Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/140

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so obviously incredulous that he grew a little impatient and indignantly said:

"Gentlemen, I have not come here to ask any favor of you nor to make inquiries about your personal affairs; I came at your request. I have answered your questions truthfully. If you do not choose to believe me, I cannot help it; but as I did not seek this interview, I will take my leave." The frankness and independence of the youth told with his inquirers, and they no longer doubted him.

The identification, however, did not prove of any great service to him. Nor was this remarkable. Fenianism was a losing—all but a lost, cause. Its enthusiastic supporters had given their money and their labors, as most of them would have gladly given their lives, in its behalf. Naturally they were poor men; he that hath the envied talent of money-making seldom invests his cash in sentiment.

There was no field for his ambition in Philadelphia. He went to New York, and was warmly received at the headquarters of the Fenians in that city. By their invitation he delivered a lecture in the Cooper Institute, on the 16th of December, 1869. John Savage presided, and the platform was occupied by leading spirits of the Fenian movement. Over two thousand people greeted him with enthusiastic applause, as he told of the sufferings and wrongs endured by himself and his fellow prisoners. He assured his hearers that the revolutionary movement had permeated every branch of the British army. He then modestly recounted the incidents of his escape, and told, with eloquent gratitude, of the part taken in it by the American captains of the Gazelle and Sapphire.

Successful as the meeting was, and gratifying to the feelings of the young lecturer, it did not give him any promise, either in his ambition to be of material service to the Irish revolutionary cause, or in the more prosaic and pressing need of earning his daily bread. He thought, as a practical man, though a poet, that both ends might be attained without the sacrifice of either, and he quickly saw that New York did not offer any field for that ambition.