Galusha Anderson: Preacher and Educator – part 2
Frederick L. Anderson, Author
Elbridge R. Anderson, Publisher
Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I – now available
The Fight for Missouri by Thomas L. Snead, 1886
The Struggle for Missouri by John McElroy, 1909
The Story of a Border City During the Civil War by Galusha Anderson, 1908
The Crisis by Winston Churchill, 1901
Basil Duke in Missouri by Gen. Basil Wilson Duke, 1911
The Brown-Reynolds Duel, 1911
Cost per CD ROM is $24.95 + $4.00 priority mail shipping
Introduction: What follows is a biography written in 1933 by the son of Galusha Anderson, a minister who spent the Civil War years in the volatile, divided city of St. Louis, Missouri. In a city of often ambiguous loyalties, Galusha Anderson was one of the devoutly loyal Unionists and one of the most committed abolitionists. In 1908 he wrote “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War,” his remembrances of the war years in St. Louis. The book is one of the most valuable records of these years in the city, with many of the major players in the events of the war years appearing in its pages. The perspective is very decidedly Union with Galusha Anderson giving no quarter to the opposition’s viewpoint. But he is a fine writer with a lively, very readable style, and a fine eye for detail. His view of events is uniquely his own and shaped by his own biases so the critical reader must balance the accounts of “The Story of a Border City During the War” with other reading. This is one of the reasons for the particular selection of texts offered in the Missouri Civil War Reader, Volume I, to provide that balance.
The biographical narrative on these web pages, written by Frederick Lincoln Anderson, born in St. Louis in 1862, offers an interesting background perspective on Galusha Anderson, the person, that he didn’t include in his own book. His background as an abolitionist, the tragic loss of his first family shortly after arriving in St. Louis, and additional events in St. Louis, help round out the character of Reverend Galusha Anderson.
The text of “Galusha Anderson: Preacher and Educator” by Frederick L. Anderson is copyrighted material not in the public domain. It may not be copied, reproduced, or distributed without permission. Contact George L. Thurlow for information.
Thanks to Mr. Thurlow for making this account of his great-grandfather possible on these pages. –D. H. Rule
Pages on Civil War St. Louis excerpted from “The Story of a Border City During the War”:
Then my father in February, 1878, was asked to accept the presidency of the University of Chicago, that institution, founded twenty years before, had reached its lowest point. “Its creditors were clamorous, its current expenses unmet, its professors unpaid. A huge mortgage debt of $200,000.00 rested on its property, on which no interest had ever been received. General opprobrium was visited upon it. The press of the city was unwilling to give it a respectful mention. The disastrous controversies and intricate dishonesties of years had made it a term of reproach.” In this crisis the trustees turned to my father, the most prominent Baptist minister in Chicago, to lead the forlorn hope and save the University. The task appealed to his chivalry, courage, and faith in God and in himself. He believed the promises made by the trustees, and feeling that the call was of God, as I have no doubt it was, he thought that it was “his duty to enter on this arduous and difficult work.”
He left the largest, pleasantest and most fruitful of his pastorates and a salary of $ 5,000.00 to embark upon a sea of troubles at $3,000.00 a year. This was guaranteed him by three or four of the trustees, but they paid it in full only for the first quarter and none at all after the first year of the seven years’ war. For the last six years, as he himself expressed it, “The President of the University had no stated salary; he skirmished for it.” The actual facts were worse than he had supposed. The University reported $160,000.00 of assets. On examination these proved worth $1,500.00. An endowment of $500.00 was discovered. The University had no credit. My father’s first experience was ordering coal. No one would sell the University coal, for which it then owed $1,000.00. The first thing he had to do was to go out and raise the $1,000.00; after that the University could get coal. Every year the President himself raised from $6,000.00 to $10,000.00 for current expenses. When he resigned, there were no unpaid bills of his contracting and he had paid $20,000.00 –practically all of the old bills. he carried a subscription book in his pocket, made a business of buttonholing the business men of Chicago, and he got the money. He wrote, “It is hard and repulsive work. Sometimes it seems that I can no longer endure it.” For current expenses, the mortgage debt, and endowment he begged unceasingly and in every quarter. Some of his letters to possible donors give us insights into his feelings. He writes, “This is the hardest work I ever tried to do.” He declines to speak at the May Anniversaries. “My ship is in a terrible storm and I cannot leave her.” “I am like a man at the pumps; I must pump or drown.” He writes to his father-in-law, “I never yet failed in any enterprise in which I engaged, and I cannot make up my mind to fail in this. I have lots of plans to work out yet before I say die. I am just getting my teeth in. That it is a tough, ugly job no one can doubt for a moment, but it is a very important one and must not be abandoned.” He wrote Dr. Bright, “I am sometimes, not to say often, at my wit’s end, but I feel determined and gritty. And as I see no light on the right hand or on the left, before or behind, I look straight up and the heavens are full of light.” A year after he had begun, Mr. N. K. Fairbank, the President of the Trustees and his good friend, advised him to quit since “his treatment by the Trustees had been far from generous.” This my father admitted, but wrote, “Since a great educational task has been committed to me, I do not think that I ought to abandon it so long as there is a vestige of hope.” These sentences give the mental background of the long struggle.
The University had good buildings, somewhat run-down, a student body of about 150 on the average, and a fine faculty, some of whom later became college presidents. They were heroes all, working enthusiastically for small pay out of sheer loyalty. When they learned my father’s policy of never paying; himself a cent of his month’s salary till the last teacher was paid in full, they rallied around him with a warmth and affection seldom equalled. Rarely has a President been more popular with students and Faculty. He taught Psychology, Ethics, Logic and International Law and often a term of English History. Every morning he walked or rode two miles with me to the University, taught and attended to his administrative duties there and disappeared about ten for his downtown office and his begging. Free evenings and often midnight hours, as well as the time on trains and horse cars, he devoted to the subjects he taught. But it was a good school and he did high-grade teaching. As he said in leaving it, “The University has done more on less money in the last seven years than any institution in the United States.”
He tried everything after the Chicago Baptists left him in the lurch at the start. He went to California and besought the big Bonanza kings to endow the University. He became well acquainted with Flood, Fair, Lucky Baldwin, old Senator Jones, the Nevada silver king, and Leland Stanford. They received and entertained him finely. He spent much time in their homes. He was a new sort to them and they rather liked to be considered possible patrons of learning. But they did not give him anything. Still Leland Stanford most seriously considered his proposition, and it was my father who planted in his mind the seed thought which later grew into Leland Stanford, Jr., University.
Then he tried the brethren in the East. He got nothing except rebuffs in Boston, but the New York Baptists were kinder. They helped considerably on current expenses, not much for the debt, but they promised that if Chicago would raise the debt, they would contribute liberally to endowments. They felt that otherwise they would be sinking their money in a hole. Again and again he felt that of Baptists he alone saw the importance of the task. He once semi-humorously called himself the President of the University that “nobody on earth cares for,” which was not quite true, for the Faculty and Oscar Barrett and his fidus Achates, Dr. Justin Smith of the Standard, and, in the East, Dr. Bright, did care.
He became convinced that if Chicago did not pay the debt, no one would and so he began to cultivate the great Chicago millionaires, and to preach to them in season and out of season the value of higher education, until finally even the magnates who smelled of the Stock Yards began to think; that possibly there was something worth thinking about besides hogs. The more he met these men, the better they liked him in spite of his begging. He lifted the University to a new level in their thinking. The newspapers began to speak respectfully and then sympathetically and finally in praise of him and his work. He was admitted to some fine clubs and inner circles, and made a host of friends and admirers entirely outside the Baptist constituency. These people gave him the bulk of the money for current expenses.
When every one else failed him, he conceived the idea of paying the debt himself. To that end, he went into silver mines. He made some money and lost more. Then he became the President of two electric light companies. These succeeded better. Just as he was leaving Chicago, he managed to realize on his holdings in electric light and got enough to pay all his debts and go to Salem with $1,000.00 in his pocket. During the seven years’ fight he had put into the University all his savings and had sometimes been as much as $3,000.00 in debt due to unpaid salary, but electric light took care of all this, though it did not pay the University debt.
l have told the inside history first to give the personal background, The initial public act of my father’s administration was an attack on the debt of $200,000.00, secured by a mortgage given by the Trustees of the University in 1876 to the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company of Portland, Maine. Much of this debt was compound interest. The actual loan was $109,000.00 and the debtor was really bankrupt. The Company was finally induced to compromise for $100,000.00, and a very active campaign was made for it. But 1878 belonged to the “hard times,” and with all his energy and persistence, the President raised only $25,000.00. A continuance of the offer of $100,000.00 for another year was asked, but was refused, and all propositions of compromise were brusquely rejected, and the creditor even refused to foreclose. In these circumstances, at my father’s suggestion, the University regents, not trustees but representatives of the State of Illinois, brought suit to discover the validity of a mortgage on property which in the deed of gift was forever dedicated to educational purposes. This action had not the slightest purpose of repudiation, but was meant to force the creditor to compromise or at least foreclose and to disclose in court the exact legal and business status. The bill was drawn under the direction of one of the regents, Mr. I. N. Arnold, one of Chicago’s leading lawyers and a citizen of unblemished reputation for the highest integrity and on the advice of Hon. Joseph L. Bailey, afterwards Chief Justice of Illinois, a leading Baptist and a most consistent Christian.
This suit, brought in the State courts, forced the hand of the Insurance Company, and it immediately brought suit for foreclosure in the United States Court. This was resisted by the University on the grounds of the inalienability of the property and the excessive compound interest demanded in the bill. This again was only an attempt to get a reasonable adjustment, which the Insurance Company President for personal reasons well known to the University opposed. These cases dragged their slow length along for several years in the Courts, until finally the regents’ suit failed and the Federal judge gave the decision in favor of the Insurance Company. In this suit in the Federal Court, one of the counsel for the University was Melville W. Fuller, afterwards Chief Justice of the United States, who was such a friend of the University and of my father, so convinced of the soundness of the legal contention of the defendant and of the justice of its cause that he served without pay. Mr. Fuller’s advice after the decision was to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, and it must be noted that, if the appeal had been made, the Chief Justice of the United States could not have sat on the case, as he had already expressed an opinion in favor of the University.
But this appeal was never asked although my father heartily favored it. During this litigation, the cry that the University was repudiating its obligation was raised by the Insurance Company and its lawyers and the basest motives were ascribed to my father and his coadjutors. This cry, strange to say, was taken up by some Baptist brethren in the East, and was supported by the editors of the Watchman and the National Baptist of Philadelphia. In both papers, my father carried on a long and painful controversy. He was the soul of honor and honesty and nothing in his public life ever hurt him like this charge, especially as he knew himself to be perfectly innocent. His last sentence on the subject in the Watchman was, “I sleep well, a good conscience makes a very comfortable bedfellow.” Some Chicago papers, probably paid by the Insurance Company, joined in the man hunt. Even the Chicago Methodist organ reviled my father and all his friends. But most of the Chicago papers, the Western Baptists unanimously, the Chicago business men, and Dr. Bright of the Examiner and Dr. Justin A. Smith of the Standard stood by the University President through thick and thin. It was a great comfort to him that such a pure soul, such a sensitive spirit, such a clear mind as that of Justin A. Smith supported him without any ifs or buts.
But nevertheless the leading Chicago Baptist ministers, Lorimer, Lawrence and Henson, were finally frightened by the bitterness of the controversy, and under the leadership of Dr. Lorimer, by a majority of one vote, the Trustees voted not to appeal the suit to the United States Supreme Court, and this this was approved by a narrow majority in a very lively mass-meeting of Baptists. The results were that the University property was taken under foreclosure, and the University buildings subsequently pulled down, that my father resigned in May, 1885, and Dr. Lorimer was elected acting President of the University, that he raised no money and resigned at the end of the year, that the University, after going on for two years in hired rooms under the direction of the Faculty, finally expired in 1887.
Was this Chicago Presidency a failure? At the time of his resignation my father and nearly everybody else thought so. It had been a long, hard, gallant fight against overwhelming odds, and without the aid of the reinforcements, which, though persistently requested and long awaited, never appeared. So the soldier at last laid down his arms and surrendered the fort, defeated but not dishonored. But God’s thoughts are long thoughts, and looking back now, we see that it was a really advantageous battle in a long war, which was finally crowned by victory. We need not speak of the excellent educational work done in the University and the noble characters formed and molded there under my father’s influence. We know now that his holding of the fort, so much longer than any one expected he could, disarranged and defeated well-formed plans for a great agnostic University of Chicago, that he held on long enough to make the new Christian University of Chicago a possibility and finally a reality. During seven weary years, he sowed the seed of a real interest in higher education in the minds of the moneyed men of Chicago. And some of these men, who had become my father’s friends, were the first to contribute liberally to the new University. Mr. Cobb built its Cobb Hall; Mr. Kent, who had always helped largely on current expenses, built Kent Theater; George C. Walker put up the Natural Science Building; Mrs. Annie Hitchcock, Hitchcock Hall; Mrs. Beecher, Beecher and Green Halls; and Miss Helen Culver, who had received her millions from her uncle, Mr. Hull, with the expressed wish that they might be used for higher education, built Hull Court. It is probable that my father’s long and frequent talks with Mr. Rockefeller about the old University prepared his mind for the propositions of the founders of the new University. Mr. Rockefeller was my father’s fast friend and a liberal giver to current expenses.
Had the struggle for the old University been given up after one year in 1879, as many advised, the new University would probably never have existed. God raised my father up to fill the gap.
But in an account of his public services, mention must be made of his political activities in Chicago. In the Blaine-Cleveland campaign of 1884, the Democrats controlled the election machinery in the city, reduced the number of polling places in the Republican wards, and placed the polling places in the down-town Democratic wards in dark alleys and rough saloons, to scare away respectable voters. My father took the initiative to remedy this situation and headed a Citizens Committee of One Hundred to do it. They put great electric lamps in the dark alleys till they were as light as day, they organized Republican bands to occupy the rough saloons, they brought the Republican voters in hundreds to each of the polls before the voting hour, and saved the State to Blaine 18,000 majority. In this election, there was great fraud in the use of tissue ballots, but this Committee sent the rascals, including the leading Democratic boss of Chicago, Joe Mackin, to State’s Prison. Thither they also sent the corrupt County Commissioners of Cook County in which Chicago is situated. And, as if time hung idly on his hands, my father exposed the corrupt ring which had long dominated the suburb in which he lived, Hyde Park, and soundly defeated them in a very bitter and nasty political campaign. The best men of Chicago rallied almost unanimously to him in these contests and he had some political victories to assuage the sting and mortification of what seemed to him his educational debacle.
When he was about to leave Chicago, the Nominating Committee of the Vassar Trustees unanimously recommended him to their Board for the vacant Presidency. After a long and exceedingly disgraceful fight on him by a little clique whom he had offended in college, he was defeated on the grounds that he had tried to repudiate the debts of the University. The files of the Examiner for 1885 tell the whole unvarnished tale.
After a brief period of refreshment in the Salem pastorate, my father undertook his second college presidency, going to Denison University, Granville, Ohio, January 1, 1887, on the unanimous invitation of the Trustees. Here he quickly put things in order. He built the oak steps up the hill, improved the roads, properly lighted the buildings, and brought a new spirit of liberty and discipline to the institution. He catalogued the library and made it accessible to the young women of Shepardson College. He reorganized the institution, making Granville College and Shepardson College constituent parts of Denison University, with mutual privileges, and separating the preparatory department from the College under the name of Granville Academy. He attracted many excellent teachers and the student body rapidly grew in numbers. But after two and a half years, the health of his family required a change of climate and he accepted in 1890 the call to teach Homiletics and Pastoral Duties in the Baptist Union Theological Seminary at Morgan Park, which two years afterwards became the Divinity School of the new University of Chicago. We should say in passing that his going to Denison six months before Dr. Anderson’s resignation at Rochester deprived him of the Presidency of the University of Rochester, a consummation which had been long desired by President Anderson and the University Trustees.
His college presidencies filled ten years of his life, and showed his great executive talents. He was an excellent teacher, he had a large, sane and healthful influence on the young men and women in college, he dealt firmly, wisely and kindly in cases of discipline, he always bound his faculty to him with the warmest ties, he knew how to manage Boards of Trustees so as to secure their cordial assent to his policies and to make them friends. He clearly analyzed situations, knew just what he wanted, and went right on to get it. It was open diplomacy, and yet there was often a dash of natural shrewdness in it. My father was fundamentally a practical man.
PROFESSOR OF HOMILETICS
Twenty-one years my father occupied the Homiletical Chair, seven years in Newton, 1866-1873, and fourteen years in Chicago, 1890-1904. In addition, during his Second Church pastorate, and afterwards during his Chicago University Presidency, he taught Homiletics as a side issue at the Baptist Theological Seminary. He also taught the subject three years in the Gordon School, now Gordon College, in Boston. To this work he gave the largest fraction of his public life. I cannot say that it was his favorite occupation. He seemed to me to enjoy the pastorate, the College Presidency and the Homiletical Chair almost equally and never expressed any decided preference. Only one thing he disliked and that was begging. Yet he did a good deal of that not only in Chicago, but in St. Louis and Newton and at Denison. I think that my father would best have enjoyed the presidency of a good-sized college, like Brown.
When it comes to his work in Homiletics, my materials become scanty. My father was my pastor in Brooklyn and Chicago and I remember him well in the pulpit and the prayer-meeting. During the long struggle in the University of Chicago, he was my College President. I lived in the house with him and, young as I was, he made me one of his confidants, but I never entered his homiletical classroom. Many of his pupils could give a more intimate view of him in this capacity than I can.
In his view of the homiletical department, theory was of slight importance compared with practice. At the beginning of his service at Newton, he studied profoundly in the original and by the aid of the best commentaries, Aristotle on Rhetoric, and he often said that later writers had never added anything essential. He always refused to write a textbook on Homiletics, declaring that he had nothing new to say. He considered that one term was enough for theory, that the rest of the time should be devoted to the construction and criticism of sermons. His great labor, and incredible labor it was, was the criticism of sermons, a criticism thorough and minute, as the thousands of red-inked manuscripts returned to students can testify. This and the personal conference with students in elaboration of the criticism was the bulk of his task. Constructive Homiletics was his great course and many a preacher has been born there.
His criticism was always kindly, but it was thorough. Nothing slipshod or superficial was allowed to pass. He could be and often was severe. My only experience with him in Homiletics was during my seminary course in Morgan Park. My professor was an excellent preacher, and one of the most lovable of men, but he could not teach, in fact he was afraid of his classes. So I asked my father to give me a correspondence course. I shall never forget the first plan I sent him. By some inscrtable fate, I hit upon the obscure text, Rev. 22: ”11, “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still.” He wrote in reply, “There is only one good thing about your sermon: it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You do not know what your text means. Your introduction has nothing to do with your discourse. Your proposition is false. Your divisions do not flow out of your proposition and are not mutually exclusive. Your application is weak. Try again. Your affectionate Father,
It is needless to say that, having been somewhat petted in the Seminary, this gave me a rather lively shock. Nothing ever did me more good.
My father always insisted on thorough exegesis of the text, sound definition, clear analysis and a real presentation of truth. As a teacher he was kind but firm, tenacious of his points, lucid in exposition, strong in analysis. From the students he insisted on accuracy and fulness of statement. He encouraged debate in which he was always happy and sensible. He relentlessly stuck to the subject under discussion, refused to be diverted, and usually managed to go through the assigned task in the assigned hour.
Until he came to Newton, sermons had been written and read there. He insisted on preaching without notes, and was one of the greatest, simplest and most philosophical teachers of extempore speaking in the country. His theory at this point seems to me unassailable. He also required written sermons for criticism, but all sermons delivered in the classroom or the chapel were delivered without paper. At Newton, he also taught elocution and with eminent sanity and success. There were no blackboards at Newton before his day. He had them installed against the grumbling protest of solve of the Trustees, and used them copiously. During his stay at Newton, he preached a great deal, took a large and active part in raising the endowment, which at his insistence was made double what was first proposed. In these years, he declined a call to the First Church of San Francisco and the Presidency of Shurtleff. Dr. Barnas Sears also, on his resignation at Brown, indicated my father as his choice for the succession there, but another got more votes.
At Chicago, he pursued the same course as in Newton, but amplified his teaching with courses on Ancient and Modern Preachers, and on Hymnology. Both at Newton and Chicago, he also taught Church Polity, on which he wrote a pamphlet. In later years at Chicago, his position grew more difficult, as he was not so liberal in his doctrinal views as the most of his colleagues. He finally retired on an old-age pension, though he sensed the fact that at seventy-two he still had ten good working years left.
The evening of his life was long and peaceful. He preached a great deal but not so much as he desired. He was often called upon for set addresses. Two outstanding speeches should be mentioned. At the Chicago dinner at the Los Angeles Convention in 1915 he gave a remarkable prophecy of the outcome of the war, which has been almost literally fulfilled and deeply impressed all who heard. At the inauguration of President Barbour at Rochester, in his charge to the new President, he easily carried off the palm in two days of addresses. It was his last great public address and one of his very best. He rendered very valuable service on the Board of the Foreign Society, 1903-1909, and served on the Committee which took the initial steps for the union of Baptists and Free Baptists.
But the principal work of his old age was authorship. Already in his last year at Chicago, with the aid of Dr. Edgar Goodspeed, he had published the “Sermons of Asterius.” In 1908, he sent forth “The Story of a Border City During the Civil War,” an account of the fight for St. Louis, illumined by his personal experiences. A great deal of careful historical research lies behind this book, and it is greatly appreciated and much used by the professors of American History in the colleges of the country. Only Snead’s “Fight for Missouri” and Winston Churchill’s “Crisis” rank with it [all three of these important classics of Civil War St. Louis history are available on the Missouri Civil War Reader]. In 1910, he gathered some interesting anecdotes of his pastorates, already published in the Standard, in a little volume called “Hitherto Untold.” In 1911 he set forth the story of his country neighborhood in western New York under the title “When Neighbors Were Neighbors.” This was his most delightful and most successful book. It was widely circulated and sold for some years: The simple, objective, playful style and the oldtime life portrayed make it exceedingly attractive, especially to older men brought up in the country, and it has been highly valued by some eminent professors of American History.
With this book, he felt his literary labors at an end, but urged by my mother and myself, in 1915 he collected what he considered his best papers in “Science and Prayer and Other Papers,” and in 1917, the last year of his life, he laboriously selected the best of my mother’s poems, wrote her biography with tears, and published the book as a memorial to her. He finished with it only a month before he. fell sick. . . . So he worked on to the end. The last meeting of any kind which he ever attended was the meeting of the C. C. Club in January, 1918, after preaching twice in Lexington the day before, and in the City Club of Boston he suffered the initial and deadly chill which presaged his long, painful and fatal illness.
My father received from his parents a priceless heritage, more to be desired than gold or rubies, the result of generations of pure, godly living, viz.: a frame of oak, an iron nerve, a serene spirit, a gracious presence, and a sound common-sense. When I recall him, sturdy, rugged strength is my first thought, a strength on which men learned to rely and in the shadow of which the weak and helpless found a sure and kindly refuge. No one knew that refuge better than I, and when I saw him in the dawn of that beautiful summer morning peacefully breathe out his life, the whole earthly background of my own living suddenly disappeared.
The root of this strength of his was an indomitable will, for, after all, the will is the man. He was usually slow in making up his mind, but, his mind once made up, he was slower still to change. Inflexible purpose, unswerving determination, tireless perseverance are the words to describe, it. All this involved a glorious courage, and that finest kind of patience, which is courage long drawn out. Dangers could not daunt him. He did not turn aside when he heard that there were lions in the way, difficulties were only a challenge to his resourcefulness and, as he loved to call it, his stick-to-it-iveness. In all his long career, he never failed but once, and that we see now was a triumph of character, and a triumph in fact. When he took up a thing, he carried it through to the end, and men knew he would and trusted him on that account. This meant thoroughness. He hated sloppy, half-baked performances. On taking the Chair of Homiletics on Newton Hill, he prepared himself for the task by reading all the great works on rhetoric in their original languages, beginning with Aristotle, and he often told me that after reading Aristotle, he did not learn much from the rest. Once at twelve years of age, a very immature and half-formed boy, I went to my father about eight in the evening with a lesson, which I had found impossible, in a subject with which he was unfamiliar. Bitterly I rued it. He would not let the lesson or me go till both he and I had absolutely mastered it to the last detail. It was after midnight when we at last went to bed. I had not only learned that particular subject so that I shall never forget it, but that night 1 learned my father too.
It is now almost superfluous to say that he was a tireless worker. His superb constitution and great nervous energy made work and plenty of it a joy to him: He was always busy in his thorough way, but rarely hurried. He accomplished a vast deal because he was always at it. In the long evening of his life, he still devoted himself to literary labor, and the result was the books, which have made his name known far and wide. On the back of the title page of his last book stands the quotation, “At eve hold not thy hand.”
Still he was not an obstinate man. To be sure, he would not change his ideas and purposes merely to accommodate others, and they sometimes complained. But when the situation changed, he was quick to recognize it, and changed to suit it, and was ever ready to compromise on non-essentials. The only time he was really beaten, he knew it and quit, but generally when his friends and opponents said that he was beaten, he prepared another campaign, which clinched the victory. He was the shrewdest and most persistent fighter in a good cause that I have ever known. He was the most independent of men in thinking and action, little swayed by fashions in opinion or by the conservatism of his environment. He did his own thinking, and did not follow the leadership of others unless he had maturely considered and approved it. He was a leader himself. A few months after their marriage, my mother said, “You must.” He looked at her with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, and said, “Did you say ‘must’ to me? I do not know what ‘must’ means.” She never said it again. He was open to all appeals to reason, but the appeal to fear or compulsion always had the opposite of the desired effect. Threats only made him shut his mouth the more firmly and strengthened his resolution. He carried his sovereignty under his own hat. His self-respect was perfect and few ever attempted to invade it. He never could be forced against his will.
My father had a strong will, but he had a great heart, too. Though outwardly he always showed the calm of strength, and never was carried away by his emotions, he was a man of deep and tender feeling. As some one said, he was a great lover. He was never in the slightest sentimental. I never saw him until over eighty-four shed a tear, but he had in him a wellspring of the truest and purest sentiment, and this grew with the years.
He was at his best in the family circle. He loved his home, his wife, his children. He was a most affectionate husband, a tender and loving father. He had a remarkably even, cheery, sweet disposition. He was never irritable or fussy. Generous and considerate to a fault, he had an unselfishness, which never obtruded itself as such, which just made life easy, nobody knew just why. And he was the center of the home. Many brilliant circles knew him as a prince of story tellers, but he reserved his most delightful conversational treats for the home. When of an evening he began with reminiscence, anecdote and tale, punctuating them all with hearty laughter, there was no better entertainment in town. Even in the most dreadful hours of his life, his delicious humor never failed him. Indeed, like Abraham Lincoln, he took refuge in it. He was very fond of little children and they loved him. Though he never learned to take care of himself, he was one of the best sick nurses I ever knew. That strong, wholesome spirit seemed to irradiate health and cheer. And he depended on his home. Strong as he was, he needed its sympathy and support, and in later years, after my mother died, was quite wretched without it.
To such a man the deepest sorrows were the loss of loved ones. In his early manhood he buried in one grave two beautiful boys, and fourteen months afterwards in another single grave their mother and brother. Nothing was left him; his all was swept away. This was his Gethsemane, where he learned to say not with the lips, but with the heart, “Thy will be done.” A few months before his death he told me the whole story for the first time in detail, and I could see that while the dreadful wound of sixty years before was healed, it still pained. This terrible affliction made him wonderfully sympathetic with the bereaved, none of them could feel that he was more deeply afflicted than his pastor had been. None knew better what to do or say in the house of mourning than he.
Later he married my mother, and when, after fifty-five years of wedded life, she left him one evening, his sense of loss and loneliness was overwhelming. He found solace only in his work and in his faith. The last night of his life his thoughts were full of her, and he kept repeating, “I am coming, Mary. I am coming soon.”
My father was a great lover of nature. He delighted in his garden, especially his roses, and was an expert in raising sweet corn. He delighted in travel when once he was started, and he had set foot on every continent except South America, and on the soil of every American State. He gloried in the beauties unfolded by nature, whether at the North Cape or in the Lebanons, at Winnepesaukee or in the Yosemite. He was a lover of art and especially of the best music. He could not be kept away from the great annual rendition of the Messiah in Symphony Hall. He was there his last December as usual.
My father was always the friend and lover of the poor, the lowly, the oppressed. Those who had no helper found help in him. His heart grew quickly indignant at injustice and wrong. He had not a particle of race or class prejudice. He was himself a common man, a farmer’s boy sprung from the soil, and he was always proud of it. He was as good as anybody and everybody was as good as he was. This was his true Americanism, his deep democracy. Though he was a college president and professor most of his life, he never grew away from the common people, or developed the slightest scholastic pride. Though profoundly versed in his specialties, my father was always the practical man of affairs rather than the scholar. He loved his kind. He easily moved among men of all classes and races and treated all alike. Contempt for those beneath him in the social scale was wholly foreign to his nature, and condescension too. His father had been one of the first Abolitionists and voted for James G. Birney in 1844. My father’s heart bled for the Negro slaves, sold like cattle in the slave pens of St. Louis, and he was always the sincere friend of the Negro race. Looking over his old papers the other day, I noted also his rather elaborate study of the Chinese problem in California and his long-continued efforts in behalf of justice to them. He was always interested in Foreign Missions, but during and after his service on the Foreign Society Board in his seventies, the burden of the heathen world seemed rolled upon his spirit and I never knew him to pray for anything so earnestly and comprehensively as he did for our mission lands, and especially for Africa. Finally, he began lying awake nights thinking and praying about mission problems, until I found it necessary to urge him to resign front the Board. It is needless to add that he was generous with his money, almost to a fault, but in obedience to his Lord, he never let his left hand know what his right hand was doing. Few, therefore, knew of this trait in his character.
Much of what I have described sprang from his life in Christ, and now I wish particularly to describe that. His father was a good Baptist deacon, his grandfather a good Presbyterian elder and his mother had been soundly converted some years before he was born. He had an inheritance of religion and he listened to very excellent preaching in his boyhood from Elder Zenas Coleman at the old Sweden and Bergen Church. He had long been seriously thinking on the subject of personal religion, when, at the age of twelve, one afternoon in his father’s barn, he kneeled down alone and gave himself to the service of Christ. He soon joyfully confessed this devotion of himself to the Savior in baptism, and always thereafter firmly believed in child conversion. So far as I ever heard he never had any period of backsliding but grew normally as a Christian, early taking up work for the conversion of others and public testimony for Christ. In early years he had a strong ambition to be a lawyer and statesman, but before graduation from college he became convinced that God wanted him in the ministry and he gladly followed the divine leading.
His Christian life was remarkably steady. I began to know him pretty intimately when he was about forty-five, and though it is heretical to say it, I never saw any growth in grace in him. He seemed to me as good and pure and devoted then as at eighty-five, no more, no less. Indeed his Christianity never seemed anything added to his character. It was his character, if I may so speak. He was fundamentally and through and through Christian. His Christianity was therefore perfectly natural, and it was perfectly natural for him to think and speak of it to any one. His sturdy commonsense and delightful sanity governed his religious life. I never heard one word which tended to asceticism or fanaticism, or any morbid or extravagant emotionalism. In thought he never went to extremes, but, taking the middle road, he kept making progress with the times even during his seventies and eighties. It was remarkable to see a man of eighty receptive to new religious ideas.
But, though all this is true, his religion was deep and warm and glowed with a steady fire of devotion. He loved God and his Son, Jesus Christ, the Church, and especially “the brethren.” I never saw any one so in earnest with his religion. It was the one great business of life to him. He was not much given to loud professions or long prayers, but he had a genius for doing, loving and helping. After his retirement from active life at seventy-two for some time I could not understand his zeal till it dawned upon me that he had made up his mind never again, unless actually under the doctor’s care, to refuse a call to preach or do any other service, nay he counted such opportunities as though they were priceless. His text must have been, “I must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work.”
In fact his power as a preacher did not fail at all in old age in my estimation. Two or three years before his death he preached in the Newton Centre pulpit the best sermon I ever heard from him, and the last. I can see him yet as he stood erect, gracious and commanding before us. The first sentence enlisted the attention of all and he kept it rapt till the end. Fresh in treatment, bright in style, pellucidly clear; it led us on with deepening conviction and feeling to its noble climax.
He had his dearest wish. He worked in harness till the last. The day before he took to his bed with his long, last illness he preached twice at Lexington on a zero day, filling the pulpit of his grandson, Mr. Thurlow, who was working in France. He did it for Christ, and he did it as his share of war work for his country, without compensation, the last labor of love. We made one mistake at his funeral–the American flag should have draped his casket. No one ever loved it more devotedly or had fought more bravely for it. Rightly did the Veterans of the Civil War elect him an Honorary member and send representatives to his burial.
In ending this brief sketch, I should fail in a sacred duty, did I not repeat at his own behest the last connected words he spoke to me, two or three days before his departure to the better country, “Tell the brethren that there is no hope for any man except in the mercy of God as revealed in Jesus Christ; a man must rest in that alone. I would not now have a scintilla of hope, if I did not trust in Christ.” The better a man is the surer he is that that is the only way.
Noble man of God, good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, brave soldier of the right, may we all share your spirit, which was the spirit of Christ!