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[46] was excessive. His natural vanity was never subdued, though it was often chastened by trial and bitter disappointment. But, like his father, he was an omnivorous reader and a facile producer of books, carrying daily such burdens of mental and spiritual excitement as would have crushed a normal man. Increase Mather published some one hundred and fifty books and pamphlets: Cotton Mather not less than four hundred. The Rev. John Norton, in his sketch of John Cotton, remarks that “the hen, which brings not forth without uncessant sitting night and day, is an apt emblem of students.” Certainly the hen is an apt emblem of the “uncessant” sitter, the credulous scratcher, the fussy cackler who produced the Magnalia.

Yet he had certain elements of greatness. His tribal loyalty was perfect. His ascetic devotion to his conception of religious truth was absolute. His Diary, which has recently been published in full, records his concern for the chief political events in Europe in his day, no less than his brooding solicitude for the welfare of his townspeople, and his agony of spirit over the lapses of his wayward eldest son. A “sincere” man, then, as Carlyle would say, at bottom; but overlaid with such

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Richard Mather (2)
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