After his return from his short trip he gave two or three more lectures, with a somewhat diminishing attendance. Dr. Stebbins remarked in explanation, “I thought the people would tire in the sockets of their wings if they attempted to follow him.”
At this distance, I can remember little that he said, but no distance of time or space can ever dim the delight I felt in meeting him, or the impression formed of a most attractive, penetrating, and inspiring personality.
His kindliness and geniality were unbounded. During our arrangement of dates Mr. Davis smiled as he said of one suggested by Mr. Emerson, “That would not be convenient for Mr. Murdock, for it is the evening of his wedding.” He did not forget it. After the lecture, a few days later, he turned to me and asked, “Is she here?” When I brought my flattered wife, he chatted with her familiarly, asking where she had lived before coming to California, and placing her wholly at ease.
Every tone of his voice and every glance of his eye suggested the most absolute serenity. He seemed the personification of calm wisdom. Nothing disturbed him, nothing depressed him. He was as serene and unruffled as a morning in June. He radiated kindliness from a heart at peace with all mankind. His gentleness of manner was an illustration of the possibility of beauty in conduct. He was wholly self-possessed—to imagine him in a passion would be impossible. His word was searching, but its power was that of the sunbeam and not of the blast. He was above all teapot tempests, a strong, tender, fearless, trustful man.
Julia Ward Howe is something more than a noble memory. She has left her impress on her time, and given a new significance to womanhood. To hear the perfect music of the voice of so cultivated a woman is something of an education, and to have learned how gracious and kindly a great nature really is, is an experience well worth cherishing. Mrs. Howe was wonderfully alive to a wide range of interests—many-sided and sympathetic. She could take the place of a minister and speak effectively from deep conviction and a wide experience, or talk simply and charmingly to a group of school-children.
When some years later than her San Francisco visit she spoke at a King’s Chapel meeting in Boston, growing feebleness was apparent, but the same gracious spirit was undimmed. Later pictures have been somewhat pathetic. We do not enjoy being reminded of mortality in those of pre-eminent spirit, but what a span of events and changes her life records, and what a part in it all she had borne! When one ponders on the inspiring effect of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and of the arms it nerved and the hearts it strengthened, and on the direct blows she struck for the emancipation of woman, it seems that there has been abundant answer to her prayer,