Philander Chase



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Chase asks for Lord Kenyon's help in imploring Rev. Thomas Hartwell Horne to come to Ohio to run Kenyon College. Chase feels that Horne alone will bring the prestige and knowledge necessary to maintain the college.




General Convention, Rev. Thomas Hartwell Horne, British Critic, Ohio, Kenyon College, Bishop Jones, Nayland


Philadelphia 24 Nov.


My very Dear Lord Kenyon;

Our General Convention met: is over and nothing hostile to Ohio was enacted. A sentiment very favourable to my proceedings begins to pervade even the breasts of my enemies. My motto is – to fan the flame of discord but suffer the embers of strife to expire of themselves.

I do not think it my duty to return immediately to Ohio, being determined to make one serious, and perhaps last, effort to benefit our Seminary & College by promoting a Collection from my own Country. The Nature & Spirit of this new american Appeal in behalf of our Institution your Lordship will best perceive by a printed copy which is herewith most respectfully transmitted. What success will attend it God’s holy Providence alone can show. To Him I look; to Him I pray; for without His signal blessing there is not for me, nor ever can be, any hope.

Through the bounty of our English Friends there is now laid the foundation of a great College of Religion and Learning in the West of America. If it be successful at all, it must be extensively so. Thousands and tens of thousands will drink at this fountain in ages yet unborn. But how to make it so – how to give it that good beginning and obtain for it that useful celebrity, which will be worthy of its name, and fulfill the designs of its founders, is the anxious inquiry. Shall I dare to mention to your Lordship what has come into my mind as an answer to this question?

There is a person in your Blessed Land who under God was the prime moving cause of my going thither to be the object of her bounty. That person is no less than Thomas Hartwell Horne whose works are so deservedly praised among us. The sympathetic kindness of this excellent Gentleman expressed in a review of some publications relating to the American Church & published in the British Critic, having reached me in Ohio, caused me first to think of going to England for relief; and when there, I saw him, & having seen, have never ceased to love and revere him. This Gentleman, could we persuade him to come and be placed at the head of our Seminary & College, would raise it to an eminence of utility and celebrity far beyond what any other earthly being could give it.

When this is my firm persuasion need I, my Lord, any other apology for mentioning it? But how can we induce him to consent to such a plan? Can any thing in Ohio allure him to leave dear Old England? Can ought on earth cause him to exchange London for Kenyon College? The rich intellectual enjoyments of polished society to which he has been accustomed in the very home of civilization, art, and science, for the pleasures which in a New Country arise [morily] from faith and the consciousness of doing good? Were I now speaking of a [merely] worldly character – of a man who however learned, polished, and moral, looks to this world chiefly for his enjoyment and the motives which prompt him to action, I should write and think on this subject with despair. My pen would drop from my hand and the thoughts of success would die before utterance. But this, I am persuaded, is not the case: I have the great blessing of living in an age when better things and motives guide the hearts of men. Middleton, Heber, & Martyn once enjoyed what Mr Horne is now enjoying: and yet guided by an apostolic spirit they were persuaded to leave their native land to spend and be spent in their Master’s service.

Sheltering myself under such holy characters and looking back to primitive days for other examples I am emboldened to hope (or at least not despair) when I ask this worthy gentleman if he will not come to Ohio, and take the charge of Kenyon College & guide the students in Theology? By his consenting and by our effectuating such an object, the advantageous consequences are so great & numerous as almost exceed expression. Such is his reputation and such the confidence placed in him throughout this Country that even his name would ensure success. No other man has appeared in our age whose writings, unconnected with party or sectarian sentiments, have a more direct tendency to support the scriptures and the great doctrines of the Protestant Religion; and if he set his foot on the American shore and proceed to Ohio, we have great reason to believe he will carry the best wishes and most profound respect of all reflecting men of principle along with him. His work has been stereotyped in this country and while it is made a text book in most Theological Seminaries is very generally read.

When I consider the vast population at the west of our country, a population every day increasing and likely to increase ever to the extent and denseness of the inhabitants of China; when I consider that all these may be influenced either to good or bad [counsels], either to heathenism or to Christianity according to the nature and tendency of our Public Institutions of learning – and when I know that the Institution which bears your Lordship’s name & whose regulations we are now about to order is the only one in our land which is instilled by its constitution and peculiar situation to the important privilege of enacting its laws and ordering its course of study [unawed] by popular opinion, according to the scriptures and Christian faith & ethics, I can not but feel the awful responsibility of our present charge and am incited devoutly to implore the special direction of the Heavenly will that all our inceptive steps may promote instead of opposing the Kingdom of the Redeemer. If we now begin a college as Bishop Horne and Jones and such as they would have it begun on the basis of pure unmixed Christianity: if we bar its doors to every heathen author unless he shall have been rendered subservient to the truths of the gospel – if we make it so that the Holy Scriptures are to hold the first station in the temple of Science and with their genial rays illuminate the minds of all our pupils, then it is, we may look for a blessing – then it is, we may hope that God will lift up the light of his countenance upon us – and make us comely as Jerusalem beautiful as [Firzah] & terrible to the enemies of truth as an army with banners.

I am aware that, in attempting to exclude the Heathen authors and mythology from the vantage ground – that prominent station which they have hitherto occupied in the education of our youth, the Enemy will take the alarm & try to raise the prejudices of men against our measure. Having said so much of the Rev. Mr Horne without his leave or license it may seem superfluous both to your Lordship and to him that I should say anything more. But there are some considerations with which the project of getting that gentleman among us is [connected] that weigh very heavily on my mind.

Your Lordship is well aware how highly I appreciate the writings of the Rev. Mr Jones of Nayland. Those especially which have reference to the admixtures of heathenism, or rather preference of Heathen writers, in all modes of modern education to the great detriment of Christianity in poisoning the minds of every rising generation, have been corroborated by many years experience and careful observation: and some things have, I think providentially, lately come to pass amongst us to revive every former [impression]. The following sentiments are well adapted to the state of things in this country and I can not but be struck with their great sincerity to those of your Lordships venerable [preceptor], the late Rev. Mr Jones of Nayland. They are the thoughts of one on this side the waters who with thousands of others deeply laments the evils which Jones lamented.

“When I first went into a course of academic education,” says this writer “I was filled with surprise. Favoured as I had been with religious instruction and coming from beneath the roof of a pious parent, I knew not how to account for the almost entire neglect of pious teaching. Instead of being taught to build the superstructure of morals upon Christian faith I was made to look to the beauty of virtue as exhibited by those who knew not God. Instead of having my eye directed to the Great Exemplar of the human Family I was bidden to look at the illustrious men of Greece & Rome. I did look at them. I saw their highest motive was selfish and earthly: and I said within myself is this the way to make me a follower of Jesus? I was moreover shocked with the impurity of principle and conduct continually presented to my view in classic story. The odes celebrating drunkenness and lust were calculated fatally to mislead, and if I had not been fortified by previous teaching and by abundant grace, I should scarcely have escaped the dangerous contagion.”

“Why is the world deluged with licentious poetry of a later date? Why do so many of the most elegant and fascinating authors abound in incentives to vice? Is it not because they copy the models of impurity recommended to them in their younger years? Because the [idea] of those morals entered into some of their earliest and most grateful associations.”

“It has been said by some one “let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes their laws” O that the songs of Christendom especially since the revival of learning had not been too evidently dictated by heathen principles & heathen impurity! Thousands & tens of thousands would then have been saved.

“Why is it that so large a portion of men of liberal education, and especially of those who

are called “elegant minds” are, not only careless about the Christian religion, but open deriders of it? May not the imbuing of their minds with veneration for Pagan writers and pagan principles be considered as the undoubted reason? By mingling Christian and heathen principles in their minds they have: acquitted a sort of monstrous theology, in which the latter, as being most consonant with inclination, predominant. By being led to contemplate & venerate the characters of heathen antiquity, set forth to great advantage by the embellishments of genius, they become disposed to adopt them as their models, and to conform to all their precepts. So that in afterlife when they call to view someone as a prototype it is not a Paul, an example of moral & Christian greatness: it is not a John whose breast was the seat of all the pure and delightful affections; but a Cato who being by birth a pagan may be almost said to have been by education a suicide: a Brutus his disciple, or a Caesar a creature of blood and ambition.”

“Do we not often find in the lights of learning and boasts of literature a coldness towards Christianity – an opposition to everything like Christian fervour? And may we not attribute it, in part, to the constant operation of pagan principle, & of heathen morality, upon them? Do we not often find ministers of the gospel seduced by their fondness for pagan authors into the same cold & formal spirit?”

These are sentiments of a general nature which I have quoted for your Lordship’s inspection. There are some of a particular nature which impress upon my mind the great necessity of ordering well the incipient steps of our Infant College. Having long enjoyed so preeminent an advantage in the nefarious work of unchristianizing Christendom he can not reasonably be expected to resign it without a struggle. He will therefore sound the alarm and affirm that we are endeavouring to lower the standard of Classical education; and by attempting to make Christians would encourage comparative ignorance.

Far from this, I humbly conceive will be the effect of the course which we wd now pursue. It is not intended to extinguish the lamps Heathen literature but to outshine them by the splendour of the Sun of Righteousness – and no man on earth do I know more capable of putting things in a train to effect this, than the Rev. Thomas Hartwell Horne.

But how to obtain so inestimable a boon?

  1. Will he come on any conditions?

  2. If he consent to come how can we be enabled to maintain him and his lovely family?

As to the former of these questions, God alone it is who can dispose of it. To Him therefore I bow the knee & lift the humble prayer. Be gracious to us, still be gracious to us, O Thou who once left the joys of Heaven to save a perishing world; be gracious to us in so touching the heart of this our Brother that he may leave his native land purely for the sake of doing good.

In answering the second inquiry as well as to approbation the whole plan sketched in this letter I throw myself entirely on your Lordship’s wisdom & goodness – wisdom to devise and goodness to execute a scheme of mercy. If there by for this blessed favourite Institution benefactions yet in store laid upon the hearts of my English friends, let them I pray you, – let them flow into this channel, that of creating a fund to maintain the [pending] Professorship filled by the Rev. Thomas Hartwell Horne!

But if the tenor of this meet not with your Lordship’s approbation I entreat it may be committed to the flames and myself restored to favour as before it was written. On the contrary, should it be approved, be pleased to remember that I leave the mode of application for Mr Horne and direction of the whole matter to your Lordship’s discretion.

[Letter ends here]

Letter to Lord Kenyon



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