GRIEF FOR THE DEATH OF HIS SON AND CORRESPONDENCE WITH FRIENDS; PROGRESS OF THE COLLEGE AND ERECTION OF A BUILDING; LEAYES THE CITY ON ACCOUNT OF THE SMALLPOX; DEATH OF HIS WIFE; FIRST COMMENCEMENT; AND INCLINATIONS TO RESIGN.
IT is impossible to describe the sorrow of the father at the loss of his son. He had written to his friends in Stratford as late as the first week in September, to say that no new intelligence had been received from him, and that he hoped by that time he was "' well on his way over." The first tidings of his death came through a London paper, and followed quickly upon the hope thus expressed. He seized his pen and wrote again as follows:--
September 13, 1756.
DEAREST SON,--You will find by an article in the news which is out of the London paper, that it hath pleased our Heavenly Father to take to himself your dear brother, and to deprive me of one of the best of sons and- you of the best of brothers. May He support and comfort you under these heavy tidings, as I hope I may say with thankfulness He does us. The wound is exceeding deep, but we have nothing to say upon these occasions but Thy will be done! and to make the best use we can of it to disengage us from this world, and fit us for a better where he is doubtless gone, and where we may hope in a little time to meet him never to part more. This is all the intelligence we have of it (via Boston), but you see him in the case so exactly described that there is no possible place left to doubt of it. Your sister is at Staten Island. I dread at the shock it must give her. Thank God we are all in health and send our tender sympathies with you on this melancholy occasion. This makes us the more long to see you again, but must wait till your affairs make it practicable. Meantime may God sanctify this sad event to you and to us all, and ever have you under his most gracious protection. I am, dear son,
Your most afflicted and affectionate father,
Several letters passed between them before the tidings were confirmed by Mr. Fayerweather's communication,--in one of which Dr. Johnson said: "Dear son, you are now my all; pray for my sake as well as your own be very careful of your health. I have always a sort of terror at the sound of Litchfield ever since the sickness you got there. I shall long to hear you are well returned." Another letter, written after all the particulars of William's death had been received, is so full of parental tenderness and solicitude for his surviving child that it must not be omitted in this connection:--
NEW YORK, October 18, 1756.
MY DEAR AND ONLY SON,--I had yours of the 12th and thank God for your health and ours. I conclude you had my last by the post with Mr. Fayerweather's, though I have no answer by Hurd.
Your kind intentions towards your brother, had he lived, are very pleasing to me. You may remember I once wished you to assist him, as I was concerned how he would be able to get decently along in life. But God, I am persuaded, has provided infinitely better for him than we both of us could have done, and yet it is so difficult a thing to be disengaged from the hopes and wishes we had of happiness in his continuance with us, that I believe we would both be content to be stripped of all we have, if that could fetch him back. But God's will is done, and to that we must submit.
What you mention of his taking away such young persons, and especially in prospect of great usefulness, always appeared to me one of the most difficult phenomena of Providence to account for. It did so, on his taking away my dear friend, Mr. Brown, who was certainly the best of us three, and much such another as your brother. What you suggest is the only thing that can satisfy us that there are wise and good reasons with that infinitely perfect and best of Beings, though it is infinitely beyond us to see them. It is impossible for us to judge what is wisest and best, unless we knew the whole of things. But He hath kept that future world impenetrably out of our sight, doubtless (wisely and kindly) to teach us to live by faith, not by sight. A heathen would say, Prudens, futuri temporis exitum, calignosa nocte premit Deus. It is certain we can make nothing of Providence without taking both worlds into the account; and in this view let us rest.
Mr. Walker was so kind as to write me a large and elaborate letter on this melancholy occasion, to which I inclose an answer open for your perusal, which I desire you to seal and deliver to him. I am very sorry you can't be here at Christmas. After having had two such desirable sons for near thirty years almost always under my eye, now to be totally deprived of one, and so very seldom to see the other, seems very hard. I shall be so out of all patience not to see you till spring that I beg of you, if possible, to let us see you in that first week in December you mention.
My dear son--This is your birthday; you now enter upon your thirtieth year. [He was born on the 7th of October, Old Style.] I bless God for preserving you both so long to me as He has. May He preserve you still, and lengthen out to you a useful life to a good old age, and bestow ten thousand blessings on you and yours. And as I always set my heart upon your being, both, great and public blessings to mankind, and now one is taken away, and some part of your private care is thereby abated, I trust you will be so much the more of a public spirit, and lay out your life and talents to the best advantage for public usefulness, and that, as much as you can, in what relates to the interest of Religion as well as Justice. I am, with our tenderest regards to you both, and to the children, dear son,
Your most affectionate father,
His friends in England wrote him all the comforting words they could, and at the University of Oxford a memorial of the character of his son was drawn up, in which the Rev. George Horne, of Magdalen College, and the Rev. George Berkeley, student of Christ Church, had a share, and in which the hope was expressed that the guardians of the Church in America might find some expedient to cc prevent future calamities of this kind, by rendering such long and perilous voyages unnecessary." Dr. Johnson used the event as a fresh reason for the establishment of an American Episcopate. In writing to Dr. Nicholls, December 10, 1756, and thanking him for his kindness to his deceased son, he urged this measure with great zeal, but despaired of seeing anything accomplished at present. He wrote in a similar strain to his other correspondents, and appeared to be as full of solicitude for the prosperity of the Church in America as of sorrow for the death of his beloved child. The following letter to the son of Bp. Berkeley may be taken as an example of the depth of his feeling on both subjects: -
KING'S COLLEGE, N. Y., December 10, 1756.
DEAREST SIR,--I have now before me three of your very kind and affectionate letters to acknowledge, which I most gratefully do. In particular I thank you for the very tender sympathy you express on occasion of the loss of my dear son, which is indeed a very heavy loss not only to me and my family, but to the poor people to whom he was to minister, and hath been most affectionately lamented by all who knew him. Your reflections on this unhappy occasion are both just and kind, and I thank God, under such considerations, He has enabled me to bear it better than I could have expected. And however hard it bears on flesh and blood, as I am deeply sensible that my Heavenly Father both always knows and does what is best, I heartily join with you in saying, Not my will, O my God, but Thine be done! And I gladly take this opportunity to render my most hearty thanks to you for the great kindness wherewith you treated my dear son, when he was at Oxford, and I beg you will give my humblest service and thanks to all those good gentlemen, as though named, into whose conversation you introduced him, and who treated him with so great kindness, and indeed to the whole Senate for the great honor they did him in his degree, of all which he had a most pleasing and grateful sense, as abundantly appears both from his journal, and a letter he wrote to me from London soon after. His satisfaction in his journey to Oxford was inexpressible, and particularly I beg you will give my humblest duty and thanks (lest my letter should miscarry) to my Lord of Oxford, whose treatment of him was like that of a father and friend, rather than a stranger and inferior,--for which I cannot be sufficiently thankful.
I am very much obliged to you for sending me a copy of your justly renowned and ever honored father's epitaph, for whom I had the most intense affection. It is extremely just and elegant. It was a mighty satisfaction that our friendship was like to be continued in our sons; but since God has been pleased to deny it in him that is gone, I wish it may be continued in my only surviving son, who though he is a lawyer, and (thank God) is in the best estimation in that profession, yet his chief affection is towards Divinity of the best sort, having read Hutchinson, etc., and would shine in that if he could have orders without such a dangerous voyage, which yet he would not much regard, if he had not a family. I beg, therefore, though unknown, he may be numbered among your friends. I desire, when you write, you will give my humblest service to that excellent lady your honored mother, as well as your brother, of whom I should be glad to hear, and assure her that I do most tenderly sympathize with her in her affliction, and do earnestly pray to God for the relief of your dear sister. I bless God who has infused your heart with a disposition to take Holy Orders in this degenerate, apostatizing age, in which a man had need to have the spirit of a confessor if not a martyr, and I shall not cease to pray earnestly that you may both have the grace and opportunity to act a worthy part in that capacity for which you are so excellently qualified.
And now it is time that I consider the subjects of your other letters, and particularly that I tender you my most hearty thanks for the most kind present of books you were so good as to send me, which I wish I could retaliate. I should have done this sooner but that they arrived not long before the sad news of my son's death, having lain so long with the Secretary that he had forgotten whence they were. Dr. Ellis' performance I am highly pleased with, so far as Religion is concerned, but I cannot say that I am satisfied with either Mr. Locke or him in that part. I cannot think sense the only source of our knowledge, and must conceive consciousness and the pure intellect another, without which instruction could take no effect, though it labor in the first materials. Bp. Berkeley, Dr. Cudworth, and Plato, should be well considered. I desire you would give my humble service and thanks to Mr. Holloway for his kind present, which is an excellent performance, but I am afraid of going out of one extreme into another, and so hurting the cause of our holy religion by carrying the humor of allegorizing too far, as some of the pious Fathers seem to have done; and I have thought sometimes a handle has been groundlessly, at least it has been wickedly taken by the enemies of Christianity to set them in a very ridiculous light. Dr. Patten's, Mr. Wittar's and Mr. Horne's performances are exceeding good, and I am in particular prodigiously pleased with Mr. Horne's State of the Case, etc., which carries all before it. Would to Heaven all Hutchinsonians would write in that candid and powerful manner. Their cause, which I am persuaded is the cause of God, would at length, methinks, bear down all opposition. I long for those things he seems to hint as being upon the anvil. In short I am very much obliged to you for all those tracts, which are very excellent. I am heartily glad Mr. Hutchinson's works are so much esteemed at Oxford, and you may depend upon it, I shall do my best to make that University my pattern as far as may be, and particularly to induce as many as I can to study the Hebrew Scriptures, and to understand his writings. I thank God my College has at last got the victory of its enemies, having had an act passed this fall in favor of it by our Assembly, and all opposers stop their mouths. The foundation of the building is laid, to be carried on vigorously in spring. But as we shall want much assistance, I am very thankful for the forwardness you express to promote it, for the books contributed, and believe we shall soon empower somebody to put forward a subscription in England.
As to Tillotson, I have myself been heretofore a great admirer of his sermons, but for these several years have been sensible of the ill-effects of them in these parts, as well as of some others worse than they much here in vogue,--and done my best to guard against them; but as he has long been in possession, it will not do here to speak against him with much acrimony except among Methodists. The Remarks on his life are doubtless but too just. However it is good to keep the golden mean and hold moderation, as far as can consist with a wise zeal and steadiness to the cause of God, and truth as it is in Jesus.
I am sadly grieved for the melancholy account you give me of some of the chief dignitaries, and the condition of the Church there, and little hopes of any establishment in our favor here. I confess I should scarce have thought my dear son's life ill bestowed (nor I believe would he) if it could have been a means of awakening this stupid age to a sense of the necessity of sending Bishops (at least one good one) to take care of the Church in these vastly wide extended regions. But alas! what can be expected of such an age as this! O Deus bone in quae tempora reservastis nos! This is now the seventh precious life (most of them the flower of this country) that has been sacrificed to the atheistical politics of this miserable abandoned age, which seems to have lost all notion of the necessity of a due regard to the interest of Religion, in order to secure the blessing of God on our nation both at home and abroad. As to us here, as things have hitherto gone, we can scarce look for anything else but to come under a foreign yoke.
But it is now high time I should relieve your patience when I begin to have scarce any left of my own. I therefore conclude with my sincere thanks for your affectionate prayers for me and mine, the continuance of which I still desire; and be assured that both you and your relatives and friends shall always be severally remembered in mine, who am, dear Sir, Your most affectionate friend and brother in Christ,
The affairs of the College in the mean time went on prosperously, and Dr. Johnson applied all his energies to give form and effect to the plans of the Overseers. They appointed as Tutor, to take the place of his lamented son, Mr. Leonard Cutting, a gentleman who had been educated at Eton and the University of Cambridge, and was well qualified to fill the position. It was decided to locate the College building "in the skirts of the city," and the first stone, with a suitable inscription, was laid on the 23d of August, 1756, by Sir Charles Hardy, at which time the President made a short Latin address to the Governors, to Sir Charles, and Mr. De Lancy, the Lieutenant-governor of the Province, "congratulating them on this happy event, which was followed with an elegant dinner." But an interruption of his personal work soon occurred. The appearance of the small-pox in the city at the setting in of the winter of 1756 obliged him to retire to West Chester, where he ministered to the poor people who had been disappointed in their expectations of having his son for their Rector. The thirty pupils in the three classes were left in charge of Mr. Cutting, to whom Mr. Daniel Treadwell, a graduate of Harvard College, was added as an assistant, having been appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. Dr. Johnson himself did what he could in the way of advice and direction, but his long absence was felt to be a hindrance to the best designs of the Institution. At first he seems to have retired alone without his family, for he wrote to his son from West Chester on the 19th of December to say, "The kindness of everybody here is inexpressible. My Lord [Underhill] and his family think nothing too good for me, or too much to do, and everything I say is a law to them. The next day after you went away, he begged I would be perfectly at home and call for everything I wanted. I told him, when at home, I always had my family together morning and evening to prayers, and should be glad to do the same here. He was very glad at my motion, and is prodigiously pleased with the practice, insomuch that he tells all his neighbors of it, and if any of them are here, he will not let them go away before prayers are over.
"The snow looked terribly, but they intend, if it will continue, to make an advantage of it. My Lord and the Major have this evening, since church, engaged fourteen sleds to go to-morrow and fetch all up at once, so that I hope we may soon be together again, but it looks threatening for another storm."
The storm did continue, and some days elapsed before the removal was accomplished. In this retirement he found opportunity to refresh his mind with favorite studies, and to review some of the judgments which he had formed at an earlier period of his ministry. Writing to his son on the 30th of January, 1757, he said: "Your notion of those Oxford gentlemen is doubtless very right, and I hope we shall have more of their zealous labors to preserve Religion from sinking in this apostatizing age. I confess Dr. Clarke, etc., had led me far many years ago into the reasoning humor, now so fashionable in matters of Religion, from which I bless God I was happily reclaimed, first by Forbes and more perfectly by Hutchinson, whose system I have been now more thoroughly canvassing from the Hebrew Scriptures, since this retirement, in regard to the Philosophical as well as the Theological part, and, to my unspeakable satisfaction, am much convinced it is, in both, entirely right, and I could wish you to read both Forbes and Pike over and over again.
"But your dear brother yet lies very near my heart, and I cannot avoid yet daily and hourly following him in my thoughts, with the utmost tenderness, into the world of Spirits, whither he is gone before us. And when I pray for you and all of us, I cannot help remembering him, as I used to do, but in some such words as these: I humbly hope my dear departed son is accepted with Thee in Thy blessed Son, and that thou art still his God. O be the God of us also that survive,--our God and guide and chief good in time and to all eternity.' The expression you know is taken from that of the God of Abraham, etc., applied by our Saviour to the Resurrection; but we must remember it means in the original their Elohim, i. e., their Father, Redeemer, and Comforter. No wonder then it includes the Resurrection. This custom of commemorating our departed friends obtained in the best and earliest times of Christianity, and by degrees degenerated to praying for them out of purgatory."
By the advice of his friends, he continued in his retirement at West Chester for upwards of a year, the prevalence of the small-pox in the city not making it prudent for him to resume his College duties. In the mean time he made a visit with his wife to Stratford, and spent several weeks of the early summer of 1757 among his old friends and parishioners. The journey was performed in a leisurely and private manner, and writing to his son on the last day of July, not long after the return to West Chester, he for the first time spoke of the illness of his wife. Her sickness proved to be the fever and ague, a complaint which then prevailed quite extensively in that neighborhood, and another member of his household was ill in the same way,--Mrs. Georgiana Maverick,--the widowed daughter of his wife by her former husband. No immediate danger attended this sickness, but persons afflicted with it, especially those of feeble constitutions, were often so shattered and reduced by its severity as never to recover. The following note, written to the wife of his son, shows his anxiety in the earlier stages of the complaint:--
WEST CHESTER, September 12, 1757.
DEAR DAUGRTER,--I am sensible my son is not at home, for which reason I write to you to let you know how it is with us. It is an exceeding sickly time in these parts, and we have our share of it, having all of us had the fever and ague, but your poor mother has a very bad fever. She had got well of the first turn so as to ride about several times, but yesterday a week ago she was taken bad again, and has been bad all the week and so continues, and God only knows what will be the event. It seems to be of the kind they call the long fever, but I hope it may have a comfortable issue. I mention our case that my son may know how it is when he comes home, but would not have him troubled with it where he is, and I hope I may be able to give him a better account of it by the time he returns. I was glad to find by his last letter that you were all in health, which I pray God continue. We all give our kind love to you and the children, and to him when he returns, and to Mrs. Beach.
I am, dear daughter,
Your most affectionate father and friend,
The next letter bore more favorable intelligence, but the signs of improvement were not lasting. Under the pressure of all his trials, his pen was employed whenever he could be of any service to the Church, and on the 3d of October, he excused himself from writing more largely to his son, because he had been obliged to prepare a long letter to the Rev. Mr. Wetmore, who had applied to him for his advice to be communicated to a meeting of the clergy which he was about to call at Stamford on the 13th at the instance of the Society "to look into the affairs of Mr. Beach's sermon, and try to bring him to a better mind." [Rev. John Beach. The sermon was An Inquiry concerning the State of the Dead, which was misunderstood, and he regretted its publication. ] "Truly," said Johnson, "things are come to that pass that he must make some submission to the Society or be discarded, or at least severely reprimanded, for Hobart has procured a complaint from their Association against him to the Society, which has put them on these measures, though I wish this could be concealed, and that it could be rather represented as arising ex proprio motu from other information," which the Society possessed. [Mr. Beach had very properly answered his "Addresses to the members of the Episcopal Separation in New England."] Writing to his son a week later, he referred again to Mr. Beach playfully as one who "had always those two seeming inconsistencies, to be dying and yet relishing sublunary things." The reprimand, if given, seems not to have been very severe, and Mr. Beach subsequently in a measure atoned for his mistake by the publication of a sermon on "Scripture Mysteries," which received the sanction of his brethren, and was introduced to the public with a preface from the pen of Johnson himself.
Not deeming it prudent to return to New York in consequence of the small-pox, he moved into more comfortable quarters at West Chester, and for a good part of the winter was alternately hopeful and fearful about the result of his wife's illness. Occasionally his sorrow for the death of his son would break out afresh, and any allusion to it by an English friend was sure to stir the depths of his feeling. He closed a letter to his son at Stratford, December 18, 1757, thus: "You tell me in your last you have had the melancholy pleasure of seeing Mr. Harison. It must be so, indeed; but though I have been very impatient for it, I have not yet had the opportunity. He sent me a short letter from Dr. Bearcroft, of July 2, by which it appears he had written to me the September before, which must have miscarried. It only relates to a scheme of the Society, to educate some Indian youths in my College as an expedient towards propagating Christianity among them. I want very much to see him, in order the better to know how to write my letters and what to do with these bills, and I fear I shall lose the opportunities.
Christmas is quite at hand, and if we may not have the pleasure of seeing you here (which though I long for, yet I durst not expect, however so much I desire it, it being such a tedious journey), I wish you may have a pleasant one and a happy new year, and many, many more."
He was induced to consult his old family physician at Stratford, Dr. Harpin, about his wife, who, as the winter wore on, became troubled with a cough and shortness of breath, and other symptoms of a consumption. She gradually improved under the use of new remedies, and by the middle of February, Dr. Johnson began to think of returning to his duties in town. The appearance of the small-pox at West Chester hastened this step, for in a letter to his son on the 4th of March, 1758, he said: "The young fellows here purposely take the small-pox so much, that I believe we cannot be any longer safer here than at town, so that I think to go within about a week, and the family will, I believe, hardly continue out the month before they follow me." Three weeks later he wrote again, but now from New York, where he had been nearly the whole of this time at the house of his stepson, and mentioned, "I have been but little abroad as yet, though I have some thoughts of venturing to church to-morrow. I have been and shall be very careful, but the small-pox is certainly very thin now, as neither doctors nor ministers, nor anybody else that I have seen, can tell where it is, of their own knowledge; but doubtless it is in some remote skirts of the town. However, I hope God will preserve me from it: the Freshmen have attended me every day at your brother's."
The family followed him to town early in April, and carried with them the fever and ague, which had afflicted his wife and daughter so long at West Chester. The change brought no real relief and the letters of the father to the son spoke more and more discouragingly of the recovery of Mrs. Johnson. The crisis had been reached and all hope relinquished, when the following was written from,--
NEW YORK, May 29, Monday, 11 o'clock.
MY DEAREST SON,--God is now calling me to pass through another great revolution in my circumstances; another great change in my condition, which I hope may further contribute to prepare me the better for my last. I should have written by Philip Nicholls, but he called in the utmost hurry so early, that having sat up till 1 o'clock, I was not yet awake. He could give you, or at best my dear daughter, a prelude to what is now to follow. Your dear mother continued as she was, without seeming worse till about six o'clock last Friday evening, having rid out the day before, and conversed and walked about as usual, and would have rid out that day but the wind was too high. But about that hour she was seized all at once with a terrible shivering, not cold, but convulsive, which issued in a most terrible fever, and tormenting pains, except short intervals of dozing, which continued till midnight last night, since which she has been tolerably easy and slept a good deal, but is reduced to the lowest ebb of life, and cannot hold it many hours. She is perfectly resigned, and sometimes even longs to be released, with good hopes of a blessed immortality. May God give her an abundant entrance into his heavenly kingdom, and a happy meeting with your dear brother!
Had you been at Stratford, I should have sent an express for you to come, but the suddenness of the occasion, all the while threatening speedy death, together with your great distance, made us think it best to decline it, though I shall hope to see you as soon as may be, as you may chance to be here before her funeral. But you must be careful and inquisitive as you come along, as I hear the small-pox is much at New Rochelle, and about the half way to the Bridge, where you may do well to have some tar to smell to, and tobacco in your mouth. Yesterday I asked her whether there was anything she would have me say to you in particular. She bid me give her love and dying blessing to you and your children. Take care, dear son, you do not overdo yourself. You are now my all in effect. Your brother and sisters with me give our love to you all. Lachrymans scribo, being, dear son,
Your most affectionate, but very afflicted father,
She lingered till the Thursday evening after the date of this letter, and then expired, thus sundering a happy connection which had existed for more than thirty-two years. She was buried under the chancel of Trinity Church--the old edifice which was afterwards destroyed in the great conflagration that befell the city during the Revolutionary War.
It had been decided to hold the first commencement of the College on the 21st of June, and Johnson, who was desirous of making a good appearance, turned, in the freshness of his grief, to the work of preparing for this occasion. The graduating class numbered eight, and the two tutors, Cutting and Treadwell, with eleven other gentlemen, were admitted to the degree of Master of Arts. An "elegant entertainment" followed the public exercises, and such was the interest manifested in the Institution that a new impulse seemed to be given to its prosperity. Materials for completing the college building were at once procured, and then when the stone had been delivered, a delay arose from an unexpected cause. The difficulty of finding suitable workmen prevented any progress, so that nothing more was done till the winter had passed away and the spring opened. In the meantime Johnson, who had previously applied to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other friends in England for aid in behalf of the College, was not much encouraged by the answers which he received. A good philosophical and mathematical apparatus had been obtained, and the Rev. Dr. Bristowe, of London, who befriended his lamented son, intimated his purpose of procuring a large library for the infant seminary, a purpose which he afterwards executed by bequeathing to it his own valuable collection of nearly fifteen hundred volumes. But money to finish the building and endow the College was not readily given.
Having two good tutors, one to take charge of the Classical and the other of the Mathematical department, he devoted himself chiefly to teaching the New Testament in Greek; and to Logic, Metaphysics, and Ethics, with lessons in Hebrew to those who desired to become acquainted with that language. He was interrupted for a time in his duties by sickness in the family, and was himself severely attacked with the measles in March, 1759, from which it was feared he might not recover. "God grant," he wrote to his son after all danger was passed, "that my life may have been spared to some good purpose, and that what remains of it may be more abundantly employed to his glory in the station I am in!"
A gloomy and anxious winter was not succeeded by a joyous spring, for Mrs. Maverick, upon whom, since the death of his wife, he had depended for the oversight of his domestic affairs, was in a precarious state of health, with decided tendencies to consumption. As late as the 28th of May, in reply to an invitation from his son's wife to visit Stratford, he said: "Your sister thanks you for your kind letter, but by reason of her weakness, begs me to answer it for her. She, as well as I, would gladly make you a visit, but she continues so infirm that I can neither bring her nor leave her; so that I must not have the pleasure of seeing you and my dear little girls this spring, but hope I may in the fall."
In less than a month from this date he had given up all hope of her recovery, and admitted to her friends that she was in a "1 fixed, incurable consumption." Her death came sooner than he expected; occurring on the 28th of June, thirteen months from the decease of her mother, and she was buried in the same grave above her, under the chancel of Trinity Church. "I am again," he informed his son, "bereaved, and now in a manner stripped. Your dear sister is gone and has left me very disconsolate." The event opened afresh his former griefs, and revived his inclinations to retire from the charge of the College and spend the remainder of his days in Stratford. But he was urged to remain, and the state of the Institution almost forbid him to leave it at this crisis.
The second Commencement had just been held and was private; one student only being admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts. The building was going on vigorously under his own eye, and his counsel and influence were much needed in the further steps to be taken for the advancement of the College. The following letter to Archbishop Seeker shows that while he was deeply interested in the prosperity of the Church at large, and desirous of seeing another Mission established in New England, he was on the watch also for some suitable person to be his successor.
April 25, 1759.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE,--In the beginning of last month I wrote an answer in part to your Grace's most kind letter of September 27. I hoped then by this time to have made a reply to the rest of that very important letter, but I have not sufficient information relating to some things, especially what concerns our frontiers. The occasion of my now writing is the desire and request of the clergy of Boston, that some letters of mine may accompany theirs t hat are going by this pacquet in behalf of Mr. Apthorp and a Mission at Cambridge near Boston. Indeed, that paragraph of your Grace's letter relating to Missions in New England, very much discourages me from writing anything relating to new Missions in these provinces. What I am now doing, therefore, proceeds purely from my friendship to those worthy gentlemen, to which I should be wanting, if I should refuse to write anything on this occasion. I therefore humbly beg your Grace will excuse me, if I only suggest that I am fully satisfied that a Mission would be of very good use to the interest of the Church and true religion so near that College, for the reasons they give, but what strongly sways with me is, that we want extremely to have as many worthy men as possible in this country, and Mr. Apthorp, by all accounts of him, is indeed a very superior young gentleman, having been bred at Cambridge, England, and merited a fellowship there, and that estimation and prospect of preferment that everybody wonders at his disposition to tarry in this, even though it be his native country, at all. And since it is so, I am very desirous to keep him, and the rather as he, having a considerable fortune of his own, may probably prove a fitter person than any we can ever expect to procure to succeed me in this station, and I am very desirous, if it may be, to be acquainted with my successor before I leave it, and that he may be some worthy person who has been bred at one of your Universities at home. However, whether the Society can think proper to make a new Mission in New England under the present condition of things, must be humbly submitted to the wisdom and goodness of the Board.
I remain, may it please your Grace,
Your Grace's most obliged, etc.,
In writing to Dr. Bearcroft, the Secretary of the Society, two months after this, he expressed himself as having little expectation of a collection in England for his College, but it needed assistance so much, and he urged its claims with such zeal, that the board generously donated £3500 sterling,--a gift which seemed to put new life into the hopes and energies of the somewhat tardy Governors. He defended at this period the Missionaries of the Society against the complaints of the Dissenters, who accused them of using undue means to gain the attention of their brethren and make converts. Secker had written him for information on the subject, and he replied repelling the accusations, and adding: "The quarrels of the Dissenters among themselves, especially, occasioned by the late enthusiasm, contributed vastly more to drive honest thinking people into the Church than any endeavors of the clergy to make proselytes. There is now a flagrant instance of this at Wallingford, a large country town in the heart of Connecticut." The "late enthusiasm" was the result of Whitefield's itinerancy, and a body of "shocking teachers followed him, who propagated so many wild notions of God and the Gospel, that a multitude of people were so bewildered that they could find no rest to the sole of their feet till they retired into the Church as the only ark of safety." The great want of the Church here was a Bishop, and he implored the authorities at home, in spite of the misrepresentations of their adversaries, to send one to America. "He need not," he said, "be fixed in New England, or in any part where Dissenters abound. He might be fixed at Virginia, where the Church is established, and only visit us northward once in three or four years. We should be content to ride three or four hundred miles for Holy Orders."
No objection was made at a meeting of the Society to the Mission at Cambridge, and to the appointment of Mr. Apthorp, with an annual stipend of £50. He met with a better reception at first among the Dissenters than was anticipated, and his temper, prudence, and abilities, gave him great advantage, if not influence, in that important seat of learning. But the Archbishop did not so complacently accord with Johnson in his plan of providing for his own retirement. "Your views," he said, "in relation to a successor, are very worthy of you; but I hope many years will pass before there be occasion to deliberate on that head." The change might bring with it no little discouragement, and put in peril the best interests of the Institution. At least it was too soon to give publicity to his intentions, and work with this end mainly in view,