Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/180

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news, and in supplying the final editions of his paper with everything of importance chronicled up to the moment of going to press.

Yet, reading through those editorials of twenty years, with the light of subsequent events to guide, I am amazed at the sureness of his instinct, the accuracy of his judgment, and the terse vigor of his pronouncements on every event of more than ephemeral interest. His political forecasts were often as erroneous as those of other editorial prophets; but his instincts never once failed on a definite question of right and wrong. There he was infallible.

When the treacherous murder of General Canby by the Modoc Indians, in the lava beds of Oregon, aroused a clamor for vengeance throughout the country, he took the part of the poor savages who had no newspaper organ to advocate their cause, saying:

We have too much and too old a sympathy with people badly governed, to join in this shameful cry for Modoc blood. We grant that they have committed murder, and that they are unstable, treacherous, and dangerous. Who would not be so, with the robberies and outrages of generations boiling in their blood? If they are ignorant and debased they cannot be cured by corn whisky and fire-arms; and these the only mission-books they have received from our government or our settlers.

He was a Democrat, imbued with the best spirit of his party, but he was never a blind partisan. On the negro question he stood beside his friend, Wendell Philipps, on the platform of Daniel O'Connell. Here is one of his early pleas in behalf of the Southern negro, written at a time when the rascally rule of the carpet-baggers in the South had made even the Republicans in the North lose much of their sympathy for the freedmen.

.... The destiny of the colored American is one of the big problems to be worked out in the life of this Republic. The day is fast coming when this man's claim cannot be answered by a jest or a sneer. The colored American of to-day may not be equal to his position as an enfranchised man. He has still about him something of the easy submission and confessed inferiority of a race held long in ignorance and