Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/17

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vii
INTRODUCTION.

poet realizes what O'Reilly sung in one of his latest and best productions:

Those who sail from land afar,
Leap from mountain-top to star;
Higher still, from star to God,
Have the Spirit-Pilots trod,
Setting lights for mind and soul.
That the ships may reach their goal.

The vocation of the poet is close akin to that of the priest, and it is not to be wondered at that during most of his life our poet's nearest and dearest friends were clergymen.

In his career as a journalist, the magnanimity and self-control thus variously impressed upon him and infused into him were especially manifested. Constantly obliged to deal with burning questions, he usually handled them with a conservative prudence scarcely to be expected in one so vehement by nature.

Accustomed by long experience to have his most cherished convictions resisted and assailed, he met all opponents with a chivalrous courtesy, as well as with a dauntless courage, that instantly won respect, and often ended by winning them over to his side.

No wonder, then, that he, far beyond the bulk of men, verified his own touching lines:

The work men do is not their test alone,
The love they win is far the better chart.

Who can recall an outburst of grief so universal and so genuine as that evoked by his all too early and sudden death? At the sad news numberless hearts in all the lands which speak our English tongue stood still as in anguish for the loss of a brother or a friend. In accents trembling with the eloquence of emotion, countless tongues in our own and in other climes have paid unwonted tribute to his worth; great, thinkers and writers have lauded his genius; the lowly and unlettered are mourning him who was ever humanity's friend.

The country of his adoption vies with the land of his birth in testifying to the uprightness of his life, the usefulness of his career and his example, the gentleness of his character, the nobleness of his soul. The bitterest prejudices of race and of creed seem to have been utterly conquered by the masterful goodness of his, heart and the