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if the signs were propitious. The "business” of the quarterly conference was purely incidental — the presiding elder's real business was soul-saving; and the presiding elder who could not report a score of souls saved at each quarterly meeting went away crestfallen, feeling that his visitation had been a heartbreaking failure.
Then finally once a year there were the great denominational roundups, "seasons of refreshing”--the Conferences and Associations. The bishopric was indecd an Apostolic office; nor was it sought and obtained by worldly methods. Those early bishops-wonderful men-were prayerfully chosen, "called," on account of their preëminent learning and spirituality, pulpit power and holy unction, men yet under the spell of Wesley's heavenly-mindedness and singleminded zeal for Christ and the lost, men whose lips were yet all aglow with the holy fire of Pentecost, and who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost-and their anointed presence and heaven-inspired utterances at the Annual Conference always added glorious annals to the history of the Lord's onward and triumphant progress. And the Baptist presbyters numbered among their pulpiteers men who were not one whit less apostolic.
With the exception of probably a half-dozen New England Universalists and Unitarians-birds of passage blown thither by contrary winds from their true course-perhaps there was not an adult in Raleigh County, out of New Richmond, who had not at some time "experienced religion," and bowed to the obligations of a holy life.
New Richmond-population about 2,500-was a striking contrast to the county of which' it was the capital. It claimed to be the "Athens of Southern Illinois," and none seriously disputed the claim. It boasted of having more elegant homes than any town of its size in the state, the politest society, more college graduates—there were an even
dozen-and, finally, the manliest men and the handsomest women in the world.
Of the twelve college graduates, five had traveled in Europe, and two in their callow youth had run away and fought with Jackson at New Orleans; later they had voted for him for president. More than a score of New Richmond men had marched and fought with Scott and Taylor in Mexico. Two young men had filibustered with Quitman in Cuba. One returned; in Havana the other knocked down a Spaniard for insulting the American flag, and was shot and killed by a drunken ruffian. One boasted of an ancestor who had signed the Declaration of Independence, “not far from the top”; and another's great-grandfather had beei! on Washington's staff when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
New Richmond had also furnished one governor, one state chief justice, one federal judge, one consul at Valparaiso, and four congressmen, each serving one term only.
Judge Edmund P. Gildersleeve had studied law in the office of the great John Marshall; and once, visiting in Washington, had been introduced to Daniel Webster. Professor Henry St. George Pinckney, a genuine bookworm of the grub variety, had studied the Romance languages under the poet Longfellow at Cambridge; and once, unfor. getable day, saw Washington Irving ride hy in a carriage. One Ezra Onstit claimed to have seen and shaken hands in 1825 with Lafayette; but as he was a horse trader and notorious liar, his claim was generally disallowed. Besides, his second cousin was known to be a Massachusetts Abolitionist, and even he, Ezra, was suspected of being a Whig.
This gathering of a truly remarkable group of families at New Richmond is easily accounted for-it was but a repetition of the history of Cambridge, and Concord, and Weimar, and Padua.
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But New Richmond, with all its learning and culture, was profoundly religious. It was Southern, and, hence, could not be other than devout. Still the luridness of the country preaching, and literalness of interpretation, were less noticeable; and the congregations were by far less emotional. Everybody attended divine worship each Sabbath, Sunday School in the afternoon, and prayer meeting on Thursday evening. There were also many "sweeping revivals” in the New Richmond churches. Socially, “the latchstring was always on the outside," and it was not until long after the War that it was possible to maintain a decent hotel in New Richmond, for the reason that the citizens did all the entertaining of strangers in their homes, regarding the presence of a hotel as a reflection on their spirit of hospitality.
In politics, of course, they were Democrats. They were Southern to the core and could not be other than gentlemen and—Democrats. In 1856 not a Whig or Republican vote was cast in Raleigh County; and when, at a previous election, three votes had been cast for the Whig candidate for the presidency, the whole county felt it had been disgraced.
In the main, the people of New Richmond were not "crackers," or "po' white trash"; nor did they exhibit any of the hall-marks of the African race, save in a slight elision of the r, and an occasional dropping of the final g. Their residences, though comparatively small and inexpensive, were severely Colonial, with a frequent miniature Norman tower, Mansard roof, or glimpse of Spanish tile.
They swore picturesquely, though only under great provoeation, and in the absence of the preacher, played an excellent game of poker, were past masters at concocting juleps and cocktails, were fond of a fine horse, did not object to a bit of horse racing at the County Fair, went to the circus once a year, were passionately fond of the theater, and at
Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans, Richmond, Baltimore, and Washington had seen the elder Booth, the elder Salvini, Forrest and other great actors; were familiar with and fond of quoting from the Bible and Shakespeare and the venerable classics, and were regular in church attendance. Many of them conducted family worship each morning, and in prayer meetings and class meetings weekly confessed their “sins of omission and of commission.” Some of their worldly practices were wrong, possibly reprehensible; nevertheless they were at heart loyal to their church and religion, and were-we lift our hat to their memory-Southern gentlemen.
As in Shakespeare's dramas there are many characters, of many types and conditions, from the king to the king's fool, so at New Richmond there were "barristers, soldiers, artisans, merchants, men-servants, maid-servants, musicians, trumpeters, the town crier, and 'ye foole constable'"; but we are now speaking of the class that gave to New Richmond its character, social and political complexion, and enviable fame.
Perhaps New Richmond's most scholarly and picturesque citizen was Fairfax Culpepper, M. D., at once the leading physician, politician, arbiter elegantiarum, and defender and exemplar of the Southern Aristocracy. Tall, swarthy, long black hair, flashing dark-brown eyes, always faultlessly groomed, utterly fearless, a slight bullet-scar on the left cheek, the result of a “gentleman's affair of honah, suh," a University of Virginia and Heidelberg man, he was at once the pride and ornament of New Richmond.
Though inclined to be haughty and dictatorial, abrupt of speech and impatient of contradiction, his high character and great kindness of heart quickly soothed and healed the wounds made by his arrogant manner and utterances, and rendered his personal regard a prized possession. To be
recognized by Dr. Culpepper was considered an honor, and to be invited to The Elms as the command of Royalty.
An ancestor, a Stuart, of course, had been a trooper in Prince Rupert's cavalry; another had been with John Smith on the "Pocahontas Expedition,” as the doctor picturesquely phrased it, and the doctor himself was said to have Indian blood in his veins,
As a gentleman of the old school, Dr. Culpepper insisted that the modern college is lax in both discipline and examinations; that the elective system is a damnable heresy; that no man can truly claim to be a genuine scholar without a thorough grounding in the Greek and Latin languages and literature, and that every gentleman should have both a vocation and an avocation; and, true to his theory, he had kept up, despite his widely scattered clientele as a general practitioner, his classical studies, Horace being his favorite author. "Horace," he said, "because he, of all the ancients, was the most human, the truest depicter of the desires, instincts, and pleasures of the average man, and the sanest and most ardent preacher and exemplar of the joy of living. Quoth Horace, 'Dispel the cold by freely piling the logs upon the hearth, and more liberally bring out, O Thaliarchus, the four-year-old wine from the Sabine jar. Leave the rest to the gods.'”
Mrs. Culpepper was a Lee, famed, in the social annals of Lexington, Kentucky, for her striking beauty, literary and linguistic attainments, and never-failing defense of the Southern regime. She was related to the Lees of Virginia, and, by marriage, was cousin to Jefferson Davis.
on Davis. There were two children: Harold, twenty-two years of age, and Virginia Lee, two years her brother's junior.