In his study no wasted hours ever entered. With the exception of the stenographer and his immediate family no one was admitted there. It was his eventful laboratory where he conceived the greatest sermons of his period. I merely quote the opinions of others, far more important than my own, when I say this. It is a sort of haunted room to-day which I enter not with any fear, but I can never stay in it very long. It has no ghostly associations, it is too full of vital memories for that; but it is a room that mystifies and silences me, not with mere regrets, for that is sorrow, and there is nothing sad about the place to me. I can scarcely convey the impression; it is as though I expected to see him come in at the door at any moment and hear him call my name. The room is empty, but it makes me feel that he has only just stepped out for a little while. The study is at the top of the house, a long, wide, high-ceilinged room with many windows, from which the tops of trees sway gently in the breeze against the sky above and beyond. I spent a great deal of time with him in it. Sometimes he would talk with me there about the themes of his sermons which were always drawn from some need in modern life.
With the Bible open before him he would seek for a text.
“After forty years of preaching about all the wonders of this great Book,” he would say, “I am often puzzled where to choose the text most fitting to my sermon.”
His habits were methodical in the extreme; his time punctually divided by a fixed system of invaluable character. His inspirations were part of his eternal spirit, but he lived face to face with time, obedient to the law of its precision. I think of him always as of one whose genius was unknown to himself.
We could always tell the time of day by the Doctor’s habits. They were as regular as a clock that never varies. At 7.30 to the second he was at the breakfast table. It was exactly one o’clock when he sat down to dinner. At 6.30 his supper was before him. Some of our household would have preferred dining in the evening, but in that case the Doctor would have dined alone, which was out of the question.
Every day of his life, excepting Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Doctor walked five miles. In bad weather he went out muffled and booted like a sailor on a stormy sea. His favourite walk was always from our house to the Capitol, around the Library of Congress and back. He never varied this walk for he had no bump of locality, and he was afraid of losing his way. If he strayed from the beaten path into any one of the beautiful squares in Washington he was sure to have to ask a policeman how to get home.
Fridays and Saturdays Dr. Talmage spent entirely in his study, dictating his sermons. How many miles he walked these days he himself never knew, but all day long he tramped back and forth the length of his study, composing and expounding in a loud voice the sermon of the week. He could be heard all over the house. We had a new servant once who came rushing downstairs to my room one morning in great fear.