Everything before me seemed finer than anything I had ever known. Few men at my age were so blessed with the vigour of health, with the elixir of youth. To the world at large I was indebted for its appreciation, its praise sometimes, its interest always. My study in Brooklyn was a room that had become a picturesque starting point for the imagination of kindly newspaper men. They were leading me into a new element of celebrity.
One morning, in my house in Brooklyn, I was asked by a newspaper in New York if it might send a reporter to spend the day with me there. I had no objection. The reporter came after breakfast. Breakfast was an awkward meal for the newspaper profession, otherwise we should have had it together. I made no preparation, set no scene, gave the incident no thought, but spent the day in the usual routine of a pastor’s duty. It is an incident that puts a side-light on my official duties as a minister in his home, and for that reason I refer to it in detail. Some of the descriptions made by the reporter were accurate, and illustrative of my home life.
My mail was heavy, and my first duty was always to take it under my arm to my workshop on the second floor of my home in South Oxford Street. In doing this I was closely followed by the reporter. My study was a place of many windows, and on this morning in the first week of 1888 it was flooded with sunshine, or as the reporter, with technical skill, described it, “A mellow light.” The sun is always “mellow” in a room whenever I have read about it in a newspaper. The reporter found my study “an unattractive room,” because it lacked the signs of “luxury” or even “comfort.” As I was erroneously regarded as a clerical Croesus at this time the reporter’s disappointment was excusable. The Gobelin tapestries, the Raphael paintings, the Turkish divans, and the gold and silver trappings of a throne room were missing in my study. The reporter found the floor distressingly “hard, but polished wood.” The walls were painfully plain—“all white.” My table, which the reporter kindly signified as a “big one,” was drawn up to a large window. Of course, like all tables of the kind, it was “littered.” I never read of a library table in a newspaper that was not “littered.” The reporter spied everything upon it at once, “letters, newspapers, books, pens, ink bottles, pencils, and writing-paper.” All of which, of course, indicated intellectual supremacy to the reporter. The chair at my table was “stiff backed,” and, amazing fact, it was “without a cushion.” In front of the chair, but on the table, the reporter discovered an “open book,” which he concluded “showed that the great preacher had been hurriedly called away.” In every respect it was a “typical literary man’s den.” Glancing shrewdly around, the reporter discovered “bookshelves around the walls, books piled in corners, and even in the middle of the room.” Also a newspaper file was noticed, and—careless creature that I am—“there were even bundles of old letters tied with strings thrown carelessly about.” The reporter then said:—