Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/165

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.

his life, every prospect of personal gain or literary honors. Love of country was with him not merely a strong sentiment,—it was the ruling passion, to which he would have sacrificed any and every other ambition or possession.

It was in this spirit of absolutely unselfish patriotism that he sharply arraigned the demagogues and self-seekers who endeavored to mislead his countrymen by posing as Irish-American "leaders."

"If the Irish people in this country," he said, "were to utter one prayer with more devotion than another, we think it should be, 'Save us from our leaders!' The consideration of the mysterious union between an acknowledged impostor, imbecile, or fire-eater, and the people who are affected by his words and acts, is full of interest to any one who looks beneath the surface at men and things. The authority of the demagogue, or, rather, the toleration with which people bear his noisy assumption of authority, springs from some metaphysical mystery far beyond the ken of common mortals.

"We have noticed in one of the most prominent of the demagogic journals, lately, an editorial call for 'An Irish-American Party,' for which the dangerous demagogue says 'the necessity is forced upon us.' We can tell him that the day is surely coming when the necessity of punishing the author of such criminal folly will be forced upon the Irish people of America. Day after day we see sheets called 'Irish- American journals' filled with such blatant nonsense or suicidal advice. Thank Heaven, these productions are not very numerous, nor do they compete in influence with our respectable Irish -American press. But their existence is a sore, which will spread, as all sores do, if neglected. The Irish people should keep their eyes on these fellows who sway the passions of the most ignorant portion of the community. On every occasion that arises, it is the duty of Irish-American Catholics, in view of their own respectability, to protest shortly and decisively against these would-be 'representative Irish leaders,' or 'Irish' newspapers."