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Tribute M H Fiske
Robert Green Ingersoll
A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. At Scottish Rite Hall, New York, February 6, 1889. MY FRIENDS: In the presence of the two great mysteries, Life and Death, we are met to say above this still, unconscious house of clay, a few words of kindness, of regret, of love, and hope. In this presence, let us speak of the goodness, the charity, the generosity and the genius of the dead. Only flowers should be laid upon the tomb. In life's last pillow there should be no thorns. Mary Fiske was like herself -- she patterned after none. She was a genius, and put her soul in all she did and wrote. She cared nothing for roads, nothing for beaten paths, nothing for the footsteps of others -- she went across the fields and through the woods and by the winding streams, and down the vales, or over crags, wherever fancy led. She wrote lines that leaped with laughter and words that were wet with tears. She gave us quaint thoughts, and sayings filled with the "pert and nimble spirit of mirth." Her pages were flecked with sunshine and shadow, and in every word were the pulse and breath of life. Her heart went out to all the wretched in this weary world -- and yet she seemed as joyous as though grief and death were nought but words. She wept where others wept, but in her own misfortunes found the food of hope. She cared for the to-morrow of others, but not for her own. She lived for to-day. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. Some hearts are like a waveless pool, satisfied to hold the image of a wondrous star -- but hers was full of motion, life and light and storm. She longed for freedom. Every limitation was a prison's wall. Rules were shackles, and forms were made for serfs and slaves. She gave her utmost thought. She praised all generous deeds; applauded the struggling and even those who failed. She pitied the poor, the forsaken, the friendless. No one could fall below her pity, no one could wander beyond the circumference of her sympathy. To her there were no outcasts -- they were victims. She knew that the inhabitants of palaces and penitentiaries might change places without adding to the injustice of the world. She knew that circumstances and conditions determine character -- that the lowest and the worst of our race were children once, as pure as light, whose cheeks dimpled with smiles beneath the heaven of a mother's eyes. She thought of the road they had traveled, of the thorns that had pierced their feet, of the deserts they had crossed, and so, instead of words of scorn she gave the eager hand of help. No one appealed to her in vain. She listened to the story of the poor, and all she had she gave. A god could do no more. The destitute and suffering turned naturally to her. The maimed and hurt sought for her open door, and the helpless put their hands in hers. She shielded the weak -- she attacked the strong. Her heart was open as the gates of day. She shed kindness as the sun sheds light. If all her deeds were flowers, the air would be faint with perfume. If all her charities could change to melodies, a symphony would fill the sky. Mary Fiske had within her brain the divine fire called genius, and in her heart the "touch of nature that makes the whole world kin." She wrote as a stream runs, that winds and babbles through the shadowy fields, that falls in foam of flight and haste and laughing joins the sea. A little while ago a babe was found -- one that had been abandoned by its mother -- left as a legacy to chance or fate. The warm heart of Mary Fiske, now cold in death, was touched. She took the waif and held it lovingly to her breast and made the child her own. We pray thee, Mother Nature, that thou wilt take this woman and hold her as tenderly in thy arms, as she held and pressed against her generous, throbbing heart, that abandoned babe. We ask no more. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 A TRIBUTE TO MRS. MARY H. FISKE. In this presence, let us remember our faults, our frailties, and the generous, helpful, self-denying, loving deeds of Mary Fiske. END