Philander Chase



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Chase describes the progress with the buildings at Kenyon. He also tells Bates of his disappointment with Mr. West, who was seeking to succeed Chase in his role as Bishop, which Chase claimed he could not support as the appointment of a Bishop should not be sought out. Mr. West has since returned to New York and is no longer connected with Chase.




G.W. Marriott, Cumberland, college buildings, Mr. West, Lord Kenyon, Margaret Kenyon


Gambier, Kenyon College

July 23. 1830. Ohio

Very Dr Mr. Bates

I have thought & talked so much about you & your name has been connected with so many things intimately mingled with objects nearest my heart, that I cannot but fancy I have your indulgence for addressing you as if we were long acquainted & most intimate friends. Your munificence in the present gift (duly received by me) of £100 [& ten]: & promise (as by Mr. Marriotts letter) of future sums to a like amount, each, for ten years, & above all the hope which you had, thro’ the same Channel, authorized us to indulge of your embarking in the month of April to come & see us & be a witness of our wants & in person judge of the necessity & propriety of relieving them, raised my poor heart far, far, above its ordinary standard of earthly enjoyments. I called to mind & dwelt on your benevolent plans for improving the means & pleasures of Kenyon College, by night & by day.

To God I looked as to the only adequate source of such goodness, & daily addressed to Him my grateful acknowledgements, that it had pleased him to bestow upon one so able, the Holy & Heavenly disposition to do so much good.

It was these hopes & consolations that kept me alive under the heart sinking disappointment I met with in the application to the government of my own Country for a grant of lands to [assist] us.

In the glass held up by your liberal hand I thought I saw a College, notwithstanding all the efforts of the enemy of souls to prevent it, completed for the reception of 800 students training up for usefulness on earth & for glory above, many of them the chosen of the Lord to bear his name on the banners of the Cross to the ends of the earth for the salvation of the souls of millions. I thought I saw another institution, (by your permission mentioned in Mr. Marriotts letter) rising for the useful & pious education of Females of our vast and rising country. Possessing as we do the sole command of our vast domain by never admitting on the college section any till but that of tenants at will an institution to educate young women might be [governed] from these objections which otherwise might be raised against it. All might be made to concur in the enforcement of salutary laws. Under the influence of these, I thought I saw it, surrendered by its sacred enclosures & adorned within by its beautiful gardens, holding up its weak head, the faithful instructress of those who are to instruct others even their tender offspring, & more effectually than all other instructors, lead them in the way to Eternal life. I thought I saw all this while our extensive ground, all around us of hill and date so well watered & so beautiful in their natural aspect were from a wilderness converted into fruitful fields, & o’erspread with sheep & cattle & flowing like Canaan with Milk & honey.

In these dreams of hope my expectation of your arrival grew more & more intense from month to month, from week to week & from day to day, from April till July. During this period the most awful in my life, I was greviously afflicted by God’s most heavy dispensation the oversettling of the Mail Coach in which my joints were dislocated, my ribs broken, & my flesh torn from my bones, my vitals were however preserved unhurt & with them a heart full of faith in God’s Goodness & infallible promises. The dear images which had been created by your unspeakable kindness, embellished & preserved by good Mr. Marriotts most excellent pen, were the principal means of preserving the elasticity of my mind & by the gracious blessing of our Heavenly Father of keeping me from death. How many were the times that I read Mr. M’s letter after the first few weeks of pain & helplessness had passed & I was permitted to hold that blessed epistle in my hand!

Thus sustained I began to look anxiously towards home, for I was at Cumberland in Maryland several hundred miles off. A Coach was presented me by an American Friend, & horses purchased by the money you sent me. In it suspended on a bed I came, slowly on, in company with our College Surgeon whom I had recently appointed to that office. In every step pains accompanied me which, however, never ceased to be assuaged by the cheering hope of seeing you, when my journey was ended, but in this I was disappointed.

But elastic hope soon made good her ground. I found the school in my absence had succeeded to admiration. The Professors & Tutors had done their duty well, The No. of pupils were nearly 100. The Centre building of the College, (which is the only part of the intended Edifice as yet erected), had answered, (by reason of its spacious basement story devoted to Culinary purposes) a much better effect than was anticipated. All the upper stories were filled with students, & it was necessary that other accommodations should be made for 35 more in the finishing of two other dwellings, which has since been done. As the general government had granted us a daily mail, it became necessary that a stage coach house with convenient apartments for the accommodation of strangers, together with a large stable & coach house & granary should be built; this was also effected as the College had increased 100 to 135. Necessity compelled us to fulfil [sic] a part of our original plan in the erection of a stone building immediately in the rear of the College, for the purpose of a bake house smoke house, kitchen & room for servants: this was effected by our stone masons & carpenters, as also was an enlargement of our shop & store house. The Millers house was built last fall but great repairs were needed on the flour, Corn mill & saw mill, so necessary to the progress & comfort of our establishment.

The farm must also be attended to: My head farmer & steward had an account of ill health, left me along to manage the vast concerns, with few trusty persons to assist me. In the winter I had ordered the felling of the trees, & the clearing of 100 acres of our first rate bottom-land for Indian Corn. This had been expensive & was now to be planted. About one hundred more acres were to be sown in oats. Vast quantities of rails were to be made for the inclosing fences of many hundred acres of range grounds for pasturage, for securing of wheat fields & rye fields, for the sustaining of our family. Mr. West, the long expected Mr. West at length arrived but no Mr. Bates, nor any letters nor tidings from any one of the English trustees.

My heart sunk within me & for a while my spirits refused to be comforted. After a day or two he showed me your letter intended for the eye of the Bishops of England & Ireland, making them a proposition worthy of the greatness of your benevolence, subject to their according to the plan & complying with the terms expressed.

Mr. West then told me of some other prospects which he knew of in store for me in England & Ireland; dwelt on the facilities he had created in those countries for future usefulness; spoke of the influence he had with the Bishops, & leading men there; & closed by showing how necessary it was he should be continued my agent & representative for some years to come as heretofore; & by telling me that it was his expectation to be my successor in the Episcopate of the Diocese of Ohio, & told me he considered me to have impliedly promised the same when leaving me for England; three years ago he knelt down for my Episcopal blessing!!! Shocked with such a thought I told him in the most positive terms that so far from ever promising even my influence to that effects, (for power to do such a thing I had none, that resting solely with the Presbyters & diocesan convention) the thought had never entered into my heart. I mentioned my surprise at his ever having conceived such an idea it being sinful in itself for him to seek the office of a Bishop in this way as well as for me to promise, or even by the remotest influence to promote it. Let God chose his Bishops & worldly & ambitious men choose theirs: the difference will be seen directly. The old rule of Nolo Episcopari ought ever to be in effect observed. The oath implied that the office has come to us & not we to the office. i.e. it is entirely without our seeking. The inference is that it is of the Lord & not of man.

In a subsequent conversation with Mr. West I told him of my great displeasure at his vanity; & exhorted him to the acquiring of a more humble & less ambitious spirit. He apologized for any want of respect he might have shown to me, but was not convinced that he was at all vain.

I observed to him that his late conduct & disclosure to me seemed to indicate that he was so far blinded with the sin that he did not perceive in what the sin consisted. Mr. West then told me he should call on me to refund so much of the £400 sent me by Mr. Marriott collected by him in England as would pay his expenses to & from England amounting to £70:0:0 — Drained of cash in the payment of our expenses & debts I must own this shocked me greatly, yet I did not complain of it as unjust. Tho’ I felt my own inability consistently with my engagements to meet such a demand. Mr. West having finished his mission & terminated his character as my representative in England to the satisfaction as be Mr. Marriotts Pamphlet of the trustees in London, is entitled to our thanks & to his expenses: and tho; the avails of his mission hitherto may appear small only 400£ sterling (if I have kept a right account) exclusive of your gift, & that other Legacy of Lord Kenyon’s daughter. I have great pleasure in stating to you my grateful impressions towards all my benefactors, & my desire to serve Mr. West, & of rendering him the instrument (being so respectable in his talents) of usefulness to as many as possible. I have but little to live on: yet I offered him the half I had: and that as long as I did live, if he would stay among us, & preach in humility the pure gospel of Jesus to our people who so extensively are hungering & thirsting after righteousness. He soon after this left me for New York, where he told me he had left his luggage, with a view to [resume] it on his way to Nova Scotia. Is it necessary to add any thing to this already too long epistle? In looking it over I have reason to condemn myself for its prolixity. My apology is, however, the fulness [sic] of my heart & the critical condition to which I am providentially brought. Never were there better prospects of success to our benevolent plans, if we had [timely] assistance than are now before us: and no regrets can be more deep & frequent than those which a Christian World will feel if this most promising institution fail for the want of means. Why have I have been told of your benevolent character? Why have my hopes been raised to the skies with fond expectation of your coming amongst us and making glad the city of God here in the wilderness? Surely it cannot be a dream God will remember to be gracious, tho’ at present he seems to frown upon us. Soon after Mr. West’s arrival in this country, it was published in many of our newspapers, that he Mr. West had collected for Kenyon College in England & Ireland £50,000:0:0 Sterling, and letters congratulating are now pouring in upon us from every quarter. What a contrast between them & my present feelings, such is the shock which it made among us that the professors & teachers from the highest to the lowest & the scholars from the oldest to the youngest have expressed their sympathy.

Still the great machine is moving on, still our woods are sounding with the praise of our industrious mechanicks [sic], Farmers, Teamsters &c. Many loads of massive stone arrive every day from our distant quarries on the College hill to complete the Chapel; now the walls being ten feet high from the ground & 3 feel thick the chapel being 100 feet long & 66 in the main body, besides a [channel] of 40 by 30 the projection of the towering then feet from the end wall. The Pillars to support the roof are commenced and are fortnight the joists to floor the church will be laid. From the fields loads of hay wheat & rye are perpetually arriving, the well ordered stacks of which put by an Englishman resemble lofty houses in a city. One hundred acres of acts to support our numerous teams are not yet gathered, tho’ nothing can look finer, and more than one hundred acres of Indian corn are now waving in the breeze, with a fair promise of exceeding 60 bushels to the acres.

Timber in massive raken logs is constantly going to be sawed at the Mill & great preparations are making for furnishing another house of wood to accommodate some fifty more students who are continually trying for admittance.

And must I stop with all this on my shoulders? If so will not the bare cessation creat disappointment such as will crush all our future prospects? No! All that I have & all that I can raise by my personal credit shall be first freely sacrificed. God will be merciful & I will proceed. Thus have I brought my letter to a close, and am about to fold it up and write on the back of it the name of one whom, having not seen, I love. — To say I do it with an eye moistened with a tear would not be true. To say my heart does not left itself to God craving His blessing to open a way to prepare your heart to secure it kindly, and answer to favourably I dare not, for in so doing I did suppress the truth to one with whom to be frank is at once the duty & pleasure of

Your faithful & grateful Friend

Phi’r Chase


Letter to Mr. Bates



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