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E.C. Ingersoll's Funeral

A very affecting scene was witnessed at the funeral of Ebon C. Ingersoll in Washington, June 2, 1879. His brother Robert, had prepared an address to be read on the occasion, but when the large company of friends had gathered, and the time came, the feelings of the man overcame him. He began to read his eloquent characterization of the dead man, but his eyes at once filled with tears. He tried to hide them behind his eye-glasses, but he could not do it, and finally he bowed his head upon the man's coffin in uncontrollable grief. It was only after some delay, and the greatest efforts at self-mastery, that Robert was able to finish reading his address, which was as follows:


MY FRIENDS: I am going to do that which the dead often promised he would do for me. The loved and loving brother, husband, father, friend died where manhood's morning almost touches noon, and while the shadows still were falling toward the west. He had not passed on life's highway the stone that marks the highest point, but being weary for the moment he laid down by the wayside, and, using a burden for a pillow, fell into that dreamless sleep that kisses down the eyelids still. While yet in love with life and raptured with the world, he passed to silence and pathetic dust. Yet, after all, it may be best, just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock, and in an instant hear the billows roar, a sunken ship. For whether in mid sea or among the breakers of the farther shore, a wreck must mark at last the end of each and all. And every life, no matter if its very hour is rich with love and every moment jeweled with a joy, will, to its close, become a tragedy, as sad, and deep, and dark as can be woven of the warp and woof of mystery and death.


This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock, but in the sunshine he was love and flower. He was the friend of all heroic souls that climbed the heights and left all superstitions here below, while on his forehead fell the golden dawning of a grander day. He loved the beautiful, and was with color, form and music touched to tears. He sided with the weak, and with a willing hand gave alms; with loyal heart and with purest hand he faithfully discharged all public trusts. He was a worshiper of liberty and a friend to the oppressed. A thousand times I have heard him quote the words: "For justice, all place a templeand all season summer" He believed that happiness was the only worshiper, humanity the only religion and love the priest. He added to the sum of human joy, and were every one for whom he did some loving service to bring a blossom to his grave he would sleep tonight beneath a wilderness of flowers. Life is a narrow vale between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of a wailing cry. From the voiceless lips of the unreplying dead there comes no word; but in the night of death hope sees a star and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing. He who sleeps here, when dying, mistaking the approach of death for the return of health, whispered with his latest breath, "I am better now." Let us believe, in spite of doubts and dogmas and tears and fears, that these dear words are true of all the countless dead. And now, to you who have been chosen from among the many men he loved to do the last sad office for the dead, we give his sacred trust. Speech cannot contain our love. There was -- there is -- no gentler, stronger, manlier man.

Friends and Colleagues