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Robert Ingersoll Tribute Beckwith

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Tribute Beckwith

Robert Green Ingersoll


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

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

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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

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

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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.

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