{The final resolutions at Robert Ingersoll's funeral, quoted here}Whereas, in the order of nature -- that nature which moves with unerring certainty in obedience to fixed laws -- Robert G. Ingersoll has gone to that repose which we call death.We, his old friends and fellow-citizens, who have shared his friendship in the past, hereby manifest the respect due his memory. At a time when everything impelled him to conceal his opinions or to withhold their expression, when the highest honors of the state were his if he would but avoid discussion of the questions that relate to futurity, he avowed his belief; he did not bow his knee to superstition nor countenance a creed which his intellect dissented.Casting aside all the things for which men most sigh -- political honor, the power to direct the futures of the state, riches and emoluments, the association of the worldly and the well- to-do -- he stood forth and expressed his honest doubts and he welcomed the ostracism that came with it, as a crown of glory, no less than did the martyrs of old.Even this self-sacrifice has been accounted shame to him, saying that he was urged thereto by a desire for financial gain, when at the time he made his stand there was before him only the prospect of loss and the scorn of the public. We, therefore, who know what a struggle it was to cut loose from his old associations and what it meant to him at that time, rejoice in his triumph and in the plaudits that came to him from thus boldly avowing his opinions and we desire to record the fact that we feel that he was greater than a saint, greater than a mere hero -- he was a thoroughly honest man.He was a believer, not in the narrow creed of a past barbarous age, but a true believer in all that men ought to hold sacred, the sanctity of the home, the purity of friendship and the honesty of the individual. He was not afraid to advocate the fact that eternal truth was eternal justice; he was not afraid of the truth, nor to avow that he owed allegiance to it first of all and he was willing to suffer shame and condemnation for its sake.The laws of the universe were his bible; to do good, his religion and he was true to his creed. We therefore commend his life, for he was the apostle of the fireside, the evangel of justice and love and charity and happiness.We who knew him when he first began his struggle, his old neighbors and friends, rejoice at the testimony he has left us and we commend his life and efforts as worthy of emulation.
Herman E. Kittredge
Mary was proud of her husband, not merely because he was a musician, but because he was a blacksmith. For, with the true taste of a right woman, she honored the manhood that could do hard work. The day will come and may I do something to help it hither, when the youth of our country will recognize that, taken in itself, it is a more manly and therefore in the old true sense a more _gentle_ thing, to follow a good handicraft, if it make the hands black as a coal, than to spend the day in keeping books and making up accounts, though therein the hands should remain white--or red, as the case may be. Not but that, from a higher point of view still, all work, set by God and done divinely, is of equal honor; but, where there is a choice, I would gladly see boy of mine choose rather to be a blacksmith, or a watchmaker, or a bookbinder, than a clerk. Production, making, is a higher thing in the scale of reality, than any mere transmission, such as buying and selling. It is, besides, easier to do honest work than to buy and sell honestly. The more honor, of course, to those who are honest under the greater difficulty! But the man who knows how needful the prayer, Lead us not into temptation, knows that he must not be tempted into temptation even by the glory of duty under difficulty. In humility we must choose the easiest, as we must hold our faces unflinchingly to the hardest, even to the seeming impossible, when it is given us to do.
George MacDonald
You are God. You want to make a forest, something to hold the soil, lock up energy and give off oxygen. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to rough in a slab of chemicals, a green acre of goo? You are a man, a retired railroad worker who makes replicas as a hobby. You decide to make a replica of one tree, the longleaf pine your great-grandfather planted- just a replica- it doesn’t have to work. How are you going to do it? How long do you think you might live, how good is your glue? For one thing, you are going to have to dig a hole and stick your replica trunk halfway to China if you want the thing to stand up. Because you will have to work fairly big; if your replica is too small, you’ll be unable to handle the slender, three-sided needles, affix them in clusters of three in fascicles and attach those laden fascicles to flexible twigs. The twigs themselves must be covered by many silvery-white, fringed, long-spreading scales. Are your pine cones’ scales thin, flat, rounded at the apex? When you loose the lashed copper wire trussing the limbs to the trunk, the whole tree collapses like an umbrella. You are a sculptor. You climb a great ladder; you pour grease all over a growing longleaf pine. Next, you build a hollow cylinder around the entire pine…and pour wet plaster over and inside the pine. Now open the walls, split the plaster, saw down the tree, remove it, discard and your intricate sculpture is ready: this is the shape of part of the air. You are a chloroplast moving in water heaved one hundred feet above ground. Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen in a ring around magnesium…you are evolution; you have only begun to make trees. You are god- are you tired? Finished?
Annie Dillard
You’re a pirate? Obviously. Still, hard to believe. He pressed forward, forcing on her a series of blows meant to test her strength and will.She parried and blocked his every move with an aptitude that amazed. Aye. A pirate and captain of the Sea Sprite, she boasted, a wry smile upon her full lips.Indeed, she appeared very much a pirate in her men’s garb—a threadbare, brown suit with overly long sleeves she’d had to roll up. Her ebony hair had been pulled back in a queue and was half hidden beneath a rumpled tricorn. Also, like her men, was her look of desperation and the grim cast to her countenance that bespoke of a hard existence.We offered you quarter, she said as she evaded his thrust with ease. Why didn’t you surrender? You had to know we outnumbered you.He didn’t answer. In all honesty, he’d thought they could defeat the pirates, if not with cannon fire, then with skill. After hearing of all the pirate attacks of late, they’d hired on additional hands, men who could fight. If it hadn’t been for the damn illness…It’s not too late. You can save what’s left of your crew. Surrender now, Captain Glanville and we’ll see that your men are ransomed back. A wicked gleam brightened her eyes as if victory would soon be hers. He should do as she asked. It would be the sensible thing, but pride kept him from saying the words. Not yet. He still had another opponent to defeat and so far she hadn’t been an easy one to overcome. Despite his steady attack, she kept her muscles relaxed, her balance sure. Her attention followed his movements no matter how small, adjusting her stance, looking for weaknesses. How do you know I’m Captain Glanville? When work was at hand, he didn’t dress any differently than his men.I know much about you. Stepping clear of two men battling to their left, she blocked his sword with her own and lunged with her dagger. He jumped from the blade, avoiding injury by the barest inch. This one relied on speed and accuracy rather than power. Smart woman.What do you want from us? he asked, launching an attack of his own, this time with so much force and speed, she had no choice but to retreat until her back came up against the railing. We only just left London four days ago. Our cargo is mainly iron and ale.Her gaze sharpened even as her expression became strained. His assault was wearing her down. I want the Ruby Cross.How the hell did she know he had the cross? And did she believe he’d simply hand it over? Hand over a priceless antiquity of the Knights Templar? Absurd. He swung his sword all the harder. The clang of steel rang through the air. Her reactions slowed and her arms trembled. He made a final cut, putting all his strength behind the blow and knocked her sword from her hand. Triumph surged through his veins. She attempted to slash out with her dagger. He grabbed her arm before her blade could reach him and hauled her close, their faces nose to nose. You’ll never take the cross from me, he vowed as he towered over her, his grip strong.The point of a sword touched his back. Thomas tensed, he swore beneath his breath, self-disgust heavy in his chest. The distraction of this one woman had sealed his fate.Bloody hell.
Tamara Hughes