Welcome to week 71 of Bidwell Lore! Last week we began a new series called “Reenacting an American Life,” where John Demos imagines two weeks of diary entries for Reverend Bidwell, one for a week in April 1752 and one for a week in December 1779-December 1780. For the first installment, which you can read HERE, we shared April 24-27. Today we share April 28-30.
Section 2 – April 28-30, 1752
28 (Friday)…Sun All Day
A.M. Digging stones with Scipio, in ye west field. I am so short for good hay that I sent one horse to neighbor Bailey and the other to Mr. Nathanial Cole. I hear that Nanny Parke is in such distraction as to go from her brother John’s in ye middle of night and wandered in ye woods at town line; may the Lord restore her senses. Mr. Samuel Foster came from Sutherland with a message from Mr. Strong to request me to go up there, inasmuch as the arbitrators in the affair of ye grant to proprietors were to meet, and my presence requested; he has sent to Mr. Phillips of Sheffield likewise. But I was obliged to deny. I have too much other employment, I have no horse and no prospect of getting one, and ye road said to be impassable. Mr. Griswold’s little Lucy (about 4 years old) was scalded by falling into a tray of hot water; Dr. Rufus Church attended on her, has hopes of her recovery. Rev. Williams of Longmeadow, his wife and sucking child came and dined here; their company and conversation very grateful to me.
P.M. William Hale here on account of private meeting tomorrow. Made more study and my preparations for ye Sabbath. I read ye life of ye eminently pious John Janeway, (1) which may God be graciously pleased to bless my quickening and eternal profit. I visit Mr. Giles Slater and his wife under their great affliction by their son Johnathan’s continuing lameness; he walks but little. Then to see Jemima Sedgwick, being under ye guilt of fornication. I solemnly called her to repentance. Toward eve walked to Mistress R. She now very indisposed to me. I resolve to see her no more. At my request she promised to burn my letters & poems, etc. At home late; much tossed in spirit, bad dreams, etc.
A.M. I was much interrupted by being obliged to go to ye meadow to mend fence that the cows might not break in upon Mr. Davis. Returned and had private meeting at Mr. Hale’s. I gave a particular exercise on Revelations 2, 10. May God be pleased to add his own efficacious blessing! Mr. Thomas Robbins was there before ye exercise began and manifested his disgust at me sermon on ye late Thanksgiving. He fault with my saying so much about signing ye praise of God. I replied that it was the very business of the day, the present truth—that if he was dissatisfied he had need ask himself whether it was not because he was out of tune. After ye exercise the young scholars sang a number of good tunes in parts. We had also a plentiful table spread, and agreeable entertainment.
P.M. Joseph Bailey goes on his journey to Westfield. He gives account of several preternatural births lately, and of ye worms destroying ye trees in his neighborhood. Mrs. Orton and her sister ye widow Dewey made me a kind visit. Brother Heath came up; we took tea, etc. By reason of so much company I was necessarily obliged to desist from what I was preparing for ye public tomorrow.
30 (Sunday)…Strong showers of rain
A.M. Preached on First Corinthians, 15, 2, which may God graciously accept and bless!
P.M. Repeated my sermon James 1, 22. I appointed and read Psalm 149, which was sung without reading the lines by Deacon. I made a short prayer, & ye sermon followed next. We prayed again and sung ye fifth hymn without reading, except my first reading over ye whole. In conclusion of ye exercise I pronounced the blessing. But then Silas Wadsworth, the master, began an exercise of singing—of anthems and hymns—which was very grateful, and may God condescend to accept ye sacrifice. I dined at brother Fuller’s. In the evening I was seized with shivering, and went to bed not well.
The diary continues next week….
(1) An English Puritan (1633-57) whose extraordinary piety and early “sanctified” death were long remembered in both Old and New England.