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Full text of "James Sherman Kimball. A sketch"

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A SKETCH 



BY J. W. K. 





PRINTED FOR THE ARMY COMMITTEE 

OF THE 

Boston Voung Men's Christian Association, 

BY THE AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY 




JAMES SHERMAN KIMBALL. 



A S K E T C I-I . 



By J. W. Kaa^'^-^^- 




BOSTON: 

THE AMEBIC AN TRACT SOCIETY; 

ISSTITDTED 1814. 

DEPOSITORIES, 28 COENHILL, BOSTON, AND 13 BIBLE HOUSE, 

ASTOK PLACE, NEW YORK. 



IT 






CONTENTS 



Childhood -..•--- 


PAGE 


n. 





A Tl Qi^i:Ti^/~WT — — . 


12 


m. 


1^ 


In College ..---.- 


- 27 


IV. 




Faem Life 


- 38 


V. 




Delegate of the Christian Commission 


- 43 



JAMES S. KIMBALL. 



I. 

CHILDHOOD. 

AN a father, his heart yearnmg 
with unspeakable tenderness 
I over a child worthy of all the 
love he inspired, tell the story 
of that child wisely, fairly, profitably? 
Let me try : for to me it seems full 
of the sweetest lessons our Lord could 
bestow on parents and on children. 
Perhaps a ray of heavenly light from 
his life may fall pleasantly upon some 



6 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

path, — a somber and rugged path, 
perchance, — bringing assurance that 
in God's time " the rough ways shall 
be made smooth," and "light arise 
in the darkness." 

James was received at his birth as 
a loan from the Lord, and was then, 
and thenceforward, consecrated un- 
conditionally to him, to serve in 
whatever capacity he should be best 
pleased to employ him. God gave 
him a most affectionate, and home- 
loving disposition. He was the sturdy 
friend and helper of the little ones, 
and in his earliest letter written to 
his parents, before he was eight, he 
said, •' I wish to live, with God's con- 
sent, to see you in a good old age ; 



CHILDHOOD. 7 

and I wish to live to support yon in 
your old age." 

He began life as other boys begin 
it, with great delight in hardy sports, 
and a fair interest in study. He was 
unselfish, frank, and fearless. Hav- 
ing no inclination to be unkind to 
others, it seemed never to occur to 
him that others could be unkind to 
him. Secure in this unconscious pan- 
oply, he was welcome everywhere, 
and made friends before he thought 
of doing so. 

At fourteen he began to realize 
the want of the new life, — the life 
from above, which our Lord pointed 
out to Nicodemus. For a time he 
was much perplexed to discern the 



8 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

signs and tokens of this life. It is 
not given to every one at once to 
find an open road straight before him. 
It was not given to James. He found 
it true that " the natural man re- 
ceiveth not the things of the Spirit 
of God." He had at first little or 
no spiritual discernment. The light 
came, as morning light comes, in like 
circumstances, gradually, and strug- 
gling through clouds. It was indeed 
a long morning, and the omens for 
the coming day were equivocal. 
Faith waited for the evening and the 
morning to become the first day. In 
the best time the sky became clear, 
the sun warm, and it marched grand- 
ly on towards its meridian. A light 



CHILDHOOD. 9 

breeze of favoring influence did much 
to dispel the clouds. It was thus: 
he went down one evening to the 
prayer-meeting of the young men of 
the Christian Association. One of 
them whispered the inquiry, " Are 
you a Christian ? " " That is what I 
don't know, but would like to know," 
was the answer. " Why not ask 
prayers that you may ? " It had not 
occurred to him. He rose and asked 
at once. The cloiids melted. 

On the followin g Sabbath evening he 
went down to the seamen's meeting 
— a very favorite meeting with our 
young converts — and told the hardy 
and sympathizing sailors what God 
had done for him. From that hour 



10 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

he stood committed to a hearty coop- 
eration in every Christian endeavor 
to diffuse light, love, and kindness. 
Knowing well that no man can 
" freely give " who does not freely 
and constantly receive from the foun- 
tain of spiritual truth, he gave him- 
self assiduously to the study of the 
Bible, to much meditation and prayer. 
He did not divest himself of a healthy 
interest in all good readings but loved 
a superior book, in almost any de- 
partment of thought, and loved that 
bopk best which led him most direct- 
ly to the reason of things. " I have 
been reading," he said, '• ' Locke on 
the Understanding ; ' just the book, 
I believe, I wanted. You know I 



CHILDHOOD. 11 

was in some perplexity when at home, 
and tried to make Dr. — understand 
what it was, but did not succeed very 
well. This essay of Locke's seems to 
meet my case exactly. I seemed to 
be in search of first principles ; some- 
thing to base my reflections upon. 
Locke supplies that want ; shows me 
what is self-evident ; what is capable 
of demonstration, and what must be 
settled by a balance of probabilities." 



II. 

AT SCHOOL. 

^EAK eyes compelled him to 
leave the Latin School for a 
^f0^ farm in Michigan. Not gain- 
ing all the relief desired, he 
then went for a year into a store, and 
thence proceeded to finish his prep- 
aration for college at a military 
school ; from which he wrote, " You 
can't do me a greater favor than 
to write me on religious topics. I 
have no religious society here, and, 
strange as it may seem, my interest 
in religion has increased daily since 



AT SCHOOL. 13 

I came. My confidence in Christ is 
becoming stronger and stronger. I 
was firmly convinced, before I came 
here, that he would deliver me from 
evil, and I am more and more per- 
suaded of it. I can't tell you how 
much religious happiness I have got 
from the very worldliness of the 
school influences. Place a plant in a 
hot-house till it has had the opportu- 
nity to become delicate ; then expose 
it to the chilling winds of heaven : 
and if it can straighten up and resist 
them, you know that there is a real 
healthy, independent life in it. That 
is the feeling I have had here. I 
am getting on nicely, and like the 
school better every day, and have 



14 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

come to the conclusion that they are 
a very nice set of fellows, after all. 
It takes a great while to get ac- 
quainted though ; I find that I have 
been on trial all this time. They 
have now about concluded to trust 
me ; so I find them much more 
agreeable. You would be surprised 
to hear several of the hardest fellows 
in school, who scarcely ever stop 
swearing, tell me that they would be 
glad to change places with me. Sev- 
eral have said so, and that entirely of 
their own accord, introducing the sub- 
ject themselves. My chum told me 
that ' I had a great many advanta- 
ges ; ' — in having taken a decided 
stand as a Christian, he meant. He 



AT SCHOOL, 15 

told me that he had sat up in our 
room, with his legs out of the window, 
looking down to tlie ground, and 
thinking, to use his own language, 
' how soon he would be in hell if he 
dropped out.' He added, that once, 
in a skirmish in Western Virginia, the 
bullets were flying pretty thick, and 
he thought that he was going to die, 
and that he would recognize his Ma- 
ker in death, if he had not in life ; 
and he ran over ' Now I lay me,' 
in his mind. I have heard him con- 
fess that he did not know the Lord's 
Prayer. Think what a life he must 
have led since he was twelve years old, 
when he ran away from home, and 
went down the Mississippi as far as 



16 JAMES S. KIMBALL. ^ 

New Orleans in the position of assist- 
ant bar-keeper. ' But then,' said ho, 
' you know I hate to be called pious.' 
I wonder how many souls have boon 
lost through that fear ! 

" ' You think I'm a pretty hard 
case — don't you, fellows ? ' said an- 
other, to a little collection of boys' 
yesterday morning. ' I might be 
reformed, now, I tell you.' They 
asked me whether I thought it was 
necessary for a man to be religious ? 
I said I thought we were made for 
religion, and felt unsatisfied all the 
time without it. 

" ' Now that's so,' said one ; ' I feel 
that way all the time myself And 
another said, ' Not all the time ; ' 



AT SCHOOL. 17 

which imjDlied some assent. And yet 
they were all of them, perhaps, swear- 
ing away as much as ever in three 
minutes. 

" All this only proves that a good 
many arc walking into the net with 
their eyes open. 

" I have felt since I have been here 
that I should be proud to give my 
life to the spreading of Christ's king- 
dom, even as a missionary, or in 
whatever way he might see fit. I 
never read my Bible with half the 
interest I now feel in it. Nor did I 
know liow it was adapted to every 
possible situation. I don't know at 
all what is before me in life, but I 
have no doubt that if God intends 



18 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

me to grow up to man's estate, he 
will give me some situation in which 
I may honor him, and love and ben- 
efit my fellow-men. I have conned 
your letter over carefully, and feel 
it in my bones. I am convinced, 
as grandfather wrote me, that the 
Christian gentleman * is the highest 
style of man, notwithstanding the 
sneers of the profane and the un- 
godly.' I hope that I could never 
be happy living without some worthy 
object ; and I can conceive of nothing, 
as an object in life, more glorious 
and desirable than ' conducting timid 
pilgrims through the perils of the 
wilderness to the promised land.' 



. / 



AT SCHOOL. 19 

You quote a couplet which is often 
in my mind : 

' The love of Jesus — what it is 
None but his loved ones know' " 

A classmate writes of him as fol- 
lows: 

" My heart is too full for utterance, 
and yet I feel I must let you know 
what he was to me, and how he was 
everywhere a blessing. I first knew 
him at the militar}^ school. I had 
been there a year longer than he, 
and the first day he came I met him. 
Cheerful, frank, and sincere, the 
hearts of all went out to him at once, 
and there in school, the only Chris- 
tian, the only unprofane man, he was 
^. universally esteemed and respected. 



\ 



20 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

And yet among scoffers he was never 
afraid of the offense of the cross. 
Boldly and manfully he upheld it all 
alone. Speaking to others on the 
subject of religion was a thing which, 
as he often told me, came hard to 
him, and yet for that reason "'he was 
all the more active in doing it. He 
set out to speak with every individual 
member of the school on the subject 
of his soul's salvation ; and I believe 
he accomplished it. I know that he 
set many to thinking as they had 
never thought before, and, I have no 
doubt, sowed much seed which will 
hereafter spring up and bear fruit to 
the honor and glory of that Master 
he was so diligent in serving. Among 



AT SCHOOL. 21 

the many, I was as openly a scoffer 
as any. One day, however, I can 
never forget ; for from it I date the 
beginning of a new and higher life. 
It was the last Wednesday in May, 
1862. He asked me to walk with 
him, as we had often done on hol- 
idays before. We had gone some 
little distance and turned a corner 
on the road ; he turned to me ab- 
ruptly, and asked, ' B., why are you 
not a Christian ? ' My mouth was 
stopped. I tried to make excuses ; 
but no, nothing could I say. I had 
pious parents, who had brought me 
up to fear God, wlio had prayed for 
me night and morning, and who had 
often pointed out to me the way of 



22 JAAIES S. KIMBALL. 

salvation and my duty. Yet how far 
was I from God ! What excuses could 
I make ? James gave me no rest 
until I would promise him to repent 
and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and follow him for life. After a long 
struggle, I did promise him ; and he 
prayed with me then, and often af- 
terward ; fixing it upon my mind that 
the Bible and prayer were the only 
helps I should use. During the va- 
cation that followed, before we went 
to college, he wrote, encouraging 
me to hold on in the course which I 
had begun. We roomed together, 
you know, at college. It was a dif- 
ferent atmosphere from that at the 
school; but James was always the 



AT SCHOOL. 23 

same, — the most active in prayer- 
meetings, and ever ready to talk with 
and advise the hesitating. During 
the winter there was a revival in our 
class, and I could mention the names 
of several whom he was instrumental 
in turning from darkness to light. 
Ever on the watch for opportunities 
of doing good, of speaking a word in 
season, he never lost one. As a room- 
mate, he was the best of friends, — al- 
ways willing to do, in the kindest 
way, that hardest of Christian duties : 
he would point out faults in me, and 
tell me where I came short of doing 
right ; and this in no spirit of fault- 
finding, but from pure Christian love. 
Had he lived a long life, I could 



24 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

never half repay him for the good he 
has done me in this way. He made 
friends everywhere. He loved every 
one, and how could they help loving 
him ? I assisted him in maintaining 
some prayer-meetings among the poor 
of the place ; and he won their hearts 
completely. Every Sabbath noon he 
went to read and pray with them, and 
after he left they were never tired of 
hearing about him. The Bible was 
almost his only book at some periods, 
when his eyes were very weak : I nev- 
er saw a more diligent student of the 
Holy Book. It was in truth a lamp 
to his feet and a light to his path. 
Amid the bustle and turmoil of school, 
he alone found time and opportunity 



AT SCHOOL. 25 

to read it. No one who has not been 
at the military school can under- 
stand the difficulties in the way of 
private devotion there. And yet he 
overcame them all ; and many, many 
a time has he spoken in our class 
prayer-meetings of the necessity of 
strict devotion to our Bibles and 
closets, — duties which students are 
apt to neglect. Last September I 
spent a few days with him at Hadley ; 
and a little card he gave me then 
has been my constant companion 
since. Many a time have I taken 
comfort from it, and hope to many 
times yet. On it was printed, ' If 
you want to be miserable, look with- 
in. If you want to be distracted, look 



26 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

around. If you want to be happy, 
look to Christ.' How faithfully did 
he look to Christ ! And Christ has 
now taken him to live with Him." 






III. 

IN COLLEGE. 

HE transition from school to col- 
lege was very pleasant to him. 
"I am having a grand time," 
he wrote ; " heaps of pleasant 
occupation ; just enough work in get- 
ting my lessons to make it interesting, 
and manly fellows to associate with, 
who have some experience of life, in 
place of those narrow-minded little 

scatter-wits of School memory. 

Up here you hear the question. How 
can he write ? or. Is he a deep man ? 
Is he a solid scholar, or a mere dig ? 



28 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

Is he a fellow of principle ? etc., etc., 
instead of, Is he handsome ? Does he 
dress well ? How much money has 
he ? or, Will he stand treat ? My 
mind has a chance to get well waked 
Tip." 

By nature he was full of energy ; 
and full occupation was essential to 
his happiness. 

In his Bible he had pasted the fol- 
lowing extract from Sir Fowell Bux- 
ton : " The longer I live, the more 
I am certain that the great difference 
between men, between the feeble and 
the powerful, the great and the in- 
significant, is energy.) — invincible de- 
termination ; a purpose once fixed, 
and then ' death or victory.' That 



IN COLLEGE. 29 

quality will do anything that can be 
done in this world ; and no talents, 
no circumstances, no opportunities, 
will make a two-legged creature a 
man without it." 

Into his endeavors to get the full 
benefit of out- door exercise he car- 
ried this energy, while on the Hudson 
River, and also at Williamstown. 
He delighted in the scenery among 
our mountains, and often went on 
rambles of five, ten, and sometimes 
twenty miles or more. He was a 
close observer of nature, and often in- 
dulged in lively descriptions of what 
he saw. 

Never was a son or brother more 
aifectionately eager to return to his 



30 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

beloved ones at home ; but after a 
week or ten days' solace in their so- 
ciety, such was the inexorable de- 
mand of hig nature for some useful 
employment, that he could not bring 
himself to remain without it. In 
December, 1862, his first college va- 
cation, he offered his services to the 
Christian Commission, and was sent 
to the Army of the Potomac, in which 
he labored, at Camp Convalescent, 
and at Falmouth, acceptably and 
heartily, for nearly six weeks. 

From Camp Convalescent he wrote : 
" I have now made fair trial of camp- 
life, and find it, in some respects, 
inferior to home-life. Nevertheless, 
we make ourselves pretty comforta- 



/iV COLLEGE. 31 

ble. We go round camp in the day- 
time, distributing and talking with 
the men : also in the hospitals we 
read and pray with the soldiers. We 
have a prayer-meeting in our tent 
every morning at half-past nine. It 
is a very pleasant meeting ; our tent 
is quite filled — twenty men or more. 
The men here are well off for food, 
clothing, and fuel, but they want some 
one to look after their souls." 

From Falmouth he wrote : " I am 
leading a queer life. Last night I 
slept in a car on some hay. I am 
well, but not accomplishing all I 
should like to ; in fact, it would take 
a month or a year to learn this busi- 
ness. It requires business faculty, 



32 • JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

knowledge of men, a warm heart, or 
rather warm love for Christ, and for 
telling others about him. Mere ma- 
chine labor don't tell on souls. I 
feel as if I needed more of Christ in 
my own heart to be useful in a high 
degree to others. We have been do- 
ing what we could for the poor fel- 
lows leaving in the cars ; that is, the 
wounded, who are sent off by hun- 
dreds every day for Washington." 

Returning to Camp Convalescent, 
he wrote again : " Shall I come home ? 
I don't know ; I am feeling my way 
along. I am interested, I hope much 
profited, by the work here. There are 
nine thousand men, with no one to 
care for their souls. The officers are 



IN COLLEGE. 33 

not unfriendly. We are getting a 
churcll tent ; we have good meetings, 
and seem blessed. Perhaps I am 
taking it too easily and too comforta- 
bly. 

" ' Be not forgetful to entertain 
strangers.' A gentleman came out 
to see us day before yesterday, with 
his wife and child. It was too dark to 
return to Alexandria. As Mr. E. 
was away, I put the gentleman and 
his child into Mr. E.'s cot, and his 
wife into my own, and left them to 
enjoy them. I slept in our church 
tent, with a board floor ; some boughs 
and three army blankets for a bed, 
and a log of wood for a pillow. 
Practice makes perfect. I gave them 



34 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

some breakfast, and sent them on 
tlieir way rejoicing." 

Soon after tliis he returned to col- 
lege ; and through manifold trials, 
arising from- the weakness of his eyes, 
endeavored to hold on in the prosecu- 
tion of his studies. In September he 
wrote : " Tlie freshman class is great 
and populous, like the cities of the 
Anabasis. They are no striplings, 
but bearded men, who have gone to 
church in black coats, and gone afield 
in overalls for ten years of tlieir lives. 
Their class president is a venerable 
chap with huge black beard and am- 
ple proportions — one whose face 
seems to say, ' I have beheld the 
generations of men, lo, these many 



IJSr COLLEGE. 35 

years.' Nevertheless, '66 put them 
through on Saturday night, causing 
them to sing songs and make speeches 
on tables which ever and anon dis- 
appeared from under them. I don't 
believe in hazing; and I think our 
men will be unable to do more of it, 
because the freshmen are finding out 
that they are stronger than we are." 
November 11, 1863, he wrote as 
follows : " I have been thinking over 
my past life since my eyes have trou- 
bled me. As well as I can reckon, it 
was in the spring of 1858 they first 
gave out — the result of reading while 
recovering from a fever. I left school 
and went to Michigan. In the au- 
tumn I went back to school, and found 



36 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

my eyes improved as cold weather 
came on, and I went on for two years. 
I next broke down in the spring of 
1860, and went into a store. In the 
fall of 1861 I went to the military 
school, and found my eyes but little 
better. I have gone through '62 and 
'63 in the same way ; and now I find 
myself looking forward to the sixth 
spring since the first annoyance, and 
what are my prospects ? They are as 
weak as ever, and I have not aver- 
aged over two hours and a half of 
studying this term. Can I hope that 
they will be any better next spring 
and summer ? Can I hope that they 
will permanently improve in college 
and literary life ? May I not hope to 



I^r COLLEGE. 37 

save my eyes by abandoning literary 
pursuits ? I am not discouraged : I 
feel sufficiently buoyant ; but I wish 
to exercise a manly judgment ; above 
all, to please my Maker. If a sea 
voyage of five years would cure me, 
I think it would be, perhaps, advis- 
able." 

The army, the sea, and the woods 
of Maine offered their several induce- 
ments. After counseling with tbe 
experienced, he decided to begin with 
lumbering ; and, failing of advan- 
tage there, to make a second trial of 
farm life. He did both, employing 
ten months, with only partial im- 
provement. 



IV. 

FARM LIFE. 

IS months upon tlie farm were 
not permitted to be barren of 
"^^^ spiritual results. The pastor 
whose ministrations he then en- 
joyed writes : " I yield, not unwil- 
lingly, to the impulse which prompts 
me, an entire stranger, to tell you 
that the announcement of the death 
of your noble son has brought sadness 
to many hearts in this community. 
It was with great pleasure that I 
made his acquaintance, on taking 
charge of this society ; and I very 



FARM LIFE. 39 

soon found that he was exerting, in 
a quiet way, a most useful influence 
among those near his own age. He 
was recognized among them for what 
he was, — for what I at once saw 
him, — an open-hearted, intelligent, 
affectionate Christian youth ; a rec- 
ognized leader in the weekly prayer- 
meeting for young people ; and I was 
exceedingly pleased with the frank 
and fearless character of his piety, 
which was no doubtful possession 
with him, but an integral part of his 
nature. The brightness of his intel- 
lect, too, and the easy play of his 
fancy, expressing itself often with 
singular fluency, rendered him all 
the more interesting and useful. We 



40 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

were all truly sorry when he left us, 
and I regretted him not only for his 
own sake, but as a helper in every- 
thing good among us, though none 
of us thought he was going from us 
to finish his course so soon." 

The future life was never far from 
his thoughts. Nearly a year before, 
he wrote thus : " I find myself, in my 
most blessed hours, looking forward 
with pleasure to meeting father's 
parents hereafter. And, as in child- 
hood each new friend bound us to 
earth, so it seems to be the order of 
Providence, in advancing years, to 
draw us by one tie and anotlier 
towards heaven. I can but think 
that we shall find peculiar bliss in 



FARM LIFE, 41 

meeting and associating with those 
loved most and best on earth. Vari- 
ous hints in the Bible show us that 
there is no loss of individuality ; and 
if Christ's love, as shown to us in 
our earthly pilgrimage, is to be our 
song in heaven, why may we not 
suppose that the love which he has 
shown us through the agency of our 
friends, will draw us closer to those 
friends in the world to come ? I like 
to think that the Christian is living 
for eternity in his friendships, in his 
self-cultivation, and in his efforts for 
others ; and that he is beginmng a 
work, and cultivating a taste, for 
pleasures which shall continue to ad- 
vance and to please for ever. There 



42 JAMES 8. KIMBALL. 

may be music in heaven ; there will be 
society : above all, there will be love. 
" About my eyes : If I find it advis- 
able to go into some business, shall 
I not do more for mankind, with 
God's blessing, than I could do in 
the ministry with weak eyes ? Still 
a business man can not be a student. 
Well, Rufiis Landholm, Brother & 
Co. had poverty to struggle agahist 
in toiling for an education. I have 
weak eyes, and a chance of poverty 
too, perhaps, if I am many more years 
preparing; still, perhaps, something 
like their pluck will give me an 
education. I am resolved to try." 
Nevertheless the weak eyes would 
not become strong. 



V. 

DELEGATE OF CHEISTIAX COMMISSION. 

ffiONYINCED that the usual 
course of study for a profession 
"^^ was thus indefiuitely postponed, 
'^ and foehng a deep sympathy 
for his country and our brave sol- 
diers, he determined to renew the 
offer of his services to tlie Christian 
Commission ; and early in October. 
1S64, was sent to Louisville, Ken- 
tucky, where for four weeks he was 
unremitting in his labors. From 
Louisville he wrote : *• I am having 
too oood a time now. I find the 



44 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

delegates splendid fellows ; rough in 
manners, but earnest, whole-souled 
Christians. I hope that I may profit 
much by being here. My mind is in 
a constant flutter from seeing so 
many new faces and strange sights. 
To tell you all were impossible ; but 
I will speak of a few things. I went 
first across the river to Jeffersonville, 
and thence a mile Or two to Joe Holt's 
Hospital. This is more than a thou- 
sand feet square, and is a collection of 
wooden barracks, on each side of a well- 
graded street, with board sidewalks 
some five feet higher than the street, 
all in the pink of neatness. The 
convalescents bask in the sunshine 
before the ward doors, and within 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 45 

each ward are neat beds lining each 
wall: everything clean, airy, and com- 
fortable. We found not over three 
hundred patients in all. We passed 
from man to man, giving each an In- 
dependent, or soldier's paper, with a 
kind word of advice or sympathy, 
and found them very grateful to get 
them. I came home, and in the eve- 
ning, went to the prison barracks, 
where one hundred and fifty pris- 
oners are strewn over two rooms, so 
thickly that as they squat on the 
floor they touch each other. We 
had a little meeting here, in the midst 
of filth and ' gray-backs,' and found 
them very eager listeners. They 
begged us to come again. They 



46 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

have their own prayer-meeting every 
evening, with their Httle hymn-books. 
Singing is a great thing. Frank, 
Alice, everybody, learn to sing. The 
first thing I heard was, ' You can 
sing religion into them twice as fast 
as you can talk it into them. Can 
you start your own tunes? — it's 
half.' Singing is the rallying cry. 
They flock together when a tune is 
started. Poor creatures ! it is the 
only pure pleasure tliey know, to 
sing tlie old home tunes. I think I 
could write twelve hours and not tell 
you half. I could scare you, too, by 
telling you how many rebels are 
here, and how wild work war makes. 
But I think we are perfectly safe 
here. 



CHRISTIAN COMMAS DELEGATE. 47 

" I wish you could see the colored 
soldiers : such listeners ! They seem 
magnetized, and hardly breathe while 
you address them." 

A month later he writes : *' I leave 
this afternoon for Nashville. I hope 
God's approval will sanction this 
change, and that it is not the result 
of impatient restlessness. I feel as 
if I had just commenced this work ; 
and as I find the best of the delegates 
are increasingly fascinated with it, I 
hope that I shall cultivate a taste for 
it. It is still quite an effort to me ; 
yet I am often interested and en- 
couraged by tokens of feeling and 
gratitude in those I deal with. I 
find it agreeable and profitable to 



48 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

come in contact with so many men. 
The delegates are coming through 
here all the time, and, as a rule, are 
wide-awake, well-educated men. Mr. 

is a perfect genius in the rough ; 

smart, pushing, funny, and demo- 
cratic in his style of speaking, writ- 
ing, thinking, and walking." 

From Nashville he wrote : " I have 
N.'s offer of a commission in the 
army. I have thought and prayed 
over it, and concluded that I had 
better remain in the Christian Com- 
mission. I am already here. I know 
I can do good — perhaps all the good 
I am capable of doing ; and to take 
a commission would be an experi- 
ment. I am inclined to think that a 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 49 

delegate, a permanent delegate, can 
do as much good as a chaplain ; for 
the chaplain is compelled to move with 
the army. I trust God has guided 
me into this decision, and shall en-, 
deavor to dismiss the subject from 
my mind. We have sweet music in 
the evening here. The delegates are 
very pleasant." 

Dec. 1, he wrote : " Nashville is 
stirring to-day ; Hood within fifteen 
miles ; cannonading quite audible. 
Was up from eleven last night till 
half-past four this morning, unload- 
ing the wounded. This morning the 
whole army is crowding into town." 

Dec. 7 : "I think you would be 
interested if you went round with me 



50 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

one day. This week I have been go- 
ing across tlie Cumberland, to our 
cavalry on the other side. I take 
two hundred religious papers, one 
ream of paper, three hundred soldiers' 
books, and spend all day distributing 
them. I have to walk two or three 
miles, so I dine with the boys on hard- 
tack and beans, and don't get home 
till supper-time. Last evening I spent 
in teaching some little colored chil- 
dren to read. One of tliem said that 
Adam lived in the garden of Egypt. 
We hear cannon tliundering day and 
night. The fight at Spring Hill was 
a terrible affair. The rebels charged 
three times with determined hardi- 
hood. We came near losing our 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 51 

whole army, but finally repulsed 
them." 

How he performed his duties, both 
at Louisville and at Nashville, in bar- 
racks, hospitals, prisons, and on the 
field, will best be told in the words 
of his associates. 

Says one : " He was the youngest 
delegate we ever had in Louisville ; 
and we found our hearts going out to 
him as to a younger brother. We 
liked his original ways. There was 
something so fresh and childlike about 
him, — a simplicity both rare and ad- 
mirable in a young man. His kind- 
ness to all was unbounded ; but when 
a soldier came to our rooms, he would 
start up quickly, and wait upon him 



52 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

as politely as tliougli be were a king. 
He made the soldiers feel at home, 
assuring them that we all considered 
it a privilege to wait upon our brave 
defenders. Nov. 6, Sunday, I accom- 
panied him to the ' Taylor Barracks.' 
He read Isaiah liii. ; dwelling on the 
third and fourth verses, and repeat- 
ing many times, ' Surely He bath 
borne our griefs and carried our sor- 
rows.' In imagination I can see him 
now, standing before those colored 
soldiers, reading each word so dis- 
tinctly, so understandingly, and they 
listening so attentively, drinking in 
every word, and looking so thankful 
for assurances of home and lieaven. 
He sought to impress upon them the 



CHRISTIAN COMWS DELEGATE. 53 

necessity of being prepared ; to make 
them realize that God, though invis- 
ible, was near, and willing to receive 
them. He urged them to be zealous 
for Christ, because life was uncertain. 
He was very earnest ; the color came 
and went in his cheeks ; and his ' my 
friends ' to those boys and men can 
never be forgotten." Says another : 
" I shall never forget that sermon. 
I was touched with his remark upon 
' His visage was so marred.' He did 
not think it taught that Christ's ap- 
pearance was repulsive ; but simply 
that it was wan, and wasted with his 
many cares and ceaseless labors. 
One night there was a crowd. Mr. 
K. despaired of full attention because 



54 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

he could not be seen. He looked 
about for an elevation. He mounted 
a pile of boxes, and called for * Rally 
Round the Flag, Boj^s.' This secured 
them, and he kept their attention to 
the end." 

"From myfirst acquaintance," says 
an Episcopal clergyman, " I was un- 
usually well pleased with him. His 
frankness, cordiality, intelligence, 
above all, his devotion to the Chris- 
tian work lie had come so far to do, 
won the esteem of all, and even ex- 
cited remark from many. His heart 
was full of that best of Christian 
graces, cliarity. On Friday evening, 
Dec. 9, he said to me, ' Let us call on 
our friends at Hospital 14 ; but half- 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 65 

past seven will be time enough for 
that, and meanwhile I'll have a short 
service down in the barracks : I 
have not done enough to-day ; ' this, 
thougli I knew he had spent the whole 
day in ' the front.' The barracks is 
a large, unfinished hotel, the property 
of the rebel Gen. Zollicoffer, with no 
sash in the window frames. This, of 
course, makes it at best a very un- 
comfortable place for men to live in. 
There are generally between one thou- 
sand and four thousand soldiers here 
in transit between the front and the 
North. James, more frequently than 
any other delegate, visited this place 
in the evening, to have services. He 
frequently spoke of the pleasure this 



56 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

gave him. We were each in turn 
appointed to this dutj; but James 
again and again went, whether spe- 
cially assigned or not. On Saturday, 
the 10th, he went. He found there 
a sick soldier without a blanket, com- 
pelled to pass the night in a room 
which was open to the chilling and 
wintry winds. James felt well, and 
believed that the short walk liome in 
the cold would not harm him as much 
as a long night's exposure would the 
needy soldier, and at once gave the 
poor fellow his shawl. Sunday the 
11th came, and feeling still well, he 
passed the day among the cavalry, 
several miles distant from our home, 
returning quite late. It was not until 



CHRISTIAN COMWS DELEGATE. 57 

Monday the 12th that be seemed in- 
disposed. He kept to the sofa most 
of tlie day, and had one or two chills. 
It was not until Tuesday the 13th 
that his symptoms revealed the fear- 
ful congestive chill. He would often 
spend an hour after the labors of tlie 
day in my room talking over what 
had been said and done. When lie 
met with earnest and anxious, but 
not well-established men, his custom 
was to insert written pledges, signed 
by both, usually, in their Testaments, 
' to be unceasing in their endeavors 
to live so as to meet in heaven.' 
Tha Bible was constantly in his 
hand when in-doors, before leaving 
in the morning, and after the duties 



58 JAMES S. JvIMBALL. 

of the day. He loved it ; and his 
conscientious discharge of all his du- 
ties proved to all that he endeavored 
to live up to its precepts. On that 
Friday evening after his services in 
the barracks, as we walked toward 
Hospital 14, he spoke of the interest- 
ing meeting he had just had, and 
added, ' Though the sermon my con- 
gregation got was a poor one, it had 
one good quality, — it was full of the 
Bible. I always try to introduce 
plenty of that good book, that those 
who will not read its pages may hear.' 
" James was talented above most 
others. Had he lived he would have 
been a successful laborer in the vine- 
yard. His eiTorts were very success- 



CHRISTIAN COMMAS DELEGATE. 59 

fill, as long as he was spared, in the 
work of the Christian Commission. 
Let us be mindful of David's consola- 
tion : ' I shall go to him.' Pardon 
me : I write as I feel ; for I feel that I 
too need this comfort. In the death 
of this noble young man I have lost 
a friend — one whose example has 
benefited me, and whose warm spirit 
has enlisted my deepest regards." 

Says another clergyman : "On the 
10th of December, James and one of 
the delegates went out of Nashville, 
on the left, in the front of our cavalry 
force, where he held a service in the 
open air. He took off his hat. The 
day was cold. The cold, as he after- 
wards said, affected his head. On 



60 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

Sunday, Dec. lltli, lie attended the 
Cumberland Hospital, and preached 
a most excellent and edifying dis- 
course. His soul seemed to be en- 
tirely absorbed in the spiritual and 
eternal welfare of tlie sick and wound- 
ed soldiers. On Monday he had chills 
and fever. On Tuesday I nursed him 
most of the day, applying mustard 
draughts to his breasts, arms, feet, 
ankles, etc., as the doctor ordered ; 
bathing his feet in hot water, and 
rubbing him all over to excite per- 
spiration ; but all in vain. He was 
delirious in the afternoon. On 
Wednesday he knew and named all 
the delegates as they came to his bed, 
and saluted them with, ' God bless 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 61 

you." During tlie 15th he was de- 
Urious all the time, preaching, pray- 
ing, and distributing things to the 
soldiers. It was very touching to 
hear him in his wanderings pray for 
the soldiers, and then ask some one 
at his bedside to pronounce the bene- 
diction. When I gave him medicines, 
he would always say, ' Thank you, 
thank you, sir.' He did not suffer 
much pain ; and as the end drew near 
he became more calm, and died quiet- 
ly, peacefully, triumphantly ; and we 
have no doubt that he will rise in 
the first resurrection. Of this you 
may rest satisfied : ' Death loves a 
shining mark ; ' and such talents, so 
early and so fully developed, seldom 



62 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

ever bloom long on this earthly soil. 
They are matured for the shining 
shores of eternal joys." 

A chaplain of tlie Illinois cavalry 
writes from Nashville : " He seemed 
to have but one desire, and that was 
to do good to his fellow-men, and be 
instrumental in saving souls ; and 
the question was in what sphere he 
could best accomplish this ? He had 
had an oifer of a lieutenancy in one of 
the regiments, and sometimes felt Uke 
accepting it ; and would, if he could 
believe that he would be as useful to 
his company as a Christian, but feared 
that he might not be as useful to the 
soldiers as he could now be in the 
Christian Commission." 



' CHRISTIAN COMJWS DELEGATE. 63 

" His great interest in his work was 
revealed in liis delirium : all the pow- 
ers of his mind were enlisted in ex- 
postulating, warning, inviting, and 
urging sinners, to come to Christ. 
He told them of Christ's wonderful 
compassion, his sufferings for them, 
and liis intercessions with the Father. 
1 Timothy i. 15, ' This is a faithful 
saying, and worthy of all acceptation, 
that Christ Jesus came into the world 
to save sinners,' was one of the texts 
from which, with great clearness and 
directness, he addressed his supposed 
audience more frequently than from 
any other. He would begin with the 
fact that all are sinners by nature and 
by practice ; then point out the wicked- 



G4 JAMES S.- KIMBALL. 

iiess of men in rejecting their truest 
interest, and in violating God's com- 
mandment ; show their lost and ruined 
condition ; closing with the encour- 
aging truth in the text, that Christ 
came to save sinners. Here he would 
take up the sufferings of Christ for 
sinners, and especially for tliose he 
imagined to bo present ; invariably 
inquiring, ' Now won't you accept 
Christ, who has done so much for 
you ? ' 

" Another text from which he ad- 
dressed his supposed audience, was 
Mark ii. 9 : ' Arise, take up thy bed 
and walk.' On this he would begin : 
' My friends, we are taught in the 
Bible that our Saviour did good to 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 65 

the bodies of men as well as to their 
souls ; and it is our duty to labor as 
he did.' 

" Truly you have reason to bless 
God for the grace so largely bestowed 
on your dear son, inclining him thus 
to labor with all his soul for the salva- 
tion of men, and especially for soldiers, 
whether in the hospital or in the camp. 
The soldiers who formed his acquaint- 
ance esteemed him highly, as did all 
who knew him ; the delegates of the 
Christian Commission, and the chap- 
lains of the army." 

Says another : " I met yesterday a 
rebel soldier who had been sick in our 
barracks ; one to whom Mr. K. had 
taken tea, bread, etc., etc. (often sav- 



66 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

ing his own for them), and told him 
Mr. K. had gone home to the better 
land of which he had told him. The 
tears gushed forth, and he said, * Has 
he gone ? Will I never see him more ? 
Oh ! you fight us like demons, and 
when we are sick and prisoners, you 
treat us like angels.' I told him all 
about his sickness, and how in his 
delirium he was striving to save sol- 
diers ; and that we felt that he was 
now with God. He replied, * With 
God's help, I will meet him there.' " 

Christian parents, accept the assur- 
ance that we need but a supreme con- 
cern to be filled witli the love of Jesus, 
and with the knowledge of his will, to 
accept peacefully the postponement of 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE, 67 

every plan for the education of a son ; 
to accept what seems but a temporary 
occupation as life's consummate work. 
If it please God to compress the use- 
fulness of a long life into the brief 
span of twenty years, is not this a just 
occasion for triumphant ascription of 
praise that he has wrought in this 
brief life a finished work? Every 
day brings fresh testimony that this 
is his estimate who calls his disciples, 
and assigns to every man his work. 

His classmates say : " We deeply 
regret his loss, as an operl, decided, ex- 
emplary, high-toned; Christian young 
man.'' And the dear friend who 
transmitted this expression of broth- 
erly feeling, added, " I loved James. 



68 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

And I think lie made, during our in- 
timate connection here, an impression 
on my character that will be lasting. 
Not long ago he wrote me at some 
length ; and one part of that letter 
comes back to me with renewed force. 
He said, ' I sometimes say to myself, 
I shall have done something for Christ, 
if I never live to engage in any busi- 
ness or profession.' I little thought 
his sometJiing' was so nearly done. 

" It were useless for me to tell you 
that he was highly esteemed here, 
and that his walk among us was thor- 
oughly Christian. You know him 
too well. Yet it may be pleasing to 
you to know that his influence was 
more than a common influence. I 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 69 

give you the testimony of one of the 
sober-minded, thoughtful men of the 
class, who said to me the other day 
that he thought James had exerted 
more good influence in the class than 
any other person that ever belonged 
to it. 

"Consolation you have — better 
than any I can offer." 

Yes, indeed we have — God's con- 
solation. And though with a bleed- 
ing heart, we can render up our trust 
with joy in the Lord, despite the con- 
sciousness of ten thousand short-com- 
ings in duty, and of measureless 
inaptitude for the noble work of 
training a soul for God, so there be 
but the consciousness : this one thing 



70 JAMES S. KIMBALL. 

have I sought for my child, and only 
this, — holiness in order to usefulness. 
Glorious, glorious is the translation 
of my precious, darling boy. To thee, 
dear Lord, I surrender this precious 
one, with ten thousand thanks for 
the loan. From Thee I received him, 
with the charge and pledge, '^ Take 
this child and nourish him for me, 
and I will give thee wages." I have 
nourished him for Thee, and for Thee 
alone ; and here acknowledge receipt 
of abundant and blessed wages. My 
soul is ravished and leaps for joy, as 
I think of my wealth of wages. I 
have made return to Thee of my stew- 
ardship, and • Thou hast accepted it. 
Oh the unutterable joy of having been 



CHRISTIAN COMM'S DELEGATE. 71 

permitted — certainly in unswerving 
aim — to train this precious child for 
Thee ! 

Glory to God in the highest! — 
Amen ! 




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