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Robert Ingersoll Tribute M H Fiske

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Tribute M H Fiske

Robert Green Ingersoll


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.

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Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201


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

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

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


In this presence, let us remember our faults, our frailties,
and the generous, helpful, self-denying, loving deeds of Mary


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