Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/194

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CHAPTER IX.


The Cruise of the Catalpa—The English Government Rejects the Petition of One Hundred and Forty Members of Parliament for the Pardon of the Soldier Convicts—John Devoy and John Breslin Plan their Rescue—Good Work of the Clan-na-Gael—The Dream of O'Reilly and Hathaway Fulfilled—The Catalpa Defies a British Gunboat, and Bears the Men in Safety to America.


JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY was now (1876), in his thirty-second year, happily blest with wife and children, entering on the sure road of literary fame and worldly prosperity. Under such conditions the shrewd man becomes conservative, the selfish man ungrateful, the weak man cowardly. But "the wise of Bohemia"—thank God—"are never shrewd." They do not become conservative, in the sense of abandoning the generous aspirations of their youth. Wiser he certainly grew with advancing years and responsibilities. He recognized, albeit with sufficient humility, that he stood as a representative of his countrymen in the eyes of a friendly but critical people. He perceived, also, and profited by, the mistakes of his ardent youth.

But he never used this clearer vision to see the errors of another with unkind eyes. He passed no harsh judgment on those who honestly differed with him as to the best method of righting the wrongs of his countrymen. He never faltered in comrade loyalty to the associates of his revolutionary days.

Six of those fellow rebels, less fortunate than himself, still wore the convict's garb, and toiled in the penal gangs of Western Australia.

Let it be set down to the credit of the Fenian cause, especially to that much abused body, the Clan-na-Gael, that half a score of years of change, discouragement, and