Collections and Personal Papers:


Diaries of Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck
1852 Diary - January

Note: A small number of words in the diary were illegible and appear as underlined blanks.

The following is autobiographical information provided by Peck at the beginning of his first diary in 1852.

Jesse T. Peck, fifth son & eleventh child of Luther and Annis Peck, born in Middlefield Otsego Co. State of New York Apl. 4. 1811. Family religion impressed me so early that I can not tell when I first believed in the Bible, a God. The duty of piety - the wrong & evil of sin - heaven and hell. My earliest recollections are of my own wickedness and dreadful fears of death and hell.

The guide of my childish thots was my sister Betsey. She taught me the first letters of the Alphabet - gave me private lessons in virtue manners and elocution. First started in my mind the idea of success & infused the element of courage.

My first school teacher was the Rev. Reuben Reynolds - then a local preacher in the M. E. C - Afterwards a member of the Black River Conference - A man of genius, & enthusiasm. He taught me the remaining letters of the Alphabet. Taught me when I could not name a letter or a word to "call it something" which I did uttering the guess at the top of my voice.

I was carried to school all winter by my worthy brother George now Rev. Dr. Peck who saw my eagerness to learn & would not allow it to be surpressed The snow was deep - the drifts were very high - the distance was 3/4 mile The school house was of split logs. This was his last winters schooling and my first - our old eacher yet lives - is a man of marked character is still effective. We revere him. He has had a decided influence over my destiny.

Went to school with little sister S. to one of our Sisters. One of the three usually taught 3/4 mile West or 1 mile East. We were examples of fraternal affection - Carried our little basket of dinner one hold of one side the other of the other - sat down to rest by the way - always shared each others joys & sorrows. I did not like to associate with the boys - they were so rough - used to throw me down knock off my hat- rub my face in the snow and seemed generally to delight in afflicting me. I could not retaliate. I was feeble in childhood. They were stronger than I. And I hence avoided them when I could. They laughed at me for that but I used to keep close to my little sister. She was 3 yrs. older than I. Would run to me when I was in trouble - Wipe the tears from my eyes - lift me up from the mud or snow and throwing her arms around my neck kiss my griefs away.

I could beat all my associates in reading. Arithmetic & Grammar but not in spelling or writing. My memory of particulars was always poor but of principles, good. My nerves were so weak that my hand trembled & spoiled my writing. All my successes excited the jealousies & my failures the ridicule of the rude cruel boys but I was a favorite with the girls of the school. I kept this company with my little sister & always shared this sympathy in trouble.

My feelings from a child were tender. I remember distinctly crying as if my heart would break at parting with my brothers - at the sight of pain or death even of a calf or lamb or colt.

I was sometimes angry but could sometimes not retain it. I generally wept with sorrow when I had a little time to reflect. I ran instantly to relieve a sufferer - divided my dinner with a poor hungry child and took the part of every one whom I saw - persecuted or neglected.

I was generally happy. I ran & jumped & laughed & played until completely exhausted.

I was not without courage when sure I was right but if I ever attempted anything by way of resentment my conscience accused me so bitterly that I was glad to abandon it. In all sports I was forward active & successful, often exceeding in perseverance those who were older & stronger than I.

Daily Memoranda
January 1852

THURSDAY, January 1. 1852
My first entry in a diary at home in Dickinson College. Spent the last evening at a watch night in the M. E. C. with Rev. Mr. Brison. About 200 present. A good sound sermon on time Deep solemnity. I spoke 40 ms. Deep searchings of heart - made solemn vows. Enter upon the year feeling that I am a dying man.

FRIDAY, January 2
At home - enjoying sweet rest one day more with my family before beginning college duties - spent evening with Dr. Mc. C. & Prof. M & our ladies at Prof. Johnsons - Subject of conversation reform movements in the M. E. Church started in Pha. Seemed to be almost alone in opposition. Expressed the opinion that the culminating point will be radicalism - schisms & secession Lay [repre__ __] be granted.

SATURDAY, January 3
A day of considerable enjoyment. Delivered the usual opening address. Read & commented upon the Statutes. Dwelt particularly upon the family relations recognized by the board. Students were respectful & generally seemed interested. Oh the dangers of young men. May God preserve them. Went to the cars to meet Rev. S. Kay from an African Missionary.

SUNDAY, January 4
Enjoy this holy day with our worthy guest Br. K. He is a very interesting man and I believe devoutly pious. Conversation at our time turned upon holiness. He seemed surprised at our theorizing here - differences &c. Very few debates among Wess. in England on the subject All Sound - Believe in 2d Blessing &c. Went with him to dine at Prof. Ms. Enjoyed a precious communion [____]. He preached an excellent sermon in Eve.

MONDAY, January 5
Spent the day with my excellent friend Mr. K. Long conversation on the Aborigines of Africa. They distinguish between right and wrong upon basis of interest - punish theft - Show shame for illicit intercourse - Sympathy with suffering. Women weep but not men. Carry all sickly likely to die into the woods destroyed by beasts - Polluted by touch of dead bodies - practice circumcision Deny sepulture to all but king & queen. If one dies before removal house & all burned.

TUESDAY, January 6
Parted with my friend in cars Heard my first recitation for the Term in moral science Junior class - Much office business accumulated. Must hurry it through. At 6 1/2 Eve. Attended Leavers meeting. Nearly all the time spent in conversing informally upon the reform measures in our church. Took the ground that there is no power in the M. E. Ch. Competent to admit lay representation. Some talk on both sides.

WEDNESDAY, January 7
I greatly fear for individuals and societies in this new agitation in the M. E. C. The Church will be borne through in triumph. I have confidence in God. He has not yet done with Methodism. But I feel thousands will perish as the result of the excitement. My class day today. 3 pres. bad walking.

THURSDAY, January 8
God helps me in secret prayer. It has been a general fault with me to be too soon satisfied in private devotions. I have succeeded better in audible prayer than in silent prayer. More likely to get blessed in family or public prayer. Have regretted this. Am thankful for improvement in secret devotions. My set time for reading the Bible & pr. More strictly adhered to.

FRIDAY, January 9
A precious season in secret prayer this morning. A young man called at my request. He professed conversion last fall - Indications of backsliding - Had a close searching conversation with him about the state of his soul & his religious habits. Makes fair promises. But alas poor human nature! May God help him.

SATURDAY, January 10
A day without incident but not profitless; metaphysical discussion with Prof. J. Mentioned plan of my lecture Studies & writing.

1. Methodology of the Science 2. Phenomanology of mind 3. Origin of phenomena Significance of phenomena 4. Scope of science Sphere of [_____] & faith. Have commenced! When shall I finish-

SUNDAY, January 11
Just at ch. time recd. a message to go in haste to the house of my venerated friend Rev. Elisha Butler of the Bat. bon. Found him in the agonies of death - wandering - I took him by the hand and knelt in prayer. He soon became calm & recollected. Tried to respond - At length uttered audibly "Amen" - "Glory" - "rest with his people" "Amen" - "Amen". A hard struggle followed. After which he became easy & sweetly breathed his last.

MONDAY, January 12
Delivered my first philosophical lecture. It was introductory to a course of immense labour which I fear I shall never be able to finish.

For near fifteen years I have been thinking of devoting the best part of my life to philosophical studies with the hope of producing a view of mind from a Meth. St. pt.

TUESDAY, January 13
Went to Harrisburg to see Kossuth. Allowed the Students to go. My reasons are the intense public interest felt in the man & his cause - the moral grandeur of his position as the representative of liberty - the heroism of his life - the singular combination of greatness popularity & piety indicated by his inimitable speaking did not come. Spent the evening writing an address to him behalf students & Fac.

WEDNESDAY, January 14
Remained in Harrisburg. Went to Hall of Representatives with members of Faculty about 2 P.M. to wait till 4 - to see the great Magyar Compelled to risk loss of my seat to redeem my pledge to see Mrs. A. Seated - went out after her. Returned in haste with her & Mrs. S. & got my seat again - Great disturbance . Ks. [Kossuth] came near Six - had the honor of a private interview for college at [___] hotel. Delivered address received a most beautiful reply.

THURSDAY, January 15
At home - This evening held our usual family meeting for the promotion of holiness - Four dear young brethren from the college were in with us - It was a precious season - We were much humbled by a sense of our unworthiness. Had power with God - All Spoke - Eleven of us- what pantings after God - For more than three years we have kept up these meetings - small - but powerful.

FRIDAY, January 16
No incidents - Regular Friday evening prayer meeting - My habit for the whole of my time here has been to lead this meeting. The other officers of the Coll. rarely attend Prof. W. & Prof. J. Sometimes From 20 to 40 young men attend - We have many precious seasons. There are many in college who fear God and are trying to improve.

SATURDAY, January 17
Left in company with Dr. Wentworth to attend a dedication in Greencastle. Was introduced to Judge K. He adopts the views of Kossuth in relation to international law. These views are rapidly extending - In the stage from C. to G. We met a Gentleman just from a town in Europe. He says uneasiness in Rome - Multitudes in worse condition than our slaves - Prince owns the soil Lets & taxes as he pleases - No schools in Italy.

SUNDAY, January 18
A stormy day, great disappointment. Hope people would come in from the circuit & assist - Storm prevented. Debt of $650 - raised $180 - Preached dedicatorial on the immortality of the ch. Had a good time - Spoke with ease & effect - Believe God was with us - Preached P.M. in [Pn.?] Church from sympathy of Jesus - A precious season - calm without dullness - forc[e]able without vociferation - Dr. W. Preached Eve.

MONDAY, January 19
For the sake of meeting the cars took sleigh at a little befor 9 Sunday eve. Rode 12 M. to Ch P. cars did not go - great disappointment - Was waited on by a Comt proposing I shld. lecture in place of Prof. T. who could not get there. Proposed I should lecture on Kossuth, I consented - Courthouse filled at 12 1/2 cents each - Such enthusiasm I never saw - I took general survey of political conditions of Europe &c.

TUESDAY, January 20
Entered the cars for home at about 8 1/2 Am & [r___] till 4 1/2 P.M. getting to Carlisle. Snow terribly drifted. Had three powerful engines - well managed. Frequently stopped - Engines stuck in drift - shoveled out. Had eight or ten more with shovels to help. The winter is unprecedented - cars could not get through to Harrisburg.

WEDNESDAY, January 21
Engaged much of the day trying to get wood for college The mistaken kindness of our Steward has allowed his contractors to draw wood at their leisure - Expecting open winter as usual no party urged the matter - Here we are in the midst of winter with almost no wood - Just snatching a little here & there to keep from freezing - Hardest time I ever knew - class this P.M.

THURSDAY, January 22
This blessed evening we met again for our special prayer & experience meeting. Every one present seemed to feel that the searcher of hearts was with us. We speak without disguise - Almost without reservation. We plead with God for the special baptism of the Holy Spirit. We "reprove rebuke exhort with all long suffering & patience."

FRIDAY, January 23
The college prayer meeting was this evening unusually spiritual. The dear young men seemed in earnest for the salvation of their souls & those of their fellow students. I felt much strengthened.

The Faculty meeting follows the prayer meeting. It was as usual an improfitable meeting. I believe these meetings have for a period of 15 years were more injurious to me than all my other associations.

SATURDAY, January 24
This day started for Ch[a]mbersburg - Recd. a paper from that place just as I was starting, continued very flattering allusions to my Kossuth speech. I mention it here for the purpose of recording my sorrow that I felt as degree of pleasure in praise which I ought not to feel. I prayed against it - Resolved against it. At C. saw another paper still more flattering & was obliged to condemn my feelings.

SUNDAY, January 25
Much self - examination & I trust penitence in view of the feelings of Self-congratulation of yesterday. God have mercy on me. I profess entire Sanctification - Must have a deeper baptism - Here by do offer myself - my all to God - and will begin over again - Can not be satisfied with this rising of self - The Lord save me fully for Ch. sake - Preached morning on the name "Jesus" A sweet time - Eve - Mat. 24. 14 - A Missionary sermon - vast Audience

MONDAY, January 26
A successful effort to raise money cash & pledges $252.63 $20.00 more than one dol. per member. A little more than at any former period. Felt thankful but humbled. Thank God no disposition to take praise to myself.

Home again at 9 1/2 A.M. Found the national preacher with my sermon on the baptism of the Holy Ghost the great [____ ____] of the church.

TUESDAY, January 27
Trying to bring up my correspondence. Attended Leaders meeting. Found the finances of the station miserably behind. Upon the whole the Methodist people make hard work of raising money for the support of preachers. There are two reasons for this. Their members are not brt. into it. Do not form the habit of giving. Their rich men give too little.

WEDNESDAY, January 28
Class meeting - very small number. Compared with other classes my class generally very well attended. But upon the whole I fear this ancient and distinguishing Institution of Methodism is losing its hold upon our people - The great majority stay away or attend but seldom. This is a bad indication Close examination of Christian experience is not agreeable to wordly profession.

THURSDAY, January 29
Our lovely Thursday night meeting was interrupted tonight by a temperance meeting appointed for the same hour. But a few of our dear young men came in and we bowed down in prayer together. We were together but a few moments but they were precious moments. Oh how my soul was drawn out in prayer for the sanctification of these young men - They seemed in right good earnest.

FRIDAY, January 30
College prayer meeting better attended this evening than usual. Alone with the young men & God. There was much fervour in prayer. I trust we are gathering a little strength. The moral power of the college it is supposed was never stronger. We have perfect peace very few cases of discipline. Such improvement in the tone of an Institution I never saw.

One Faculty meeting with very little nonsense - Thank God for one.

SATURDAY, January 31
In declamation more than any where else I can see the improvement in the order of college. It is my duty to preside. For much of the time until this year it has been by far my most unpleasant regular duty. But all its unpleasantness has passed. If any sudden excitement starts the stamping or other noisy demonstrations I stop it instantly by the waiving of my hand.

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