These were the habits of my life, formed in my youth, and as they grew upon me they were the sinews that kept me young in the heart and brain and muscle. My voice rarely, if ever, failed me entirely. In 1888, to my surprise and delight, my western trips had become ovations that no human being could fail to enjoy. In St. Paul, Duluth, Minneapolis, the crowds in and about the churches where I preached were estimated to be over twenty thousand. It was a joy to live realising the service one could be to others. This year of 1888 was to be a climax to so many aspirations of my life that I am forced to record it as one of the most important of all my working years. No event of any consequence in the country, social or political, or disastrous, happened, that my name was not available to the ethical phase of its development. Newspaper squibs of all sorts reflect this fact in some way. Here is one that illustrates my meaning:
“The weary husband was lounging in the old armchair reading before the fire after the day’s work. Suddenly he brought down his hand vigorously upon his knee, exclaiming, ‘That’s so! That’s so!’ A minute after, he cried again, ‘Well, I should say.’ Then later, ‘Good for you; hit them right and left.’ Soon he stretched himself out at full length in the chair, let his right hand, holding the paper, drop nearly to the floor, threw up his left and laughed aloud until the rafters rang. His anxious wife inquired, ’What is it so funny, John?’
“He made no reply, but lifted the paper again, straightened himself up, and went on reading. Very quiet he now grew by degrees. Then slyly he slipped his left hand around and drew out his handkerchief, wiped his brow and lips by way of excuse and gave his eyelids a passing dash. The very next moment he pressed the handkerchief to his eyes and let the paper drop to the floor, saying, ’Well, that’s wonderful.’ ‘What is it, John?’ his good wife inquired again. ’Oh! It’s only Talmage!’”
My contemporaries in Brooklyn celebrity at this time were unusual men. Some of them were dear friends, some of them close friends, some of them advisers or champions, guardians of my peace—all of them friends.
About this time I visited Johnstown, shortly after the flood. My heart was weary with the scenes of desolation about me. It did not seem possible that the hospitable city of Johnstown I had known in other days could be so tumbled down by disaster. Where I had once seen the street, equal in style to Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, I found a long ridge of sand strewn with planks and driftwood. By a wave from twelve to twenty feet high, 800 houses were crushed, twenty-eight huge locomotives from the round house were destroyed, hundreds of people dead and dying in its anger. Two thousand dead were found, 2,000 missing, was the record the day I was there. The place became used to death. It was not a sensation