In the many breaks that occur in the missionary constituency, his life was the one chain of continuity. The Churches had come to feel that whoever failed them, they had Teacher Talmage still. His departure was like the falling down of a venerable cathedral, leaving the broken and bleeding ivy among the dust and debris. The Chinese Christians had leaned hard upon him. They loved and revered him as a father. Since he passed away his name has seldom been mentioned in any public assembly of the Church by any of the Chinese brethren without the broken and trembling utterance that has called forth from a listening congregation the silent, sympathetic tear.
Great and good man, fervent preacher, inspiring teacher, wise and sympathetic counselor, generous friend, affectionate father,—farewell, till the morning breaks and we meet in the City of Light. “And behold these shall come from far, and lo, these from the north, and from the west, and these from the land of Sinim.”
“Oh then what raptured greetings,
What knitting severed friendships up,
Where partings are no more.”
DR. TALMAGE-THE MAN.
By Rev. W. S. Swanson, D.D.
[Dr. Swanson was for twenty years a valued member of the English Presbyterian Mission at Amoy, and subsequently Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church of England until his death, November 24, 1893]
My first meeting with Dr. Talmage took place in the early days of July, 1860, and from that day till the day of his death he was regarded as not only one of the best and most valued friends, but I looked up to him as a father beloved and respected.
One cannot help recalling now the impressions of those early days. There was a marked individuality about this man that made you regard him whether you would or not. You felt that he was a man bound to lead and to take the foremost place amongst his brethren and all with whom he came in touch. There was a firmness of tread, and the brave courage of conviction, united with a womanly tenderness, that were unmistakable.
You saw he had made up his mind before he spoke, and that when he did speak he spoke with a fullness of knowledge that few men possessed. He was every inch of him a man.
And what touched us very much, who were young men, was the tender forbearance with which he always treated us. We saw this more clearly as the years passed on, and learned how much, perhaps, he had to bear from some of us whose assertiveness in some matters was in the inverse ratio of our knowledge. The reference here is to matters and methods regarding our work as missionaries to the Chinese. He bore with us, and knew well the day would come when, with increasing knowledge, there would come increasing hesitation in pronouncing too hastily on the problems we had to face; and he knew well that day would come if there was anything in us at all.