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Foster was possessed of a most remarkable perception of the universal sorrows and sympathies and had also the power of expressing them so that he at once made his hearers his friends; and that they were the real truths that he taught is well understood when we apply them to ourselves and see that they are as acceptable and popular to us to-day as they were when they were first written.
Foster was in person slender, in height about five feet seven inches. His figure was handsome and he was exceedingly well proportioned. The face was striking, the features regular. His nose was straight, inclined to aquiline, his nostrils full and dilated. His mouth was regular in form and his lips full. Perhaps the most remarkable feature were his eyes. They were dark and very large and lit up with remarkable intelligence when conversing. His hair was very dark, almost black. The color of his eyes and hair he inherited from his mother, some of whose remote ancestors were Italian, though she was directly of English descent. In conversation he was very interesting, but rather of a more suggestive than argumentative disposition. He was an excellent listener, although well informed on all current topics.
Foster was of a quiet, peaceful nature and did not care for society. His time was spent with a few friends, and to them he was always gentle and considerate. He was a member of the Episcopal church and was deeply religious. Like many another great genius, he was eccentric in many things, but he always had compassion on all the lowly and downtrodden, as is evidenced by his many songs of the darkies and their life.
There was a strain of the plaintive in his make-up that showed itself in many of his compositions. His songs touched the hearts of the people, and were withal so human that it is no wonder that to-day they are known and loved in every country of the civilized world.
The old songs are the best just as "old friends" are, and whenever several people gather 'round the piano to sing, the programme is considered incomplete without "My Old Kentucky Home," "Old Black Joe" and " Old Folks At Home." These songs of Foster's appeal to all classes, and each eye can picture for itself the " old folks" that are mayhap many miles away, or even gone before us to that Eternal Home which we are all striving to gain.
No pen can sufficiently describe the greatness of a genius, but after all, this is unnecessary, as his works speak for themselves, and as long as "old folks" and young folks, people of all beliefs and in every station of life, lift their voices in song, so long will be sung the works and praises of the greatest of American composers — Stephen Collins Foster.