His celebrity was something so unique, and so widespread, that it is difficult to write of it under the spell which still surrounds his memory. Many still remember seeing and feeling almost with awe the tremendous grasp of success which Dr. Talmage had all his life. A reminiscence of my girlhood will be pardoned: My father was his great admirer many years before I ever met the Doctor. Whenever I went with my father from my home in Pittsburg on a visit to New York, I was taken over to Brooklyn every Sunday morning, unwillingly I must confess, to hear Dr. Talmage. At that time there were other things which I found more pleasant, for I had many young friends to visit and to entertain. However, my father’s wishes were always uppermost with me, and his admiration of the great preacher inspired me also with reverence. The Doctor soon became one of the great men of my life.
Dr. Talmage was among the builders of his century—a watchman of his period. He was a man of philanthropy and enterprise. His popularity was world-wide; his extraordinary power was exerted over people of all classes and conditions of life. His broad human intellectuality, his constant good humour, his indomitable energy, threw a glamour about him. His happy laughter, which attested the deep peace of his heart, rang everywhere, through his home, in social meetings with his friends, in casual encounters even with strangers.
[Illustration: Dr. And Mrs. T. De Witt Talmage.]
No one who ever knew the Doctor thought of him as an old man. He himself almost believed that he would live for ever. “Barring an accident,” he often said, “I shall live for ever.” The frankness and buoyancy of his spirit were like youth: were the enchantment of his personality. Even to-day, when memories begin to grow cold in the shadow of his tomb, I am constantly reminded by those who remember him of the strange magical eternity that was in him. He had been so active and busy through all the years of his life, keeping pace with each one in its seemingly increasing speed, that his heart remained ever young, living in the glory of things that were present, searching with eager vigour the horizon of the future.
Wherever I am, whether in this country or in Europe, but especially in England, Dr. Talmage’s name still brings me remembrance of his distinguished career from the men of prominence who knew him. They come to me and tell me about him with unabated affection for his memory. He attracted people by a kind of magnetism, and held them afterwards with ties of deep friendship and respect. The standards of his youth were the standards of his whole life.
My appreciation of Dr. Talmage in these printed pages may not be wholly in harmony with his ideas of the privacy of his home life; but it is difficult to think of him at all in any mood less intimately reverent.
As I look over the scrapbook, my scrapbook (as he and I always called it), I feel the reserve about it that he himself did. My share in the Doctor’s life, however, belongs to these last years of his distinguished career, and I am a contributor by special privilege.