CHAPTER XXXII. PETER CARTWRIGHT.
One of the most remarkable men in the American ministry is Peter Cartwright, the "Backwoods Preacher." Sixty-seven years of ministerial labors have passed over his head, and yet he still continues in the field in which he has done such good service, and retains all the popularity and much of the fire of his younger days.
He was born in Amherst County, Virginia, on the 1st of September, 1785. His father had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and his mother was an orphan. Shortly after the close of the war, the Cartwrights removed from Virginia to Kentucky, which was then an almost unbroken wilderness. The journey was accompanied with considerable danger, as the Indians were not yet driven west of the Ohio, but the family reached their destination in safety. For two years they lived on a rented farm in Lincoln County, Kentucky, and at the end of that time removed to what was called the Green River Country, and settled in Logan County, nine miles south of Russellville, the county seat, and within one mile of the State line of Tennessee.
The portion of Logan County in which young Cartwright's childhood and youth were passed was the very last place one Would have cared to bring up a candidate for the ministry. It was called "Rogue's Harbor," and was thickly settled with fugitives from justice from all parts of the Union. They actually constituted a majority of the inhabitants of the district, and when the respectable citizens sought to bring them to justice they readily "swore each other clear," and thus set the law at defiance. They carried on such a course of outrage and violence that the respectable citizens were at length compelled to combine for defence against them by means of an organization known as the Regulators. Several fierce encounters took place between the desperadoes and the Regulators, in which many lives were lost, before the supremacy of the law was established.
"When my lather settled in Logan County," says Mr. Cartwright, "there was not a newspaper printed South of Green River, no mill short of forty miles, and no schools worth the name. Sunday was a day set apart for hunting, fishing, horse-racing, card-playing, balls, dances, and all kinds of jollity and mirth. We killed our meat out in the woods, wild, and beat our meal and hominy with a pestle and mortar. We stretched a deer-skin over a hoop, burned holes in it with the prongs of a fork, sifted our meal, baked our bread, eat it, and it was first-rate eating, too. We raised, or gathered out of the woods, our own tea. We had sage, bohea, cross-vine, spice, and sassafras teas in abundance. As for coffee, I am not sure that I ever smelled it for ten years. We made our sugar out of the water of the maple-tree, and our molasses, too. These were great luxuries in those days. We raised our own cotton and flax. We water-rotted our flax, broke it by hand, scutched it, picked the seed out of the cotton with our fingers; our mothers and sisters carded, spun, and wove it into cloth, and they cut and made our garments and bed-clothes, etc. And when we got on a new suit thus manufactured, and sallied out into company, we thought ourselves as big as any body."
Young Peter grew up in this rough country with a constitution of iron, and a fair share of Western courage, independence, and energy. He was sent by his father to a neighboring school, but the teacher was an indifferent one, and he learned merely to read and write and cipher imperfectly.
He was a "wild, wicked boy," he tells us, and grew up to delight in horse-racing, card-playing, and dancing. His father seems to have enjoyed having so dashing a son, but his mother, who was a pious woman, took his course seriously to heart, and wept and prayed over her boy as only a Christian mother can. She often talked to him, and moved him so deeply that he frequently vowed to lead a better life; but his pleasures were too tempting, and he fell back again into his old habits. His father presented him with a race-horse and a pack of cards, and he became known among his youthful companions as one of the most fearless riders and the luckiest fellow at cards in the county. The good mother wept and prayed all the more, and the boy hid his cards from her to keep her from burning them.
In 1801, when he was sixteen years old, a change came over him. He had been out with his father and brother to attend a wedding in the neighborhood. The affair was conducted with all the uproarious merriment incident to those days, and when Peter returned home and began to think over it, he felt condemned at having passed his time in such a manner. "My mother was in bed," says he. "It seemed to me, all of a sudden, my blood rushed to my head, my heart palpitated, in a few minutes I turned blind, an awful impression rested on my mind that death had come to me and I was unprepared to die. I fell on my knees and began to ask God to have mercy on me. My mother sprang from her bed, and was soon on her knees by my side, praying for me, and exhorting me to look to Christ for mercy, and then and there I promised the Lord if he would spare me I would seek and serve Him, and I never fully broke that promise. My mother prayed for me a long time. At length we lay down, but there was little sleep for me. Next morning I rose, feeling wretched beyond expression. I tried to read in the Testament, and retired many times to secret prayer through the day, but found no relief. I gave up my race-horse to my father and requested him to sell him. I went and brought my pack of cards and gave them to mother, who threw them into the fire, and they were consumed. I fasted, watched, and prayed, and engaged in regular reading of the Testament. I was so distressed and miserable that I was incapable of any regular business."
Several months passed away, during which time Peter had seasons of comfort and hopes of forgiveness, but during the greater portion he was wretched and miserable, filled with such a fear of the devil that he was almost convinced that Satan was really present with him to keep him from God. A camp-meeting, held in the vicinity of his father's house, in the spring of 1801, completed his conversion and gave him peace.
"To this meeting," says he, "I repaired a guilty, wretched sinner. On the Saturday evening of said meeting I went, with weeping multitudes, and bowed before the stand, and earnestly prayed for mercy. In the midst of a solemn struggle of soul, an impression was made on my mind as though a voice said to me: 'Thy sins are all forgiven thee,' Divine light flashed all around me, unspeakable joy sprang up in my soul. I rose to my feet, opened my eyes, and it really seemed to me as if I was in heaven; the trees, the leaves on them, and every thing seemed, and I really thought were, praising God. My mother raised the shout, my Christian friends crowded around me and joined me in praising God.... I have never doubted that the Lord did, then and there, forgive my sins and give me religion." He went on his way rejoicing, and in June, 1801, was formally received into the Methodist Episcopal Church. In May, 1802, he was appointed an exhorter. He shrank from accepting the position, as he distrusted his own abilities, but finally yielded to his presiding elder's wishes and entered upon his work. In the fall of that year his parents removed to Lewiston County, toward the mouth of the Cumberland River.
Although he was but eighteen years old, his presiding elder had detected in him signs of unusual promise, and had resolved to bring him into active labor for the Church at once, and accordingly, upon his departure for his new home, Peter was given authority to lay out and organize a new circuit, the plan of which he was to submit to the presiding elder for approval. The boy hesitated, frightened by the magnitude of the task, but being encouraged by his superiors, accepted the trust, and thus began his labors as a preacher of the Word. Upon reaching his new home, he attended a tolerably good school in the vicinity, hoping to acquire a better education, but the pupils and teacher persecuted him so sorely that he was obliged to withdraw. Determining to lose no time in waiting for an education, he at once began the work of preaching. Being possessed of strong natural sense, a ready wit, and being thoroughly imbued with the spirit of frontier life, he was just the man to carry the Gospel home to the hearts of the rude pioneers of the great West. His manner was that of a backwoodsman, and he had no city airs and graces to offend the plain, rough people to whom he preached. He was emphatically one of them. He offered them the plain Gospel, and gave theological theories a wide berth.
His plan of operations was adapted to the rudest intellect. It was to thunder the terrors of the law into the ears of his converts, or, in his own words, to "shake them over hell until they smelt brimstone right strong," and make them see the fearful condition in which they lay by reason of their sin. Man was to him a wretched, degraded creature, and the only way to bring him to God was to drive him there by the terrors of the law. Our preacher had very little faith in the quieter, more persuasive means of grace. His first effort was to give the souls of his hearers a good shaking up, bring them face to face with hell and its torments, and then, having forced them to flee from the wrath to come, to trust to their future Christian experience for the means of acquiring a knowledge of the tender mercies of the Saviour. It must be confessed that this was the only plan open to him in the field in which he labored. The people to whom he preached were a rude, rough set, mainly ignorant and superstitious, and many of them sunk in the depths of drunkenness and viciousness. The Western country was almost a wilderness. Vast forests and boundless prairies lay on every hand, with but here and there a clearing with a solitary log cabin in it, or but two or three at the most. The people lived in the most perfect solitude, rarely seeing any but the members of their own households. Solitude and danger made them superstitious, and the absence of schools kept them in ignorance. They drank to keep off the blues, and when they came together for amusement they made the most of their opportunities, and plunged into the most violent sports, which were not always kept within the bounds of propriety. Churches were as scarce as schools, and until the Methodist circuit riders made their appearance in the West, the people were little better than heathen. The law had scarcely any hold upon these frontiersmen. They were wild and untamed, and personal freedom was kept in restraint mainly by the law of personal accountability. They were generous and improvident, frank, fearless, easy-going, and filled with an intense scorn for every thing that smacked of Eastern refinement or city life. They were proud of their buckskin and linsey-woolsey clothes, their squirrel caps, and their horny hands and rough faces. They would have been miserable in a city mansion, but they were lords and kings in their log-cabins. To have sent a preacher bred in the learned schools of New England to such a people would have been folly. The smooth cadences, the polished gestures, and, above all, the manuscript sermon of a Boston divine, would have disgusted the men and women of the frontier. What cared they for predestination or free-will, or for any of the dogmas of the schools? They wanted to hear the simple, fundamental truths of the Gospel, and they wanted to hear them from a man of their own stamp. They wanted a "fire and brimstone" preacher, one whose fiery eloquence could stir the very depths of their souls, and set their simple imaginations all ablaze; one who could shout and sing with true Western abandon; who could preach in his shirt-sleeves, sleep with them on the bare ground, brave all the dangers of a frontier life, and, if necessary, thrash any one who dared to insult him. Such was the man for these sturdy, simple Western folk, and such a man they found in Peter Cartwright.
Peter went at the task before him with a will. The country being sparsely settled, people had to travel a long way to get to church, and it became a matter of expediency for the clergy to hold religious gatherings at stated points, and to continue them for several days, so that those who desired to attend might be able to avoid the necessity of going home every evening and coming back next day. Church edifices being scarce, these meetings were held in the woods, and a large encampment was formed by the people in attendance. This was the origin of the camp-meeting system, which for many years was the only effective way of spreading the Gospel in the West. It was at a camp-meeting that Peter obtained religion, and he has ever since been a zealous advocate of, and a hard worker at, them. From the first he was successful. The fame of the "boy preacher" went abroad into all the land, and people came in to the camp from a hundred miles around to hear him. He had little education, but he knew his Bible thoroughly, and was a ready speaker, and, above all, he knew how to deal with the people to whom he preached. He made many converts, and from the first took rank as the most popular preacher in the West.
Peter not only believed in the overruling power of God, but he was firmly convinced of the active and personal agency of the devil in human affairs. Many of the follies and faults of the people around him took place, he averred, because they were possessed of devils. Each camp-meeting was to him a campaign against Satan, and in his opinion Satan never failed to make a good fight for his kingdom. Certainly some very singular things did occur at the meetings at which he was present, and, naturally, perhaps, some persons began to believe that Peter Cartwright possessed supernatural powers. The following incident, related by him, not only explains some of the phenomena to which I allude, but also the manner in which he was regarded by some of the unconverted:
"A new exercise broke out among us, called the 'jerks,' which was overwhelming in its effects upon the bodies and minds of the people. No matter whether they were saints or sinners, they would be taken under a warm song or sermon, and seized with a convulsive jerking all over, which they could not by any possibility avoid, and the more they resisted, the more they jerked. If they would not strive against it, and pray in good earnest, the jerking would usually abate. I have seen more than five hundred persons jerking at one time in my large congregations. Most usually persons taken with the jerks, to obtain relief, as they said, would rise up and dance. Some would run, but could not get away. Some would resist; on such the jerks were very severe.
"To see those proud young gentlemen and young ladies, dressed in their silks, jewelry, and prunella, from top to toe, take the jerks, would often excite my risibilities. The first jerk or so you would see their fine bonnets, caps, and combs fly, and so sudden would be the jerking of the head that their long, loose hair would crack almost as loud as a wagoner's whip.
"At one of my appointments, in 1804, there was a very large congregation turned out to hear the 'Kentucky boy,' as they called me. Among the rest there were two very finely dressed, fashionable young ladies, attended by two brothers with loaded horsewhips. Although the house was large, it was crowded. The two young ladies, coming in late, took their seats near where I stood, and their two brothers stood in the door. I was a little unwell, and I had a phial of peppermint in my pocket. Before I commenced preaching I took out my phial and swallowed a little of the peppermint. While I was preaching the congregation was melted into tears. The two young gentlemen moved off to the yard fence, and both the young ladies took the jerks, and they were greatly mortified about it....
"As I dismissed the assembly, a man stepped up to me and warned me to be on my guard, for he had heard the two brothers swear they would horsewhip me when meeting was out for giving their sisters the jerks. 'Well,' said I, 'I'll see to that.'
"I went out and said to the young men that I understood they intended to horsewhip me for giving their sisters the jerks. One replied that he did. I undertook to expostulate with him on the absurdity of the charge against me, but he swore I need not deny it, for he had seen me take out a phial in which I carried some truck that gave his sisters the jerks. As quick as thought came into my mind how I would get clear of my whipping, and, jerking out the peppermint phial, said I, 'Yes; if I gave your sisters the jerks I'll give them to you,' In a moment I saw he was scared. I moved toward him, he backed, I advanced, and he wheeled and ran, warning me not to come near him or he would kill me. It raised the laugh on him, and I escaped my whipping....
"I always looked upon the jerks as a judgment sent from God, first, to bring sinners to repentance, and, secondly, that God could work with or without means, and that he could work over and above means and do whatsoever seemeth him good to the glory of his grace and the salvation of the world. There is no doubt in my mind that, with weak-minded, ignorant, and superstitious persons, there was a great deal of sympathetic feeling with many that claimed to be under the influence of this jerking exercise, and yet with many it was perfectly involuntary. It was on all occasions my practice to recommend fervent prayer as a remedy, and it almost universally proved an effectual antidote."
The excitement of the religious revivals plunged many of the people into excesses. They prophesied, dreamed dreams, and saw visions, and troubled the young preacher exceedingly, but he set his face sternly against all such disorders, and pronounced their visions and messages to be from the devil. One of these dreamers came to him one day and told him he had a message from heaven for him.
"Well," said Cartwright, "what is it?"
"It has been revealed to me," said the fellow, "that you are never to die, but are to live forever."
"Who revealed that to you?"
"Did you see him?" asked Cartwright, dryly.
"O, yes; he was a beautiful, white, shining being."
"Did you smell him?" asked Peter, bluntly.
The man looked at him in amazement, and the preacher continued, sternly, "Well, did the angel you saw smell of brimstone? He must have smelled of brimstone, for he was from a region that burns with fire and brimstone, and consequently from hell, for he revealed a great lie to you if he told you I was to live forever."
The dreamer turned off abruptly, and disappeared amidst the jeers of the crowd that had listened to the conversation.
On the 16th of September, 1806, Mr. Cartwright was ordained a deacon in the Methodist Episcopal Church by Bishop Asbury, and on the 4th of October, 1808, Bishop McKendree ordained him an elder. Upon receiving deacon's orders he was assigned to the Marietta Circuit. His appointment dismayed him. Says he: "It was a poor, hard circuit at that time. Marietta and the country round were settled at an early day by a colony of Yankees. At the time of my appointment I had never seen a Yankee, and I had heard dismal stories about them. It was said they lived almost entirely on pumpkins, molasses, fat meat, and bohea tea; moreover, that they could not bear loud and zealous sermons, and they had brought on their learned preachers with them, and they read their sermons and were always criticising us poor backwoods preachers. When my appointment was read out it distressed me greatly. I went to Bishop Asbury and begged him to supply my place and let me go home. The old father took me in his arms and said: 'O, no, my son; go in the name of the Lord. It will make a man of you.'
"Ah, thought I, if this is the way to make men, I do not want to be a man. I cried over it bitterly, and prayed, too. But on I started, cheered by my presiding elder, Brother J. Sale. If I ever saw hard times, surely it was this year; yet many of the people were kind and treated me friendly. I had hard work to keep soul and body together. The first Methodist house I came to the brother was a Universalist. I crossed over the Muskingum River to Marietta. The first Methodist family I stopped with there, the lady was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but a thorough Universalist. She was a thin-faced, Roman-nosed, loquacious Yankee, glib on the tongue, and you may depend upon it I had a hard race to keep up with her, though I found it a good school, for it set me to reading my Bible. And here permit me to say, of all the isms I ever heard of, they were here. These descendants of the Puritans were generally educated, but their ancestors were rigid predestinarians, and as they were sometimes favored with a little light on their moral powers, and could just 'see men as trees walking,' they jumped into Deism, Universalism, Unitarianism, etc., etc. I verily believe it was the best school I ever entered. They waked me up on all sides; Methodism was feeble, and I had to battle or run, and I resolved on the former."
Just before he was made an elder, Mr. Cartwright left his circuit, and went home on a visit to recruit. He had made a good fight with poverty during his labors, and at the time of his departure for home he was in a condition sufficiently hard to test any man's fortitude. "I had been from my father's house for three years," says he; "was five hundred miles from home, my horse had gone blind, my saddle was worn out, my bridle reins had been eaten up and replaced (after a sort) at least a dozen times, and my clothes had been patched till it was difficult to detect the original. I had concluded to make my way home and get another outfit. I was in Marietta, and had just seventy-five cents in my pocket. How I would get home and pay my way I could not tell."
He did reach home, however, after many characteristic adventures, and obtained another outfit, and while there he took an important step—he married. "After a mature deliberation and prayer," he says, "I thought it was my duty to marry, and was joined in marriage to Frances Gaines, on the 18th of August, 1808, which was her nineteenth birthday." Peter and his bride knew that a hard life was in store for them, but they felt strong in the love they bore each other. They were simple backwoods folk, and their wants were few. "When I started as a traveling preacher," he said fifty-three years afterward, "a single preacher was allowed to receive eighty dollars per annum if his circuit would give it to him; but single preachers in those days seldom received over thirty or forty dollars, and often much less; and had it not been for a few presents made us by the benevolent friends of the church, and a few dollars we made as marriage fees, we must have suffered much more than we did. But the Lord provided, and, strange as it may appear to the present generation, we got along without starving or going naked." There is something awe-inspiring in the simple trust in God which this good man displayed in every stage of his life. Once satisfied that he was in the path of duty, he never allowed the future to trouble him. He provided for it as far as he could, and left the rest to the Master whose work he was doing. Poverty and hardship had no terrors for this brave young couple, and it was very far from their thoughts to wait until a better day to marry. They would go out hand in hand into the world and meet their trials together. Children would come, they knew, and those little mouths would have to be fed, but they would be industrious, saving, and patient, and "God would provide."
Peter Cartwright's mission was to plant the Methodist Episcopal Church in the West as well as to preach the Gospel. For that end he worked and prayed. The Methodist Episcopal Church was his haven of safety. Without, all was storm and darkness; within its fold all was peace and light. He believed his church to be the best door to heaven, if indeed it was not in his estimation the only one. He was a fanatic, pure and simple, as regarded his own denomination, but a fanatic full of high and noble purposes, and one whose zeal was productive only of good. This fanaticism was necessary to the success of his labors. It was his perfect belief that his was the only church in which sinners could find perfect peace that carried him through the difficulties which encompassed him. Men were dying all around him, and they must come into his church. They had other denominations close at hand, but they, in his estimation, would not do. The Methodist Episcopal Church was a necessity for sinners, therefore it must be planted in all parts of the land. No sacrifice was too great for the accomplishment of this object. He has lived to see those sacrifices rewarded, to see his church one of the most numerous and powerful religious bodies in the country.
Being so zealous in behalf of his own church, it is not strange that he should have clashed frequently with other denominations. He got along very well with the majority, but with the Baptists and Universalists he was always on the war path. The latter especially excited his uncompromising hostility, and he never failed to attack their doctrines with all his forces wherever he encountered them. "I have thought," says he, "and do still think, if I were to set out to form a plan to contravene the laws of God, to encourage wickedness of all kinds, to corrupt the morals and encourage vice, and crowd hell with the lost and the wailings of the damned, the Universalist plan should be the plan, the very plan that I would adopt....
"A few years ago," he continues, "I had a neighbor who professed to be a confirmed Universalist. He contended with me that there was no devil but the evil disposition in man, and that there was no hell but the bad feelings that men had when they did wrong: that this was all the punishment any body would suffer. When this neighbor's father lay on his dying bed (a confirmed Universalist, professedly) there was a faithful minister of Christ who believed it his duty to visit this old Universalist, warn him of his danger, and try to awaken his conscience, if not seared, to a just view of his real situation. The minister, however, failed in his faithful attempt and well-meant endeavors, for the old man, then on his dying pillow, was greatly offended at the preacher, and told him that he did not thank him for trying to shake his faith in his dying moments. This neighbor of mine, and son of this old, hardened sinner, was greatly enraged at the preacher, and cursed and abused him in a violent manner. A few days after the demise of the old man, he, in a furious rage, began to abuse and curse the preacher in my presence, and said:
"D—— him; I wish he was in hell and the devil had him.'
"I stopped him short by saying, 'Pooh, pooh, man, what are you talking about? There is no hell but the bad feelings that a man has when he does wrong, and no devil but the evil disposition that is in man.' Thus answering a fool according to his folly.
"'Well,' said he, 'if there is no hell there ought to be, to put such preachers in.'
"'Now, sir,' said I, 'you see the utter untenableness of your creed, for a man even in trying to do good honestly draws down your wrath, and, in a moment, you want a hell to put him into and a devil to torment him for giving you an offense, and for doing what no good man ought to be offended about. But God must be insulted, his name blasphemed, his laws trampled under foot, yet he must have no hell to put such a wretch in, no devil to torment him. Now I would be ashamed of myself if I were in your place, and let the seal of truth close my lips forever hereafter.'
"Although he was confounded, he still clave to his God-dishonoring doctrine, waxing worse and worse, till it was generally believed he was guilty of a most heinous crime."
Argumentative battles were not the only troubles Cartwright had to encounter from Universalists. They came to his revivals, he says, to hoot and create disturbance. At one of these meetings two sisters, Universalists in belief, were present. They came to "make fun," but one of them was overcome by Cartwright's preaching, and went up to the mourner's bench to be prayed for. When her sister heard of it, she commenced to make her way to the altar, with the angry determination to force the penitent from it. "I rose and met her in the crowded aisle," says Mr. Cartwright, "and told her to be calm and desist. She made neither better nor worse of it than to draw back her arm and give me a severe slap in the face with her open hand. I confess this rather took me by surprise, and, as the common saying is, made the fire fly out of my eyes in tremendous sparkling brilliancy, but, collecting my best judgment, I caught her by the arms near her shoulders and wheeled her to the right about, moved her forward to the door, and said, 'Gentlemen, please open the door; the devil in this Universalist lady has got fighting hot, and I want to set her outside to cool.' The door was opened, and I landed her out."
Concerning his tilts with the Baptists, he has given a mass of curious reminiscences, from which we take the following:
"We preached in new settlements, and the Lord poured out his Spirit, and we had many convictions and many conversions. It was the order of the day, (though I am sorry to say it,) that we were constantly followed by a certain set of proselyting Baptist preachers. These new and wicked settlements were seldom visited by these Baptist preachers until the Methodist preachers entered them; then, when a revival was gotten up, or the work of the Lord revived, these Baptist preachers came rushing in, and they generally sung their sermons; and when they struck the long roll, or their sing-song mode of preaching, in substance it was: 'Water! water! You must follow your blessed Lord down into the water!' I had preached several times in a large, populous, and wicked settlement, and there was serious attention, deep convictions, and a good many conversions; but, between my occasional appointments these preachers would rush in and try to take off our converts into the water; and indeed they made so much ado about baptism by immersion that the uninformed would suppose that heaven was an island, and there was no way to get there but by diving or swimming."
He once preached a sermon on the true nature of baptism, at which were present the daughters of a Baptist minister, one of whom was converted. That night it rained violently, and all the neighboring streams overflowed their banks. Riding along the next day, he met the Baptist minister on the road.
"We've had a tremendous rain," said Cartwright.
"Yes, sir," said the Baptist brother, "the Lord sent this rain to convince you of your error."
"Ah! what error?"
"Why, about baptism. The Lord sent this flood to convince you that much water was necessary."
"Very good, sir," said Cartwright, "and in like manner he sent this flood to convince you of your error."
"What error?" asked the Baptist brother.
"Why," replied Cartwright, triumphantly, "to show you that water comes by pouring, and not by immersion."
Free and easy as he was in his manner, our preacher had a deep sense of the dignity of his mission, and he was resolved that others should share the feeling, and accord him, in his ministerial capacity, the respect and deference that were his due. His manner of accomplishing this was characteristic, as the following incident will show: Traveling on his circuit in 1805, he put up on one occasion at the house of an old man known as Father Teel, a whimsical old fellow, and supposed to be Cartwright's match in oddity. He had been warned that the old man, though a good Methodist, showed little deference to preachers. It was his custom to rise early, and, as soon as dressed, to give out his hymn, sing it himself, and then go to prayers, without waiting for his family to get up. He served preachers in the same way. Cartwright resolved to beat him at his own game, but the old man was too wary for him.
"Just as day broke," says Cartwright, "I awoke, rose up, and began to dress, but had not nigh accomplished it when I heard Teel give out his hymn and commence singing, and about the time I had got dressed, I heard him commence praying. He gave thanks to God that they had been spared during the night, and were all permitted to see the light of a new day, while at the same time I suppose every one of his family was fast asleep. I deliberately opened the door and walked out to the well, washed myself, and then walked back to my cabin. Just as I got to the door, the old brother opened his door, and, seeing me, said, 'Good morning, sir. Why, I didn't know you were up.'
"'Yes, said I, 'I have been up some time.'
"'Well, brother,' said he, 'why did you not come in to prayers?'
"'Because,' said I, 'it is wrong to pray of a morning in the family before we wash.'
"The old brother passed on, and no more was said at that time. That evening, just before we were about to retire to rest, the old brother set out the book and said to me: 'Brother, hold prayers with us.'
"'No, sir,' said I.
"Said he, 'Come, brother, take the book and pray with us.'
"'No, sir,' said I; 'you love to pray so well, you may do it yourself.'
"He insisted, but I persistently refused, saying: 'You are so fond of praying yourself, that you even thanked God this morning that he had spared you all to see the light of a new day, when your family had not yet opened their eyes, but were all fast asleep. And you have such an absurd way of holding prayers in your family, that I do not wish to have any thing to do with it.'
"He then took the book, read, and said prayers, but you may rely on it, the next morning things were much changed. He waited for me, and had all his family up in order. He acknowledged his error, and told me it was one of the best reproofs he ever got. I then prayed with the family, and after that all went well."
Among his clerical brethren was a poor hen-pecked husband, whose wife was possessed of a temper that made her the terror of the neighborhood. Cartwright had often been invited by the poor man to go home with him; "but," he says, "I frankly confess I was afraid to trust myself" but at length, yielding to his importunities, he went home with his oppressed brother, intending to spend the night with him. His visit roused the fury of the wife, and "I saw in a minute," says our preacher, "that the devil was in her as big as an alligator, and I determined on my course." The woman held her tongue until after supper, when her husband asked her kindly to join them in prayers. She flew into a rage, and swore there should be no praying in her house that night. Cartwright tried to reason with her, but she cursed him roundly. Then, facing her sternly, he said, "Madam, if you were my wife, I would break you of your bad ways, or I would break your neck."
"The devil you would," said she. "Yes, you are a pretty Christian, ain't you?"
She continued cursing him, but Cartwright sternly bade her hold her peace, and let them pray. She declared she would not.
"Now," said he to her, "if you do not be still, and behave yourself, I'll put you out of doors."
"At this," says he, "she clenched her fist and swore she was one-half alligator and the other half snapping-turtle, and that it would take a better man than I was to put her out. It was a small cabin we were in, and we were not far from the door, which was then standing open. I caught her by the arm, and swinging her round in a circle, brought her right up to the door, and shoved her out. She jumped up, tore her hair, foamed, and such swearing as she uttered was seldom equaled, and never surpassed. The door, or shutter of the door, was very strongly made, to keep out hostile Indians; I shut it tight, barred it, and went to prayer, and I prayed as best I could; but I have no language at my command to describe my feelings. At the same time, I was determined to conquer, or die in the attempt. While she was raging and foaming in the yard and around the cabin, I started a spiritual song, and sung loud, to drawn her voice as much as possible. The five or six little children ran and squatted about and crawled under the beds. Poor things, they were scared almost to death.
"I sang on, and she roared and thundered on outside, till she became perfectly exhausted, and panted for breath. At length, when she had spent her force, she became perfectly calm and still, and then knocked at the door, saying, 'Mr. Cartwright, please let me in.'
"'Will you behave yourself if I let you in?' said I.
"'O yes,' said she, 'I will;' and throwing myself on my guard, and perfectly self-possessed, I opened the door, took her by the hand, led her in, and seated her near the fire-place. She had roared and foamed until she was in a high perspiration, and looked pale as death. After she took her seat, 'O,' said she, 'what a fool I am,'
"'Yes,' said I, 'about one of the biggest fools I ever saw in all my life.'... Brother C. and I kneeled down, and both prayed. She was as quiet as a lamb."
Six months later, our preacher tells us, this woman was converted, and became "as bold in the cause of God as she had been in the cause of the wicked one."
In 1823, Mr. Cartwright resolved to move across the Ohio, and selected Illinois as his new home. The reasons which influenced his actions are thus stated by him:
"I had seen with painful emotions the increase of a disposition to justify slavery.... and the legislatures in the slave States made the laws more and more stringent, with a design to prevent emancipation. Moreover, rabid abolitionism spread and dreadfully excited the South. I had a young and growing family of children, two sons and four daughters; was poor, owned a little farm of about one hundred and fifty acres; lands around me were high and rising in value. My daughters would soon be grown up. I did not see any probable means by which I could settle them around or near us. Moreover, I had no right to expect our children to marry into wealthy families, and I did not desire it, if it could be so; and by chance they might marry into slave families. This I did not desire. Besides, I saw there was a marked distinction made among the people generally between young people raised without work and those that had to work for their living.... I thought I saw clear indications of Providence that I should leave my comfortable little home, and move into a free State or territory, for the following reasons: First, I would get entirely clear of the evil of slavery. Second, I could raise my children to work where work was not considered a degradation. Third, I believed I could better my temporal circumstances, and procure lands for my children as they grew up. And fourth, I could carry the Gospel to destitute souls that had, by removal into some new country, been deprived of the means of grace."
It was the last reason, no doubt, that decided our preacher. Men of his stamp were needed west of the Ohio. Kentucky was becoming too old a State for him, and he felt that his true field of labor was still on the frontier, and thither he turned his steps. Setting out first on horseback to seek an eligible location, he reached Sangamon County, Illinois, where he bought a claim on Richland Creek. He then returned to Kentucky and wound up his affairs there, obtained a regular transfer from the Kentucky Conference to the Indiana Conference, which then controlled Illinois, and in October, 1824, set out for his new home in Sangamon County. A great affliction overtook him on the way, in the death of his third daughter, who was killed by the falling of a tree upon their camp. The affliction was made more grievous by the heartless refusal of the people in the vicinity to render them any aid. "We were in great distress," he says, "and no one even to pity our condition.... I discovered that the tree had sprung up, and did not press the child; and we drew her out from under it, and carefully laid her in our feed trough, and moved on about twenty miles to an acquaintance's in Hamilton County, Illinois, where we buried her."
Leaving that lonely little grave behind them, they hurried on to their new home. Springfield, the capital of the State, was but a small collection of shanties and log huts, and Sangamon County was the extreme frontier. It was the most northern county of Illinois, and just beyond it lay the unbroken Indian country. Numbers of Indians roamed through the Sangamon River bottom, and spent their winters there. It was as wild and unsettled a region as our preacher could have desired, and one which gave him a fine field for the exercise of his peculiar abilities. Mr. Cartwright was promptly received into the Indiana Conference, and he lost no time in looking about him. He at once established his family in their new home, and then set about his work. The work was hard, and money was scarce. The first year he traveled the Sangamon Circuit he received forty dollars, and the next year sixty dollars, which he says was a great improvement in his financial affairs. He was successful from the first, and in the two years referred to added one hundred and sixty persons to the Methodist Church in this thinly settled district. For forty-six years he has labored in this region, adding many souls to the kingdom of God.
Arduous as his labors had been in the Kentucky Conference, they now increased very greatly. He had a larger amount of territory to travel over, people were more scattered, and the dangers to be encountered were greater. In 1827, he was made presiding elder, and given the Illinois District, then a very extensive region, and in 1828 Galena charge was added to this district. The district thus enlarged extended from the mouth of the Ohio River to Galena, the entire length of the present State of Illinois, and over this immense distance our preacher was obliged to travel four times in the year. The journeys were made either on horseback or in an old-fashioned sulky or one-seat gig. There were miles of lonely prairie and many rapid streams to cross, and roads, bridges, or ferry-boats were almost unknown. Yet Peter Cartwright was not the man to be deterred by obstacles. When he set out on his official journeys, he allowed nothing that it was possible to overcome to prevent him from keeping his appointments. In crossing the prairies, he would guide himself by the points of timber, for there were no roads over these vast plains. Oftentimes the streams to be crossed were swollen, and then he would swim his horse across them, or ride along the shore until he found a tree fallen over the current. Stripping himself, he would carry his clothes and riding equipments to the opposite bank, and then, returning, mount his horse and swim him across the river. Dressing again, he would continue his journey, and perhaps repeat the proceeding several times during the day. When overtaken by night, he would seek a place in some grove, and, lighting a fire with his tinder-box and steel, tie up his horse, and, throwing himself on the ground, sleep as peacefully as on a bed of down. Sometimes night would come on before he had crossed the prairie or made his way to the timber point he was aiming for, and then he would sit down on the ground, in the darkness and alone, and, holding his horse by the bridle, await the return of light to enable him to see his landmark. Sometimes he would find a little log-hut with a settler's family in it, and he says it was "a great treat" to come upon one of these lonely cabins and enjoy the privilege of a night's lodging. If the family were Methodists, there was sure to be preaching that night; and if they were strangers to that church, our preacher set to work at once to convert them. He labored faithfully, faring hard, and braving dangers from which his city brethren would have shrunk appalled. He carried the Gospel and the Methodist Episcopal Church into all parts of the great State of Illinois, and even into Iowa and the Indian country.
In 1832, the first Illinois Conference met in the town of Jacksonville, and Mr. Cartwright attended it. He had now been a traveling preacher for twenty-eight years, and, as he felt himself sorely in need of rest, he asked and obtained a superannuated relation for one year. On the same day, Bishop Soule, who presided at the Conference, came to him to ask his advice with reference to the Quincy District. It was very important, but the bishop could not find a presiding elder willing to take charge of it, as it was an almost unbroken wilderness. The bishop was in sore distress, as he feared that he would be obliged to merge it into another district. The spirit of the backwoods preacher at once took fire, and, declaring that so important a field ought not to be neglected, he expressed his willingness to relinquish his superannuated relation and accept the charge. The bishop took him at his word and appointed him to the district, which he served faithfully. His adventures in traveling from place to place to fill his appointments are intensely interesting, and I would gladly reproduce them here did the limits of this chapter permit.
It required no small amount of courage to perform the various duties of a backwoods preacher, and in this quality our preacher was not deficient. He was frequently called upon to exercise it in his camp meetings. These assemblies never failed to gather large crowds from all parts of the surrounding country, and among others came numerous rowdies, whose delight it was to annoy the preachers and worshipers in every conceivable way. Cartwright put up with the annoyance as long as he could, and then determined to put a stop to it. He believed in fighting the devil with fire, and put down many a disturbance. The following is the way he went about it:
"Our last quarterly meeting was a camp meeting. We had a great many tents and a large turnout for a new country, and, perhaps, there never was a greater collection of rabble and rowdies. They came drunk and armed with dirks, clubs, knives, and horsewhips, and swore they would break up the meeting. After interrupting us very much on Saturday night, they collected on Sunday morning, determined on a general riot. At eight o'clock I was appointed to preach. About the time I was half through my discourse, two very fine-dressed young men marched into the congregation with loaded horsewhips, and hats on, and rose up and stood in the midst of the ladies, and began to laugh and talk. They were near the stand, and I requested them to desist and get off the seats; but they cursed me and told me to mind my own business, and said they would not get down. I stopped trying to preach, and called for a magistrate. There were two at hand, but I saw they were both afraid. I ordered them to take these two men into custody, but they said they could not do it. I told them as I left the stand to command me to take them, and I would do it at the risk of my life. I advanced toward them. They ordered me to stand off, but I advanced. One of them made a pass at my head, but I closed in with him and jerked him off the seat. A regular scuffle ensued. The congregation by this time were all in commotion. I heard the magistrates giving general orders, commanding all friends of order to aid in suppressing the riot. In the scuffle I threw my prisoner down, and held him fast; he tried his best to get loose. I told him to be quiet, or I would pound his chest well. The mob rose and rushed to the rescue of the two prisoners, for they had taken the other young man also. An old, drunken magistrate came up to me, and ordered me to let my prisoner go. I told him I should not. He swore if I did not he would knock me down. I told him to crack away. Then one of my friends, at my request, took hold of my prisoner, and the drunken justice made a pass at me; but I parried the stroke, and, seizing him by the collar and the hair of the head, and fetching him a sudden jerk forward, brought him to the ground and jumped on him. I told him to be quiet, or I would pound him well. The mob then rushed to the scene; they knocked down seven magistrates, several preachers, and others. I gave up my drunken prisoner to another, and threw myself in front of the friends of order. Just at this moment, the ringleader of the mob and I met; he made three passes at me, intending to knock me down. The last time he struck at me, by the force of his own effort he threw the side of his face toward me. It seemed at that moment I had not power to resist temptation, and I struck a sudden blow in the burr of the ear and dropped him to the earth. Just at this moment, the friends of order rushed by hundreds on the mob, knocking them down in every direction."
Once, while crossing a river on a ferry-boat, he overheard a man cursing Peter Cartwright and threatening dire vengeance against him, and boasting that he could "whip any preacher the Lord ever made." This roused our preacher's ire, and accosting the man, he told him he was Peter Cartwright, and that if he wanted to whip him he must do so then. The fellow became confused, and said he did not believe him.
"I tell you," said Cartwright, sternly, "I am the man. Now, sir, you have to whip me, as you threatened, or quit cursing me, or I will put you in the river and baptize you in the name of the devil, for you surely belong to him." "This," says Cartwright, "settled him."
Once, having gone into the woods with a young man who had sworn he would whip him, he sprained his foot slightly in getting over a fence, and involuntarily placed his hand to his side. "My redoubtable antagonist," says he, "had got on the fence, and, looking down at me, said, 'D—— you, you are feeling for a dirk, are you?'
"As quick as thought it occurred to me how to get clear of a whipping.
"'Yes,' said I, 'and I will give you the benefit of all the dirks I have,' and advanced rapidly toward him.
"He sprang back on the other side of the fence from me; I jumped over after him, and a regular foot race followed."
"It may be asked," says the old man, naively, "what I would have done if this fellow had gone with me to the woods. This is hard to answer, for it was a part of my creed to love every body, but to fear no one, and I did not permit myself to believe that any man could whip me until it was tried, and I did not permit myself to premeditate expedients in such cases. I should no doubt have proposed to him to have prayer first, and then followed the openings of Providence."
Mr. Cartwright was from the beginning of his ministry an ardent advocate of temperance, and, long before the first temperance society was organized in the country, he waged a fierce war against dram-drinking. This fearless advocate of temperance came very near getting drunk once. He had stopped with a fellow preacher at a tavern kept by an Otterbein Methodist, who, thinking to play them a trick, put whisky into the new cider which he offered them. Cartwright drank sparingly of the beverage, though he considered it harmless, but, "with all my forbearance," he says, "presently I began to feel light-headed. I instantly ordered our horses, fearing we were snapped for once.... When we had rode about a mile, being in the rear, I saw Brother Walker was nodding at a mighty rate. I suddenly rode up to Brother Walker and cried out, 'Wake up! wake up!' He roused up, his eyes watering freely. 'I believe,' said I, 'we are both drunk. Let us turn out of the road and lie down and take a nap till we get sober,' But we rode on without stopping. We were not drunk, but we both evidently felt it flying to our heads."
In 1826 Mr. Cartwright was elected to the Legislature of the State, and at the expiration of his first term was reflected from Sangamon County. He was induced to accept this position because of his desire to aid in preventing the introduction of slavery into the State. He had no liking for political strife, however, and was disgusted with the dishonesty which he saw around him. "I say," he declares, "without any desire to speak evil of the rulers of the people, I found a great deal of corruption in our Legislature, and I found that almost every measure had to be carried by a corrupt bargain and sale which should cause every honest man to blush for his country."
He was full of a quaint humor, which seemed to burst out from every line of
his features, and twinkle merrily in his bright eyes. Often in the midst of his
most exciting revivals he could not resist the desire to fasten his dry jokes
upon one of his converts. No man loved a joke better, or was quicker to make a
good use of it. He was traveling one day on his circuit, and stopped for the
night at a cabin in which he found a man and woman. Suspecting that all was not
right, he questioned the woman, and drew from her the confession that the man
was her lover. Her husband, she said, was away, and would not return for two
days, and she had received this man in his absence.
CARTWRIGHT CALLING UP THE DEVIL.
Cartwright then began to remonstrate with the guilty pair upon their conduct, and while he was speaking to them the husband's voice was heard in the yard. In an agony of terror the woman implored Cartwright to assist her in getting her lover out of the way, and our preacher, upon receiving from each a solemn promise of reformation, agreed to do so. There was standing by the chimney a large barrel of raw cotton, and as there was no time to get the man out of the house, Cartwright put him into the barrel and piled the cotton over him.
The husband entered, and Cartwright soon engaged him in conversation. The man said he had often heard of Peter Cartwright, and that it was the common opinion in that part of the country that among his other wonderful gifts our preacher had the power to call up the devil.
"That's the easiest thing in the world to do," said Cartwright. "Would you like to see it?"
The man hesitated for awhile, and then expressed his readiness to witness the performance.
"Very well," said Cartwright; "take your stand by your wife, and don't move or speak. I'll let the door open to give him a chance to get out, or he may carry the roof away."
So saying, he opened the door, and, taking a handful of cotton, held it in the fire and lighted it. Then plunging it into the barrel of raw cotton, he shouted lustily, "Devil, rise!" In an instant the barrel was wrapped in flames, and the lover, in utter dismay, leaped out and rushed from the house. The husband was greatly terrified, and ever afterward avowed himself a believer in Cartwright's intimacy with "Old Scratch," for had he not had ocular proof of it?
Riding out of Springfield one day, he saw a wagon some distance ahead of him containing a young lady and two young men. As he came near them they recognized him, though he was totally unacquainted with them, and began to sing camp-meeting hymns with great animation. In a little while the young lady began to shout, and said, "Glory to God! Glory to God!" and the driver cried out, "Amen! Glory to God!"
"My first impressions," says Mr. Cartwright, "were, that they had been across the Sangamon River to a camp meeting that I knew was in progress there, and had obtained religion, and were happy. As I drew a little nearer, the young lady began to sing and shout again. The young man who was not driving fell down, and cried aloud for mercy; the other two, shouting at the top of their voices, cried out, 'Glory to God! another sinner down.' Then they fell to exhorting the young man that was down, saying, 'Pray on, brother; pray on, brother; you'll soon get religion.' Presently up jumped the young man that was down, and shouted aloud, saying, 'God has blessed my soul. Halleluiah! halleluiah! Glory to God!'"
Thinking that these were genuine penitents, Cartwright rode rapidly toward them, intending to join in their rejoicings; but as he drew near them, he detected certain unmistakable evidences that they were shamming religious fervor merely for the purpose of annoying him. He then endeavored to get rid of them, but as they were all going the same direction, the party in the wagon managed to remain near him by driving fast when he tried to pass them, and falling back when he drew up to let them go ahead. "I thought," says our preacher, "I would ride up and horsewhip both of these young men; and if the woman had not been in company, I think I should have done so; but I forebore."
In a little while the road plunged into a troublesome morass. Around the worst part of this swamp wound a bridle path, by which Mr. Cartwright determined to escape his tormentors, who would be compelled to take the road straight through the swamp. The party in the wagon saw his object, and forgetting prudence in their eagerness to keep up with him, whipped their horses violently. The horses bounded off at full speed, and the wagon was whirled through the swamp at a furious rate. When nearly across, one of the wheels struck a large stump, and over went the wagon. "Fearing it would turn entirely over and catch them under," says Mr. Cartwright, "the two young men took a leap into the mud, and when they lighted they sunk up to the middle. The young lady was dressed in white, and as the wagon went over, she sprang as far as she could, and lighted on all fours; her hands sunk into the mud up to her arm-pits, her mouth and the whole of her face immersed in the muddy water, and she certainly would have strangled if the young men had not relieved her. As they helped her up and out, I had wheeled my horse to see the fun. I rode up to the edge of the mud, stopped my horse, reared in my stirrups, and shouted, at the top of my voice, 'Glory to God! Glory to God! Halleluiah! another sinner down! Glory to God! Halleluiah! Glory! Halleluiah!'
"If ever mortals felt mean, these youngsters did; and well they might, for they had carried on all this sport to make light of religion, and to insult a minister, a total stranger to them. When I became tired of shouting over them, I said to them:
"'Now, you poor, dirty, mean sinners, take this as a just judgment of God upon you for your meanness, and repent of your dreadful wickedness; and let this be the last time that you attempt to insult a preacher; for if you repeat your abominable sport and persecutions, the next time God will serve you worse, and the devil will get you.'
"They felt so badly that they never uttered one word of reply."
Our preacher was determined that his work should be recognized, and as he and his fellow traveling ministers had done a good work on the frontier, he was in no humor to relish the accounts of the religious condition of the West, which the missionaries from the East spread through the older States in their letters home. "They would come," says he, "with a tolerable education, and a smattering knowledge of the old Calvinistic system of theology. They were generally tolerably well furnished with old manuscript sermons, that had been preached, or written, perhaps a hundred years before. Some of these sermons they had memorized, but in general they read them to the people. This way of reading sermons was out of fashion altogether in this Western world, and of course they produced no effect among the people. The great mass of our Western people wanted a preacher that could mount a stump or a block, or stand in the bed of a wagon, and, without note or manuscript, quote, expound, and apply the word of God to the hearts and consciences of the people. The result of the efforts of these Eastern missionaries was not very flattering; and although the Methodist preachers were in reality the pioneer heralds of the cross through the entire West, and although they had raised up numerous societies every five miles, and notwithstanding we had hundreds of traveling and local preachers, accredited and useful ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, yet these newly-fledged missionaries would write back to the old States hardly any thing else but wailings and lamentations over the moral wastes and destitute condition of the West."
The indignation of our preacher was fully shared by the people of the West, who considered themselves as good Christians; as their New England brethren, and the people of Quincy called a meeting, irrespective of denomination, and pledged themselves to give Peter Cartwright one thousand dollars per annum, and pay his traveling expenses, if he would "go as a missionary to the New England States, and enlighten them on this and other subjects, of which they were profoundly ignorant." Circumstances beyond his control prevented his acceptance of this offer. "How gladly and willingly would I have undertaken this labor of love," says he, "and gloried in enlightening them down East, that they might keep their home-manufactured clergy at home, or give them some honorable employ, better suited to their genius than that of reading old musty and worm-eaten sermons."
Our preacher did visit New England in 1852, not as a missionary, however, but as a delegate to the General Conference which met that year in Boston. His fame had preceded him, and he was one of the marked men of that body. Every one had heard some quaint story of his devotion to his cause, his fearlessness, or his eccentricities, and crowds came out to hear him preach. But our backwoods preacher was ill at ease. The magnificence of the city, and the prim decorum of the Boston churches, subdued him, and he could not preach with the fire and freedom of the frontier log chapel. The crowds that came to hear him were disappointed, and more than once they told him so.
"Is this Peter Cartwright, from Illinois, the old Western pioneer?" they asked him once.
He answered them, "I am the very man."
"Well," said several of them, "brother, we are much disappointed; you have fallen very much under our expectations, we expected to hear a much greater sermon than that you preached to-day."
It was a regular Bostonian greeting, and it not only mortified and disheartened the old pioneer, but it irritated him. "I tell you," says he, "they roused me, and provoked what little religious patience I had.... I left them abruptly, and in very gloomy mood retreated to my lodgings, but took very little rest in sleep that night. I constantly asked myself this question: Is it so, that I can not preach? or what is the matter? I underwent a tremendous crucifixion in feeling."
The result was that he came to the conclusion that he could preach, and that the people of Boston had not "sense enough to know a good sermon when they heard it." A little later old Father Taylor, that good genius of the Boston Bethel, a man after Cartwright's own heart, came to him and asked him to preach for him, and this, after hesitating, our preacher agreed to do, upon the condition that he should be allowed to conduct the services in regular Western style.
"In the meantime," says he, "I had learned from different sources that the grand reason of my falling under the expectations of the congregations I had addressed was substantially this: almost all those curious incidents that had gained currency throughout the country concerning Methodist preachers had been located on me, and that when the congregations came to hear me, they expected little else but a bundle of eccentricities and singularities, and when they did not realize according to their anticipations, they were disappointed, and that this was the reason they were disappointed. So on the Sabbath, when I came to the Bethel, we had a good congregation, and after telling them that Brother Taylor had given me the liberty to preach to them after the Western fashion, I took my text, and after a few common-place remarks, I commenced giving them some Western anecdotes, which had a thrilling effect on the congregation, and excited them immoderately—I can not say religiously; but I thought if ever I saw animal excitement, it was then and there. This broke the charm. During my stay, after this, I could pass anywhere for Peter Cartwright, the old pioneer of the West. I am not sure that after this I fell under the expectations of my congregations among them."
Sixty-seven years have passed away since the old pioneer began his preaching, and still he labors in the cause of his Master. Age has not subdued his zeal or dimmed his eye. His labors make up the history of the West. Where he first reared his humble log-hut, smiling farms and tasteful mansions cover the fertile prairies of the West; cities and towns mark the spot where his backwoods camp-meetings drew thousands into the kingdom of God; the iron horse dashes with the speed of the wind over the boundless prairies which he first crossed with only the points of timber for his guides; the floating palaces of the West plow the streams over which he swam his horse or was ferried in a bark canoe; and stately churches stand where the little log chapels of the infant West were built by him. It is a long and a noble life upon which he looks back, the only survivor of the heroic band who started with him to carry Christ into the Western wilds. He has outlived all his father's family, every member of the class he joined in 1800, every member of the Western Conference of 1804, save perhaps one or two, every member of the General Conference of 1816, the first to which he was elected, all his early bishops, every presiding elder under whom he ever ministered, and thousands of those whom he brought into the Church. "I have lived too long," he said, in a recent lecture; but we take issue with him. He has not lived too long whose declining age is cheered by the glorious fruition of the seed sown in his youth and prime. Few, indeed, are given so great a privilege; and few, having lived so long and worked so hard, can say with him, that during such a long and exposed career, "I have never been overtaken in any scandalous sin, though my shortcomings and imperfections have been without number." A man who can boast such a record, though he be as poor in purse as this simple-hearted backwoods preacher, has earned a Great Fortune indeed, for his treasure is one that can not be taken from him, since it is laid up in Heaven, "where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."