No institution of learning of Ingersoll's day had courage enough to confer upon him an honorary degree; not only for his own intellectual accomplishments, but also for his influence upon the minds of the learned men and women of his time and generation.Robert G. Ingersoll never received a prize for literature. The same prejudice and bigotry which prevented his getting an honorary college degree, militated against his being recognized as 'the greatest writer of the English language on the face of the earth,' as Henry Ward Beecher characterized him. Aye, in all the history of literature, Robert G. Ingersoll has never been excelled -- except by only one man, and that man was -- William Shakespeare. And yet there are times when Ingersoll even surpassed the immortal Bard. Yes, there are times when Ingersoll excelled even Shakespeare, in expressing human emotions, and in the use of language to express a thought, or to paint a picture. I say this fully conscious of my own admiration for that 'intellectual ocean, whose waves touched all the shores of thought.'Ingersoll was perfection himself. Every word was properly used. Every sentence was perfectly formed. Every noun, every verb and every object was in its proper place. Every punctuation mark, every comma, every semicolon, and every period was expertly placed to separate and balance each sentence.To read Ingersoll, it seems that every idea came properly clothed from his brain. Something rare indeed in the history of man's use of language in the expression of his thoughts. Every thought came from his brain with all the beauty and perfection of the full blown rose, with the velvety petals delicately touching each other.Thoughts of diamonds and pearls, rubies and sapphires rolled off his tongue as if from an inexhaustible mine of precious stones.Just as the cut of the diamond reveals the splendor of its brilliance, so the words and construction of the sentences gave a charm and beauty and eloquence to Ingersoll's thoughts.Ingersoll had everything: The song of the skylark; the tenderness of the dove; the hiss of the snake; the bite of the tiger; the strength of the lion; and perhaps more significant was the fact that he used each of these qualities and attributes, in their proper place, and at their proper time. He knew when to embrace with the tenderness of affection, and to resist and denounce wickedness and tyranny with that power of denunciation which he, and he alone, knew how to express.
The only duty you owe is to yourself and to your family.The duty you owe to yourself is to do the best you can, and the duty you owe to your family is to endeavor to make them happy.Emancipate yourself from these stultifying creeds, and protect your children from the contamination of religion. Get off your knees, stand erect, and look the whole world in the face.Get all the joy and happiness you can out of life. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and waste it not upon the myth of heaven; support not the parasites of God.Do not knowingly harm another human being; do not knowingly injure your fellow man. All forms of life have feeling, do not make them suffer. As Shakespeare says: 'The poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great As when a giant dies.' Kindness is a magic solvent.While we know that sometimes 'ingratitude is more strong than traitor's arms,' we also know that 'mercy is twice blest; it blesses him that gives and him that takes,' and, it should be remembered that while Loyalty is the most important of the virtues, Patience is the most valuable.Become a courageous human being and do the best you can under any and all circumstances in this imperfect and troublesome world. Be brave enough to live and be brave enough to die, knowing that when the Grim Reaper comes, you did the best you could and that the world is better for your having lived.A God could do no more.I will stand between you and the hosts of heaven.I am not afraid.I will act as your attorney before the Bar of Judgment.I will assume all responsibility.My services are free.Put the blame on me.Break the chains of mental slavery to religious superstition.Arise and become a free and independent human being.Dignify yourself as a Man, and justify your living by being a Brother to All Mankind and a Citizen of the Universe.