FOURTH COMMENCEMENT; SECOND MARRIAGE; BENEFACTIONS TO THE COLLEGE; DR. JAY AUTHORIZED TO MAKE COLLECTIONS IN ENGLAND; ARRIVAL OF REV. MYLES COOPER; RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY; AND FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE.
AT the fourth Commencement of King's College, which was held June 3, 1761, the first Bachelors proceeded to their second degree. Several graduates of other colleges were admitted at the same time to a like honor, and pains were taken to make friends for the institution among Episcopalians outside of New York. Johnson was now more hopeful than ever of its growth, and felt that its great want was the want of additional funds to continue its operations and extend the course of instruction. He needed both a tutor and a professor to aid him in his labors, and his correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury had led him to anticipate that one or the other might ere long come from England, and be found fit eventually to succeed to his responsibilities.
Immediately after this fourth Commencement, he proceeded to Stratford in a sailing vessel, and was there married on the 18th of June to Mrs. Sarah Beach, widow of his old friend and parishioner, William Beach, and mother of his son's wife. At the close of the vacation, he embarked with her for New York, and earnestly applied himself again to his duties in the College. Failing to procure assistance from England, the Governors appointed Mr. Robert Harpur, a gentleman who had been educated at the University of Glasgow, and was well qualified to be Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and with his help, he had an easier time than in the preceding year, and the classes were more thoroughly instructed. Nothing occurred to disturb the even tenor of his course during the ensuing winter. His domestic affairs were every way agreeable, and he wrote his son in October that he "never was happier in his life than now." What added greatly to his pleasure, as he himself said, was: "That Providence has sent us a good teacher of Mathematics and Experiments from Ireland, bred at Glasgow," and the scholars were so charmed with him that he could not refrain from expressing his belief that the Institution was thus to receive a fresh impulse.
The increase of its funds was another stimulus to its prosperity. Those obtained to complete the building and provide for immediate necessities were already exhausted, and the Governors were beginning to spend a portion of their capital to carry on the Institution. Besides the sums early secured, and the donation from the venerable Society of five hundred pounds, a benevolent gentleman, Mr. Joseph Murray, had bequeathed his estate to the College, amounting to six or seven thousand pounds. But more was needed, and Dr. Johnson renewed his proposal to solicit a collection in England, and prepared the way for it by writing to his friends and asking their good offices. In a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury dated January 6, 1762, after referring to his agency in procuring a suitable person for vice-president and to succeed him in case of his decease or resignation, he said, "Notwithstanding the exception made to his age, and the uncertainty whether he will answer as a preacher, he is desired, if he is willing, to come upon the terms, and with the views mentioned in our letters to your Grace. But as we have already been providentially provided for with an ingenious young gentleman, one Mr. Harpur, bred at Glasgow, who does very well in teaching Mathematics and Experimental Philosophy, Mr. Cooper will not need to bring one with him for that purpose. But the great difficulty is how to support these salaries which our stock cannot long do, unless we can by some means get an addition to it, and we see no way for this but by getting forward a subscription in England, and we have not yet any one here to go home on purpose to solicit one. So that unless some public spirited gentleman there would be so good as to undertake it, I see not what to do, though indeed I cannot excuse ourselves of too much indolence and inattention to the interests of the College."
A month before this he had written to Mr. Horne of Oxford, afterwards Bishop of Norwich, and author of the "Commentary on the Psalms," and sent the letter by a graduate of Yale College who went to England, recommended to the Society and the Bishop of London as a worthy candidate for Holy Orders and a Mission. After thanking him for the kindness he had shown to his deceased son, and mentioning favorably what he was pleased to call his "admirable state of the case between Sir Isaac and Mr. Hutchinson," Johnson said:--
I thought I would, though thus late, presume to trouble you with a few lines, to express my earnest wishes that some of you (and I hope you are about it), would give the world an entire methodical system of that sacred philosophy and theology in the same candid way to the best advantage. I say this because, though Mr. Hutchinson's Discourses, on the Hebrew Scriptures, are admirable, yet his way of writing is obscure and disagreeable, which together with his asperity of temper and expression, has been I believe, the chief, if not the only reason that his extraordinary works have been no more read and considered and so generally thrown by with contempt in this conceited and inattentive age. May I not hope that this is doing and will soon be done.
I have written several times to good Mr. Berkeley, but whether my letters or his miscarry, or his leaving Oxford be the occasion, I have heard nothing from him these five years. If you ever see or correspond with him please to give my most affectionate service to him.
I have heard a rumor that the Rev. Dr. Patten has lately published some excellent performance, but cannot hear what it is. I shall be much obliged to you to make my humblest compliments acceptable to him, whose excellent sermons as well as yours are much admired here.
It is uncertain whether the worthy youth, Mr. Treadwell, who carries this letter, will see Oxford. If he should I beg your kind notice of him. My College, I thank God, is now in a pretty flourishing condition, and the building finished, only we want a fund to support sufficient officers.
I am, Reverend Sir, with great esteem,
Your most affectionate obliged humble servant,
He dispatched a brief note to his old friend Dr. Astry by the same gentleman, "who," he said, "will give you some account of the Church and of my College, and my labors and hopeful prospect of laying a good foundation for posterity. I pray, God be your staff your support and your comfort in your declining years, and your exceeding great reward in a better world."
Letters of this sort served as an introduction to the movement which was in contemplation. An opportunity soon offered of soliciting subscriptions in England through the agency of Dr. James Jay; and the President of the College urged the Governors to accept his services and furnish him not only with the requisite authority, but with suitable addresses to the king, the two Archbishops, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. All seemed ready to acquiesce in the proposal, and Dr. Jay was formally appointed; and took his departure from New York on the 12th of May, 1762. Of the letters and addresses put into his hand, which were all prepared by Johnson, it will be enough to select the one written to Archbishop Secker:--
TO THE MOST REV. FATHER IN GOD, THOMAS, LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY.
May it please your Grace,--Your Grace is well acquainted with the labors and difficulties under which we have struggled in founding our College and carrying it on hitherto; and has been informed that we have erected an elegant building of one hundred eighty feet in length by thirty in width and three stories in height, which is now just finished and designed for one side of a quadrangle to be completed as we shall be enabled. But as we are not yet able to carry it any farther without assistance, nor have we a sufficient fund to support the necessary officers--the Master, Professors, and Tutors,--we are therefore constrained to beg the charitable contributions of such public spirited gentlemen as are generously disposed to promote so good a work, and have empowered the bearer hereof, Dr. James Jay of this city, who is an ingenious young gentleman, and a graduated physician of the University of Edinburgh, to ask and receive such benefactions as shall be contributed to this important undertaking.
And as your Grace is the first member of our corporation and has given abundant demonstration of your delight in doing good offices, and especially to this College, for which we are inexpressibly thankful, we humbly beg leave to recommend him to your Grace, and entreat you in addition to your former goodness that you will give him your best advice and direction for his carrying on a solicitation for benefactions; and if you think proper, that you will introduce him, or procure him introduced to our most gracious Sovereign for his favor; and also that you will be pleased to recommend him to his Grace, the Lord Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London, or any other of the nobility, clergy, or gentry as your Grace shall judge most expedient. In doing which you will unspeakably oblige, may it please your Grace,
Your Grace's, etc.
On his arrival in England, Dr. Jay found a competitor for British charities in the Rev. Dr. Smith, Provost of the College in Philadelphia. He had preceded him to London and was engaged in soliciting subscriptions for his own institution. The Archbishop, who had warmly espoused the cause of King's College, feeling that separate collections at the same time would injure the claims of each, thought it would be best to unite them, and apply to the king for a brief to go through the kingdom in favor of both. This was accordingly done, and the proceeds were divided equally between the two institutions, except that a donation from his Majesty of six hundred pounds to the College in New York was adjudged to be not included in the general collection. The joint contributions yielded to King's College the net sum of nearly six thousand pounds sterling, which, with the legacy of Mr. Murray and other donations, constituted for the time a sufficient endowment. The son of Bishop Berkeley generously contributed ten guineas, and in answering Johnson's letter by Dr. Jay, said, "It gave great delight to my worthy mother, now at my house, to hear that you enjoyed your health and spirits; she bears a most sincere good will to that quarter of the world where your acquaintance with her took its rise."
The Governors were now enabled to furnish the assistance which had long been desired, and the Rev. Myles Cooper, the young Oxford graduate, whom the Archbishop had recommended as being well qualified to take part in the management of the College, came over to this country in the autumn of 1762, and was welcomed by the President, and immediately appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy. He proved equal to the duties of the position, in spite of the objection which had been raised against him that he was too young; and Johnson looked forward with satisfaction to the day when he himself would be allowed to retire. He worked zealously with his new officer, and sought in judicious ways to prepare him for the assumption of his own responsibilities, not expecting, however, that a Providential event would lead him so soon to sever his connection with the College.
Absorbed as he was at this time in matters of education, he did not forget the Church, or cease to take a lively interest in the prosperity of the parishes in his native colony. He longed to see a better and more learned clergy; and in a letter to his son who had referred to the subject, he said, December, 1762, "What you lament has occasioned in me many a sigh. But how to remedy it is the difficulty. I wish those we have, had better abilities, more inclination to books and more zeal; and if I am allowed to come again among you, I intend to try to animate them, and hope to do some good. But I doubt poverty is one chief remora, which I cannot remedy. But we must, as you say, take more care to have good candidates if we can get them, and not recommend poor ones. I hope you may have some good influence in getting a right choice for New Haven, which is of much importance. We have good hands here, Chandler and young Seabury, but I can't get them to write, nor indeed do they know enough of some affairs for this business, but might be informed. We must, as you say, leave it with God Almighty, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, to raise up instruments to defend His Church under His protection, and I hope and trust He will not desert it."
He had in his mind, while writing thus to his son, a pamphlet which had recently been published anonymously, and circulated to the injury of the Church of England, especially in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and to which the Archbishop of Canterbury had called his attention, and desired that it might be answered. Johnson fixed upon the Missionary at Newtown as the most competent person to do this, and wrote again to his son, "I shall be very sorry if Mr. Beach does not answer that base pamphlet. Tell Mr. Winslow, let the clergy give him no rest till he is persuaded. I would undertake it myself rather than fail, if writing were not so tedious to me. I fear how the Church will do when her old champions are gone. If he fails I know of none anywhere equal to it. I knew nothing before of that Boston act. I wonder with the Archbishop none of the Church's friends had been earlier in their notice."
It was a time of sharp theological controversy. The bitter hostility of the Independents to the introduction of Bishops into this country, and to the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, was the origin of the pamphlet, and a few of the Episcopal clergy, in view of its ironical character, were inclined to regard it as unworthy of the least attention. The younger Johnson, in a letter to his father, dated January 7, 1763, said: "Mr. Beach, I am now assured, is writing, as he has sent to me to procure an account of the settlements and salaries of some of the Dissenting ministers; and I hope with you, he will do it well. I have written him to encourage the thing and to suggest some few things. Mr. Caner, it seems by a letter to Mr. Winslow, thinks the piece too low and scandalous to answer; but I cannot agree with him. As our enemies avail themselves so much of it, I am not content to let it pass."
The answer was prepared and submitted to the examination of Dr. Johnson through his son, into, whose hands the manuscript first came, and he, after running it over, wrote to his father: "I durst not pronounce upon it from this hasty reading, and am sorry I have not more time to consider it, but hope you and Mr. Cooper and others there will consider it carefully before it is published. I fear it is too severe in some expressions, though they deserve it all." With a few words referring to his own suggestions, he added, "Perhaps it would have been well if Mr. Beach had not so often mentioned Messrs. Hobart and Dickinson as the authors of the pamphlet, as it is very uncertain who they were, though I believe he is right, that all their clergy are pleased with it. [The author was Mr. Noah Welles, a Congregational divine in Stamford, Ct. The irony extended through 47 octavo pages, and justified Johnson in using the expression "base pamphlet." The title page ran thus: "The Real Advantages which ministers and people may enjoy, especially in the Colonies, by conforming to the Church of England; faithfully considered and impartially represented, in a Letter to a young Gentleman, printed in the year 1762." It opened with these words: "I received your's by the worthy Mr. -------, in which you inform me that pursuant to my advice, you went to Church on Christmas Day, and was so greatly pleased with our worship that you have some thoughts of conforming, and going home for orders next spring. You may be sure this gave me the greatest satisfaction, as I am firmly attached to the Apostolic Church of England, that great bulwark of the Reformation.] You will critically examine the whole. Notwithstanding the opinion of Mr. Caner, Mr. Winslow, etc., an answer must be published; I think I every day see more and more occasion for it."
Dr. Johnson had determined by this time, to retire from his position in New York, and was shaping his plans with reference to such a step. There was some prospect that Mr. Winslow might be transferred to another station, and an opportunity given for restoring him to his old parish. But if this should not be effected, his son wrote him to have no anxiety about his temporal concerns. "Your determination," said he, "to leave the conduct of your affairs to me is kind and does me honor, but it is too much, as I am very liable to mistake. Only be assured that you will always have my best judgment, and that I shall never think anything I can do a burden, or too much to render your life comfortable. I know not why it is not equally a duty, at least to provide for parents as for children. But use your own judgment (of which we have both had so long and so good experience) with mine for the best means to attain that end. Be not concerned for me or mine so as to give yourself any uneasiness; if I or they have less fortune, it may be less temptation to go astray, and redoubled diligence may make amends for it. Those who are not content to be diligent have no title to the goods of fortune, and those who are really so, will very seldom want a competency. If you can stay there with ease, satisfaction, honor, and credit I can be content; if not, do not hesitate to retire, whatever becomes of every other consideration, for all others are inferior to them. Providence will not desert us."
A domestic affliction prevented him from giving much attention to Mr. Beach's pamphlet before its publication; and soon the minds of Churchmen were turned to the controversy as renewed and carried on in Boston. In 1763 appeared a vindication of the Society by the Rev. East Apthorp, entitled "Considerations on the Institution and Conduct of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," to which a Dissenting divine, Dr. Jonathan Mayhew, replied in a much thicker pamphlet, and contended that the managers were either deceived by the representations of their Missionaries, or were governed more by a regard to Episcopacy than to the interests of true religion. Replies and rejoinders followed, and the republication in England of Dr. Mayhew's "Observations on the Charter and Conduct of the Society," led the Archbishop of Canterbury to prepare an answer and print it that the truth might be known to the British public. The following letters, though anticipating a little the chronological order of events, will let the reader into a pretty full history of the whole controversy, as well as shed some light on the affair of American Bishops:--
GOOD D.R. JOHNSON,--I heartily thank you for your letter of August 10, particularly for the concern which you express about my health. It is frequently disordered; but I can for the most part pay some attention to business. When I fail, as I am now within a few days of seventy, an abler person in all respects, I hope, will succeed me.
Mr. Beach's book is not come to my hands; I wish it had received your corrections. I am as desirous that your answer to Dr. Mayhew should be published, as I can be without having seen it; because I dare say it is written with the temper which I told you I wished Mr. Beach might preserve. But indeed I fear the world will think we have settled too many missions in New England and New York; and therefore it may be best, not absolutely to justify, but to excuse ourselves in that respect, as prevailed on by entreaties hard to be resisted, as having many applications, and resolved to be hereafter more sparing in the admission of them, instead of making it our business to Episcopize New England, as Dr. Mayhew expresses himself. Our adversaries may be asked whether they have not made as great mistakes in some points, as we in this; and whether bitter invectives against them would not be unchristian. There was a company incorporated by Car. 2, in 1661, for Propagating the Gospel amongst the heathen nations of New England and the adjacent parts, which still subsists, and the affairs of it are managed by the Dissenters. Queen Anne, in 1709, incorporated The Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, and empowered them to propagate it not only there, but in Popish and infidel parts of the world. Accordingly they had correspondents and Missionaries in New England above thirty years ago; and in Long Island, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia above twenty years ago; and probably they have still. It may be useful to inquire, whether these two Societies have observed their charters better than ours hath, If not, their friends should think and speak mildly of us. The new projected Society at Boston is about sinking itself into the latter of these, as I am informed. I know nothing of Dr. Barclay's "Defence against Smith, "nor of Aplin; possibly this last word was a slip of your pen for Apthorp.
What will be done about Bishops, I cannot guess. Application for them was made to Lord Egremont, who promised to consult with the other ministers, but died without making any report from them. His successor, Lord Halifax, is a friend to the scheme; but I doubt, whether in the present weak state of the ministry, he will dare to meddle with what will certainly raise opposition. I believe very little is done or doing yet toward the settlement of America; and I know not what disposition will be made of the lands belonging to the Popish clergy in the conquered provinces.
I am very glad to hear the money is paid to Mr. Charlton. I have heard nothing of any design of a Degree for Mr. Chandler, but from you. If any person here is engaged in it, I should know, that we may act in concert. But I think we should have a more formal recommendation of him from you and Dr. Barclay, and any other principal persons, clergy or laity.
Your account of Mr. Cooper gives me great pleasure. In a late letter to me, he expresses good hopes about the College; but complains of some disappointment in regard to his income, which I do not distinctly understand. I have written to him, to recommend patience; and to Dr. Barclay, to desire that the Governors will be as kind to him as with propriety they can. Mr. Caner hath sent over one Mr. Frink for a new mission at Rutland, about sixty miles from Boston, without any previous mention of the matter to the Society, which is irregular; and I do not think we shall appoint him to it; perhaps to some vacant old one we may, if such there be. The Mission of Braintree is offered to Mr. Winslow, in order to make room for you at Stratford. Whether it be worth his acceptance I know not. But the Society are very desirous of restoring you to your old station; and if this proposal doth not succeed, they will be glad to have any other method pointed out to them.
Since I wrote thus far, the Society hath appointed Mr. Frink Missionary at Augusta. It seems he was inoculated a few days before. I hope he will get safe through the distemper. God bless you, good Dr. Johnson, and His Church in your parts. I am, with much esteem, Your loving brother,
LAMBETH, September 28, 1763.
December 20, 1763.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE,--I humbly ask your Grace's pardon for writing so soon again, which I hope you will excuse, as I should be extremely wanting in my duty to your Grace, if I did not most gratefully acknowledge your very kind letter of September 28, which I lately received. I am very glad and thank God that your health is not so much impaired as to forbid your giving some attention to business, and I earnestly pray that it may be yet again confirmed and lengthened out to the utmost, and the rather as I am extremely afraid that in these times no gentleman can be found that will go near to make goo4 your Grace's ground. I am surprised Mr. Beach's book is not come to your hands; I sent a copy which was promised me to be sent you from Boston seven months ago; and I have again urged it, and Aplin's (a lawyer), for so is his name. Mr. Caner (as it is privately said) has made, I think, a pretty good answer to Mayhew, with which mine, such as it is, is printed; but I hear Mayhew has replied already, still in his own way. Mr. Caner has remarked upon these Societies much as your Grace mentions. I trust it will soon come to you, and that you will not dislike it.
Did our benefactors know the real state of things in New England, they would allow that missionaries are as much needed here as in other parts of America. The wildest notions are propagated here both on the side of enthusiasm and infidelity; but I wish to God more could be done there as well as here. Dr. Barclay's Defense was sent to the Society, and I have advised him to send your Grace a copy, and also to write in behalf of Mr. Chandler, whose character truly is that of a most faithful Missionary, and one that hath made much proficiency in learning, and especially in divinity. I know of none so much to my mind that loves books, and reads so much as he. It would be for the honor and interest of the Church and religion, if there were at least one in each province of that degree, and he a Commissary. I wish Mr. Caner had a D. D. degree, who well deserves it, and the rather as there is none in that province now but Dr. Cutler, who has done. By a letter lately from Mr. Cooper it appears that the Governors of the College have enlarged his salary to his content.
It is truly a miserable thing, my Lord, that we no sooner leave fighting our neighbors, the French, but we must fall to quarrelling among ourselves. I fear the present state of our ministry is indeed very feeble; so that I doubt we must, after all our hopes, lose the present juncture also for gaining the point we have long had so much at heart, and I believe must never expect another. Is there then nothing more that can be done either for obtaining Bishops or demolishing these pernicious charter governments, and reducing them all to one form in immediate dependence on the king? I cannot help calling them pernicious, for they are indeed so as well for the best good of the people themselves as for the interests of true religion. I would hope Providence may somehow bring it about that things may be compromised respecting the ministry, and would it not now be a proper juncture for some such general address from the provinces here to the King as I once mentioned to your Grace? or is there not probability enough of success left with regard to both Bishops and government to make it worth while for a gentleman or two, who I believe might be procured to go from hence for the purpose of gaining these points? for I doubt nothing will do without solicitation from hence. I should be greatly obliged to your Grace for your opinion and direction in respect to these things as soon as may be. It is indeed too much to trouble your Grace with these affairs in your present infirm state. I therefore humbly beg your pardon that I am thus importunate. I remember you once mentioned his Grace of York as having extraordinary talents for business; could not he be engaged to be active in these affairs? I am greatly obliged to the Society that they are very desirous to restore me to this station. Mr. Winslow is gone to Braintree, to see whether it will do for him to accept it, and I am prone to think he will. If he does I shall do my best, but I shall soon need some assistance.
I am, with the greatest veneration, etc.,
The reply of Archbishop Seeker to this letter gives the reason for his own share in the controversy, and suggests a conciliatory course to attain the great object in view.
GOOD DR. JOHNSON,--Since my last of September 28, 1763, I have been favored with two letters from you, dated October 20, and December 20. The first did not seem to require an immediate answer, and about the time that, I received the second, the gout seized both my hands and both my feet. It made several attacks on my right hand, and disabled me from making almost any use of it for two or three months. I am now, God be thanked, nearly as well as usual, and have received all the pamphlets which were designed for me from America. When Dr. Mayhew's "Observations," etc., were reprinted here, it was thought necessary that an answer to them should also be printed here; which was done before the "Candid Examination, and Letter to a Friend," came to my hands. An hundred copies of the answer were sent by the Society to the Colonies, and I hope you have had one of them. It was believed that they would do no harm amongst you, and might do some good, though the "Candid Examination," etc., was undoubtedly sufficient for your part of the world. If you see any mistakes in the Answer, or hear of any objections to any part of it, that seem to be material, be pleased to send me an account of them, with such remarks as you think proper. I have Dr. Mayhew's "Defence of his Observations." He manifests the same spirit as before, and runs out into many things of little consequence to the Society. The case of Mr. Price and Mr. Barrett, page 125, etc., is new to me; and if it be truly represented, the former seems to have been blamable. If any reply is made, I hope it will be short and cool. Some angry Dissenter hath published a pamphlet, entitled, "The Claims of the Church of England Seriously Considered, in a letter to the author of the Answer to Dr. Mayhew." There is but little in it relative to the Society, and nothing that requires confutation.
The affair of American Bishops continues in suspense. Lord Willoughby of Parham, the only English Dissenting Peer, and Dr. Chandler, have declared, after our scheme was fully laid before them, that they saw no objection against it. [Samuel Chandler, a Presbyterian divine of London.] The Duke of Bedford, Lord President, hath given a calm and favorable hearing to it, hath desired it may be reduced into writing, and promised to consult about it with the other ministers at his first leisure. Indeed, I see not how Protestant Bishops can decently be refused us, as in all probability a Popish one will be allowed, by connivance at least, in Canada. The Ecclesiastical settlement of that country is not made yet, but is under consideration, and I hope will be a reasonable and satisfactory one. Four clergymen will be appointed for Florida, with salaries of £100 each, and four school-masters with £25 each; and the Society have been desired to provide them. This I consider as a good omen; yet much will depend on various circumstances, and particularly on the opinion, or persuasion concerning the opinion of the Americans, both Dissenters and Churchmen.
The Bishop of London died last week; poor man, he was every way unequal to that station. His successor, Dr. Terrick, is a sensible and good tempered man, greatly esteemed as a preacher, and personally liked by the king, as well as favored by the ministry. Therefore I hope he will both have considerable influence, and use it well. He was Residentiary of St. Paul's Church, when I was made Dean. I had no acquaintance with him before, but we have been very good friends ever since; and I doubt not but we shall remain such, and consult together about American affairs.
We must not run the risk of increasing the outcry against the Society; especially in the present crisis, and so perhaps lose an opportunity of settling Bishops in our Colonies, by establishing two or three new Missions in New England. Our affairs are not to be carried on with a high hand, but our success, if we do succeed, must arise from conciliating the minds of men. And this ought to be labored very diligently abroad as well as at home.
The Society hath agreed, in pursuance of a proposal made by Dr. Smith, to establish a proper number of corresponding Societies, with an agent or president for each of them; to give information and advice concerning all needful affairs, and act for the Society in all Requisite cases. But this general scheme cannot be brought into due form for execution, till we see whether Bishops can be obtained and how many.
The Archbishop of York is very active in our business, as well as able. He hath brought the estate of Codrington College out of a most lamentable condition into a very hopeful one, and he hath done a great deal with the ministers in our ecclesiastical concerns. But these, and particularly what relates to Bishops, must be managed in a quiet, private manner. Were solicitors to be sent over prematurely from America for Bishops, there would come also solicitors against them; a flame would be raised, and we should never carry our point. Whenever an application from them is really wanted and become seasonable, be assured that you will have immediate notice.
I have heard nothing yet of Dr. Barclay's Defence; nor hath he mentioned to me the propriety of a Degree for Mr. Chandler, though I had a letter from him, dated January 20. I desire to know what College degree Mr. Chandler hath, and of what standing he is in that College; and the same of Mr. Caner.
Concerning the other particulars in your letters, I presume the Secretary hath written to you; and therefore I shall only add that I heartily pray God to give you every blessing needful for you, and earnestly desire your prayers in return for
Your loving brother,
LAMBETH, May 22, 1764.
These letters show how much Secker relied upon the judgment of Johnson to guide him in his efforts for the Church in the American Colonies. A wide ocean rolled between them and there was often opportunity for ministerial crises and important political events before they could interchange views. But they kept each other well posted, and if Johnson could not discern the wisdom of the state policy which hemmed in the zeal of his "loving brother," he would not cease to plead for the Episcopacy in America, and to hope that it might be secured before his probation ended.
He had written to Mr. Apthorp very freely on this and other subjects growing out of the controversy with Dr. Mayhew, and among the letters which he received in reply was one that spoke of the influence which his son might have, if employed to present the application for Bishops. The letter should be given in full for the information it contains: --
CAMBRIDGE, May 7, 1764.
REVEREND AND GOOD SIR,--I have before me two of your favors, for which I make my earliest acknowledgments. The great affliction of our family in the death of Mrs. Wheelwright, who was extremely dear to us all, has hardly given me leisure or spirits, for some time past, to attend to any but the most necessary business.
I had a long conversation with Mr. Bennet on his affair. His public spirit leads him to project things that I fear cannot be effected, for want of the same spirit among those who alone can execute them. I have however undertaken to do all in my power; which is, to solicit our Governor and Lieutenant-governor to patronize him, and to receive four Indian youths at Boston, and in England. I shall use the influence of my friends with the Society to fix Mir. Bennet on their list, and to obtain, if possible, the appointment of two missionaries for the Mohawks. I hope something was done for him at a meeting of the Episcopal Society in Boston, to whom I recommended the support of his good undertaking. He proposes to make me another visit in a fortnight, when everything that can be done at Boston will be attempted.
The affair of soliciting the settlement of Bishops among us, is, I perceive, a matter of too great consequence and difficulty for me to engage in singly. What I wrote so hastily was rather expressive of my good will than of my settled thoughts. I soon after received a permission from the Society, and an invitation from my friends to make a voyage to England, which I hope to accomplish, by God's blessing, this year. I shall gladly exert myself in promoting that great national measure you speak of, as far as shall be proper for me. And as the subject is of much importance, I will write my thoughts to you with freedom and simplicity. It is an affair that would be solicited by a layman with less aversion and opposition than by a clergyman. And I believe there can hardly be a properer person employed than Mr. Johnson, whom 1 heartily wish well recovered of the smallpox. If he should engage in that service, I think his instructions from hence ought to be of weight and authority. If he was himself, in person, to collect the sense of the principal governments, not only of the clergy, but of the Governors and persons of property and character among the laity, it might have a good effect. But I think the letters you mention, signed by a few of the clergy in each province, would be ineffectual. If the whole application both here and in England was conducted with firmness, spirit and dignity, I am apt to think it would succeed, as the Archbishop, and (it is said) the King himself approves of it. My opinion is confirmed by an answer to Dr. Mayhew published in London last winter, and wrote with admirable strength and temper. But this I suppose you have seen.
I know nothing of the article of news relating to Dr. Tucker of Bristol; nor do I think it is at all to be depended on.
What I write on this subject is with the most entire confidence in your wisdom to suppress any thoughts which you may not approve, and to accept my good intention. In this view I transcribe the quotation I mentioned, on the opposite page, and beg leave to declare myself,
Very respectfully, Reverend Sir,
Your most humble servant,
[Though the son of a wealthy merchant of Boston, he did not return to this country again, but spent the remainder of his days in England, being first presented by Archbishop Secker to the Vicarage of Croydon. He was subsequently collated to the Rectory of St. Mary-le-Bow in London, with other benefices annexed, and still later became a Prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral. It is said he was actually offered the Bishopric of Kildare, but having lost his sight, he was obliged to decline, and finally retired to Cambridge among the scenes of his early education, for he was an alumnus and fellow of Jesus College, "honored and loved not only in his immediate circle, but by many of the great and good beyond it." He died April 16, 1816, in the 85th year of his age.]