A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at the house of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, No. 28 Newbury Street, Boston, on Thursday, 22 December, 1921, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D., in the chair.

    The Records of the Annual Meeting in November were read and approved.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported that a letter had been received from Mr. Wilbur Cortez Abbott accepting Resident Membership.

    Mr. George Pomeroy Anderson of Boston was elected a Resident Member; and Mr. James Benjamin Wilbur of Manchester, Vermont, a Corresponding Member. Mr. William C. Lane spoke as follows:


    In January, 1909, I exhibited to the Society a little manuscript volume written out by Ebenezer Turell, of the Class of 1721, which contained “An account of a Society in Harvard College” organized in October, 1722. The “scheme of proposals” then drawn up shows that the object of the society was to afford an opportunity for debates, for “discourses of about twenty minutes” to be made at each monthly meeting, and for general conversation and comparing of notes. The members whose names have been preserved belonged to the classes of 1719, 1721, 1722, and 1723.605

    The Library has lately received a sheet of manuscript, found in the J. Hammond Trumbull sale, and presented by Mr. M. B. Brainard of Hartford, Connecticut. This brings to view a society which had its beginning in 1719, an earlier date than anything which has been noted hitherto. It will be seen that this society was organized for distinctly religious purposes, and can hardly be the same as that organized in 1722. Presumably this society is identical with the “Society of Young Students” to which Thomas Robie preached a sermon in 1721.606 The document follows:

    Cambridge January ye 10 — [A]nno Dom: 1723

    The articles which all that belong to the Private Meeting, Instituted at Harvard College, 1719, assent unto.

    It being our indispensable Duty as well as undeniable Interest, to Improve All Opportunities and advantages, that God is graciously favouring us with, to His Honour and Glory, and our eternal wellfare; as also to avoid all those Temptations and allurements to Evil, which we are in Danger to meet with; And to Edifie, Encourage, and Excite one another in the ways of Holiness, and Religion: we to that End, assent to the following articles, viz:

    1 That we will meet together for the worship of God twice in a week; viz on Saturday and Sabbath-Day Evenings.

    2 Being met together, we shall as God Enables us, perform the several injunctions Of our Meeting, the first (as to his station in College) beginning, and so Proceeding to the last, except any one, for good reasons, shall Desire to be Excus’d.

    3 That we will bear with one anothers Infirmities, and that we will Divulge Nothing of what nature soever; that is done at our meetings.

    4 When we are absent from our meetings, we will Endeavour to behave Ourselves so that none may have occasion to speak Evil of us.

    5 That all manner of Disagreing, strifes, or Quarrellings, with one another Shall be suppress’d by us, and that we will live in Love, Peace, and Unity, with One another.

    6 That if any one sees or hears another speak, or Do anything unbecoming [a] Member of such a society, he shall reprove him as far as he shall think [the] Reproof worthy; but he shall do it with all meekness, Love, and Tender[ness] Towards him.

    N:B: all marked thus (*) Joined to the Meeting since I did











    Cabot Sr
















    Engraved for The Colonial Society of Massachusetts from the original in the Harvard College Library

    Who may have been the writer of the document I have not discovered, and apparently no clue is to be found. Nicholas Gilman, whose name stands first in the list of members, left a diary from which extracts are printed in Arthur Gilman’s Gilman Family, but such items as are there printed refer in no way to this society, and do not lead one to expect that a more careful examination of the diary, which is still unpublished and in private ownership, would reveal anything further.

    Of the members whose names are given at the bottom of the paper, arranged in the order of their classes (1724–1728), all are found in the Quinquennial Catalogue except Vaughan in the group from the Class of 1727. This is just too early to be identified from the Faculty Records in which the names of freshmen are given with some fullness, beginning with the Class of 1729. The name is included without initials in the list given by Mr. Matthews, where it appears as of the Class of 1726 and with the indication that he died while in College.607 Mr. Matthews tells me that he has been unsuccessful in his efforts to identify Vaughan, but has found two allusions to him, one of which shows why he was in the list assigned to the Class of 1726, while the other describes his death and funeral. The first extract, dated October 2, 1725, is from the Faculty Records:

    Vaughan, Junior Sophister, having petition’d yt a year might be given him in his college standing, The President & Fellows having considered his age, viz. 23 years, and yt his Learning may admit of such a favour; but principally from the discouragements he is under from his Father’s Aversion to an Academical Education, together with ye straitness of his circumstances, & difficulties of supporting himself here a longer time, do grant his Request (i. 9).

    The second extract, not dated, but between entries of December 14, 1725, and January 28, 1726, is from President Wadsworth’s Diary:

    Vaughan a Senior Sophister, having been some time sick at mr Sted-man’s in Cambridge, died Jan. 10. 1725/6. and on ye twelf of ye same Month he was buried, when the second Bell toll’d (or thereabouts) his corps was brought into ye College Hall, ye scholars, and other Gentlemen who attended the Funeral, went into ye Hall, when the corps was carried forth, all ye Undergraduates, ye Juniors walking first, went in order before ye corps to ye Grave. The President, Fellows, and other Graduates, with Inhabitants of ye Town who attended ye Funeral, went in order after ye Mourners to ye Grave. This Vaughan came from Newport in Rhode Island. The Lord sanctify this Providence, to all ye scholars (pp. 23–24).

    The names of the members of the society follow in alphabetical order, with the Class to which each belonged. All but Lewis and Wood received the degree of A.M. Of the twenty-six members, fifteen became clergymen, namely: Allis, Balch, Bowman, Bradstreet, Cabot, Cutter, Gilman, Hall, Jewett, Parker, Prentice, both Smiths, Warren, and Webb.

    Samuel Allis 1724

    Joseph Lewis 1724

    William Balch 1724

    Joseph Lord 1726

    Jonathan Belcher 1728

    Stephen Parker 1727

    Jonathan Bowman 1724

    Thomas Prentice 1726

    Simon Bradstreet 1728

    Joseph Pynchon 1726

    Daniel Brewer 1727

    Josiah Smith 1725

    Marston Cabot 1724

    William Smith 1725

    Benjamin Church 1727

    Simon Tufts 1724

    Ammi Ruhamah Cutter 1725

    — Vaughan 1726

    Nicholas Gilman 1724

    John Warren 1725

    David Hall 1724

    Nathan Webb 1725

    Edward Hunting 1725

    John Williams 1725

    Jedidiah Jewett 1726

    Joshua Wood 1727

    Mr. John Woodbury exhibited a copy of An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times, written by the Rev. John Brown (1715–1766),608 with numerous annotations in the handwriting of Thomas Hollis (1720–1774), “Benefactor of Harvard College, and distinguished friend of civil liberty.” The pamphlet contains a severe criticism of the effeminacy in social life and venality in politics in England as the author saw them in the middle of the eighteenth century. The book had perhaps been sent by Hollis to the Rev. Jonathan Mayhew of Boston, and contains many comments on the margins in Hollis’s own hand. Mr. Woodbury spoke of Hollis and his career, and his industry in spreading the doctrines of civil liberty, chiefly by sending books containing these doctrines to the libraries of universities all over the world.609

    Mr. Alfred Johnson spoke at length on “Maine as a Massachusetts Frontier, and some of its early Forts,” and illustrated his subject with lantern slides of maps, plans, and views.

    Mr. Albert Matthews communicated the following paper, written by Dr. Roger P. McCutcheon of Denison University, Granville, Ohio:


    A note on Seventeenth Century Book-reviewing

    A minor incident concerning Increase Mather was thus noted in 1725:

    About this time [1684] some wicked Men circumvented Letters of Mr. Mather’s writing to a worthy Person at Amsterdam, which contain’d nothing that could give Offence to the Higher Powers. These Letters enabled them to imitate his Hand, in subscribing of his Name. They forg’d a Letter full of impertinent, as well as treasonable Expressions, whereof not one Sentence was his; and with a Date, Boston, 10 m. 3 d. 1683. they subscribed his Name to it. . . .

    Sir Roger L’Estrange did, in several of his Observators, publish some Scraps of the forged letter, with his Comments. Copies of it were Carried to Barbadoes and the Caribbee Islands, and were made part of the Entertainment, whilst the chearful Bowl was employ’d to drown their Thoughts.610

    While the incident itself has been thoroughly studied,611 L’Estrange’s treatment of the forged letter as a sample of contemporary practices in book-reviewing may be deserving of a brief comment. The modern reader discovers certain noteworthy differences between L’Estrange’s work and that of the present day. Among these are a large use of quotation, a careless attitude to facts, a certain unscrupulousness in attack, the dialogue form, and the continuation of the “review” over several numbers.

    The method L’Estrange uses is that of the expositor, who quotes a passage of the text under consideration, and then comments extensively on it, for the instruction of his hearers. “The Observator Preaches upon a New-England-Text” reads a headline from one of the issues in which Mather’s supposed letter is discussed. After a brief introduction, the passage reads: “In the First Epistle of Mr Mather, Minister of the Second Church in Boston, in New-England; to Mr Gouge, Minister of the English Congregation at Amsterdam, fol. 3. You will find these Words.”612 A sentence from the forged letter then follows, and is expounded at length. Always, the expositor is unfriendly. For a generation this method of quoting your adversary, then killing him by comments, had found favor with the English journalists. One remembers the bickerings between Mercurius Aulicus and Mercurius Britanicus, the royalist and parliamentary news-books of the period of the Civil War. John Taylor, the water-poet, even reprinted one entire issue of Britanicus, in order to ridicule it more thoroughly.613 By means of the actual quotations from the forged letter in the four issues of the Observator which consider it, one could reconstruct a considerable amount of the letter. Although this method of extensive quotation and abstract seems unusual to us, it was even then being used in the Transactions of the Royal Society to introduce English readers to books of real merit. It is the method used in the first English journal of books, the Weekly Memorials for the Ingenious, which had begun in 1682. In the regular book-journals, of course, the comments are almost entirely lacking, as would be expected from the obvious difference in purpose.

    The modern reader is also impressed with a certain careless attitude toward truth. No present-day editor of a journal of opinion, even of one so obviously partizan as the Observator, would print extensive comments from a correspondence without some investigation as to its authenticity. In this connection L’Estrange’s opinion of news-books may be quoted; oddly enough, it comes from the first issue of the Intelligencer, of which he had been editor: “A Publick Mercury should never have my Vote, because I think it makes the Multitude too Familiar with the Actions, and Counsels of their Superiors.”614 Now while L’Estrange had been in charge of the official newspapers he had shown enough regard for truth to correct misstatements.615 But the Observator was not a newspaper, it was a journal of opinion; moreover, the time of the Popish Plot (the circumstance which really had called the Observator into existence) abounded in statements which were most unsubstantially based. They were days when the journalists went back for their models to the Civil War period. When a parliamentary journalist was accused of adding a cipher or two to the mortality statistics of some battle, he admitted that “we have Presses here can spell a victory short, or over, as well as you.”616 “The Common News-Papers are Partial, and Factious,” L’Estrange wrote for a headline to the Observator of May 28, 1683; yet his own journal can scarcely be called impartial.

    L’Estrange is also following the orthodox tradition in the sharpness of his attack. His tone seems to us needlessly virulent. In a time of turbulent shouting, he outdoes his contemporaries only by sheer vocal strength, not by any essential difference in vocabulary. Certainly to his adversaries he did not seem unusually venomous. On the contrary, he won their respect. One of his chief disputants, Henry Care, editor of the rival paper, the Weekly Pacquet of Advice from Rome, pays him a somewhat left-handed compliment, but a fairly earned one. Care thought he had found an Observator written by some understudy, and exclaims: “Can you be so dull, as not to perceive how the Stile varies? Ther’s as much difference as between a Mountebank and his Zany, or Bays the Play-wright, and Durfy the Ballad-maker. Roger was wont to have his lucid Intervals, his sage Sentences sometimes, and a Spice of the Politicks.”617 To the modern reader the use of the dialogue form in political reviewing seems most curious. In the seventeenth century, however, the method was in general use by literary men and had indeed been anticipated in the periodical literature. As early as 1643 the parliamentary news-book Mercurius Britanicus had invented a question-and-answer device as a further means of influencing opinion. The Weekly Pacquet, which has already been referred to, began in 1678, and carried a weekly dialogue between “Tory” and “Trueman.” The first issue of Heraclitus Ridens, February 1, 1681, had as its sub-title “A Discourse between Jest and Earnest,” which was later changed to “A Dialogue between Jest and Earnest.” When the Observator first appeared, April 13, 1681, L’Estrange was but following the journalistic fashion when he cast his own remarks into dialogue form. As late as 1708 the dialogue was still in favor as a form for periodicals. A monthly journal of books begun in that year was entitled “Censura Temporum, The Good or 111 Tendencies of Books, Sermons, Pamphlets, &c. Impartially Consider’d, In a Dialogue Between Eubeulus and Sophronius.”

    While we can find prototypes for most of the qualities in L’Estrange’s review which strike us as unusual, it seems that we may fairly credit him with originating the “continued review.” The first mention of Mather’s forged letter occurs in the Observator for November 26, 1684, no. 173. The treatment of the letter extends over parts of three later issues, nos. 174, 176, and 177, for November 27, December 1, and December 3, respectively. Although the Observator appeared somewhat irregularly, sometimes twice, sometimes three times a week, in no case was there any great loss in continuity due to lapse of time. The method of the Observator made it easy to reopen a subject in successive issues, and the relatively small size of the paper (half-sheet folio) made a full treatment in one issue often inadvisable, if not impossible. So the Observator, to an extent greater than its contemporaries, employed the method of continuing subjects beyond a single issue. The Mather item is not an isolated instance. Algernon Sidney’s “Paper Delivered to the Sheriffs” was first commented on in the Observator, no. 463, for December 27, 1683, and the comment was still in progress in no. 469, for January 7, 1684.

    The President announced the death, on the 13th of December, of Lincoln Newton Kinnicutt, a Resident Member.