Philander Chase



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Philander Chase, Charles McIlvaine, Bishop McIlvaine, Kenyon College, debt, finances, truth, treatise


Truth is most essential in all things especially in those which relate to religion and religious men & measures and if there be any thing which proves the propriety of this remark it is the present state of Kenyon College. The astounding fact lately published to world that it was our thirty thousand dollars in debt begat an inquiry in both instantanious[sic] and universal How came it so?

This demand was as reasonable as spontanious[sic][.] Every man had a right to ask this question especially if he had already contributed to the Institution or were expected to give any thing in future to keep it from ruin and he might reasonably expect an answer to it and this expectation increased in confidence in proportion to the dignified character of the Head of the embarrassed Seminary and the means he had of knowing and investigating the truth. It was the Bishop who made the declaration to the world that Kenyon College was deeply in debt and could any but truth fall from his lips? But he might want the means of information. This would be a futile excuse; for all the means of understanding the subject had been from the beginning of his incumbency continually before him.

If it be said that the Trustees might have kept the means of a true Statement back from him. This also will fail of credence when it is considered that the Bishop has the immediate change and Superintendence of the Institution and has access to the books and the power to appoint or dismiss the clerks or agents as he might esteem them honest men or not. If it be said that the Bishop is not acquainted with accounts. The answer is immediately supplied that there were those in Ohio who did understand them and to such he ought to have recourse in a matter of this importance. If the excuse be that this might have escaped his recollection we should be sorry to have recourse to a proverb too old to gain said. “Est stulti [discere] non putaueram.[“]

If it be still averned that a Summary or a general statement was all that duty required in the Bishop in bringing the subject before his Convention. The answer is that to deal in generals is a matter wherein the public before whom the case must eventually be spread was not, is not, the thing most desired[.] It causes a sickening disappointment wherein the only thing desirable in answer to the great inquiry made is witheld[sic] in an accurate statement

To pretend to guide the public mind without affording the means to judge according to truth is somewhat like attempting to sail a vessel without chart or compass[.] If it be said that the Trustees had the means of correcting errors. The answer is Why were they not made to use those means when the power to make them do so was in the hands of the Bishop

And why was not this work done before a display of the account in full was made before the public? The present Bishop of Ohio seems to acknowledge that the display he has made in figures for the information of the public is incorrect. Indeed he says he has found it so but maintains that those mistakes would if brought to like militate in his favor[.] He mist pardon me if I withold[sic] my full confidence to his statement. Not that I doubt of his opinion to this effect but facts are the strongest arguments in the correction of error.

The following letters were written at my request[.] The reader will perceive they treat of the subject of the present indebtedness of Kenyon College with the sole view of obtaining the Truth of which the public ought to be possessed before they be called upon to give liberally to the great and most desirable object of seeing Kenyon College relieved of her present difficulties and once more in a flourishing condition[.]

Had the truth been attained without recurring to the necessity of publishing at great and to me most painful expense. I should certainly have desisted. But to my mind the thing was impossible after what appeared in the public prints over the signature of my Brother of Ohio[.]

It has been insinuated that I have no more to do with Kenyon College and its affairs than another man and there seems to be an inferance[sic] that my saying anything on the subject is impertinent[.] To this I answer unworthy as I am God hath made me not only the Founder but the Visitor ex officio of that Institution[.]

Instead of expediency I have tried to adopt Truth as my motto, my end and my aim[.] May God give me his grace not to swerve from this now I am old and grey headed[.] Peace without truth is injurious to the Church. She may look for strength within and victory over her enimies[sic] without with the approbation of her Lord, only when her minesters[sic] and members are humble enough to confess their faults and just enough to correct them when those who act for her are not backward to being their deeds to the light that it may be manifest that they are wrought in God.

May 5th 1843

Some observations of my own about Bp. McIlvaine’s address



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