Weekly Story: You Dog

Weekly Story

An Eighteenth Century Puritan promotes a new medical procedure in Boston. He meets resistance.


… I write a further and a more distinct Account of the Small-Pox Inoculated, … By which Means, I hope, some hundreds of thousands of Lives, may in a little while come to be preserved.—30.




14. G. D. What an Occasion, what an Incentive, to have PIETY, more than ever quicken’d and shining in my Family, have I this morning been entertained withal!

My Kinsman, the Minister of Roxbury, being Entertained at my House, that he might there undergo the Small-Pox Inoculated, and so Return to the Service of his Flock, which have the Contagion begun among them;

Towards three a Clock in the Night, as it grew towards Morning of this Day, some unknown Hands, threw a fired Granado into the Chamber where my Kinsman lay, and which uses to be my Lodging-Room. The Weight of the Iron Ball alone, had it fallen upon his Head, would have been enough to have done Part of the Business designed. But the Granado was charged, the upper part with dried Powder, the lower Part with a Mixture of Oil of Turpentine and Powder and what else I know not, in such a Manner, that upon its going off, it must have splitt, and have probably killed the Persons in the Room, and certainly fired the Chamber, and speedily laid the House in Ashes.1 But, this Night there stood by me the Angel of the GOD, whose I am and whom I serve; and the merciful Providence of GOD, my SAVIOUR, so ordered it, that the Granado passing thro’ the Window, has by the Iron in the Middle of the Casement, such a Turn given to it, that in falling on the Floor, the fired Wild-fire in the Fuse was violently shaken out upon the Floor, without firing the Granado. When the Granado was taken up, there was found a Paper so tied with String about the Fuse, that it might out-Live the breaking of the Shell, which had these words in it; COTTON MATHER, You Dog, Damn you: I’l inoculate you with this, with a Pox to you.2

Diary of Cotton Mather.

1. I remember to have seen the shell, which was not filled with powder but a mixture of brimstone with bituminous matter.—Thomas Hutchinson, Footnote, The History of Massachusets-Bay (1767).

2. In his newspaper account of the incident, Mather made the paper read: “Cotton Mather, I was once one of your Meeting, but the cursed Lie you told of ———, you know who, made me leave you, you Dog; And,” etc. Printed in the Boston News-Letter November, 20, 1721.

Courtesy of Democratic Thinker.

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