Civilian Prisoners in Australia Set Free—The Story of Thomas Hassett—O'Reilly's Narrative Poems—His Love of Country and Denunciation of Sham Patriots—Death of his Father—Speech for the Press—His Marriage, and Home Life—Pilot Burned Out in the Great Boston Fire—The Papyrus Club Founded.
IN addition to his daily editorial work, O'Reilly filled several engagements to lecture during this and subsequent years. His first lecture, after the collapse of the Fenian invasion of Canada, was given in Liberty Hall, New Bedford, Mass., on the 20th of June, 1870, for the benefit of Captain Gifford of the Gazelle. The Captain and Mr. Hathaway occupied seats on the stage, and heard the story of their kindness told with all the eloquence of gratitude, and received with all the enthusiasm of an Irish audience.
On the 29th of October, he lectured in Boston Music Hall, for the benefit of the Engineer Corps of the Ninth Regiment, and again, on December 11, for the benefit of St. Stephen's Church, Boston. During all this time, amid professional and public cares, he found leisure for constant study, for the rewriting and revising of some of his earlier poems, and for a ceaseless, active interest in the fate of his fellow-prisoners. To the end of his life, any man who had worn the badge of honor as a penal convict, for his devotion to Ireland, held a lien on the affection and good services of Boyle O'Reilly. In the early part of 1870, the British Government granted conditional pardon to such political convicts in Australia as had been civilians at the time of their offense. The act of clemency carried little with it, beyond the mere boon of liberty. Their prison doors were opened, and they were turned loose to make what use they