Cotton Mather singles out the sinners of Harvard. In this testimonial written by the celebrated clergyman and author, most likely in 1708, Mather gives opinions—based entirely on a second- and third-hand sources—of several students. One of these was Timothy Cutler (1684–1765) who graduated from Harvard at age 17 and went on to become Rector of Yale. The text is simply headed "Boston" and ends "Those things are testified by, Cotton Mather".
This breathless account of brazen all-night booze and card parties at Harvard reads like the work of an early 18th-century Cindy Adams, complete with the names of the malefactors helpfully underscored. "Besides many other bad accounts of such as I took to be good people which Mr. Joseph Parsons often gave me, when I had the infelicity of much conversation with him; I was particularly shock'd, when he assured to me, that several gentlemen found residing at the college, others visiting of it, near the time, when he told me the story, (which was about the winter of the year 1707) took the liberties of sitting up whole nights, or near so, at the game of cards; with a tankard of punch, to support the exercise. He affirmed, that he learn't it from the confession of some of the company: and that Mr. George Corwyn was one of the company; as also Mr. Whiting of Wyndom, who was then here occasionally: And that Mr. Timothy Cutler particularly said in his hearing, he would be for another bout, the next night, but only that he had been so tired with such an one the night before.
"Moreover, at no great distance from this time, and of several times, Mr. Joseph Parsons told me, that Mr. Coleman had informed him, that Mr. Pemberton had said unto him, (the third Mr. Coleman,) he was very glad; that he was now come into a turn and in the lecture because he (the said Mr. Pemberton) had now and there the withall. Adding, that Mr. Coleman had unto him (the said persons) express his dislike of that speech, and consider it an unbecoming one."
By the time Mather came to write this testimony, his influence had waned somewhat. The Salem witch trials were over and he had been passed over to succeed his father as president of Harvard in 1703. He set his sights on Yale, but did not become president there till 1721.
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