L. B. Wilkes'
Letter.—Walnut St. Meeting in Cincinnati, in 1859.—H. M. Bishop's Letter.
I think this is, perhaps, the most fitting time to introduce a letter I
received from Bro. L. B. Wilkes three months ago. It was written from
Mrs. W. H. HOPSON:
My Dear Sister-As I understand there will be a
biography of your distinguished husband, prepared by your own hand-which
is most appropriate--I request the privilege of saving a few things. This
I do, because he was my friend and brother, with whom from almost boyhood,
I had been on the most intimate terms. I made his acquaintance in 1847. I
think it was at Springfield, Mo. At that time I lived with Father and
Mother Hayden, whose memory is as dear to me as to him, whom we delight to
honor. It was customary in those days to have at Springfield, Mo., an
annual July meeting. The brethren wanted to get Bro. T. M. Allen to assist
them that year. Father Hayden was the leading man in those days. He,
either because he could not get Bro. Allen or because he thought Dr.
Hopson would suit us better, wrote for him, and he came. He was then
young, and very handsome and gifted. I had never heard much preaching by
our people before this time. His fine person, easy manners, gift in
language, rapid flow of eloquent talking, interested me very much. I had
never heard any preaching so fine before, and I have never heard any since
that made so great an impression on me as his did then.
Everybody was pleased. The people came in great crowds
to hear the young, elegant and gifted speaker. I do not remember the
result of the meeting as to additions, but the effect on the public mind
as to our plea (we had a plea then) was very happy.
I think he came the next year also. At his first meeting he
preached a discourse on I. John v. 7. The next year he preached
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from I. John v. 8. As he began his sermon, he said: "One year ago I
preached a sermon from verse 7; I wish now to say that verse 7 is not from
God, but of man." Though some of us thought that the Doctor was a little
vain (he had enough of talents and flattery to make almost any one vain),
yet, having been mistaken the year before-though not a soul knew it but
himself, -he felt it to be his duty to publicly confess it.
"Dr. Hopson was always the very soul of honor. His friendship
was as steady as the light of the planets, and it was as pure and
unselfish as that of the purest woman. I do not claim that he was without
faults-no one is; but his faults were few, and they were simple as those
of a child. His virtues were numerous and splendid.
"Though no man, however learned or accomplished, could feel
the time lost or not well employed spent in the Doctor's society, yet he
made the poorest, commonest mortal who craved his hospitable recognition
feel that in his house he had a home, and in him he had a brother.
"I was with him in a meeting he held in Miller Co., Mo. I do
not remember the date. The great majority of the people of the
neighborhood were poor and illiterate, but they were as kindhearted,
generous people as any. I was reared from early boyhood among them. Their
houses were log cabins, and their clothes were the commonest, plainest
kind. It was interesting to see how readily the Doctor made himself at
home with them in their humble houses, and how they were made to feel at
home in his company.
"If the Doctor had a noticeable fault, it was that he had a
touch of vanity in his make-up. Up to a certain point this element is
valuable-indeed, it is essential to the existence of a grand and beautiful
character. The Doctor had enough of it, at least, to keep him high above
all mean, selfish, or ignoble deeds. When one has not too much of this
element, it perhaps ought not to be called vanity.
"In 1853 I engaged to preach for the church in Hannibal, Mo.
Dr. H. was preaching at that time in Palmyra, Mo., twelve miles from
Hannibal. He was also Principal of `Palmyra Female Seminary.'
"He had a large and prosperous school, and needed help. In
the fall of 1854 he and I became equal partners in the Institution. We
lived in the same house, ate at the same table, and I came to
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know him as well as it is possible for one man to know another. A small
disagreement or two occurred during the three years we were associated in
this work. But these, though not enjoyed at the moment, served only to
more fully manifest one of the noblest characters it has ever been my
happiness, or honor to know. My opinion is, that if ever any one used his
tongue to shadow the reputation of Dr. H., it was done in ignorance of his
real moral worth, or he was a malicious slanderer. I believe I never heard
of more than two or three such, and those had dropped upon them the infamy
and obscurity they so richly merited, not long afterwards.
"Dr. Hopson failed financially when he and I were partners.
He owed me and many others more than he could then pay. This was in 1857.
Now the great trial of his life and test of his integrity was upon him. He
went through the whole matter, and paid all his debts, and came out, not
only as unsullied as the snow, but his creditors THOUGHT so. And it was
"Put Dr. Hopson in health and in his prime again, and let him
go to Palmyra, the scene of his disaster, and not a man on earth would be
greeted more warmly and heartily than he.
"The Doctor had a discussion, in 1852, at Hannibal, Mo., with
Mr. Caples, of the M.E. Church, South. Many years afterwards, Bishop
Marvin, in writing the biography of Mr. Caples, who was an excellent man
and preacher, went out of his way a little to depreciate Dr. Hopson as he
appeared before the people in that discussion. I was then, and am now,
willing that Mr. Caples should appear on the pages of history in his true
character for intellect, learning and moral worth. He was not a man of
much learning, but in other respects mentioned, he was a very superior
man, quite in advance of the Bishop. But in no one respect was Dr. Hopson
inferior to either of them, and in respect to education he was vastly the
superior of both.
"After the debate, nearly all the people, as I know, thought
Dr. H. was ahead. Should it be said that the people know very little about
the merits of such a discussion, my reply is, The parties went before the
people to obtain their verdict-they had no other object-and Dr. Hopson got
what he went for.
"There are many other things, in the life of which I speak,
worthy of a place on the pages of history.
" He began preaching when quite young-in his eighteenth year,
if I am not mistaken. Though he was an only child of par-
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ents who were well-to-do in life, petted and spoiled, no doubt, and though
he was considered wild when a boy, yet at the early age of about
seventeen, he laid aside the gayeties and youthful follies of the world,
and, in company with
Rogers, of glorious memory, and under his supervision, went to
preaching. His teacher was, like himself, very gifted by nature, very
brave, and withal, like the Master-had a great, generous, noble heart,
which, coupled with other qualities, put him in the van of useful and
"The dear, precious man of God has gone to his reward. The
last words I had with him were in the presence of his noble son,
in Covington, Ky., in 1868. He was then seeing Him who is invisible. Like
Enoch, he was walking with God, and waiting anxiously to be translated. He
was, as Bro. G. O. Burnet once said, at the State Meeting in Wheatland,
Cal., in 1874, 'feeling the sweet breezes from the paradise of God.' He
was listening for the angels' wings. Those words of his have been, and
shall forever be, a blessing and a benediction upon my soul.
"God made Samuel Rogers to preach, and it was a fortunate
thing that Dr. Hopson fell into his hands. One of those exhortations that
came like a tornado from the warm heart and great soul of Samuel
Rogers-which, no doubt, caused the angels in heaven to stop and listen,
and wait to see if sinners would not repent-was just the thing to stir the
heart of the young evangelist, and to determine it for good and great
things for God. On Dr. Hopson it no doubt had this effect. In the often
thrilling effect of the Doctor's efforts before hundreds and thousands of
hearers, was plain to be seen the result of an early and determined
purpose to be true and to dare much for Him who died for the world.
"Other and more skillful hands will do more ample justice to
the subject of these few lines than I have been able to do, no doubt.
Very truly your brother,
"L. B. WILKES."
Cincinnati, May 22, 1886.
Mrs. Ella L. Hopson-My Dear Sister:-Your letter advising me you
were writing the life of your husband, and asking me to give you a history
of his first meeting in Cincinnati, came to hand, and I wish it could be
correctly done. It was a remarka-
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ble meeting, and was the means of giving a great impetus to our cause in
This meeting, if I remember correctly, occurred in January,
1859. I shall simply give you some of the leading facts in regard to it,
and from them and your own recollection you can give a fuller and better
account of the meeting.
I had met Dr. Hopson at the organization of the General
Missionary Convention in 1849, but did not then become well acquainted
with him. Some years thereafter we decided to hold a protracted meeting in
the Eighth and Walnut street (now the "Central Christian") church, and,
having heard much of Dr. Hopson's ability as a proclaimer of the ancient
gospel, and his success as a preacher, I was authorized by the
congregation to invite him to make us a visit and hold a meeting for us,
which invitation he accepted. He came to Cincinnati and commenced the
meeting and continued it six weeks, resulting in about one hundred
additions, among them many of our best citizens and business men.
His eloquence and peculiar manner of presenting and
discussing his subjects soon became a topic of general remark. We soon
realized the importance of having a larger house. It was impossible to
comfortably accommodate the audiences. Judges, lawyers, doctors, business
men, ministers of other churches, were very often in attendance. I very
well remember a sermon he preached on the threefold nature of spiritual
influence that caused quite a commotion, especially among some of our
sectarian editors, who took the liberty of criticising it severely. Some
of the members of the secular press defended him in the positions taken by
This sermon, having become a subject of such general remark,
and having been misconstrued and misrepresented by those opposed to us
religiously, I suggested to Dr. Hopson the importance of its repetition,
stating that if he would consent to do so, we would secure Smith & Nixon's
Hall, that would comfortably seat 2,500 people, publish it in our
newspapers, and invite the public to come and hear it for themselves. This
arrangement was agreed upon between Dr. Hopson and myself. I so reported
to the board of officers of our church. All favored the repetition of the
sermon, but seriously objected to the procurement of the hall, simply
because they thought an audience of eight or ten hundred in so large a
place would not look well. I assured them
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that by clearly stating the subject, and with proper publication, the hall
would be full. It was agreed upon, the hall secured, and the sermon
delivered to at least 3,000 hearers. The seats were all filled, the
standing room crowded, and at least 1,500 persons came who could not
procure admittance. W. D. Bickham and myself secured a stenographer to
take it down, but it was never published. I sincerely hope that in
publishing a history of your husband's life, you will publish it and
Among some of his other sermons he preached during his
meeting here, his text for one of them was something like this "Other
churches may be right-they may be wrong; but we are right, and can't be
wrong." I very well remember hearing a very intelligent Presbyterian
gentleman, who heard the Doctor announce that text for the next evening's
discourse, say it was a very hold assertion, and that he was surprised at
the statement. I urged him to come and hear the sermon. He did so. The
next day I met him on 'Change. He came up to me and candidly admitted that
the Doctor made a strong and seemingly conclusive defense of the position
Many other incidents of interest occurred which you will,
doubtless remember, and can elaborate.
I have been accustomed to attending protracted meetings, and
listening to our ablest ministers, from boyhood, I never heard the gospel
presented more forcibly, and with better effect, than it was in the
forty-two discourses delivered during this meeting.
A remarkable fact, noted by many others as well as myself,
was, his voice and strength held up in such a remarkable manner. He was
not under the necessity of apologizing a single time during the meeting,
on account of weariness, hoarseness, or anything else.
Your home, as you doubtless remember, was at our house during
your stay in Cincinnati, which gave me an opportunity of becoming well
acquainted with him. I formed a strong attachment for him as a Christian
gentleman, an able minister of the gospel and a true friend. My relations
to and with him since have the more indelibly impressed these facts upon
me as correct.
Very Truly Your Brother,
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