We returned to East Hampton for a few days, and on July 4, 1899, the Doctor delivered an oration to an immense crowd in the auditorium at Ocean Grove. This was the beginning of a summer tour of Chautauquas, first in Michigan, then up the lakes near Mackinaw Island, and later to Jamestown, New York.
In the Fall of 1899 we made a trip South, including Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Birmingham, and New Orleans. One remarkable feature of Dr. Talmage’s public life was the way in which he was sought as the man of useful opinions upon subjects that were not related to the pulpit. He was always being interviewed upon political and local issues, and his views were scattered broadcast, as if he were himself an official of national affairs. He never failed to be ahead of the hour. He regarded the affairs of men as the basis of his evangelical purpose. The Spanish war ended, and his views were sought about the future policy in the East. The Boer war came, and his opinions of that issue were published. Nothing moved in or out of the world of import, during these last milestones of his life, that he was not asked about its coming and its going. His readiness to penetrate the course of events, to wrap them in the sacred veil of his own philosophy and spiritual fabric, combined to make him one of the foremost living characters of his time.
Dr. Talmage was the most eager human being I ever knew, eager to see, to feel the heart of all humanity. I remember we arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, the day following the disaster that visited that city after the great cyclone. The first thing the Doctor did on our arrival was to get a carriage and drive through those sections of the city that had suffered the most. It was a gruesome sight, with so many bodies lying about the streets awaiting burial. But that was his grasp of life, his indomitable energy, always alert to see and hear the laws of nature at close range.