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, March 26, 1925, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D., in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
Mr. Albert Matthews communicated the following paper, written by Mr. Arthur H. Buffinton of Williams College:
Joseph Dudley is one of the enigmatical characters of our colonial history. His own generation could interpret his connivance in the destruction of the semi-independent position of his native commonwealth and his successful quest of office under the new régime only as gross betrayals of trust prompted by an unscrupulous ambition. A hostile contemporary described him as one who “was Intrusted with the Precious Depositum, their Greatest Treasure, their Religious Priviledges, and Civil Liberties,” and who betrayed both.346 When, after many years of residence in England, Dudley returned as Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the storms of passion were somewhat abated, and men could tolerate him and were willing to support him for a price, but there is no sign that they either admired or trusted him. To most of them he was still the traitor of 1684.
Succeeding generations also could not understand this man. Forty years after his death, according to Thomas Hutchinson,347 his acts and motives were still a subject of controversy in his native province. The judgment of Hutchinson himself, a man not intrinsically hostile to Dudley, is perhaps one of the justest ever passed. “He had,” says the historian, “as many virtues as can consist with so great a thirst for honor and power.”348
Even the scientific historians of the present, far removed in time and outlook from the conflicts of Dudley’s age, have been no more able to pass a unanimous verdict. That Palfrey, still regretting the downfall of the theocracy, should call him “not only without scruples, but without shame;”349 that Bancroft, judging all men and events in the light of the foreordained independence of America, could speak of him as “an apostate son” of Massachusetts,350 is perhaps not surprising. But Professor Channing calls him “a timeserving son of New England,”351 and the English historian, Doyle, points the contrast, at Dudley’s expense, between the humiliation of Massachusetts at the hands of the English government and the enhanced fortunes of its erstwhile magistrate and servant.352 Even his biographer, Kimball, can find little in his character and motives to admire, and pictures him as one who, like Louis XI, apparently believed that “he who has success has honor.”353
The historians most favorable to Dudley are those who emphasize the imperial side of colonial history. Thus Professor Osgood has pictured him as one who consciously chose to act the part of mediator between England and Massachusetts, and, in this rôle, rendered great services to his native province.354 The reaction against the older and more unfavorable view of Dudley reaches its height in the recent work of J. T. Adams, who has compared Dudley’s conduct in 1684 with that of General Robert E. Lee in 1867 in opposing those who advocated a refusal to vote for members of the Virginia Constitutional Convention.355 This really is applying too thick a coat of whitewash. To find a just parallel in the two cases one would have to suppose that General Lee sought the position of military governor of Virginia under the Reconstruction Act of March, 1867.
It is questionable whether Dudley himself, could he have been reincarnated in the time of General Lee, would have recognized the resemblance. He was far too intelligent a man to be self-deceived, just as he was keen enough to see that no amount of explanation would excuse that one irrevocable act by which he had chosen to abandon the waning cause of colonial independence for the rising cause of imperial control. This habit of neglecting to explain the reasons for his acts grew upon him, to the confusion of the historian, so that even where one is morally certain that his policies were conceived in the public interest and his motives above reproach, one is often baffled in the search for evidence to justify one’s belief.356
Dudley was above all else a politician, using that word in both the better and the worse sense. He was surrounded by enemies ready to question his every act and to attribute to him always the worst of motives. Like most politicians, Dudley was intent on playing the game, and was willing to leave to others the task of justifying his moves. Like most politicians, he seldom took men into his confidence, and even where there was nothing to conceal, he preferred to work in the dark. To separate the good from the bad in his character, the less worthy from the more worthy in his motives for action in any given case, is a task of no mean magnitude for the historian who would strike a just balance in his judgment of this distinguished, able, but baffling son of New England.
But whatever judgment may be passed upon other aspects of his career, upon one thing students of the period are all agreed, he was an unusually capable administrator. It was his fortune to be governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire during the difficult period of the second French War (1702–1713).357 The absorption of the English government in the European conflict, and the neutrality, during the first part of the war, of the province of New York and the Iroquois Confederation, threw the burden of the defence of the New England frontier against French and Indian attacks very largely upon Massachusetts. The wide-flung commerce of the province and the fisheries so vital to its welfare had also to be protected. Dudley’s work as war governor was so successful as to win for him the commendation of the chosen representatives of the two provinces under his control.358 Among the war governors of provincial Massachusetts, Shirley alone deserves to be compared with him.
Even in this most successful field of his activities, however, Dudley has not escaped criticism. A series of events in the years 1704–1706 made it possible for his enemies to represent his policy in a most unfavorable light, and to make a serious attempt to drive him from office.359 In brief, the charge brought against him was that he was not in favor of a serious attack upon the French, especially the settlement of Port Royal, but preferred to let them remain in order that he and his friends might profit from an illicit trade with them. Dudley’s unfortunate refusal to let Church attack Port Royal in 1704, the prolonged negotiations of 1704–1706 with the French, which culminated in a proposal for a treaty of neutrality, and the discovery in 1706 that certain men engaged in the exchange of prisoners and others, among them Samuel Vetch who had been one of Dudley’s chief agents in the 1705 negotiations, had been trading with the French in Acadia, were the events which gave color to these charges.
While historians have given little or no credence to the main charge against Dudley, there is still much difference of opinion among them concerning his negotiations in the year 1705. Did Dudley, or did he not, propose in that year a treaty of neutrality? The question is of some importance for the light it sheds upon the attitude of Dudley and his province towards the French at this time. New England historians have been fond of assuming that the policy of Massachusetts was far more consistently hostile towards the French than that of New York, for instance; that the former province, indeed, has an unbroken record of hostility which ended only when the flag of France disappeared from Canada. By way of contrast they point to the policy of neutrality which the province of New York was pursuing at this very time. If Dudley attempted a policy of neutrality in 1705, there is obviously little to choose between him and the authorities of New York, save that the latter succeeded where he failed, and the indignation of New England historians at the cowardly and selfish policy of New York is wasted.
It may be said at the outset that there is a certain presumption in favor of the view that Dudley did propose a treaty of neutrality. The reluctance of all the colonies to fight the French except where colonial interests and security were endangered is too well known to require elaboration. Long ago the ablest of colonial historians gave it as his opinion that, had the Eastern Indians remained quiet, Massachusetts would have been glad to keep the peace with the French.360 Is it not natural, then, to accept the evidence that Dudley sought, by a treaty of neutrality, to relieve his province of the burdens of a war which the other colonies were reluctant to share? The answer is that the evidence is not conclusive, and the historian must not throw out contradictory evidence to accept presuppositions.
Concerning the earlier stages of the negotiations between Dudley and the Marquis de Vaudreuil, Governor of New France, there is no dispute. The facts, therefore, may be summarized briefly. Late in August, 1704, shortly after the return of Church from his raid on Acadia, Dudley wrote his first letter suggesting an exchange of prisoners.361 Receiving no reply, he proposed to the Council, on September 25, to send a certain Arthur Jeffrey with two French prisoners to Quebec to arrange an exchange of prisoners and to get information about the place.362 Finally, in December, John Sheldon and John Wells of Deerfield appeared in Boston seeking permission to go to Canada to ransom their relatives and friends who had been in captivity ever since the Deerfield massacre of the preceding February. Permission was granted and plans were made to send them by sea to Casco, and thence overland, but a few days later it proved possible to secure the services of Captain John Livingston, son of Robert Livingston of Albany and son-in-law of Governor Fitz-John Winthrop of Connecticut, who offered to conduct the Deerfield men to Canada via Albany.363 The Council on December 19 authorized his employment, and the three agents set out bearing another letter to Vaudreuil proposing an exchange of prisoners.364
At this point it is well to state the reasons given by Dudley himself for setting on foot the negotiations. In a speech of December 27, 1704, to the General Court, he defined them as “to relieve ours in their hands and to quit us of the charge of theirs,” and to get “some account of the posture of the french to Direct us in our future Method.”365 In a letter of July 25, 1705, to the Board of Trade, he gave substantially the same reasons.366
It is also to be noted that it was shortly before this that Dudley made his first definite recommendation of an attack upon Canada.367 These facts should be kept in mind for their bearing upon Dudley’s state of mind in the late autumn of 1704. Previously, in May, 1703, he had noted that an attack upon Quebec was feasible,368 but at this time he felt the chances of success were good because of the recent capture by the English of the annual store-ship for Canada. Dudley, then, clearly had in mind not merely an exchange of prisoners, but the securing of information which might facilitate an attack upon Canada.
In due time Dudley’s agents reached Quebec, and to their proposition for an exchange Vaudreuil assented in principle. In March, 1705, he despatched a long letter to Dudley replying to the latter’s communications, and sent it by Samuel Hill of Wells and two Frenchmen.369 Early in May, Livingston, Sheldon, and Wells, with a few rescued captives, and accompanied by the Sieur de Courtemanche and eight French soldiers, left for Boston.370 Courtemanche was a man of some prominence who was sent to arrange the details of the exchange.371
The details of the negotiations between Dudley and Courtemanche do not concern us, since there is no evidence that the question of neutrality was raised between them.372 After staying about a month in Boston, during which time he seems to have been on the best of terms with the Governor, Courtemanche returned to Quebec by sea in a vessel commanded by Samuel Vetch and accompanied by the Governor’s son, William, who had just graduated from Harvard College.373 The alleged reason for sending Courtemanche back by sea was that he had been ill and could not stand the fatigue of an overland journey.
It is from this point that the difficulty in interpreting Dudley’s policy begins. Courtemanche carried with him a letter from Dudley to Vaudreuil with proposals for a cartel, or agreement, for the exchange of prisoners. As a sample of what he had in mind, Dudley gave Courtemanche for Vaudreuil’s perusal a copy of the cartel recently signed by the Governor of Martinique and the Governors of the English Leeward Islands.374
Nothing was heard from the agents for more than four months, and Dudley was becoming both anxious and impatient, when, on the twenty-first of November, Vetch and young Dudley appeared, bringing with them the draught of a treaty of neutrality. This was to become binding only in case it was signed by Dudley and the governors of the other English colonies, especially the Governor of New York, by the end of the following February.375
Leaving aside for the moment the question as to who was responsible for giving this new turn to the negotiations, it may be well to trace them to their conclusion, since even the learned editor of the Province Laws did not, at the time he wrote, know the whole story.
Five days after the arrival of Vetch, Dudley submitted to the Council for its approval the draught of a letter to Governor Cornbury of New York transmitting the treaty to him for consideration. At approximately the same time the treaty and the draught letter to Cornbury were submitted to the General Court for its advice.376 The Court, although leaving it to the Governor to reply as might seem best to him, advised against acceptance, as well it might, for the treaty contained among other things stringent prohibitions of trade and fishing by either party on the coasts of the other, something which Massachusetts could never agree to without damage to its most vital interests.
The action of New York was likewise unfavorable. On December 13, 1705, the Council of that province gave it as its opinion that “his Excellency not being privy nor any ways concerned either in the Peace or carrying on the Warr against Canada nor having received any commands from her Majesty herein, they do not think it proper or convenient for his Excellency to engage in any treaty of Peace.”377 In other words, the unofficial arrangement which New York enjoyed was so satisfactory that there was no reason for committing the province to a written agreement.
About the middle of January, 1706, Dudley wrote a reply to Vaudreuil, the draught of which received the approval of the Council. This letter, which unfortunately has not come to light in modern times, was sent to Canada by John Sheldon of Deerfield.378 Its contents can be pretty well inferred from a despatch sent by Vaudreuil to his government and from his reply to Dudley, dated June 2, 1706.379 Dudley apparently wrote that he could not at present confer with the other governors about the question of neutrality and again made proposals for an exchange of prisoners. Vaudreuil, probably with reason, got the impression that Dudley was merely seeking to prolong the negotiations and terminated the truce abruptly by sending out parties to raid the New England frontier.
As an example of the difficulty, at times, of reconciling Dudley’s words and acts, it may be noted that, in a letter of February 1, 1706, to the Board of Trade, Dudley makes the surprising statement that he has made no answer to Vaudreuil’s offer of a truce, having no authority to do so.380 Obviously this is not literally true, since we know that the Council approved the draught of a reply and that Vaudreuil received such a letter, dated, according to him, January 15, 1706.381 The reader is left to determine whether Dudley here carried his secretiveness to the point of deliberately attempting to conceal from his own government how far he had committed himself, or whether he merely wished to convey the impression that he had not returned a formal and conclusive answer, which was a fact.
The fact that Dudley gave serious consideration to the proposal for a treaty of neutrality obviously has little bearing upon the question whether or not he proposed it. If he did, he was bound to treat it seriously. Even if Vaudreuil was the prime mover, it was to Dudley’s interest to consider it, if only to prolong the existing truce and so give the frontier a longer respite from attack.
That Dudley had good reason for doubting whether the English government was favorable to the idea of neutrality in America is shown by its subsequent action. Upon receiving from Dudley copies of his proposal to Vaudreuil and of Vaudreuil’s draught treaty, the government, through Secretary Hedges, sent orders to Dudley to proceed no further in the matter.382 The French government, on the other hand, though suspicious that the negotiations were really a cloak for illicit trade, approved in principle the policy of neutrality.383 In this, as we shall see, it was consistent with the general policy adopted by it for America at the beginning of the war.
With the whole story of the negotiations before us, we are now in a position to consider the various interpretations hitherto placed upon them and to raise the question how far these are borne out by the evidence. Hitherto it has been assumed that the initiative was taken either by Dudley or by Vaudreuil. There is, however, a third possibility which merits consideration. The proposition to change the basis of negotiation from a mere exchange of prisoners to a treaty of neutrality may have been the work of Dudley’s agent, Samuel Vetch. Let us consider these possibilities in turn.
The most eminent historians of the French wars, Parkman and Kingsford, have affirmed that Dudley proposed the treaty of neutrality.384 Probably the main reason for this view is to be found in the concluding words of Dudley’s letter of July 4, 1705, the one carried by Courtemanche and Vetch. They read:
J’ai donné au sieur de Courtemanche une copie du traité fait entre la Martinique et les gouverneurs anglois des isles Leeward pour faire voir qu’il est conforme à celui que j’ai projeté pour nos gouvernements, ce qui sera également utile à vous et à moi et nous pourrons tous deux demeurer ainsi paisibles si nous voulons nonobstant la guerre.385
The question at once arises whether Dudley wrote in English or in French. If he wrote in English, the English original has never come to light, and we have only the French translation which may not accurately express Dudley’s meaning.386 The words “demeurer paisibles” seem rather vague to use in suggesting a truce or treaty of neutrality. Furthermore, we are confronted by the fact that the West Indian cartel which Dudley says he is sending as a model of the kind of agreement he has in mind, was not a truce at all, but a permanent arrangement for the exchange of prisoners, man for man, as fast as they accumulated in the hands of the respective governments.387 Moreover, Vaudreuil in his letter to Dudley of June 2, 1706, admits that the proposal sent to him by the latter dealt principally with the exchange of prisoners.388 His words were: “Il est vrai, monsieur, que les propositions que vous m’avez envoyées ne regardoient principalement que l’échange des prisonniers.”
The words which, taken literally, give so much trouble, might fairly, I believe, in the light of the context, be translated somewhat as follows: “Thus we may make a durable and friendly arrangement (i. e. for the exchange of prisoners), if we will, notwithstanding the war.”
But if Dudley did not directly suggest a truce or treaty of neutrality in the documents which he sent to Vaudreuil, he may have done so through Vetch and his son William, who were his agents on this occasion. On several occasions Vaudreuil makes an explicit statement that such was the case. In his first report of the negotiations, written in October, 1705, when Vetch was in all probability still at Quebec, Vaudreuil wrote that the two New Englanders had inquired several times whether he had power to conclude a truce, and he adds in a later letter that when he assured them that he had they made proposals to him.389 Still more explicit is the statement in his letter of June 2, 1706, to Dudley:390 “Monsieur votre fils et monsieur Vetche m’ayant fait des propositions de paix, j’ai cru inutile de répondre au sujet de l’échange.” Even if Vaudreuil wished to convey a false impression to his government, he surely could not hope to mislead Dudley.
Had Dudley any reason for suggesting a truce, either temporary or permanent? Dudley’s enemies believed that this whole transaction was merely a cover for trade with the French,391 and the French government had its suspicions that such was the case.392 As we shall see presently, Vetch did attempt to collect a debt from a Canadian merchant, but there is every reason to believe that the commercial transaction was merely incidental.
It has also been suggested that Dudley made his proposal in order to give the frontier a respite from attack, and that he had no intention of signing any treaty of neutrality, although he wished Vaudreuil to think so. That Dudley saw clearly that he was gaining such an advantage from the negotiations we know from his speech to the General Court on April 10, 1706.393 Vaudreuil himself seems to have suspected this when he found in the winter of 1706 that Dudley had made him an inconclusive reply.394
On the other hand, Vaudreuil expressed the opinion as late as November, 1706, long after hostilities had been resumed, that Dudley would have signed the treaty, if it could have been revised so as not to make necessary the signature of the other English governors.395 Likewise Vetch, in a petition to the Privy Council of February 20, 1707, says that the Governor and Council applauded the treaty.396 The opinion of Hutchinson is also worth citing. “Dudley,” he says, “depended upon the French being extirpated from Canada, as well as Acadie, otherwise he would have been glad of a neutrality, if he could have had the queen’s leave to agree to it.”397
It is at this point that Dudley’s lack of frank and open dealing proves so unfortunate. The only reference to these negotiations ever made by Dudley, so far as is known, is to be found in his letter of February 1, 1706. In this he merely says that he has no need of a truce, since he could easily remove the French from Canada and Port Royal if the Queen would send him four ships of war and some mortars.398 Inasmuch as this is the letter in which Dudley makes the equivocal statement that he has sent Vaudreuil no reply, one cannot be sure that it covers all the facts in the case or reveals the whole working of Dudley’s mind.
The simplest explanation of the whole affair, one that has appealed to many writers, is that Dudley proposed an exchange of prisoners, but that Vaudreuil took the opportunity to suggest a permanent treaty of neutrality, making the terms so stiff that the French would gain much the greater advantage.399 This is the cautiously expressed opinion of Dudley’s biographer, Kimball, while Osgood, Sheldon, and Hutchinson, without definitely committing themselves, imply some such interpretation of the transactions.400 The bare narrative of events would certainly suggest this interpretation. Dudley initiates negotiations for an exchange of prisoners. On this basis they continue until the return of Vetch from Canada in November, 1705, bringing a draught treaty of neutrality. Furthermore, the policy of neutrality was, as we shall see presently, far more in harmony with French policy than with English.
It may be noted also that in a ministerial abridgment of a letter written by Governor Ramezay of Montreal on October 12, 1705, it is stated that “Monsieur de Vaudreuil veut proposer une neutralité avec la Nouvelle Angleterre,”401 but this cannot be taken as conclusive evidence that Vaudreuil originated the proposal.
The difficulty in accepting such a view arises chiefly from Vaudreuil’s statements, cited above, attributing the proposal of a treaty of neutrality to Vetch and young Dudley, acting, as he supposed, for the Governor. Vaudreuil’s use of the word “truce” to describe the proposals made to him may afford a clue to what happened.402 It is barely possible that Dudley may have suggested, through Vetch, the conclusion of a temporary truce or cessation of hostilities, to facilitate the arrangement of the details of the cartel, and that Vaudreuil may have sought to make this the basis of a proposal for a permanent treaty of neutrality.
There remains the third possibility, namely that Samuel Vetch may have taken it upon himself to make overtures for a treaty of neutrality. Vetch was a bold and adventurous character, whose activities from the time when he landed in New York in 1699, after the failure of the Scotch Darien expedition, until he became Governor of Nova Scotia in 1710, have never been fully explored.403 His connection with the Livingston and Winthrop families gave him social position and political influence. He evidently stood high in the estimation of Dudley, for the latter, in a letter to Vaudreuil introducing his son William, refers to him as his particular friend.404
Dudley’s choice of Vetch to carry Courtemanche back to Quebec throws some light on his methods and is pertinent to our inquiry. In the year 1701, Vetch had made a trading voyage from New York to Quebec, in disregard apparently of the laws both of New York and New France, during which trip a certain Canadian merchant became indebted to him to the amount of £800. When it seemed advisable, therefore, to send Courtemanche back to Quebec by sea, Vetch offered to carry him without compensation, if he might collect this debt. As he was familiar with the navigation of the St. Lawrence and could speak French, the Governor and Council accepted his offer.405
In his petition, from which most of the above facts are gleaned, Vetch draws a clear distinction between Dudley’s purpose in sending him, which was to arrange for the exchange of prisoners, and the result of his mission, the treaty of neutrality, and he at least implies that the credit for getting Vaudreuil to commit himself to such a proposal belongs to him. Such a view is further reconcilable with Vaudreuil’s repeated statements of the activity of Vetch in bringing up the question of a truce, although Vaudreuil thought, or chose to think, that he was acting under instructions from Dudley.
Of course, Vetch’s statements cannot be accepted without corroboration, since they are made in a petition to clear himself from the serious charge of trading with the enemy.406 They are, however, partially corroborated by statements made in a letter of Governor Ramezay of Montreal, written at the time of Vetch’s visit to Quebec.407 Moreover, the adventurous character of Vetch, and the fact that he later undertook successfully the task of persuading the English government to attempt the conquest of Canada makes such an interpretation not inherently improbable.
Such are the three possible interpretations of the events in question. Before an attempt is made to reach a conclusion, it is necessary to examine the relation of the negotiations of 1704–1706 to the earlier policy of Dudley and Vaudreuil. Such an examination reveals the fact that Dudley had already rejected an opportunity to conclude a treaty of neutrality with the Governor of Acadia, and that the French had all along favored a policy of neutrality in America.
When Dudley arrived in Boston as Governor in June, 1702, he found before the Council, which, since the death of Stoughton, had been conducting the government, a proposition for the maintenance of neutrality between Massachusetts and Acadia. To this the Council had returned a cautious but not unfavorable reply, pointing out that they could not come to a definite decision because they were expecting the arrival of a new governor with instructions from the Queen.408 Dudley apparently gave this proposal no consideration, had the Council proclaim war as soon as news of the declaration reached him, began to commission privateers to prey on French commerce, and was soon suggesting to the home government an attack upon Port Royal, and eventually the conquest of Canada itself.409 There is no evidence that, down to 1705 at least, Dudley ever considered the idea of neutrality, but there was present from the first the idea of utilizing the exchange of prisoners, which the course of events had made practically a necessity, to gain information which would facilitate the conquest of Quebec. Throughout the year 1705, Dudley continued to urge upon his government an expedition against that stronghold,410 and nothing that happened during that year will account for a secret change of view on his part. In fact, the truce which tacitly existed had greatly eased the military situation, relieved the frontier, and lessened the burden of defence. Not until the summer of 1706, when the English government had been deaf for two years to his urgings, do we find in his correspondence a hint that neutrality was desirable. At that time he simply made the almost obvious remark that, if the government had no intention of sending a fleet to take Port Royal and Quebec, it would have been better if he had accepted the proposed treaty of neutrality.411 Thus Hutchinson summarized his position exactly when he made the statement above quoted.412
The French, on the other hand, had seen the advantage of neutralizing their American colonies ever since war appeared imminent. Realizing the strength of the opposition he must face, Louis XIV, as early as 1700, had instructed Brouillan, the new Governor of Acadia, that, unless he could protect his colony from the English, it would be better to make with them a treaty of neutrality.413 A year later the King instructed the Governor of Canada to keep peace with the Iroquois, which meant, as the Governor pointed out, the inclusion of New York in the arrangement, for on no other terms would the Iroquois remain quiet.414 From other sources, too, we know that a policy of neutrality was generally favored by the French,415 and we know also that it was successfully put into operation in the case of New York and the Iroquois.
It is true that Vaudreuil was responsible for stirring up the Abnaki to attack the New England frontier, but this was because he believed that only in this way could the French maintain their influence over these fickle allies.416 The wisdom of this policy was questioned at the time by the minister in charge of colonial affairs,417 and it is evident from the tone of Vaudreuil’s correspondence with his government during the years 1705 and 1706 that he now favored neutrality, at least on the terms proposed by him to Dudley.418 Ramezay, the Governor of Montreal, also favored the proposal,419 as did the French government, provided its honor and interests were properly safeguarded.420 In view of the military situation in Europe, the overwhelming naval superiority of the English, and the potential strength of the English colonies, such an attitude is not surprising.
We may now attempt to draw some conclusions concerning English and French policy at this time, and Dudley’s relation thereto. In the first place, it is clear that at least down to the time of these negotiations Dudley had not favored a policy of neutrality, that on the contrary he had in 1702 rejected an opportunity to make some sort of arrangement with Acadia, that he had consistently urged upon the English government the conquest of Canada and Acadia, and that there is no change in the tone of his correspondence with the English government during the course of the negotiations with Vaudreuil, nor can any good reason for a change of policy on his part at this time be discovered.
On the other hand, in obedience to instructions from France, the Governor of Acadia had attempted in 1701 to make a treaty of neutrality with the government of Massachusetts, and in the same year, Vaudreuil’s predecessor at Quebec had concluded an agreement with the Iroquois, which meant perforce abstaining from attacks upon New York. Although Vaudreuil had, for what seemed to him good reasons, at first adopted the policy of raiding the New England frontier, he evidently realized by 1705 that the ill success of French arms in Europe, the naval superiority of the English, and the just indignation of New England at his frontier raids, exposed him to the danger of a joint attack by English and colonial forces. From a military viewpoint, he had everything to gain and little or nothing to lose by proposing a treaty of neutrality, and neither by word nor act did he show the least sign of hostility to such an idea.
Finally, the known facts concerning the negotiations of Vaudreuil with Vetch and William Dudley in the summer of 1705, from which indubitably issued the draught treaty of neutrality, are so few, and the statements made by the different parties concerned are so contradictory, that any definite answer to the question who first proposed the treaty is impossible. All that can be said with confidence is that the statements of Parkman and Kingsford attributing the proposal to Dudley do not fit in with what we know of his policy at this time, and are hard to reconcile with the fact that, until Vetch returned from Quebec fifteen months after Dudley had begun negotiations for an exchange of prisoners, we hear nothing of a treaty of neutrality.
Either one of two explanations will fit the facts as known to us. Dudley may have suggested the conclusion of a temporary truce while the treaty for the exchange of prisoners, which had hung fire for so long, was being completed, and Vaudreuil may have seized the opportunity to try to secure a general treaty of neutrality. A temporary truce would have the advantage of giving the frontiers a further respite, while the English government was being converted to Dudley’s plan for an invasion of Canada. Or, Vetch, who was familiar with the situation on the New York frontier where a condition of neutrality prevailed, may have learned from conversation with the French that they favored a general arrangement, and may have taken it upon himself to suggest the change in the basis of negotiation, which actually did occur. His motive for so doing can only be conjectured. It might, from what we know of his character, have been anything, from a desire to make it easier to trade with the French, to a deep-laid scheme for keeping the French quiet until such time as Dudley could persuade the English government to undertake the conquest of Canada.
To conclude with a final observation upon Dudley, — it would seem that at the time of these negotiations he was the one person in all the northern colonies least interested in concluding a treaty of neutrality, that he felt able to defend himself against French attacks, and that his real policy was to get sufficient aid from England to enable him to destroy the French power both in Canada and Acadia.
Mr. Kenneth B. Murdock then read the following paper, written by Mr. J. Leslie Hotson of Harvard University:
Harvard men know what a masterly work421 on the life and parentage of John Harvard was done by Henry FitzGilbert Waters ’55:422 work in which untiring research, sharpened by the keenest inductive reasoning, produced a clear account where all before had been darkness. It is peculiarly gratifying, then, to be able to cast a further light upon John Harvard at a point in his career where Waters, his discoverer, would have been the first to welcome it.
John Harvard’s last days in England, in the spring of 1637, are still a bit mysterious. We know that he arrived in Charlestown, Massachusetts, at least before August 1, 1637, on which date he was received by the New England townsmen. But when precisely did he finish winding up his affairs and take his departure from England? No one knows. Waters, however, on the following grounds hazards a shrewd guess.
The will of John Harvard’s younger brother Thomas was discovered by Waters at Somerset House. By its terms John Harvard, besides being made one of the principal legatees, is named joint executor: “And I doe ordaine and make my said welbeloved brother John Harvard And the said Nichollas Morton preacher executors of this my said last will and Testament.” When the will was presented for probate on May 5, 1637, a memorandum was made on it which seemed to indicate that John Harvard was not at hand to perform his duties as executor. Mr. Waters remarks:
It will be noticed … that this will was presented for probate 5 May, 1637, by Mr. Morton alone, and power granted only to him, a similar power being reserved for John Harvard, the other executor, when he should come to seek it [cum venerit eam petiturus]. This seemed to show plainly enough the absence of John Harvard, the brother of Thomas, on that fifth of May, 1637.423
Naturally believing that he had found a date beyond the farthest limit of Harvard’s stay in the Old World, Mr. Waters now cast back in search of a latest possible trace of his actual presence in London. Here he shows the acumen of the true antiquary. I can do no better than to reproduce his own words:
Knowing that he [i. e. John Harvard] must have been the owner of landed property, and believing that before leaving for America (in the spring of 1637) he would be selling some of his property, I surmised that some record of such sale would appear in some of the documents preserved in the Public Record Office.424
Directing his search with the greatest skill, Waters at length found what he wanted among the Feet of Fines of the Hilary Term, 12 Charles I, County Surrey. The document, stripped of some of its verbiage, reads in part:
Hec est finalis concordia facta in curia Domini Regis apud Westmonasterium . . [date] . . coram Johanne ffinch Ricardo Hutton Georgio Vernon et ffrancisco Crawley justiciariis … Inter Johannem Man et Johannam uxorem eius querentes, et Johannem Harvard et Annam uxorem deforcientes de uno mesuagio et tribus Cotagijs cum pertinentiis in Parochia Sancti Olavi in Southwarke.
The exact date, as Waters found, was February 16, 1637. He continues:
Here we find John Harvard appearing in February, 1636–7, as a grantor of real estate in St. Olave (where his brother Thomas was living) and with wife Ann; surely most important evidence that he was the John Harvard who six months afterwards was in New England with a wife Ann; and the above date of transfer and the date of probate of his brother Thomas Harvard’s will undoubtedly furnish the limits of the period of time within which John Harvard left old England to take up his abode in our New England. He must have set sail some time between 16 February and 5 May, 1637.
The conclusion imposed itself. Waters could come to no other with the evidence before him, and this part of Harvard’s biography has stood as Waters left it. But there was another document, which has remained hidden until the present moment. It was my fortune, while deep among the limitless chronicles of things past which are preserved in the Public Record Office in Chancery Lane, to hit upon a roll of Recognizances of Debt for the year 1637. This roll belongs to a series which was formerly kept in the Tower of London. Later transferred to the office of the Lord Chamberlain, it was thence finally, in 1858, brought to the Public Record Office.
The series to which it belongs is styled F, from the name of the justice before whom the recognizances were taken: Sir John Finch, of ship-money infamy, and the same whom we have just encountered in connection with the transfer of property from John Harvard to John Man. In conformity with the law the entries are made in Latin. They number nearly two hundred in the roll, and rubric 55 reads as follows:
55 Memorandum quod Vicesimo sexto die Maij Anno praedicto ffranciscus Norton Civis et Haberdasher Londoniarum coram Johanne ffinch milite et cetera recognovit se debere Johanni Harvard de parochia sancti Olavi in Southwark in comitatu Surr’ clerico Trecentas libras solvendas in ffesto Pentecostis proximo Et si et cetera.425
55 Be it remembered that on the six and twentieth day of May in the year aforesaid, Francis Norton, Citizen and Haberdasher of London, in the presence of Sir John Finch, Knight, etc., acknowledged that he owed to John Harvard, of the parish of St. Olave’s in Southwark, county Surrey, Clerk, Three Hundred Pounds, to be paid at Whitsuntide next following. And if, etc.
This document is of the highest interest from more than one point of view. In the first place, it shows that John Harvard was still in England on May 26, three weeks after the May 5 when, as we have always thought, he was on his way to Massachusetts, or indeed had already arrived there. In the second place, the debt fell due almost immediately after the recognizance was taken. The money was to be paid on Whitsuntide, which in 1637 fell on May 28 — two days after the date of our document. Such a period, much shorter than the average time mentioned in the surrounding entries, seems to point to Harvard’s winding up his affairs with despatch before departing. On this evidence, then, he could not have sailed before May 29, 1637; and inasmuch as he was in Charlestown on August 1, his passage must have been swift, and his New England welcome prompt.
The sum of money involved is large — representing at least $15,000 at the present — and is nearly as much as the bequest of half his estate (excluding the library) which Harvard willed to the new college at Cambridge.
Who is this Francis Norton, Citizen and Haberdasher of London, who gave his bond to Harvard for such a large amount? New Englanders who are familiar with the early times know him very well, but under the name of Captain Francis Norton of Charlestown. Let me quote a paragraph concerning a will from Waters’s indispensable book:
Robert Houghton, of the parish of St. Olave’s, Southworth [Southwark], in the county of Surrey, brewer, 25 December 1653, proved at Westminster 7 January 1653–4.
Item I will and bequeath unto my dearely loveinge and pious sister Mary Norton wife of ffrancis Norton of Charles towne in New England the some of twenty poundes to be paied to her within two yeares after my decease.
Recognizance for Debt. 1637, mentioning John Harvard
Engraved for The Colonial Society of Massachusetts from the original in the Public Record office, London
Here Waters subjoins the Houghton family tree, in which two of the children of Nicholas Houghton of London, Fishmonger, are “Mary wife of Fran: Norton of London, Fishmonger,” and “Robert Houghton of London, Brewer.” Then Waters continues:
A pedigree of the same family [the Houghtons] may be found in the Visitation of London, published by the Harleian Society (XV. 369). In the latter Francis Norton is called a haberdasher, which is more probably correct, if we may judge from the character of his inventory as shown in the Middlesex Records, he being the well-known Capt. Francis Norton, who was admitted into the church of Charlestown, Mass., 10–2–1642, and died in Charlestown, 27 July, 1667. He left no male issue, but has probably many descendants in New England through his daughters, of whom Abigail was the wife of John Long, Mary of Joseph Noyes, Deborah of Zechary Hill, and Elizabeth of Timothy Symmes and Ephraim Savage. In social, political and military relations Capt. Norton seems to have stood high.426
It may be of interest to add that this same Recognizance Roll of 1637 contains an entry of November 29 stating that Francis Norton’s brother-in-law, Robert Houghton, owed James Baldwin, Gentleman, of Worlington, Suffolk, six hundred pounds;427 and another entry, of October 13, which tells us that Richard Yerwood, John Harvard’s step-brother, owed two hundred and twenty pounds to Richard Britten, Feltmaker, of St. Olave’s, Southwark.428
So much for the acquaintanceship, hitherto unsuspected, between Francis Norton, Haberdasher, and John Harvard, Clerk. The two men knew each other in London before Harvard took ship for America; but it was not until John Harvard had been four years in his grave in Charlestown, that Norton came to live in the village. For us, however, the capital point of the matter is that this new evidence on the life of John Harvard fixes the date of his departure for America at the end of May or during June, 1637.
Mr. John Noble exhibited a log-book, kept by Levi Mills of Newburyport in 1783–1785. The book is inscribed “Levi Mills429 his Book Bought in Plymouth In Old England, While a Prisoner, March 22, 1782.” Speaking of the book Mr. Noble said, in part:
It contains manuscript journals at sea and in harbor. There is a table of them entitled “Alphibet” on the first page.
It is kept according to the method approved by Bowditch, being divided into vertical columns representing in order, from left to right, the hour from meridian to meridian, knots, half-knots, courses, winds, and remarks. At the bottom of each day’s record are shown the distance covered and the ship’s position in latitude and longitude by dead-reckoning and observation.
The first journal records a voyage in the Brigantine Hope, Nathaniel Nowell, Commander,430 from Cape Francies (Cape François on the Island of Haiti) to Newburyport, April 10 to 27, 1783.
The second voyage was in the “good ship Diana,” Sylvanus Lowell,431 Master, from Newburyport to Richmond. This was a winter voyage, and the account of it is interesting as showing the difficulties of navigating the James River against currents, shoals and ice. The record of this voyage is followed by a harbor journal, principally devoted to the loading of a cargo of tobacco which was taken on from small boats. Mills, who seems to have been first mate, went ashore and made a trip to Petersburg on horseback. After six weeks at Richmond, the ship went on up the river to City Point, having much difficulty with shoals and sand bars.
The third journal gives an account of a voyage to London. This is followed by a harbor journal at London describing the discharge of the cargo, the routine work of repairing, and the taking in of ballast. Departure from London was delayed several days by heavy winds, but the ship sailed finally on June 28, 1784, with three passengers on board.
This voyage was to Lisbon, where a cargo of salt and wine was taken on. There one Johnson “ran away with the small boat,” but the officers “sent and brought him back.”
From Lisbon, the Diana sailed back to Newburyport. On August 27, Cape Ann Lights were picked up, and on August 28 the ship anchored at Long Wharf, Boston.
Here was received a new cargo of salt which was carried to Baltimore. From Baltimore, the Diana went to Cadiz with a cargo of flour, and returned to Boston with a cargo of salt. There is in the journal of this voyage a description of a heavy gale which did considerable damage to the sails and rigging. This storm lasted from March 26 to April 1, and was followed by more bad weather, the course from Cadiz to Monhegan taking forty-six days.
The last record in the book is a harbor journal at Boston. May 25, 1785, is described as being “election amongst boston gentry.” On June 6, “it being election day, the Governor took his chair on the Common.”
Mr. Kenneth B. Murdock read the following note on
JEREMIAH WISE’S SERMON ON THE SUITABLENESS AND BENEFIT OF PRAYER IN AFFLICTION, 1717
In Sibley’s bibliography of Increase Mather, he listed a preface described as “To the Reader. Boston. July 6. 1717. 12mo. pp. (5). Prefixed to J. Wise’s Prayer in Affliction,” and indicated that a copy of the preface was in the Library of the Massachusetts Historical Society.432 The work he referred to is still in the possession of the Society, being one of a collection of several prefaces by Increase Mather, removed from the books in which they were printed, and preserved by themselves. It bears a manuscript endorsement in Cotton Mather’s hand, identifying it as having been taken from Jeremiah Wise’s “Prayer in Affliction.”433
No copy of the complete volume in which the preface appeared is owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society or, so far as I have been able to ascertain, by any library in or near Boston. It seems that Sibley, therefore, knew nothing of the book except the preface, and probably for this reason he does not mention “Prayer in Affliction” in his manuscript memoranda on Jeremiah Wise.434 Other American bibliographers are similarly reticent, and Wise’s book does not appear to be listed by any one of them.
Through the kindness of Mr. Worthington C. Ford I have been informed that a copy of the book is in the Library of Congress. The title is:
A | SERMON | Shewing the Suitableness, and | the Benefit of | PRAYER | IN | Affliction. | —— | By Jeremiah Wise, A. M. Pastor | of the Church in Berwick. | —— | [6 ll. of texts] | —— | Boston, Printed by John Allen, | for Nicholas Boone, at the Sign | of the Bible in Cornhill, 1717. | [pp. (5) 40. 12mo.]
It is perhaps worth while, in view of the apparent rarity of the book, to record its existence, as an addition to the printed bibliographies of early American publications. It is not without interest from another point of view also, inasmuch as it is often said that by 1717 Increase Mather was cherishing an implacable hatred against John Wise, because of their differences in respect to matters of church polity. If Wise and Mather were so much at odds as they are said to have been, it is worthy of notice that the latter was generous enough to contribute a preface to a book written by the son of his enemy.435