Robert Green Ingersoll
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.