John Thornton, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1772 February 28


abstractThornton writes a lengthy letter mentioning the conflict with Kirkland, doubt that the Trust in England will confirm Wheelock's charter, and rumors that the college is to come under Episcopal management. He believes that Wheelock is too trusting of Ralph Wheelock, and that Occom has been unfairly treated.

handwritingFormal handwriting is stylized, yet clear and legible. The address is written in a different, unknown hand.

paperThe address is on a single large sheet; otherwise, the letter is comprised of two large sheets folded in half to make four pages. The paper is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining and wear. Repair work has been done on holes and heavy creases.

noteworthyIn the list of dates that begins the letter, the abbreviation “do” is likely an abbreviation for “ditto,” meaning, in this context, “in or of the month already named. “Ap” is likely an abbreviation for “anno praeterito,” meaning “the year that has just passed” (O.E.D.). An “x” written above the trailer on five recto appears to be a library mark. Also on five recto, an editor, likely 19th-century, has added the note “school & College distinct” below the trailer. This note has not been included in the transcription.

EventsFundraising Tour of Great Britain

  Dear ſir 
Since my last I duly recd your several favors of the 11th  Jany 20th June 1st August 29th do 9th Septr & 31st October Ap & I  should have wrote you long since had I known what to  say, but I was much comforted by the last with the glad  tidings that you & Mr Kirkland had met I come to the  Agreement to put it out of the power of evil minded Peo  ple to break into that harmony that ought ever to sub  sist betwixt those of the same Views; by disbelieving all  false insinuations relative to each other & ever coming  to an explanation betwixt yourselves, I hope this will  be steadfastly adhered to in future & that you will be  enabled to see the Cloven foot, whenever any Person  shews a tendency to prejudice you against that valuable  Minister, who indeed in this unhappy difference has  acted as few besides himself Would have done & I shall  ever highly value & esteem it for it & all considered  he has made as few mistakes as could be expected, as  indeed my Dear ſir he harboured not the evil reports  that were falsely suggested against you, but ever  spoke with becoming regard & respect of your Character  it is for best to bury all that is past & not so much  as to think of it, but I must with my usual unreserve 
^[left]Received May. 16th 1772^   
  tell you that I think your Parental regard to your Son  Ralph, has blinded your Eyes to some misconduct of his  & that Mr Woodward has not been so single Eyed as I  would wish all to be in so glorious a Cause, I don’t mean  to enter on any discussions, but rather what I say is by  way of caution that neither of them may have it in their  power to injure the Redeemers Cause thro the sides of  Mr Kirkland if they should be so unwise as to attempt it  but be you forewarn’d & thereby forearmed, ^so as^ not to listen  to the Subtle Adversarys poison, should he be prevalent  eno to obtain an Eve to administer it, I know how  hard it is to know no one after the flesh & to look th[gap: tear]  all to him with whom we have to d[illegible]o, but that Lord  who strengtheneth is Almighty, & he requires not  more then he will enable us to perform, when we are  armed from his heavenly Storehouse, all things are  poſsible, not only so but they are made easy thro the  divine influence, may the Lord ever guide you by his  Counsel till he receives you to glory, & keep you watchful  & mindful that those who have not the Spirit of Christ  are none of his.  Your Drafts are duly taken Care of & whenever your  occasions further require aſsistance I have (thro mercy 
wherewithal to aſsist you & at any time you may draw for  One or Two Hundred pounds on your private account or  more if you find it needful to set you quite clear as  it must relieve your mind & be in every view desirable  to stand quite clear of debt, I assure you the Gentlemen  of the Trust are disposed to do all they consistently can  to strengthen your hands that you need be under no  apprehensions of failure therein I was glad to find  you had guarded against blending the accots of the  School & the College, in which you have acted wisely  I feared much your being involved thereby that it was  an ease to my mind to see my fears were groundleſs  & that consequently my Credit given on that score  was unneceſsary, I own I doubt much whither your  Charter will be confirmed on this side, as we don’t see  it in the light you do; the Trustees will soon have  a Meeting & then you will hear from them about th[illegible][guess: at]  as well as other matters, but I don’t think an Interview  would tend to clear things as you imagine; many  Men will be of many minds & opinions, upon the whole  you have ^an^ admirable good set of Trustees & I believe  they are as disposed to favor you as you could wish  & you need fear nothing harsh from them, but go  on with confidence, keep always in mind Jesus reigns 
who has all hearts at Command, he makes our enemies to be  at peace with us & brings good out of evil, continue simple &  keep in mind that as his ways are in the Sea & we can not  trace them, we must not pretend to make our Mountain  strong, but our strength consists in the acknowledgement of  our weakneſs & looking to him continually step by step to  direct us in all our ways, let us never go forth but with  his presence & when we feel a void let us humbly wait  & be still & he will shine upon us, surely it is his Work  & not ours & he knows best how to carry it on, & unleſs  when we have done our duty to the utmost we rest it as  wholly as if we had done nothing we shall find a Canker  in our Gourd & experience a blight instead of a bleſsing  you will know my dear Friend that nothing is simpler  nor plainer then the path of duty & it seems easy  but is unaccountably difficult, & we are often called  on to groan being burdened by indwelling Sin, that  even when we would do good evil is present with us  & we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves  but bleſsed be God our Souls being restored, we can  triumph in Christ & be more then Conquerors over all  & draw from his fulneſs grace to help in our every hour  of need, for with him is plentious redemption & we  are strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner Man 
That the Adversary & many of his Party will oppose you  is undoubtedly true & it is not leſs so that if you look  on them you will imbitter your own Spirit, therefore  let us go on unweariedly in the fear of the Lord disregard  ing those on the right & on the left & we shall be safe  the danger is abundantly more from false Friends then  from open Enemies, but bleſsed be God they are all  Tethered & can’t paſs the bounds prescribed them  whereas we know all things are ours both present &  to come for we are Christs & Christ is Gods.   Mr Occom seems to me to have been hardly treated  & that I fear has been one means of driving him to  his unjustifiable Character ^Conduct^, I had rather stand in  his Shoes than in those who have a much better  opinion of themselves & exceed him abundantly in  putting the best gloſs on every thing; the best respecting  them is only considered & the worst of him, it should  be remembered he has been taken from that scene  of life that made labor & the greatest parsimony  habitual to him & it is not in human Nature  to return ^[inline]to^ it with that alacrity which is expected ^from him^  If people that Judge harshly would make his Case 
their own, they would be compassionate instead of ſevere  O how differently would they judge! & pray look to his Case  & Dr Whitakers, & see who was benefited & yet Mr Occom  was the Instrument (under God) that was the means of  collecting all the Money & Had the Doctor come  without him the disgrace would have all fell to  his share, whereas poor Occom proved the ScapeGoat  & I am much mistaken if a day is not at hand  that a Vail will be drawn over his great Infirmities  & his heart be found upright with God, do my  dear Sir shew him all the kindneſs you consist[illegible][guess: on]ly  can, he will not prove unworthy of your Patronage  I never was more deceived then in him if he is  not an Israelite indeed; his trials have been very  great, I trust he will set bright at last —  Aſsist him with whatever you please from ^[inline]me^ I am  very willing my heart yearns towards him & I love  him unfeignedly that I can’t but feel for him  I am very glad to hear Mr Avery is gone to Oneide  & that the Lord seems to be smiling on the good  work you are engaged in I trust the [illegible][guess: mou]ths of 
all our Adversarys will be stoped, I sent Dr Erskine  of Edinburgh a Copy of the Agreement betwixt you  & Mr Kirkland & endeavoured to remove some  prejudices I found he had inbibed to the prejudice  of your new School, as I got an extract of a Letter  he wrote Mr Davidson of Braintree last ſeptember  as follows — “By accounts from America one Mr Kd  “a Miſsionary among the Oneida & Tuscoraga Indians  “has been wonderfully bleſsed & in the Judgemt of Charity  “many of his hearers savingly converted. There has been  “nothing equal to this since Mr David Brainard &  “yet he might have starved for Dr Wheelock had not  “our board of Correspondents & the London Com̅iſsioners  “at Boston taken him under their care. The Dr instead  “of employing Missionaries, Schoolmasters or Catechists  “has alienated the greatest part of the Monies collected  “in England to creating a new College in New Hampshire  “the Charter of which where he is named first President  “is conceived in such artful terms, that that College  “will soon fall under Episcopal management, & had  “not this been in view, the ease with which he  “procured a Charter, when Mr Whitefield was refused  “it can hardly be accounted for —” 
I shall not cease to pray that the Lord may long  strengthen you in your Work & for your Work, it is hard  Service that forms Veterans, as you have often seen  in the Book of the way to Zion, may you be enabled  to say with a departed Friend of mine under very severe  Discipline, “I have great Confidence — great Submiſsion  “no complaining. The Word to Christians goes beyond  “all this “in every thing give thanks” Hard as this  “may seem under great bodily trials &c I have no objection  “to it, & the real sense of my own mind is, thankful  “for Christ — thankful for every thing”— I shall be  always glad to hear from you, may you & yours  be growing up in the love of Christ devoted Servants  of the Croſs, live daily upon the will of God & enjoy  yourselves in nothing else  praised be God there seems  a great revival in this Land  in various parts while those  that preserve the form only  are making great strides to cast that intirely off &  Luxury & dissipation surely never were more prevalent   
I am always  Dear ſir  Yours affectionately   John Thornton 
To the Revd Dr Wheelock 
From Esq.r Thornton  Feb.y 28. 1772. 
To  The Rev.d  Eleazer Wheelock DD:  President of Dartmouth‐  College at Hanover  N Hampshire M.r Chace
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