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Robert Green Ingersoll
A TRIBUTE TO DR. THOMAS SETON ROBERTSON.
New York September 8, 1898.
IN the pulseless hush of death, silence seems more expressive,
more appropriate -- than speech. In the presence of the Great
Mystery, the great mystery that waits to enshroud us all, we feel
the uselessness of words. But where a fellow-mortal has reached his
journey's end -- where the darkness from which he emerged has
received him again, it is but natural for his friends to mingle
with their grief, expressions of their love and loss.
He who lies before us in the sleep of death was generous to
his fellow-men. His hands were always stretched to help, to save.
He pitied the friendless, the unfortunate, the hopeless -- proud of
his skill -- of his success. He was quick to decide -- to act --
prompt, tireless, forgetful of self. He lengthened life and
conquered pain -- hundreds are well and happy now because he lived.
This is enough. This puts a star above the gloom of death.
He was sensitive to the last degree -- quick to feel a slight
-- to resent a wrong -- but in the warmth of kindness the thorn of
hatred blossomed. He was not quite fashioned for this world. The
flints and thorns on life's highway bruised and pierced his flesh,
and for his wounds he did not have the blessed balm of patience. He
felt the manacles, the limitations -- the imprisonments of life and
so within the walls and bars he wore his very soul away. He could
not bear the storms. The tides, the winds, the waves, In the
morning of his life, dashed his frail bark against the rocks.
He fought as best he could, and that he failed was not his
He was honest, generous and courageous. These three great
virtues were his. He was a true and steadfast friend, seeing only
the goodness of the ones he loved. Only a great and noble heart is
capable of this.
But he has passed beyond the reach of praise or blame --
passed to the realm of rest -- to the waveless calm of perfect
The storm is spent -- the winds are hushed -- the waves have
died along the shore -- the tides are still -- the aching heart has
ceased to beat, and within the brain all thoughts, all hopes and
fears -- ambitions, memories, rejoicings and regrets -- all images
and pictures of the world, of life, are now as though they had not
been. And yet Hope, the child of Love -- the deathless, beyond the
darkness sees the dawn. And we who knew and loved him, we, who now
perform the last sad rites -- the last that friendship can suggest
-- will keep his memory green."
Dear Friend. farewell! "If we do meet again we shall smile
indeed -- if not, this parting is well made." Farewell!