Continued from “The deepest values of early American evangelicals, revealed in what Methodists said about their dead; part II“
The highest virtues: “the courage of one’s
Peter Cartwright, Methodist circuit rider and "man's man"
convictions” and the boldness to speak them
Along with this manly work-ethic, Methodist memorialists of the 19th century seem most to admire the traits of unshakeable conviction and bold speech. In fact, the phrase “the courage of his convictions” is liberally laid on throughout the 19th century. As early as 1793, Benjamin Carter, an ex-soldier, was noted as “a pointed, zealous preacher, and a strict disciplinarian,” who “appeared not to fear the face of any.” Ninety years later, in 1884, the eulogist of Tennessee’s Robertson Fagan wrote, “He was of ardent temperament, indomitable will, and commanding faith,” “not a man of half measures,” whose “power over men seemed to be almost magical.” Continue reading →
Continued from “The deepest values of early American evangelicals, revealed in what Methodists said about their dead; part I“:
Illustration from Edward Eggleston, The Circuit Rider: A Tale of the Heroic Age (1906): A Methodist circuit rider on horseback
One purpose of these “memorials,” and certainly a primary purpose of the separate volumes of memorials which were reprinted, was to present to people everywhere, Christian and non-Christian, the “moral example” of these dedicated ministers of Christ. This purpose perhaps ran deeper as the Victorian age wore on.
For example, at the front of the Black River and Northern New York Conference Memorial, Second Series, edited by Rev. P. Douglass Gorrie, and published in 1881, the editor presents the following wish:
The Author begs leave to present his feeble, yet grateful Tribute of Respect to the Memories of Departed Worth and Moral Heroism.
His subjects he goes on to describe as “the noble dead.” In the preface of the same book, the only regret expressed in its publication is “that each and all had no more worthy pen to portray the virtues that adorned their Christian character.” (v-vi) Continue reading →