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The sufferings of this little colony, and its worthy founder, were not inconsiderable during several months from their arrival, and even to the following spring. Their removal proved too late in the season, and preparations for their reception, from various circumstances, were far from that state of forwardness, which was intended. Failing to obtain water by digging wells near where their first house was erected, he was compelled to change its situation, after the arrival of his family. Many were necessitated to sleep several nights on the ground, with boughs of trees for beds, and sheltered from the nightly dews and rains, by a few boards raised over them on poles. The country all around was new, and the few dispersed inhabitants poor. Such is commonly the condition of the first settlers of a new soil. In clearing the ground, and making it productive of necessary food for man and beast, and constructing buildings to shelter them from the elements, they are obliged for a few years to submit to much toil and hardship; after which, they see with pleasure an annual increase of wealth and enjoyments
. The prospect of acquiring these stimulates exertion; and, although their condition appears by no means enviable, no people are more cheerful or happier than the first settlers of a wilderness.
Accommodations had been retarded, as was suggested, by disappointment in not finding water, where the first experiments were made. After digging more than sixty feet in that part of the plain where they first began to clear the ground, and finding no stream or fountain near, they removed sixty rods southerly, where they found water at a convenient depth. Had their wells failed of water here, they were not very distant from a beautiful perennial stream, which runs along the declivity of the plain.
On that stream Doctor Wheelock had directed a saw and grist mill to be built, but by some failure in the construction, they did not answer any valuable purpose. In this new scene of life, he felt much anxiety for the comfort of his numerous dependants. He was obliged to send a great distance into Massachusetts and Connecticut, for necessary provisions, and by untoward accidents, and at that season, from the badness of the roads, supplies were sometimes scanty, and they submitted to coarse fare.
Upon a circular area of about six acres, the pines were soon felled, and in all directions covered the ground to the height of about five feet.* Paths of communication were cut through them. The lofty tops of the surrounding forests were often seen bending before the northern tempest, while the air below was still and piercing. The snow lay four feet in depth, between four and five months. The sun was invisible by reason of the trees, until risen many degrees above the horizon. In this secluded retreat, and in these humble dwellings, this enterprizing colony passed a long and dreary winter. The students pursued their studies with diligence; contentment and peace were not interrupted, even by murmurs.
The venerable president directed the attention of his pupils to the signal smiles of heaven upon the institution, which were witnessed by its rapidly increasing prosperity from a small beginning, through seemingly insurmountable discouragements. He observed to them that, the cause, he doubted not, was the cause of God; that he would own and succeed it; and that his great concern in the whole business was, to follow the pointings of his providence. He derived support from the example of the prophet Elisha (ii. Kings, vi. 1-7.) who founded a college, or school of prophets in the wilderness of Jordan, by the divine direction, for the preservation and diffusion of true religion, and in circumstances bearing considerable analogy to his.
* The author measured one of those pines, which was from the butt to the top, two hundred and seventy feet.
In the midst of the unpleasant scenes of this first winter, it pleased God to grant a token of his favorable presence, by an uncommon solemn attention of the students, and others of his family, to the great concerns of their salvation. Many of them became the hopeful subjects of renewing grace, to the great joy of the President and the friends of religion. In the month of January, 1771, he, to use his own expression, gathered a church in his college and school, consisting of about thirty members, who cheerfully entered into solemn covenant, by a dedication of themselves to God and a religious life.
The gloomy face of winter assumed for a season a milder aspect.
The weather was more temperate and pleasant, so that the workmen had opportunity to render the buildings more convenient and secure. Sometimes, standing in the open air, at the head of his numerous family, Doctor Wheelock presented to God, their morning and evening prayers ; the surrounding forest, for the first time, reverberated the solemn sounds of supplication and praise.
Numerous hands were employed, during the succeeding summer, in cutting and piling the timber, with a view to burn it, but the fire could not consume it until the second year, when it was more thoroughly dried. After the trees were removed the ground remained cover
ed with stumps, the digging of which, and conveying them away, presented a still greater task than that already accomplished. Dr. Wheelock, desirous to derive, as soon as possible, the necessary provision from the soil, to free himself from irksome uncertainty as to supplies, very early employed a large number of laborers on the college and school lands in the vicinity.
Those unacquainted with the business of clearing new lands, in a country so heavily timbered, and preparing them for seed, can form but an imperfect idea of the requisite labor and expence. Large sums were thus necessarily expended. It unfortunately happened that the lands cleared for pasturage and grass, were in a year or two covered with a wild, exuberant growth of wood, particularly the maple and cherry tree, and in a few years the labor of clearing the second tiine, became greater than the first.
The remarkable occurrences attending the removal of the school and college, and their establishment at Hanover, cannot be fully and clearly described, nor can they be conceived except by those who have witnessed similar scenes. The temper and spirit of the time may in some degree be imagined from a poem, written by one of the students on the spot, a member of the senior class,* which I have taken the liberty to insert in the appendix. (h)
* Rev. Levi Frisbie, late of Ipswich, now deceased.
GOVERNOR WENTWORTH's FRIENDSHIP TO THE COLLEGE
MISSIONARIES GO FORTH AMONG DISTANT TRIBES-ARE DRIVEN BACK-WAR BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND THE CO. LONIES—COLLEGE AND SCHOOL POSSESS APPROPRIATE FUNDS.
DESIROUS of conferring on the institution every advantage of respectability in the province, Governor Wentworth proposed to give it civil jurisdiction, by an incorporation, over three
His chief design was to secure, in the vicinity of the College, the settlement of good inhabitants, and to shut out those whose influence and example might give disturbance to the government of the College, or become injurious to the morals of the students. The agitated condition of political affairs, which preceded the American revolution, prevented the execution of this salutary establishment. He conferred on Doctor Wheelock a special commission of Justice of the quorum. He granted to the College a charter of the ferry over Connecticut river, at Hanover. · At the time the College and School were established in Newhampshire, no public literary institution existed in that province. The Governor appreciated the advantages of so respectable a seminary, to diffuse the blessings of science and morals among the people of his government, who were in these respects, with the exception of some very respectable literary characters, rather behind some of the neighboring colonies. Most of the settlements were more recent, and the county enjoyed few advantages for intellectual improvement.
Governor Wentworth was universally respected by the people of his government, and did nuch