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KC: Wants Mr. Dennison to resign his position of Professor of Mathematics for the parish so a layman can have his position.




letter, McIlvaine, Kenyon College, mathematics, Buckingham, parish


Brooklyn Ap. 4. 1833

Rev. and dear Sir,

I am going to propose to you a matter of so great delicacy and one which, were it not for my entire confidence in your Christian character and readiness to consult supremely the glory of God, and your candour to applicate my motives, I should not venture upon. Before you think any thing, if poss[ible], read all this letter - by yourself. The proposition is this (I am almost afraid to write it lest you should not take it, as I think you will, after due reflection) that, at a convenient time you should resign your professorship, for a Parish, on condition of [moving] your place supplied by a very efficient and competent layman of piety, such as I will afterwards describe. Receive in brotherly kindness my reasons.

1st I have not made this proposition, in any degrees from a consideration of your competence to the duties of your office. I have no reason to believe that you are not [?] up to the work you have to do and would be always increasing in sufficiency - I know also that you have suffered and endured much in troubled times for the sake of the College and deserve [?] of it. My views have no personal bearing but that of increasing your usefulness and the spirituality of your work. I have heard in two or three ways, I hardly remember how, that you did not like to entertain the idea of being always a Professor of Mathematics or for so long a time as to disqualify you for a parish field. I do not wonder at this. Now I in your situation, I should only [?] to the sacrifice of being a Professor of science, while no other person of equal advantage could be attained for the office. I should long for the special work of preaching the Gospel, so much you have been called and retained. If your place in the institution can be supplied with equal advantage to the college by a pious layman, should it not be and is it not your desire and should it not greatly promote your usefulness to the Ch. and to souls, as well as your own spiritual happiness and the end for which you have received the imposition of hands to take a parish in preference to your present place? The great cry of all parts, is for preachers. You know [?] wants in Ohio in that respect. The need of the College for a [laborier] in your department who would be content with its moderate salary and be efficient, has hitherto been im[?]. You have supplied it. The college owes you thanks. But if a suitable person can now be obtained for your professorship, without depriving a parish of a Minister, and you can thus be sent to supply a vacant [?] in the gospel field, should you not rejoice in it? Will it not be good news to your kind? And if you contemplate ever exchanging your present place for a parish - should it not be done as soon as possible with reference to the good of the College, before your professionally L[?] be so formed that you become unskilled in a great measure for parochial work? It is my opinion that your disposition and education and spirit qualify you for much usefulness in a parish - that in reference to s[?] work, this is an age this year, when you should be forming your ministerial L[?]s; increasing rapidly in the knowledge and experience of ministerial duties and obtaining a growth which can be got at no subsequent period of life without great disadvantage - I feel that your time, your ordination, your influence upon the cause of Christ are not where they should be unless the place you now occupy, cannot be filled advantageously by some one not in the Ministry. You must be daily decreasing in the aptness required by a parish in proportion as you are increasing in that demanded by your professorship.

2nd Can your place be supplied advantageously I have taken great pains to ascertain. I have communicated with but one person in Ohio on this subject and with him confidentially I mean Mr. Buckingham of Zanesville. To him I put this question in confidence “In case there should occur a vacancy in the Professorship of Mathematics in Kenyon, would you accept it?” I said nothing about the prospect of a vacancy. To none of the [?] at the College have I written a word about it. Mr. Buckingham became pious at W. Point while assistant in the department of Mathematics there. He is by attachment and choice an Episcopalian, though his parents were Presbyterian. He was considered at W. P. quite eminent in math. and of admirable talents. The Professor of Math. who educated him there said to me that he should be a prize to any institution. He is accustomed to inst[?], was a pupil of [?] has laboured in service with Major Douglass who [?] he can be Pres. and Professor of Nat. Philosophy. The [?] of two such men from W. P. and having decided piety would give Kenyon College an [?] eminence in the public mind. Again Mr. Buckingham is of high family [well known] and of high standing in Ohio - the appointment would be very popular in the Diocese. It would be supplying the place permanently. - Again should he come, he would bring a large property with him and he would build himself a house without expense to the College and as the source of property might be of great service, in a great variety of ways - These are evidently very important considerations.

But would he come? I answer yes - He has written to me that in case a vacancy occurs sometime during the ensuing summer or the next fall he will accept an appointment. He knows nothing (I [repeat]) of how I suppose the vacancy may occur.

Now, my dear brother, I trust in your Christian character, your sense of what is my duty and your duty to the Ch. and your views of ordination and consecration obligations, to receive by way of damages these considerations without offense and to consider them in love and faithfulness. - My proposition is this, that you resign at the next commencement that you say what you should receive by way of damages that meanwhile I and you should do what is necessary to obtain for you a suitable parish - should you accept this, I promise you all I can do to provide a place for you suitable to your Ministry. It would be necessary that your decision should be known to me as soon as possible that Mr. Buckingham might during the present season, be putting up a place of residence.

Should you be unwilling to embrace the proposition, I will drop it and never complain. But when we can fill a ch. and Professorship. When such a man as Buckingham can be brought into the service of the ch. shall we lose him? If he comes not to us he becomes a lawyer or a merchant.

I shall await your answer with anxiety. May the Lord direct your heart and mind. My love to your dear wife.

Yours affectionately,


Though I have said nothing to the brethren at Gambier touching this matter, because I wished to be entirely free and candid with you first yet if you choose you may lay this matter before them.

I intended no application of any of the above considerations for Mr. Leitch as a clergyman - the cases are different.

Letter to Dennison



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