David Avery, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1767 May 26


abstractAvery writes to express his desire, and list his reasons, for going to college rather than early into missionary work.

handwritingHandwriting is formal, clear, and legible.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light-to-moderate staining, creasing and wear.

inkDark brown.

layoutPages one and two of the letter are on one recto and verso; however, the third page of the letter is on two verso, not two recto. The address is on two recto.

  Revd and Honrd. Sir, 
As the Reaſons you offered for our not  going to College, are some of them new to me; and eſpe‐ cially my Shortſghtedneſs is such, & Judgment of Af‐ fairs so inmature , I am quite unfit for an Anſwer.  It will be a great Diſappointment of my expectations  according to the Plan and Agreement I came upon, not  to spend any more time at College. If I rightly re‐  member, the Agreement was, that I should be fit  ted for College — and spend the major part of the  term of four years there, and then to receive the  Honors of College, if accounted worthy of them. This  would be neceſsary for a common Recommendation,  at leaſt among People and Gentlemen in North-Ame‐  rica, where I might be known; &c. if it should ever  happen I might not be engaged in a Miſsion, or if I  should — And it would be an Advantage in gitting   into Buſineſs in thoſe parts, if upon some sufficient  reaſon I should not purſue the Deſign. The Diſlike,  and evil Suſpiceon of many who profeſs Friendſhip  to me, and are not Friends to the Deſign, will be raiſ‐ ed againſt the Plan, and will be apt to think hard of  Mr Wheelock, (tho' the Reaſons should be given) and  so the School and Cauſe might be reproached. The  cruel tongues of many would then be set on fire, (as o‐ thers like diſpoſed have been,) and "say, Mr Wheelock  would not treat one of his own Sons so, who should be de‐ ſigned for the same Work: But were there not some lu‐ crative Views somewhere at the Bottom, things would  not be so." Tho' the Deſign has gained ground, and   
become more Honourable than our Colleges; yet, Men  of thoſe parts, will not be so senſible of it, 'till by and by;  and not only so, but, Sir, will not the School and we, who  have gone so far, be looked upon in a diminitive Light  by the College? I imagin it will be a great Advantage  to git an Acquaintance with Scholars, that when they  shall leave College and enter into Buſineſs abroad,  one might be of service to another. And, may I expreſs  the Paſsion — How comforting and supporting will   Friendſhip be to one in the lonly Deſert! It is but a short  Seaſon I can have to git an acquaintance with any Body  special within two years and half here — and to be sure  I muſt be under poor Circumſtances among the Pagans.  And will not an acquaintance with Men of Learning  be of great Advantage to one, who muſt be so much ex‐ poſed in a crafty World as a Miſsionary? There are  several Exerciſes of Improvement at College, we have not  here; tho' they are not abſolutely neceſsary for one who  expects to spend all his Days among Heathen; yet would  they not be servicable and inlarging to the Mind? What  you said, Sir, as to the Mathematicks, it give me Satiſ‐ faction — To have a tolerable acquaintance with them  I suppoſe is sufficient — Other Studies would be more agre‐ able, as well as profitable — I can eaſily, (and indeed,  it would be too black Ingratitude not to) believe your  Plans and Schemes to be the moſt for my Profit, and  to fix me for Uſefulneſs. And was the School fixt   and set up, it would not give me the leaſt Uneaſi‐ neſs, If I did not go to College at all: But untill   that is done, would it not be beſt, all things conſidered,  that we should spend a little time at College, as was pro poſed, and agreed to, when we entered the School? Mr   Kirtland often (with tears) laments his short Acquain  tance with Claſsical, Scholaſtice Studies; and thinks  it to be neceſary for a Miſsionary, as well as any  other Calling in Life. 
But, I am but a Child, and know not what is beſt in the  Affair — I can with the greateſt Submiſsion and Reſig‐ nation to Mr Wheelock reſign the whole Matter to your  parental Goodneſs, and Judgment. I rejoice I have yet  a Patron who knows better what is beſt for me, than myſelf:
Thus, Sir, I have indeavoured a few Reaſons, why I should  deſire to go to College, as hath heretofore been propoſed: And,  if there be any Weight in them,/ with the profoundeſt Reverence  I begg they may be conſidered —
I imbrace this, as the firſt and beſt opportunity I have  had to return you, my moſt sincere and hearty Thanks for  your Expreſsions of tender Care and Concern for my Health.
I can only add, that I am, with all fillial Duty and  Humility,   
Reverend and Honour'd Sir,  Your moſt obedi‐ ent, moſt dutiful,  and very humble  Servant  David Avery. 
To the Rev. Mr Wheelock.   
To the Reverend  Mr Eleazar Wheelock,  Lebanon  Connecticut.    From Avery    From David Avery  May 26.th 1767