Reminiscences of a Long Life
By James M. Pendleton
In May, 1888, I returned to Upland, but remained only a short time before going to the Anniversaries at Washington, held the latter part of the month. They were numerously attended and were full of interest. Many persons will go to the capital city when they would go nowhere else. This is not strange, for everybody wishes to see the head-quarters of the nation. Congress was in session at this time, and it was a matter of interest to look at the lawgivers of the people. They deserve respect, and always have it, when they act worthily of their station. I saw and heard some of the leading men of both political parties. Among Democrats were such men as Samuel J. Randall, W. C. P. Breckinridge, R. Q. Mills and others, while T. B. Reed and W. McKinley were prominent among Republicans. All these were in the House of Representatives, and Edmunds, Sherman, Ingalls, Hoar, Hampton, Vance, Harris, and Cole figured in the Senate. But the Senate is not what it was in the days of its glory, when the eloquence of Clay, Webster and Calhoun not only electrified its Chamber, but was felt in the remotest parts of the nation. Who can tell the influence of great statesmen? I must not forget the Anniversaries: The Missionary Union, the Home Mission Society, and the Publication Society, all held their sessions, made their annual reports, and transacted important business. In addition to all this, “The American Baptist Education Society” was formed. There was a difference of opinion as to the necessity of this Society. The majority of the brethren thought it necessary, and it was organized. A minority was of opinion that we already had societies enough. I was in the minority and voted accordingly, but the success of the Society has convinced me that I was wrong, and now I am its friend. It has accomplished great good, and the prospect of much greater good is bright and cheering.
During the meetings President Cleveland was pleased to tender a reception to the many Baptists who were in attendance. They went in large numbers, and the hand-shaking must have been a burden to the President. After getting through with my part of it I found myself in front of the White House, and the crowds were still coming. I saw so many personal friends to whom I spoke, that I facetiously told them I was holding an opposition reception.
Mr. Cleveland’s face did not strike me as being intellectual, but this shows that we ought not to judge according to appearance. Mr. Cleveland is a man of ability and honesty. He acts from principle, and certainly did so in assuming his position on the tariff question, with the majority of his party, at that time, against him. He deserves credit for his patient investigation of “pension cases,” and his vetoes of unjust ” pension bills.” In short, his administration has promoted the interests of the country.
While at Washington I visited Wayland Seminary and was pleased to see its prosperity under the wise management of President King. He has done a great work in the education of colored ministers, and has much cause for satisfaction with the results of his patient labors. It is no longer a question whether the negro intellect can be improved. The fact has been demonstrated.
Washington is now a beautiful place, and it is thought by many, that when all the plans for its improvement are carried into effect, it will be the most beautiful capital city of the world. It is becoming more and more attractive. Columbian University is a very important institution, and if it could receive an addition of two millions to its endowment it would then be able to avail itself of Government facilities worth fifteen millions of dollars. It is to be hoped that this object of earnest solicitude will be realized in the near future.
Returning from Washington, I spent the Summer with old friends at Upland, with the exception of the time occupied in a visit to Dr. Osgood’s, at Rochester, New York. My wife and I have ever found it delightful to be in the family of Dr. Osgood. Our frequent visits have been oases in the desert of life. Dr. Osgood, though a close student and a learned man, is versed in all the proprieties and amenities of the first circle of society; and Mrs. Osgood is our ideal of an accomplished and lovely woman, while their children have had a training nearer perfection than we have seen in any other family. The Lord bless the attractive household. In November, 1888, we went again to Austin, Texas, to spend the winter, and to be present at the marriage of our eldest grand-daughter. She was married to Mr. Alexander S. Walker, son of Judge Walker, a prominent man in Texas. The marriage took place November 27, in the First Baptist Church, and was witnessed by a crowded audience. Everything passed off with the utmost propriety and dignity. It is not often that a man marries his grand-daughter, but I officiated at her request. May heaven’s selectest blessings rest on the happy pair while they tread the pathway of life.
Remaining in Austin till the middle of January, 1889, and not finding the weather sufficiently wintry, we made our way to Bowling Green, Kentucky, in pursuit of winter, but we did not find it and have not yet found it; for to this day (January 19, 1891) we have had no really cold weather.
We enjoyed the affectionate hospitalities of Mr. and Mrs. Procter till May, and during our sojourn with them saw a few of our old friends, and the children of those we knew forty years ago. This has been the case whenever we have been here, within the last few years. The friendships of fathers and mothers have been inherited by their descendants, and we are treated with considerate kindness. My feelings prompt me to say that I have had pleasant ministerial intercourse with brethren M. M. Riley, M. F. Ham, J. G. Durham, and R. Jenkins. They are men of God and are useful in his cause. The church and congregation here have greatly increased during the pastorate of Brother Riley, the house of worship has been made very attractive and a beautiful parsonage has been built.
Elders Ham and Durham are advanced in life, and their work will soon be done; brethren Riley and Jenkins are in the vigor of manhood, and there are probably many years before them.
From Bowling Green we went early in May to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and enjoyed the kind attentions of Mr. and Mirs. Waters till October. I went to the Southern Baptist Convention at Memphis and saw many of the brethren whom I had known in other years, and some whom I had never seen before.
We returned to Bowling Green in October and remained till April, 1890, when we went to Upland for the fourth time since the resignation of my pastorate. Our son and his wife made us more than welcome, friends called to see us, and we were glad to worship where we had so often worshipped in years past. We were pleased to hear persons of all classes speak in terms of commendation of the pastor, Rev. C. L. Williams. He evidently holds a high place in the esteem and love of the people. The Twenty-first Anniversary of Crozer Seminary took place in June. Dr. E. G. Robinson preached the Baccalaureate Sermon, so called, and it was an able discourse. Dr. Robinson, though considerably over “three score years and ten,” shows no sign of intellectual decadence. His mind is bright as ever and lie expresses his thoughts in vigorous language. Nothing of very special importance came before the Board of Trustees except the election of Mr. Evans to a place in the faculty. His professorship has to do with the study of the Bible in English. There were fifteen graduates, nearly all of whom made speeches that did them credit and reflected honor on their teachers. Dr. Weston, with his usual dignity on such occasions, presented their certificates of theological scholarship to the graduates, and Dr. Long made a parting address rich in thought and full of sound advice.
Dr. Weston is to be congratulated on having presided, without interruption, at the Crozer Anniversaries for twenty-two years, even from the establishment of the Seminary. He has much to be thankful for when he considers what has been done under his administration.
During this sojourn at Upland I was honored, as I had been twice before, by the Bible class taught by my son. The class numbers about seventy, all adults, and meets in the Sunday-school chapel in the afternoon of Sunday. The honor referred to was a call by the class to see me, and it was arranged that I should be taken by surprise. This had been done before, but I did not believe it could be done again, nor did I think that it would be attempted. But the thing was done, and the surprise was complete. I suppose nearly every member of the class was present and I was found in my slippers with an old coat on. By the way, I would like to know what element in human nature it is that makes one person enjoy the surprise of another. I do not understand the matter. My wife knew the purpose of the class, as did my son and his family, but all were charged to keep it a profound secret from me, and they really seemed to enjoy my embarrassment and confusion. There was an abundance of ice cream, and cakes of various kinds and sizes. There was a short speech made to me by the pastor, Rev. C. L. Williams, who was invited to be present. He spoke very appropriately, but my response was a poor thing. Much of the time was spent in conversation and singing, and the occasion was a happy one. I have a suitable appreciation of the honor conferred on me, and may those who bestowed it be blessed for time and eternity.
It is a great gratification to me that my son has charge of this Bible class. It furnishes him an opportunity of doing good, and I may say, great good. It will never be fully known in this world what beneficent results follow a judicious exposition of Scripture. The effect of the exposition is not only felt by those who hear it, but it may be transmitted through them to coming generations. This suggests the idea of solemn, yet delightful responsibility on the part of Bible class teachers.
While in Upland this Summer, that is, on the 13th of July, an event occurred which created a deep sensation and spread a pall of gloom over the community. Mrs. Samuel A. Crozer died on that day. It was a day of sorrow and mourning. Sad faces, symbolic of sad hearts, were seen everywhere. On the day of the funeral appropriate remarks were made by the pastor, and by Dr. Weston and Dr. Wayland. The pastor suggested that I say something, but I preferred reading the Scripture, and pouring forth my heart in prayer for the bereaved husband, the motherless children, and a large circle of relatives and friends. The time of sorrow is emphatically the time for prayer. God says, “Call on me in the day of trouble.”
Mrs. Crozer was a remarkable woman, with bright intellect, of fine conversational powers, literary taste, and a capacity to entertain both old and young in the social circle. But it is the sphere of her Christian activities to which I wish to make special reference. She had charge of the church music and performed on the organ for more than thirty years. She taught a large class to sing by note and made them accomplished singers, so that they lead the congregation in the music of the sanctuary. I may say, too, that in all my travels from Pennsylvania to Texas, I have heard no congregational singing equal to that of Upland. There is a spiritual heartiness in it that I have not witnessed elsewhere.
Mrs. Crozer also, for several years, taught the infant class in the Sunday-school. She loved children and was at home in her class of between one and two hundred. She required each child to give a penny every Sunday, and thus she directed attention to the great cause of Foreign Missions. Mrs. Crozer had pecuniary means at her command, and used them for the benefit of the needy. Many shared in her benefactions, and in her the poor found a friend. Even since her death some of her deeds of kindness, of which she said nothing, have come to light.
Mrs. Crozer was in feeble health for months before her death, but she was bright and cheerful, and filled her places of usefulness as long as she was able. Indeed, her energetic spirit seemed at times to compel her body to do what it had not strength to perform. When the last hour drew near and she knew she must die, her mind was calm, and among her last words were these, “Jesus is my Savior.” What a blessed thing it is to have such an assurance in the dying hour! It is worth more than all the honors and riches of the world.
In August, 1890, my wife and I went on the broad Delaware to Cape May Point to spend a week. We found “old ocean” as grand as ever, rolling its majestic waves to the shore as in all past years. This is a sight of which one never tires. The Christian hears the voice of God in the waters of the mighty deep and thinks of the day when the “sea will give up its dead.”
While at the Cape, we were near President Harrison’s Cottage and I saw him several times. He went in bathing, and attended church, as every man should do. The President is a man of very respectable talents, though he is not entitled to a place among the first of statesmen. He is honest and is striving to use his great office for the benefit of the people. I could but be struck with the fact that he is not magnetic as Henry Clay was, and as James G. Blaine is; but magnetism is a rare quality. Returning from the Cape, we remained at Upland till November, when we came to dear old Bowling Green, where we now are (January, 1891) and where we find our friends as kind as in other days.
In closing these Reminiscences, written at the special request of my son, I wish to say that the affectionate kindness of our children renders the old age of my wife and myself bright and cheerful. We divide our time among them and are obliged, from the treatment we receive, to believe that each one of them would like to have us all the time. We have everything to be thankful for and nothing to complain of.
It may be a satisfaction to the children to know that I began to write these Reminiscences on my seventy-ninth birthday, November 20, 1890, and that I finish them in two months. Bowling Green, Ky., January 20, 1891.