|Increase Mather - Cotton's Pappy|
|Mather's magnum opus - Magnalia Christi |
Americana - a history of New England
Ultimately Cotton Mather found his place in his world primarily through his writing. He was a prolific and diverse author, composing over 400 books in his lifetime on theology, politics, history and science. Mather was one of the early colonial proponents of germ theory and inoculations – scientific ideas that many clergy members opposed. He was also was an early proponent of hybridization in agriculture.
It is indicative of Mather’s wide influence beyond the Puritan world that he developed a relationship with a young BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Historian John Lienhard describes an incident that occurred on a visit by Franklin to Cotton Mather’s home. Franklin had been an apprentice to one of Mather’s scientific critics, but found the preacher/scientist’s writing intriguing. After a chat Franklin turned to leave.
“As Franklin was leaving, Mather shouted at him, "Stoop, stoop!" Too late! Franklin struck his head on the low doorjamb, and Mather intoned: "You are young, and have the world before you; stoop as you go through it, and you will miss many hard thumps." Franklin did not miss the point. Later he said, "I often think of [Mather's words] when I see pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high."
Cotton Mather has no relation to, and should not be confused with:
|Marshall Mathers, aka Eminen|
|Jerry Mathers, aka The Beaver|
All of the Mathers are buried in a single simple tomb at historic Copp’s Hill Burial Ground. It is a beautiful spot overlooking Old North Church in one direction and Breed’s and Bunker Hills across the Charles River in the other. (I found this short amateur Video somebody made on a tour as they walked through the cemetery on the way to the Mather site). Copp’s Hill is the second oldest burial ground in Boston and is directly on the Freedom Trail. As my picture (and the video) show, the tomb was in a sad state of disrepair. I would love to see more made of this historic family and their contribution to the religious and cultural heritage of our country. But the sad irony is that the Mathers and the Reformed theology they espoused are both disregarded in the New England that owes so much of its character to their formative influence.
Maybe Cotton Mather's own words offer a helpful perspective on posterity:
Cotton Mather has had a couple of interesting pop culture incarnations since he passed from the scene. Marvel comics created a villain for the Spider Man series in the seventies called Cotton Mather. Here’s a description:
promo for it.