Estimate Of Dr. Talmage By An Intimate Friend
( Originally Published 1902 )
KNOWING how close Dr. Klopsch was to Dr. Talmage personally and professionally, I called at his editorial rooms a few weeks after the death of the great divine and said, " Dr. Klopsch, would you take two or three minutes of your time to talk about your great friend and co-laborer." He answered : " Nothing would give me greater pleasure. I met Dr. Talmage first in May of 1885, and after that for seventeen years it was my privilege to sustain the most intimate relationship with Dr. Talmage, and the longer I knew him the more I admired his genius, the more I loved him personally, the more I esteemed his noble character. I have lost the dearest and most loyal friend, the wisest counselor, the most unselfish of business associates. Sunny-hearted, genial, courteous and kind, optimistic, generous, sweet-tempered and forgiving, are terms which found in him their most perfect expression. No one came in personal contact with him who did not feel warmer and kindlier in his heart. Religion was the life of his soul and it breathed itself out toward others in Christian love. In his death the world lost one of its brightest jewels and the cause of righteousness its ablest, most loyal, most popular champion.
" No man ever believed more firmly what he preached than did Dr. Talmage, and none could have a greater reverence for sacred things. Never did I hear him make light even in jest of those things which good and noble men and women the world over hold most dear. To him the Bible was God's inspired word, and the many worn-out sacred volumes that he left filled with memoranda evidence how diligent a student he was of the Divine Word. He knew his Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and he preached to a sin-sick world from a heart fully consecrated to God. Millions of Christian homes will for a long time to come mourn the loss of this truly great and good man.
" In the early part of my business life, when I first undertook to syndicate Dr. Talmage's sermons, which insured their regular weekly publication in more than 3,000 papers, I was not as successful as I had expected, and the results of my efforts fell considerably short of my obligations. One morning, Dr. Talmage called, and after greeting me in a cheery manner, he said : ` You have been much more successful than I had anticipated, but I can easily figure that you are not taking in all the money you are paying me. You are a young man, without capital, and you cannot stand this loss. My wife and I have talked the matter over, and we have come to the conclusion that I cannot afford to take money from you which I have not earned. So, if you are willing, we will cancel the contract now.' At that time, over $21,000 was yet to be paid under the agreement in the course of a number of years, and Dr. Talmage was willing to call it square. Fortunately, I saw my way clear to continue the agreement, which, after numerous renewals, remained in force until it was terminated by his death. I cite this instance out of many to give an insight into his sense of fairness and his generosity.
" No man could be more affable and approachable that was Dr. Talmage. At work at his editorial desk he would always take time to shake hands and exchange a word with many people who asked to meet him. And as for auto-graphs, he wrote them in quantities innumerable.
" All that was mortal of our good friend now rests in Greenwood, but his spirit lives, and his influence will survive him for generations to come. " A prince among the princes of Israel he was summoned to his coronation."
When Dr. Klopsch had finished his estimate of his friend, I said : " Between twenty-five and thirty years ago I first saw Dr. Talmage. I went from Salem, Indiana, where I lived, down to Louisville, Kentucky, to hear him lecture. For an hour and a half he entranced me. His wit and humor were side-splitting, and his pathos forced the tears in spite of themselves. His description of Nature, its beauties, its sublimities was so perfect, his knowledge of human nature was so keen, his hits at the weaknesses and faults of men were so hard and yet in such a kindly spirit, his imagery was so gorgeous, his delivery sa dramatic, his eloquence so thrilling, his enthusiasm so impetuous and overmastering that I left the hall completely captured by the man. In after years it was my fortune to enjoy his acquaintance and friendship. The last time I met him was in this room a few months ago. You remember, perhaps, how jolly he was, how hard he laughed and how he made us laugh, and how serious he became as he spoke of the martyr McKinley, and of the supreme value of faith in God, love for fellow men and hope of immortality. After a life of usefulness and of honor the soldier of the Cross has passed from the labors, conflicts and victories of earth to the rewards of heaven."