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the afflictions and misfortunes of the good in this world, and the prosperity of the wicked. We have made no progress in solving these problems. The barriers are insurmountable. The centuries are silent. The soul struggles, aspires, beats its wings against the bars, flutters, and disappears.
All this is grounded in human experience nay, more than that,- in the inherent qualities of the nature of man. And, Ingalls believed rightly — that sin, wickedness, wretchedness are necessary to our progress — indispensable to our very existence:
Poverty will never be abolished, nor misery, nor pain, nor disease. They are inseparable from humanity. Were all men contented and secure, progress would cease and the race would expire.
This, in a more delicate and cautious way, is the ruthless trampling under foot of temporary systems and agreed conventionalities so extensively practiced by Carlyle. Completed and stationary institutions for man's redemption Ingalls regarded with that independence and that reckless scorn peculiar to his Scandinavian-Germanic ancestry.
The contemplation of the mystery of this life did not react upon Ingalls to produce melancholy or misanthropy. In a letter to his wife, he said, “Life to me is so vivid and intense, like an eager flame, that pain, disease, weakness, annihilation seem monstrous and intolerable."
He loved life. Its enjoyment was precious to him, some expression of which we find in his writings. As early as 1872, in a letter to his father on a Thanksgiving anniversary, he said:
I have thought much to-day of the long career of my life, which has been extended so long beyond my early anticipations, and rendered conspicuous by so many blessings which I am conscious I have not deserved and which I never hoped to enjoy. Standing upon the uplands of middle life, my childhood and youth seem like the experiences of another planet, and though I have suffered much from the tortures of disturbed functions, diseased nerves, sensibilities unnaturally acute, the war in my members between the spirit and the flesh, the agonies of conflict between unconquerable appetites, passions, impulses and ambitions, and a conscience too sensitive to submit to moral anodynes, yet I have much to recall with gratitude to some Benign Power that has given me a moderate measure of worldly success, a modest competence, and a reasonable assurance of the esteem of my fellows; a happy home, and hopeful children whom it shall be my chief care to teach to shun the errors that have been my bane.
I have thought much also of that benevolent destiny that has protracted an existence as a family, unbroken through so many years; that gave to us in our early years the benefit and advantage of parental restraint and care, and has given to you the opportunity of seeing the practical result of your anxiety and toil, and the establishment of your children in reputable positions in widely disassociated spheres of life.
As time passes on, the burden of existence becomes more grievous: these anniversaries, once so bright and festal, grow ominous with shadows, and have a deep, sad and solemn significance. Laden with the inexpressible pathos, the yearning regrets, the farewells of the past, its melancholy and its external pain, they also point with prophetic augury to the future, near or far, when anniversaries shall be no more. How happy they who live so that they are not afraid to die!--I trust that we may know many returns of this ancient festival, but more than that, I hope that when on some future Thanksgiving, the last survivor of us all recalls the vivid memories of those who have gone before, no grief may dim his vision save that which separation always brings, and that he may confidently and gratefully anticipate the hour which shall summon him to join a reunited family in a brighter world than this: a world which shall seem as the glorious wakening from a fevered dream, where sorrow has no dominion, where distance cannot separate, where time cannot chill, and the tragic limitations of earthly being are forever unknown.
The references here to "a reunited family in a brighter world, where sorrow has no dominion", and “time cannot chill”, are reversions to the Calvinistic sermons impatiently heard on Thanksgivings in youth in New England, and must not be taken as expressing his own state or belief.
The death of Garfield, his kinsman, aroused in Ingalls the realization of the futility of earthly power and grandeur. In a letter to his father were these expressions penned:
To one unaware of the tragedy of July, it would seem incredible that within three months, the chosen ruler of a great nation had been buried amid the grief of all the civilized world, and that the trial of his assassin was proceeding in sight of the Capitol from which the remains of the victim were so lately borne to their last repose. The moralist and the philosopher might find abundant food for thought, nor could the cynic restrain his sneer at the spectacle presented by the thoughtless theory of ambitious aspirants who have so readily transferred their allegiance to the new President who sits in the Council Chamber so lately vacated by the dead. The emptiness of fame, the hollow mockery of friendship, the vanity of ambition, the worthlessness of power, the insignificance of man, never had a more striking illustration. "The King is dead! Long live the King!”— And yet, notwithstanding the wretchedness of humanity, and the evils of human life, there is something attractive about existence. When digestion is good and the nerves neither too lax nor too tensely strung, it is pleasant to eat a good dinner, to get a little drunk, to smoke a good cigar, to talk with bright men and women, to drive in the woods, to stroll in the sun, to get into a row occasionally if you can be on top, to sleep and wake, to play with children, to read good books, and wonder what life means, and to what it leads, how we got here and where we are going; a perplexing riddle which has not been solved.