Philander Chase



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The story of Andrew Burk's tragic death. The "Polly and Eliza" ship was destroyed and its passengers were shipwrecked on the coast of Cuba. Some property was lost.




My dear Brother,

I wrote you a long letter some little time since; but so many things have occurred that I cannot refrain from writing you another. Though it may tread [love] upon its precursor.

While I was in your good company at the North I frequently mentioned the names of Andrew Burk [?] the Gentleman with whom I boarded when in this City: and since our arrival this winter you have understood by our letters that the same person’s house was that in which we meet the kindest reception - and with whom we fixed our lodgings till we should go to keeping house. He had every reason to increase our love and esteem for this good Gentleman and his Lady Mrs. Burk - They were kind to us - they befriended us in every respect - and they stood high very high in the esteem of all who knew them - and that was the whole City. They had two Daughters, the elder about 4 years and the younger born and baptized by myself when in the family last winter. On the 4th of this present month we all rose in good health and remarkably cheerful, breakfasted together and went to our several employments. About 10 in the same morning the infant (which was the loveliest babe I ever saw) was taken ill with Convulsions. The Father was sent for from the Courting house and two physicians were immediately called in. No relaxations of the spasms could be obtained - but the fits grew evidently more and more violent. The Parents were in great distress as we all were at the agony which the dear Lamb endured. About 6 (all methods, all possible means having been pointlessly tryed) hope the fond comforter of a parent’s bosom began to retire and give way to despair of the Child’s recovery. The Father, who had set his heart on the baby on [?]ing its irrecoverable condition loose the floodgates of grief and despair which so overwhelmed the [the] powers of Reason that her voice could no longer be heard. Forgetting in the agony of Grief his tender wife and remaining Child - forgetting his aged Father and Brother who were wholy dependent on him on their only earthly sta[?] - forgetting the displeasure of This Heaven by Parent - He rose hastily from his seat - ran into the other room and drank the last drop of a Bottle containing L[?] enough to kill 20 men! Here a scene ensued which no words can describe. Within 15 minutes he was speechless - and a little more than one hour he was a Corpse!!! The horror - the uproar! The screaming of his little Daughter and Brother; the f[?] grief of his feble father and the shrieks of his wife flying from her prying infant to her murdered husband mingled with his deep and death-like groans!!! My Brother! I am too well to harrow up your feelings even with mention, a faint mention of this dreadful scene. The Child followed her Father into the Eternal World in about 2 hours - and the next day they were buried in one Grave.

The Regulations of the Church - and the very nature of Christianity forbade me to read the Burial service for the Father - I would discharge this du[t]y only to the Babe - commit only her body to the ground as the deceased member of the Christian family. Painful - in this case the most painful of all distinctions in the course of my whole life. He was my friend and like a Brother. He was a Warden of my Church and a Constant Attendant on the Worship of his Maker. - He must have been disarmed of his reason - For one fatal moment his accountability (I charitably hope) was taken away.

We intended by this time to have moved down - to own habitation in the Country: but for the sake of comforting and soothing the sorrows of this distressed family, we must defer it a few days.

I mentioned to you, in my last, the probable loss of the “Polly and Eliza” and Crew, as they had then not been heard of, though they sailed [?] 2th of December. Day before yesterday, the Crew and all the passengers arrived in a vessel from the Island of Cuba; or the coast of which their vessel [?] Polly and Eliza had been wrecked. Three weeks did they all, men women and children, remain in the open air on a desolate Beach or a kind of a sandy Island, at a Distance from the mainland, without being able to procure relief. During which time, they picked up some of their efforts, and those of the [?] vessel, among the which are a few things of my own - My Gig (or “Brig” as we used to call it which I used to rig to [?] so often in Vermont) is one thing this broke and maybe injured; a Carpet, one bed, and a table and a few small articles [?] the chief [?] of our Goods. Above this our loss (though considerable) we are not dejected - nor do we complain. The misfortunes are so much less than the [...] deserve not to be mentioned.

I have not, as yet, rec’d a letter from you, - I thought at first, this was the effect of your negligence, and felt hurt but now, I am convinced, that it is the consequences of bad regulations in the Post Offices. Yet I have rec’d a letter from Jed, and 2 from Brother Barcuh!!

I will write a postscript, where this is on the eve of Departure. This is written on Tuesday evening 8th of March 1807.

Tell Philander that Dick and W[?] and all his young sweethearts are saved - here in [?] brisk and [?].

Monday, 9th of March. Having nothing new to add I shall devote this to love and compliments. These I have in abundance for you - and your dear wife and darling [...] How are they? Do they study and learn their Books? Are they good, and obedient to your good and salutary Commands? Do they write to their ever affectionate parents? Do they say their prayers and learn this in the affirmative! Tell all our Relations and Friends in your vicinity that we think of them - love them and pray for them. Pray write me all the news and be particular. Remember I am far away - and want to hear everything about P[?] Bethel Royalton and Cornish. May God bless you - may peace be with your house and all that dwell therein.

Your loving B. P. Chase

Letter to Dudley Chase



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