Theophilus Chamberlain, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1766 October 3


abstractChamberlain relates the progress, or lack thereof, of his mission among the Mohawks.

handwritingHandwriting is small and somewhat crowded, yet mostly formal and clear. Letter case, especially with regard to the letters S and D, is frequently difficult to discern.

paperLarge sheet folded in half to make four pages is in good condition, with light staining and wear, and light-to-moderate creasing. The central vertical crease has been reinforced.


noteworthyThere is a red-pencil mark on two recto.

Modernized Version Deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.

  Rev. and worthy Sir 
It cant be more disagreeable to you to read than it is to  me to see, that the present state of our affairs among this  Tribe of Indians is what it truly is. Christianity, the grand  cause which we all hope to be found advancing, is, as far  as I can Judge despised and condemned by these Mohawks.  meetings upon the sabbath are so neglected, as that we  can frequently get together at this Castle not above two  or three men and half a dozen Women, and those not  'til one or two o clock in the afternoon, and at fort Hunter   it is but little better. and the Schools are so lightly esteemed, as  that not a Dozen Children in the whole ever attend school  at this Castle, and at fort Hunter it is much worse. I have  used my utmost endeavour to remedy these Defects; but all  with the united endeavours of the schoolmasters, both  English and Indians (all of which; all of which, I really  think exert their whole skill and Prudence), proves quite  ineffectual. I have on several occasions lately, when  speaking of the necessity and importance of being Christians  said the most moving things I was capable of saying.  have endeavoured to excite in them a sense of the Wrath of  God, from the Terrors of the Law, and of his goodness from  the gospel of the Glorious Emmanuel; but God is not pleased  effectually to touch their hearts. The Sabbath before last,  preached at fort Hunter, to between thirty and forty persons  in the most plain and pathetic manner I could endeavour  ing to let their danger before them in some faint  resemblance of its Terror; and their remedy in some of
its saving glory. The[guess: re] truly appeared more seriousness  in attending to preaching than usual. After worship concluded  Spoke to the men respecting the Schools as I understood  theirs was sunk low. told them the conditions upon which  the Schoolmasters was left, the ingratitude of their ne‐ glecting under their circumstances to fulfill their Conditions;  and that the Schoolmasters was forfeited by that neglect, and must  be despised, and left to themselves unless they speedily  reformed. I then desired them to get all together their  whole Castle and discourse on these things, open their minds  to one another, and conclude with themselves whether they  would finally reject, Christianity, or would receive instruc‐ tions themselves and have their children learned. with this  request they promised to comply, and to inform me of the re‐ sult the next time they held an opportunity. after we left  the meeting house, several of the men came to me. told  me they never heard such preaching as they had that day.  it gave them pleasure they said to hear the gospel preached so plain,  and they thought all but Fools must take pleasure in hear‐ ing Gods news. In all this they appeared Serious and seemed  to speak the Sentiments of their hearts. It at once revived  my drooping heart. and I began to feed on thoughts that the  long wished for Day was approaching when we might see  the Glorious Gospel of the son of God propagated by  Divine Energy among the Indians in those parts. I  had before this determined to return to new england  this fall; and as I thought my health would not allow of my  going on a mission to some remote Tribes, I had deter‐ mined to have asked a dismission. but I now came to
a conclusion to stay at all adventures through the Winter,  if those favourable symptoms should continue to give hopes  of success. I though I well know that my constitution was  weak enough to endure the fatigue of riding backwards  and forwards between 30 and 40 Miles to Preach and take care  of Schools, yet the thoughts of what I should be obliged  to suffer by this resolution vanished into nothing, when I  thought of succeeding in my mission to the happiness  of these benighted heathen, and the satisfaction of Christian  friends. But I cant express how mortifying it was to  me, when, in less than a fortnight after this hopeful Prospect  I heard that the school was entirely thrown up at fort Hunter  and, Calvin wholly out of employment. and now the dis agreeable reflection of standing by a useless spectator of  that unlimited wickedness, which I am no way Ins‐ trumental of restraining, and of People going unpreven ‐ted from before my Eyes to certain destruction returns  full upon me; I am fully convinced it is not my  Duty to tarry long in this Situation. these People  have two Ministers who come once or twice a Year  give them the sacrament of the Lords supper; assures  them their sins are pardoned, and leave them to practice wick‐ edness in Perfect Security. And so long as this Dia‐ bolical Practice (forgive the boldness) is continued it  will doubtless be the Judgment that will harden  these People for Destruction. should there be no farthe[gap: worn_edge][guess: r]  good appearance among the Indians, nor any direction  from you (which I beg of you to send if Possible), I shall  set out on my return the begining of november
I heard by a Letter from Rev. Mr. Kirtland that he was well that  all things went on well, and he hoped some success. But that  Johnson is not yet settled in his school at Old Oneida  where John Mohawk Kept last Summer. Mr. Johnson's horse  was stole from a Pasture last Saturday evening. he set  out in quest of her on sunday and is not yet returned.  I have spent part of 3 Days in a Journey after her but to no  purpose unless she is found by the advertisements I ordered  up. You desire sir my account, I can only say it will by  the Last of this month be more than £20. I should not have been  so much in Debt, had not I had an interpreter to hire at 20/  per week; and Jacob left unexpectedly on my hands, which,  together with my Debts being somthing greater in the  Spring than I expected, was like to run my in Debt  in spite of all my Prudence and making  myself a perfect Begger most of the summer. and to add to my  misfortune I swapped my mare because she pestered me a little  with running off; for a horse, which soon got so lame, that I cant  ride him and shall near lose him. I cant procure a pacing Jade  here which will answer my turn under £10 or £11 Lawful Money  to pay which, and my Interpreter, and settle my other accounts for  myself and Jacob Fowler, and bringing me home I think I shall  want about 20 Pounds. Give my Duty to Madam and proper  respects to all the family and School, and know
Rev. Sir I Remain  your unworthy yet obedient  Servant. Theophilus Chamberlain
To Rev. Mr. Wheelock