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for 5 or 6 weeks past has been divided between Portsmouth, Exeter, and Dover, and I am now preparing for a journey to Boston, after next week. Since I quitted the pulpit here, I have been employed in preaching at the second parish in Exeter, late Father Rodgers's, who died last winter. Things are in an uncomfortable situation in the other parish; but, if there could be an accommodation, or rather settlement, with their minister, I imagine he would quit them, and there would be a junction. How this matter will end, I am not able to say; but at present there is no prospect here* The reason of my introducing the matter, however, is this: I see by the papers that it is in contemplation to establish a post-rider from Boston to Concord, and from thence to Portsmouth; in that case, you may think it proper to have a post-office here* and I would beg the favour of you to ask me to recommend some person to you for a post-officer. It may give me an air of consequence among the people, and serve my interest, and I trust it will be so conducted as not to disserve the revenue; especially, as I would consult our approved and faithful friend Libbey on the subject. You will pardon my meddling with your business. I hope you will not deem it an impertinent intrusion.
I remember, when you removed your family to New York, you complained of the inconvenience. I now can, more fully than I could then, adopt the same language and entertain the same feelings. Once I could be at home anywhere. From the time I went to college till my settlement at Dover I had near as many removals as Mother Eowlandson (this is a New England comparison, and will make Mrs. Hazard laugh). I could take up my chest and march at any time, and feel as happy in one place as another; but, having been so long used to a settled life, it is irksome to be obliged to be on the pad. I say obliged, for a voluntary exercise of the locomotive powers is perfectly agreeable to me; bat I must submit. I thank God I feel perfectly willing to be continued in His service, if He will appoint me a portion of His vineyard to labour in, where I shall not be obliged to have recourse to law and distraint to obtain my support. I think a minister s relation, or rather connection, with his people, ought to be upheld by mutual love and good-will, and not vi et armis. I have experienced the ill consequence of this latter method so fully, that I had rather remove into the desert and begin on bare creation than have recourse to such means. But enough of this, infandum renovare dolor em.
* Though I began this at home, yet I am obliged to continue and finish it at Exeter, and thus exemplify what I say in the beginning. — Belknap's Note.
Your papers I happen to have in my pocket book, and therefore inclose them with my thanks. In looking for them, I find the following extract, which I took last spring, as I was searching some of the Records at Boston: it chords with your conjecture concerning the fate of Philip's wife and son.
"At a General Court specially called in Boston 6th Sept., 1676. (N.B. This was about 2 or 3 weeks after Philip's death.) There being many of our Indian enemyes seized, and now in our possession, the Court judgeth it meete to refer the disposal of them to our honoured Council, declaring it to be their sense that such of them as shall appeare to have imbrued their hands in English blood should suffer death here, and not be transported into forreigne parts." #
I intend, in case I have no call to preach abroad the approaching winter, to set myself about the continuation of my History. Pray, my friend, have you sent any of the copies to New Haven? You remember I promised one to the College Library, and a dozen to Dr. Stiles, for sale. I have lately sent Aitken about 20 dollars, and I think the debt is reduced to about £50 L.M.
* The case of Philip's son occasioned much anxiety and discussion among the magistrates and ministers; but it was finally decided that he should be sold. See Dayis's Morton's Mem., p. 455. — Eds.
I enclose you General Sullivan's Proclamation for Thanksgiving, which he did me the honour to ask me to draught. Some of the expressions are Mr. Mansfield's;* but, if you show it to Mrs. Hazard, she will immediately
suspect one expression marked to be mine, because
it includes molasses; however, I seriously declare I did not think of that precious commodity till after the Proclamation was printed, and I had determined to send you a copy.
The General is now gone a month's tour (as far as the upper Cohass) to review the militia. We could not have had a better military governour, and certainly one of this character is necessary at this day. Massachusetts suffers for want of a militia, and a little more spunk in her Executive. They have, I hear, made a Tender Act, and been obliged to suspend its operation, owing to the clamour of the Bostonians against it. This will furnish a new argument with the conventioneers against th£ sitting of the G. Court in Boston. What are wre coming to? Kepublicanism must give way, and what will succeed?
Pray write me your mind on public matters. I love to have your thoughts, because you are in the centre of politics, and can form a good judgment.
I am ashamed that I have not written lately to Dr. Clarkson, and acknowledged the receipt of the books he sent me; but, really, my embarrassments have been such that I have not been able to write such a letter as I ought. Pray give my most affectionate regards to him and his worthy family; also the same to Mrs. Hazard and your good mamma. I am, dear sir,
* The Rev. Isaac Mansfield, for eleven years minister at Exeter, N. H, Since the sheets in the former part of this volume were printed, it has been suggested to the writer that Mr. Mansfield was probably the person intended by " the Democritus of Exeter," referred to on pp. 48, 44, and 46; and that the speech of the "pro tempore speaker," preserved by him, was made by the Hon. John Dudley, afterwards Judge of the Superior Court of New Hampshire, whose charge to the jury on one occasion is preserved in the "Life of William Plumer," by his son, at pp. 163-166. — Eds.
Your very sincere and much obliged friend,
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
Boston, December 2, 1786.
My Dear Friend, — Our correspondence has been for some months greatly interrupted by the instability of my affairs; and, when I shall again feel myself settled, Heaven only knows. My last, I think, was from Exeter: since that was wrote, I have been at Jamaica Plain, at Weymouth, and now T am here for about three weeks, engaged to the society of which Mr. Annan was late minister, which society have lately voted themselves a Congregational Church.*
I am such a flutterer that I suppose you hardly know where to take aim; but, my dear sir, if you should find time to write within the above mentioned period, please to direct to me here.
Well, my good friend, you will hear, perhaps before this reaches you, that old Massachusetts has come into the old maxim, u Better late than never." I have been telling my friends here for some time that they must, for once, follow the example of New Hampshire, and send their military inquisitors to surprize the insurgents when they are scattered and think themselves secure. This week has afforded a proof of the justice and propriety of this advice. A party of horse was despatched to Groton, where 3 of the leaders of insurrection were taken, and among them the proto-rascal Job Shattuck, who fought singly with two of his assailants, and did not surrender till a third joined in the assault. His heroism was worthy a better man and a better cause. He received a deep wound in his knee with a sabre, which it is supposed will make him a cripple. The mode adopted to apprehend these fellows is to issue a warrant, and send the sheriff with an armed posse to execute it. Another posse is now gone on the western road, to visit Wheeler and Shays. I am afraid they will meet with more difficulty; but, if they do, they will be reinforced. The Government seems to be awake, and determined to exert its strength; and, if the matter must come to a bloody contest, our good old General Lincoln is to take the command: he has resumed his uniform and cockade on this occasion.
* This was originally, 1727, a Presbyterian Society, composed of a number of Scotch-Irish families from the north of Ireland. Their meeting-house was on the corner of Bury (Berry) Street and Long Lane, now Federal Street. Their first minister was the Rev. John Moorhead, who died in 1773. From his death to the year 1783, when the Rev. Robert Annan was settled, the troubles of the Revolutionary war intervened, and the Society had no regular minister. Mr. Annan was dismissed in 1786, and Dr. Belknap was invited to succeed him, the Society having become Congregational. He was settled April 4,1787, and continued there till his sudden death, June 20,1798. He was succeeded by the Rev. J. S. Popkin, July 10, 1799, dismissed Nov. 28,1802. Rev. W. E. Channing was settled June 1,1803, died Oct. 2, 1842. Rev. E. S. Gannett was settled (colleague) June 30,1824, died Aug. 26, 1871. In 1867 the Society removed to a new meeting-house on the Back Bay, corner of Arlington Street; and the old Federal Street building, erected in 1809, gave way to the demands of business. — Ei>8.
My family were well last Sunday evening. It is very painful for me to be separated from them so long; but duty and interest call me, and I feel a conscious satisfaction in being able to say, with the pious Dr. Watts in his version of the Psalms: —
"I to the Lord my ways commit,
Present my best respects to Mrs. Hazard and your good mamma, and believe me, my dear sir,
Your affectionate and obliged