CHAPTER II
CHILDHOOD

1. A SON IS BORN

ON February 6, 1756, Esther Burr was "unexpectedly delivered of a Son," and "had a fine time altho it pleased God in infinite wisdome so to order it that Mr. Burr was from home." But, she rattled on, "I had a very quick & good time. A very good laying in till a but 3 weeks, then I had the Canker very bad, & before I had recovered of that my little Aaron (for so we call him) was taken very Sick so [that] for some days we did not expect his life. He has never been so well Since tho he is comfortable at present."1 His sister Sally was almost two now. There were to be no more children. Tragedy was lurking in the shadows.

But the protagonists did not know it at the time. They were still at Newark, in the parsonage at the juncture of Broad and William. The College buildings were growing slowly. Esther Burr was in raptures over them. "The College," she exclaims lyrically, "is a Famious building I assure you & the most commodious of any of the Colleges as well as much the largest of any upon the Continent. There is Somthing very Striking in it & a grandure & yet a Simplicity [that] cant well be expressed."2

Her husband was noticeably more controlled in his enthusiasms.

"We have begun a Building at Princeton," he wrote his Scotch correspondent, "which contains a Hall Library & Rooms to accommodate about an 100 Students, tho it will not any more of it be finished than is absolutely necessary at present, with an house for the President. We do everything in the plainest & cheapest manner, as far as is consistent with Decency & Convenience, having no superfluous ornaments." But he is satisfied. The students are behaving well. There are, in fact, some among them "that give good evidences of real Piety, & a prospect of special Usefullness in the Churches of Christ."3 That, after all, was the all-important thing: The training of missionaries to spread the new unrest, the inner agitation, to all America.

Little Aaron was only six months old when a company of soldiers was quartered on the parsonage unexpectedly. Esther was not pleased. That night she scribbled in her diary:" 50 Soldiers to

-14-

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