider what is 
written, and I pray God to give you understand 
ing." The syllogisms of this writer are irresistible. 
He says, " If inoculation is not contained in the 
rules of natural physic, it is unlawful ; the rules 
of natural physic are sympathy and antipathy , 
now inoculation is neither a sympathy nor antipa 
thy ; therefore it is not lawful." Probably there 
never was a process of argument conducted with 
greater ease and success. 


Next he considers it with respect to divinity , 
saying, that if there is no rule in the word of God 
to found inoculation upon ; if it perverts the rights 
of the fatherless and the widow ; if it is doing 
violence to nature, it is certainly unholy. Now 
inoculation, says Mr. John Williams, is clearly 
liable to all these objections, and therefore is 

In an equally summary manner, he disposes of 
the clergy, thinking that a minister cannot under 
stand any thing beyond the limits of his profession ; 
a doctrine, which is not without acceptance in 
modern times, though it does not appear, by what 
peculiar disability a clergyman should be incapa 
ble of that, which is easy to all the rest of the 
world. He makes one suggestion, that must have 
been truly alarming. He advises people to in 
quire, whether, when they think they are trans 
ferring only the small-pox, they may not at the 
same time transfer to a healthy subject all the 
ailments of the individual from whom the matter 
is taken, such as the gout, the rheumatism, or the 
stone. This writer, though sufficiently disposed 
to be severe upon the clergy, is mild and moder 
ate compared to another, who wrote concerning 
" Inoculation as practised in Boston." 

The author disclaims any purpose of bringing 
contempt upon the clergy ; but he thinks, that the 
six " inoculating ministers," as he calls them, 


ought to be exposed to public displeasure. He 
states, that the practice was introduced by Cotton 
Mather, who, being a man of credulity and whim, 
and having accidentally seen the Transactions of 
the Royal Society, tried to induce the physicians 
to make the experiment, but without success, till 
he found one, more bold than wise, who did as 
he was desired, but so rashly and unfortunately, 
that he was publicly exposed. Upon this he 
applied to his ministers to save his reputation ; 
and thereupon they, with four more, testified to his 
reputation and success. Having once taken their 
ground, these clergymen chose rather to hazard 
the lives of all the community, than to retract 
what they had once asserted. Such is the man 
ner in which, when controversy rages, characters 
are trifled with and facts distorted. 

This pamphlet, which appeared without a name, 
and is particularly severe upon Cotton Mather, 
was answered in a " Friendly Debate " by Aca- 
demicus, who appears to take it for granted, that 
Douglas was the author, from his making one of 
the parties to the debate a Scotchman, and allud 
ing to Douglas in terms that could not be mis 
taken. The object of the " Friendly Debate " was 
to defend the clergy, and particularly the Mathers, 
from Douglas s charges ; and the whole is written 
with a coarse freedom, which does not give a very 
pleasant impression. 

XI. 11 


It seems that Douglas was the person, who 
had in his possession the only copy of the Philo 
sophical Transactions. So great a regard did he 
profess for the health of the community, that he 
would not lend the book even to the governor, 
who applied for permission to read it. He ap 
pears to have been a man of some ability, but of 
a temper so assuming and disputatious, that he 
was soon engaged in a general warfare. Afte. 
doing all in his power, which was considerable, to 
resist the improvement, and to injure those who 
abetted it, he was obliged at last to subscribe tc 
the opinions of " the bold and ignorant quack," as 
he courteously termed Dr. Boylston. 

The result of the investigation held by the town 
authorities, assisted in their deliberation by the 
physicians, was the publication of certain resolu 
tions, which were produced with great solemnity 
on the 21st of July, 1721. They say, that it 
appears by numerous instances, that inoculation 
has proved the death of many persons, soon after 
the operation, and has brought distempers on many 
others, which were fatal to them at last ; also, tnat 
" the natural tendency of infusing such malignant 
filth into the mass of blood is to corrupt and putrefy 
it," and, if there is not a sufficient discharge of thai 
malignity, it lays the foundation of many danger 
ous diseases ; also, that the operation tends to 
spread and continue the disease in a place longer 


than it might otherwise be. The conclusion of 
the whole matter was, that, "to continue the 
operation was likely to prove of the most danger 
ous consequence." 

At the same time this venerable body came out 
with a statement concerning the small-pox, as it 
had prevailed up to that time from May to July, 
in which they would persuade the public, that 
notwithstanding the terror and mortality, which it 
had occasioned, it was in fact a light visitation. 
But even the authority of the fathers of the town 
gave way before the force of truth. Their coun 
sels could not induce people to die without an 
effort to preserve themselves, when a chance o( 
escape was opened. But, while many of these 
who were in danger resorted to the proposed re 
lief, the general voice cried out against it. It 
was the prevailing wish, that a law should be 
passed for the special benefit of Dr. Boylston ; 
providing, that every physician, on whose hands 
an inoculated patient might die, should be cor- 
demned and executed for murder. 

While this tempest was raging, Cotton Mather 
persevered in his spirited and manly course, with 
out yielding in the least to the abuse and menaces 
that were showered upon him. One is tempted 
to wonder, that he was not overcome with tbat 
assertion of his opponents, which ascribed inocu 
lation to the powers of darkness, a point on which 


nis fears were so easily excited. But his good 
sense seemed to have been uppermost from the 
beginning, and, being firmly persuaded of the 
correctness of his course, he never for a moment 

One example is enough to show how far the 
age of his adversaries was carried. His nephew, 
ivlr. Walter, the clergyman of Roxbury, was in 
oculated in his house. The operation was pri 
vately performed, but the circumstance was known 
to a few, and information was soon given to those, 
who were active against inoculation. The same 
night, at day-break, a hand-grenade was thrown 
into the window of the chamber where Dr. Mather 
generally slept, which was then occupied by Mr. 
Walter. Fortunately, as it passed through the 
window, the fusee was beaten off, and the medi 
tated destruction prevented. A paper was found 
attached to it, which contained coarse abuse of 
Cotton Mather, and a threatening to inoculate 
him in such a rnanoer, that he would not soon 
recover. The author of this attempt was never 

So great was the popular excitement, that the 
General Court were required by the public opin 
ion to take up the subject, and devise some way 
to protect the community from those innovators, 
who so wantonly trifle with human lives. A bill 
was prepared, making it a crime to inoculate for 


the small-pox within the bounds of Massachusetts, 
and was carried through the House without much 
opposition. The Council, however, were not so 
directly influenced by popular feeling, and they 
certainly took the most effectual way to put the 
matter at rest. Instead of contending with the 
common prejudice, they passed silently over it, 
and the result was, that nothing more was ever 
heard of the bill. It was fortunate, that the statute- 
book was not defiled with this provision, which 
could only have served to show how communities 
often stand in their own light, and resist the means 
which Providence has appointed for their good. 

If any one considers the extreme difficulty of 
forming a judgment in opposition to universal 
prejudice, and the courage it requires to avow it, 
when the avowal exposes one to injury and dan 
ger, he will not withhold from Cotton Mather the 
praise due to his sagacity, good sense, and forti 
tude, on this occasion. It was the more difficult 
to maintain his ground, because the matter seemed 
to belong to the jurisdiction of another profession, 
the members of which, with one exception, were 
united against him. 

It must not be said, that he had great authority 
abroad to which he could appeal ; for the fact was, 
that Lady Mary Wortley Montague did not inocu 
late her child in England, till the same month 
in which Cotton Mather did the same in Boston 


This is a case in which his merit was great and 
unquestionable. Dr. Boylston also deserves to be 
honored for his moral courage. In fact he was 
honored abroad, though reviled in his own coun 
try. When he visited England, where his char 
acter and services were well known, he received 
great attention. Among other proofs of considera 
tion he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 
and was thus compensated by foreign liberality 
for the abuse, which he received from his brethren 
at home. The best reward, which they received, 
was the sight of their own success. Prejudice 
gradually subsided, and men honored those, who 
had resisted the general delusion. 

It appears from the best accounts, that the 
number of those, who had the small-pox in 1721 , 
was five thousand five hundred and eighty-nine, 
Of these, two hundred and forty-seven were inocu 
lated. The deaths among the inoculated were in 
the proportion of one to forty-two, while among 
those, who received the disease by contagion, the 
deaths were one to seven. Such facts could not 
be resisted for ever, and in some later visitations 
of the disease, the town became, as it was said, 
" inoculation-mad." The admission of fresh air 
to the patients was another innovation of that time, 
which saved many from the grave. 



Case of Self-delusion. Harvard College. 
Curious Record from the Diary of Cotton 
Mather describing the State of his own Mind. 
His last Sickness and Death. Remarks 
on his Character and Writings. 

ONE of the most remarkable instances of self- 
delusion recorded in personal history, is found in 
Cotton Mather s description of his feelings, when 
the office of President of Harvard College became 
vacant by the death of President Leverett, who 
had filled the office with usefulness and honor for 
many years. He writes in his Diary, May 7th, 
1724 ; " The sudden death of the unhappy man, 
who sustained the office of President of the Col 
lege, will open a door for my being of singular 
service to the best of interests. Indeed, his being 
within a year of the same age with myself loudly 
calls upon me to live in daily expectation of my 
own call from hence. I do not know that the 
3are of the College will now be cast upon me, 
though I am told it is what is most generally 
wished for. If it should, I shall be in abundance 
of distress about it ; but if it should not, I may- 
do many things for the good of the College more 
quietly and more hopefully than formerly." 


Notwithstanding this apprehension of distress, 
his thoughts, it seems, were often turned toward 
this subject. " Why may I not write unto the 
tutors of the College, and solicit for such things as 
these ; viz. that, under a deep sense of their great 
opportunities to do inexpressible good unto the 
College, and more than all, to the country, and 
what both God and man expect from them, they 
would come unto a combination," &c. After this 
he seems to grow less confident, as to the prospect 
of his election as successor to Judge Leverett ; for, 
on the 1st of July, he writes ; " This day being 
our insipid, ill-contrived anniversary, which we call 
the Commencement, I chose to spend it at home, 
in supplications, partly on the behalf of the Col- 
ege, that it may not be foolishly thrown away, but 
that God may bestow such a president upon it, as 
may prove a rich blessing unto it and unto all our 

He ascribed his loss of this appointment, on the 
former vacancy, to the enmity of Governor Dud 
ley ; and now he seems to believe, that his ene 
mies are at work to excite prejudices against him. 
The true reason he never suspected ; which was, 
that the public had no confidence in his judgment, 
while they admired his literary ability ; and they 
determined wisely, that such a defect in his per 
sonal character entirely disqualified him for the 


In order to keep his name before the public, in 
connexion with the office to which he believed 
himself entitled, he addressed the convention upon 
the subject of the College, and its bearing on the 
interests of religion, endeavoring to impress upon 
them, as he says, that " a well-principled gover 
nor of that society would be of mighty conse 
quence to all." But his exhortations did not pro 
duce the effect desired. With the exception of a 
few of his admirers, the people generally felt the 
necessity of looking elsewhere for a president, and 
Dr. Sewall was accordingly chosen. The effect is 
thus recorded in the Diary. 

" I am informed that yesterday, the six men, 
who call themselves the Corporation of the Col 
lege met, and, contrary to the epidemical expecta 
tion of the country, chose a modest young man, 
Sewall, of whose piety (and little else) every 
one gives a laudable character." 

" I always foretold these two things of the Cor 
poration ; first, that, if it were possible for them to 
steer clear of me, they will do so. Secondly, that, 
if it were possible for them to act foolishly, they 
wil do so. The perpetual envy, with which my 
essays to serve the kingdom of God are treated 
among them, and the dread that Satan has of my 
beating up his quarters at the College, led me into 
the former sentiment ; the marvellous indiscretion, 
with which the affairs of the College are man 
aged, led me into the latter." 


But while he betrays this vexation at the loss of 
an appointment, which he considered his own by 
right, and withheld from him only from the im 
pulse of personal dislike, he endeavors to persuade 
himself, that he had no desire of the station, ex 
cept for the advantage which it would give him for 
doing extensive good. And before he is censured 
as hypocritical, it must be remembered, that very 
possibly he may have dreaded the labor of the 
office, while he wished for the honor of the elec 
tion ; and, in the midst of his disappointment at 
losing the one, he may, at the age of sixty-two, 
have felt relieved at escaping the burden of the 
other. He writes ; " It proves accordingly now, 
through the senseless management of these men 
themselves, little short of a dissolution of the Col 
lege ; yet 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 de 
sired, 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." 

He had at this time domestic distresses, which 
were enough to weigh him down ; and they prob 
ably were the chief cause of that severity ol 


feeling, which grew upon him in later years. His 
third wife, to whom he often alludes in his Diary, 
generally writing those passages in Latin, was a 
woman either diseased in mind, or most unfortu 
nate in her temper. From the terms he employs 
in describing her conduct, it cannot be easily de 
termined whether he considered her insane or 
responsible for her actions. Sometimes she was 
very affectionate and devoted to him ; then, with 
out any visible cause, she would break forth into 
explosions of passion, which destroyed all the 
peace of his life. Without entering much into this 
subject, one passage from his Diary will be suffi 
cient to show what kind of trouble it brought up 
on him. In 1724, he writes ; " My dear, dear 
Nancy, a child of so many afflictions all her days ! 
The unreasonable and implacable aversion of her 
mother-in-law, augmented no doubt by the wick 
ed kinswoman of my wife, who sojourns with me, 
and otherwise adds to her uneasiness, and compels 
me to seek some other place where I may board 
her. I must contrive all the ways imaginable to 
comfort the child, and to make her sorrows pro 
fitable to her." 

But the most oppressive of all his domestic sor 
rows was the conduct of his son Increase, a young 
man of uncommon ability, but unfortunately led 
away by bad associates, so far as to be a burden to 
his friends. In 1721, he writes in his Diary, "My 


miserable son ! I must cast him and chase him out 
of my sight, forbid him to see me, until there 
appear some marks of repentance upon him " 
Again ; " Now, now, I have a dreadful opportu 
nity to try how far I may find a glorious Christ, a 
comforter that shall relieve my soul. What shaL 
I find in store to comfort me under the horrible 
distresses, which the conduct of my wicked son 
Increase has brought upon me ? " Again ; " 1 
must write a tremendous letter to my wicked son ; 
and, after I have set his conduct in order before 
his eyes, I will tell him that I will never own him, 
or do for him, or look on him, till the characters 
of repentance are very conspicuous in him. God 
prosper it ! Though I am but a dog, yet cast out 
the devil that has possession of that child ! " 

This young man was lost from on board a vessel 
at sea. He seems to have been regarded with 
anxious affection by his father, and there is reason 
to believe, that his early promise was such as to 
justify ambitious hopes. But the notices of his 
conduct and character in the Diary grow more 
and more discouraging, till the last trace of him 
that we find recorded, is in the affecting words, 
which have no other explanation than that which 
they carry with them. " My son Increase ! my 
son ! my son ! " 

The Diary of Cotton Mather for the year 1724, 
when he was sixty-two years of age, gives the im- 


pression that his mind was diseased almost to the 
verge of insanity. Whether it was that his disap 
pointed ambition had made him look on every 
thing in its most unfavorable light, or whether he 
had really met with more ingratitude than usual, 
cannot now be ascertained ; but it seems certain, 
that he was in that state of mind in which he 
could not see things as they are ; a state of mind, 
which, if permanent, becomes insanity. 

He entitles this record, " Dark dispensations, 
but light arising in darkness." The dispensations, 
as he describes them, are dark enough ; what light 
there was among them, as they presented them 
selves to his mind, it is not easy to discover. He 
gives fourteen instances to show how his attempts 
to do good in the world had been requited ; ap 
parently without the remotest suspicion, that some 
part of the fault may have been his own. 

In the first place, he mentions his exertions in 
behalf of seamen ; he really desired to do good to 
that class of men, in the same way as philanthro 
pists have labored in modern times to serve them, 
But he had no aptness in recommending himself 
to them. Traditional respect for his office was not 
enough to secure a hearing from them ; and he 
found, that he himself could not accomplish the 
good, which it was evident might easily be done. 
He says, that the recompense of his efforts has 


been, that " there is not a man in the world, so 
reviled, so slandered, so cursed among sailors." 

A second of these dispensations has followed nis 
efforts in behalf of the negroes. At a tirue when 
they were hardly thought of as subjects of sym 
pathy and compassion, and when the idea of 
making them Christians would have been deemed 
a vision, he appeared as their advocate, pleading 
for their instruction, comfort, and salvation. And 
yet, he says, many, on purpose to affront him, 
affix his name, Cotton Mather, to the young ne 
groes, so that if any mischief is done by them, the 
credit of it comes upon him. 

The third instance of this retribution appears in 
the result of his services to the female sex. No 
man had done so much to elevate them in the 
respect of the community, or to hold up the lives 
of excellent and distinguished women, as an ex 
ample to others. " Yet," says he, " where is the 
man, whom the female sex have spit more of their 
venom at? I have cause to question whether 
there are twice ten in the town, who have not at 
some time or other, spoken basely of me." 

In the fourth place, he has labored to be a bles 
sing to all connected with him. He has even kept 
a catalogue of his relations, ana never suffered a 
week to pass without some act of kindness to earb 
one. Yet, so far from enjoying the comfort in their 
society, to which he was well entitled, there was 



not a man on earth, who had been tormented with 
" such monstrous relatives " ; with the exception, 
perhaps of Job, who said, " I am a brother to 

In the fifth place, the conduct of the Scotch 
toward him has been singularly ungrateful. He 
has labored unceasingly to vindicate the reputation 
and honor of the Scotch nation ; yet no English 
man was ever so much reviled and libelled by 
Scotchmen as he. In this, probably, he refers to 
the treatment, which he had received from Doug 
las, who had just before poured out upon him the 
effervescence of a temper, never very sweet, and 
at the time particularly excited by the subject of 

The sixth example is found in the result of his 
efforts to do good to the country. He has labored 
incessantly to secure its best interests, both by 
public and private exertions, and has filled it with 
publications tending to promote its happiness and 
virtue ; and yet, he says, there is no man, in any 
part of the country, who is so loaded with disre 
spect, calumny, and all manner of expressions of 

The seventh is found in his efforts 10 uphold 
and strengthen the government, and to maintain it, 
when it was shaken, in the reverence and affection 
of the people. And yet nothing could excel the 
discountenance, which he had always received 


from the government. No man, of whatever 
station, had ever received from a government so 
many injuries, indecencies, and indignities as he, 

The eighth, and probably the most bitter cf 
these dispensations, was that connected with the 
College, an institution which, he says, he has done 
much to serve and adorn, so that it might be known 
as the intellectual birth-place of " such as are 
somewhat known in the world, and have read and 
wrote as much as many have done in other places." 
And yet the College has always treated him with 
every possible mark of disesteom. If he were the 
greatest blemish that ever came upon it, or the 
greatest blockhead that ever came out from it, its 
managers could not treat him with more contempt 
than they do. 

In the ninth place, he speaks of his general 
efforts to raise the standard of conversation. He 
has never gone into company for nearly fifty years 
without direct contrivance to say something, which 
should make those who heard it either wiser or 
better. And nevertheless, his company is as little 
sought for, and there are as few resort to him, as 
to any minister in all his acquaintance. 

The tenth example is that of good offices, 
which he has invariably made it a point to do 
whenever and wherever an opportunity could be 
found. Such opportunities he has ever welcomed 
with alacrity, when they offered themselves, and 


nas sought for when he found them not. He has 
even offered pecuniary rewards to those, who 
would give him information where his services 
could be applied. And yet he cannot see a man 
living, for whom others are so unwilling to do 
good offices, as for him. He cannot say, that he 
is entirely destitute of friends, but he has how 
few! He has often said to himself, "What 
would I give, if I could find any one, who is wil 
ling to do for me, what I am willing to do for all 
the world ! " 

In the eleventh place, he has served the cause 
of literature and religion, by constant exertions in 
writing books of piety, and such as might advance 
the interests of the Redeemer s kingdom. Their 
number exceeds three hundred. And yet, he has 
had more books written against him, more pam 
phlets to traduce, reproach, and belie him, than 
any man that he knows in all the world. 

The twelfth of these dispensations relates to the 
variety of services, which he had been enabled to 
perform. For lustres of years, not a single day 
has passed without constant effort on his part, to 
be serviceable to his friends, his country, and to 
men. And yet, he adds, " My sufferings ! Every 
body points at me and speaks of rne, as by far the 
most afflicted minister in all New England." And 
many look upon him as the greatest sinner, be 
cause he is the greatest sufferer, and are pretty 

si. 12 


arbitrary in conjecturing what sins he is suffering 

From these dispensations, it would seem that he 
was suffering not so much from the infliction of 
Heaven, nor from the coldness and contempt of 
men ; but rather from a depression, which had 
been gathering upon him for many years. Some 
of these dispensations, arising from his domestic 
trials, are not so proper for the public eye ; but 
the truth is, that he had anxieties and trials, which 
were enough to irritate the best temper in the 

When it is remembered, that, in addition to this, 
he saw various prizes, which he considered his 
own, passing away to other hands, and found that 
he could never inherit the political influence, the 
.iterary honors, nor even the general confidence, 
which his father enjoyed, it is not surprising, that 
he should have felt as if his services were under 
estimated, and rewards withheld from him for 
personal reasons, which would have been readily 
given to any other man. 

There is in his Diary the air and manner of one, 
who is conscious of having done much that is 
wrong ; but nothing can be inferred from this to 
his disadvantage. Boswell, finding such intima 
tions in Johnson s Diary, supposed, from the depth 
of his self-abasement, that he must have been 
guilty of some great crimes. But in his case, and 


probably in that of Cotton Mather, such language 
was only an exaggerated expression of the remorse, 
which they felt for that waste of life, and that 
indifference to the purposes of existence, of which 
so many are guilty, but for which few men have a 
conscience faithful enough to upbraid them. 

Nothing is known of the closing years of Cot 
ton Mather, till he was seized in December, 1727, 
with the disease of which he died. His son in ac 
cordance with the principle on which his " Life " 
is written, to withhold all such information as 
might interest the reader, does not say what the 
disorder was. But, whatever it may have been, 
Dr. Mather had a strong conviction, that he should 
not recover. In writing a note to his physician, 
he made use of these words ; " My last enemy is 
come ; I would say, my best friend." 

He died on the 13th of February, 1728, when 
he had just completed his sixty-fifth year. In the 
interval, while he was gradually drawing near to 
the grave, he exerted himself to make useful and 
lasting impressions on those around him. One of 
his church asked him if he was desirous to die 
He replied, " I dare not say that I am, nor yet 
that I am not ; I would be entirely resigned unto 
God." When the physicians believed it their 
duty to tell him, that he could not recover, he 
lifted up his hands, and said, " Thy will be done 
on earth, as it is in Heaven." A. few hours before 


his death, he said, " Now I have nothing more to 
do here ; my will is entirely swallowed L,}. in the 
will of God." When it came to the last, he said, 
" Is this dying ? Is this all ? Is this all that I fear 
ed, when I prayed against a hard death ? Oil 
can bear this ! I can bear it 1 I can bear it ! " 
When his wife wiped his disordered eye, he said, 
" I am going where all tears will be wiped from 
my eyes." 

Indeed, the whole of his closing scene was calm 
and collected. " He died as every man should 
die." His self-delusion, and all the peculiar in 
firmities of his character, seemed to leave him as 
he drew near the grave. To his nephew, after 
urging him to be earnest, zealous, and unwearied 
in doing good, he said, " My dear son, I do, with 
all possible affection, recommend you to the bless 
ing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take my hands 
and my heart full of blessings." He had passages 
read to him, from his book called Restitutus, say 
ing that they exactly expressed his feelings. One 
of them was this. " It shall come to pass, that at 
evening time it shall be light. O, the light, which 
a glorious Christ, present with us, will give us 
in the evening, when we apprehend ourselves in 
all the darkness which we should else have to 
terrify us, when the curtains of the death-bed are 
drawn about us. The light of a soul passing into 
the inheritance of the saints in light ! The light 


of an open and abundant entrance into tho para 
dise of God ! " 

He was followed to the grave by an immense 
procession, including all the high officers of the 
province. It was the general sentiment, that a 
great man had fallen. Though some had been at 
enmity with him, and many had disliked him, over 
his grave they seemed with one consent to re 
gard him as a man of great powers and sincere 
piety ; who, though sometimes misled by prejudice 
and passion, had endeavored to do good. 

Several of the funeral sermons preached on that 
occasion were published ; and, as some of them 
were not formal exercises, but unsolicited expres 
sions of the feelings of the writers, they are not 
probably exaggerated in their praise. Dr. Col- 
man particularly, a man of deliberation, in the 
Thursday Lecture after his death, described him 
as " the first minister in the town ; the first in age, 
in gifts, in grace ; the first in all the provinces 
of New England for universal literature and ex 
tensive services." Mr. Prince, of the Old South 
Church, gave the same testimony to the public 
loss, beginning his allusion to the departed, by 
saying, " The infirmities of the fathers should 
be reverently covered." 

The general impression of his character was 
faithfully expressed in the language of his col 
league, Mr. Gee ; " The capacity of his mind, the 


readiness of his wit, the vastness of his reading; 
the strength of his memory, the variety and trea 
sures of his learning, in printed works, and in 
manuscript; which contained a much greater share, 
the splendor of virtue, which, through the abund 
ant grace of God, shone out in the tenor of a most 
entertaining and profitable conversation ; his un 
common activity, his unwearied application, his 
extensive zeal, and numberless projects of doing 
good ; these things, as they were united in him, 
proclaimed him to be a truly extraordinary per 
son." It is true, that funeral eulogies are not the 
best sources in general, from which to derive in 
formation with respect to character ; but, in this 
case, there is no reason to distrust them ; and, con 
sidering the relation in which the subject of this 
memoir stood to many of his contemporaries, he 
was more likely to have full justice done to him 
after his death, than while living. 

Cotton Mather was not a man of original genius, 
though his mind was active and strong. He was 
inclined to read rather than to think ; and it was 
by familiarity with the works of others, and the 
trains of thought which they awakened, that he 
was able to send out so many works of his own. 
Dr. Chauncy testifies of him, that he was the 
greatest redeemer of time he ever knew ; that there 
were hardly any books in existence, with which 
Cotton Mather was not acquainted. As this was 


his passion, to devour all the literature of ancient 
and present times, it led him into habits of thought 
and writing, in which it is not easy to judge what 
his native talent, if differently cultivated, might 
have been. 

The writings of Cotton Mather afford striking 
remarks, and passages of occasional eloquence ; 
but they are not sustained. Such was the irregu 
lar habit of association, which prevailed in his 
mind, that some illustrations, from the vasty heaps 
of his learning, were perpetually starting up, and 
diverting his attention from the subject. Sometimes 
these illustrations were appropriate and happy ; 
sometimes they seemed to be introduced only to 
display his attainments. They remind the reader 
constantly of the works of Jeremy Taylor, not so 
much by their richness, though in this they are 
not deficient, as by this oddness of illustration, 
which makes us wonder by what sort of intellec 
tual process they could have connected it with the 
subject in hand. In both cases, we are surprised 
at the capacity of a memory, which could retain 
so much that was recommended, not by its useful 
ness, not by its value, but simply by the circum 
stance that it was little known to other men. 

Whatever may be thought of Cotton Mather s 
natural ability, which was certainly great, no one 
can help admiring his industry and application ; 
qualities hardly to be expected in a man of quick 


parts, who was ready, brilliant, and entertaining in 
conversation ; and who, as his company was in 
universal request, might easily have been tempted 
to content himself with the display of that power. 
The spirit, which induced him to pass so much 
time in his study, and to set up over the door a-n 
intimation to his visiters in the words, " Be short," 
was honorable to him, since it appears to have 
been the result of a sense of duty. 

It is impossible to give any account, within 
these limits, of his printed works, which amounted 
to three hundred and eighty-two. The great pro 
portion are light tracts, such as occasional ser 
mons ; many of them are pamphlets on subjects 
which happened to interest the public at the 
moment ; and which, having answered their pur 
pose, would have been forgotten, but for the name 
of the writer. One of the best of his large works 
is his Christian Philosopher, a popular work 
on natural theology, in which he assembles the 
information, which naturalists had given, and pre 
sents it in such a manner as to afford a strong im 
pression of divine goodness and power. 

Another is a version of the Psalms, in which he 
made it his object " to give in metre an exact and 
literal translation of the Hebrew text, without any 
jingle of words at the end." His son extols the 
plan of this work, mentioning among it* other 
advantages, that he *ds not tempted iu 
improper words for the sake of a rhyme. 


His greatest undertaking was a work to be 
called Elustrations of the Sacred Scriptures. 
He commenced it in his thirty-first year, and 
labored daily upon it, till, twenty years after, it was 
sufficiently advanced to send out proposals for its 
publication. From that time to his death he was 
continually adding to it. This prodigious manu 
script is deposited in the Library of the Massachu 
setts Historical Society, where it remains a monu 
ment of the matchless industry of the writer. 
The sort of learning, which he brings to bear upon 
the subject, is better calculated to show the extent 
of his own attainments, than to illustrate the mean 
ing of the sacred writers, exposition not being a 
work in which he was qualified to excel. 

It is very difficult to form a satisfactory esti 
mate of a character like Cotton Mather s, which 
abounds in contradictions ; to tell the precise 
amount of blame due to his faults, which were 
many, and how heavily they should weigh against 
the credit due to his virtues. It is impossible to 
hold him up as an illustrious example of excel 
lence ; but, while the testimony of his friends can 
not be safely received, there is danger, lest, hi our 
disgust at his fanaticism and occasional folly, we 
should deny him the credit which he actually 
deserves. There are some points in his conduct, 
which are open to severe reproach ; but, taken in 
connexion with other points, it seems easier to 


account for them in some other way, than to as 
cribe them to a calculating and unscrupulous am 
bition, which was ready to sacrifice every principle 
to self-aggrandizement and love of applause. 

It has been remarked already, that his course 
on the subject of witchcraft was the most discred 
itable part of his history. His agency in it cannot 
be doubted, nor can it be explained by saying 
that he sincerely believed in the existence of the 
crime. But the thing, which exposes him to the 
charge of hypocrisy, is, that after the frenzy was 
over, he endeavored to persuade others, that, so 
far from encouraging the proceedings, he had 
labored to recommend forbearance and caution, 
when it is so plain, that his influence and exertions 
were one of the chief causes of their being carried 
to such excess. 

This, however, seems more like a case of self- 
delusion. It is not uncommon for men, when 
they are compelled to see their conduct in a new 
light, to persuade themselves, and with success, 
that they never felt as their actions seemed to 
imply. And, with his remarkable powers of self- 
blindness, it was easy for him to convince himself, 
that he was always in favor of deliberation. 
Those cautions, which, when he wrote them, were 
simply formal, afterwards appeared to him like his 
real convictions at the time. At any rate it seems 
more consistent with what we know of him, to 


believe that he deceived himself than that he 
should attempt and hope, while his opinions were 
on record, to deceive the world. 

It is not a little singular, that one so excitable, 
and withal so firm and zealous in his religious 
opinions, should not have been as forward to per 
secute heretics as witches ; and yet he was more 
liberal on this subject, than his father, and indeed 
than most men of his age. Not that he was able 
to comprehend the principle and duty of tolera 
tion, as it is now understood ; not that he could 
tread in the footprints of William Penn. But, 
comparing him with those about him, he was dis 
tinguished by his religious liberality. This is one 
of the inconsistencies refeired to ; that he should 
have raised his voice Against inflicting penalties on 
men for religious errors, while he thought, that 
the dealers with the powers of darkness deserved 
to die. For fanaticism generally enters on one 
pursuit as warmly as on the other. But he shows 
a generous exultation in the absence of such a 
spirit from his own community. In one of his 
sermons, he says ; " In this capital city of Boston, 
there are ten assemblies of Christians of different 
persuasions, who live so lovingly and peaceably 
together, doing all the offices of friendship for ona 
another in so neighborly a manner, as may give a 
sensible rebuke to all the bigots of uniformity ; 
and show them how consistent a variety of rites ill 


religion may be with the tranquillity of human 
society ; and may demonstrate to the world, that 
persecution for conscientious dissent in religion is 
an abomination of desolation ; a thing whereof all 
wise and just men will say, e Cursed be its anger. " 

With respect to the disposition and temj Jer ol 
Cotton Mather, we know nothing except what we 
learn from his son. He assures us, and there is 
no reason to doubt his testimony, that in his fami 
ly, he was systematical, but by no means severe. 
On the contrary, he employed gentleness and per 
suasion in dealing with his children, far more than 
was common in that day. We learn, that his 
conversation in social life was remarkably agreea 
ble, and his company sought for on account of his 
cheerful and entertaining powers. 

It is certain, that he was strongly disliked by 
many, and believed by them to be unscrupulous, 
restless, and intriguing. Whether this was only 
the aversion, which is always provoked by a man 
of his temperament in some of those whom he 
deals with, or whether there was just reason for 
their charges, it is not easy to determine with the 
small means of information, which we now pos 
sess. In the latter part of his life, his expressions 
in his Diary indicate a settled jealousy and distrust 
of others, owing doubtless to his disappointments, 
and the mortification, which he naturally felt, to 


see that all the winds, which in early life had filled 
his sails, had completely died away. 

His expressions in controversy are bitter enough ; 
but we find language quite as strong in the writ- 
ng3 of hxS father, who never was accused of 
malignity. The friends of his reputation cannot 
say, that his sentiments were elevated or habitu 
ally generous ; nor can its enemies, who are still 
many, bring more proofs of bad feelings and pas 
sions, than can be found in the lives of most ardent 
and active men. 

Cotton Mather died but little more than a cen 
tury ago. No name in our history is more familiar 
to readers of every description. He was the kind 
of man, whose peculiarities were most likely to be 
remembered ; and yet the amount of information, 
which can be gained concerning him, is exceed- 
ngly small, as this memoir will show. The writer 
nas made all possible exertion, and gone to every 
source where information may be looked for ; but, 
with the exception of his Diary, the remnants of 
which are scattered in various hands, and a few 
occasional references to him in the history of 
the times, nothing is known of the personal his- 
*ory of Cotton Mather. His works are of a kind, 
which were attractive and interesting in their day, 
but now sleep in repose, where even the anti 
quary seldom disturbs them He will be remem 


bered, however, as the author of the MAGNALIA ; 
a work, which, with all its faults, will always find 
interested readers ; as a man, too, of unexampled 
industry, and unrivalled attainments in curious 
rather than useful learning. 







THE subject of this notice was born on the 
2nd of December, 1736, at Convoy House, the 
name given to his father s seat near the town of 
Raphoe, in the north of Ireland. His parentage 
and connexions were highly respectable,* and 
such as secured to him an early and liberal edu 
cation at the College of Dublin. At the age of 
eighteen, in conformity to his own taste and his 
father s wishes, a commission in the British army 
was obtained for him. Of his attention to the 
duties, or proficiency in the study, of this new 

* Thomas Montgomery, of Convoy House, had three 
sons, Alexander, John, and Richard, and one daughter. 
Alexander commanded a grenadier company in Wolfe s 
army, and was present at the capture of Quebec. On 
the death of his father, he withdrew to his estate, and 
for many years in succession represented the county of 
Donnegal, in the Irish Parliament John lived and died 
in Portugal ; and the daughter married Lord Ranelagh, 
and was the mother of two sons, Charles and Thomaa, 
who have since succeeded to the title. 
XL 13 


vocation, we know nothing with certainty ; but 
judging from the habits and character of his fu 
ture life, remarkable alike for industry, sobriety, 
and a scrupulous discharge of engagements, pub 
lic and private, it may be safely inferred, that his 
youth, like his manhood, escaped that idleness and 
vice, which so strongly marked and so greatly 
degraded the manners, as well professional as 
national, of that period. 

It was the fortune of this young soldier to 
begin his career of field service in America, where, 
in another war, it was destined to end. In 1757, 
the regiment to which he belonged was de 
spatched to Halifax ; and, in 1758, made part of 
the army assembled at that place for the reduc 
tion of Louisburg, a French fortress, on which 
much time, money, and science had been ex 
pended, and to which, from a confidence in its 
strength, had been vauntingly given the name of 
the American Gibraltar. 

It may readily be supposed, that a place thus 
characterized, and believed by both belligerents to 
be the key, which opened or shut the great com 
mercial avenue between Europe and Canada,* 
could not long escape the notice of the elder Pitt ; 
who, to efface the disgrace and retrieve the disas- 

* The site of Louisburg is the promontory, at which 
the waters of the St. Lawrence and the Atlantic meet 


ters of three preceding campaigns,* had oeen re 
cently called to the direction of the national arms. 
We accordingly find, that on the 28th of May a 
naval and military force, commanded by Major- 
General Amherst and Admiral Boscawen, began 
its voyage from Halifax to Cape Breton ; and on 
the 2nd of June arrived in Cabarras bay. It was 
not, however, until the 8th, that the wind and surf 
had so far abated, as to render a descent on the 
island practicable. On this day, the reconnoi 
trings of the coast and the covering positions 
given to the ships, with other preliminary arrange 
ments, being completed, the troops were embarked 
on board of boats in three divisions, two of which, 
commanded by Generals Wetmore and Law- 
rence,f the better to keep the enemy in a state 

* We allude to the loss of Calcutta in Asia, and of Mi 
norca in Europe ; and on this continent, to the defeat of 
Braddock, the capture of Fort Oswego and garrison 
(sixteen hundred men); and of Fort William Henry and 
garrison (twenty-five hundred men); to which may be 
added the abortive campaign of 1757, made with twelve 
thousand troops and sixteen ships of the line, under the 
direction of Lord Loudoun and Admiral Hopson. 

f While commanding in the trenches before Louis 
burg, a bomb thrown from the fort knocked off the hal 
and grazed the skull of this officer, but without seriously 
injuring him ; a circumstance, which gave occasion for 
a sarcastic remark made by our General, Charles Lee, 
then a captain in the British army. "I ll resign 


of separation, menaced points not intended for 
attack ; while the third, composed of the elite of 
the army and led by General Wolfe, pressed 
strenuously forward to a head-land near Fresh 
water Cove, and, in despite of a heavy and well 
directed fire from the French, and a surf uncom 
monly high and exceedingly perilous, gained the 
bank, routed the enemy, and seized a position, 
which covered at once the farther debarkation 
of the troops and the necessary communications 
with the fleet.* It was in this movement, equally 
difficult and dangerous, that Montgomery fur 
nished the first decisive evidence of those high 
military qualities, which so distinctly marked every 
step of his subsequent conduct ; and which drew 

to-morrow," exclaimed Lee. " Why so ? " asked the 
person to whom he spoke. "Because," said the wit, 
none but a fool will remain in a service, in which the 
generals heads are bomb-proof." 

* Sir Jeffery Amherst, in his journal of the siege, 
describes this first step as follows ; " The enemy acted 
wisely ; did not throw away a shot till the boats were 
near the shore, and then directed the whole fire of their 
cannon and musketry upon them. But, notwithstanding 
the fire of the enemy, and the violence of the surf, Brig 
adier Wolfe pursued his point and landed at the left of 
the Cove, took post, attacked the enemy, and forced them 
to retreat. Many of our boats overset, several broke 
to pieces, and all the men jumped into the water to get 
on shore.*- 


from his commanding officer, himself a model of 
heroism, such commendation as procured for Lira 
an immediate promotion to a lieutenancy. 

It would be wide of our purpose to go into a 
detail of the investment and siege which followed, 
or of Montgomery s connexion with either. On 
these points it may be sufficient to remark, that 
the former terminated on the 27th of July in the 
surrender of the fortress, the destruction of seve 
ral French ships of the line, and the capture of a 
garrison of five thousand men ; and that the latter 
was such, as confirmed the favorable impressions 
already made of our aspirant s aptitude for mili 
tary service. 

While the British were thus triumphant at 
Louisburg, they at another and important point 
were fated to sustain a heavy loss, as well in rep 
utation as in numerical force. It will be seen, 
that in this remark we allude to Abercromby s 
defeat before Ticonderoga ; on the first notice of 
which, Amherst hastened to conduct six regiments 
of his army to the aid of the discomfited General 
and among these was the seventeenth, to which 
Montgomery belonged, an arrangement, which, 
besides its useful effect at the time, fortunately 
made him acquainted with a champ de bataille, 
on which, in 1775, he was destined to lead an 
army against the troops of his former sovereign. 
At this point (Lake Cham plain) he remained 


until 1760 ; when, by the concentration of three 
armies on Montreal (Amherst s from Oswego, 
Murray s from Quebec, and Haviland s from 
Crown Point), Vaudreuil, the French Governor- 
General, was compelled to surrender his garrison, 
his post, and his province.* 

The large military force now in British Ameri 
ca having no longer any professional occupation 
there, detachments were made from it against 
the French and Spanish West India Islands. Of 
these expeditions the principal objects were the 
reduction of St. Pierre and Fort Royal, in the 
Island of Martinico, and of Havana in that of 
Cuba. The two campaigns employed in the 
prosecution of this policy were rendered peculiar 
ly laborious and perilous, by the climate and sea 
son,! by tf 16 m any extraordinary means of de 
fence furnished by nature, and by others not less 
formidable supplied by art. In each of these, 

* Mante s History of the War of 1754 in America, 
p. 134. 

f In a siege of two months and eight days, the loss 
sustained by the British army in Cuba amounted to 
twenty-eight thousand men ; besides which, more than 
one half of the troops sent back to New York ^ Burton s 
brigade), either died on the passage, or after their arrival. 
Of the garrison left at Havana under General Keppel, 
but seven hundred men were found fit for duty at the 
peace. Mante s History. 


Montgomery had a full share, as well of the toil 
and danger, as of the commendation * bestowed 
upon efforts, which ultimately triumphed over 
every kind and degree of resistance. Martinico 
surrendered to Moncton and Rodney on the 13th 
of February, 1762; and a portion of Cuba, in 
cluding Havana and the Moro Castle, to Albe 
marie and Pococke, on the 12th of August follow 
ing ; two events greatly tending to hasten the 
treaty of Versailles, which put an end to the war 
on the 10th of February, 1763. 

Soon after the official annunciation of peace, 
Montgomery, who with the seventeenth regiment 
had returned to New York, sought and obtained 
permission to revisit Europe ; where he remained 
nntil the close of the year 1772. Of his occupa 
tions during these nine years the details we pos 
sess are very imperfect ; a circumstance the more 
to be regretted, as it may be presumed, that what 
remained of his life took much of its color and 
character from occurrences, happening during this 
period. Such were the origin and progress of the 
controversy between Great Britain and her Amer 
ican Colonies ; the intimacy formed between him 
self and those members of the English Parlia 
ment (Fox, Burke, and Barre), who most favored 

* His conduct on this expedition procured for him the 
command of a company. 


the pretensions of the latter ; his abandonment of 
the King s service in 1772 ; and lastly, his deter 
mination to seek in America a future and perma 
nent home. 

On these points nothing written by himself has 
been found among the few papers, which have 
come down to us ; nor have we any better author 
ity tnan tradition for stating, that finding himself 
twice circumvented in the purchase of a majority, 
and being satisfied that there was a government 
agency in both cases, he promptly determined to 
quit, at once, the service and the country, and re 
tire to America. He accordingly, in 1772, sold 
the commission he held, and in January of the 
year following arrived in New York. Having 
soon after purchased a farm in its neighborhood, 
and either revived an old or formed a new ac 
quaintance with the Clermont branch of the Liv 
ingston family, he in the July following married 
the eldest daughter of Robert R. Livingston, then 
one of the Judges of the Superior Court of the 
province. Removing soon after to Dutchess Coun 
ty, he became a resident of Rhinebeck, where he 
began and prosecuted his new career of agricul 
ture, with that combination of diligence and dis 
cretion, which directed all his movements. 

It will not be thought extraordinary, that in the 
exigencies of the time and the country, a man like 
Montgomery, though comparatively a stranger 


should not be long permitted to remain in the ob 
scurity of his own domicile. We accordingly find 
that, in April 1775, he was elected a member of 
the delegation from the county of Dutchess to 
the first Provincial Convention held in New York. 
Of his labors in that body, we have his own esti 
mate, which may be usefully offered as an exam 
ple of unaffected modesty, and an admonition to 
the unfledged statesmen of the present day. In 
a letter to his father-in-law, he says ; " For all the 
good I can do here, I might as well and much 
better have been left at home, to direct the labors 
of my people. On the simple question between 
us and England, I am I hope sufficiently instruct 
ed, and will not go wrong ; but how many may be 
the views growing out of that and subordinate to 
it, of which, in the present state of my knowledge, 
I may not be able to judge correctly ? Inquiry 
and reflection may, in the long run, supply this 
defect ; but the long run requires time, and time 
stops for no man. It is but justice to the Conven 
tion to say, that it has in it both talents and knowl 
edge sufficient for its purposes ; and, on the whole, 
no unwillingness to do business, which, notwith 
standing; is a good deal obstructed by long, useless 
speeches, an opinion, which after all may be 
mere prejudice, arising from my own taciturn 


At the period to which we have brought our 
story, the injustice of England had taken a chai- 
acter of decided hostility, and made necessary, oa 
the part of the united Colonies, an immediate re 
sort to arms. In this state of things, the national 
Congress employed itself in June, 1775, in or 
ganizing an army ; and, among other acts hav 
ing this object, appointed a commander-in-chief, 
four major-generals, and eight brigadiers. Of the 
latter description Montgomery was one. This 
unequivocal mark of distinction, conferred by the 
highest acknowledged authority of the country, 
without solicitation or privity on his part, was re 
ceived by him with a homage mingled with re 
gret, apparently foreboding the catastrophe, which 
was soon to follow. In a letter to a friend he says ; 
" The Congress having done me the honor of elect 
ing me a brigadier-general in their service, is an 
event which must put an end for a while, perhaps 
for ever, to the quiet scheme of life I had pre 
scribed for myself; for, though entirely unexpected 
and undesired by me, the will of an oppressed 
people, compelled to choose between liberty and 
slavery, must be obeyed." Under these noble 
and self-sacrificing views and feelings, Montgom 
ery accepted the commission tendered to him ; and 
from that hour to the moment of his death, the 
whole force of his mind and Lody was devoted to 
the honor and interest of his adopted country. 


The contiguity of Canada to the northern sec 
tion of the union, the military character of its 
French population, as displayed in the war of 
1754, the strong posts held by the British garrisoni 
in its neighborhood, their control over Indian 
feelings and movements, and the means taken to 
give to some of these circumstances a new and 
increased activity in the approaching struggle,* 
could not escape the notice of the sages, who 
composed the Congress of that day. To neutral 
ize powers, so extended and menacing, became a 
matter of early and serious consideration with that 
body ; the result of which was the adoption of a 
plan for invading Canada by tw r o routes, the one 
by the Sorel, the other by the Kennebec ; and 
that for these ends, an army of three thousand 
men should be raised and organized to act on 
the former against Forts St. John, Chamblee, and 
Montreal ; while a second corps of one thousand 
men should be detached from Cambridge by the 
latter, to enter Canada at or near Quebec con 
temporaneously with the other, and effect a junc 
tion, if practicable, with Major-General Schuyler, 
who should command in chief. 

To the first of these armaments Montgomery 
was assigned, as the elder of the two brigadiers ; f 

The Quebec Act 

f General Wooster was tne otner. 


and in this capacity he repaired on the 15th of 
July to Albany, whence, on the 17th of August, 
he was fortunately transferred to Ticonderoga, the 
point selected for the principal rendezvous and 
outfit of the projected invasions.* On arriving at 
this post, his first object was to acquire a correct 
knowledge of the enemy s force, position, and pro 
jects ; and on this last head, being informed that 
Genera] Carleton, now at Montreal, was prepar 
ing and had nearly ready a considerable naval 
force intended to act on Lake Champlain, he saw 
at once the effect of the plan, if permitted to go 
into execution, and the necessity for immediately 
taking post at the Isle-aux-Noix ; as the measure, 
by which it could be most promptly and surely 
defeated. In a letter to General Schuyler an 
nouncing this intention, he says, " Moving without 
your orders, I do not like ; but, on the other hand, 
the prevention of the enemy is of the utmost con 
sequence ; for if he gets his vessels into the Lake, 
it is over with us for the present summer. Let me 
entreat you to follow in a whale-boat, leaving some 
one to bring on the troops and artillery. It will 
give the men great confidence in your spirit and 

* Congress was anticipated in its policy with regard 
to Ticonderoga, by Allen and Arnold, who, on the sug 
gestion of a few thinking men in Connecticut, surprised 
the garrison and took possession of the post and its mu 
nitions on the 10th of May, 1775. 


activity ; and how necessary to a general this con 
fidence is, I need not tell you. I most earnestly 
wish, that this [suggestion] may meet your appro 
bation ; and be assured that [in making it] I have 
your honor and reputation much at heart. All 
my ambition is to do my duty in a subordinate 
capacity, without the least ungenerous intention of 
lessening that merit, which is justly your due." 
After giving this exemplary proof of personal 
friendship for his chief, and of professional duty to 
the public, he hastened to place himself at the 
head of a small corps, not exceeding one thousand 
combatants, sustained by two pieces of light artil 
lery, with which, on the 26th of August, he began 
his movement down the Lake. Being, however, 
much retarded by continued and violent head 
winds, it was not till the 5th of September, that 
he was able to reach the position he had selected 
for himself. Major-General Schuyler having ar 
rived on this day, it was thought that a nearer 
approach to the enemy might be useful ; not only 
from the means it would afford of better recon 
noitring his position, but from the favorable im 
pression it might make on the Canadian popula 
tion. The movement was accordingly ordered, 
and a landing effected without obstruction, about 
a mile and a half from St. John s. After a short 
march in a direction of the fort, and while en 
gaged in fording a creek somewhat difficult of 


passage, the left of the line was vigorously at 
tacked and much disordered by an Indian ambus 
cade ; but being speedily supported by Montgom 
ery, with the centre and right, the combat was 
soon terminated, and with considerable disadvan 
tage to the assailants. 

During the night, General Schuyler was vis 
ited by a person giving the following information ; 
" that the twenty-sixth was the only regular British 
corps in Canada ; that with the exception of fifty 
men, retained by General Carleton at Montreal, the 
whole of this was in garrison at St. John s and 
Chamblee ; thai these two forts were strongly 
fortified and abundantly supplied ; that one hun 
dred Indians were at the former, and a large body 
collected [at some other point] under Colonel 
Johnson ; that the vessel intended for the Lake 
would be ready to sail in three or four days, and 
would carry sixteen guns ; that no Canadian would 
join the American army, the wish and policy of 
the people being neutrality, provided their persona 
and property were respected and the articles fur 
nished by, or taken from them, paid for in gold or 
silver; that, under present circumstances, an at 
tack upon St. John s would be imprudent ; and, 
lastly, that a return to the Isle-aux-Noix would 
be proper ; as from this point, an intercourse with 
the inhabitants of Laprairie, might be usefully 


opened." * A council of war, to whom this in 
formation was submitted, participating with tht 
commanding general in the preceding opinion 
the troops were on the 7th reconducted to theii 
former position on the island. In reporting these 
transactions to Congress, General Schuyler says ; 
" T cannot estimate the obligations I lie under to 
General Montgomery, for the many important ser 
vices he has done, and daily does, and in which he 
has had little assistance from me ; as I have not 
enjoyed a moment s health since I left Fort 
George ; and am now so low, as not to be able to 
hold the pen. Should we not be able to do any 
thing decisively in Canada, I shall judge it best 
to move from this place, which is a very wet 
and unhealthy part of the country, unless I re 
ceive your orders to the contrary." With this 
manifest foreboding of eventual disappointment, 
the commanding general left the camp and return 
ed to Ticonderoga ; where, and at Albany, he 
was actively and usefully employed, during the 
remainder of the campaign, in forwarding supplies 
to the army. 

* Whether this information was given by friend or 
enemy, it was essentially incorrect ; the seventh as well 
as the twenty-sixth regiment was then serving in Canada. 
No great Indian force had anywhere been assembled, 
and many Canadians were disposed to join, and did actu 
ally join, the American army. 


Montgomery, being now left to the choice and 
direction of his own measures, and being strongly 
impressed with the necessity of doing quickly, 
what it would be possible to do at all, availed him 
self of the arrival of a reinforcement of men and 
a small train of artillery to resume his position 
before St. John s, where he began his intended 
experiments of investment and siege. 

With a view to the first of these objects, he 011 
the 18th led a corps of five hundred men to the 
north side of the fort ; where, falling in with a 
detachment from the garrison, which had just re 
pulsed an American party under Major Brown, a 
rencounter took place, of which he gives the fol 
lowing brief description. " After an ill-directed 
fire for some minutes, the enemy retired with pre 
cipitation ; luckily for them they did so ; for had 
we sooner known their situation, which a thick 
wood prevented, not a man of them would have 
escaped." With the conduct of his own troops 
on this occasion, he was little satisfied. " For as 
soon," he adds, " as we saw the enemy, the old 
story of treachery spread among the men ; and 
the cry was, we are trepanned and drawn under 
the guns of the fort. The woodsmen were less 
expert in forming than I had expected, and 
too many of them hung back. Had we kept 
more silence, we should have taken a field-piece 


Being now left to pursue his object without fur 
ther obstruction, he proceeded to the junction of 
the two roads, the one leading to Montreal, the 
other to Chamblee ; where he established an in 
trenched camp of three hundred men. Having 
thus done what was practicable to interrupt the 
communication between St. John s and its sustain 
ing posts, he hastened back to his camp to try the 
effects of his artillery on the strength of the walls, 
and the temper of the garrison. In this labor, 
from causes, neither soon nor easily removed, his 
progress was not flattering ; the cannon given him 
were found to be too light ; the mortars defective ; 
the artillerists unpractised ; the ammunition scan 
ty, and the person assigned to him as an engineer, 
utterly ignorant of the first principles of the art 
he professed.* To this list of untoward circum 
stances may be added the character of the ground 
he occupied ; which, being wet and even swampy, 
was productive of many and serious diseases ; 
which, besides hourly diminishing his strength, 
greatly retarded his operations. 

To lessen the number and pressure of these 
embarrassments, Montgomery decided on chang 
ing his position and removing to the northwestern 
side of the fort ; which, as he was informed, would 
Burnish ground of greater elevation and dryer sur- 

XI. 14 

* Captain Mott. 


face, with a sufficient supply of wholesome water 
With this intention, a road was opened and fascines 
were collected on the site chosen for the new bat 
teries ; when, more to his mortification than sur 
prise, he discovered, that to persist in the measure 
would give occasion to evils of greater malignity, 
than either or all of those, which it was proposed 
to remedy by it ; in a word, that a general mutiny 
of the army would be the consequence. Abhor 
rent as any kind or degree of condescension to an 
insubordinate soldiery must have been to a man of 
Montgomery s habits and principles, still he could 
not conceal from himself, that the evil, which now 
beset him, grew in a great measure out of the spirit 
of the times, and was perhaps inseparable from 
revolutionary movements ; that, at any rate, he 
possessed no power of punishing or even controll 
ing it, and that any course, which should precipi 
tate the army into an act of open mutiny, would 
be a signal for its dissolution, and an end of all pub 
lic views and hopes founded on the expedition. la 
this view of the subject, personal feelings and 
professional scruples were made to yield ; and in 
stead of a peremptory order to execute the pro 
ject, he prudently submitted it to the decision of a 
council of war, who, as was expected, refused to 
give it their approbation.* 

* At a later period, the General s plan was adopted and 
a new position taken on the northwest side of the fort. 


White this inauspicious occurrence took place 
in the camp, another of the General s plans, from 
misconduct in the leader, terminated unfavorably. 
To quiet the restless activity of Ethan Allen, 
who, without commission or command, had at 
tached himself to the army as a volunteer, Mont 
gomery sent him to Laprairie, with an escort of 
thirty men, and orders " to mingle freely with the 
inhabitants and so to treat them, as would best 
conciliate their friendship and induce them to join 
the American standard." In the outset of this 
business, Allen was not unsuccessful, and soon ac 
quired an addition to his corps of fifty Canadians ; 
when, either deceived in regard to the enemy s 
strength, or indifferent to its magnitude, and with 
out direction or privity on the part of the General, 
he determined to risk an attack on Montreal. He 
accordingly crossed the river in the night of the 
24th of September, and was met in the morning 
by a British party, who, after a short and slight con 
flict, captured him and thirty-eight of his followers. 

Another affair, more prudently managed and 
having a favorable influence on the operations of 
the campaign, occurred soon after. Mr. James 
Livingston, a native of New York, who had some 
time before established himself in Canada, had for 
tunately gained a good deal of popularity with 
its inhabitants ; which, at the instance of Mont 
gomery, be employed in raising among them an 


armed corps, under the promise of eventual pro 
tection, made and promulgated by the order of 
Congress. With three hundred of these recruits 
and a small detachment from the army, Majors 
Brown and Livingston obtained possession of Fort 
Chamblee, capturing the whole of the garrison, 
and a large quantity of military stores, among 
which were one hundred and twenty-six barrels of 
gunpowder. This acquisition having greatly invig 
orated the siege, and rendered probable a speedy 
reduction of St. John s, General Carleton found 
himself compelled to quit his insular position at 
Montreal, and risk a field movement in defence of 
his fortress. The force at his disposal for this pur 
pose was not formidable from numbers or from 
character, and was rendered less so by the divis 
ion of its parts. Its amount in combatants of all 
arms did not much exceed twelve hundred men ; 
the bulk of whom was made up of Canadian 
militia serving with reluctance, and Scotch emi 
grants recently engaged, and little if at all ac 
quainted with military duty. Of these, nearly one 
thousand had been retained at Montreal by Carle- 
ton, and the remainder stationed with M c Clean at 
the mouth of the Sorel. Under these circum 
stances and with Carleton s present views, a con 
centration of the two corps became indispensable ; 
and accordingly, on the 31st of October, that offi 
cer began his movement across the St. Lawrence 


to Longueil, whence he purposed marching to 
M c Clean s camp, and thence to the attack of the 
besieging army. 

The probability of a movement of this kind 
and with these objects did not escape the foresight 
of Montgomery ; who, soon after the capture of 
Chamblee, withdrew \\arner and two regiments 
from the investing position they had hitherto occu 
pied to the Longueil road, with orders " to patrol 
that route carefully and frequently, as far as the 
St. Lawrence ; to report daily to the commanding 
general such information as he might be able 
to obtain ; and lastly, to attack any party of the 
enemy indicating an intention of moving in the 
direction of the American camp, or in that of the 
Scotch emigrants." In execution of these orders, 
Warner arrived at Longueil early in the morning 
of the 31st, and making no display of his force 
until the leading boats of the British column had 
nearly reached the southern bank of the river, he 
then opened upon them a fire of musketry and 
artillery, which in a few minutes completely dis 
abled them and put to rout what remained of the 
armament. About the same time, and with orders 
of a similar character, Easton, Brown, and Liv 
ingston approached M c Clean, who, losing all hope 
of support from Carleton, hastily withdrew to his 
boats and descended the St. Lawrence. 


This new and favorable state of things was 
promptly communicated to Montgomery, who 
hastened to turn it to its proper account, the sur 
render of the fort, the occupation of Montreal, 
and the capture of Carleton. The first of these 
objects was accomplished by a written statement 
of the preceding events, made to the command 
ant ; the consequent hopelessness of succor to 
the garrison ; and the useless effusion of blood, 
which would necessarily follow any attempt to 
prolong the defence. The second object was less 
easily attained, not from any obstruction given by 
the enemy, but from the disinclination of his own 
troops to remain longer in the field ; nor could this 
be overcome, but by a promise on the part of the 
general, that, " Montreal in his possession, no fur 
ther service would be exacted from them." Un 
der this arrangement, he was enabled to display a 
force in front of the town, which, on the 12th of 
November, secured to him a full and peaceable 
possession of it, and of the armed vessels left by 
the enemy.* With regard to his third and great 
object, he was wholly unsuccessful. Some days 
before the last-mentioned event, the British gen 
eral not reposing firmly in Canadian fidelity, and 

* Eleven sail of vessels with General Prescott, and 
one hundred and twenty regular troops of the seventh 
and twenty-sixth regiments. 


fearing much from the enterprise and vigor of his 
antagonist, quitted Montreal and took refuge on 
board of the fleet, with which he hoped to be able 
to make good his retreat ; but finding on experi 
ment, that this project was impracticable, and per 
ceiving the imminent danger to which the capital 
of the province was exposed, as well by his ab 
sence from it, as by the presence of a new and 
unexpected enemy at its gates, he promptly and 
prudently put himself on board of a small beat 
with muffled oars, and, trusting to his personal for 
tunes and a dark night, was able to pass the Amer 
ican batteries and armed vessels, without notice or 
annoyance of any kind.* 

Though now master of a great part of Canada, 
Montgomery s labors, far from becoming lighter 
or fewer, were much augmented in both number 
and character. A pursuit of Carleton, a junction 
with Arnold, and an experiment on the strength of 
Quebec, were objects sufficiently indicated by his 
own judgment, the policy of Congress, and the 
hopes of the nation. But to prosecute these 
promptly and successfully required means, in 
which he was obviously and greatly deficient. 
His situation in this respect, given in a letter to a 
member of the Committee of Congress sent to 

* The position at the mouth of the Sorel was held 
by Cohnel Easton of the Massachusetts militia. 


confer with bin. on the subject of his campaign^ 
will not be deemed uninteresting. 

"For the good fortune," he says, "which lias 
hitherto attended us, I am, I hope, sufficiently 
thankful ; but this very fortune, good as it hs.s beon, 
will become a serious and insurmountable evil, 
should it lead Congress either to overrate onr means, 
or to underrate the difficulties we have yet to con 
tend with. I need not tell you, that, till Quebec is 
taken, Canada is unconquered ; and that, to accom 
plish this, we must resort to siege, investment, or 
storm. The first of these is out of the question, 
from the difficulty of making trenches in a Canadian 
winter, and the greater difficulty of living in them, if 
we could make them ; secondly, from the nature of 
the soil, which, as I am at present instructed, ren 
ders mining impracticable, and, were this otherwise, 
from the want of an engineer having sufficient skil! 
to direct the process ; and thirdly, from the few 
ness and lightness of our artillery, which is quit? 
unfit to break walls like those of Quebec. Invest 
ment has fewer objections, and might be sufficient, 
w T ere we able to shut out entirely from the garri 
son and town the necessary supplies of food and 
fuel, during the winter ; but to do this well (the 
enemy s works being very extensive and offering 
many avenues to the neighboring settlements) will 
require a large army, and from present appear 
ances mine will not, when brought together, much 



if at all exceed eight hundred combatants. Of 
Canadians I might be able to get a considerable 
number, provided I had hard money, with which to 
clothe, feed, and pay their wages ; but this is want 
ing. Unless, therefore, I am soon and amply rein 
forced, investment, like siege, must be given up. 

" To the storming plan, there are fewer objec 
tions ; and to this we must come at last. If my 
force be small, Carleton s is not great. The ex- 
tensiveness of his works, which, in case of invest 
ment, would favor him, will in the other case 
favor us. Masters of our secret, we may select a 
particular time and place for attack, and to repel 
this the garrison must be prepared at all times 
and places; a circumstance, which will impose 
upon it incessant watching and labor by day and 
by night ; which, in its undisciplined state, must 
breed discontents that may compel Carleton to 
capitulate, or perhaps to make an attempt to drive 
us off. In this last idea, there is a glimmering of 
hope. Wolfe s success was a lucky hit, or rather 
a series of such hits. All sober and scientific cal 
culation was against him, until Montcalm, permit 
ting his courage to get the better of his discretion, 
gave up the advantages of his fortress and came 
out to try his strength on the plain.* Carleton, 
who was Wolfe s quartermaster-general, under- 

* See the Note at the end of this Memoir, 


stands this well ; and, it is to be feared, will not 
follow the Frenchman s example. In all these 
views, you will discover much uncertainty ; but 
of one thing you may be sure, that, unless we do 
something before the middle of April, the game 
will be up ; because by that time the river may 
open and let in supplies and reinforcements to the 
garrison in spite of any thing we can do to prevent 
it ; and again, because my troops are not engaged 
beyond that term, and will not be prevailed upon 
to stay a day longer. In reviewing what I have 
said, you will find that my list of wants is a long 
one ; men, money, artillery, and clothing accom 
modated to the climate. Of ammunition Carleton 
took care to leave little behind him at this place. 
What I wish and expect is, that all this be made 
known to Congress, with a full assurance, that, if 
I fail to execute their wishes or commands, it shall 
not be from any negligence of duty or infirmity of 
purpose on my part. Vale, cave ne mandata 
frangas" * 

Assured, on the 17th of November, of Arnold s 
arrival at Point Levi, and on the 19th, of his hav 
ing crossed the St. Lawrence in safety, Mont 
gomery hastened to effect a junction with him , 
and having, on the 4th of December, accomplished 

* Letter to R. R. Livingston, Member of Congress, 


th s object, he immediately proceeded to take a 
position before Quebec. 

Great care was now employed in acquiring a 
knowledge of the extent and structure of the 
enemy s works ; the force and composition of his 
garrison ; * the disposition of the inhabitants of 
the town and neighboring country, and the means 
possessed by the latter to supply the wants of the 
former. The result of the information received 
on these points was such, as confirmed the Gen 
eral in the opinion expressed in the preceding 
letter ; that siege and investment were forbidden 
by the paucity of his numbers, not much ex 
ceeding eight hundred combatants ; by a want of 
artillery of sufficient calibre, and by the inclem 
ency of the season ; and again, that, of the differ 
ent modes of attack, that of escalade was, under 
all circumstances, the most advisable. 

But that no means of attaining the proposed 
object might be neglected, this opinion, though 
decidedly formed, was not permitted to super 
sede the use of other and preliminary expedients. 
A summons of surrender in the customary form, 
a cannonade of the fort from a battery >f five 

* Seamen and marines, four hundred and fifty ; pri 
vates of the seventh regiment, fifty ; M c Clean s corps, 
one hundred and fifty ; Canadian militia, two hundred 
jd fifty. 


guns and one howitzer ; a display of the Amen 
can force in full view of the British garrison, 
made in the hope that its feebleness would induce, 
or its defiance provoke, the enemy to forego the 
advantage of his fortress and risk a contest in the 
field, were successively tried, but without pro 
ducing any useful effect. A partial investment, 
confined to points which most favored an inter 
course between the town and the country, was 
also resorted to ; and would have been longer 
continued, had it not been found that its effect 
on the Canadian population was unfriendly, from 
the interruption it gave to their ordinary com 
merce without furnishing an equivalent market 
as a substitute ; and again, from a belief generally 
entertained, that a proceeding of this kind indi 
cated a want of strength in the American army. 
A discovery of these facts could not fail to make 
an impression as well on the troops as on the 
general, and besides inducing an abandonment of 
the investing plan, hastened in both a desire to 
try the effect of a coup de main. Two attacks 
of this character were accordingly projected ; the 
one on the lower town, from the suburbs of 
St. Roque ; the other on the upper, at the Cape 
Diamond Bastion, " to be executed in the night 
and when the weather should be favorable." But 
before the last of these conditions was fulfilled, 
a circumstance took place, that menaced the 
project with both defeat and disgrace. 


Three companies of Arnold s detachment (whose 
term of service was on the point of expiring) 
having, from some cause not well explained,* 
taken umbrage at the conduct of their command 
ing officer, seized the present occasion to make 
known their intention of quitting the army, un 
less, in the approaching movement they were 
permitted to attach themselves to some other 
corps. Under circumstances differing from those 
which belonged to the case, a transfer, such as 
they desired, would not have been refused ; but 
as, on investigating the facts, Montgomery found 
the complainants wholly in the wrong, he prompt 
ly determined, as well in punishment of them as 
in justice to Arnold, to reject their proposal. Still, 
believing that under all circumstances it would be 
prudent, before officially announcing this decision, 
to try the effects of a free and friendly expostu 
lation with the malcontents, he fortunately recurred 
to that process, and was promptly enabled to bring 
them back to a sense of good order and obedience, 
without the actual employment or menace of any 
coercive means, f 

* Montgomery, in his last letter to Schuyler, speaks 
of this occurrence, thinks his friend Major Brown at the 
bottom of it, and promises in his next a full explanation 
of it. 

f Mr. Marshall ascribes the return to duty, on the part 
of the malcontents, to the influence of arguments ad- 


Though now satisfied that the flame of the late 
controversy was extinguished, yet suspecting that 
the embers might still be alive, and knowing thai 
means would not be wanting to re-excite them, 
Montgomery hastened to avail himself of this nepv 
and last favor of fortune. A council of war wa*v 
accordingly convened, and to this the General 
submitted two questions ; " Shall we attempt the 
reduction of Quebec by a night attack ; And if 
so, shall the lower town be the point attacked ? " * 
Both questions having been affirmatively decided, 
the troops were ordered to parade in three divis 
ions at two o clock in the morning of the 31st 
of December ; the New York regiments and part 
of Easton s Massachusetts militia, at Holland 
House ; the Cambridge detachments and Lamb s 
company of artillerists, with one field-piece, at 
Captain Morgan s quarters ; and the two small 
corps of Livingston and Brown, at their respec 
tive grounds of parade. To the first and second 
of these divisions were assigned the two assaults, 
to be made on opposite sides of the lower town ; 

dressed to their love of plunder, by Captain Morgan. 
We have adopted in substance the statement given by 
Colonel J. Livingston, which is, we think, more credible, 
and certainly more creditable. 

* The first or main question was carried by a single 


and to the third, a series of demonstrations or 
feigned attacks on different parts of the upper 
Under these orders the movement began between 
three and four o clock in the morning, from the 
Heights of Abraham Montgomery advancing at 
the head of the first division by the river road, 
round the foot of Cape Diamond to Aunce au 
Mere ; and Arnold, at the head of the second, 
through the suburbs of St. Roque, to the Saut de 
Matelots. Both columns found the roads much 
obstructed by snow, but to this obstacle on the 
route taken by Montgomery were added huge 
masses of ice, thrown up from the river and so 
narrowing the passage round the foot of the prom 
ontory, as greatly to retard the progress and dis 
turb the order of the march. These difficulties 
being at last surmounted, the first barrier was 
approached, vigorously attacked, and rapidly car 
ried. A moment, and but a moment, was now 
employed to re-excite the ardor of the troops, 
which the fatigue of the march and the severity 
of the weather had somewhat abated. % Men 
of New York," exclaimed Montgomery, " you 
will not fear to follow where your general leads, 
march on ; " * then placing himself again in the 

* When Bonaparte assumed the offensive in the battle 
of Marengo, he hurried through the ranks exclaiming 
" Comrades, you know it is my practice to sleep on thf 
field of battle." 


front, he pressed eagerly forward to the second 
barrier, and when but a few paces from the mouths 
of the British cannon, received three wounds 
which instantly terminated his life and his labors 
Thus fell, in the first month of his fortieth year, 
Major-General Richard Montgomery. 

The fortune of the day being now decided, the 
corpse of the fallen general was eagerly sought 
for and soon found. The stern character of 
Carleton s habitual temper softened at the sight ; 
recollections of other times crowded fast upon 
him ; the personal and professional merits of the 
dead could neither be forgotten nor dissembled, 
and the British general granted the request of 
Lieutenant-Governor Cramahe to have the body 
decently interred within the walls of the city.* 

In this brief story of a short and useful life, 
we find all the elements which enter into the 
composition of a great man and distinguished 
soldier ; " a happy physical organization, com- 

* It does not fall within our proper limits, to exhibit 
in detail the future fortunes of the assailing army. It 
may therefore be sufficient to say, that, in losing their 
commander, all hope of eventual success was lost. 
The column of the right, under the direction of its new 
leader, made a hasty and disorderly retreat to the Heights 
f Abraham ; while that of the left, first under Arnold 
and again under Morgan, gave evidence only of a high 
and persevering, but fruitless gallantry. 


bining strength and activity, and enabling its pos 
sessor to encounter laborious days and sleepless 
nights, hunger and thirst, all changes of weather, 
and every variation of climate." To these corpo 
real advantages was added a mind, cool, dis 
criminating, energetic, and fearless ; thoroughly 
acquainted with mankind, not uninstructed in the 
literature and sciences of the day, and habitually 
directed by a high and unchangeable moral sense. 
That a man so constituted, should have won " the 
golden opinions " of friends and foes, is not extra 
ordinary. The most eloquent men of the British 
Senate became his panegyrists ; and the American 
Congress hastened to testify for him, " their 
grateful remembrance, profound respect, and high 
veneration." A monument to his memory was 
accordingly erected, on which might justly be 
inscribed the impressive lines of the poet ; 

"Brief, brave, and glorious was his young career; 
His mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes ; 
And fitly may the stranger, lingering here, 
Pray for his gallant spirit s bright repose ; 
For he was Freedom s champion, one of those, 
The few in number, who had not o erstept 
The charter to chastise, which she bestows 
On such as wield her weapons ; he had kept 

The whiteness of his soul, and thus men o er him wept. 


(See page 217.) 

As nothing will better illustrate Montgomery s 
freedom from prejudice, and correctness of milita 
ry judgment, than this opinion, respecting Wolfe s 
success at Quebec, we may be permitted to give 
a brief view of the grounds on which it rested. 

It will be remembered, that, in the campaign ot 
1759, General Wolfe was placed at the head of 
an army of eight thousand combatants, sustained 
by a fleet of twenty-two ships of the line, as many 
frigates, and several smaller vessels, with orders to 
reduce Quebec, a fortress, strongly fortified by na 
ture and art, defended by ten thousand effective 
men and commanded by an officer, distinguished 
alike by capacity and experience. The promon 
tory on which this fortress stood, presented to the 
south a naked rock, rising from the St. Lawrence 
several hundred feet in height ; to the north and 
east, a declivity less elevated and abrupt than the 
former, but such as everywhere forbade an as 
cent, but by a narrow and winding foot-path, se 
cured at different points by strong palisades ; and 
on the west or land side, a line of bastions, brist- 


.ing with cannon and extending from one height to 
another ; thus forming the base of the angle and 
completing the outline of the work ; while within 
its area rose the citadel of St. Louis, overlooking 
and commanding the whole. It is not therefore 
to be wondered at, if, after reconnoitring the place 
and its defences, the General should have discov 
ered "obstacles greater than had been foreseen," 
or that he should have come to the conclusion, 
" that to reduce the place by a direct attack, was 
impracticable," and that the only expedient left, 
for giving him even a chance of accomplishing the 
plans of the government and the hopes of the na 
tion, was a constant and unrelaxing endeavor to 
decoy into detachments, or to provoke to a gener 
al battle, his old and wary antagonist, who seemed 
to understand too well the value of his fastnesses, 
to be easily seduced from them. 

With these vague and hopeless prospects, the 
north bank of the St. Lawrence above the town 
was carefully reconnoitred, but without discovering 
a place, at which the detachment, that should be 
first landed, would not be liable to be cut to pie 
ces before another could be brought to support it 
Still, as something must be hazarded, the General 
fixed on St. Michael s, three miles from Quebec, 
for making the experiment ; when he discovered, 
that the enemy had penetrated his design and was 
preparing to defeat it 


Giving up therefore this side of the town as 
unfavorable to his project, he now returned to 
an examination of that lying between the rivers 
St. Charles and Montmorency ; and, though every 
accessible part of the shore was found to be " in 
trenched and redoubted," and protected besides 
by " a gr^at breadth of shoal water and a muddy 
bottom, scooped into holes and intersected by gul 
lies," be, notwithstanding, decided on making his 
descent there, because " it possessed advantages, 
not to be found at any other place," namely, room 
for the developement of his whole force, and, if 
necessary, " a safe retreat at low-water." The 
attempt was accordingly made, but ended in new 
disappointment and increased vexation, for the 
enemy refusing to quit his intrenchments, neither 
advanced in mass, nor in detachment, to attack 
him, while his own troops showed " a great want 
of both order and discipline." 

This failure no doubt increased, if it did not 
create, an indisposition, which caused a temporary 
suspension of the general s activity ; during which 
he submitted to the consideration of the briga 
diers serving under him, the general question of 
future operations and the direction to be given to 
these ; subjoining at the same time statements and 
opinions, which sufficiently indicated the leaning 
of his own judgment, in favor of a renewed at 
tack on the French positions at Beauport, either 


* by turning their left flank and assailing their 
rear, or by a direct approach in front, on the side 
of the St. Lawrence." The answer to this com 
munication, was precisely what it ought to ii*-e 
been ; respectful to the general, but adverse to 
both the courses suggested by him. It may oe 
paraphrased as follows ; " On either project, the 
risk is certain, and the advantage to be gained 
unimportant. If we adopt the first, a march of 
nine miles, through woods intersected by creeks, 
swamps, and defiles, becomes unavoidable, every 
step of which must be known to the enemy and 
liable to obstruction from his numerous bodies of 
Indians and light troops. A new repulse, at this 
time, would be very unfavorable, and a defeat, 
probably fatal to the army ; while its most com 
plete success would have the effect only of com 
pelling the enemy to change his front, and take 
the new and more formidable position behind the 
St. Charles. The second proposition is liable to 
similar objections ; since our whole movement 
must be made in the view, and exposed to the 
fire of the batteries and intrenchments of the 
enemy ; a circumstance, which our recent expe 
rience shows cannot be encountered, without con 
siderable loss, and with the hazard, in case of 
disaster, of having our retreat entirely cut orF, 
as it is only in a particular state of the tide, that 
a retreat will be at all practicable. 


" On the other hand, taking for granted that 
British courage will triumph over many difficulties 
and that the enemy will be driven from Beau- 
port and its dependencies, what advantage w r ill the 
acquisition of these places give to us, or what 
injury will the loss of them produce to the ene 
my ? The effect to either party will be unim- 
portant, since the place itself has no possible 
influence on the fate of the capital, neither cov 
ering nor exposing its supplies, neither strength 
ening nor weakening its defences ; in a w T ord, t is 
but an outpost, which Mr. Montcalm may abandon 
without loss, and which he artfully presents to us, 
in the hope that we will knock our heads against 
it. The movement, which in our opinion should 
be substituted for these, is, that the army assem 
ble and embark at Point Lev y i, and ascend the 
St. Lawrence above the town, and there seek for 
a place at which they may debark and gain the 
bank. If they fail in accomplishing this, they 
run no risk of any serious loss, since the attempt 
will not be made but under the guns of the ship 
ping. If, on the other hand, we succeed in gain 
ing the bank and in taking a position which shall 
place us between the enemy and the interior of 
the province, we may hope to draw him from his 
walls and to the risk of a battle ; but, whether 
this last purpose be effected or not, we shall be 
precisely in the situation the best adapted to a 


cooperation with General Amherst s army, which, 
agreeably to the general plan of campaign, must 
now be on its march to join us." 

This reasoning silenced, if it did not satisfy, the 
objections of Wolfe. He adopted the plan with 
the frankness and good faith with which it was 
offered, and, being now reinstated in health, lost 
no time in giving it execution. The troops, to 
the amount of four thousand effectives, were em 
barked as proposed on board of a division of the 
fleet, which ascended the St. Lawrence, while 
another division of it, the better to mask the real 
attack, continued to menace a descent at Beau- 
port. This was the moment that fortune began 
to show her partiality for the British arms. Be 
lieving the movement to be only a feint, Mont- 
calm steadily adhered to his field position on the 
eastern side of the town, and contented himself 
with detaching Bougainville at the head of twen 
ty-five hundred men to the western side, with 
orders to keep pace with the ascending division 
of the British fleet, watch its operations, and repel 
all attempts at landing. 

This officer had accordingly lined the bank with 
sentinels, established small posts on the few paths 
which admitted an ascent of the bank, and taken 
post himself about six leagues west of Quebec 
and directly opposite to the ships of war. Til] 
now, the vigilance of this corps had been irre- 


proachable, and had even merged and received 
the praises of an enemy ; but on the night of the 
12th of September it slept, and so profoundly, 
that the British fleet and army were enabled to 
execute their whole purpose, without notice or 
discovery. The latter, being embarked on board 
of the boats, fell down the stream to the point 
agreed upon for the descent, followed and protect 
ed by the former, and at one o clock in the morn 
ing, effected their landing, mounted the precipice, 
drove in the sentries and seized a battery, before 
even the common signals of alarm were given 
When the day dawned, the British line found 
itself on the Heights of Abraham, and, in a few 
minutes, perceived the French army approaching 
by the bridge of St. Charles. 

What a moment of anxiety for Wolfe ! Was 
it Montcalm s intention to shut himself up m 
Quebec, and leave to the British army the doubt 
ful and dangerous experiments of investment or 
siege ? Or was he in motion to stake on the 
chances of a battle the fate of himself, of his 
army, of the capital, and of the province ? Is it 
probable, that he, who has hitherto acted so wa 
rily, will be less circumspect in proportion as his 
fortunes become more critical ? Is it reasonable to 
hope, that a general, who has till now so distinctly 
seen the advantages of his position, will at once 
cease to avail himself of what art and nature 


nave united to do for him ? Should he lose the 
power of making new combinations, will he lose 
his memory also, and, forgetting alike the maxims 
of war and the dictates of duty, hazard a post 
with the defence of which he is specially charged, 
or give battle on the invitation of an enemy, who 
has no hope but in the chance of his doing so ? 

A few minutes solved these momentous ques 
tions. As soon as the heads of the French col 
uinns, preceded by their skirmishers, were seen to 
issue from the gates of the town and advance 
towards their enemy, there could be no longer a 
doubt of the intentions of the French comman 
der. At this moment, the British army had not 
yet taken an order of battle ; but the simple for 
mation of a single line a little bent on its left, and 
reinforced on its right, by one regiment in open 
order, was soon executed. Neither army could 
claim much support from artillery ; the British 
not having been able to bring up more than one 
piece, while the French, who could have strength 
ened their line with a battery of fifty pieces, either 
neglected or despised the advantage, and brought 
with them only two nine-pounders. The battle 
which followed was decided by musketry, and 
was unmarked by any extraordinary or well ap 
plied evolution of any kind. The fall of Mont- 
calm hastened, if it did not occasion, the flight of 
the French, who left fifteen hundred men on the 


field of battle. In this moment of route on the 
one side, and of triumph on the other, the head 
of Bougainville s corps marching from La Foix, 
showed itself on the rear of the British line., 
But, the fortunes of the day being apparently 
decided, he retired perhaps prudently, to concert 
measures with the commander of the fort, to keep 
up his communications with it, to check the ene 
my s attempts at investment, or, if the measure 
oecame necessary, to join in the direct defence 
of the place. On the part of the British nothing 
could be considered as done, while Quebec re 
mained to be taken ; and for its security, there 
was still left a sufficient garrison and abundant 
supplies, with an exterior force already formidable 
and hourly increasing. Time, on the other hand, 
which was thus strengthening them, was sensibly 
weakening their enemy. 

The British effective force, originally eight thou 
sand combatants, was now, including the corps at 
Point Levi and the Isle of Orleans, reduced to 
four thousand men ; the weather had already 
become wet and cold ; the sick list was rapidly 
ncreasing ; and but thirty days remained for field 
operations, while those of the water might proba- 
oly be limited to even a shorter period. Much 
Tiust be done before a siege could be commenced, 
ind an investment, from the nature of the ground, 
and the deficient number of the troops, was quite 


impracticable. Under this aspect of things, the 
chances were yet against the invaders ; and it re 
quired only a vigorous resistance on the part of 
the garrison, to have saved both the fortress and 
the province. But " fear betrays like treason." 
M. de Ramsay saw in some demonstrations, made 
by the British fleet and army as trials of his tem 
per, a serious intention to attack him by land and 
water ; when, to escape this, he opened a negotia 
tion for the surrender of the fort at the very mo 
ment when a reinforcement of eight hundred men, 
with an additional supply of provisions, was ready 
to enter it. Tovvnshend, who, after the fall of 
Wolfe, commanded the British army, was both a 
politician and a soldier, and readily subscribed to 
any terms, the basis of which was the surrender 
of the capital. 

Such is the chapter o accidents by which Que 
bee was taken in 1759. Had not Wolfe become 
seriously ill, there would have been no opinion re 
quired from Monckton, Tovvnshend, and Murray, 
and the army would have continued to waste its 
strength in new attacks on the French positions at 
Beau port, in conformity to Wolfe s opinion. 

Had not Wolfe, in despite of this opinion, fol- 
.owed the advice of his brigadiers and carried his 
operations from the eastern to the western side of 
the town, the same consequences would have fol 
lowed . 


Had the French guards done their duty on the 
night of the 12th of September, the British would 
have failed in making good their landing and as 
cent to the Heights of Abraham. 

Had Montcalm refused the battle offered to him 
on the 13th, or had he reinforced his centre and 
flanks by competent divisions of artillery, or had 
he delayed coming to blows for a single hour, or 
had Bougainville arrived in the rear of the British 
line, before the battle was lost, in either of these 
cases, the fortune of the day would have been dif 
ferent from what it was. 

And lastly, had M. de Ramsay, instead of sur 
rendering, defended his post, the expedition must 
have failed ; since, circumstanced as the British 
were, they had no sufficient means for reducing 
the place by storm, siepe, or investment. 





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OCT8 1956 


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OCT 2 9 6^ r n 


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