RECOLLECTIONS OF A LONG LIFE
BY THEODORE LEDYARD CUYLER, D.D., LL.D. Author of "God's Light on Dark Clouds," "Heart Life," Etc.
BOYHOOD AND COLLEGE LIFE
GREAT BRITAIN SIXTY YEARS AGO Wordsworth—Dickens—The Land of Burns, etc.
GREAT BRITAIN SIXTY YEARS AGO (Continued) Carlyle—Mrs. Baillie—The Young Queen—Napoleon
HYMN-WRITERS I HAVE KNOWN Montgomery—Bonar—Bowring—Palmer and others.
THE TEMPERANCE REFORM AND MY CO-WORKERS
WORK IN THE PULPIT
EXPERIENCE IN REVIVALS
SOME FAMOUS PEOPLE ABROAD Gladstone—Dr. Brown—Dean Stanley—Shaftesbury, etc.
SOME FAMOUS PEOPLE AT HOME Irving—Whittier—Webster—Greeley, etc.
THE CIVIL WAR AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN
SOME FAMOUS PREACHERS IN BRITAIN Binney—Hamilton—Guthrie—Hall—Spurgeon—Duff and others.
SOME FAMOUS AMERICAN PREACHERS The Alexanders—Dr. Tyng—Dr. Cox—Dr. Adams —Dr. Storrs—Mr. Beecher, Mr. Finney and Dr. B.M. Palmer.
SUMMERING AT SARATOGA AND MOHONK Bishop Haven—Dr. Schaff—President McCook.
A RETROSPECT (Continued)
LIFE AT HOME AND FRIENDS ABROAD
THE JOYS OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY A Valedictory Discourse Delivered to the Lafayette Avenue Church, April 6, 1890.
THEODORE LEDYARD CUYLER
DR. CUYLER WHEN PASTOR OF THE MARKET ST. CHURCH
DR CUYLER AT 50
LAFAYETTE AVENUE CHURCH
DR. CUYLER AT 80
RECOLLECTIONS OF A LONG LIFE
MY BOYHOOD AND COLLEGE LIFE
Washington Irving has somewhere said that it is a happy thing to have been born near some noble mountain or attractive river or lake, which should be a landmark through all the journey of life, and to which we could tether our memory. I have always been thankful that the place of my nativity was the beautiful village of Aurora, on the shores of the Cayuga Lake in Western New York. My great-grandfather, General Benjamin Ledyard, was one of its first settlers, and came there in 1794. He was a native of New London County, Ct., a nephew of Col. William Ledyard, the heroic martyr of Fort Griswold, and the cousin of John Ledyard, the celebrated traveller, whose biography was written by Jared Sparks. When General Ledyard came to Aurora some of the Cayuga tribe of Indians were still lingering along the lakeside, and an Indian chief said to my great-grandfather, "General Ledyard, I see that your daughters are very pretty squaws." The eldest of these comely daughters, Mary Forman Ledyard, was married to my grandfather, Glen Cuyler, who was the principal lawyer of the village, and their eldest son was my father, Benjamin Ledyard Cuyler. He became a student of Hamilton College, excelled in elocution, and was a room-mate of the Hon. Gerrit Smith, afterward eminent as the champion of anti-slavery. On a certain Sabbath, the student just home from college was called upon to read a sermon in the village church of Aurora, in the absence of the pastor, and his handsome visage and graceful delivery won the admiration of a young lady of sixteen, who was on a visit to Aurora. Three years afterward they were married. My mother, Louisa Frances Morrell, was a native of Morristown, New Jersey; and her ancestors were among the founders of that beautiful town. Her maternal great-grandfather was the Rev. Dr. Timothy Johnes, the pastor of the Presbyterian Church, who administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper to General Washington. Her paternal great-grandfather was the Rev. Azariah Horton, pastor of a church near Morristown, and an intimate friend of the great President Edwards. The early settlers of Aurora were people of culture and refinement; and the village is now widely known as the site of Wells College, among whose graduates is the popular wife of ex-President Cleveland.
In the days of my childhood the march of modern improvements had hardly begun. There was a small steamboat plying on the Cayuga Lake. There was not a single railway in the whole State. When I went away to school in New Jersey, at the age of thirteen, the tedious journey by the stagecoach required three days and two nights; every letter from home cost eighteen cents for postage; and the youngsters pored over Webster's spelling-books and Morse's geography by tallow candles; for no gas lamps had been dreamed of and the wood fires were covered, in most houses, by nine o'clock on a winter evening. There was plain living then, but not a little high thinking. If books were not so superabundant as in these days, they were more thoroughly appreciated and digested.
My father, who was just winning a brilliant position at the Cayuga County Bar, died in June, 1826, at the early age of twenty-eight, when I was but four and one-half years old. The only distinct recollections that I have of him are his leading me to school in the morning, and that he once punished me for using a profane word that I had heard from some rough boys. That wholesome bit of discipline kept me from ever breaking the Third Commandment again. After his death, I passed entirely into the care of one of the best mothers that God ever gave to an only son. She was more to me than school, pastor or church, or all combined. God made mothers before He made ministers; the progress of Christ's kingdom depends more upon the influence of faithful, wise, and pious mothers than upon any other human agency.
As I was an only child, my widowed mother gave up her house and took me to the pleasant home of her father, Mr. Charles Horton Morrell, on the banks of the lake, a few miles south of Aurora. How thankful I have always been that the next seven or eight years of my happy childhood were spent on the beautiful farm of my grandfather! I had the free pure air of the country, and the simple pleasures of the farmhouse; my grandfather was a cultured gentleman with a good library, and at his fireside was plenty of profitable conversation. Out of school hours I did some work on the farm that suited a boy; I drove the cows to the pasture, and rode the horses sometimes in the hay-field, and carried in the stock of firewood on winter afternoons. My intimate friends were the house-dog, the chickens, the kittens and a few pet sheep in my grandfather's flocks. That early work on the farm did much toward providing a stock of physical health that has enabled me to preach for fifty-six years without ever having spent a single Sabbath on a sick-bed!
My Sabbaths in that rural home were like the good old Puritan Sabbaths, serene and sacred, with neither work nor play. Our church (Presbyterian) was three miles away, and in the winter our family often fought our way through deep mud, or through snow-drifts piled as high as the fences. I was the only child among grown-up uncles and aunts, and the first Sunday-school that I ever attended had only one scholar, and my good mother was the superintendent. She gave me several verses of the Bible to commit thoroughly to memory and explained them to me; I also studied the Westminster Catechism. I was expected to study God's Book for myself, and not to sit and be crammed by a teacher, after the fashion of too many Sunday-schools in these days, where the scholars swallow down what the teacher brings to them, as young birds open their mouths and swallow what the old bird brings to the nest. There is a lamentable ignorance of the language of Scripture among the rising generation of America, and too often among the children of professedly Christian families.
The books that I had to feast on in the long winter evenings were "Robinson Crusoe," "Sanford and Merton," "The Pilgrim's Progress," and the few volumes in my grandfather's library that were within the comprehension of a child of eight or ten years old. I wept over "Paul and Virginia," and laughed over "John Gilpin," the scene of whose memorable ride I have since visited at the "Bell of Edmonton," During the first quarter of the nineteenth century drunkenness was fearfully prevalent in America; and the drinking customs wrought their sad havoc in every circle of society. My grandfather was one of the first agriculturists to banish intoxicants from his farm, and I signed a pledge of total abstinence when I was only ten or eleven years old. Previously to that, I had got a taste of "prohibition" that made a profound impression on me. One day I discovered some "cherrybounce" in a wine-glass on my grandfather's sideboard, and I ventured to swallow the tempting liquor. When my vigilant mother discovered what I had done, she administered a dose of Solomon's regimen in a way that made me "bounce" most merrily. That wholesome chastisement for an act of disobedience, and in the direction of tippling, made me a teetotaller for life; and, let me add, that the first public address I ever delivered was at a great temperance gathering (with Father Theobald Mathew) in the City Hall of Glasgow during the summer of 1842. My mother's discipline was loving but thorough; she never bribed me to good conduct with sugar-plums; she praised every commendable deed heartily, for she held that an ounce of honest praise is often worth more than many pounds of punishment.
During my infancy that godly mother had dedicated me to the Lord, as truly as Hannah ever dedicated her son Samuel. When my paternal grandfather, who was a lawyer, offered to bequeath his law-library to me, my mother declined the tempting offer, and said to him: "I fully expect that my little boy will yet be a minister." This was her constant aim and perpetual prayer, and God graciously answered her prayer of faith in His own good time and way. I cannot now name any time, day, or place when I was converted. It was my faithful mother's steady and constant influence that led me gradually along, and I grew into a religious life under her potent training, and by the power of the Holy Spirit working through her agency. A few years ago I gratefully placed in that noble "Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church" of Brooklyn (of which I was the founder and pastor for thirty years) a beautiful memorial window to my beloved mother representing Hannah and her child Samuel, and the fitting inscription: "As long as he liveth I have lent him to the Lord."
For several good reasons I did not make a public profession of my faith in Jesus Christ until I left school and entered the college at Princeton, New Jersey. The religious impressions that began at home continued and deepened until I united, at the age of seventeen, with the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. As an effectual instruction in righteousness, my faithful mother's letters to me when a schoolboy were more than any sermons that I heard during all those years. I feel now that the happy fifty-six years that I have spent in the glorious ministry of the Gospel of Redemption is the direct outcome of that beloved mother's prayers, teaching example, and holy influence.
My preparation for college was partly under the private tutorship of the good old Dutch dominie, the Rev. Gerrit Mandeville, who smoked his pipe tranquilly while I recited to him my lessons in Caesar's Commentaries, and Virgil; and partly in the well-known Hill Top School, at Mendham, N.J. I entered Princeton college at the age of sixteen and graduated at nineteen, for in those days the curriculum in our schools and universities was more brief than at present. The Princeton college to which I came was rather a primitive institution in comparison with the splendid structures that now crown the University heights. There were only seven or eight plain buildings surrounding the campus, the two society-halls being the only ones that boasted architectural beauty. In endowments the college was as poor as a church mouse. There were no college clubs, no inter-collegiate games, thronged by thousands of people from all over the land; but the period of my connection with the college was really a golden period in its history. Never were its chairs held by more distinguished occupants. The president of the college was Dr. Carnahan, who, although without a spark of genius, was yet a man of huge common sense, kindness of heart and excellent executive ability. In the chair of the vice-president sat dear old "Uncle Johnny" McLean, the best-loved man that ever trod the streets of Princeton. He was the policeman of the faculty, and his astuteness in detecting the pranks of the students was only equalled by his anxiety to befriend them after they were detected. The polished culture of Dr. James W. Alexander then adorned the Chair of the Latin Language and English Literature. Dr. John Torrey held the chemical professorship. He was engaged with Dr. Gray in preparing the history of American Flora. Stephen Alexander's modest eye had watched Orion and the Seven Stars through the telescope of the astronomer; the flashing wit and silvery voice of Albert B. Dod, then in his splendid prime, threw a magnetic charm over the higher mathematics. And in that old laboratory, with negro "Sam" as his assistant, reigned Joseph Henry, the acknowledged king of American scientists. When, soon after, he gave me a note of Introduction to Sir Michael Faraday, Faraday said to me: "By far the greatest man of science your country has produced since Benjamin Franklin is Professor Henry." With Professor Henry I formed a very intimate friendship, and after he became the head of the Smithsonian Institution I found a home with him whenever I went to Washington.
Our class, which graduated in 1841, contained several members who have since made a deep mark in church and commonwealth. Professor Archibald Alexander Hodge was one of us. He inherited the name and much of the power of his distinguished father. Also General Francis P. Blair, who rendered heroic service on the battle-field. John T. Nixon brought to the bench of the United States Court, and Edward W. Scudder brought to the Supreme Court Bench of New Jersey, legal learning and Christian consciences. Richard W. Walker became a distinguished man in the Southern Confederacy. Our class sent four men to professor's chairs in Princeton. My best beloved classmate was John T. Duffield, who, after a half century of service as professor of mathematics in the University, closed his noble and beneficent career on the 10th of April, 1901. I delivered the memorial tribute to him soon afterward in the Second Presbyterian Church in the presence of the authorities of the University. Another intimate friend was the Hon. Amzi Dodd, ex-chancellor of New Jersey and the ex-president of the New Jersey Life Insurance Company. He is still a resident of that State. During the past three-score years it has been my privilege to deliver between sixty and seventy sermons or addresses in Princeton, either to the students of the University or of the Theological Seminary, or to the residents of the town. The place has become inexpressibly dear to me as a magnificent stronghold of Christian culture and orthodox faith, on the walls of whose institutions the smile of God gleams like the light of the morning. O Princeton, Princeton! in the name of the thousands of thy loyal sons, let me gratefully say, "If we forget thee, may our right hands forget their cunning, and our tongues cleave to the roofs of our mouths!"
GREAT BRITAIN SIXTY YEARS AGO
Wordsworth—Dickens—The Land of Burns, etc.
The year after leaving college I made a visit to Europe, which, in those days, was a notable event. As the stormy Atlantic had not yet been carpeted by six-day steamers, I crossed in a fine new packet-ship, the "Patrick Henry," of the Grinnell & Minturn Line. Captain Joseph C. Delano was a gentleman of high intelligence and culture who, after he had abandoned salt water, became an active member of the American Association of Science. After twenty-one days under canvas and the instructions of the captain, I learned more of nautical affairs and of the ocean and its ways than in a dozen subsequent passages in the steamships.
On the second morning after our arrival in Liverpool I breakfasted with that eminent clergyman, Dr. Raffles, who boasted the possession of one of the finest collections of autographs in England. He showed me the signature of John Bunyan; the original manuscript of one of Sir Walter Scott's novels; the original of Burns' poem addressed to the parasite on a lady's bonnet, which contained the famous lines:
"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see our sel's as others see us,"
besides several other manuscripts by the same poet, and also the autograph of a challenge sent by Byron to Lord Brougham for alleged insult, a fact to which no reference has been made in Byron's biography. From Liverpool, with my friends Professor Renwick and Professor Cuningham, I set out on a journey to the lakes of England. We reached Bowness, on Lake Windermere, in the evening. The next morning we went up to Elleray, the country residence of Professor Wilson ("Christopher North"), who, unfortunately, was absent in Edinburgh. We hired a boatman to row us through exquisitely beautiful Windermere, and in the evening reached the Salutation Inn, at the foot of the lake. My great interest in visiting Ambleside was to see the venerable poet, Wordsworth, who lived about a mile from the village. I happened, just before supper, to look out of the window of the traveller's room and espied an old man in a blue cloak and Glengarry cap, with a bunch of heather stuck jauntily in the top, driving by in a little brown phaeton from Rydal Mount. "Perhaps," thought I to myself, "that may be the patriarch himself," and sure enough it was. For, when I inquired about Mr. Wordsworth, the landlord said to me, "A few minutes ago he went by here in his little carriage." The next morning I called upon him. The walk to his cottage was delightful, with the dew still lingering in the shady nooks by the roadside, and the morning songs of thanksgiving bursting forth from every grove. At the summit of a deeply shaded hill I found "Rydal Mount" cottage. I was shown, at once, into the sitting-room, where I found him with his wife, who sat sewing beside him. The old man rose and received me graciously. By his appearance I was somewhat startled. Instead of a grave recluse in scholastic black, whom I expected to see, I found an affable and lovable old man dressed in the roughest coat of blue with metal buttons, and checked trousers, more like a New York farmer than an English poet. His nose was very large, his forehead a lofty dome of thought, and his long white locks hung over his stooping shoulders; his eyes presented a singular, half closed appearance. We entered at once into a delightful conversation. He made many inquiries about Irving, Mrs. Sigourney and our other American authors, and spoke, with great vehemence, in favor of an international copyright law. He said that at one time he had hoped to visit America, but the duties of a small office which he held (Distributer of Stamps), and upon which he was partly dependent, prevented the undertaking. He occasionally made a trip to London to see the few survivors of the friends of his early days, but he told me that his last excursion had proved a wearisome effort. His library was small but select. He took down an American edition of his works, edited by Professor Reed, and told me that London had never produced an edition equal to it. When I was about to leave, the good old poet got his broad slouched hat and put on his double purple glasses to protect his eyes, and we went out to enjoy the neighboring views. We walked about from one point to another and kept up a lively conversation. He displayed such a winning familiarity that, in the language of his own poem, we seemed
"A pair of friends, though I was young, And he was seventy-four."
From the rear of his court-yard he showed me Rydal Water, a little lake about a mile long, the beautiful church, and beyond it, Grassmere, and still further beyond, Helvelyn, the mountain-king with a retinue of a hundred hills. I might have spent the whole day in delightful intercourse with the old man, but my fellow-travellers were going, and I could make no longer inroads upon their time. When we returned to the door of his cottage, he gave me a parting blessing; he picked a small yellow flower and handed it to me, and I still preserve it in my edition of his works, as a relic of the most profound and the most sublime poet that England has produced during the nineteenth century I know of but one other living American who has ever visited Wordsworth at Rydal Mount.
After passing through Keswick, where the venerable poet Southey was still lingering in sadly failing intelligence, we reached Carlisle the same evening. From Carlisle we took the mail-coach for Edinburgh by the same route over which Sir Walter Scott was accustomed to make his journeys up to London. The driver, who might have answered to Washington Irving's description, pointed out to me Netherby Hall, the mansion of the Grahams, on "Cannobie lea," over which the young Lochinvar bore away his stolen bride. We passed also Branksome Tower, the scene of the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," and reached Selkirk in the early evening. The next day I spent at Abbotsford. The Great Magician had been dead only ten years, and his family still occupied the house with some of his old employees who figure in Lockhart's biography. I sat in the great arm-chair where Sir Walter Scott wrote many of his novels, and looked out of the window of his bedchamber, through which came the rippling murmurs of the Tweed, that consoled his dying hours. I heartily subscribe to the opinion, expressed by Tennyson, that Sir Walter Scott was the most extraordinary man in British literature since the days of Shakespeare.
After reaching Glasgow I made a brief trip into the Land of Burns. At the town of Ayr I found an omnibus waiting to take me down to the birthplace of the poet. At that time the number of visitors to these regions was comparatively few, and the birthplace of the poet had not been transformed, as now, into a crowded museum. On reaching a slight elevation, since consecrated by the muse of Burns, there broke upon the view his monument, his native cottage, Alloway Kirk, the scene of the inimitable Tam o' Shanter, and behind them all the "Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon." I went first to the monument, within which on a centre table are the two volumes of the Bible given by Burns to Highland Mary when they "lived one day of parting love" beneath the hawthorn of Coilsfield. One of the volumes contains, in Burns' handwriting, "Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thy vows," and a lock of Mary's hair, of a light brown color, given at the time, is preserved in the treasured volumes. A few steps away is Alloway Kirk. The old sexton was standing by the grave of Burns' father, and described to me the route of "Tam o' Shanter." He showed me the chinks in the sides through which the kirk seemed "all in a bleeze," and he pointed out the identical place on the wall where Old Nick was presiding over the midnight revels of the beldames when—
"Louder and louder the piper blew, Swifter and swifter the dancers flew."
After the old man had finished his recital, I asked him whether he had ever seen the poet. "Only aince," he replied. "That was one day when he was ridin' on a road near here. I met a friend who told me to hurry up, for Rabbie Burns was just ahead. I whippit up my horse, and came up to a roughly dressed man, ridin' slowly along, with his blue bonnet pulled down over his forehead, and his eyes turned toward the groond." "Didn't you speak to him?" I said. "Nay, nay," replied the man, in a tone of deep reverence, "he was Rabbie Burns. I dare na speak to him. If he had been any other mon I would have said 'good morrow to ye.'" Beautiful and eloquent tribute, paid by an unlettered peasant, not to rank or to wealth, but to a soul—a mighty soul though clad in "hodden grey" like himself!
The most interesting object was yet to be visited—the cottage of his birth, I entered it with reverence; and a well dressed, but very old, woman welcomed me in. "This is the room," she said. I looked around on the rough stone walls and could not believe that it ever contained such a soul; for the cottage, with all its subsequent repairs, was hardly equal to the generality of our early log cabins. The old lady was very affable. In her early life she had been connected with an inn at Mauchline, and had seen the poet often. "Rabbie was a funny fellow," she said; "I ken'd him weel; and he stoppit at our hoose on his way up to Edinburgh to see the lairds." I asked her if he was not always humorous. "Nae, nae," she replied, "he used to come in and sit doun wi' his hands in his lap like a bashful country lad; very glum, till he got a drap o' whuskey, or heard a gude story, and then he was aff! He was very poorly in his latter days." Those closing days in Dumfries, steeped in poverty to the lips, forms one of the most tragic chapters in literary history; and I know scarcely anything in our language more pathetic than the letter which he wrote describing his wretched bondage to the dominion of strong drink. An old lady of Kilmarnock told my friend, the late Dr. Taylor of New York, that when a young woman she had gone to Burns' house to assist in preparations for his funeral, and stated that there was not enough decent linen in the house to lay out the most splendid genius in all Scotland! When I was at Ayr, a sister of Burns, Mrs. Begg, was still living, and I am always regretting that I did not call upon her. His widow, Jean Armour, had died but a few years before; and when a certain pert American who called upon the old lady had the audacity to ask her: "Can you show me any relics of the poet?" answered with majestic dignity: "Sir, I am the only relic of Robert Burns."
I went abroad on this first visit to Europe keen for lion hunting, and with an eager desire to see some of the men who had been my literary benefactors. On my arrival in London, having a letter of introduction to Charles Dickens, which a mutual friend had given to me, I resolved to present it. Charles Dickens was an idol of my college days, and I had spent a few minutes with him in Philadelphia during his recent visit to the United States. He had returned from his triumphal tour about a month before I landed in Liverpool. I called at his house, but he was not at home. The next day he did me the honor to call on me at Morley's Hotel, and, not finding me in, invited me up to his house near York Gate, Regents Park. It was a dingy, brick house surrounded by a high wall, but cheerful and cozy within. I found him in his sanctum, a singularly shaped room, with statuettes of Sam Weller and others of his creations on the mantelpiece. A portrait of his beautiful wife was upon the wall—that wife, the separation from whom threw a strange, sad shadow over his home. How handsome he was then! With his deep, dark, lustrous eyes, that you saw yourself in, and the merry mouth wreathed with laughter, and the luxuriant mass of dark hair that he wore in a sort of stack over his lofty forehead! He had a slight lisp in his pleasant voice, and ran on in rapid talk for an hour, with a shy reluctance to talk about his own works, but with the most superabounding vivacity I have ever met with in any man. His two daughters, one of whom afterward married the younger Collins, a brother novelist, were then schoolgirls of eight and ten years, came in, with books in their hands, to give their father a good-morning kiss. After parting with him, when I had reached his gate, he called after me in a very loud voice, "If you see Mrs. Lucretia Mott, tell her that I have not forgotten the slave." His "American Notes" appeared the next week. There were some things in that hasty and faulty volume for which I sent him a cordial note of thanks, and I speedily received the following characteristic reply, which I still prize as a precious relic of the man:
I DEVONSHIRE TERRACE, REGENTS PARK, Oct. 26th, 1842.
MY DEAR SIR:—I am heartily obliged to you for your frank and manly letter. I shall always remember it in connection with my American book; and never—believe me—save in the foremost rank of its pleasant and honorable associations. Let me subscribe myself, as I really am
Faithfully your Friend,
Mr. Theodore Ledyard Cuyler.
I hold that Dickens was the most original genius in our fictitious literature since the days of Walter Scott. As a social reformer his fame is quite as great as it is as a master of romance. His pen was mighty to the pulling down of many a social abuse, and from the loving kindness of his writings has been got many an inspiration to deeds of charity. But how could a man who went so far as he did go no further? How could the reformer who struck at so many social wrongs spare that hideous fountain-head of misery in London, the dram-shop? And how could he descend to scurrilously satirize all societies formed for the promotion of temperance? A still greater marvel is that so kind-hearted a man as Mr. Dickens, who sought honestly the amelioration of the condition of his fellow-men, could utterly ignore the transforming power of Christianity. He did not cast contempt on the Bible, and never soiled his pages with infidelity, neither did he ever enlighten, and warm and vivify them with evangelical uplifting truth. Only a few feet of earth separate the grave of Charles Dickens from the grave of William Wilberforce. Both loved their fellow-men; but the great difference between them was that one of them invoked the spiritual power of the Gospel of Christ, which the other lamentably ignored.
GREAT BRITAIN SIXTY YEARS AGO (Continued)
Carlyle—Mrs. Baillie—The Young Queen—Napoleon
One of the lions of whom I was in pursuit was Thomas Carlyle. Very few Americans at that time had ever seen him, for he lived a very secluded and laborious life in a little brick house at Chelsea, in the southwest of London; and he rarely kept open doors. His life was the opposite to that of Dickens and Macaulay, and he was never lionized, except when he went to Edinburgh to deliver his address before the University, years afterwards. I sent him a note in which I informed him of the enthusiastic admiration which we college students felt for him, and that I desired to call and pay him my respects. To my note he responded promptly: "You will be welcome to-morrow at three o'clock, the hour when I become accessible in my garret here." I found his "garret" to be a comfortable front room on the second floor of his modest home. It was well lined with books, and a portrait of Oliver Cromwell hung behind his study chair. He was seated at his table with a huge German volume open before him. His greeting was very hearty, but, with a comical look of surprise, he said in broad Scotch: "You are a verra young mon." I told him of the appetite we college boys had for his books, and he assured me at once that while he had met some of our eminent literary men he had never happened to meet a college boy before. "Your Mr. Longfellow," said he, "called to see me yesterday. He is a man skilled in the tongues. Your own name I see is Dootch. The word 'Cuyler' means a delver, or one who digs underground. You must be a Dutchman." I told him that my ancestors had come over from Holland a couple of centuries ago, and I was proud of my lineage; for my grandfather, Glen Cuyler, was a descendant of Hendrick Cuyler, one of the early Dutch settlers of Albany, who came there in 1667. "Ah," said he, "the Dootch are the brawvest people of modern times. The world has been rinnin' after a red rag of a Frenchman; but he was nothing to William the Silent. When Pheelip of Spain sent his Duke of Alva to squelch those Dutchmen they joost squelched him like a rotten egg—aye, they did."
I asked him why he didn't visit America, and told him that I had observed his name registered at Ambleside, on Lake Windermere. "Nae, nae," said he, "I never scrabble my name in public places." I explained that it was on the hotel register that I had seen "Thomas Carlyle." "It was not mine," he replied, "I never travel only when I ride on a horse in the teeth of the wind to get out of this smoky London. I would like to see America. You may boast of your Dimocracy, or any other 'cracy, or any other kind of political roobish, but the reason why your laboring folk are so happy is that you have a vast deal of land for a very few people." In this racy, picturesque vein he ran on for an hour in the most cordial, good humor. He was then in his prime, hale and athletic, with a remarkably keen blue eye, a strong lower jaw and stiff iron gray hair, brushed up from a capacious forehead; and he had a look of a sturdy country deacon dressed up on a Sunday morning for church. He was very carefully attired in a new suit that day for visiting, and, as I rose to leave, he said to me: "I am going up into London and I will walk wi' ye." We sallied out and he strode the pavement with long strides like a plowman. I told him I had just come from the land of Burns, and that the old man at the native cottage of the poet had drunk himself to death by drinking to the memory of Burns.
At this Carlyle laughed loudly, and remarked: "Was that the end of him? Ah, a wee bit drap will send a mon a lang way." He then told me that when he was a lad he used to go into the Kirkyard at Dumfries and, hunting out the poet's tomb, he loved to stand and just read over the name—"Rabbert Burns"—"Rabbert Burns." He pronounced the name with deep reverence. That picture of the country lad in his earliest act of hero-worship at the grave of Burns would have been a good subject for the pencil of Millais or of Holman Hunt. At the corner of Hyde Park I parted from Mr. Carlyle, and watched him striding away, as if, like the De'il in "Tam O'Shanter," he had "business on his hand."
Thirty years afterwards, in June, 1872, I felt an irrepressible desire to see the grand old man once more, and I accordingly addressed him a note requesting the favor of a few minutes' interview. His reply was, perhaps, the briefest letter ever written. It was simply:
"Three P.M. T.C."
He told me afterwards that his hand had become so tremulous that he seldom touched a pen. My beloved friend, the Rev. Newman Hall, asked the privilege of accompanying me, as, like most Londoners, he had never put his eye on the recluse philosopher. We found the same old brick house, No. 5 Cheyne Row, Chelsea, without the slightest change outside or in. But, during those thirty years the gifted wife had departed, and a sad change had come over the once hale, stalwart man. After we had waited some time, a feeble, stooping figure, attired in a long blue flannel gown, moved slowly into the room. His gray hair was unkempt, his blue eyes were still keen and piercing, and a bright hectic spot of red appeared on each of his hollow cheeks. His hands were tremulous, and his voice deep and husky. After a few personal inquiries the old man launched out into a most extraordinary and characteristic harangue on the wretched degeneracy of these evil days. The prophet, Jeremiah, was cheerfulness itself in comparison with him. Many of the raciest things he regaled us with were entirely too personal for publication. He amused us with a description of half a night's debate with John Bright on political economy, while he said, "Bright theed and thoud with me for hours, while his Quaker wife sat up hearin' us baith. I tell ye, John Bright got as gude as he gie that night"; and I have no doubt that he did.
Most of his extraordinary harangue was like an eruption of Vesuvius, but the laugh he occasionally gave showed that he was talking about as much for his own amusement as for ours. He was terribly severe on Parliament, which he described as "endless babblement and windy talk—the same hurdy-gurdies grinding out lies and inanities." The only man he had ever heard in Parliament that at all satisfied him was the Old Iron Duke. "He gat up and stammered away for fifteen minutes; but I tell ye, he was the only mon in Parliament who gie us any credible portraiture of the facts." He looked up at the portrait of Oliver Cromwell behind him, and exclaimed with great vehemence: "I ha' gone doon to the verra bottom of Oliver's speeches, and naething in Demosthenes or in any other mon will compare wi' Cromwell in penetrating into the veritable core of the fact. Noo, Parliament, as they ca' it, is joost everlasting babblement and lies." We led him to discuss the labor question and the condition of the working classes. He said that the turmoil about labor is only "a lazy trick of master and man to do just as little honest work and to get just as much for it as they possibly can—that is the labor question." It did my soul good, as a teetotaler, to hear his scathing denunciation of the liquor traffic. He was fierce in his wrath against "the horrible and detestable damnation of whuskie and every kind of strong drink." In this strain the thin and weird looking old Iconoclast went on for an hour until he wound up with declaring, "England has joost gane clear doon into an abominable cesspool of lies, shoddies and shams—down to a bottomless damnation. Ye may gie whatever meaning to that word that ye like." He could not refrain from laughing heartily himself at the conclusion of this eulogy on his countrymen. If we had not known that Mr. Carlyle had a habit of exercising himself in this kind of talk, we should have felt a sort of consternation. As it was we enjoyed it as a postscript to "Sartor Resartus" or the "Latter Day" pamphlets, and listened and laughed accordingly. As we were about parting from him with a cordial and tender farewell, my friend, Newman Hall, handed him a copy of his celebrated little book, "Come to Jesus," Mr. Carlyle, leaning over his table, fixed his eye upon the inscription on the outside of the booklet, and as we left the room, we heard him repeating to himself the title "Coom to Jesus—Coom to Jesus."
About Carlyle's voluminous works, his glorious eulogies of Luther, Knox and Cromwell, his vivid histories, his pessimistic utterances, his hatred of falsehood and his true, pure and laborious life, I have no time or space to write. He was the last of the giants in one department of British literature. He will outlive many an author who slumbers in the great Abbey. I owe him grateful thanks for many quickening, stimulating thoughts, and shall always be thankful that I grasped the strong hand of Thomas Carlyle.
One of the literary celebrities to whom I had credentials was the venerable Mrs. Joanna Baillie, not now much read, but then well known from her writings and her intimacy with Sir Walter Scott, and to whom Lockhart devotes a considerable space in the biography. Her residence was in Hampstead, and I was obliged, after leaving the omnibus, to walk nearly a mile across open fields which are now completely built over by mighty London. The walk proved a highly profitable one from the society of an intelligent stranger who, like every true English gentleman, when properly approached, was led to give all the information in his power. When I reached the suburban village of Hampstead, after passing over stiles and through fields, I at last succeeded in finding her residence, a quiet little cottage, with a little parlor which had been honored by some of the first characters of our age. "The female Shakespeare," as she was sometimes called in those days, was at home and tripped into the room with the elastic step of a girl, although she was considerably over three score years and ten. She was very petite and fair, with a sweet benignant countenance that inspired at once admiration and affection. Almost her first words to me were: "What a pity you did not come ten minutes sooner; for if you had you would have seen Mr. Thomas Campbell, who has just gone away." I was exceedingly sorry to have missed a sight of the author of "Hohenlinden" and the incomparable "Battle of the Baltic," but was quite surprised that he was still seeking much society; for in those days he was lamentably addicted to intoxicants. On more than one public occasion he was the worse for his cups; and when, after his death, a subscription was started to place his statue in Westminster Abbey, Samuel Rogers, the poet, cynically said, "Yes, I will gladly give twenty pounds any day to see dear old Tom Campbell stand steady on his legs." It is a matter of congratulation that the most eminent men of the Victorian era have not fallen into some of the unhappy habits of their predecessors at the beginning of the last century. Mrs. Baillie entertained me with lively descriptions of Sir Walter Scott, and of her old friend, Mr. Wordsworth, who was her guest whenever he came up to London. She expressed the warmest admiration for the moral and political, though not all of the religious, writings of our Dr. Channing, whom she pronounced the finest essayist of the time. She also felt a curious interest (which I discovered in many other notable people in England) to learn what she could in regard to our American Indians, and expressed much admiration when I gave her some quotations from the picturesque eloquence of our sons of the forest.
Every American who visited London in those days felt a laudable curiosity to see the young Queen, who had been crowned but four years before. I went up to Windsor Castle, and after inspecting it, joined a little group of people who were standing at the gateway which leads out to the Long Drive and Virginia Water. They were waiting to get a look at the young Queen, who always drove out at four o'clock. Presently the gate opened and a low carriage, preceded by three horsemen, passed through. It contained a plump baby, nearly two years of age, wrapped in a buff cloak and held up in the arms of its nurse. That baby became the Empress Dowager of Germany, the mother of the present Kaiser and of Prince Henry, who has lately been our guest. In a few minutes afterwards a pony phaeton, with two horses, passed through the gate and we all doffed our hats. It was driven by handsome young Prince Albert, dressed in a gray overcoat and silk hat. To this day I think of him as about the most captivating young husband that I have ever seen. By his side sat his young wife, dressed in a small white bonnet with pink feather and wrapped in a white shawl. Her complexion was exceedingly fresh and fair. Her light brown hair was dressed in the "Grecian" style, and as she bowed gracefully I observed the peculiarity of her smile—that she showed her teeth very distinctly. This resulted from the shortness of her upper lip. "A pretty girl she is too" was the remark I heard from the visitors as the carriage went on down the drive. That was my first glimpse of royalty, and I little dreamed that she was to be the longest lived sovereign that ever sat on the British throne, and the most popular woman in all modern times.
Thirty years rolled away and I saw the good Queen again. The Albert Memorial, erected to the handsome Prince Consort, whom she idolized, had just been completed, and one morning the Queen came incognito to make her first private inspection of the memorial. Through the intimation of a friend I hurried at once to the Park, and found a small company of people gathered there. Her Majesty had just come, accompanied by Prince Arthur, the Princess Louise and the young Princess Beatrice; and they were examining the gorgeous new structure. The Queen wore a plain black silk dress and her children were very plainly attired, so that they looked like a group of good, honest republicans. The only evidence of royalty was that the company of gentlemen who were pointing out to the Queen the various beauties of the monument just completed were careful not to turn their backs upon Her Majesty. I observed that when her children bade her "good morning" they kneeled and kissed her hand. She remained sitting in her carriage for some time, chatting and laughing with her daughter Beatrice. Her countenance had become very florid and her figure very stout. The last time that I saw her driving in the Park her full, rubicund face made her look not only like the venerable grandmother of a host of descendants, but of the whole vast empire on which the sun never sets. Last year the most beloved sovereign that has ever occupied the British throne was laid in the gorgeous mausoleum at Frogmore beside the husband of her youth and the sharer of twenty-two years of happy and holy wedlock. All Christendom was a mourner beside that royal tomb.
From London I went on a very brief visit to Paris, at the time when Louis Phillipe was at the height of his power and apparently securely seated on his throne. Within a half a dozen years from that time he was a refugee in disguise, and the kingdom of France was followed by the Republic of Lamartine. My brief visit to Paris was made more agreeable by the fact that my kinsman, the Hon. Henry Ledyard, was then in charge of the American Embassy, in the absence of his father-in-law, General Lewis Cass, our Ambassador, who had returned to America for a visit. The one memorable incident of that brief sojourn in Paris that I shall recall was a visit to the tomb of Napoleon, whose remains had been brought home the year before from the Island of St. Helena. Passing through the Place de la Concord and crossing the Seine, a ten minutes' walk brought me to the Hospital des Invalides. I reached it in the morning when the court in front was filled with about three hundred veterans on an early parade. Many of them were the shattered relics of Napoleon's Grand Army—glorious old fellows in cocked hats and long blue coats, and weather-beaten as the walls around them. After a few moments I hurried into the Rotunda, which is nearly one hundred feet in height, surrounded by six small recesses, or alcoves. "Where is Napoleon?" said I to one of the sentinels. "There," said he, pointing to a recess, or small chapel, hung with dark purple velvet and lighted by one glimmering lamp. I approached the iron railing and, there before me, almost within arm's length, in the marble coffin covered by his gray riding coat of Marengo, lay all that was mortal of the great Emperor. At his feet was a small urn containing his heart, and upon it lay his sword and the military cap worn at the battle of Eylau. Beside the coffin was gathered a group of tattered banners captured by him in many a victorious fight. Three gray-haired veterans, whose breasts were covered with medals, were pacing slowly on guard in front of the alcove. I said to them in French: "Were you at Austerlitz?" "Oui, oui," they said. "Were you at Jena?" "Oui, oui." "At Wagram?" "Oui, oui," they replied. I lingered long at the spot, listening to the inspiring strains of the soldiery without, and recalling to my mind the stirring days when the lifeless clay beside me was dashing forward at the head of those very troops through the passes of the Alps and over the bridge at Lodi. It seemed to me as a dream, and I could scarcely realize that I stood within a few feet of the actual body of that colossal wonder-worker whose extraordinary combination of military and civil genius surpassed that of any other man in modern history. And yet, when all shall be summoned at last before the Great Tribunal, a Wilberforce, a Shaftesbury, or an Abraham Lincoln will never desire to change places with him.
HYMN-WRITERS I HAVE KNOWN
Montgomery—Bonar—Bowring—Palmer and Others
Hymnology has always been a favorite study with me, and it has been my privilege to be acquainted with several of the most eminent hymn-writers within the last sixty or seventy years. It is a remarkable fact that among the distinguished English-speaking poets, Cowper and Montgomery are the only ones who have been successful in producing many popular hymns; while the greatest hymns have been the compositions either of ministers of the Gospel, like Watts, Wesley, Toplady, Doddridge, Newman, Lyte, Bonar and Ray Palmer, or by godly women, like Charlotte Elliott, Mrs. Sarah F. Adams, Miss Havergal and Mrs. Prentiss. During my visit to Great Britain in the summer of 1842, I spent a few weeks at Sheffield as the guest of Mr. Edward Vickers, the ex-Mayor of the city. His near neighbor was the venerable James Montgomery, whose pupil he had been during the short time that the poet conducted a school. Mr. Vickers took me to visit the poet at his residence at The Mount. A short, brisk, cheery old man, then seventy-one, came into the room with a spry step. He wore a suit of black, with old-fashioned dress ruffles, and a high cravat that looked as if it choked him. His complexion was fresh, and snowy hair crowned a noble forehead. He had never married, but resided with a relative. We chatted about America, and I told him that in all our churches his hymns were great favorites. I unfortunately happened to mention that when lately in Glasgow I had gone to hear the Rev. Robert Montgomery, the author of "Satan," and other poems. It was this "Satan Montgomery" whom Macaulay had scalped with merciless criticism in the Edinburgh Review. The mention of his name aroused the old poet's ire. "Would you believe it?" he exclaimed, indignantly, "they attribute some of that fellow's performances to me, and lately a lady wrote to me in reference to one of his most pompous poems, and said "it was the best that I had ever written!" I do not wonder at my venerable friend's vexation, for there was a world-wide contrast between his own chaste simplicity and the stilted pomposity of his Glasgow namesake. Montgomery, though born a Moravian and educated at a Moravian school, was a constant worshipper at St. George's Episcopal Church, in Sheffield. The people of the town were very proud of their celebrated townsman, and after his death gave him a public funeral, and erected a bronze statue to his memory. While he was the author of several volumes of poetry, his enduring fame rests on his hymns, some of which will be sung in all lands through coming generations. Four hundred own his parentage and one hundred at least are in common use throughout Christendom. He produced a single verse that has hardly been surpassed in all hymnology:
"Here in the body pent Absent from Him I roam. Yet nightly pitch my moving-tent, A day's march nearer home."
Hymnology has known no denominational barriers. While Toplady was an Episcopalian, Wesley a Methodist. Newman and Faber Roman Catholics, Montgomery a Moravian, and Bonar a Presbyterian, the magnificent hymn,
"In the cross of Christ I glory,"
was written by a Unitarian. I had the great satisfaction of meeting its author, Sir John Bowring, at a public dinner in London during the summer of 1872. A fresh, handsome veteran he was, too—tall and straight as a ramrod, and exceedingly winsome in his manners. He had been famous as the editor of the Westminster Review and quite famous in civil life, for he was a member of the British Parliament and once had been the Governor of Hong Kong. He produced several volumes, but will owe his immortality to half a dozen superb hymns. Of these the best is "In the cross of Christ I glory"; but we also owe to him that fine missionary hymn,
"Watchman, tell us of the night"
He told my Presbyterian friend, Dr. Harper, in China, that the first time he ever heard it sung was at a prayer meeting of American missionaries in Turkey. Sir John died about four months after I had met him, at the ripe age of eighty, and on his monument is inscribed only this single appropriate line, "In the cross of Christ I glory."
The first time I ever saw Dr. Horatius Bonar was in May, 1872, when I was attending the Free Church General Assembly of Scotland as a delegate from the Presbyterian Church in the United States. A warm discussion was going on in the Assembly anent proposals of union with the U.P. body, and the Anti-Unionists sat together on the left hand of the Moderator's chair. In the third row sat a short, broad-shouldered man with noble forehead and soft dark eyes. But behind that benign countenance was a spirit as pugnacious in ecclesiastical controversy as that of the Roman Horatius "who kept the bridge in the brave days of old." I was glad to be introduced to him, for I was an enthusiastic admirer of his hymns, and I had a personal affection for his brother, Andrew, the author of the delightful "Life of M'Cheyne." Although Horatius had won his world-wide fame as a composer of hymns, he was, at that time, stoutly opposed to the use of anything but the old Scotch version of the Psalms in church worship. During my address to the Assembly I said: "We Presbyterians in America sing the good old psalms of David." At this point Dr. Bonar led in a round of applause, and then I continued: "We also sing the Gospel of Jesus Christ as versified by Watts, Wesley, Cowper, Toplady and your own Horatius Bonar!" There was a burst of laughter, and then I rather mischievously added: "My own people have the privilege, not accorded to my brother's congregation, of singing his magnificent hymns." By this time the whole house came down in a perfect roar, and the confused blush on Bonar's face puzzled us—whether it was on account of the compliment, or on account of his own inconsistency. However, before his death he consented to have his own congregation sing his own hymns, although it is said that two pragmatical elders rose and strode indignantly down the aisle of the church.
In August, 1889, when I was on a visit to Chillingham Castle, Lady Tankerville said to me: "Our dear Bonar is dead." I left the next day for Edinburgh and reached there in time to bear an humble part in the funeral services. On the day of his obsequies there was a tremendous downpour, which reminded me of the story of the Scotchman, who, on arriving in Australia, met one of his countrymen, who said to him: "Hae ye joost come fra Scotland and is it rainin' yet?" But in spite of the storm the Morningside Church, by the entrance to the Grange Cemetery, was well filled by a representative assembly. The service was confined to the reading of the Scriptures, to two prayers and the singing of Bonar's beautiful hymn, the last verse of which is
"Broken Death's dread hands that bound us, Life and victory around us; Christ the King Himself hath crown'd us, Ah, 'tis Heaven at last."
As I was the only American present I was requested to close the service with a brief word of prayer; and I rode down to the Canongate Cemetery with grand old Principal John Cairns (who Dr. McCosh told me "had the best head in Scotland"), and Bonar's colleague, the Rev. Mr. Sloane. On our way to the place of burial Mr. Sloane told me that Bonar's two finest hymns,
"I heard the voice of Jesus say," etc..
"I lay my sins on Jesus," etc,
were originally composed for the children of his Sabbath school. And yet they are the productions by which he has become most widely known throughout Christendom. The storm-swept streets that day were lined with silent mourners; and, under weeping skies, we laid down to his rest the mortal remains of the man who attuned more voices to the melodies of praise than any Scotchman of the century.
Our own country has been very prolific in the production of hymns. The venerable and devout blind songstress, Fanny Crosby (whom I often meet at the house of my beloved neighbor, Mr. Ira D. Sankey), has produced very many hundreds of them—none of very high poetic merit, but many of them of such rich spiritual savour, and set to such stirring airs, that they are sung by millions around the globe. By common consent in all American hymnology the hymn commencing
"My faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary," etc,
is the best. Its author, Dr. Ray Palmer, when a young man, teaching in a school for girls in New York, one day sat down in his room and wrote in his pocket memorandum book the four verses which he told me "were born of my own soul," and put the memorandum book back into his vest pocket and for two years carried the verses there, little dreaming that he was carrying his own passport to immortality. Dr. Lowell Mason, the celebrated composer of Boston, asked him to furnish a new hymn for his next volume of "Spiritual Songs" for social worship, and young Palmer drew out the four verses from his pocket. Mason composed for them the noble tune, "Olivet," and to that air they were wedded for ever more. He met Palmer afterwards, and said to him: "Sir, you may live many years, and do many things, but you will be best known to posterity as the author of 'My faith looks up to Thee.'" The prediction proved true. His devoted heart flowed out in that one matchless lily that has filled so many hearts and sanctuaries with its rich fragrance. Dr. Palmer preached several times in my Brooklyn pulpit. He was once with us on a sacramental Sabbath. While the deacons were passing the sacred elements among the congregation the dear old man broke out in a tremulous voice and sang his own heavenly lines:
"My faith looks up to Thee Thou Lamb of Calvary, Saviour Divine."
It was like listening to a rehearsal for the celestial choir, and the whole assembly was most deeply moved. Dr. Palmer was short in stature, but his erect form and habit of brushing his hair high over his forehead gave him a commanding look. He was the impersonation of genuine enthusiasm. Some of his letters I shall always prize. They were the outpourings of his own warm heart on paper. He fell asleep just before he reached a round four score, and of our many hymn-writers no one has yet "taken away his crown."
It is quite fitting to follow this sketch of one noble veteran with a brief reminiscence of an equally noble one, who bore the name of an Episcopalian, although he was very undenominational in his broad sympathies. Dr. William Augustus Muhlenberg was one of the most apostolic men I have ever known in appearance and spirit. His gray head all men knew in New York. He commanded attention everywhere by his genial face and hearty manner of speech. I used to meet him at the anniversaries of the Five Points Home of Industry. Everybody loved him at first sight. All the world knows he was the founder of St. Luke's Hospital in New York, and the extensive institutions of charity at St. Johnsland, on Long Island. Of his hymns the most popular is
"I would not live alway," etc.
It was first written as an impromptu for a lady's album, and afterwards amended into its present form.
In his later years he regarded the tone of that hymn as too lugubrious; and in a pleasant note to me he said: "Paul's 'For me to live is Christ' is far better than Job's 'I would not live alway.'" My favorite among his productions is the one on Noah's Dove, commencing, "O cease, my wandering soul"; but the man was greater than any song he ever wrote. As he was a bachelor he lived in his St. Luke's Hospital; and once, when he was carrying a tray of dishes down to the kitchen and some one protested, the patriarch replied: "Why not; what am I but a waiter here in the Lord's hotel?" When very near his end the Chaplain of the hospital prayed at his bedside for his recovery. "Let us have an understanding about this," said Muhlenberg. "You are asking God to restore me, and I am asking God to take me home. There must not be any contradiction in our prayers, for it is evident that He cannot answer them both." This was characteristic of his bluff frankness, as well as of his heavenly-mindedness—he "would not live alway."
In July, 1881, I was visiting Stockholm, and was invited to go on an excursion to the University of Upsala with Dr. Samuel F. Smith. I had never before met my celebrated countryman about whom his Harvard classmate, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once wrote:
"And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith— Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith; But he shouted a song for the brave and the free— Just read on his medal—'My Country—of Thee'"
The song he thus shouted was written for the Fourth of July celebration, in Park Street Church, Boston, in 1832, and has become our national hymn. When I met the genial old man in Sweden, and travelled with him for several days, he was on his way home from a missionary tour in India and Burmah. He told me that he had heard the Burmese and Telugus sing in their native tongue his grand missionary hymn, "The Morning Light is Breaking." He was a native Bostonian, and was born a few days before Ray Palmer. He was a Baptist pastor, editor, college professor, and spent the tranquil summer evening of his life at Newton, Mass.; and at a railway station in Boston, by sudden heart failure, he was translated to his heavenly home. He illustrated his own sweet evening hymn, "Softly Fades the Twilight Ray."
Among the elect-ladies who have produced great uplifting hymns that "were not born to die" was Mrs. Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, the daughter of the saintly Dr. Edward Payson, of Portland, Maine. Her prose works were very popular, and "Stepping Heavenward" had found its way into thousands of hearts. But one day she—in a few hours—won her immortality by writing a hymn, beginning with the lines,
"More love to Thee, O Christ, More love to Thee"
It was printed on a fly-sheet, for a few friends, then found its way into a hymn-book, edited by my well-beloved friend, Dr. Edwin F. Hatfield, and then it took wing and flew over the world into many foreign languages. I often met Mrs. Prentiss at the home of her husband, Dr. George L. Prentiss, an eminent professor in the Union Theological Seminary. She was a very bright-eyed little woman, with a keen sense of humor, who cared more to shine in her own happy household than in a wide circle of society. Her absolutely perfect hymn—for such it truly is—was born of her own deep longings for a fuller inflow of that love that casteth out all fear. This has been the genesis of all the soul-songs that devout disciples of our Lord chant into the ears of their Master in their hours of sweetest and closest fellowship. Mrs. Prentiss has put a new song into the mouths of a multitude of those who are "stepping heavenward."
THE TEMPERANCE REFORM AND MY CO-WORKERS
As stated in the first chapter of this book, I became a teetotaler when I was a child, and I also stated that the first public address I ever delivered was in behalf of temperance. When I made my first visit to Edinburgh in 1842 I learned that a temperance society of that city was about to go over to Glasgow to greet the celebrated Father Theobald Mathew, who was making his first visit to Scotland. I joined my Edinburgh friends, and on arriving in Glasgow we found a multitude of over fifty thousand people assembled on the green. In an open barouche, drawn by four horses, stood a short, stout Irishman, with a handsome, benevolent countenance, and attired in a long black coat with a silver medal hanging upon his breast. After the procession, headed by his carriage, had forced its way through the densely thronged street, it halted in a small open square. Father Mathew dismounted, and began to administer the pledge of abstinence to those who were willing to receive it. They kneeled on the ground in platoons; the pledge was read aloud to them; Father Mathew laid his hands upon them and pronounced a benediction. From the necks of many a small medal attached to a cord was suspended. In this rapid manner the pledge was administered to many hundreds of persons within an hour, and fresh crowds continually came forward.
When I was introduced to the good man as an American, he spoke a few kind words and gave me an "apostolic kiss" upon my cheek. As I was about to make the first public speech of my life, I suppose that I may regard that act of the great Irish apostle as a sort of ordination to the ministry of preaching the Gospel of total abstinence. The administration of the pledge was followed by a grand meeting of welcome in the city hall. Father Mathew spoke with modest simplicity and deep emotion, attributing all his wonderful success to the direct blessings of God upon his efforts to persuade his fellow-men to throw off the despotism of the bottle. After delivering my maiden speech I hastened back to Edinburgh with the deputation from "Auld Reekie," and I never saw Father Mathew again. He was, unquestionably, the most remarkable temperance reformer who has yet appeared. While a Catholic priest in Cork, a Quaker friend, Mr. Martin, who met him in an almshouse, said to him, "Father Theobald, why not give thyself to the work of saving men from the drink?" Father Mathew immediately commenced his enterprise. It spread over Ireland like wildfire. It is computed that no less than five millions of people took the pledge of total abstinence from intoxicating poisons by his influence. The revolution wrought in his day, in his own time and country, was marvellous, and, to this day, his influence is perpetuated in the vast number of Father Mathew Benevolent Temperance Societies.
Second only to Father Mathew in the number of converts which he has made to total abstinence was that brilliant and dramatic platform orator, John B. Gough. When he was a reckless young sot in Worcester, Massachusetts, he had owed his conversion to a touch on his shoulder by a shoemaker, named Joel Stratton, who had invited him to a Washingtonian temperance meeting. Soon after that time he owed his conversion, under God, to the influence of Miss Mary Whitcomb, the daughter of a Boylston farmer in the neighborhood. He formed her acquaintance very soon after he signed the temperance pledge in Worcester, and she consented to assume the risk of becoming his wife. In the summer of 1856 I visited my beloved friend Gough at his beautiful Boylston home to aid him in revival services, which he was conducting in his own church, then without a pastor. He was Sunday-school superintendent, pastor and leader of inquiry meetings—all in himself. One evening he took me to the house of his neighbor, Captain Flagg, and said to me: "Here, in this house, Mary and I did our brief two or three weeks of courting. We didn't talk of love, but only religion and about the welfare of my soul. We prayed together every time we met; and it was such serious business that I do not think I even kissed her until we were married. She took me on trust, with three dollars in my pocket, and has been to me the best wife God ever made." When they went to Boston, Dr. Edward N. Kirk received Mr. Gough into the Mt. Vernon Street Church, just as many years afterwards he received Mr. Moody to the same communion table.
Of Mr. Gough's extraordinary platform powers I need not speak while there are so many now living that sat under the enchantment of his eloquence. A man who could crowd an opera house in London to listen to so unpopular a theme as temperance while a score or more of coroneted carriages were waiting about the door must have been no ordinary master of oratory. As an actor he might have been a second Garrick; as a preacher of the Gospel he would have been a second Whitefield. My house was his home when visiting our city for many years, and he used to tell me that my letters to him were carried in his breast pocket until they were worn to fragments. His last speech, delivered in Philadelphia, displayed much of his early power, and the last sentence, "Young man, keep a clean record," rung out as he fell stricken with apoplexy, and the eloquent voice was silent forever. God's messenger met him where every true warrior may well desire to be met—in the heat of the battle, and with the harness on.
My acquaintance with Neal Dow began in the early winter of 1852. He had been chosen Mayor of Portland in the spring of the year, and then he struck the bold stroke which was "heard round the world" and made him famous as the father of Prohibition. He had drafted a bill for the suppression of tippling houses and placed in it a claim of the right of the civil authorities to search all premises where it was suspected that intoxicating liquors were kept for sale, and to seize and confiscate them on the spot. It was this sharp scimitar of search and seizure which gave the original Maine law its deadly power. He took his bill to the seat of government and it was promptly passed by the legislature. He brought it home in triumph, and in less than three months there was not an open dram shop or distillery in Portland! He invited me to visit him, and drove me over the city, whose pure air was not polluted with the faintest smell of alcohol. It seemed like the first whiff of a temperance millennium. An invitation was extended to him to a magnificent public meeting in Tripler Hall, New York. At that meeting a large array of distinguished speakers, including General Houston, of Texas; the Hon. Horace Mann, of Massachusetts; Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Chapin and several other celebrities, appeared. On that evening I delivered my first public address in New York, and have been told that it was the occasion of my call to be a pastor in that city two years afterwards. A gold medal was presented to Neal Dow that evening. He went home with me to Trenton, and from that time our intimacy was so great and our correspondence so constant that if I had preserved all his letters they would make a history of the prohibition movement from 1851 to 1857, the years of its widest successes. With him I addressed the legislature of New York, who passed a law of prohibition very soon afterwards. A forceful, magnetic man was General Dow, thoroughly honest and courageous, with a womanly tenderness in his sympathies. I have been permitted to know intimately many of the leaders in great moral reforms on both sides of the ocean; but a braver, sounder heart was not to be found than that which throbbed in the breast of Neal Dow.
On his ninetieth birthday the hale veteran sent my wife his photograph. She placed his white locks alongside of the photograph which Gladstone gave her, and she calls them her duet of grand old men. The closing years of General Dow's life, like the closing years of Martin Luther, were clouded with anxiety. He saw the great movement which he had championed checked by many difficulties and suffering some disastrous reverses. Some States which had enacted total prohibition forty years before had repealed the law. In the five States which retained it on their statute books its salutary enforcement was dependent on the moral sentiments in the various localities. In his own, beloved Maine, his own beloved law had been trampled down in some places; in others made the football of designing politicians. These reverses saddened the old hero's heart, and he sent to the public meeting in Portland which celebrated his ninety-third birthday this message: "That the purpose of my life work will be fully accomplished at some time I do not doubt, and my hope and expectation is that the obstacles which now obstruct us will not long block the way." The name of Neal Dow will be always memorable as one of the truest, bravest and purest philanthropists of the nineteenth century.
The most important organization for the promotion of temperance in our country is the National Temperance Society and Publication House, which was founded in 1865. I prepared its constitution, and the committee which organized it met in the counting room of that eminent Christian merchant, the late Hon. William E. Dodge. I once introduced him to the Earl of Shaftesbury at a Lord Mayor's reception in London in these words: "My lord, let me introduce you to William E. Dodge, the Shaftesbury of America." To this day he is remembered as an ideal Christian merchant and philanthropist. With him conscience ruled everything, and God ruled conscience. He was one of the founders of a great railway and cut the first sod for its construction. Long afterwards the Board of Directors of the road proposed to drive their trains and traffic through the Lord's day. Mr. Dodge said to his fellow directors: "Then, gentlemen, put a flag on every locomotive with these words inscribed on it, 'We break God's law for a dividend.' As for me, I go out." He did go out, and disposed of his stock. Within a few years the road went into the hands of a receiver, and the stock sank to thirty cents on the dollar.
During the Civil War, General Dix and his military staff gave Mr. Dodge a complimentary dinner at Fortress Monroe. General Dix rapped on the table and said to his brother officers: "Gentlemen, you are aware that our honored guest is a water-drinker. I propose that to-day we join him in his favorite beverage." Forthwith every wine-glass was turned upside down as a silent tribute to the Christian conscience of their guest. When the whole Christian community of America shall imitate the wise example of that great philanthropist it will exert a tremendous influence for the banishment of all intoxicants from the public and private hospitalities of society. Mr. Dodge was elected the first president of the National Temperance Society, and served it for eighteen years and bestowed upon it his liberal donations. He closed his useful and beneficent life in February, 1883, and he was succeeded in the presidency of the Society by Dr. Mark Hopkins of Williams College, by the writer of this book, by General O.O. Howard and by Joshua L. Bailey, who is at present the head of the organization. The society has done a vast and benevolent work, receiving and expending a million and a half dollars, publishing many hundreds of valuable volumes, and widely circulated tracts.
The limits of this chapter will not allow me to pay my tribute to the venerable Dr. Charles Jewett, Dr. Cheever, Albert Barnes, Dr. Tyng and the great Christian statesman, Theodore Frelinghuysen, Miss Frances Willard, Lady Henry Somerset, Joseph Cook and many others who have been prominent in the promotion of this great Christian reform. It has been my privilege to labor for it through my whole public life. I have prepared thirty or forty tracts, written a great number of articles and delivered hundreds of addresses in behalf of it, and preached many a discourse from my own pulpit. I have always held that every church is as much bound to have a temperance wheel in its machinery as to have a Sabbath school or a missionary organization. It is of vital importance that the young should be saved, and therefore I have urged temperance lessons in the Sunday school and the early adoption of a total abstinence pledge. The temperance reform movement made its greatest progress when churches and Sunday schools laid hold of it and when the total abstinence pledge was widely and wisely used. The social drink customs are coming back again and a fresh education of the American people as to the deadly drink evil is the necessity of the hour, and that must be given in the home, in the schools and from the pulpit and from the public press. I have become convinced from long labor in this reform that the ordinary license system is only a poultice to the dram seller's conscience, and for restraining intemperance it is a ghastly failure. Institutions and patent medicines to cure drinkers have only had a partial success. The only sure cure for drunkenness is to stop before you begin. Entire legal suppression of the dram shop is successful where a stiff, righteous, public sentiment thoroughly enforces it. Otherwise it may become a delusion and a farce.
The best method of prohibition is what is known as "local option," where the question is submitted to each community, whether the liquor traffic shall be legalized or suppressed by public authority. Of late years friends of our cause have fallen into the sad mistake of directing their main assaults upon liquor selling instead of keeping up also their fire upon the use of intoxicants. Legal enactments are right; but to attempt to dam up a torrent and neglect the fountain-head is surely insanity. The fountain-head of drunkenness is the drinking usages which create and sustain the saloons, which are often the doorways to hell. In theory I always have been, and am to-day, a legal suppressionist; but the most vital remedy of all is to break up the demand for intoxicants, and to persuade people from wishing to buy and drink them. That goes to the root of the evil. In endeavoring to remove the saloon, it is the duty of all philanthropists to do their utmost to provide safe places of resort—as the Holly-Tree Inns and other temperance coffee houses—for the working people. And another beneficent plan is for corporations and employers to make abstinence from drink an essential to employment. My generous friend, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, when he recently gave a liberal donation to our National Temperance Society, said to me: "The best temperance lecture I have delivered was when I agreed to pay ten per cent premium to all the employees on my Scottish estates who would practice entire abstinence from intoxicants." The experience of three-score years has taught me the inestimable value of total abstinence; the benefit of the righteous law when it is well enforced, and also that the church of Christ has no more right to ignore the drink evil than it has to ignore theft, or Sabbath desecration, or murder. Let me add also my grateful acknowledgment of the very effective and Heaven-blessed work wrought by that noble organization, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. As woman has been the sorest sufferer from the drink-curse, it is her province and her duty to do her utmost for its removal.
MY WORK IN THE PULPIT
During the first eighteen months after I graduated from Princeton College I was balancing between the law and the ministry. Many of my relatives urged me to become a lawyer, as my father and grandfather had been, but my godly mother had dedicated me to the ministry from infancy, and her influence all went in the same line with her prayers. With the exception of my venerated and beloved kinsman, Dr. Cornelius C. Cuyler, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, who died in 1850, no other man of my name has stood in an American pulpit. During the winter of my return from Europe to my home on the Cayuga Lake, one of my uncles invited me to go down and attend an afternoon prayer service in the neighboring village of Ludlowville. There was a spiritual awakening in the church, and the meeting was held in the parlor of a private house. I arose and spoke for ten minutes. When the meeting was over, more than one came to me and said: "Your talk did me good." On my way home, as I drove along in my sleigh, the thought flashed into my mind, "If ten minutes' talk to-day helped a few souls, why not preach all the time?" That one thought decided the vexed question on the spot. Our lives turn on small pivots, and if we let God lead us, the path will open before our footsteps. I reached home that day, and informed my good mother of my decision. She had always expected it and quietly remarked, "Then, I have already spoken to Mr. Ford for his room for you in the Princeton Seminary." My three years in the Seminary were full of joy and profit. I made it a rule to go out as often as possible and address little meetings in the neighboring school-houses, and found this a very beneficial method of gaining practice. A young preacher must get accustomed to the sound of his own voice; if naturally timid, he must learn to face an audience and must first learn to speak; afterwards he may learn to speak well. It is a wise thing for a young man to begin his labors in a small congregation; he has more time for study, a better chance to become intimately acquainted with individual characters, and also a smaller audience to face. The first congregation that I was called to take charge of, in Burlington, N.J. contained about forty families. Three or four of these were wealthy and cultivated, the rest were plain mechanics, with a few gardeners and coachmen. I made my sermons to suit the comprehension of the gardeners and coachmen at the end of the house, leaving the cultivated portion to gain what they could from the sermon on its way. One of the wealthy attendants was Mr. Charles Chauncey, a distinguished Philadelphia lawyer, who spent the summer months in Burlington. Once after I had delivered a very simple and earnest sermon on the "Worth of the Soul," I went home and said to myself, "Lawyer Chauncey must have thought that was only a camp-meeting exhortation." He met me during the week and to my astonishment he said to me: "My young friend, I thank you for that sermon last Sunday; it had the two best qualities of preaching—simplicity and down-right earnestness. If I had a student in my law-office who was not more in earnest to win his first ten dollar suit before a Justice of the Peace than some men seem to be in trying to save souls I would kick such a student out of my office." That eminent lawyer's remark did me more service than any month's study in the Seminary. It taught me that cultivated audiences relished plain, simple scriptural truths as much as did the illiterate, and that down-right earnestness to save souls hides a multitude of sins in raw young preachers.
Another instance that occurred in my early ministry did me a world of good. I was invited to preach in the Presbyterian Church at Saratoga Springs about two years after I was licensed. My topics were "Trusting Jesus Christ" in the morning and "The Day of Judgment" at the evening service. The next day, when I was buying my ticket at the railway station to leave the town, a plain man (who was a baker in the village) said to me: "Are you not the young man who spoke yesterday in our meeting-house?" I told him that I was. "Well," said he, "I never felt more sorry for any one in my life." "Why so?" I asked. His answer was: "I said to myself, there is a youth just out of the Seminary, and he does not know that a Saratoga audience is made up of highly educated people from all parts of the land; but I have noticed that if a minister, during his first ten minutes, can convince the people that he is only trying to save their souls he kills all the critics in the house." I have never ceased to thank God for the remark of that shrewd Saratoga baker, who, I was told, had come there from New Haven, Connecticut, and was a man of remarkable sagacity. That was one of the profoundest bits of sound philosophy on the art of preaching that I have ever encountered, and I have quoted it in every Theological Seminary that I have ever addressed. If we ministers pour the living truths of the Gospel red-hot into the ears and consciences of our audiences, they will have enough to do to look out for themselves and will have no time to level criticisms at us or our mode of preaching. Cowards, also, are never more pitiable than when in the pulpit.
I will not enter here into the endless controversy about the comparative merits of written or extemporized sermons. My own observation and experience has been that no rule is the best rule. Every man must find out by practice which method he can use to the best advantage and then pursue it. No man ever fails who understands his forte, and no man succeeds who does not. Some men cannot extemporize effectively if they try ever so hard; there are others who, like Gladstone, can think best when they are on their legs and are inspired by an audience. During the first few years of my ministry I wrote out nearly all of my sermons. The advantage of doing that is that it enables a young beginner to form his own style at the outset by careful and systematic writing. Spurgeon, often when a youth, read some of his sermons, although afterwards he never premeditated a single sentence for the pulpit. Dr. Richard S. Storrs was a most fluent extemporaneous speaker, but for twenty years he carefully wrote all his discourses. My own habit, after a time, was to write a portion of the sermon and turn away from my notes to interject thoughts that came in the heat of the moment and then turn to my manuscript. This was generally the habit of Henry Ward Beecher. After thirty years in the ministry I discarded writing sermons entirely and adopted the plan of preparing a few "heads" on a bit of note-paper, and tacking it into a Bagster's Bible. Dr. John Hall wrote carefully, leaving his manuscript at home; and so does Dr. Alexander McLaren, of Manchester, who is to-day by far the most superb sermonizer in Great Britain. The eloquent Guthrie, of Scotland, committed his discourses to memory, and delivered them in a torrent of Godly emotion.