117 President Mather to Lieutenant Governor Stoughton

    [December 16 1698]

    To the Honourable William Stoughton Esq. Lieut. Governour of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

    Honourable Sir

    I promised the worthy Gentlemen who acquainted me with the proposal of the General Court concerning the removal of my habitation from Boston to Cambridge, that I would return my answer to your honor. In the first place I give my humble thanks, as to the General Assembly so in a special manner to the honorable Council and to your honor in a most peculiar manner for the respect in this motion manifested. Nevertheless as to the thing proposed. I do not see my way clear. As to the Salary I make no objection, although it is considerably less than what I have in Boston, through the love and bounty of the people amongst whom God has fixed my present abode. But the objections which are of weight with me are these. 1st If I comply with what is desired I shall be taken off in a great measure at least from my public ministry. Should I leave preaching to 1500 souls (for I suppose that so many use ordinarily to attend in our congregation)—only to expound to 40 or 50 children few of them capable of edification by such exercises. I doubt I should not do well. I desire as long as the Lord shall enable me to preach publicly every Lord’s day and I think all the gold in the East and West Indies would not tempt me to leave preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ, which several of the Presidents of the College were necessitated to desist from, because of their other work.

    2. I am now (through the patience of God) grown into years, wanting but half a year of 60, and of a weak and tender constitution of body, not well able to endure the hardships of the Presidentship, as younger and a stronger man would do better. Invalidae vires ingeniumque mihi.1

    3. I have laboured much both in New England and in England to obtain a happy settlement of the College. Should I at last go thither myself, the world would say (as I hear some do say) that I sought myself in all those endeavours. Such Reproaches will by a Resignation of my relation to that Society, be forever put to silence. One reason of my retaining my relation to the College this long, has been because it was thought that would facilitate its charter settlement. Could I see that done I should with great joy give way to another President.

    4th I am satisfied that the Church to which I stand related, will not set me at liberty. Many say that God has made me their spiritual father; and how can they consent that I should go from them? Besides they well know that I have had a strong bent of spirit to spend (and to end) the remainder of my few days in England, and that the thing that keeps me here, now the Gospel has a free passage there, is my love to them; for which cause they will not consent to my being discharged of my office-relation, without which I must not remove to the College. For it is not fit that I should retain an office without discharging the duties of that office. I neither will, nor have I obstructed the settlement of the College in a better hand. I have often (as your Honor well knows) desired to resign my relation to that Society. And if it will not be grievous to you, I shall tomorrow (If you please) deliver a resignation of the Presidentship to the senior fellow of the Corporation, for him to call a Corporation meeting in order to the chusing another President. And let the Corporation do as they would do if I were out of the world. Thus, Sir have I taken the freedom to acquaint you with my present inclinations and with the Reasons thereof, which I cannot answer. Could I see them well answered to my own satisfaction (but of that I despair) I should be capable of changing my mind until then and ever. I remain

    Honourable Sir

    yours to serve

    Increase Mather.

    College Papers, i. 22 (No. 55). This appears to be a nineteenth-century copy of a letter in the Massachusetts Archives. The original is printed in Acts and Resolves, vii. 609–610, and in Sewall’s Diary (M.H.S. Coll., Fifth Series, v. 493–494), and in Quincy, History, i. 499–500.