Gosh. So this is what I've been missing. Hello, Cathy, and a belated welcome.
It seems that "Wisdom is the science of happiness" is not original to Robert Ingersoll. It comes from the seventeenth-century German philosopher, G. W. Leibniz. He seems to have said it several times, but one version is: "Wisdom is nothing other than the science of happiness, that is to say it teaches us to attain happiness.” Other translations give "felicity" rather than "happiness", for example: "[J]ustice
is the charity of the wise, or the virtue by which the affection of man toward men is moderated by reason. Charity
is the habit of loving everyone; and the one who is thus disposed to charity is called the good person
. Again, wisdom
is the science of felicity. Felicity is in him but so that we may live in the grace and love of God, whose power and perfection is the highest."
Can't say I'm keen on that, but perhaps it's more to Cathy's tastes. My guess is that Ingersoll, who was pretty well read, had come across these lines of Leibniz. I've also found a fuller version of Ingersoll's variant, from a different lecture, entitled "Oration on Humboldt":
Slowly, beautifully, like the coming of the dawn, came the grand truth that the Universe is governed by law; that disease fastens itself upon the good and upon the bad; that the tornado cannot be stopped by counting beads; that the rushing lava pauses not for bended knees; the lightning for clasped and uplifted hands; nor the cruel waves of the sea for prayer; that paying tithes causes, rather than prevents famine; that pleasure is not sin; that happiness is the only good; that demons and gods exist only in the imagination; that faith is a lullaby sung to put the soul to sleep; that devotion is a bribe that fear offers to supposed power; that offering rewards in another world for obedience in this, is simply buying a soul on credit; that knowledge consists in ascertaining the laws of nature, and that wisdom is the science of happiness. Slowly, grandly, beautifully, these truths are dawning upon mankind.
And finally, the fuller quotation from "Oration on the Gods" that Athena gave earlier is even more effective, I think, when the context is broadened even further. The paragraph preceding the one quoted is:
While utterly discarding all creeds, and denying the truth of all religions, there is neither in my heart nor on my lips a sneer for the hopeful, loving and tender souls who believe that from all this discord will result a perfect harmony; that every evil will in some mysterious way become a good, and that above and over all there is a being who, in some way, will reclaim and glorify every one of the children of men; but for the creeds of those who glibly prove that salvation is almost impossible; that damnation is almost certain; that the highway of the universe leads to hell; who fill life with fear, and death with horror; who curse the cradle and mock the tomb, it is impossible to entertain other than feelings of pity, contempt and scorn.
Reason, Observation, and Experience[---][/---]the Holy Trinity of Science[---][/---]have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so. That is enough for us ...
I think that packs quite a punch. No, it's not poetry, but I think both lectures must have been pretty impressive oratory.
: "The gods [microform] and other lectures"