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9 page printout Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. **** **** contents of this file page A TRIBUTE TO HENRY WARD BEECHER. 1 A TRIBUTE TO LAWRENCE BARRETT. 4 A TRIBUTE TO PHILO D. BECKWITH. 5 A TRIBUTE TO ISAAC H. BAILEY. 7 **** **** This file, its printout, or copies of either are to be copied and given away, but NOT sold. Bank of Wisdom, Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 The Works of ROBERT G. INGERSOLL **** **** A TRIBUTE TO HENRY WARD BEECHER. New York, June 26, 1887. HENRY WARD BEECHER was born in a Puritan penitentiary, of which his father was one of the wardens -- a prison with very narrow and closely-grated windows. Under its walls were the rayless, hopeless and measureless dungeons of the damned, and on its roof fell the shadow of God's eternal frown. In this prison the creed and catechism were primers for children, and from a pure sense of duty their loving hearts were stained and scarred with the religion of John Calvin. In those days the home of an orthodox minister was an inquisition in which babes were tortured for the good of their souls. Children then, as now, rebelled against the infamous absurdities and cruelties of the creed. No Calvinist was ever able, unless with blows, to answer the questions of his child. Children were raised in what was called "the nurture and admonition of the Lard" -- that is to say, their wills were broken or subdued, their natures were deformed and dwarfed, their desires defeated or destroyed, and their development arrested or perverted. Life was robbed of its Spring, its Summer and its Autumn. Children stepped from the cradle into the snow. No laughter, no sunshine, no joyous, free, unburdened days. God, an infinite detective, watched them from above, and Satan, with malicious leer, was waiting for their souls below. Between these monsters life was passed. Infinite consequences were predicated of the smallest action, and a burden greater than a God could bear was placed upon the heart and brain of every child. To think, to ask questions, to doubt, to investigate, were acts of rebellion. To express pity for the lost, writhing in the dungeons below, was simply to give evidence that the enemy of souls had been at work within their hearts. Among all the religions of this world -- from the creed of cannibals who devoured flesh, to that of Calvinists who polluted souls -- there is none, there has been none, there will be none, Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 1 A TRIBUTE TO HENRY WARD BEECHER. more utterly heartless and inhuman than was the orthodox Congregationalism of New England in the year of grace 1813. It despised every natural joy, hated pictures, abhorred statues as lewd and lustful things, execrated music, regarded nature as fallen and corrupt, man as totally depraved and woman as somewhat worse. The theater was the vestibule of perdition, actors the servants of Satan, and Shakespeare a trifling wretch whose words were seeds of death. And yet the virtues found a welcome, cordial and sincere; duty was done as understood; obligations were discharged; truth was told; self-denial was practiced for the sake of others, and many hearts were good and true in spite of book and creed. In this atmosphere of theological miasma, in this hideous dream of superstition, in this penitentiary, moral and austere, this babe first saw the imprisoned gloom. The natural desires ungratified, the laughter suppressed, the logic brow-beaten by authority, the humor frozen by fear -- of many generations -- were in this child, a child destined to rend and wreck the prison's walls. Through the grated windows of his cell, this child, this boy, this man, caught glimpses of the outer world, of fields and skies. New thoughts were in his brain, new hopes within his heart. Another heaven bent above his life. There came a revelation of the beautiful and real. Theology grew mean and small. Nature wooed and won and saved this mighty soul. Her countless hands were sowing seeds within his tropic brain. All sights and sounds -- all colors, forms and fragments -- were stored within the treasury of his mind. His thoughts were molded by the graceful curves of streams, by winding paths in woods, the charm of quiet country roads, and lanes grown indistinct with weeds and grass -- by vines that cling and hide with leaf and flower the crumbling wall's decay -- by cattle standing in the summer pools like statues of content. There was within his words the subtle spirit of the season's change -- of everything that is, of everything that lies between the slumbering seeds that, half awakened by the April rain, have dreams of heaven's blue, and feel the amorous kisses of the sun, and that strange tomb wherein the alchemist doth give to death's cold dust the throb and thrill of life again. He saw with loving eyes the willows of the meadow-streams grow red beneath the glance of Spring -- the grass along the marsh's edge -- the stir of life beneath the withered leaves -- the moss below the drip of snow -- the flowers that give their bosoms to the first south wind that wooes -- the sad and timid violets that only bear the gaze of love from eyes half closed -- the ferns, where fancy gives a thousand forms with but a single plan -- the green and sunny slopes enriched with daisy's silver and the cowslip's gold. As in the leafless woods some tree, aflame with life, stands like a rapt poet in the heedless crowd, so stood this man among his fellow-men. All there is of leaf and bud, of flower and fruit, of painted insect life, and all the winged and happy children of the air that Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 2 A TRIBUTE TO HENRY WARD BEECHER. Summer holds beneath her dome of blue, were known and loved by him. He loved the yellow Autumn fields, the golden stacks, the happy homes of men, the orchard's bending boughs, the sumach's flags of flame, the maples with transfigured leaves, the tender yellow of the beech, the wondrous harmonies of brown and gold -- the vines where hang the clustered spheres of wit and mirth. He loved the winter days, the whirl and drift of snow -- all forms of frost -- the rage and fury of the storm, when in the forest, desolate and stripped, the brave old pine towers green and grand -- a prophecy of Spring. He heard the rhythmic sounds of Nature's busy strife, the hum of beds, the songs of birds, the eagle's cry, the murmur of the streams, the sighs and lamentations of the winds, and all the voices of the sea. He loved the shores, the vales, the crags and cliffs, the city's busy streets, the introspective, silent plain, the solemn splendors of the night, the silver sea of dawn, and evening's clouds of molten gold. The love of nature freed this loving man. One by one the fetters fell; the gratings disappeared, the sunshine smote the roof, and on the floors of stone, light streamed from open doors. He realized the darkness and despair, the cruelty and hate, the starless blackness of the old, malignant creed. The flower of pity grew and blossomed in his heart. The selfish "consolation" filled his eyes with tears. He saw that what is called the Christian's hope is, that, among the countless billions wrecked and lost, a meager few perhaps may reach the eternal shore -- a hope that, like the desert rain, gives neither leaf nor bud -- a hope that gives no joy, no peace, to any great and loving soul. It Is the dust on which the serpent feeds that coils in heartless breasts. Day by day the wrath and vengeance faded from the sky -- the Jewish God grew vague and dim -- the threats of torture and eternal pain grew vulgar and absurd, and all the miracles seemed strangely out of place. They clad the Infinite in motley garb, and gave to aureoled heads the cap and bells. Touched by the pathos of all human life, knowing the shadows that fall on every heart -- the thorns in every path, the sighs, the sorrows, and the tears that lie between a mother's arms and death's embrace -- this great and gifted man denounced, denied, and damned with all his heart the fanged and frightful dogma that souls were made to feed the eternal hunger -- ravenous as famine -- of a God's revenge. Take out this fearful, fiendish, heartless lie -- compared with which all other lies are true -- and the great arch of orthodox religion crumbling falls. To the average man the Christian hell and heaven are only words. He has no scope of thought. He lives but in a dim, impoverished now. To him the past is dead -- the future still unborn. He occupies with downcast eyes that narrow line of barren, shifting sand that lies between the flowing seas. But Genius knows all time. For him the dead all live and breathe, and act their countless parts again. All human life is in his now, and every moment feels the thrill of all to be. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 3 A TRIBUTE TO HENRY WARD BEECHER. No one can overestimate the good accomplished by this marvelous, many-sided man. He helped to slay the heart-devouring monster of the Christian world. He tried to civilize the church, to humanize the creeds, to soften pious breasts of stone, to take the fear from mothers' hearts, the chains of creed from every brain, to put the star of hope in every sky and over every grave. Attacked on every side, maligned by those who preached the law of love, he wavered not, but fought whole-hearted to the end. Obstruction is but virtue's foil. From thwarted light leaps color's flame. The stream impeded has a song. He passed from harsh and cruel creeds to that serene philosophy that has no place for pride or hate, that threatens no revenge, that looks on sin as stumblings of the blind and pities those who fall, knowing that in the souls of all there is a sacred yearning for the light. He ceased to think of man as something thrust upon the world -- an exile from some other sphere. He felt at last that men are part of Nature's self -- kindred of all life -- the gradual growth of countless years; that all the sacred books were helps until outgrown, and all religions rough and devious paths that man has worn with weary feet in sad and painful search for truth and peace. To him these paths were wrong, and yet all gave the promise of success, He knew that all the streams, no matter how they wander, turn and curve amid the hills or rocks, or linger in the lakes and pools, must some time reach the sea. These views enlarged his soul and made him patient with the world, and while the wintry snows of age were falling on his head, Spring, with all her wealth of bloom, was in his heart. The memory of this ample man is now a part of Nature's wealth. He battled for the rights of men. His heart was with the slave. He stood against the selfish greed of millions banded to protect the pirate's trade. His voice was for the right when freedom's friends were few. He taught the church to think and doubt. He did not fear to stand alone. His brain took counsel of his heart. To every foe he offered reconciliation's hand. He loved this land of ours, and added to its glory through the world. He was the greatest orator that stood within the pulpit's narrow curve. He loved the liberty of speech. There was no trace of bigot in his blood. He was a brave and generous man. With reverent hands, I place this tribute on his tomb. **** **** A TRIBUTE TO LAWRENCE BARRETT. At the Broadway Theater, New York, March 22, 1891. MY heart tells me that on the threshold of my address it will be appropriate for me to say a few words about the great actor who has just fallen into that sleep that we call death. Lawrence Barrett was my friend, and I was his. He was an interpreter of Shakespeare, to whose creations he gave flesh and blood. He began at the foundation of his profession, and rose until he stood next to his friend -- next to one who is regarded as the greatest tragedian of our time -- next to Edwin Booth. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 4 A TRIBUTE TO LAWRENCE BARRETT. The life of Lawrence Barrett was a success, because he honored himself and added glory to the stage. He did not seek for gain by pandering to the thoughtless, ignorant or base. He gave the drama in its highest and most serious form. He shunned the questionable, the vulgar and unpure, and gave the intellectual, the pathetic, the manly and the tragic. He did not stoop to conquer -- he soared. He was fitted for the stage. He had a thoughtful face, a vibrant voice and the pose of chivalry. and besides he had patience, industry, courage and the genius of success. He was a graceful and striking Bassanio, a thoughtful Hamlet, an intense Othello, a marvelous Harebell, and the best Cassius of his century. In the drama of human life, all are actors, and no one knows his part. In this great play the scenes are shifted by unknown forces, and the commencement, plot and end are still unknown -- are still unguessed. One by one the players leave the stage, and others take their places. There is no pause -- the play goes on. No prompter's voice is heard, and no one has the slightest clue to what the next scene is to be. Will this great drama have an end? Will the curtain fall at last? Will it rise again upon some other stage? Reason says perhaps, and Hope still whispers yes. Sadly I bid my friend farewell, I admired the actor. and I loved the man. **** **** A TRIBUTE TO PHILO D. BECKWITH. Dowagiac, Mich., January 25, 1893. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Nothing is nobler than to plant the flower of gratitude on the grave of a generous man -- of one who labored for the good of all -- whose hands were open and whose heart was full. Praise for the noble dead is an inspiration for the noble living. Loving words sow seeds of love in every gentle heart. Appreciation is the soil and climate of good and generous deeds. We are met to-night not to pay, but to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to one who lived and labored here -- who was the friend of all and who for many years was the providence of the poor. To one who left to those who knew him best, the memory of countless loving deeds -- the richest legacy that man can leave to man. We are here to dedicate this monument to the stainless memory of Philo D. Beckwith -- one of the kings of men. This monument -- this perfect theater -- this beautiful house of cheerfulness and joy -- this home and child of all the arts -- this temple where the architect, the sculptor and painter united to Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 5 A TRIBUTE TO PHILO D. BECKWITH. build and decorate a stage whereon the drama with a thousand tongues will tell the frailties and the virtues of the human race, and music with her thrilling voice will touch the source of happy tears. This is a fitting monument to the man whose memory we honor -- to one, who broadening with the years, outgrew the cruel creeds, the heartless dogmas of his time -- to one who passed from superstition to science -- from religion to reason -- from theology to humanity -- from slavery to freedom -- from the shadow of fear to the blessed light of love and courage. To one who believed in intellectual hospitality -- in the perfect freedom of the soul, and hated tyranny, in every form, with all his heart. To one whose head and hands were in partnership constituting the firm of Intelligence and Industry, and whose heart divided the profits with his fellow-men. To one who fought the battle of life alone, without the aid of place or wealth, and yet grew nobler and gentler with success. To one who tried to make a heaven here and who believed in the blessed gospel of cheerfulness and love -- of happiness and hope. And it is fitting, too, that this monument should be adorned with the sublime faces, wrought in stone, of the immortal dead -- of those who battled for the rights of man -- who broke the fetters of the slave -- of those who filled the minds of men with poetry, art, and light -- of Voltaire, who abolished torture in France and who did more for liberty than any other of the sons of men -- of Thomas Paine, whose pen did as much as any sword to make the New World free -- of Victor Hugo, who wept for those who weep -- of Emerson, a worshiper of the Ideal, who filled the mind with suggestions of the perfect -- of Goethe, the poet-philosopher -- of Whitman, the ample, wide as the sky -- author of the tenderest, the most pathetic, the sublimest poem that this continent has produced -- of Shakespeare, the King of all -- of Beethoven, the divine, -- of Chopin and Verdi and of Wagner, grandest of them all, whose music satisfies the heart and brain and fills imagination's sky -- of George Eliot, who wove within her brain the purple robe her genius wears -- of George Sand, subtle and sincere, passionate and free -- and with these -- faces of those who, on the stage, have made the mimic world as real as life and death. Beneath the loftiest monuments may be found ambition's worthless dust, while those who lived the loftiest lives are sleeping now in unknown graves. It may be that the bravest of the brave who ever fell upon the field of ruthless war, was left without a grave to mingle slowly with the land he saved. But here and now the Man and Monument agree, and blend like sounds that meet and melt in melody -- a monument for the dead -- a blessing for the living -- a memory of tears -- a prophecy of joy. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 6 A TRIBUTE TO PHILO D. BECKWITH. Fortunate the people where this good man lived, for they are all his heirs -- and fortunate for me that I have had the privilege of laying this little laurel leaf upon his unstained brow. And now, speaking for those he loved -- for those who represent the honored dead -- I dedicate this home of mirth and song -- of poetry and art -- to the memory of Philo D. Beckwith -- a true philosopher -- a real philanthropist. **** **** A TRIBUTE TO ISAAC H. BAILEY. New York, March 27, 1899. MY FRIENDS: When one whom we hold dear has reached the end of life and laid his burden down, it is but natural for us, his friends, to pay the tribute of respect and love; to tell his virtues, to express our sense of loss and speak above the sculptured clay some word of hope. Our friend, about whose bier we stand, was in the highest, noblest sense a man. He was not born to wealth -- he was his own providence, his own teacher. With him work was worship and labor was his only prayer. He depended on himself, and was as independent as it is possible for man to be. He hated debt, and obligation was a chain that scarred his flesh. He lived a long and useful life. In age he reaped with joy what he had sown in youth. He did not linger "until his flame lacked oil," but with his senses keen, his mind undimmed, and with his arms filled with gathered sheaves, in an instant, painlessly, unconsciously, he passed from happiness and health to the realm of perfect peace. We need not mourn for him, but for ourselves, for those he loved. He was an absolutely honest man -- a man who kept his word, who fulfilled his contracts, gave heaped and rounded measure and discharged all obligations with the fabled chivalry of ancient knights. He was absolutely honest, not only with others but with himself To his last moment his soul was stainless. He was true to his ideal -- true to his thought, and what his brain Conceived his lips expressed. He refused to pretend. He knew that to believe without evidence was impossible to the sound and sane, and that to say you believed when you did not, was possible only to the hypocrite or coward. He did not believe in the supernatural. He was a natural man and lived a natural life. He had no fear of fiends. He cared nothing for the guesses of inspired savages; nothing for the threats or promises of the sainted and insane. He enjoyed this life the good things of this world -- the clasp and smile of friendship, the exchange of generous deeds, the reasonable gratification of the senses -- of the wants of the body and mind. He was neither an insane ascetic nor a fool of pleasure, but walked the golden path along the strip of verdure that lies between the deserts of extremes. With him to do right was not simply a duty, it was a pleasure. He had philosophy enough to know that the quality of actions depends upon their consequences, and that these consequences are Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 7 A TRIBUTE TO ISAAC H. BAILEY. the rewards and punishments that no God can give, inflict, withhold or pardon. He loved his country, he was proud of the heroic past, dissatisfied with the present, and confident of the future. He stood on the rock of principle. With him the wisest policy was to do right. He would not compromise with wrong. He had no respect for political failures who became reformers and decorated fraud with the pretence of philanthropy, or sought to gain some private end in the name of public good. He despised time-servers, trimmers, fawners and all sorts and kinds of pretenders. He believed in national honesty; in the preservation of public faith. He believed that the Government should discharge every obligation -- the implied as faithfully as the expressed. And I would be unjust to his memory if I did not Say that he believed in honest money, in the best money in the world, in pure gold, and that he despised with all his heart financial frauds, and regarded fifty cents that pretended to be a dollar, as he would a thief in the uniform of a policeman, or a criminal in the robe of a judge. He believed in liberty, and liberty for all. He pitied the slave and hated the master; that is to say, he was an honest man. In the dark days of the Rebellion he stood for the right. He loved Lincoln with all his heart -- loved him for his genius, his courage and his goodness. He loved Conkling -- loved him for his independence, his manhood, for his unwavering courage, and because he would not bow or bend -- loved him because he accepted defeat with the pride of a victor. He loved Grant, and in the temple of his heart, over the altar, in the highest niche, stood the great soldier. Nature was kind to our friend. She gave him the blessed gift of humor. This filled his days with the climate of Autumn, so that to him even disaster had its sunny side. On account of his humor he appreciated and enjoyed the great literature of the world. He loved Shakespeare, his clowns and heroes. He appreciated and enjoyed Dickens. The characters of this great novelist were his acquaintances. He knew them all; some were his friends and some he dearly loved, He had wit of the keenest and quickest. The instant the steel of his logic smote the flint of absurdity the spark glittered. And yet, his wit was always kind. The flower went with the thorn. The targets of his wit were not made enemies, but admirers. He was social, and after the feast of serious conversation he loved the wine of wit -- the dessert of a good story that blossomed into mirth. He enjoyed games -- was delighted by the relations of chance -- the curious combinations of accident. He had the genius of friendship. In his nature there was no suspicion. He could not be poisoned against a friend. The arrows of slander never pierced the shield of his confidence. He demanded demonstration. He defended a friend as he defended himself. Against all comers he stood firm, and he never deserted the field until the friend had fled. I have known many, many friends -- have clasped the hands of many that I loved, but in the journey of my life I have never grasped the hand of a better, truer, more unselfish friend than he Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 8 A TRIBUTE TO ISAAC H. BAILEY. who lies before us clothed in the perfect peace of death. He loved me living and I love him now. In youth we front the sun; we live in light without a fear, without a thought of dusk or night. We glory in excess. There is no dread of loss when all is growth and gain. With reckless hands we spend and waste and chide the flying hours for loitering by the way. The future holds the fruit of joy; the present keeps us from the feast, and so, with hurrying feet we climb the heights and upward look with eager eyes. But when the sun begins to sink and shadows fall in front, and lengthen on the path, then falls upon the heart a sense of loss, and then we hoard the shreds and crumbs and vainly long for what was cast away. And then with miser care we save and spread thin hands before December's half-fed flickering flames, while through the glass of time we moaning watch the few remaining grains of sand that hasten to their end. In the gathering gloom the fires slowly die, while memory dreams of youth, and hope sometimes mistakes the glow of ashes for the coming of another morn. But our friend was an exception. He lived in the present; he enjoyed the sunshine of to-day. Although his feet had touched the limit of four-score, he had not reached the time to stop, to turn and think about the traveled road. He was still full of life and hope, and had the interest of youth in all the affairs of men. He had no fear of the future -- no dread. He was ready for the end. I have often heard him repeat the words of Epicurus: "Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which cannot exist when I do?" If there is, beyond the veil, beyond the night called death, another world to which men carry all the failures and the triumphs of this life; if above and over all there be a God who loves the right, an honest man has naught to fear. If there be another world in which sincerity is a virtue, in which fidelity is loved and courage honored, then all is well with the dear friend whom we have lost. But if the grave ends all; if all that was our friend is dead, the world is better for the life he lived. Beyond the tomb we cannot see. We listen, but from the lips of mystery there comes no word. Darkness and silence brooding over all. And yet, because we love we hope. Farewell! And yet again, Farewell! And will there, sometime, be another world? We have our dream. The idea of immortality, that like a sea has ebbed and flowed in the human heart, beating with its countless waves against the sand and rocks of time and fate, was not born of any book or of any creed. It was born of affection. And it will continue to ebb and flow beneath the mists and clouds of doubt and darkness, as long as love kisses the lips of death. We have our dream! **** **** Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 9


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