**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Robert Ingersoll
by [?]

She thought about it more and more and wondered really if God could and would damn a person who just went ahead and did the best he could. She wanted to ask her husband about it–to talk it over with him in the evening–but she dare not. She knew too well what his answer would be–for her even to think such thoughts was a sin. And so she just decided she would keep her thoughts to herself, and be a dutiful wife, and help her husband in his pastoral work as a minister’s wife should.

But her proud spirit began to droop, she ceased to sing at her work, her face grew wan, yellow and sad. Yet still she worked–there were no servants to distress her–and when her own work was done she went out among the neighbors and helped them–she cared for the sick, the infirm, she dressed the new-born babe, and closed the eyes of the dying.

That this woman had a thirst for liberty, and the larger life, is shown in that she herself prepared and presented a memorial to the President of the United States praying that slavery be abolished. So far as I know, this was the first petition ever prepared in America on the subject by a woman.

This minister’s family rarely remained over two years in a place. At first they were received with loving arms, and there were donation parties where cider was spilled on the floors, doughnuts ground into the carpets, and several haircloth chairs hopelessly wrecked. But the larder was filled and there was much good-cheer.

I believe I said that the Reverend John Ingersoll was a powerful preacher: he was so powerful he quickly made enemies. He told men of their weaknesses in phrase so pointed that necks would be craned to see how certain delinquents took their medicine. Then some would get up and tramp out during the sermon in high dudgeon. These disaffected ones would influence others: contributions grew less, donations ceased, and just as a matter of bread and butter a new “call” would be angled for, and the parson’s family would pack up–helped by the faction that loved them, and the one that didn’t. Good-bys were said, blessings given–or the reverse–and the jokers would say, “A change of pastors makes fat calves.”

At one time the Reverend John Ingersoll tried to start an independent church in New York City. For a year he preached every Sunday at the old Lyceum Theater, and here it was, on the stage of the theater, in Eighteen Hundred Thirty-four, that Robert G. Ingersoll was baptized.

But the New York venture failed–starved out was the verdict, and a country parish extending a call, it was gladly accepted.

Such a life, to such a woman, was particularly wearing. But Mrs. Ingersoll kept right at her work, always doing for others, until there came a day when kind neighbors came in and cared for her, looked after her household, attending this stricken mother–tired out and old at thirty-one, unaware that she had blessed the world by giving to it a man-child who was to make an epoch.

The watchers one night straightened the stiffening limbs, clothed the body in the gown that had been her wedding-dress, and folded the calloused fingers over the spray of flowers.

“Hush, little boy–your Mamma is dead!” said the tall man, as he lifted the child and carried him from the room.

* * * * *

From the sleepy little village of Dresden, Yates County, New York, seven miles from Penn Yan, where Robert Ingersoll was born, to his niche in the Temple of Fame, was a zigzag journey. But that is Nature’s plan–we make head by tacking. And as the years go by, more and more we see the line of Ingersoll’s life stretching itself straight. Every change to him meant progress. Success is a question of temperament–it is all a matter of the red corpuscle. Ingersoll was a success; happy, exuberant, joying in life, reveling in existence, he marched to the front in every fray.