“You know how, in the last few days, we have all been overwhelmed with unusual cares. The grand ceremonies of the Park and the Academy of Music are over, but have left me in a good-for-nothing condition. Everything went off splendidly, indeed, as you will learn from the papers.... I find it more difficult to bear up with the overwhelming praise that is poured out without measure, than with the trials of my former life. There is something so remarkable in this universal laudation that the effect on me, strange as it may seem, is rather depressing than exhilarating.
“When I review my past life and see the way in which I have been led, I am so convinced of the faithfulness of God in answer to the prayers of faith, which I have been enabled in times of trial to offer to Him, that I find the temper of my mind is to constant praise: ’Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits!’ is ever recurring to me. It is doubtless this continued referring all to Him that prevents this universal demonstration of kindly feeling from puffing me up with the false notion that I am anything but the feeblest of instruments. I cannot give you any idea of the peculiar feelings which gratify and yet oppress me.”
He had planned to cross the ocean once more, partly as a delegate to Russia from the Evangelical Alliance, and partly to see whether it would not be possible to induce Prussia and Switzerland and other European nations, from whom he had as yet received no pecuniary remuneration, to do him simple justice. But, for various reasons, this trip was abandoned, and from those nations he never received anything but medals and praise.
So the last summer of the aged inventor’s life was spent at his beloved Locust Grove, not free from care and anxiety, as he so well deserved, but nevertheless, thanks to his Christian philosophy, in comparative serenity and happiness. His pastor in Poughkeepsie, the Reverend F.B. Wheeler, says of him in a letter to Mr. Prune: “In his whole character and in all his relations he was one of the most remarkable men of his age. He was one who drew all who came in contact with him to his heart, disarming all prejudices, silencing all cavil. In his family he was light, life, and love; with those in his employ he was ever considerate and kind, never exacting and harsh, but honorable and just, seeking the good of every dependent; in the community he was a pillar of strength and beauty, commanding the homage of universal respect; in the Church he walked with God and men.”
That he was a man of great versatility has been shown, in the recital of his activities as artist, inventor, and writer; that he had no mean ability as a poet is also on record. On January 6, 1872, he says in a letter to his cousin, Mrs. Thomas R. Walker: “Some years ago, when both of us were younger, I remember addressing to you a trifle entitled ’The Serenade,’ which, on being shown to Mr. Verplanck, was requested for publication in the ‘Talisman,’ edited and conducted by him and Mr. Sands. I have not seen a copy of that work for many years, and have preserved no copy of ‘The Serenade.’ If you have a copy I should be pleased to have it.”