Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/161

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

might of their only capital, freedom. Thanks to the kindness of Irish residents in the colony, they were provided for, and aided in making their way, some to their homes in Ireland, and others to the Mecca of all aspirants for liberty—the United States.

Eight civilians and fifteen military prisoners were exempted from the amnesty. One of these, writing to the more fortunate man who had amnestied himself, said: "It is my birthday as I write this, and I know I am turning it to the best account by writing to such a dear old friend. Who knows, perhaps I may be able to spend the next one with you; if not, then we will hope for the following one. At all events, we must not despair. I would count the time I spend here as nothing if I could only see the factions in America and elsewhere all united in one grand organization. This is a something to hope for. Let such a thing once become un fait accompli, and then it is but a little more time, a little more patience, and—what? The thought sends a thrill through my whole frame like an electric shock." "Poor fellow!" commented O'Reilly, in the Pilot, "how much pain is he not saved by the rigor which excludes news from the prison. That sweet old dream of unity can bear him up under all clouds of fate, giving a young and talented man, like the writer of the above letter, patience to write calmly—'If not next year, perhaps the following. We must not despair!' To him who would breed dissension among Irishmen, are not those words of this imprisoned man as terrible as the 'Mane, Thecel, Phares' which chilled the heart of the Assyrian?"

One of the Hougoumont's life convicts, Thomas Hassett, rightly despairing of amnesty, made his escape from the road party early in June, and, like O'Reilly, penetrated through the bush to the sea, taking refuge on board ship at Bunbury. There he was recaptured, on the very threshold of freedom, and sentenced-to three years' hard labor in the chain-gang at Swan River, with six months' solitary confinement. Hassett was a remarkably daring man. He, with James Wrenn and other Fenians, had served through two