Philander Chase



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Trip to Oxford and St. Mary' s Church. Chase is amazed at the pious behavior of the men at the school there. Learns about the spot where Archbishop Cranmer was put to death.




London, England


England voyage, Oxford, Oriel College, St. Mary's Church, Reverend Johnson, Archbishop Cranmer


To T. Wiggin Esq.

London Nov 18th 1823

Very dear Friend:

When calling at the house of the Rev. Mr. [Spring] in Birmingham I found he had gone to Oxford: and as I intended to go through that place on my way to London Mrs. [Spring] inclosed the note of introduction with another letter, from the Rev Mr. Johnson lying by her, red since Mr. [Spring] went from home, and addressed the envelope to him at the house of the Provost of Oriel College Oxford. This she begged me to deliver. I had therefore nothing further to do at B: but to take some rest, (which I much needed having slept very little in the coach) and be ready to set off for O. at 6 o’clock.

We arrived at, “the Angel” Inn about three in the morning: and after a few hours sleep and a refreshing Breakfast, I called (half after nine) on Mr. S. at the house of the Provost of Oriel. I found him alone taking breakfast and preparing the appointed preacher for the morning. It seems that the Divine Service on these days is performed in each College separately, and that the officer and fellows of the several colleges meet in St. Mary’s Church to hear the sermon only. The Preacher, however, previously to the commencement of his sermon solemnly professes his duty to offer up prayers continually for the good estate of Christ Church militant for the thing and all in lawful authority; and as a testimony of the same cases with repeating the Lord’s prayer. As I witnessed this “Bidding of prayers” performed in the impressive manner of the Rev. Mr. [Spring] and reflected that this in which he stood was the very pulpit from which that sainted Martyr and venerable Prelate, Cranmer, the Archbishop of Cany was addressed for [the] last time I could not but feel a sacred awe seldom, if ever, before experienced. How august the scene; and how solemn the effect! How thus effectually was the moral soil prepared for the good seed of God’s holy word!

I have just mentioned the impressive manner of the Rev. Mr. [Spring]. The matter of his sermon was, if I may be allowed to judge, in no respect inferior to his manner. Chaste in his language, forcible in his reasoning and clear in his arrangement: I must confess him an excellent preacher.

After Sermon we walked round the hallowed ground of Oxford Churches and Colleges. “Here” said he as we passed a particular spot “here was Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer put to death - here were their earthly bodies consumed by the flames; and here their spirits ascended to Heaven. How these words and this scene affected me I leave you to judge for I cannot describe. I went to the “Angel” and soon N[?] to me [?] presented me the respectful compliments of the Provost of Oriel inviting me to dinner: which invitation I accepted; and after attending Church in the afternoon waited on the Provost. He recd m very graciously and after dinner invited me to attend prayers in the College Chapel. The Service was performed by the vice Provost the Rev. Mr. [?]. The Chapel was full of students and the whole solemnity conducted in the most pious manner. When I contemplated so many young men, all communicants of the Altar, worshipping in an [?] and reverent manner the God of Heaven and pouring out their prayers and praises with one voice thro’ Jesus Christ, I could hardly believe my self on earth. The insight, though faint, which St. John’s has given us of the celestial worship made me almost fancy I was in coming to England mistaken in the faith which led me, and had been conducted to the happy place where we all are longing finally to arrive.

After prayers were over we [?] to the Provost’s Study. I can not say too much in praise of this gentleman. I think if I were to describe from so short an acquaintance, a most perfect gentleman scholar and [Christian] minister, I should desire the Provost of Oriel [...] for the picture.

I am sorry to add that from the conversation with which the Rev. Mr. [Spring] hond me, i have but faint hopes of success in the errand which brought me to this country. He is the particular friend of the Rt. Rev. Bishop of N. York namely opponent and, as I understand, had seen him on his way to London. Trusting however in the directing and sustaining hand of the Good God who “has hitherto helped” I shall go on, I hope in the way which his holy providence shall point out. If I fail I hope and pray for a spirit of resignation. He being my helper, not a [?] word against Him, nor an unforgiving [syllable] against my opposers, shall escape my lips.

I have taken lodging at No. 10 Feather-Stone Buildings near Holborn, where I hope now and then to receive a line from one whom I shall never cease to love.

Please to make my respectful compliments acceptable to Mrs. W. Do not forget me when speaking to Mis L[?] at to your lovely children.

Ever most gratefully yours

P. Chase

Letter to Timothy Wiggin



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