Life of John Boyle O'Reilly/Chapter 18
Another Author's Reading, "A Philistine's Views" on Erotic Literature—Poem on the Pilgrim Fathers—Another, "From the Heights," for the Catholic University—Attacked by La Grippe—Hopes of another Canoe Cruise—Brave Words for the Negro and the Hebrew—"The Useless Ones," his Last Poem—Lecturing Tour to the Pacific Coast—Definition of Democracy—Views on the Catholic Congress—His Last Canoeing Paper and Last Editorials—A Characteristic Deed of Kindness—His Death.
THE presidential campaign of 1888 had disgusted O'Reilly with practical politics. On New Year's Eve he registered this good resolution in a letter to a friend in Washington:
During all his life he had instinctively avoided local political entanglements. His first experience of national politics brought him into contact with some professional managers, who acted after the manner of their kind and made the refined and sensitive poet utterly sick of the association. Thenceforth, more than ever, he shunned the field of political strife, and devoted himself to his professional and literary work.
The Author's Reading for the benefit of the International Copyright Association was given at the Boston Museum on the afternoon of March 7. Among those who took part were Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Samuel L. Clemens ("Mark Twain"), Charles Dudley Warner, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Richard Malcolm Johnston, F. Hopkinson Smith, John Boyle O'Reilly George W. Cable, and Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson. O'Reilly's selections were:
"A Few Epigrams," "Ensign Epps, the Color Bearer," "A Wonderful Country Par Away," and "In Bohemia." The New York Herald, after the fashion of the period, wrote to several leading authors of the country for expressions of opinion on the question of morality in novels. The answers were published in its edition of March 24, 1889. O'Reilly's reply was entitled "A Philistine's Views":
He was anything but the Philistine which he calls himself above, save only in the matter of clean thought and speech and writing. Living in an age of so-called realism in literature, when the "poetry of passion" had leaped its sewer banks and touched some very high ground, John Boyle O' Reilly' s feet were never for an instant contaminated by the filthy flood. He never wrote a line which the most innocent might not read with safety. He never used a vile word; there was none such in his vocabulary. This means much, when we remember that he left his home, when only a child, to spend the formative years of his life, first, in the rough school of the composing-room, next in the grosser environment of the barrack-room, and finally in society's cess-pool, the prison yard and convict gang. Nothing but the grace of heaven, and the absolute refinement with which he was born, could have brought him out of these debased surroundings a pure-minded man and a stainless, high-bred gentleman. His writings are pure because he could hot write otherwise.
A Democratic mayor in New York having allowed the Irish flag to occupy a modest place on the City Hall on St. Patrick's Day this year, an Englishman wrote to Mayor Grant on behalf of his fellow-countrymen requesting that the British flag be floated from the same building on St. George's Day. "By all means," commented O'Reilly, "let the British flag float. It has as much right on the City Hall as the green or any other foreign flag. It will but remind every American of the time it floated there as a menace to the people, supported by the bayonets of its foreign legions, while the green flag and the nation it represents were spiritually and bodily supporting Washington in the field."
On May 11, he delivered an address before the Paint and Oil Club of Boston, on the future of the Dismal Swamp. He lectured through the season in various parts of New England. In compliance with the request of the Scranton Truth he acted as judge in the competition for a prize to be awarded to the best poem on the subject of the Samoan disaster. He awarded the prize to Homer Greene's poem, "The Banner of the Sea."
In May, he accepted an invitation to prepare a poem for the dedication of the national monument to the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth, Mass.
The selection of a foreign-born citizen for this office surprised and offended some narrow-minded people who, through no fault of theirs, but by their constitutional limitations, were unable to appreciate either his poetical genius or the catholic breadth of his nature. But all, even the most doubtful, were convinced and delighted, when the masterly poem was read, that this alien-born citizen, precisely because he was such, had learned to grasp, as no native could, the splendid lesson and example given to the world by the Pilgrim Fathers.
They had on servile order, no dumb throat;
They trusted first the universal vote;
The first were they to practice and instill
The rule of law and not the rule of will;
They lived one noble test: who would be freed
Must give up all to follow duty's lead.
They made no revolution based on blows,
But taught one truth that all the planet knows,
That all men think of, looking on a throne—
The people may be trusted with their own.
The past is theirs—the future ours; and we
Must learn and teach. Oh, may our records be
Like theirs, a glory symboled in a stone.
To speak as this speaks, of our labors done,
They had no model; but they left us one.
Ex-Governor Long, President of the Pilgrim Society, introduced O'Reilly humorously, as follows:
One minor tribute received by the poet, but one which he could well appreciate, was given on the day following the reading of the poem. He was spending the summer at Hull, as usual, going to his office every day by the Harbor steamer; As he came on board that day, the throng of passengers had their morning papers and were reading the account of the exercises at Plymouth. The Irish singer's paean to their Fathers touched the undemonstrative Yankee heart, and they stood up and cheered the poet as he reached the deck.
The Pilgrim poem was the crowning work of his life as an American singer, for New England thought dominates America, and the man chosen to celebrate the glory of the Forefathers was regarded as a sort of poet laureate to their descendants. Outside of New England, and apart from those who knew her history, the poet and his work were somewhat criticized. It was said that he had extolled the narrow Puritans and forgotten their intolerance, and some hasty censors accused him of having brought the Blarney Stone into conjunction with Plymouth Rock. The accusation was wholly wrong. O'Reilly would not have flattered an emperor for his crown. He knew the difference between Pilgrim and Puritan; and while he recognized the austerity of both, he remembered of the former that
They never lied in practice, peace, or strife;
They were no hypocrites; their faith was clear;
and whatever their defects might have been, his manhood warmed to the manly immigrants who "broke no compact" and "owned no slave."
His little poem, "What is Good?" was published in the Georgetown (D..C.) College Journal, in October. It contains, in four words, the creed by which he lived, the ideal to which he reached:
On November 10, he attended the celebration of the centenary of the Catholic Church in America, at St. Mary's Cathedral, Baltimore, and was present at the dedication of the American Catholic University of Washington, D. C, three days later. He lectured in Washington on November 10, in aid of St. Patrick's Church, on Capitol Hill, and read his poem, "From the Heights," at the banquet of the Catholic University on the 13th, before the President and Vice-President of the United States, Cardinals Gibbons and Taschereau, and other great civic and religious dignitaries. No layman in America stood higher in the estimation of his co-religionists at this time than John Boyle O'Reilly. No man, lay or secular, had done more in his life-time to make his religion respected by non-Catholics.
He had been invited to prepare a paper for the first Catholic Congress, held in Baltimore, on November 12. He attended the Congress, but for reasons explained in the following letter, could not take an active part in its proceedings:
Crawford House, White Mountains, N. H.,
September 25, 1889.
Dear Mr. Harson:
Your letter finds me here in the mountains trying to get over the effects of a year's incessant overwork, and, however kindly you express it, you ask me to begin overworking again,—before I am rested,—and with too short notice to prepare a paper for the Catholic Congress. I cannot leave here, wisely, for at least ten days more. I will then return to a mountainous accumulation of work. This will prevent me from giving due consideration to any subject suitable for an address at the Congress. It is not a place for hasty or raw expression, and I know that the gentlemen who have papers prepared have given them full and timely treatment.
Had I known a couple of months ago that I was to be asked to read an address I might have been able; but now it is quite too late,—under the circumstances,—and while thanking you for the invitation, and the delightful manner in which it is expressed, I congratulate the Congress on its escape.
I am deeply interested in the success of the Congress, and I beg that you will enable me to use the Pilot for that end.
I am just recovering from a repeated attack of insomnia, which has so alarmed my wife that I have promised her to abstain from all engagements, outside my editorial work, for a whole year.
I am, dear Mr. Harson,
Very truly yours,
J. Boyle O'Reilly.
There is a pathetic interest in the prospectus which he issued the last week of this year, outlining the conduct of his paper for 1890, and looking hopefully to the close of Ireland's long struggle, when the "Irish Question" should no longer be foremost in the mind of this great Irishman:
Little did he foresee what the New Year was to bring to him., Could he have foreseen all, he would have grieved most for the fallacy of these hopeful words about his beloved country:
In December, the epidemic known as "la grippe," attacked O'Reilly and all his household. He, his wife, his four children, and two servants were all prostrated at once, and unable to leave their beds. "I never was so sick in my life," he wrote to his friend Moseley; "nor have I seen so much dangerous illness in my house before. So don't laugh at 'la grippe,' but fear it, and pray that it may not seize you or yours."
Mr. Moseley had several times admired a handsome blackthorn cane which General Collins had brought to O'Reilly from Ireland. The latter once said to him, in his inimitable, quaint way, "Ned, that stick has a story; it has done murder in a good cause. Some day I will write you its history." He never wrote the history, but he sent the cane to his friend, with the following letter:
So, long may you have and wear it, my own dear boy.
Remember me kindly to Mrs. Moseley and Katherine, and to Waller, when you see him.
And a Happy New Year to you and yours.
Affectionately,John Boyle O'Reilly.
In January of 1890, he wrote again to his friend, suggesting a vacation in early May along the eastern shore of Maryland. "Would that be a good place for an absolute rest?" he asks; "I was thinking of a tent on the beach—shooting and fishing, and lying in the sand all day, like savages. How is it? "
Four days later, he wrote again:
. . . . I am going West in March for a month of hard work. In May, please God, we will go down to that eastern shore—and take a howl in the primeval. I am tired to death. . . .Would one canoe do for the beach? My canoe is smashed. What do you think of a permanent camp on the beach, with fishing, shooting, etc., and only using the canoe for this?
The proposed vacation was never enjoyed. The western trip of which he speaks involved much preparation and care, and on its termination other things occurred to postpone the canoe cruise. His canoe, called after his youngest child, Blanid, had been crushed and wrecked at its moorings in Hull, and he did not procure another; in fact, it is doubtful if he' would have made many more outdoor trips had he lived. He had grown perceptibly older during the last year or two of his life. The last flash of the old adventurous spirit that I can remember came out when Cardinal Lavigerie, the great enemy of the slave trade in Africa, said that the infamous traffic could be suppressed by force of arms, if only "one thousand men, prepared for suffering and sacrifice,—men who desired no reward or recompense, except that which the consciousness of having given away time, health, and even life, brings with it,—would undertake the task. If there are any such men in America," said the Cardinal, "I will be glad to hear from them, and particularly glad to enroll the emancipated blacks in my little army."
"There!" exclaimed O'Reilly, "that is the work I would like to do." But for the hostages to fortune, I think he would have volunteered to raise the little army on the spot.
He had great faith in the possibilities of the Southern negro. When the news of the butchery of eight black men at Barnwell, S. C, was received, following three or four other similar ghastly stories, he wrote:
For such remarks as the above he was accused of inciting the negroes by incendiary language, one Catholic paper, telling him, "It is neither Catholic nor American to rouse the negroes of the South to open and futile rebellion." He replied:
In his championship of the oppressed he was far from sympathizing with those who denounced the people of the South indiscriminately, and he was utterly opposed to the absurd and futile policy of coercion advocated by the supporters of the Force Bill. He wrote:
O'Reilly defended the oppressed negroes, as he had defended the oppressed Indians, as sincerely and zealously as he had all his life defended the oppressed of his own race. It was morally impossible for him to do otherwise. If anybody remonstrated with him, pointing out the failings or weaknesses of the under-dog in the fight, he would say: "Very true; but there are thousands of people ready to show that side of the question, to one who is enlisted on the other side." He could see, above all minor questions, the one supreme issue of right against wrong, and he would not desert the right because it was not absolutely right, to condone the wrong because it was not completely wrong. He bore witness, as follows, to the worth of another oppressed race, in replying to three questions propounded by the editor of the American Hebrew, concerning the prejudice existing among Christians against their Jewish brethren:
1. I cannot find of my own experience the reason of prejudice against the Jews as a race.
2. I do not believe that the cause of this prejudice is the religious instruction in Christian schools, because the most prejudiced are least religious or Christian. Part of the prejudice is inherited from less intelligent times; part comes from the exclusiveness of the Jews as a race, and the largest part from the marvelous success of the Jewish race in business. In this country, I think, the anti-Jewish prejudice is not at all religious. From personal experience, I should say it was wholly racial and commercial.
3. It has been my fortune to know, long and intimately, several Jewish families in Boston and New York, and many individual Jews during my lifetime. Their standard of conduct is the same as Christians, but their standard of home life and all its relations is the highest in the world. I know three men who are my ideals of mercantile honor, integrity, and business character: one is a Christian and two are Jews.4. I do not know how to dispel the anti-Jewish prejudice except by expressing my own respect, honor, and affection for the greatest race—taking its vicissitudes and its achievements, its numbers and its glories—that ever existed.
His last poem, "The Useless Ones," meaning the poets, was published in the Pilot of February 1:
Useless? Ay,—for measure:
But their breath gives pleasure—
God knows why!
This poem had been read, in his absence, by his friend Benjamin Kimball, at the dinner of the Papyrus Club, in December. O'Reilly dined with his club for the last time on February 1, 1890, when he read some aphorisms in rhyme, of which two have been preserved by Secretary Arthur Macy:
A man may wound a brother with a hiss;
A woman stabs a sister with a kiss.
I judged a man by his speaking;
His nature I could not tell;
I judged him by his silence.
And then I knew him well.
On Sunday evening, February 16, he made his last appearance as a lecturer in Boston, his subject being "Irish. Music and Poetry." A large audience filled the Boston Theater. He never appeared to better advantage than on this occasion.
On March 3, he set out on an extended tour to the West, accompanied by Dr. John F. Young, of Boston, one of his earliest and most intimate friends in America.
On the following evening, Emmet's birthday, he lectured in Syracuse, N. Y., on "Irish Music and Poetry," before an audience of three thousand, and was entertained after the lecture at a banquet by the Robert Emmet Society. He repeated his discourse at Chicago and St. Paul, and was again feasted by the principal men of the latter city. Here he had the happiness of meeting a man to whom he owed an undying gratitude. Rev. Patrick McCabe, the good priest who had enabled him to escape from the penal colony in Western Australia. They had met several years before, when Father McCabe first came to America, and the reunion was joyful for both. The venerable priest remained two days as O'Reilly's guest in St. Paul, and parted with the understanding that the latter should deliver a lecture for the benefit of his friend's parish in the succeeding autumn.
He lectured at Minneapolis, and on the 10th of March he left that place for Butte City, Mont. He was met by a delegation of the leading citizens about thirty miles before reaching his destination. On his arrival he was escorted in a carriage, by a procession of brass bands, etc., to the hotel. The Opera House was packed by an enthusiastic audience, and he was especially requested to repeat the lecture on his return. On the following morning, at the invitation of Superintendent Carroll, he donned a miner's suit and went down in the silver and copper mines owned by Marcus Daly. He dug out some silver ore, which he carried home as a souvenir of his visit. On March 14, he lectured before another large audience in Spokane Palls, and was again banqueted ("malediction on banquets," he had observed in an early part of his diary) by the leading business men of the city. Two days later he lectured in Seattle Armory. The Seattle Press relates the following amusing incident of the lecture:
"Where have they gone?" cried he.
"To hell!" ejaculated the enthusiastic Irishman, leaning on the gallery rail.It took Mr. O'Reilly some little time to get attention, while he explained that he thought the good Irishwomen who married the troopers made loyal Irishmen of their husbands.
On the 17th, St. Patrick's Day, he arrived at Tacoma and was at once obliged to take part in the procession, occupying an open barouche drawn by four white horses. The Tacoma Theater was packed to the roof at his lecture that evening, the very rafters being occupied. A great banquet, attended literally by scores of Irish-American millionaires, was given by the Ancient Order of Hibernians after the lecture, and lasted until four o'clock in the morning. On the following evening he lectured at the Opera House in Portland, Ore., the stage being occupied by leading citizens of the State, including the Governor, ex-Governor, Maj.-Gen. Gibbon, commanding the United States forces on the Pacific Coast, Archbishop Gross, Major Burke, and a number of rich men whose aggregate wealth, as a fellow-citizen proudly remarked, represented $200,000,000. O'Reilly's reception was one of which any man might have been proud; even the steamer Oregon, which was to carry him to San Francisco, waited for him an hour and a half beyond its time of sailing. During this voyage he twice mentions in his diary, with evident satisfaction,—"great rest."
Owing to some mismanagement, his tour in California was not successful. The lectures had not been advertised, and his audiences were small in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento. From Sacramento he took train for Portland, Ore. He delivered only two lectures on his return trip, one at Tacoma, March 28, and another at Butte City, on the 30th, repeating his first successes, and going home full of admiration for the natural resources and enterprising population of the great Northwest. He had accomplished the chief object of his visit, that of seeing for himself the great possibilities of a region toward which he hoped to divert the stream of Irish-American emigration. He saw how the energetic and honest men of his race, starting with no capital but their native "bone and sinew and brain," had prospered beyond their wildest dreams in the new, fair land, whose balmy climate resembled that of their birthplace. The same men, left stranded amid the poverty and temptations of an Eastern city, might have remained poor and hopeless to the end, for lack of the opportunity which was so easily found in the new Western States. He never tired of singing the praises of that region, and had intended to make another journey to the Pacific Coast in the following year.
He returned to Boston on April 5. Shortly afterward, in his paper, he wrote of the Northwest, and of the State of Washington in particular:
Sad as it is to write of this or that as his last word or deed, there is a mournful pleasure for those who knew and loved him in remembering that every last word and deed were characteristic of his great nature. Politically he was a Democrat to the last. "Is the Pilot a Democratic paper?" asked a correspondent. He replied in the issue of May 31, and his answer is worth preserving for its exposition of the truest Democratic doctrine:
The principles of Democracy as laid down by Jefferson are to us the changeless basis of sound politics and healthy republicanism. We are not Democratic simply as being partisan; but we are partisan because we are Democratic. We would abide by Jeffersonian Democracy if there were no Democratic party in existence.
Democracy means to us the least government for the people, instead of more or most.
It means that every atom of paternal power not needed for the safety of the Union and the intercourse of the population should be taken from the Federal Government and kept and guarded by the States and the people.
It means the spreading and preserving of doubt, distrust, and dislike of all sumptuary and impertinent laws.
It means that law shall only be drawn at disorder, and that all affairs that can be managed without disorder should be managed without law.
It means that all laws not called for by public disorder are an offense, a nuisance, and a danger.
It means watchfulness against Federal legislation for such State questions as education, temperance, irrigation, and all other questions that may arise and are sure to arise in the future.
It means the teaching of absolute trust in the people of the States to understand and provide for their own interests.
It means home rule in every community right through our system, from the township up to the State Legislature; and above that, utter loyalty to the Union.
It means antagonism to all men, classes and parties that throw distrust and discredit on the working or common people, and who insinuate or declare that there is a higher, nobler, or safer patriotism among the wealthy and more book-learned classes than the common people possess or appreciate.It means that Democratic principles must be followed by individual citizens as well as by the aggregated party, that they must oppose the petty boss in their own caucuses, and the arrogant majority in their own town, when these attempt to coerce the rights of the masses or change the self-governing principle of the free town.
On June 28, he had this to say in defense of the American negro, whose social rights were and are ignored in the North, as his political rights have been denied in the South:
The Catholic Congress held in Baltimore, in November, 1889, had appointed a committee on future congresses, which assembled at the Parker House, Boston, on July 25. It was composed as follows: James H. Dormer, Buffalo, N. Y.;,Daniel Dougherty, New York; Edmund F. Dunne, San Antonio, Fla.; Patrick Farrelly, New York; M. D. Fansler, Fort Wayne, Ind.; M. J. Harson, Providence, R. I.; John D. Keily, Jr., Brooklyn; Wm. L. Kelly, St. Paul, Minn.; M. W. O'Brien, Detroit, Mich.; Hon. Morgan J. O'Brien, New York; Wm. J. Onahan, Chicago; John Boyle O'Reilly, Boston; Thomas J. Semmes, New Orleans; H. J. Spaunhorst, St. Louis.
Tlie following Church dignitaries were also present: Archbishops Ireland, of St. Paul; Riordan, of San Francisco; Janssens, of New Orleans; and Elder, of Cincinnati; and Bishops Foley, Maes, and Spalding, together with Father Montgomery, of California.
"On the day previous to the meeting," says Mr. T. B. Fitz, President of the Catholic Union, of Boston, who was present, "Mr. O'Reilly called at the archepiscopal residence to pay his respects to His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons, who received him with great cordiality and welcome. Referring to the meeting to be held the following day, at which several bishops and archbishops, with prominent laymen, were to take part, Mr. O'Reilly stated to him (Substantially the views embodied in his letter regarding Catholic conventions. 'If,' said he, 'these conventions should confine their papers and discussions to subjects coming legitimately under the jurisdiction of laymen, and aim to remedy certain local disadvantages under which we labor in this country, he would certainly approve of them. In this connection might be considered,' he said, 'the great question of colonization, whereby our people might be, to a great extent, diverted from cities and thickly populated centers, to seek homes for themselves and their families in agricultural districts.
"'Aiding and directing emigrants, especially emigrant girls—strangers in a strange land—is another matter,' he said, 'which appealed to our race and humanity to consider and amend present conditions. The encouragement of temperance, a careful analysis of the labor problem, and such like practical questions, would offer abundant matter and range for profitable discussion.'
"The Cardinal expressed great interest in hearing Mr. O'Reilly's views and his hearty sympathy with them. The position taken by Archbishop Ireland, Archbishop Riordan, Bishop Spalding, and other bishops, besides the majority of the laymen present the next day at the meeting, were equally forcible in their approval of Mr. O'Reilly's views. In fact, it is fair to assume, that from the favor with which his suggestions were received by the committee they will have much weight in determining the scope and plan of work of the next Catholic Congress, should such be held."
The following letter to the same gentleman fully expresses the writer's views on the subject of Catholic congresses:
July 14, 1890.
Dear Mr. Fitz:
As you will see by the inclosed letter, the committee on holding another National Convention of Catholics will hold their meeting in Boston on the 25th inst. The members, should they attend, are a distinguished body of men, and I wish you would appoint a day when we might, with a few others, meet and talk over the manner of their reception—whether to give them a public notice or not.
I am a member of the committee, but I have almost decided to resign after giving my reasons to the committee. I am convinced that National Conventions of citizens called as Catholics, or as Baptists, Methodists, etc., are uncalled for, and in the case of the Catholics particularly are apt to be injurious rather than beneficial. The last one may be taken as a specimen of what they are all to be—an audience of representative men listening to a series of papers that might just as well be published in magazines or papers, where they would reach a greater number.
For such a benefit to awaken the suspicions and doubts of our Protestant fellow-citizens, who are constantly of opinion that we Catholics are obeying "the orders of Rome," etc., is a questionable policy. If we had reason, as the German Catholics have had, to protest against national legislation, we should be only doing our duty in holding national conventions. But we have no reason of this kind, nor of any kind, that I can see. I do not believe that the judgment of the Catholics of the country advises the project of formulating any distinct Catholic policy in America.
For one,—and one called on to think for the best interests of the many,—I regard these conventions of Catholic laymen as unnecessary, prejudicial, and imprudent, and I shall not take part in their arrangement or progress.
Nevertheless, for the courteous treatment of the committee I shall be zealous and anxious; and if you will appoint a day when a few of us can lunch together and talk it over, I shall be much obliged.
I am, yours very truly,
On July 17, another distinguished. Irish-American poet and orator, Rev. Henry Bernard Carpenter, died suddenly at Sorrento, Me. He was fifty years old and had lived sixteen years in the United States. A great scholar, a fine poet, and a man of charming personality, he had been for years one of the most popular members of the Papyrus and St. Botolph clubs. When another Irish-American poet and Papyrus man, Dr. Robert Dwyer Joyce, went home to Ireland to die, in 1883, Mr. Carpenter wrote for the Pilot a beautiful farewell poem, entitled "Vive Valeque." O'Reilly, himself suffering from overmuch care and work, was deeply moved by the death of the simple-minded, generous, and brilliant Irish poet and orator, whom he was so soon to follow.
Another last characteristic work was his contribution of a long article to the Boston Evening Traveler, in July, on "Canoes and Boats." In it he extolled the merits of his favorite craft and condemned the rowboat, of which he said, "There is no good reason why another should ever be built, except for suicide." After summing up the many pleasures and benefits to be derived from the sport, he says:
His last editorial utterance, in the Pilot Of August 9, was an appeal to two eminent friends of the Irish cause, one of whom had made certain injurious reflections upon the other. Commenting on the latter's defense, O'Reilly wrote:
On Wednesday, August 6, a very sultry day, he attended the games of the National Irish Athletic Association at Oak Island Grove, Revere Beach, acting as judge and referee in the contests. About four thousand people were present on the crowded grounds. The day was exceedingly warm, and O'Reilly was compelled to leave the ground, in almost a fainting condition, before the sports were over.
As he was a member on the committee of reception for the Grand Army demonstration which was to take place in Boston the following week, he had made arrangements to spend some nights at a hotel in the city. On Wednesday evening he visited the St. Botolph Club for an hour or two. Returning to his hotel after midnight, in company with a friend, an incident occurred, slight in itself, but thoroughly characteristic of the man. As he was walking up Boylston Street, engaged in pleasant conversation with his friend, his quick eye suddenly espied an unlovely object—a woman—poor, old, dirty, and drunken—huddled in the doorway of a house. Dropping his friend's arm, he stooped down to the repulsive bundle of misery, laid his strong hand on her shoulder, raised her to her feet, with a word of kindness, arranged her tattered shawl about her, and, gently as a son might have spoken to his mother, persuaded her to go home, and sent her on her way.
It was a little thing to do, but it showed a great heart in the doer. Nine men out of ten would have passed the unfortunate with a look of pity or of scorn. Ninety-nine gentlemen out of a hundred, going home from their club, would have given not a thought to the outcast. But Boyle O'Reilly, whether he wore the dress-coat or the convict suit, never for one instant forgot his kinship with all the poor and lowly and unfortunate of earth.
On Friday and Saturday forenoon he was at his office attending to his regular duties, but showing the effects of insomnia.
The great procession of the Grand Army veterans was to pass the Pilot building on the following Tuesday. Before leaving the city for Hull on Saturday afternoon he gave instructions, with his usual thoughtful care, that the windows of the office should be reserved for the printers and other employees of the paper. In order that they might have undisturbed possession, he had engaged a window in another part of the city for himself and family. It was his intention to make the following number of the Pilot a Grand Army one. He was full of interest in the work when he left his office to take the half-past two o'clock boat for Hull that afternoon.
Next morning the city and country were startled with the awful news that John Boyle O'Reilly was dead!