We were entertained a great deal through the South, where I believe my husband had the warmest friends and a more cordial appreciation than in any other part of the country. There was no lack of excitement in this life that I was leading at the elbow of the great preacher, and sometimes he would ask me if the big crowds did not tire me. To him they were the habit of his daily life, a natural consequence of his industry. However, I think he always found me equal to them, always happy to be near him where I could see and hear all.
In October of this year we returned to Washington, when the Pan-Presbyterian Council was in session, and we entertained them at a reception in our house till late in the evening. The International Union of Women’s Foreign Missionary Societies of the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches were also meeting in Washington at this time, and they came. At one of the meetings of the Council Dr. Talmage invited them all to his house from the platform in his characteristic way.
“Come all,” he said, “and bring your wives with you. God gave Eve to Adam so that when he lost Paradise he might be able to stand it. She was taken out of man’s side that she might be near the door of his heart, and have easy access to his pockets. Therefore, come, bringing the ladies with you. My wife and I shall not be entertaining angels unawares, but knowing it all the while. To have so much piety and brain under one roof at once, even for an hour or two, will be a benediction to us all the rest of our lives. I believe in the communion of saints as much as I believe in the life everlasting.”
In November, 1899, Dr. Talmage installed the Rev. Donald McLeod as succeeding pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Washington, and delivered the installation address, the subject of which was, “Invitation to Outsiders.” There had been some effort to inspire the people of Washington to build an independent Tabernacle for the Doctor after his resignation, but he himself was not in sympathy with the movement because of the additional labour and strain it would have put upon him.
As the winter grew into long, gray days, we were already planning a trip to Europe for the following year of 1900, and we were anticipating this event with eager expectancy as the time grew near.
So much has been written about Dr. Talmage the world over, that I am tempted to tell those things about him that have not been written, but it is difficult to do. He stood always before the people a sort of radiant mystery to them. He was never really understood by those whom he most influenced. A writer in an English newspaper has given the best description of his appearance in 1900 I ever saw. It is so much better than any I could make that I quote it, regretting that I do not know the author’s name:—
“A big man, erect and masterful in spite of advancing years, with an expressive and mobile mouth that seems ever smiling, and with great and speaking eyes which proclaim the fervent soul beneath.”