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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

How President Myles Cooper Ran away

By Thomas Jones (1731–1792)

[Born in Fort Neck, Queens County, New York, 1731. Died at Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England, 1792. History of New York. First published from the MS., edited by E. F. de Lancey, 1879.]

IN August, 1775, a mob, or rather a select party of Republicans, of which John Smith and Joshua Hett Smith were the two most forward, collected together in the evening at a public-house, and after swallowing a proper dose of Madeira, set off about midnight with a full design of seizing the Rev. Dr. Cooper, then President of Kings College, in his bed, of shaving his head, cutting off his ears, slitting his nose, stripping him naked, and turning him adrift (as the expression was). Luckily for the President, a student, who had been out that night, in returning to his chambers overtook these bravos on their way, and overhearing their conversation, instantly took to his heels, and by turning through alleys and taking a nearer course than the assassins, he arrived at the President’s room just time enough to give him information of his danger. Rising from his bed, and huddling on some of his clothes, he jumped out of a back window, a few minutes before the rascals entered the front door of the college. Having luckily escaped the intended violence, he took refuge in the house of a friend, was concealed till the morning, and then safely conveyed on board one of his Majesty’s ships in the harbor, from whence he sailed for England. Upon his arrival he had two livings given him, both good ones; the first in Berkshire, the second at Edinburgh, in Scotland, where he principally resided. One day in the summer of 1785 he went to dine with a gentleman, a particular friend and acquaintance of his, who not being at home, the Doctor repaired to a tavern, ordered a dinner, and while it was preparing dropped down dead.

Among his papers the following epitaph was found:

  • Here lies a priest of English blood,
  • Who living liked whate’er was good,
  • Good company, good wine, good name,
  • Yet never hunted after fame;
  • But as the first he still preferred,
  • So here he chose to be interred,
  • And, unobserved, from crowds withdrew,
  • To rest among a chosen few,
  • In humble hope that divine love
  • Will raise him to the bles’t above.
  • His library sold for £5, the liquors in his cellar for £150. He was buried a few miles from Edinburgh, at the place of depositing the Episcopal ministers who die in that city; this accounts for the words in his epitaph, “to rest among a chosen few.”

    I knew him well. He was honest, just, learned, and liberal; judicious, sensible, friendly, and convivial; he loved good company, and good company loved him; he was by no means dissipated. He loved God, honored his King, esteemed his friends, and hated rebellion. This tribute is due to my deceased friend. I lived with him for several years in the utmost harmony, friendship, and familiarity. Though he was rather hasty in his temper, I scarcely ever saw him in a passion. Rebellion provoked him of all things. Through his means Kings College was raised in reputation, superior to all the colleges upon the continent, and, under his tuition, produced a number of young gentlemen superior in learning and abilities to what America had ever before seen.