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Diary of Hiram Harvey Hurlburt Jr: Chapter 4

I am not college educated, but I was once the cause of a sensation in President Bates classroom in Middlebury College. It was at the time of my Uncle Ward Bullard’s scholarship there. He had promised me repeatedly, if I came to Middlebury to call on him and he would show me around. I was past my sixth year.

It happened one day I was out to call with my grandmother Hurlburt on my father’s uncle Nathaniel Harvey. When I came there I was in great quest to see Middlebury College. My opinion of the institution were doubtless very extravagant. To my youth it was the position required. I had studied faithfully on the front page of Websters Spelling Book a wood cut that gave to you a Greek Temple, also a man with a boy by the hand, this boy was looking up to the man, who was pointing to the temple, the lower sign to the sight was “know thyself.” Then above this was the word. “Knowledge.” Then on a dome the highest elevation, the word “Fame.”

I had arranged in my own mind that this College was the ultimate end to aspire to. Uncle Nathaniel’s oldest son “Lafayette” was told to take me down there to see Uncle Ward. Lafayette understood all about the rooms and times of lessons, he was some three years older than myself, and had always lived in close acquaintance to the buildings and grounds. Lafayette took me first to Uncle Ward’s room not finding him there, he went with me to the recitation room of the Senior Class whose teaching was presided over by the President. Lafayette pointed to the door and I opened and went in and to my surprize he did not follow.

The President was sitting there in black gown. And he inquired! “Who I wished to see?” Uncle Ward Bullard I replied. There was a general shaking of laughter in the class, which occupied one side of the room! The President then said, “Mr Bullard, You may see what the young gentleman wishes.” My Uncle showed me over the Museum and it was a wonderful hour of sightseeing, and, as I look at it now it was a break in the quietness of that recitation room when I made the abrupt call.

This Lafayette had peculiar qualities. Sometime after he came out to Quaker Village and stopped at John Robbins my uncle, where my grandmother Hurlburt lived. Then he came down to our house giving me an invitation to go in the creek and bathe, at the end of the street there, was the usual bathing ground for the village. We both went in the water, and I found that I was much more use to swimming ??? there. Grandmother was sure my parents knew nothing about my being in the water, so she questioned me, “When I learned to swim?” This I could not answer as it seemed to me I had known how for a long time, and there was no time I could name when the art was learned.

There was considerable talk to father from grandmother and mother. I will explain: As many had comparatively been drowned in Otter Creek children and grown up persons – it was complained that the water had peculiar strangling qualities; but I have ascertained, since that the water is fairly average for purity to other streams in this State.

This winter a man came to our house and stayed several days, his business was to make all the shoes and boots for the coming year, as father has the leather from the tannery. The custom was to take the skins there, and they tanned for one half. This shoemaker’s name was Nathanial Boyington. He went home Saturday nights, then came back Monday, as he commenced to drive the wooden pegs in the soles he broke them off on which he made a great “how-to-go”. That we boys had been cracking butternuts with his hammer, Now nothing of the kind had happened so I concluded that he could tell things that were not so.

Some young men found he was visiting a house of ill repute; so they were equal to any lark, went there in a dark night, one of them was rigged up to impersonate the great enemy of mankind, fitted out with cloven feet, with a tail coiled up and resting on his left arm. He walked in where Boyington was sitting by the fireplace light. He spoke up “Nathaniel Boyington I have come for you!” Boyington’s reply was “Ready Sar.” It was reported that he was really frightened, and he stayed at his own domicile ever after.

(The full diary will be located here when complete.)

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