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was sufficient for condemnation) yet I am persuaded that there was much immediate agency of the devil in these affairs, and perhaps there were some real witches too.” But Dr Mather's superstitious notions were apparent in other instances than the inquiry relative to the witchcraft. In his diary, that wonderful repository of his passing thoughts, it is recorded that being troubled with the toothache, which caused him “to lose more time than could well be spared,” he concluded that he must have broken some holy law with his teeth, and was enduring the punishment of such aggression. “But how have I offended?” he asks. “Why, by sinful and excessive eating, and by evil speeches, for,” he continues, “there are literæ dentales used in them.” It may amuse the curious reader to know the method by which Dr Mather was relieved of his troublesome complaint. “By a course of washing behind his ears,” says his son, “and on the top of his head, with cold water, he obtained a deliverance from the uneasiness.”
Of his literary labors and the extent of his information, some idea may be formed when we are told that he wrote readily in seven languages, and was the author of three hundred and eighty three publications. Many of these, it is true, were but single sermons, (Oldmixon calls them loose collections,) yet the pages of the Magnalia, The Christian Philosopher, and The Wonders of the Invisible World, evince a mind of great endowments and a fancy luxuriant though grotesque. They are sufficient proofs, at least, of his incessant industry.
In his ministry he was equally indefatigable. Besides the routine of his parochial duties, he accustomed himself to make catalogues of the names of his communicants, of their occupations and wants, and of such incidental circumstances in their lives as he deemed worthy of notice in his official services. Stated periods were devoted to the remembrance of each individual in his private worship,—days were set apart in which his relatives were the special subjects of his prayers,weeks, and sometimes months, were spent in a rigid abstinence from every thing but the bare necessaries of life, that the sins of the flesh might be properly expiated by an uninterrupted devotion of his faculties to the work of repentance. Over his study door, an inscription, BE SHORT, was placed, as a warning to visiters not to intrude at unseasonable hours, and the hours allotted to meditation and prayer, to sleep, the taking of food and of exercise, to study and social intercourse, were all observed with the most scrupulous nicety.
His custom of recording the commonplace affairs of every day, and of preparing a train of thought for every trivial occurrence in life, though but the eccentricity of a great mind, exposed him justly to ridicule. Who, for instance, can refrain from a smile, on perusing a series of cogitations upon the winding up of his watch, the knocking at a door, the mending of his fire, the drinking of his cup of tea, and the paying his debts. The last event, it is true, may very properly be classed in the list of serious things. When he pared his nails, he would think how he might lay aside all superfluity of naughtiness, and “I durst not let my mind lie fallow," says he, “as I walk the streets; but I have compelled the signs of the shops to point me unto something in my Saviour that should be thought upon.” He had for many years a severe cough, which, he said, raised a proper disposition of piety in him. In his fondness for the chase of words he often sacrificed his best intentions of doing justice to the subject under consideration. His biography of Ralph Partridge, is nothing more than a string of puns upon the birth, life and burial of a very worthy divine, who had suffered persecution for righteousness' sake, and merited better treatment than he received after his death. He is represented as having been hunted from his home by the ecclesiastical setters of the old world,-as having no defence of beak or claw, but a flight over the ocean. He is pursued to his covert on these shores, (not by his enemies—they left him when he took to the water—but by our Nimrod of the Lexicon, who forgets every thing but the game he has started) from whence he took wing, says the Doctor, to come a bird of Paradise. Even over the grave of his friend, when called on for an epitaph, he will only ejaculate the brief but expressive Avolavit !
Charity, however, will cast the mantle of oblivion over these
frailties, when she remembers his abundant labors in the cause of benevolence. He promoted societies for the suppression of civil disorders; projected an extensive association of peacemakers, for the composing and preventing of differences in private life; proposed the establishment of an Evangelical Treasury, for the maintenance of churches in destitute places; introduced into Massachusetts the method of inoculation for the small pox, and was constantly interested and zealously engaged in promoting the welfare of his country.
We can readily account for the deficiency of the imaginative power in his poetical compositions. His education had involved him in the venerable dust of antiquity, and had unfitted his mind for the luxuriant growth of fancy. The strong soil where the mountain oak has long flourished, will afford but little nourishment to the delicate exotic, and he who from infancy has been seeking for the treasures of ancient lore, is seldom willing, even in his moments of relaxation, to linger in the myrtle bower, or to listen to the murmurings of the silver fountain. Dr Mather's toil was truly of that kind which produces “weariness of flesh,” and he sought for a more substantial mental aliment than that “camelion food,” with which the poet could supply him. To such a one, the gathering of flowers, even though they were those of Parnassus, and the wandering on the banks of Ilissus itself, would be deemed but an indifferent amusement. The poetic specimens that we have selected from Dr Mather's works are distinguished by little else than the hardness of their style, and the want of that indescribable quality in which we recognise the spontaneous ebullitions of a mind “smit with the love ” of song.
ON THE DEATH OF HIS SON.
The motto, inscribed on the grave stone,, “Reserved for a glorious
The exhortation of the Lord,
The Lord with fit afflictions will
ON THE DEATH OF HIS DAUGHTER.
The motto, inscribed on the grave stone, “ Gone, but not lost."
The dearest Lord of heaven gave
I see my best enjoyments here,
But I believe, O glorious Lord,
I do believe, that I and mine,
Because, blest Jesus, we are Thine,
I do believe that every
Now my believing soul does hear
Some offers to Embalm the Memory of the truly reverend and
renowned John Wilson; the first Pastor of Boston, in New England : Interrd (and a great part of his Country's Glory with him) August 11, 1667. Aged 79.
Might Aaron's rod (such funerals mayn't be dry)
So humble, that alike on's charity,